Re: Doom2k

From: David Lloyd-Jones <>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 09:17:21 -0500

"Jacques M. Mallah" <> writes:

> Of course our children *should* predict a later "doomsday",
> because the information they would have on birth order is, by definition,
> different from the information we have.
> For example, suppose population was constant for 10^6 years. We
> would then expect it to remain so for about another 10^6, betting that
> sometime around then doomsday would occur. But if we were born around
> 2*10^6 years, our expected timescale would double. It would keep
> increasing until, one day, some of our ancestors would be proved
> right. This end would come as a surprise to those alive at the end, but
> this betting proceedure would maximize the fraction of people whose bets
> were in the right ballpark over all time.


This is quite correct, and therefore it is incorrect. This works as follows:

In order for bets to take place there must be suckers. Since the strategy
you propose is obviously a winner, you cannot find anybody to bet against
you. Since there can be no bets, therefore the premise on which your
argument rests -- that your bets win on average -- in false.

You may wish to claim that since there are suckers born at the rate of 1440
per day, certainly you can find dolts to bet against you. This fails the
empirical evidence, which shows that dolts prefer to bet on the world ending
tomorrow, nigh, etc. On this argument the winning bettor will be the person
who finds the modal preference of dolts, not you. Market research trumps
rationality every time!


Received on Tue Jan 25 2000 - 05:53:34 PST

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