Re: James Higgo

From: Jacques Mallah <>
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 23:54:06 -0400

>What is "a sane view of mortality"?
>Jenny Higgo
>[Jacques Mallah wrote:]
> > Like the rest of the group, I'm shocked and saddenned by this news.
>I don't have much time to write now, as I'll be leaving for my new job in
>North Dakota tomorrow.
> > Although I disagreed with him more often than not, James' input will
>be missed, and not just because he was one of the few members of the group
>who eventually came around to a sane view of mortality.

    To explain that, I'll have to explain some of what's been going on in
this mailing list.
    As you know, (most of) the people on this list, me included, believe in
the existance of what could be called "parallel universes" in which (among
other things) other people similar to ourselves exist. (I will not bother
to make a distinction here between the reasons to believe this based on
quantum mechanics, vs. those based on general philosophy.)
    In many ways it is no different from believing in a spacially infinite
universe, since in that case if you look at enough planets you would
eventually find nearly exact duplicates of the Earth.
    The problem comes when some people consider death in this context. I'll
try to explain the insane view on this, but since I am not myself insane I
will probably not do so to the satisfaction of those that are.
    OK. Now, suppose there are two exactly identical twins who lead exactly
identical lives up until a moment when suddenly, one of them is killed.
(This serves as a model of the case with people in parrallel universes
acting as 'twins'.)
    Obviously, if you care about these twins, the death was a bad thing to
happen. There is now less of these people. True, one twin survived, but
supposing he is still happy, there is still only half as much happiness in
the world due to the twins as there would be if one had not died. I
formalize this by saying that the measure of such conscious observations has
been reduced by a factor of 2.
    The insane view however holds that the mind of the "killed" twin somehow
leaps into the surviving twin at the moment he would have been killed.
Thus, except for the effect on other people who might have known the twins,
the apparent death is of no consequence.
    This they call the "quantum theory of immortality" (QTI) because, due to
quantum mechanics, there would always be some parrallel universe in which
any given person would have copies that live past any given age, and they
figure the minds would always leap into those copies. I will from now on
call it the "fallacious immortality nonsense" (FIN). Those beliefs are
dangerous by the way, since they can encourage suicide or worse.
   I have repeated pointed out the obvious consequence that if that were
true, then a typical observer would find himself to be much older than the
apparent lifetime of his species would allow; the fact that you do not find
yourself so old gives their hypothesis a probability of about 0 that it is
the truth. However, they hold fast to their incomprehensible beliefs.
    With one notatable exception that is. James Higgo believed in the FIN
when I joined this list. However, he came to understand that different
people's moments of conscious observation are independent and each valuable
in their own right, so he rejected the FIN and came to a sane view on
mortality, while continuing to believe in other universes.

                         - - - - - - -
               Jacques Mallah (
         Physicist / Many Worlder / Devil's Advocate
"I know what no one else knows" - 'Runaway Train', Soul Asylum
         My URL:

Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at
Received on Tue Aug 28 2001 - 20:56:25 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:07 PST