Thought Experiments About Copies

John K Clark (
Sun, 3 Nov 1996 08:20:50 -0800 (PST)


Suppose an exact duplicate of the earth, and it's entire ecosystem,
were made a billion light years away. The duplicate world
would need some sort of feedback mechanism to keep the worlds
in synchronization, non linear effects would amplify tiny variations,
even quantum fluctuations, into big differences, but this is just a
thought experiment so who cares. In the first two cases below the results
would vary according to personalities, remember there's a lot of illogic
even in the best of us.

1) I know all about the duplicate world and you put a 44 magnum
to my head and tell me in ten seconds you will blow my brains
out, am I concerned ? You bet I am because I know that your
double is holding an identical gun to the head of my double and
making an identical threat.

2) I find out that for the first time since the Big Bang the worlds
will diverge, in 10 seconds you will put a bullet in my head but
my double will be spared, am I concerned? Yes, and angry as well,
in times of intense stress nobody is very logical. My double is
no longer exact because I am going through a traumatic experience
and my double is not. I'd be looking at that huge gun and wondering
what it will be like when it goes off, and if death will really be
instantaneous. I'd be wondering if my philosophy was really as sound
as I thought it was, and I'd also be wondering why I get the bullet and
not my double, and cursing the unfairness of it all. My (semi) double
would be thinking "it's a shame about that other fellow but I'm glad
it's not me".

3) I know nothing about the duplicate world, a gun is at both our heads
and we are both convinced we're going to die. One gun goes off,
making a hell of a mess, but the other gun for inexplicable reasons
misfires. In this case NOBODY died and except for undergoing a terrifying
experience I am completely unharmed.

John K Clark

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