Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Simple Thought Experiment, Part 1

Let me give you an analogy.  Obviously it will not be perfect – no analogy is.  It will, however, prove rather useful.  Imagine that you just got a new puppy, and are now taking him on a walk through the woods. You have with you a radio and a "Saturday night special" handgun, with a single bullet.  Your dog likes to explore and bark at everything.  You make it about half way through the woods when an emergency report comes in on the radio:  It turns out that there's some very large creature loose in the woods that you're currently walking in.  It doesn't really care about anything else, but it eats dogs, and will kill anything in its path in order to get to that dog.  You now have several options in front of you:

  1. Try to sneak through the woods and hope you don't run into the creature.
  2. Try to shoot the creature with the gun.
  3. Release the dog into the woods.
  4. Shoot the dog with the gun.
What would you do?  Why?  My own answer after the jump.

My answer is simple:  shoot the dog.

I hear you already:  "Oh my god that's horrible!"  Let me say right now:  yes, it is, but it's better on the whole than the other options.  At least in this scenario, someone other than the creature lives, and nothing dies in absolute agony.

In scenario 1, you're lucky you haven't run into the creature yet.  You're pup's been barking at every damn tree since you entered the woods.  For all you know, the creature is RIGHTBEHINDYOULOOKOUT *you're dead game over etc.*  At this point, being found is a foregone conclusion.  If you don't defend yourself in some manner, you're fucking dead.

What about scenario 2?  You have a gun, use it, right?  'S not so simple.  Remember, this is a "Saturday night special".  These are cheap, low-caliber guns.  They don't have much stopping power, and it's HIGHLY unlikely that it would injure the creature, much less kill it.  And remember, you only have one shot.  Again, you're pretty damn screwed in this scenario.

So why not release the dog?  Surely THAT's the best option?  Again, not really.  While the end result in both this and my answer are the same, there's a key difference:  when I kill the dog, he doesn't suffer as much.  True, in both scenarios the dog is dead and eaten and you live, but in this one, we have no guarantee that the dog won't be...toyed with, to put it kindly.  Also, there's no guarantee that the puppy won't follow you instead of running off (it's more likely he'll run off, but the possibility is there).

By killing the dog ourselves, we minimize the pain the dog suffers while at the same time keeping ourselves alive.  It's the least shitty plate of a shit buffett.

So let me ask again, what would you do, and why?

"Wait, you said this was an analogy.  What's it an analogy of?"

You see that "Part 1" in the title?  I'll explain where I'm going with this in part 2.  Nevermind, no interest was generated.

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Honestly, I want you guys to comment at this point. I don't know fucking everything.