Discover more from Overcoming Bias
I am surprised that:
I exist at all; the vast majority of possible things do not exist.
I am alive; the vast majority of real things are dead.
I have a brain; the vast majority of living things have none.
I am a mammal; the vast majority of brains aren’t.
I am a human; the vast majority of mammals aren’t.
I am richer than the vast majority who have ever lived.
I am alive earlier than the vast majority of human-like folks who will ever live.
I am richer and smarter than most humans alive today.
I write a popular blog, and unusually interesting articles.
Now how bothered should I be by these surprises? The bigger is some particular surprise, the more eager I should be to seek alternative theories, under which that surprise would be smaller. But what alternative accounts could weaken these surprises?
One hypothesis that does the trick is the simulation argument – the idea that I’m really part of a simulation created in the distant future to explore their past world. It lessens the surprise of #5-9, and maybe also #2-4 as well. Does this mean I should take the simulation argument a bit more seriously than I otherwise would?
Added 9a: I find anything unusually interesting to be “surprising.” Sometimes that is of course just an accident, but the more surprising something is, the more one should seek alternate explanations. If you can’t find them, you’ll just have to go back to considering them an accident.
Yes the fact that I am cognitively able to actually be surprised predicts other things, and given that fact those other things are no longer surprising. But the fact that I am able to be surprised is itself surprising!