Hypothetical: everything cured all at once

Silly hypothetical that popped into my head.

I have been given a Big Red Button that, when pressed, will instantly cure every living human of every affliction they currently suffer from.

Over-explained parameters of the above statement:

The whole gamut, from viral and bacterial infections to congenital defects to terminal illnesses. I was going to write in a bunch of limitations, but then decided it doesn’t matter. Limbs will grow back, the blind will see, the lame will walk, pounds will melt away, brain chemistry will balance. Whatever affliction you can think of, the answer is, “yes, it will be cured in an instant.”

Here are the only limitations that seem important:

The button won’t heal the results of aging. If you’re a 90-year-old smoker, you’ll suddenly have the lungs of a 90-year-old nonsmoker.
The button won’t address anything outside human bodies. Viruses will still exist on surfaces, in lab samples, in animals, etc.
This is purely a one-off. Nobody is protected from carcinogens or heart disease going forward, except in the sense that genetic predispositions for certain diseases would go away.
The magic of the button will not violate the consent of any individuals. I’m thinking about members of the deaf community who reject cochlear implants, stuff like that. The button will, through the magic of anti-hypothetical-fighting, give even babies and fetuses a moment of arcane clarity which will allow them to give or refuse informed consent. This arcane clarity will also preclude anybody coming to the conclusion that the button is the work of a deity or devil. Just some schmuck who somehow got a Big Red Button.

I otherwise invoke an anti-anti-hypothetical shield against any gotchas that I might not have considered.

What are the short and long-term impacts of the button? Social, economic, cultural, whatever. Go nuts.

Healthcare: what happens to a healthcare system that suddenly has very little to do? People will still break bones and OD on drugs and get infections, but it’ll be years before we start seeing stuff like cancer again. How likely is it that certain diseases will be fully eradicated if they’re removed from every human host all at once? There will still be dirty needles, so presumably somebody somewhere will end up with a transmittable disease and start those cycles all over again.

Economics: what happens to social security and retirement when life expectancy suddenly buoys way up? Old folks living longer is already straining the system.

And are there ethical ramifications to pressing the button? Example: you can’t run human trials for drugs if nobody is currently suffering from diseases. Have I destroyed large swaths of medical research, and will this have major ramifications down the road when health issues begin cropping up again?

Seems like small potatoes against the greater good, but are there are any legitimate arguments against pressing the button?

Some people will object to ‘bad’ people being cured. It’ll be ironic. But just about anyone else wouldn’t hesitate to push the button.

I have heard the theory that people’s immune systems develop due to constant exposure to minor diseases. If all these diseases are eliminated, our immune systems might atrophy. Then when diseases start to cross over from other animals to humans, they might have a much stronger effect than they would have had otherwise.

Good point, need to cure the animals too, and scour the earth for any diseases remaining in the environment.
Maybe the OP could find that the button holds those magical properties as well. Oh wait, that evolution thing might still be a problem, it can work pretty fast on bacteria and viruses.

Some diseases have a reservoir that exists outside of any living things. Cholera is a good example of this.

If we could eliminate every cholera bacterium in the world, we could eliminate the disease. But that’s not going to happen without magic buttons.

This won’t take very long. Look how quickly Covid spread around the world, from being a little outbreak in China, to become a world-wide plague.

There are microbes that are part of our normal lives, that we live in symbiotic relation with, but which can become serious diseases if they get out of control. Intestinal bacteria, for example, are a normal and necessary part of our digestive system. But if they get loose into the bloodstream or other parts of the body, some of them can cause deathly infections. What will your Magic Red Button do with those?

And there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that the use of magic buttons tends to come back and bite you in the ass.

And while we’re at it, let’s kill all the sparrows.

Seeing as how it’s magic, I’m confident that it won’t kill us all by wiping out our gut flora. :slight_smile:

Who defines affliction?

I mean like, is Texas an affliction?

I have no intention whatsoever of getting into that patch of weeds, though I do acknowledge that there’s plenty of room for subjectivity.

If it pleases you, absolutely feel free to use your personal definition when considering the hypothetical.

Well sure, because they carry pestilence and disease from all the insects they eat. Hey wait, the insects don’t have pestilence and disease anymore! So let’s kill them too. Man, logic can be tough sometimes.

Please tell me the button doesn’t say, “That was easy,” when you press it.

On the other hand, I hear Daffy Duck shouting, “Not the wed one. Don’t ever push the wed one!”

It’s an important question in this thread - because some people don’t want their ‘affliction’ cured. Deafness is the example that springs to my mind - certainly if I lost my hearing overnight tonight, I would consider it an ‘affliction’ that I would desire to be cured, but people who have been deaf their whole lives, or for a long time, have their own languages and culture etc, and I understand, may not wish to be ‘cured’.

Edit: Sorry, I didn’t expand the OP’s explanation bullet point until after I wrote the above.

The opposite is possible. There’s evidence that our immune systems tune themselves to the environment, and that a child who grows up in an environment with few pathogens becomes hypersensitive. The prevalence of allergies might increase if we eliminate disease.

Very true, and I addressed that in the OP. In fact, I specifically addressed your example. :slight_smile:

Sorry, I didn’t expand it until just now - my bad

No worries. My own fault for putting it in the collapsing doohicky. Plus I forgot to add bullet points so it still looks like a mess.

That’s the first time I’ve seen the collapsing doohickey. I didn’t know we had that!



It’s in the same bit of the menu as the spoiler blurry bit.