The Demise of the Doomsday Argument

Mind 111 (441):37 - 45 (2002)
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A refutation of the doomsday argument is offered. Through a simple thought experiment analysed in Bayesian terms the fallacy is shown to be the assumption that a currently living person represents a random sample from the population of all persons who will ever have existed. A more general version of the counter argument is then given. Previous arguments that purport to answer this concern are also addressed. One result is determining criteria for the applicability of time sampling arguments, i.e., under what conditions can a specific instant in time be regarded as a random sample from a time span. Given this new understanding, the incredible consequences of the doomsday and related arguments evaporate.



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