[extropy-chat] Doomsday argument

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Oct 16 03:42:13 UTC 2006

Robin writes

>>The Doomsday Argument asks about chances of *being* an individual
>>living over certain periods, and the point here is that almost all historical
>>periods are inadmissable because you can't be anyone else.
> It seems to me that one can imagine being uncertain about what historical
> period one lives in.    Given such uncertainty, we can ask what reasonable
> beliefs are about that.

Okay, suppose that you do know about different historical periods (let's say Roman
Civilization, French Enlightenment, 20th century America, and 22nd century
Africa), insofar as you know that they existed or exist.  Nonetheless *you*,
Robin Hanson, are more certain about 20th century life and that you were
raised in it than almost anything else. Were those influences absent, then you
would be someone else.

But what sense does such a counterfactual make (you *could be* Napoleon)?
That's like saying that Soul #29230041608 could attach to Robin Hanson or
it could attach to Napoleon Bonaparte.  As a good Bayesian, you should use
all the information you have, but you *must* use the information that makes you
who you are. Everything else *you* know must be predicated up that first.


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