[ExI] Pascal's wager

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sun May 9 17:29:06 UTC 2021

Quoting Dan:

> There's some stuff to unpack here.
> Mythical unicorns have some variation, but a big problem is they  
> tend to have magical/supernatural  properties.

Are the magical properties of mythical unicorns beyond the capability  
of fully-realized nanotech? What are properties anyway? Supernatural,  
magical, emergent, measurable, or mundane: do any such properties  
actually exist? If so, then where do they exist? Are these properties  
in the things that exhibit those properties or in the mind that  
perceives them?

> 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).

So by "universe" do you mean everything that is which exists, commonly  
referred to as the multiverse these days, or everything that we  
observers can perceive and are causally connected to? Our local big  
bang has a finite horizon that we cannot see beyond but very few  
physicists these days think that this is all that exists.

This distinction is important because in cosmology and string theory,  
Alan Guth's eternal inflation is very popular. It suggests that  
approximately 10^500 varieties of pocket universes exist, each with  
their own big bang and set of distinct physical laws. Big bangs are  
merely the decay of an inflaton field that is expanding faster than it  
is decaying, therefore big bangs are happening all over all the time.

Therefore infinite numbers of each of these types of pocket universes  
exist where every possible permutation of events allowed by the  
physical laws specific to that type of universe are played out. Is  
there anything truly "impossible" in such a eternally inflating  

Besides, nothing ever lives up to the hype, why would unicorns be any  

> 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.)

If string theory and eternal inflation are right, JFK is only dead in  
this Everett branch of this bubble universe and he lives on in  
countless others.

> 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.

Belief and reality are largely independent of one another until  
empirically tested. If we drained the Loch, we would have conclusive  
evidence one way or another. Until we do, people will continue harbor  
opinions and doubts one way or another.

Stuart LaForge

> Regards,
> Dan
>> 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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