Re: The Doomsday argument

Patrick Wilken (
Mon, 14 Jul 1997 11:51:40 +1000

>That you should
>have a rank of sixty billion or so is much more likely is
>only 100 billion persons will ever have lived than if there will be
>many trillion persons. Therefore, by Bayes' theorem, you should
>update your beliefs about mankind's prospects and realise that
>an impending doomsday is much more probable than you have
>hitherto thought.

Well I've just tossed heads ten times in a row. Do you want to give me
better than fifty-fifty odds on heads coming up next? If we were able to
randomly select a new life out of all the possible lives that ever lived
and will live and found ourselves in the 20th C then I grant your argument
has some weight. But someone has to come first. I suppose you were standing
next to Neil Armstrong as he stepped up to the launch pad saying "If the
moon is reachable by people then its likely that lots of people will reach
it in the future. The chances that you would be the first are vanishingly
small. Many people have died in the past. Therefore its much more likely
that you will die rather than be the first person to reach the moon".

This has a very biblical ring to it "the first shall be last". Personally I
prefer a more Extropian version "the first shall be first..."

ciao, patrick

Patrick Wilken
Editor: PSYCHE: An International Journal of Research on Consciousness
Secretary: The Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness