Re: Objection to the Doomsday Argument?

Doug Bailey (
Sat, 15 Aug 1998 22:31:40 -0400

Nick, I wanted to reiterate my request since I think it might have gotten lost in the thread. The problem I have with the DA is that it appears to me that any member of any species that applies the DA to its situation will always conclude that their species faces extinction in the near term. If Bayes' theorem is telling us only 99.999% of the species that analyze the DA should conclude imminent doom but in practice 100% are then I begin to wonder if we are overlooking something, we're screwing something up in the application of Bayes' theorem, or drawing wrong conclusions.

With that in mind, can you describe an individual that could apply to DA to its situation and not conclude doom was imminent? What can we say about that individual? The items I would like to know are:

What would such an individual know(i.e., about its species, its relative position, etc.)?

What is that individual's situation that would lead it to conclude doom was not imminent?

Could another individual sitting next to this individual reach a different conclusion?

Could another individual of the same species at an earlier or later point in time apply the DA and reach a different conclusion? (The answer would seem to be "yes" unless there was some reason to believe the species' existence was indefinite.) If the answer is "yes", what qualitative or quantitative differences would there be between the knowledge of the individual in question and the ancestor/descendant?