On Friday, January 10, 2003, at 08:54 PM, Tim May wrote:
To add something to my last comment, there is a huge difference between these two situations:
Wei suggested that in the context of a many-worlds universe (not just
the quantum MWI but even for a broader set of possibilities), you might
not make this same decision. You know that when the coin flips, the
universe is going to effectively branch and both possibilities are going
to be actualized. Let us suppose that in addition to slightly preferring
apples to oranges, you have a strong value preference for diversity.
You like variety and you dislike having everything the same everywhere.
In that case, you might rationally choose to receive an apple on heads
but an orange on tails. While this slightly reduces your average
pleasure level in terms of tasting the fruit, this could be more than
compensated by your increased pleasure at knowing that you are enjoying
diverse experiences in the two worlds.
1. Alice believes in the MWI, whether it is true or not.
2. The MWI is true, whether Alice believes in it or not.
I fully accept that Situation 1, where Alice believes in the MWI, can and likely will alter her choices. She may alter her risk assessment model, she may change what she believes about religion, and so on.
I think, Hal, that in your language above you are confusing the issue of Alice's faith in MWI with the actual reality or nonreality of MWI. Your comments about "You know that when the coin flips" and "knowing that you are enjoying diverse experiences in the two worlds" are not statements about what is actually happening but, importantly, about what Alice _believes_ will happen.
This is paralleled in religion:
"Alice knows that when she prays to Baal, he listens and smites her enemies. She knows that Baal has prepared a place for her in his party room in the afterlife. She knows that dying young for Baal will only take her to Baal that much sooner. She awakens every day with hope and expectation."
No doubt that belief alters behavior. But it doesn't make either the existence of MWI or Baal any more real.
(Understand of course that I am not putting belief in MWI on the same level as belief in YHWH or Allah or Baal or Yog-Sotteth. But we must be careful in using language like "You know that your choice does such and such.")