Re: Objection to the Doomsday Argument?

Doug Bailey (
Mon, 17 Aug 1998 9:53:04 -0400

I continue to believe that the DA is either oversimplified or we're relying too much on an inductive argument. I continue to be troubled by the "snapshot" problem and the apparent fact that no entity can escape the Doom Soon conclusion.

What if we apply the DA to other classes of objects? If we apply the DA to stars, shouldn't conclude such stars are not atypical and thus conclude Doom Soon for stars as well? Does the DA give us any insight into the probability that Doom Soon for stars is any higher than before we considered the DA? I can't see how.

If we apply the Bayesian analysis used by the DA to other classes of objects we get some fairly alarming results. What if we apply the DA to the number of scientific discoveries that have been made? Are we to conclude that virtually all of the discoveries that we have been made have already been made? To conclude otherwise would be to violate the "typical" assumption that's embedded in the current analysis of the DA.

The only difference I see is that the "stars" and "scientific discoveries" examples have a third-person perspective (I'm considering them) whereas when I consider the DA in the context of humanity its a first-person perspective (I'm looking at my own relative position). I'm not sure how this might be a problem. I can see how the first-person perspective is significant to the DA but I don't see how our assessment of ourselves would be qualitatively different (for purposes of applying the DA) than our assessment of scientific discoveries or stars.

The conclusions I am reaching using the DA is that I should expect everything (that has a bounded existence) to become "extinct" and other things (such as scientific discoveries) not to increase too much in size between now and forever. The DA appears to place the entire universe (at every conceivable level) on the execution block or in deep freeze. Shouldn't such a set of conclusions raise some concern about the viability of the DA as a reliable guide?