JeffR23 wrote:If the doomsday argument works today, it would have worked a thousand years ago. If it had worked a thousand years ago, we'd all be dead. We're not dead. Contradiction, so QED: the doomsday argument is silly.
(Also, if it's right the same argument proves we're most likely simulations or intelligences existing in the fleeting, pre-painful death instants of a long series of Boltzmann Brains in deep time, which leads straight to the conclusion of sillyness as well.)
Ah ha - here is one of the few decent posts in this thread. Yes, we have historical president that we are obligated to look at for this argument, and that leads to some interesting quandaries. But most people run around the argument like a chicken with their head cut off.
Also, the simulation argument is ultimately superior. This is an extremely important
detail. In a simple sense, we could abandon the doomsday argument in favor the simulation argument easily, but there are problems with that too. The doomsday argument is embodied within the simulation argument. These are the 3 possibilities according to the simulation argument:
(1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage;
(2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
(3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation
You can see that (1) is just the doomsday argument. It's also quite likely to be wrong, but not necessarily.
I have a different criticism. My problem lies in the details baked into both the doomsday and simulation argument. Everyone keeps arguing that we are all some Nth human, and that's how we should count things. Only because they are bad at counting. If we were a different species, we would say the same thing for that species. You can argue that ancient Greeks made the doomsday argument, but you could also argue that a Neanderthal did. It was improbable that we were born in those societies compared to living in 2013, so that's not a problem of the theory. The definition of "human" is.
include all animals in the history of Earth who were capable of rational thought. You don't know the dinosaurs couldn't! That inflates our baseline from several billions, to an equivalent number of possibly trillions. At least it's enough to make us feel secure through our expansion into space.
Ah, but now you protest that our predecessors of thinking dinosaurs (and other hominids, which is probably a better case-in-point, but I prefer to consider the Velociraptor society that we will discover the remains of after Greenland melts MARK MY WORDS) couldn't have made the doomsday argument, to which I would first reply "why not?" Then after that, I would ask "why should it matter?" If they can think then they were subject to the sample set of intelligent beings that you or I could have been.
Of course, you protest that DINOSAURS DIDN'T HAVE THE INTERNET
, and were in a way less sentient. There might be some substance to this, since rational thought has multiplied significantly since the advent of books (likewise for irrational thought after the internet). After all, in the doomsday dilemma, we should focus on the act of reasoning. ...you can't contemplate the doomsday dilemma without thinking.
Right there everything starts to crumble, but it takes a keen eye. Effectively, we've taken the argument itself to define intelligence. There were plenty of humans who never thought of anything important (including several of my own family members). Why should they be included in the sample set? That becomes an extremely dicey proposition, but the true unqualified failure of the doomsday argument comes from the observation that maybe we
shouldn't be included in the sample set. How do I know I'm not an idiot?? After all, with the simulation argument
, I've already established that the doomsday argument had to be revised, if not completely replaced. This entire class of Bayesian arguments rely on the selection of a sample set for them, and that sample set is connected to who are capable of making those very arguments. There's no way to know if even the simulation argument is worth a crap.
In short, we have no idea how many times we will have to revise the doomsday argument until it says something meaningful. This is a problem, because it affects the selection of the sample set. Now let's consider what will happen when I stumble upon the as-of-yet unknown correct
argument. In that case, I should only count myself in the sample set, which means oh shit, the world is about to end any moment now!
What if people who commit suicide really just discovered the correct Bayesian argument that predicts the end of the world? But they knew they couldn't tell us, and for statistical robustness of having a future they selflessly killed themselves.
Twitter. What does Twitter have to do with this? Perhaps a correctly reasoned suicide tweet could bring about the end of the world? What if that's what killed the dinosaurs? Actually, if you look it up, you find that the asteroid that killed them was about 6-10 km in diameter...http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretaceous ... e_boundary
...about the same size as... that's right. 4942 Munroe. Which is actually traveling backwards
in time to kill the dinosaurs, sent by a cleverly reasoned tweet of someone in the cult of people who logic themselves to suicide with the ultimate form of the doomsday argument.