Sunday, December 6, 2009

A modicum of thought. A parable of cards.

Imagine you are a member of a group of about ten people and everybody is given a card which is placed on their head so that they can see the card. These cards are going to have at most one black card and all the rest of the cards are white. The object of the game is to find the black card. When you do, you will be given a trillion dollars. If you choose the wrong card, you're out one dollar. If it's your card, you need to wait until the attending people return.

Now, everybody is been given their card. The big reveal! Everybody sits looking around the room, at everybody else's cards. You notice that everybody else's card is white. So then your card must be the black card! What luck! You barely give up anything if you guess wrong and if you guess right you get a trillion dollars. And you can rule out everybody else's card so, aren't you that much more likely to be correct? I mean they can't rule out the card on their head but you can! Why aren't they choosing your black card then? Shouldn't it be obvious that you're is the correct card? Shouldn't they have chosen by now? Isn't the fact nobody is choosing your card evidence that your card isn't the correct card? Why should it be your card, I mean it's not like you chose it, it was chosen for you. You ponder these doubts for a while, shoving them down each time they rear their head. It's a trillion dollars after all!

Isn't there at least a one in a trillion shot chance that everybody else at the table is blind and can't see a black card plain as day? Then aren't you losing nothing by choosing your own card. I mean, if you chose correctly you get a trillion dollars and if you choose wrongly, you'll have to clock out five minutes later when you go to work next Sunday. I mean, you've got everything to gain and nothing to lose.

One person at the table starts shouting: "None of the cards are black. You would have chosen by now. If somebody had the right card, everybody else would have thrown their cards to the ground by now. We've been sitting at this table for millennium!"

"What a blind moron!", you think to yourself. He doesn't see your card is clearly black.

Another person at the table chimes in, "You're wrong sir, my card is clearly black. I know that it must be the black card because all of your cards are white."

You can see his card is white, but you've liked what he's said to this presumptuous rabblerouser.

"Here-Here!" another man shouts.

"You can't see the black card unless you have the black card!" shouts a third man.

A Hah! That's clearly the case. That explains everything! That's why these people can't see your card is black! You can taste that money now. You didn't hear that as a rule, but it would explain the situation perfectly. I mean, what's the purpose of all of this if none of the cards are black? Wouldn't it be terrible if nobody got the trillion dollars!

Why is this brash, rude, arrogant man doing attacking you. You don't have to take this, you're a flipping trillionaire. Mentally you already have this money spent. This jackass wants to steal your constellation of castles, your bevy of beauties, your silo of gems. This wicked, evil, know-it-all wants to remove from the mouths of the hungry the charitable donations you'll make, he wants people to suffer the diseases you'd cure with that funding, he wants you poor and miserable. He wants to take away your hope. He want's to deprive you of your purpose.

Why is he maligning you in such a terrible way? Why doesn't he see that your card is the correct one and just collect the money? Does he hate your card or the money? Did somebody hurt him? Doesn't he know you can't see the card unless you have the card? What a deluded fool! These other men, though, they have white cards are ripping into this fool for being such a deluded brute who knows nothing of the secret rules of the game... good on them! They maybe wrong and will probably end up without any money if they don't choose your card soon, but they at least know how to put such an intolerant know-it-all in his place.

"Why would you get a trillion dollars for picking a card?", the inept blowhard asks quizzically? "What evidence do we have that there's any money at all!" "Where's the evidence? I mean we're in a pretty run down building, is this the kind of place people have when they trillion dollars laying around?"

"Shut-up", a young woman shouts! "Clearly they saved a lot of money in order to have the trillion dollars to give us, they love us that much."

"Yeah!", the rest agree.

The arrogant man, finally gives up, he throws his white card to the ground and leaves to room to go home and spend time with his family. What a fool, he was a few feet from a trillion dollars. The fool says in his heart, there's no black card. What an idiot!

When you finally get to see your card, what color do you think it'll be? Should you choose your card? I mean it is a trillion dollars after all!

1 comment:

AnonyMouse said...

Brilliant! This is an excellent example of the mad roulette that is religion. I find it ridiculous how so many religionists claim that you can only know that their religion is true if you have already joined or if you pray to their god and ask if the religion is true. The concept of "independent verification" seems to go over their heads.