Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Short argument against Pascal's Wager

Pascal's Wager, for the uninformed, is a trick meant to get agnostics to pronounce they believe in God anyway. The idea being that if there is a god, then you score in heaven for believing in him, whereas if you didn't you'd be sent to eternal damnation. And if there's not a god, oh well, it's not like going to church and prayer and fasting and tithing and memorizing parts of the bible are a huge time sucker... Just do it to be safe, because you stand to gain infinite payoff if there is a god, and stand to lose infinitely if there is a god, and if there isn't a god it's more or less the same whatever you do.

There are nice arguments against this such as the lack of useful reasoning with infinite utility, or the fact that there are infinite possible gods, with a smaller infinity of whom may damn you for believing in the Christian god, and all the infinities probably cancel each other out. Here's my short argument, behold the paranoid parrot. If I accepted Pascal's Wager, that would put me in the corner of having to accept every Pascal's Wager-like problem in the future if I wish to remain consistent and hold any sort of respect. And as you can see, being paranoid is quite costly and with overwhelming probability not very useful.

Posted on 2010-12-07 by Jach

Tags: philosophy


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