Friday, February 5, 2021

Thought Experiment

Here's a thought experiment:


There is a small button attached to a strange looking machine...

If you press this button everyone on Earth will in an instant permanently acquire the same beliefs, world view, values, and opinions as you do at the moment of pressing the button:

To be clear, as a result of this everyone on Earth would have the same values, religious beliefs and political ideology as you have at the moment you pressed the button. And they would maintain those beliefs permanently.

Do you press it?

I wouldn't, for a number of reasons:

First, my own personal opinions/beliefs/world view have, in the past, been subject to change. So if I'd pushed the button and my opinions changed again I would be the only person on Earth with their own beliefs as everyone else would have the beliefs I had back when I pressed the button. I would be in a minority of one. Indeed I would be the only minority. It would be me (with my new ideas) and everyone else (with my old ideas!) - and what if I am wrong about things! Then everyone would be wrong and nobody right!

Secondly, with only one set of opinions in existence progress would stagnate as there would be no conflict of ideas. With just one world view we could only see things from one perspective and in one set of terms, hence the collective intelligence of humankind would be very much undermined. In order for humankind to survive and progress there needs to be a diversity of opinions/beliefs/world views in existence!

With just one set of opinions/beliefs we would be more like a colony of social insects than a human society - there would in effect be a hive mind

Also, think of the old blind-men and the elephant analogy. With only one blind person touching only one part of the elephant the collective understanding of the elephant would be much poorer than if there were many blind men touching it in different places


Third, it would be unethical. I wouldn't want my beliefs changed in such a way hence I would never do that to another person.

At the end of the day, I think one of the greatest things about humanity is the diversity there is amongst humans. Indeed I think such a diversity is good and should be encouraged!

So no, I would not push the button.

Would you?

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