Immortality & Bayesian Statistics

#21
- I doubt this will help. But just in case -- here's the second page. Note that I've tried to write this paper so that it will interest mathematicians, as well as well-educated people otherwise.


NEW EVIDENCE

19. I seem to have stumbled upon a significant, but previously
unnoticed -- or ignored -- deduction, following from science's possible
explanations for the difference between different selves.

20. Unfortunately for us (in trying to keep things simple), there are
two types of differences between different selves:
21. Different selves have different degrees of various human
characteristics - such as generosity, honesty, bravery, intelligence etc.
22. But then, there is something more basically different between one
self and another - we do not share personal consciousness with each other -
we have different "experiencers," "observers," "identities." We are
different "selves"...
23. It is the possible explanations for this second difference that
appears to defy our well-educated belief.

24. That I have noticed this critical, albeit elementary, deduction --
when the publishing scholars have not -- doesn't seem too likely...
25. But for the moment at least, I'm stuck with that conclusion...

26. And, not to worry about any doubts you may have.
27. I know what they are, or will be -- and, I have effective answers
for them.
28. ... Or at least, I think that I do.
29. You'll see...
30. We'll see...

31. Anyway, it would appear that I have stumbled upon some relevant, but
previously unnoticed, evidence (logic, in this case) that has serious
implications re the probability of the "old" well-educated belief...
32. And, believe it or not, there is an accepted mathematical procedure
for estimating the actual impact of new evidence upon the probability of an
old belief.
33. This procedure is called "Bayesian Statistics."
34. And, when this procedure is applied, the new probability of the old
belief (again) is virtually zero...
35. (An, I ain't just "whistlin Dixie" about the effects of my new
evidence!)
36. In other words, it sure looks like the old belief is wrong - and, I do
not have just one, finite, life to live.
 
#22
A whole 8 pages to explain this and unpack what is meant by the "self"? Impressively concise! I'm sarcastic, but of course you can make certain assumptions for the sake of argument about how you're defining this integral concept. However, if the argument is weak because it rests upon weak assumptions, then you're basically digging yourself a hole...
- I agree. That's essentially why I'm here. I'm here to see how weak my assumptions are.
 
#23
...Even if you had a solid definition to which we can refer, I still find your statement "science's possible explanations for different selves" being used to justify your claim is trying to sneak in some broad statements about what science is possible of doing. Are you resting the "self" on a definition that is not scientifically explainable and then going "see, science can't explain it" or is my suspicion incorrect?
bryangoodrich,
- I'm not sure that I understand what your suspicion is -- but if I do understand it, I think it's incorrect...
- When two people are discussing the "self," it seems almost impossible to be sure that they're talking about the same concept.
 
#24
Yeah, this is not my type of debate. Not good enough with logic concepts/bayes concepts.

This may fall under BG's missing definition of self or be irrelevant, but the number of people countinually fluctuates. During our life times, increases, meaning self is not finite. However, how would any of this function in the face of a catastrophy when the population becomes smaller than the current population? Where would those self units with a limited number of vessels be under the immortality hypothesis (zero-sum?)?
hlsmith,
- I have a couple of possible answers, but first -- how many potential selves are there?
 
#25
Yeah, this is not my type of debate. Not good enough with logic concepts/bayes concepts.

This may fall under BG's missing definition of self or be irrelevant, but the number of people countinually fluctuates. During our life times, increases, meaning self is not finite. However, how would any of this function in the face of a catastrophy when the population becomes smaller than the current population? Where would those self units with a limited number of vessels be under the immortality hypothesis (zero-sum?)?
hlsmith,
- Interesting question.
- I have 2 possible answers. Briefly: 1) We are all part of an infinitely divisible whole; or 2) "Now" (time) isn't what we think it is.
 

CowboyBear

Super Moderator
#26
10. I think that I can virtually prove that this well-educated belief is
false because simple deduction applied to science's possible explanations
for different selves leads to the conclusion that the probability of my,
current, personal existence - given our well-educated belief -- is virtually
zero...
Using Bayes' theorem is not an instance of deductive reasoning. And if you aren't using deductive reasoning, you can't "prove" things. Statistical and probabalistic arguments can be used to demonstrate evidence, not proof.

17. For dummies:
a. The likelihood of a "red state" to elect Candidate X is 10%.
b. State A elects Candidate X.
c. State A is probably not a "red state."
This argument is known as the probabalistic modus tollens, and it is a logical fallacy (see Cohen, 1994, p. 998). c does not follow from a and b. E.g., what if the likelihood that a blue state elects Candidate X is 5%? What if there are many more red states than blue states (i.e., what if the prior probability of a state being red is very high)?

The value of Bayes theorem is that it allows us to avoid this line of faulty reasoning, and instead actually calculate values like c (the posterior probability).

Your argument summarised seems to be:

1. Your personal existence would be very improbable if reincarnation does not exist
2. You do personally exist
3. Therefore reincarnation does probably exist

The essential problem I see with your argument is that you are not specifying either (4) the prior probability of reincarnation, before taking into account your personal existence, nor (5) the conditional probability of your personal existence if reincarnation does exist. 4 in particular would surely be vanishingly small, considering that there is no plausible physical mechanism via which reincarnation might occur. You need (4) and (5) to apply Bayes theorem here - your argument as it stands is not a Bayesian argument.
 
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#27
Re: Immortality & Bayesian Statistics/Deductive Reasoning.

Using Bayes' theorem is not an instance of deductive reasoning...
CowboyBear,
- You've cut out a lot of work for me to do -- but, it's probably the work that I most needed to do, and I probably would have gone off on a less useful tangent if you hadn't set me straight... Really.
- But, I have to do these one fence post at a time.
- The deductive reasoning I refer to is used to determine P(x|X).
 
#28
...And if you aren't using deductive reasoning, you can't "prove" things. Statistical and probabalistic arguments can be used to demonstrate evidence, not proof...
CowboyBear,
- Note that I don't claim to prove something; I claim only that I think that I can virtually prove something. My claim is that P(X|x) is extremely small.
 
#29
...This argument is known as the probabalistic modus tollens, and it is a logical fallacy (see Cohen, 1994, p. 998). c does not follow from a and b. E.g., what if the likelihood that a blue state elects Candidate X is 5%? What if there are many more red states than blue states (i.e., what if the prior probability of a state being red is very high)?
- Here, I would say that the probability of something depends upon the information that you have. As you add info, the legitimate probability changes. In the thought experiment I propose, all we know is
a. The likelihood of a "red state" to elect Candidate X is 10%.
b. State A elects Candidate X.
 
#30
Re: Immortality & Bayesian Statistics/Probability and Info Have

...The value of Bayes theorem is that it allows us to avoid this line of faulty reasoning, and instead actually calculate values like c (the posterior probability).

Your argument summarised seems to be:

1. Your personal existence would be very improbable if reincarnation does not exist
2. You do personally exist
3. Therefore reincarnation does probably exist

The essential problem I see with your argument is that you are not specifying either (4) the prior probability of reincarnation, before taking into account your personal existence, nor (5) the conditional probability of your personal existence if reincarnation does exist. 4 in particular would surely be vanishingly small, considering that there is no plausible physical mechanism via which reincarnation might occur. You need (4) and (5) to apply Bayes theorem here - your argument as it stands is not a Bayesian argument.
- You're summary narrows the field a little too much -- but, it is basically correct.
- But then, I will specify those things you're asking for when I lay out the Bayes formula.
 
#31
Re: Immortality & Bayesian Statistics/Probability and Info Have

- Here's my third page.



SO UNLIKELY?


37. The following is one of the reasons why I claim that my current existence is so “unlikely” – given our well-educated belief.

38. Science requires a physical explanation for everything – this includes an explanation for that second kind of difference between selves.
39. There seems to be three different possibilities in regards to that second kind of difference.
40. None of the three gives the “likelihood” of my current existence a “fighting chance.”
41. (In Bayesian statistics, “likelihood” has a technical definition – to be discussed later.)
42. The following are deductive implications of the explanation that gives the best odds for my current existence (it only gets worse from here).

43. I’ll call this the “bio-chemical explanation.”
a. I would never be here if my parents never met.
b. The same is true if either set of my grandparents had never met.
c. Etc., etc., etc.
d. And then, not only does my current, personal, existence depend upon each of these specific +meetings -- back to the beginning of sexual reproduction on this planet -- but each meeting had to ultimately involve fornication, as well as the meeting of the appropriate sperm cell and appropriate ovum, and also, everything that led up to sexual reproduction in life forms in the first place, not to mention everything that led up to life.
e. Like, for instance, the big bang (apparently).
f. And what’s more, my dad probably created a sextillion sperm cells in his lifetime – and, I am the combination of one, specific sperm cell from my dad, and one specific ovum from my mom.
g. Between just the two of them, my Mom and Dad had hundreds of sextillions of different potential children (selves) that were never born!
h. (And, my Dad’s Dad – and, my Mom’s dad -- probably had just as many sperm cells as did my dad…)
i. Anyway, any other combination from my Mom and Dad would be my brother or sister.
j. And then, what about all those potential kids my Dad and Cleopatra could have had, had they met?
k. And, what about all the potential kids and grandkids (etc.) of the potential kids of my Dad and Cleopatra???
l. And, if we can count the potential kids of potential kids, of potential grandkids, etc., our iceberg reaches down to infinity.
m. And scientifically speaking, this is just the tip -- of the tip -- of the iceberg in regard to the number of specific events that had to occur in order for me to currently exist…
n. My current existence is pretty ****ed unlikely if the bio-chemical explanation is correct.
o. And, what this really suggests, of course, is that mainstream science has it all wrong – and, that my self is sort of an inherent, and eternal, resident of reality…
 
#32
Re: Immortality & Bayesian Statistics/Probability and Info Have

- And, my 4th page.

STUCK WITH?

44. In judging my conclusion yourself, the first thing you should note, and keep in mind, is that we are not stuck with the old, well-educated belief – it could be wrong…
45. I point this out because, for some reason, we humans have a tendency to simply accept some beliefs.
46. We accept such beliefs even when something happens that is extremely unlikely if the belief is true.
47. Which we shouldn’t do, because
a. Such an event has significant mathematical implications re the probable truth of the old belief,
b. Typically, such beliefs are linked to some sort of emotional investment – and, we believe because we want to believe.
48. Seems strange that we would want to believe that we have but one, finite, life to live, but in trying to be honest with ourselves we
a. Run into the apparent foolishness of an afterlife,
b. Emotionally invest in that conclusion and
c. Circle our wagons.


FOR GRANTED

49. But note, despite how totally unlikely our current personal existences are, we take them totally for granted…
a. We pay them no attention.
b. We sort of act as if we had to exist.
c. Did we really have to exist?
d. How many potential selves are there, anyway?
e. And, where (in the hell) did we come from?
f. What is the probability of any particular one of us ever existing (given any of the scientific explanations for it)?
g. And, what is the likelihood of “now” being 2014 by the Gregorian calendar – or, 13 billion plus by the universal calendar – and therefore, us being here now?
h. SCIENTIFICALLY SPEAKING, WE ARE ALL ABSOLUTE MIRACLES.
50. And -- we should maybe rethink our old well-educated belief, and revise our worldviews…



THE END

51. If the implications of my particular existence did not allow for another possible, and possibly more probable, belief about my mortality than our well-educated belief, I’d be stuck with that belief – and, also with, “Well, those things do happen...”
52. However, according to the Bayes formula, if my particular existence does allow for another possible, and possibly more probable, hypothesis about my mortality than our well-educated belief, the probability of our well-educated belief actually being correct is EXTREMELY small…

53. And, my claim is that anyone with consciousness -- and the semblance of an open mind -- cannot reasonably eliminate the possibility of another possible, and possibly more probable, belief about their own mortality.

54. The box has been opened…
55. The barn door has been left open.
56. And, the sky is the limit.

(This isn't really the end for anyone interested in the math -- you have 4 more pages to go.)
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#33
Just go ahead and post it all. It would make it easier than us going "you need to specify this" and then you replying "I do that later!".
 
#34
Dason,
- OK. I wasn't sure which way would be better...
- Here's most of the rest -- the site wouldn't allow me to post all the rest of the paper.
- I'll add the rest of the rest in my next post.
- I somehow highlighted all the "the's" in this post, and don't know how to remove the highlights without starting all over... Hopefully, someone will be able to remove them for me...


FOR DOUBTERS AND MATHEMATICIANS
Doubts?

57. “But,” you may ask, “how can your existence be so unlikely if you’re already here -- the likelihood of your current existence should be 100%.”
58. Unfortunately, to answer that, I need to go back to the beginning where I addressed statisticians with the following: the probability of drawing a particular sample from a particular population has mathematical implications re the probability that a particular sample was, in fact, drawn from that population.
59. The new probability (after the new sample has been drawn) that the population is, in fact, as the old hypothesis held, depends, in part, upon the probability of drawing the new sample from the hypothetical old population.
60. In other words, the appropriate entry here does not represent the actuality/fact that I do currently exist (which would be 100%) -- it represents only the probability that I would currently exist if our old hypothesis is true.
61. Here, we simply do not take into account the fact that I AM currently here.
62. “Likelihood” is the term used for this kind of “probability.”
63. So again, doing so, the likelihood that I, personally, would currently exist is virtually zero if our well-educated belief is correct!

64. But then, we notice an “escape clause” (our other major doubt) for still using 100% as the likelihood of my current existence…
65. We realize, or remember, that specifically unlikely things have to happen.” E.g.,
a. Somebody has to win the lottery.
b. Somebody has to win the critical poker hand.
66. And consequently, we shouldn’t be basing our conclusions upon the likelihood of a specific outcome in these cases – we should treat the specific case as someone/anyone.
67. And, the likelihood of someone/anyone eventually winning is essentially 100%.
68. And, we accept that the winners were just lucky.
69. And, we’re right – most of the time…

70. But what if the poker winner is a friend of the dealer, and they have been separately suspected of cheating in the past?
71. Comparing the lottery situation to the poker situation,
a. Knowing what I do about the lottery system, I’m pretty much stuck with luck as the explanation.
b. But, for the poker situation, there is another possible – and, possibly more probable -- explanatory model than luck…
72. I can reasonably eliminate cheating as an explanation in the lottery situation; but, I cannot do the same in the poker situation.
73. In the case of my own existence, I cannot reasonably eliminate the possibility that our explanatory model is wrong – and, in other words, that I do not have but one, finite, life to live.
74. That’s the key.

75. There are two more potential doubts (of which I am aware) [Actually, I'll need to add a couple more at the end]:
a. That the self is a “process,” rather than a “thing.” And,
b. That the self is an “illusion.”
76. But in my opinion, these have no impact upon the probability to which I’m referring.
77. I don’t care if what I have is a process or illusion – so long as whatever it is doesn’t exist for just one, finite, time.
78. And, these doubts seem to be just “straw dogs.”  


COMPARING PROBABILITIES

79. Not being stuck with the old belief, I am stuck with more work – I am stuck with comparing the new probability of the alternative hypothesis to the new probability of the old hypothesis.
80. I do this in order to determine which hypothesis is (probably) correct.
81. And (to repeat myself), I do this after the new evidence has been added to the scale…
82. So, which is more probable – 1) I am VERY lucky, or 2) the old belief is wrong?

83. Certainly, we have lots of reason to believe that the old belief is not wrong.
a. We don’t remember any previous lifetimes.
b. We don’t know any sane person that remembers previous lifetimes.
c. The stories we’ve heard or read about previous lifetimes sound far-fetched, or simply invented.
d. We’ve never seen any ghosts.
e. We’ve never experienced anything “supernatural.”
f. Science questions the existence of anything non-physical.
g. We’ve never had any “out of body,” or “near death” experiences.

84. But then, we don’t KNOW that it isn’t wrong.

85. And then, there is at least some evidence that the old belief is wrong.
a. It could just be that previous lifetimes are naturally forgotten…
b. Consciousness seemsnon-physical.
c. Some of the stories seem credible.
d. Some of the tellers seem credible.
e. A lot of scientists, and otherwise well-educated people do believe in previous lifetimes.
f. A lot believe in the supernatural in general.
g. The fact that many well educated, or otherwise intelligent, people do believe in these things should make doubters -- if they be open-minded at all -- worry that they (the doubters) may be missing something…
h. We individual humans tend to be dominated by either reductionistic thinking, or by holistic thinking, and reductionistic thinking appears to be blind to what we call “transcendence” (the hallmark of religion) – whether transcendence is for real or not.
i. There is a strong tendency among scientists to be reductionistic thinkers – in part, because western schools focus upon reductionistic thinking.
j. Something inside many (most?) of us tells us we’re missing something…
k. Quantum Mechanics
l. And then, time may not be what we think it is.

86. So far, so good – we cannot reasonably eliminate the possibility that the old belief is simply wrong…
87. Now, we just need to actually compare the probabilities (using Bayesian Statistics).


THE OTHER EXPLANATIONS

88. Stepping back a bit -- #44 -- we had the results of the “bio-chemical explanation” with its virtually zero likelihood of my current existence.
89. Next, we have the “bio-chemical-physics explanation.”
90. Here, it isn’t just the DNA that determines your identity – here, the space/time coordinates finish the job.
91. And, if we could replicate the DNA and the space/time coordinates of my conception, we could roll my film back and re-run it (so to speak), giving me my own “Groundhog Day” -- except that absolutely nothing would change.

92. What seems like the obvious explanation for different consciousnesses is that we each have different bodies, different brains – it’s only natural that we would be seeing out different sets of eyes, with different selves.
93. But, that obvious explanation has “unwanted” consequences for our well-educated belief.
94. I’ll call this apparently obvious explanation, “the cosmological explanation.”
95. In this explanation, a “brand new” self is created “on the spot,” out of nowhere and thin air.
96. A certain kind of physical event/situation (Neurosystem? Animal life? Life?) occurs, producing the “emergent property” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence) of consciousness, and this bit of consciousness inherently, naturally, takes on, creates, a self -- a brand new experiencer.
97. You might need to read that a few more times in order to see that it really is the “obvious” explanation.
98. If “emergent property” is a problem, just forget that I mentioned it.
99. In the cosmological explanation, there is no limited pool of pre-existing “potential” selves…
100. The possibilities are not limited by the natural sciences.
101. That being the case, the “number” (technically, infinity is not a number) of potential selves is infinite.
102. And, given the hypothesis that a potential experiencer has only one, finite, life to live – at most -- my likelihood of currently existing, under this approach, approaches zero.
103. I.e., one over infinity.
104. From this perspective, if our well-educated belief is true, I simply shouldn’t be here.
105. But, I am here.
106. So this time, our well-educated belief must be incorrect.
107. Again, that’s what I would call the “cosmological explanation.”
108. Whatever, it would appear that the likelihood of my current existence is virtually zero, given any of the possible scientific explanations – and consequently, the probability that I have but one, finite, life to live is virtually zero as well…


THE MATH

109. Before actually getting into the statistics -- by acknowledging the existence of potential, but unrealized selves (starting with #44 again), I need to revise the old well-educated belief.
110. For the formula, I’ll call this revised belief, the “WEBR.”
111. And, the WEBR is that each potential self will have either no life at all, or just one finite life.
112. (And, the VAST MAJORITY will have the former!)

113. Also, the appropriate Bayesian formula here involves a “binary variable,” and requires using the complement of our WEBR.
114. For formulaic purposes, the complement is given as “~WEBR.”
115. The complement to our WEBR is, simply, that the WEBR is incorrect.
116. The underlying logic of our thought experiment now is that we need to compare the probability of our WEBR with the probability of our ~WEBR.
117. And, to do that, we basically compare the product of the currently acknowledged probability of WEBR (.99), times the likelihood of my current existence, given WEBR, with the product of the acknowledged probability of ~WEBR, times the likelihood of my current existence, given ~WEBR.
118. And, using my numbers (as you’ll see below), ~WEBR wins!
 
#35
- The rest of the story.


THE FORMULA

119. Here’s the formula:
120. (As far as I know, the “L”s below are always “P”s in the official formula, but as there is a distinction to be made between the two concepts, I find it easier to explain by using “L” in place of the inappropriate “P”s.)
121. P(WEBR|me) = L(me|WEBR)*P(WEBR)/( L(me|WEBR)*P(WEBR)+ L(me|~WEBR)*P(~WEBR)).
122. “P” stands for “the probability that something is true.”
123. Again, “WEBR” is the belief that each potential self has only one, finite, life to live – at most.
124. “|” stands for “given,” or “if.”
125. “me” stands for “my specific current existence”
126. “L” stands for “the likelihood that something is true.”
127. And again, “~WEBR” is the belief that WEBR is false.
128. P(WEBR|me) is the probability that WEBR is true, given my specific current existence.
129. L(me|WEBR) is the “probability” (this particular element is called “likelihood” in Bayesian statistics) of my current existence, given that WEBR is true.
130. P(WEBR) is the estimated probability -- before considering the new evidence -- that the WEBR is true.
131. P(~WEBR|me) is the probability of WEBR being false, given my specific current existence.
132. P(~WEBR) is the estimated probability -- before considering the new evidence -- that WEBR is false.
133. And, L(me|~WEBR) is the likelihood of my current existence given that WEBR is false.
134. So now, the key to my “proof” will be the particular numbers I enter.
135. If they’re correct, I win!

136. Again, here’s the formula I’ll be using: P(WEBR|me) = L(me|WEBR)*P(WEBR)/( L(me|WEBR)*P(WEBR)+ L(me|~WEBR)*P(~WEBR)).
137. Whatever, P(me|WEBR) is the biggie – and again, I’m claiming it to be unimaginably small.
138. And, if P(me|WEBR) is unimaginably small, when it is included in the Bayesian formula, P(WEBR|me) becomes unimaginably small as well.
139. In other words, given my current specific existence, our WEBR is surely incorrect.


THE NUMBERS

140. I’ll use 1/10100! to represent unimaginably small.
141. That’s one over a one followed by 100 zeros, times one followed by 99 zeros, times one followed by 98 zeros, etc. (You get the idea.)
142. (I think I got that right.)
143. So, P(me|WEBR) is simply 1/1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, etc., etc.etc..

144. Then, being quite generous (in my opinion) regarding the WEBR, I’ll insert .99 for P(WEBR), and .01 for P(~WEBR).

145. And, L(me|~WEBR) is simply .01 minus (1/10100!) -- or, for all intents and purposes, .01.
146. (By setting P(~WEBR) as .01, and L(me|WEBR) as 1/10100!, L(me|WEBR) and L(me|~WEBR) must add up to .01.)

147. So,
148. With my proposed numerical entries, I get:
149. P(WEBR|me) = 1/(1/10100!)*.99/((1/10100!*.99)+(.01*.01))
150. Or, P(WEBR|me) = “unimaginably small number”/“small number.”
151. And then, P(WEBR|me), the new probability (“posterior probability”) of our WEBR (given my specific current existence) being correct, is still an unimaginably small number.
152. In other words, our old, well-educated belief -- that we each have but one finite life to live – must be wrong!

153. That’s all I have to say about that.
 

CowboyBear

Super Moderator
#37
Firstly: I don't mean to be rude, but part of the reason why you may not be holding everyone's attention is that you have taken pages and pages of posts to convey what is really a very simple argument, that could be summarised in a paragraph. You're asking a lot of the reader to do that summarising for you.

Anyway; here we get to your actual Bayesian argument:

121. P(WEBR|me) = L(me|WEBR)*P(WEBR)/( L(me|WEBR)*P(WEBR)+ L(me|~WEBR)*P(~WEBR)).
That is fine; yes, this is Bayes theorem. The problem is actually finding prior probabilities and likelihood to enter in this. The results will completely differ depending on what values you enter, and the most reasonable values to choose are not clear. For example:

Then, being quite generous (in my opinion) regarding the WEBR, I’ll insert .99 for P(WEBR), and .01 for P(~WEBR).
This prior is generous, but it's generous to your argument. Most reasonable people would put the prior probability that reincarnation exists as either zero or an incredibly small number - definitely not something as large as 1%. Remember that there is no plausible physical mechanism via which reincarnation could occur. But more importantly, you've made a more fundamental mistake later.

145. And, L(me|~WEBR) is simply .01 minus (1/10100!) -- or, for all intents and purposes, .01.
146. (By setting P(~WEBR) as .01, and L(me|WEBR) as 1/10100!, L(me|WEBR) and L(me|~WEBR) must add up to .01.)
Point 146 is incorrect. There is no reason why L(me|WEBR) and L(me|~WEBR) need to add to the probability of P(~WEBR). I don't really follow why you would think that this is the case.

So you cannot calculate L(me|~WEBR) from the other values in the formula; you need to independently select and enter a plausible value here. And your result will differ drastically depending on what value you choose. So what is the probability of your existence, if reincarnation does exist?
 
#38
...
That is fine; yes, this is Bayes theorem. The problem is actually finding prior probabilities and likelihood to enter in this. The results will completely differ depending on what values you enter, and the most reasonable values to choose are not clear. For example:



This prior is generous, but it's generous to your argument. Most reasonable people would put the prior probability that reincarnation exists as either zero or an incredibly small number - definitely not something as large as 1%. Remember that there is no plausible physical mechanism via which reincarnation could occur...
CowboyBear,
- Is it OK if I just address you as "Cowboy," or "Bear"? Im a terrible typist -- I have to look at the keys.
- Anyway, this is where we might just have to agree to disagree. The following is my reasoning regarding P(~WEBR).

83. Certainly, we have lots of reason to believe that the old belief is not wrong.
a. We don’t remember any previous lifetimes.
b. We don’t know any sane person that remembers previous lifetimes.
c. The stories we’ve heard or read about previous lifetimes sound far-fetched, or simply invented.
d. We’ve never seen any ghosts.
e. We’ve never experienced anything “supernatural.”
f. Science questions the existence of anything non-physical.
g. We’ve never had any “out of body,” or “near death” experiences.

84. But then, we don’t KNOW that it isn’t wrong.

85. And then, there is at least some evidence that the old belief is wrong.
a. It could just be that previous lifetimes are naturally forgotten…
b. Consciousness seems non-physical.
c. Some of the stories seem credible.
d. Some of the tellers seem credible.
e. A lot of scientists, and otherwise well-educated people do believe in previous lifetimes.
f. A lot believe in the supernatural in general.
g. The fact that many well educated, or otherwise intelligent, people do believe in these things should make doubters -- if they be open-minded at all -- worry that they (the doubters) may be missing something…
h. We individual humans tend to be dominated by either reductionistic thinking, or by holistic thinking, and reductionistic thinking appears to be blind to what we call “transcendence” (the hallmark of religion) – whether transcendence is for real or not.
i. There is a strong tendency among scientists to be reductionistic thinkers – in part, because western schools focus upon reductionistic thinking.
j. Something inside many (most?) of us tells us we’re missing something…
k. Quantum Mechanics
l. And then, time may not be what we think it is.


- So anyway, it would be interesting to take a pole of all scientists, in every different field, to see where each field would place the prior probability of ~WEBR -- but, I'd be surprised if the median of any field would be less than 1%...

- I'll address your second disagreement in my next post.

- And, thanks.
 
#39
CowboyBear,

- But first, keep in mind that WEBR is that each potential self will have either one, finite, life, or no life at all. It is not that there is no such thing as immortality or reincarnation. And, ~WEBR is simply that -- for whatever reasons -- WEBR is wrong.
- You might especially note #85.l.
 

CowboyBear

Super Moderator
#40
- So anyway, it would be interesting to take a pole of all scientists, in every different field, to see where each field would place the prior probability of ~WEBR -- but, I'd be surprised if the median of any field would be less than 1%...
If you think anywhere near 1% of scientists believe in immortality or reincarnation, I'm afraid you are probably mistaken. However, the specification of priors in a Bayesian analysis is usually a subjective process anyway, so I'll leave this point for now and maybe come back to it later.

- I'll address your second disagreement in my next post.
It's not really a "disagreement" - I'm pointing out that you have made a simple mistake in understanding how Bayes' theorem works. You need to decide what probability to put on P(me|~WEBR). You cannot calculate it from the other probability values you've specified. So in your next post, please give us a value of P(me|~WEBR). You don't really need to provide much else. Let's keep it concise.