Hypotheticals that will never happen.

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Hypotheticals that will never happen.

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:31 am UTC

Don't you hate it when people will give you retarded hypotheticals that will never ever happen in which you have to make a decision? Like If you had to choose who died in your family etc. etc.

Yeah well what if you had to choose between your own life and 1000 people's life? :D

10,000?

1million?

Everyone in the world?

I would choose my own life in each of them - therefore I am a bad person :P

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Postby Verysillyman » Fri Oct 27, 2006 11:15 am UTC

Just imagine a world without hypothetical situations.

EDIT: It would be like a world without similes.

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Postby theY4Kman » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:07 pm UTC

Verysillyman wrote:...It would be like a world without similes.

Brilliant!
Though, if I was faced with a decision like that, I'd turn it back on them:
"Would you choose to have yourself killed or 10,000 people killed?"
"Hmmm...Does your 'friend' want to know or something?"
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Postby fjafjan » Fri Oct 27, 2006 12:50 pm UTC

Would i give myself for the life of 10 000 people?

I think would 10 000 people give their life to save me? (individually)

If not, then screw them anyway, and if so, then clearly it's what they want :D
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Postby Air Gear » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:48 pm UTC

Haha, with the hypotheticals...whenenver people talk about "your life or x lives", I always ask something like...how are those people going to be chosen? Randomly? Among a certain subset? If it's about specific people, well, hey, whether I answer or not depends on who, since those questions are just wrong.

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Postby Gelsamel » Fri Oct 27, 2006 1:54 pm UTC

It doesn't matter who it is for me, I like living too much. Hence I'm evil, or a bad person, which ever you prefer.

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Postby thomasjmaccoll » Fri Oct 27, 2006 2:10 pm UTC

i answer yes. i mean, obviously it will never happen, but come on, this is 10,000 people! if i seriously had to choose then yes i think i would be pretty morally obliged to let these 10,000 people live instead of the 1 me.

but yeah it is pretty annoying when people ask the question.
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Postby MightyMouse » Fri Oct 27, 2006 2:36 pm UTC

I always hate the supposed moral quandry of 'if there was a drug that made people happy with no side effects would you put it in the water supply?' It's asked as if bizarrely the only choice you'd have given the former would be to put it in the water supply or hide it all in a cupboard and run away giggling to yourself. Also, it would probably depend on my mood that day.

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Postby myoumyouou » Fri Oct 27, 2006 3:39 pm UTC

yeah, or like " if you could choose between person a and person b, and they both wanted you, but you could only choose one, and death wasn't an option"
ah, hypotheticals,
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Postby Belial » Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:15 pm UTC

If you've ever had an extended conversation with me on the issues facing the world today, you'd notice a trend: I tend to blame just about everything on human overpopulation. I genuinely believe that a good 80-90% of the world's problems go back to the fact that there's a few billion too many talking apes on this rock.

Given that, I think I would be faced with the option, nay, the moral imperative, to choose to live and let the 10,000, or million, or however many people die.

Heck, could I bargain the number up to something like 5.9 billion?

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Postby MrBawn » Fri Oct 27, 2006 4:45 pm UTC

I hope that I would have the courage to jump in front of a speeding truck to save the life of one individual. But it doesn't scale very well. When you start talking about 10,000 people, it gets a little silly, and I'm suddenly more comfortable with saying no. I guess it's because on one hand, you have a person, and on the other, you have a number.

Also, I'm reminded of a short story called "the button". A woman is given a small wooden box with a button on top of it, and is told that if she presses it, she will get a million dollars and somebody will die. She is assured that she will not witness the death, and that it will be somebody she doesn't know. She discusses this with her husband. He is against the idea, but while he's away at work, she presses the button anyway. Soon after, she finds out that her husband is dead, and she collects on his million dollar insurance policy. When she complains to the man who gave her the box, he says "clearly you did not know your husband very well."

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Postby Peshmerga » Fri Oct 27, 2006 5:15 pm UTC

I'd save my own arse put against 10,000.

But I'd die 10,000 times to save hers.

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Postby wisnij » Fri Oct 27, 2006 6:37 pm UTC

Belial wrote:If you've ever had an extended conversation with me on the issues facing the world today, you'd notice a trend: I tend to blame just about everything on human overpopulation. I genuinely believe that a good 80-90% of the world's problems go back to the fact that there's a few billion too many talking apes on this rock.

World population passed the one billion mark sometime in the early 1800s. Given that most current global problems existed back then in one form or another as well, I'd say that makes your hypothesis empirically false.

Belial wrote:Given that, I think I would be faced with the option, nay, the moral imperative, to choose to live and let the 10,000, or million, or however many people die.

Heck, could I bargain the number up to something like 5.9 billion?

Man, forget that noise. The last time human population was 100 million was sometime around 500 BCE. I don't want to live in ancient Roman times.
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Postby aran » Fri Oct 27, 2006 7:19 pm UTC

If you find life to be infinitely valuable (as it appears most Americans do), the 1 for 10,000 trade is perfectly reasonable.

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Postby Belial » Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:05 pm UTC

World population passed the one billion mark sometime in the early 1800s. Given that most current global problems existed back then in one form or another as well, I'd say that makes your hypothesis empirically false.


Most of those problems (hunger, wide-scale environmental destruction, man-made climate change, poverty), however, would fail to exist, or wouldn't exist within orders of magnitude of the same degree, with current technology, if the technology weren't trying to keep up with our constant ridiculous breeding.

Essentially, we never *solve* any of these problems, because we're continually outbreeding them.

Man, forget that noise. The last time human population was 100 million was sometime around 500 BCE. I don't want to live in ancient Roman times.


The assumption being that somehow returning to that population count would also return us to that technological, social, and knowledge level?

Following that assumption, we should stop working for social and scientific progress, and just breed harder. Another 6 billion and we'll have faster than light travel, total social equality, an end to world hunger, and everyone will love each other.....

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Postby xkcd » Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:20 pm UTC

You can really attack the math of morality in a lot of ways, including my personal favorite, which involves medicine and being able to prolong various peoples' lives different amounts, and it basically forces you to draw a line somewhere arbitrary.

But my answer to these in general has just been to create a class of situations/problems which have no particularly good answer. They are problems where I honestly don't know what i would do in the situation and I won't mandate that anyone else make a particular choice -- where either option is horrible, and it's hard to imagine all the stuff you'd feel in the situation until you're actually there. So I don't find it particularly useful to pin down my policy about what's morally right, because it will be very hard to be consistent, and it's a lot like asking someone to choose between their children.

The answer there, as in most of the problems in this class, is that it ISN'T that cut-and-dry in real life, and if there's a chance it will be, the only right thing to do is simply do everything you can to avoid the situation. Once you're there, you'll do what seems right to you and no one from the outside has a lot of right to make a judgement about your decision. This class of problems includes most anything involving abortion.

That having been said, as for the queston at hand, I would probably say that my decision to save myself would not really depend on the number of people on the other end -- it's kind of academic, as far as I'm concerned. Telling me a bigger number doesn't really change the my-life-or-theirs aspect of it, and I really lean toward the idea that when I die, that's the end of everything, so I should in theory avoid that no matter what. But at the same time I try not to dwell on the idea, because that can only be a downer. And of course this is all theory -- I say I'd save myself, but when it came down to it, I have no idea what I'd do, especially if it was a loved one on the line.

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Postby Gemini25RB » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:44 pm UTC

Hypothetically speaking, if you had to reply to this post or watch 958793406 people die, what would you do?

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Postby Peshmerga » Fri Oct 27, 2006 9:44 pm UTC

Depends on how they're dying.
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Postby Gemini25RB » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:14 pm UTC

No it doesn't...you already took the opposing option.

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Postby Peshmerga » Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:21 pm UTC

Gemini25RB wrote:No it doesn't...you already took the opposing option.


Yes it does. For instance (and since we are still speaking hypothetically, here) what if 958,793,406 people were to die all hilarious deaths; real knee-slapping demises. And what if you were bored and no one was posting on xkcd.

Entertainment is far more important to me than the meaningless existences of others. Especially if it's good entertainment.

Hell, watching 958,793,406 people all die, uniformly or not, would certainly be a "once in a life time" deal. Anyone can read xkcd... well maybe not anyone.
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Postby thomasjmaccoll » Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:32 am UTC

xkcd wrote:That having been said, as for the queston at hand, I would probably say that my decision to save myself would not really depend on the number of people on the other end -- it's kind of academic, as far as I'm concerned. Telling me a bigger number doesn't really change the my-life-or-theirs aspect of it, and I really lean toward the idea that when I die, that's the end of everything, so I should in theory avoid that no matter what. But at the same time I try not to dwell on the idea, because that can only be a downer. And of course this is all theory -- I say I'd save myself, but when it came down to it, I have no idea what I'd do, especially if it was a loved one on the line.


i don't know, and i am fairly drunk at the moment so feel free to ignore what i say. i just think, i don't know if it's nature or nurture or anything else, if i'm just abnormally self-devaluing, but i truly believe i would always answer 'yes, kill me'. i have thought this through extensively many times, and so i know it's not just me wanting to seem like i'm doing the right thing, i truly believe that if i were faced with the choice of me dying or (an)other human(s) dying, i would choose for them to live... i mean the loss to 10,000 families is so much more than the loss to my family. <MORE REASONS THAT MY BRAIN WON'T MAKE INTO PROPER SENTENCES RIGHT NOW.>
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Postby Uglysad » Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:47 am UTC

Real answer:

Yea. I don't think I would have a problem giving my life up for 1, 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000 people. It is just life and it is going to end eventually. If I can save 10,000 people, more power to me

Fake Answer:

I'd let the 10,000 die and then kill myself just to mess with the system

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Postby Narsil » Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:17 am UTC

In my strange philosophical journeys, I have come up with the idea that the universe will end when I die, because I won't be around to know otherwise. Therefore, if I am given the choice to save me (and a girl, obviously) or the world's population sans me, then fuck yes, good bye world. Alternatively, I have come up with a theory that I will never die, which is so strange it deserves a post to itself.

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Postby Gelsamel » Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:51 am UTC

Narsil wrote:In my strange philosophical journeys, I have come up with the idea that the universe will end when I die, because I won't be around to know otherwise. Therefore, if I am given the choice to save me (and a girl, obviously) or the world's population sans me, then fuck yes, good bye world. Alternatively, I have come up with a theory that I will never die, which is so strange it deserves a post to itself.


You will because you're all a figment of my imagination.

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Postby Belial » Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:52 am UTC

Alternatively, I have come up with a theory that I will never die, which is so strange it deserves a post to itself.


I think I might actually have the same theory.......

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Postby Gelsamel » Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:54 am UTC

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_solipsism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism

Edit: For a Solipsism to be true the solipsist in question would have to not die. And since it's my mind from which everything stems you'll all die, and I never will :P

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Postby Charodei » Sat Oct 28, 2006 8:02 pm UTC

Gemini25RB wrote:No it doesn't...you already took the opposing option.


Since the question was only posed hypothetically, he did not in fact take one of the options. Clever idea, though.

Practically speaking, there is always another option. Me or n other people? I'd imprison/kill anyone running such a macabre program. It's a better indication of my morality than the given choices.

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Postby Belial » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:13 am UTC

Me or n other people? I'd imprison/kill anyone running such a macabre program.


The assumption being that you don't have the means to do so. Presumably, if this dude has the resources to kill 10,000, a million, or a billion people, you probably can't just walk up to him and slap cuffs on him. Or hit him with a mackerel. Or call the cops.

*That* part of the problem isn't a matter of the difference between a hypothetical and a practical situation, because the practical situation is much the same.

Edited to add: The part that is wierd and hypothetical is this:

Assuming this guy has the means to hold you imprisoned while he lets you decide whether to let yourself die, or let him kill some countless number of people, chances are he has some army of robots or ninjas or something, and is well on his way to world domination.

Given that he seems to have been somewhat successful, he probably has this planned out pretty well.

So why is he even letting you make this choice at all? Chances are he either a) needs those 10 million people for something (slave labor, organ factories, biological batteries), or b) he was going to kill them anyway.

So wouldn't letting you, an unknown factor, make a decision that could easily run counter to his plans, be kindof a dumb idea?

So in a practical situation, dude already knows what he's going to do, he's just messing with your head by possibly making you think it was your fault.

It's a better indication of my morality than the given choices.


Umm...How? "I'd prefer that bad people go to prison or die, and that nothing bad ever happen to people who don't deserve it" doesn't tell anyone *anything* about your morality. Outside of sociopaths and other such things, *most* people would prefer that neither side of that little devil's equation (yourself vs countless others) would die. So it tells nothing except that you aren't a sociopath. Setting up a situation to test how you would organize the hierarchy of importance of human life, and the factors you consider in who gets to survive and who gets to die if someone HAS to die, *does* tell something.

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Postby Gelsamel » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:23 am UTC

Or it's just a magical situation where some being asks you the question and which ever you choose happens.

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Postby Belial » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:35 am UTC

Or it's just a magical situation where some being asks you the question and which ever you choose happens.


Which puts it back in the realm of the hypothetical, which is cool.

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Postby Verysillyman » Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:48 pm UTC

I would like it to be asked if I would rather be killed, slowly, by ten thousand people, or kill each and every one of them. Now there's a test of morality!

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Postby Gelsamel » Sun Oct 29, 2006 12:51 pm UTC

Would you rather be killed, slowly, by ten thousand people, or kill each and every one of them with your bare hands?

I know my answer :P

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Postby Verysillyman » Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:21 pm UTC

So do I. Assuming no consequences, I'd kill them all. Unless they were people I care about or want something from.

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Postby MightyMouse » Sun Oct 29, 2006 1:35 pm UTC

Belial wrote:
Alternatively, I have come up with a theory that I will never die, which is so strange it deserves a post to itself.


I think I might actually have the same theory.......


Is this the theory that uses the many-worlds hypothesis and a bit of thought about how your consciousness would experience similar situations like teleporting yourself but the original being still there to show that in the path through Hilbert space that you experience going down, you could never die (obviously you can die in other people's experience) until the end of the universe, whereupon we'd all die simultaneously?

If so, yeah I thought of that one in a bar the other night too. Weird how the same ideas come to everyone really.

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Postby Narsil » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:52 pm UTC

MightyMouse wrote:
Belial wrote:
Alternatively, I have come up with a theory that I will never die, which is so strange it deserves a post to itself.


I think I might actually have the same theory.......


Is this the theory that uses the many-worlds hypothesis and a bit of thought about how your consciousness would experience similar situations like teleporting yourself but the original being still there to show that in the path through Hilbert space that you experience going down, you could never die (obviously you can die in other people's experience) until the end of the universe, whereupon we'd all die simultaneously?

If so, yeah I thought of that one in a bar the other night too. Weird how the same ideas come to everyone really.

Mine just stems from the impossibility of fathoming death and non-existence. Basically, every time you have a choice in life, time breaks into two paths. You will always take the choice that doesn't result in eventual death. In this way, you will become the oldest person on earth one day. We all will, in our own time paths. This is a good theory because if I ever really die, I won't be able to tell anyone I'm full of shit, and the theory will live on. Plus, it gives hope. But yeah, I guess we all think of everything at least once, and it's not possible to have an original idea, just one that's voiced louder.

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Postby SpitValve » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:59 pm UTC

I could think of several (pretty unlikely) situations where you might have a choice between your life and 10,000 others.

Say your brain contains the cure to a fatal disease 10,000 people have contracted, and they can't just take a sample, they need to remove the whole damn thing.

Or say you are Dark Phoenix, and unless you destroy yourself, you are going to lose control of your uber-psi-powers and kill at least 10,000 people.

Or in a war situation, you are captured behind enemy lines. You know the location of 10,000 of your soldiers and you know the enemy could easily bomb them if they knew. They ask you where your soldiers are, threatening you with death if you don't talk. (And you know they'll do it, as they executed the last guy)

It just takes a little imagination, people! :D

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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:08 pm UTC

SpitValve wrote:Or in a war situation, you are captured behind enemy lines. You know the location of 10,000 of your soldiers and you know the enemy could easily bomb them if they knew. They ask you where your soldiers are, threatening you with death if you don't talk. (And you know they'll do it, as they executed the last guy)

It just takes a little imagination, people! :D


Sod the soldiers, Pride and Patriotism are worth more than your life. never cave to interrogation, they'll probly just kill you anyway. Your best bet is just to draw it out and hope to get out with a PoW medal at the end...
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Postby MightyMouse » Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:52 pm UTC

Mine just stems from the impossibility of fathoming death and non-existence. Basically, every time you have a choice in life, time breaks into two paths. You will always take the choice that doesn't result in eventual death. In this way, you will become the oldest person on earth one day. We all will, in our own time paths. This is a good theory because if I ever really die, I won't be able to tell anyone I'm full of shit, and the theory will live on. Plus, it gives hope. But yeah, I guess we all think of everything at least once, and it's not possible to have an original idea, just one that's voiced louder.


Actually you can test it, as long as you just want to further scientific knowledge in some part of the Hilbert space (very unlikely to be your own). Get a reasonably large sample of people to all try to simultaneously kill themselves in a manner with a well-defined (and hopefully near-certain) probability of success. There should be some place where they all live, and the rest of the populace can live happily ever after.

Of course, you may want to convince everyone that this is a valid theory before you try broadcasting mass-suicide around the globe.

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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:27 pm UTC

MightyMouse wrote:
Mine just stems from the impossibility of fathoming death and non-existence. Basically, every time you have a choice in life, time breaks into two paths. You will always take the choice that doesn't result in eventual death. In this way, you will become the oldest person on earth one day. We all will, in our own time paths. This is a good theory because if I ever really die, I won't be able to tell anyone I'm full of shit, and the theory will live on. Plus, it gives hope. But yeah, I guess we all think of everything at least once, and it's not possible to have an original idea, just one that's voiced louder.


Actually you can test it, as long as you just want to further scientific knowledge in some part of the Hilbert space (very unlikely to be your own). Get a reasonably large sample of people to all try to simultaneously kill themselves in a manner with a well-defined (and hopefully near-certain) probability of success. There should be some place where they all live, and the rest of the populace can live happily ever after.

Of course, you may want to convince everyone that this is a valid theory before you try broadcasting mass-suicide around the globe.


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Postby Teaspoon » Mon Oct 30, 2006 5:39 am UTC

The worlds in which they all survive would be the ones where nobody listens to your stupid suicide idea and, because everybody rejects the test idea, nobody will believe you anyway.


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