Re: Objection to the Doomsday Argument?

Hal Finney (
Wed, 19 Aug 1998 09:57:37 -0700

Darin Sunley, <>, writes:
> ---Hal Finney <> wrote:
> > Therefore, if Tamagotchis were conscious, most of them would be correct
> > in concluding that they were probably near the end of the lifetime of
> > the toy, based solely on the assumption that the toy grows exponentially
> > in popularity but has a finite lifetime.
> True, but my point is that ANY particular Tamagotchi would have no way
> of telling, a priori, whether he was going to be right or wrong in
> assuming the DA to be true.

No one of them can tell this with certainty. That is why I wrote that they could conclude that they were "probably" near the end.

Consider a lottery where only a few players win out of millions of participants. No particular lottery player has any way of telling, a priori, whether he would be right or wrong in believing that his ticket probably won't win. But he can conclude based on what he knows about the lottery that it is very likely to be the case that he won't win.

The Tamagotchis are in a similar situation. Knowing only their birth ordering and a general model of exponential growth, they can conclude that they are probably near the end of the fad. Some of them won't be near the end, just as some lottery players actually win. But that does not imply the falsehood of the probabilistic conclusion.