Hypothetical shaman's dilemma

From: rmiller <rmiller.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2005 20:34:01 -0500

Here's a hypothetical situation. Your plane goes down in the wilds and
you're rescued by a tribe indigenous to the area. You're wearing the
latest clothes from the GAP, so the tribe elders decide you're a candidate
for shaman apprentice--a position that comes with nice lodging and pays
well indeed. The chief shaman likes you and decides to let you in on a
secret: shamans exploit a brand of multiverse QM theory in that they do
their magic by scanning various future branches of the tribe's world line
in order to predict what will take place (rain, good weather, winning
tickets at the lottery, etc.) Getting the branch right is a bit difficult,
but with practice one can get within a few worlds of the path on the world
line the tribe eventually takes. You discover that each branch is very
deterministic and causal-based---and once on a path, one thing reliably
leads to another. You discover that your job as shaman is to keep
everyone's attention, and once you've done that, to direct them down a
reliable path. You decide it's not too different from the corporate world,
so you're eager to have a go at it.

You learn quickly and after a month or so, you can generally intuit (no pun
intended) what the possibilities (paths) are for the tribe, and you're able
to steer them as a unit down that path. With that, the shaman retires and
you take his place.

Then, the chief takes ill. You saw it coming but you thought it would be
on another path---but you were wrong. Now you look ahead and all the paths
forward are deterministic and end with the death of the chief. But, the
tribe is relying on you to make the chief well. So you go to the retired
shaman and ask him what to do. He replies that you *can't* make the chief
well---especially if all the paths forward are deterministic and all end in
death for the chief. But as a shaman there are things you can do that will
shake things up that will result in placing the entire tribe---and you
included---on a completely new track---that might save the chief's
life. The downside: both you and tribe will be on an entirely different
path--determined by completely unknown histories. You might save the
chief's life, but on that new path, an errant virus (from a different
history) could hit the tribe, wiping it out. Worse, to save the chief's
life, you as a shaman would (for a few weeks or months) have no access to
the future. By performing a "miracle" you'd be placing the entire
tribe--as well as yourself--onto a completely different path, with
different histories and thus different rules (though the history would
*seem* the same).

Would you take the chance and shake things up? Or would you keep the tribe
on the familiar world line and end up losing the chief (and everyone's

Received on Sat Jun 04 2005 - 21:35:17 PDT

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