Re: Quantum suicide without suicide

From: Tim May <>
Date: Thu, 9 Jan 2003 13:23:24 -0800

From: Tim May <>
Date: Thu Jan 9, 2003 1:22:32 PM US/Pacific
Subject: Re: Quantum suicide without suicide

On Thursday, January 9, 2003, at 12:32 PM, George Levy wrote:
> As you can see, suicide is not necessary. One could be on death row -
> in other words have a high probability of dying - and make decisions
> based on the probability of remaining alive.
> Being on death row, dying of cancer, travelling on an airline, or
> sleeping in our bed involve different probability of death... These
> situations only differ in degrees. We are all in the same boat so to
> speak. We are all likely to die sooner or later. The closer the
> probability of death, the more important QS decision becomes.
> The guy on death row must include in his QS decision making the factor
> that will save his life: probably a successful appeal or a reprieve by
> the state governor.

No, this is the "good news" fallacy of evidential decision theory, as
discussed by Joyce in his book on "Causal Decision Theory." The "good
news" fallacy is noncausally hoping for good news, e.g., standing in a
long line to vote when the expected benefit of voting is nearly nil.
("But if everyone thought that way, imagine what would happen!" Indeed.)

The guy on death row should be looking for ways to causally influence
his own survival, not consoling himself with good news fallacy notions
that he will be alive in other realities in which the governor issues a
reprieve. The quantum suicide strategy is without content.

> As you see, suicide is not necessary for QS decisions.

No, I don't see this. I don't see _any_ of this. Whether one supports
Savage or Jefferys or Joyce or Pearl, I see no particular importance of
"quantum suicide" to the theory of decision-making.

It would help if you gave some concrete examples of what a belief in
quantum suicide means for several obvious examples:

-- the death row case you cited

-- the airplane example you also cited

-- Newcomb's Paradox (discussed in Pearl, Joyce, Nozick, etc.)

-- stock market investments/speculations

--Tim May
Received on Thu Jan 09 2003 - 16:27:21 PST

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