Sunday, March 17, 2013

Yet another Pascal's Wager rebuttal

So, someone shows up and asks for $10, otherwise they'll use their powers outside the matrix to torture you for 10^(10^10) years (and if you give the money, they'll put you in heaven for that many years). You go all rational and give them $10 because the reward is so great and you for god knows what reason aren't certain enough they are lying. The next thing, another guy shows up, promises heaven/hell for the duration of 10^(10^(10^10)) years, and performs a small miracle, proving that he actually got power outside the matrix. But you haven't got enough cash now. You had your money up for grabs by anyone, and someone took them.

Believe it or not, some people fall for this sort of scam, when its about saving the world from robot apocalypse. Rather than argue about possibility of the apocalypse or it's prevention, I'll just argue that in the alternative that apocalypse is coming and can be prevented, far more competent and successful people might want to save the world some day; those people can have a thousandfold larger probability of being correct, and a thousandfold larger probability that they actually do something constructive rather than turn your money into self promotional bullshit and into putting their incompetent asses as co-authors on papers.

But you won't have the money any more because, well, you had your money just waiting to be grabbed by a hustler, and one of those took your money.

I'm thinking that partial beliefs are to blame here. If you were to consistently believe that the end is high - picture that there's an undeniable proof that an asteroid will destroy all life on Earth in 40 years - you ought to be quite a lot more concerned that the money don't go to some crackpots who'll be the first to draft some cold fusion rocket plans. Everyone knows what a non-scam looks like - leader putting in his own money, quitting lucrative job, and so on.