Re: When something impossible happens

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2008 - 07:55:26 MST

On Jan 22, 2008, at 10:31 PM, Thomas McCabe wrote:

> On Jan 22, 2008 12:47 PM, Gordon Worley <> wrote:
>> I wrote the following thinking it might be a post for Overcoming
>> Bias. Instead, I think it's more appropriate for SL4.
>> What would you do if something impossible happened? Not "impossible"
>> like when something unlikely happens and you say "Wow, that was
>> impossible!" but something that has so little chance of happening
>> that
>> it shouldn't happen. The following story presents one possible
>> scenario.
> Recheck your probabilities. Consider the possibility of a Third
> Alternative you may have missed. You really, really have to see a lot
> before you're not surprised by how weird the world is.
> Fun experiment: What would you think if this, or something similar,
> actually happened? Suppose that tomorrow you saw something really,
> really weird. You Google and nobody else has seen something similar.
> What odds would you place on:
> - You simply hallucinated the whole thing.
> - You saw correctly, but what you thought happened didn't happen
> (misinterpretation of evidence), and there's actually a mundane
> explanation.
> - You've discovered something unknown to science and the books need to
> be appended.
> - You've discovered something which violates existing science and the
> books need to be rewritten.

Between this and what Robin has pointed out, I think I need to revise
the story. I've not given any reason to discount the possibility that
this is a normal, if rare, phenomenon that has somehow never been
successfully documented and thus is excluded by or contradictory to
established scientific knowledge.

Also, I think that I should point out, based on the discussions my
original post spawned, that my goal was never to tell a story about
realizing that we're living in a simulation. As I was thinking up a
story about "What do you think if something impossible actually
happens," it just seemed that, assuming something actually impossible
actually did happen, this would be a reasonable conclusion. I know
that I may be biased toward a simulation, so I might be missing other
possibilities assuming something actually impossible happened. Here's
a short list of things I discounted:

* Aliens have secret knowledge
* The supernatural
* Repeated, shared hallucination
* A dream

either because you can't test it (if we all share the same
hallucination, is this really much different from how we already
experience the world?) or require information not in the story, like
the idea of it being a dream that can't be discerned from reality.

> How would these change if your observations were repeatable and
> verifiable? Are there any possibilities I've overlooked?
> - Tom

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
               Gordon Worley
e-mail: PGP: 0xBBD3B003

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