Re: virus: Rationality in the Cave

David McFadzean (
Sun, 14 Mar 1999 13:58:02 -0700

-----Original Message-----
From: KMO <>
Date: Monday, March 08, 1999 12:12 AM

>When I open the case and show you the money, put the gun to your head
>and ask you, "Do you believe the Bill Clinton is juggling candy bars at
>this moment?" I expect you will answer in the affirmative, but what will
>the perfect lie detector have to say on about your answer?

I would expect to get shot by answering yes or no, a seemingly no-win situation. This reminds me of the Kobayashi Maru scenario in Star Trek II. My only hope is to change the rules of the game, so I answer "mu" in the hope that this confuses the lie detector.


>Sure it's possible. Occam's razor would seem to favor the hallucination
>hypothesis, but for a great many events, there are explanatory accounts
>that fare better against Occam's razor than would the account of the
>actual event. Suppose I were kidnapped by circus midgets and held for
>several days while they force fed me single malt scotch and cocaine
>before releiving me of my money and releasing me in your home town. I
>show up at your door asking for shelter and a loan until I can get back
>to Seattle and free up some funds. You ask me what happened, and I
>explain about the circus midgets. You weigh my account against the
>possibility that my physical and ecconomic state are the result of a
>sustained but concentual binge. Occam's razor would favor the binge
>hypothesis even though it isn't the case.

True enough, I likely wouldn't believe your story. Occam's razor isn't perfect but I'm willing to be wrong some fraction of a percent of the time. The only alternative is to be wrong more often than that. Is that somehow better? I'm assuming that being right or wrong has some real consequences in these situations. If not, it is better to suspend judgement.