Steelmanning Sidewalk Poopers

UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2024 : 658 words, 4 minute read โ€” MISC

As a city dweller, you must quickly learn the invaluable skill of dodging dog poop on the sidewalk. I used to think everyone felt the same way 1 on the issue, i.e. poop on sidewalk = bad. Since sidewalk hazards seem to be as constant in life as death & taxes, there MUST be another side to the story that I am not seeing. Every human is the hero of their own story , after all. That said, I have yet to see a movie where the protagonist would let their dog leave a steaming mound on the sidewalk. I feel strongly that leaving poop on the sidewalk is a dick move. Strong beliefs can easily cloud our vision, so if I’m going to ever understand why it happens, I’m gonna need some help.

Steelmanning Sidewalk Dog Poop ๐Ÿ”—︎

My understanding of “Steelmanning” is empathizing with the opposite side of an argument, and try to build the strongest case possible for them, which forces you to “try on” their views. So I have to put myself in the minds of a Poop Leaver, and think about how I would justify it.

โ„น๏ธ Aside: I’m trying to get out of the trap of assuming my perspective is the only one that is “right”. This topic ain’t easy, though. Having fewer doggy surprises on the sidewalks just feels like an objective upgrade.

Strong Reasons To Leave Dog Poop on the Sidewalk ๐Ÿ”—︎

Here I have tried to lay out the strongest reasons I could come up with, along with the friendly help of ChatGPT and friends with dogs. The arguments still feel weak. I’m not sure if I have a blind spot for where I’m still holding too tightly to my existing belief, or what’s going on. Don’t hesitate to say hi if you have ideas!

  • ๐Ÿค” They forgot a bag/bags ran out
    • Understandable, but disappointing that they wouldn’t return to the scene of the crime. Also, I will not believe this is the core explanation, based on the sheer VOLUME of poop I have to dodge when walking in the city.
  • ๐Ÿคฎ Picking up poop grosses them out
    • Reddit anecdote - “Iโ€™ve met someone in my apartment who was like how do you pick up the poop and I showed them the reverse bag method and he was like โ€œahhhh hell no fuck that thatโ€™s nasty as fuck dogโ€
    • Why do they own a dog?
  • ๐Ÿฅถ Itโ€™s cold as nuts out and you donโ€™t want to take your hands out of your gloves
    • I can understand this, but it also seems like a problem that we can solve. Youโ€™re telling me Science(TM) canโ€™t come up with a process to scoop poop with a glove?
  • ๐Ÿ™ˆ They didn’t notice the dog pooped
    • …..on a clear sidwalk….really?
  • ๐Ÿ—‘๏ธ Unable to find a trashcan
    • This probably varies by person on how far theyโ€™re willing to go, like the people you see taking the elevator to the 2nd floor.
  • ๐Ÿ‘ท They want to create jobs like Scoopy Doo NY or LA Scoops
    • Unfortunately those companies only work in yards, not scouring the city for turds.
  • ๐Ÿคท They donโ€™t care/are โ€œtoo busyโ€
    • Feels the most plausible.
  • ๐Ÿฆข They’re actually a Canada Goose
    • Unforgivable, you hell spawn.

What have I learned ๐Ÿ”—︎

I think my biggest takeaway is that it’s very difficult to give a good faith effort when steelmanning. I don’t feel convinced that there are more than a tiny handful of cases that would justify leaving dog poop on the sidewalk, which is exactly how I felt when I started. I feel that part of the problem is I wasn’t able to come up with good enough arguments, and even ChatGPT wasn’t able to justify leaving crap wherever.

  1. This article discusses why it’s impossible to get humans to agree on things, including a link to an online quiz you can take to see just how widely your “obviously right answers” differ from other people.  ↩︎

See Also