Thanks for the patient explanation.
Fair enough, apologies for the tone.
But if answering the question involves making arbitrary value choices I don't understand how there can possibly be an obvious answer.
I've received minus 2 points (that's bad I guess?) with no replies, which is very illuminating... I suppose I'm just repeating the above points on lexicographic preferences.
Any answer to the question involves making value choices about the relative harms associated with torture and specks, I can't see how there's an "obvious" answer at all, unless one is arrogant enough to assume their value choices are universal and beyond challenge.
Unless you add facts and assumptions not stated, the question compares torture x 50 years to 1 dust speck in an infinite number people's eyes, one time. Am I missing something? Because it seems It can't be answered without reference to value choices - which to anyone who doesn't share those values will naturally appear irrational.
It seems that many, including Yudkowsky, answer this question by making the most basic mistake, i.e. by cheating - assuming facts not in evidence.
We don't know anything about (1) the side-effects of picking SPECKS (such as car crashes); and definitely don't know that (2) the torture victim can "acclimate". (2) in particular seems like cheating in a big way - especially given the statement "without hope or rest".
There's nothing rational about posing a hypothetical and then adding in additional facts in your answer. However, that's a great way to avoid the question presented.