[ExI] Pascal's wager

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Thu May 6 01:06:13 UTC 2021

There’s some stuff to unpack here.

First, it depends on what is meant by ‘unicorn’ and what’s acceptable as close enough. The mythical unicorns have some variation, but a big problem is they tend to have magical/supernatural  properties. In which case, it might not matter how vast the universe is or what diverse paths evolution (or bioengineering) has taken elsewhere (or in the future), they might be ruled out. This might be taken to mean mythical unicorns are nomologically impossible. That is, they’re impossible because they go against the laws of nature (or physics).

Second, when someone says they believe in unicorns, one has to go further than just asking if unicorns are possible anywhere or at any time. One has to ask, so they believe they exist as I the myths in our world age relatively recently or even now. In which case, it can’t help if there are unicorn-like beings in a far off galaxy or that they’ll arise in the distant future — say, a billion years from now. (This goes along with contingent impossibility. For instance, it’s contingently impossible that JFK could run for Senate now because he’s king dead.)

It’s kind of like the Loch Ness monster. It’s no help knowing that giant swimming reptiles existed back in the Mesozoic. People who believe there’s one in Loch Ness aren’t believing there were, say, plesiosaurs 65 million years ago. They’re believing there are such animals right now (or at least in the last several decades) in that lake.



> On May 4, 2021, at 4:17 PM, Hermes Trismegistus via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> If the universe is vast enough and life is common enough, then surely there are creatures that resemble our mythical unicorns on other planets. I hold to a healthy faith in unicorns, though I may never see one.
> From: William Flynn Wallace via extropy-chat
> Sent: Tuesday, May 4, 2021 1:11 PM
> To: ExI chat list
> Cc: William Flynn Wallace
> Subject: Re: [ExI] Pascal's wager
> Well, Tara, it depends on whether you share your beliefs with others - tell others your belief and see if you can hold on to rational friends.  bill w
> On Tue, May 4, 2021 at 11:55 AM Tara Maya via extropy-chat <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> The argument works better with unicorns. As far as I know, there are no downsides to believing in unicorns.
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