[extropy-chat] Be[ing] or Not Be[ing]

Harvey Newstrom mail at HarveyNewstrom.com
Sun Apr 18 20:54:41 UTC 2004

On Sunday, April 18, 2004, at 01:38 pm, Hal Finney wrote:

> Now I think you are questioning the reasoning behind the argument, 
> right?
> You are suggesting that even if the premises are true, the conclusion
> doesn't follow.  That's a perfectly legitimate approach, and I'm not
> writing to defend Nick's argument.  I'm not familiar enough with the
> details to tackle that here and now.

Yes, as a secondary point.  My original point was that the logical 
argument is not a scientific theory and does not have scientific 

As to this secondary point, yes, I am arguing that even if the three 
original suppositions are true, Nick's paper seems to make a fourth 
assumption that I think is false.  He seems to assume that we have an 
equal chance of being born in any universe and/or any simulation.  He 
then concludes that since there are more simulations than real 
universes, we are probably in one of them.  I don't think we have any 
evidence for our statistical chances of being born into various 

The whole question of arguing our chances of being incarnated where, 
seems to be a religious argument based on the preexistence of the soul.

Even if we want to try to estimate such a chance, how do we wieght 
universes.  Does an infinite-sized universe get as many incarnations as 
a subatomic one?  Does an everlasting universe get as many incarnations 
as one that only lasts a second?  Does a infinitely complex universe 
get as many incarnations as a simplistic gameboy simulation?  I think 
the unstated fourth assumption that all these universes and simulations 
get equal statistical weight is faulty and unfounded.

> Faced with an argument, you can accept its conclusion; or question
> its premises; or question the reasoning that links the premises to
> the conclusion.  Any of these are legitimate responses.
> But denying the utility of logic is going too far.  Believing that
> "unfalsifiable, unscientific methods are *not* important methods for
> reaching truth" will require you to reject too many useful truths.

I am not denying the utility of logic in finding truth.  My point is 
that it cannot discover truth without science.  Logic suggests a 
possible hypothesis.  Science tests the hypothesis to see if it is 
true.  As long as the simulation argument is based on logical argument 
while remaining untestable by science, it cannot be called a scientific 
hypothesis or true.

Some people seem to think that the argument is logically "true" and 
that it proves its point "scientifically".  I am merely trying to 
clarify that it is not science, and it is not proven true.  I also 
happen to believe that the argument is faulty and untrue.

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