quantum suicide = deadly dumb

From: Jacques M. Mallah <jqm1584.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Thu, 3 Dec 1998 19:58:55 -0500 (EST)

On Thu, 26 Nov 1998, Gilles HENRI wrote:
> Jacques, your sentence " if you are a typical Bob, you are 50% likely to
> die" has not the same meaning as in common life. As all worlds where you
> don't exist have no signification for you, you can say by anthropic
> principle that you (i.e. at least one of your possible future) are sure to
> continue to live in a world where you survived suicide, unless the quantum
> probability of this event is strictly zero. You are not sensitive to the
> fact that you exist only in a very small fraction of the possible Universes.

        There certainly seems to be a lot of confusion about the anthropic
principle, for some reason.
        What the anthropic principle is, in the formulation that makes
sense, is a better version of the Copernican principle. It states that we
should assume our conscious observations to be typical; effectively, drawn
at random from the set of all such conscious observations that exist.
        Obviously, in regions of space or time in which there are no
conscious observations, we will not find ourselves there.
        Perhaps your confusion is as follows: how should we count multiple
instances in which the same observation occurs, as one observation or as
many, for the purpose of finding the probabilities?
        But the answer is clear: as many. It makes no difference whether
observations are the same or not. Indeed, if the answer were 'one', then
the effective probabilities for each observation in quantum mechanics
would be equal, instead of depending on the wavefunction.
        So when some Bobs die, the total measure decreases, and the
fractional measure of Bobs decreases. There is really no difference
between the MWI and non-MWI in this respect. If your life is so painful
that you'd rather not exist than live, commit suicide; otherwise, don't.

Max Tegmark wrote:

> Here's a brief comment on the issue of
> whether the MWI implies subjective immortality.
> This has bothered me for a long time, and a number of people have
> emailed me about it after the Guardian and New Scientist articles came out.
> I agree that if the argument were flawless, I should
> expect to be the oldest guy on the planet,
> severely discrediting the Everett hypothesis.

        Good. You realize that the observational evidence disproves
quantum immortality.

> However, I think there's a flaw.
> After all, dying isn't a binary thing where you're either dead or
> alive - rather, there's a whole continuum of states of progressively
> decreasing self-awareness. What makes the quantum suicide work is
> that you force an abrupt transition.
> I suspect that when I get old, my brain cells will gradually give out
> (indeed, that's already started happening...)
> so that I keep feeling self-aware, but less and less so, the final
> "death" being quite anti-climactic, sort of like when
> an amoeba croaks. Do you buy this?

        No way. It's a desperate attempt to save a very bad idea, and it
shows. I can't blame you for wanting to, but what I really respect is
when someone admits he made a mistake.

                         - - - - - - -
              Jacques Mallah (jqm1584.domain.name.hidden)
       Graduate Student / Many Worlder / Devil's Advocate
"I know what no one else knows" - 'Runaway Train', Soul Asylum
            My URL: http://pages.nyu.edu/~jqm1584/
Received on Thu Dec 03 1998 - 17:02:08 PST

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