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Okay, so let's zoom in here. What is preferable?

Torturing 1 person for 60 seconds

Torturing 100 person for 59 seconds

Torturing 10000 person for 58 seconds


Kind of a paradox of the heap. How many seconds of torture are still torture?

And 10^30 is really a lot of people. That's what Eliezer meant with "scope insensitivity". And all of them would be really grateful if you spared them their second of pain. Could be worth a minute of pain?


Okeymaker, I think the argument is this:

Torturing one person for 50 years is better than torturing 10 persons for 40 years.

Torturing 10 persons for 40 years is better than torturing 1000 persons for 10 year.

Torturing 1000 persons for 10 years is better than torturing 1000000 persons for 1 year.

Torturing 10^6 persons for 1 year is better than torturing 10^9 persons for 1 month.

Torturing 10^9 persons for 1 month is better than torturing 10^12 persons for 1 week.

Torturing 10^12 persons for 1 week is better than torturing 10^15 persons for 1 day.

Torturing 10^15 persons for 1 day is better than torturing 10^18 persons for 1 hour.

Torturing 10^18 persons for 1 hour is better than torturing 10^21 persons for 1 minute.

Torturing 10^21 persons for 1 minute is better than torturing 10^30 persons for 1 second.

Torturing 10^30 persons for 1 second is better than torturing 10^100 persons for 1 millisecond.

Torturing for 1 millisecond is exactly what a dust speck does.

And if you disagree with the numbers, you can add a few millions. There is still plenty of space between 10^100 and 3^^^3.


Well, I don't want to argue about this too much, so just to clarify:

Birkenbihl quoted Bernie Siegel with "If you want to change somebody's beliefs, he acts like an addict.", in the context of the famous Max Planck quote that new scientific ideas prevail not because they are accepted, but because those who oppose them die out. In this context, I found the idea interesting, therefore I placed the quote here.

She did not mention that esoteric book. But I searched for the quote in order to provide a source, found it in that book, was mildly amused by it, but thought too little about it.

As it reads in the book, Bernie Siegel sounds somewhat sulky, too, that people do not accept his ideas about medicine. Me, I have no idea what they are. But in this context, the quote is indeed rather unhelpful (to put it politely).

The talk about quantum physics was OK, although nothing to write home about. She happily declares that she knows next to nothing about it, then claims that nobody understands it, which is of course wrong. She did not mention some very important concepts (decoherence, Feynman paths). At least, there was "many worlds" and no "wave function collapse", which is not so bad for a talk from the 1990s.


Yes, and right after that he goes on:

I am lucky. I have always known there was more to the world than is generally accepted. I grew up in a psychic family[...]

...and seems not to notice that he himself has never questioned the beliefs with which he grew up?

The talk about quantum mechanics was nice for non-mathy laymen, although it barely scratches the surface. After reading the quantum physics sequence here, I sometimes like to try out stuff like this and compare them to it.

I would not try to use "addiction" as an explanation. I just liked the comparison between trying to get somebody to change a long-held belief and trying to get him to stop smoking.


Is it just me, or has that article disappeared? I always get a "Forbidden" page: "You aren't allowed to do that."

PS: The Wayback Machine still has it.


"Why does reality exist?"

I think the problem with this question is the use of the word "why."

Yes, I think with the question "Why does anything exist at all?", the technique would not go "Why do I think anything exists at all?", but rather: "Why do I think there is a reason for anything to exist at all?"


What a pity I missed that! How did the meetup go? Is there another NRW meetup planned? Would anybody like to play a round of "Paranoid debating"?