Newcomb's Paradox


For those of you who don't read that first - I know who you are - (or maybe I don't) - I most likely do not know who you are - but besides the point, it's a paradox. One that's considered a significant one that many people diliberate over in the science and mathamatical universe. I came across it surfing the web, bored.

For those of you who don't want to click over - here it is (minus some very interesting analytical commentary).

A highly superior being from another part of the galaxy presents you with two boxes, one open and one closed. In the open box there is a thousand-dollar bill. In the closed box there is either one million dollars or there is nothing. You are to choose between taking both boxes or taking the closed box only. But there's a catch.

The being claims that he is able to predict what any human being will decide to do. If he predicted you would take only the closed box, then he placed a million dollars in it. But if he predicted you would take both boxes, he left the closed box empty. Furthermore, he has run this experiment with 999 people before, and has been right every time.

What do you do?

If you were to go and read the various commentaries on this paradox, you may find that mathematically there's two conflicting situations - the prediction of the choice and 50/50 chance that there's nothing or a million dollars in the box.

Some people argue that it's better to take the $1000 dollars. Others argue that you are lowering your odds in gaining a million dollars.

I've recently been obsessed with God. Or the concept of God and Religion and the rest. I think this paradox is interesting in its approach. Outside of its scientific manner but on a human level, which, when I told my family this paradox, they seemed to take it too while I argued - "stop thinking like a human and think scientifically."

My father said he'd choose both boxes because at least he'd always get the $1000 dollars and "great if I got the million." Yea - but if the Higher Being was always right - don't you think you'd never get the million but if you trusted him - (he's never been wrong - 999 times) - you'd get it everytime?

What if we changed the word to God?

My Dad would choose the closed box. Semantics.

People who choose both boxes seem to be those who want hard earned fact. I know I will win $1000 dollars. I want to win $1000 dollars. I WILL win this money.

People who choose the million dollars are trusting and faithful. But wait - my father is Catholic? A very spiritual fellow. He seems to be - the sort to - go with the flow. Let what happens happen.

We are constantly trying to - solve the issue. The answer MUST BE A) B) or C).

In another paradox a Law Student proposes that his Professor pay for his classes and he will return the profits three fold once he wins his first case. Knowing the student was pretty smart - the Professor agreed.

Five years after the Student graduates, the Professors is angered that the Student isn't taking on any cases. He sues him - forcing the Student to take a case. They both represent themselves.

What's the conclusion? The Professor states that if he wins, the student has to pay, but if he loses the student has just won his first case and therefore must pay. The student retorts - "ah - but vice versa, if I win - I don't have to pay and if I lose - well, I haven't won my first case."

My family starts to argue - as if there is a correct answer. As if logically it can be solved instantly. There of course is a full answer. Why make a riddle if you can't solve it?

This comes off this need for instant gratification. This - I want it now. This - AGE OF ENTITLMENT. I want it, therefore, I get it.

I'm victim of this. When I play video games, as soon as I'm stuck and I have thought through all the solutions (or thought so) - I find myself looking up the answers online. Then I realize - fuck - that was easy, I could have figured it out.

And then I feel miserable.

Getting what you want - when you want it is an instant fix. But, soon, you find you're miserable - not working for what you get isn't rewarding. Paris Hilton must be miserable.

I went to a Christmas Party with my family. There were people there I've never met, save for the few family members I came with. There was hardly any food (save for crackers) for me to eat and I was a little - uneasy.

Then, they started to pass out lyrics. To Christmas songs. Christmas Carols.

And the host started up on the piano.

And we sang songs.

And at first - it was pretty fucking gay. And awkward. And I was synical. I'm too good to sing carols. I'm better than this. This is so fucking Fox News "I'm a Happy Family - Jesus Camp - Loving - Brady Bunch" - there is too much wrong with the universe to just sit around and sing - Christmas Carols.

Especially really Jesus ones... Like Hark the Herald Angels Sing. It's like a cult.

But, we started with Winter Wonderland.

And I kind of like that song.

And I started to sing with my father. And my sister (while she played Suduko). And you know what? Fuck synicism. Fuck the way the world should be. It was nice. And sweet. And creepy. And, well, if we weren't so uptight - in our own bubbles - we would be happy. And at peace.

I knew these people in the room all voted for Bush. And still watched Fox News Network. And was a little sad to see old Rummy leave office. They were all excited about Christmas - and lighting candles at the dinner table saying their blessings before hand.

But, they've found their answers. They've understood their paradox. It was nice to sing with them a few songs of Christmas.

Sleigh bells ring
Are you listening
In the lane
Snow is glistening
A beautiful sight
We're happy tonight

walking in a winter wonderland

MERRY CHRISTMAS. AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS.