[ExI] Pascal's wager

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Sun May 9 23:22:14 UTC 2021

On Sun, May 9, 2021 at 5:32 PM Stuart LaForge via extropy-chat
<extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> 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?

I think they (the magical properties) are because then it's not magical, right?

Anyhow, leave that aside. I was thinking of simply offering up a horse
with a single horn on its head as a unicorn. There's a lot more to it
than that -- at least according to the lore.

> > 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
> multiverse?
> Besides, nothing ever lives up to the hype, why would unicorns be any
> different?

It depends on that being true, and also, as I've said below, when
someone says they believe in unicorns, I take it they don't -- unless
they specify this -- mean it happens somewhere in the multiverse,
i.e., basically in an alternate reality. I take they means here and
now or at least close by and recently. And this applies to Loch Ness,
etc. Loch Ness believers (or JFK stuff too) don't think there's a
planet somewhere in the visible universe in the last 13.7 billion
years (or in the future) or somewhere in the multiverse that has
someplace like Scotland with a lake with a big sea reptile living in
it. They're saying there's one there now -- or at least there has been
one there in the last hundred years.

> > 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.

My point was not in this branch.:) And I was trying to make the
distinction to give what a contingent impossibility is in
contradistinction to a logical (conceptually inconsistent) and a
nomological (laws of physics violation) ones are.

>> 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.

My point was that I was trying to specify what they believe -- as
given above. If you told them that in another branch universe there
was a Loch Ness monster, but not in this one, I think they'd say, 'No,
we mean there's a big reptile living in the Loch now, dammit!' I
wasn't trying to figure out how to settle the matter (given that it
seems very unlikely their belief is true, regardless of the Loch being
drained) or what ultimately should determine their beliefs.


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