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If you could know Anything or Everything....would you want to?


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#1 of 98 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted November 30 2005 - 12:37 PM

I'm a naturally philosophical person and ask a lot of questions. Here is one that has puzzled me for years because I don't know what I would do, I really don't. If you could know 100% accurately, without fail or flaw a "Yes" or "No" answer to any question, past, present, or future....would you? Would you want to know the next 50 Super Bowl winners? If there was a JFK conspiracy or not? Would you want to know the date of your death? Would you want to know the absolute answer to any philosophical question? How could this cause you harm and how would it change your life today as you know it? How would you use it to change the world around you? That is my real question for you, how would you change if you had this power?

#2 of 98 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted November 30 2005 - 12:46 PM

There might be some questions I'd be reluctant to ask (e.g., date of death), but I'd certainly love this power. Hell, I'd settle for just knowing the next Super Bowl winner, and the money I could make from knowing that. Posted Image
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#3 of 98 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted November 30 2005 - 12:56 PM

There are so many unknowns out there that if I literally had the answers to everything I would probably have a full time job just sorting thru the information. It's hard to say what I would do with the power because I don't know how it works. Can I use knowledge of coming events to alter the future? I don't know if I want to know an earthquake is coming if I don't have the ability to warn residents living on the fault line.

#4 of 98 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted November 30 2005 - 01:24 PM

Allow me to simplify this a little bit since you are correct, there are too many variables. If you had in the palm of your hand a device that would tell you a "Yes" or "No" answer to any question without fail and 100% accurate. You could get to the solution to nearly any problem via yes or no questions. Now if you had a circle of friends who could help you out time wise.

#5 of 98 OFFLINE   Garrett Lundy

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Posted November 30 2005 - 01:28 PM

After using the knowledge to become extremely wealthy you'd be able to find me in my skull-shaped fortress on a mountain range somewhere in europe. After that I could probably affect the outcome of global events once I have enough capital to invest.
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#6 of 98 OFFLINE   Kyle McKnight

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Posted November 30 2005 - 01:40 PM

I would choose to know everything. While without knowing everything, I don't think that if I did, I would use everything to my advantage. Sure, there would probably be a "breaking in" period where I used things to my advantage but I'm sure that'd get boring. I'd probably use my ability to entertain myself. Since I would know everything, any decision that I made based on something I wouldn't normally know, I'd instantly know the outcome and all the fallout from the different choices. I would be like the director of life as I knew it....that is until the day that I bite it.
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#7 of 98 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted November 30 2005 - 01:51 PM

If I had a Magic 8 Ball that answered only "Yes" or "No" with unfailing accuracy, I would definitely use it judiciously and refrain from asking many questions. Gaining some knowledge would be difficult, however. Winning a chess game or ascertaining the identity of a murderer, for instance, would require a number of yes-or-no questions. But we've all played "20 questions", and we would eventually get good at it. I know we all genuinely have good intentions, but I suspect that the first question we would ask such a device would be:
But I also suspect that, after amassing a fortune, we would eventually make good on those intentions and make the world a better place by using our power for good.
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#8 of 98 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:00 PM

Does anyone believe that things could go wrong in a way in which you wished you never had such a device? If so how?

#9 of 98 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:15 PM

If you knew how to cure cancer, but that meant the population exploded to unhealthy numbers as people lived longer, would curing cancer be a good thing in the long run?
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#10 of 98 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:28 PM

Ha! Good luck finding a cure for cancer using only yes-or-no questions.

Question 1: Is the cure for cancer bigger than a breadbasket? Posted Image

That's a good question. Do you think you'll ever wish you hadn't asked it?

It's possible, I suppose, that you could use your power to save the life of someone who turns out to be the next Hitler. So before you save someone's life, always ask first if he will be the next Hitler.

I've always considered accurate knowledge a good thing. Anything I do with this power that I may come to regret would be a result of things I didn't know (because of questions I didn't think to ask), not because of things I knew as a result of using this power.

But if you gain possession of such a device, perhaps you should first ask it, "Will I regret having this power?" If the answer is "Yes", then you know the cost of keeping the device.
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#11 of 98 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:33 PM

Who was the greek mythology character that was cursed with foresight and the inability to do anything about it? Now that would be a much more interesting question Posted Image.

The ability to know the future implies a causal/deterministic, perhaps fatalist worldview, no? The very idea of knowing the future to an absolute certainty implies the absence of free will, which sort of makes everything pointless, I should think. For those who don't share that view, such a power can be difficult to imagine.

Strangely enough, I find that I am far more interested in this ability as far as the past is concerned than the future. While when I think about the future I might get overwhelmed by the myriad of possibilities and choices (even with the one answer at a time scenario), I can however think of a million questions wrt past events that I would like to see answered in an accurate and absolute manner. I find such a power much more manageable and would embrace it without hesitation.

Man, that possibility is so alluring I feel like making a list of questions right now!

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#12 of 98 OFFLINE   Blu

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:44 PM

What about being able to ask such things as are there any moral absolutes? How about did Lee Harvey act alone? How about divining how the Great Pyramids were built? How about free will vs. destiny? See why this question has so much interest for me? There are so many things you can do with it.

#13 of 98 OFFLINE   Carl Johnson

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:47 PM

That would be more of an issue if we were trying to alter the present by going back in time. If the eight ball tells me that there is going to be a natural disaster the odds of making things worse by evacuating the area are slim. I guess I could inadvertently cause a problem by saving the life of a terrorist who otherwise would have died the day before his attack was planned, but I could just as easily save the life of the doctor who is on the verge of curing breast cancer. The problem with going back in time to change things is that it would be like tossing a coin in that maybe things get better or maybe they get worse.

#14 of 98 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted November 30 2005 - 02:49 PM


Like: Is Tom Cruise really gay?

Deep, deep questions! Posted Image
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#15 of 98 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted November 30 2005 - 03:06 PM

But what about the theory (that SO many tv shows portray) where the 8 ball tells you that hundreds of people are going to die in a disaster, you do something to try and save them, but the "safe" place you end up moving them, ends up catching fire and they all die?

I kind of believe in the fact that if you knew the future, no matter what you did, you couldn't stop it from happening. Knowing the future and doing something about it (to prevent it) is way too contradictory.

In other words, (like the example of knowing someone was going to die) if you were able to stop them from dying, then why would the 8 ball lie to you and tell you they were going to die in the first place? And if the 8 ball DID tell you they weren't going to die (because it knew you would end up saving them), then you wouldn't do anything to stop them from dying and they'd end up dying.

BOOM! My head just exploded. Posted Image

#16 of 98 OFFLINE   Brian Perry

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Posted November 30 2005 - 03:07 PM

I suppose I would ask "Is there a God?" I think it would be cool, after you died, if you could have a review of your life and get answers to trivial questions such as: 1. Other than when I actually died, was I ever in grave danger of dying, from something such as a car hitting me or a virus taking over my immune system? (Something that had a 50/50 or greater chance of happening but was averted at the last minute.) 2. What is the closest proximity I was to my wife before I met her? (e.g., did we pass on an escalator at the mall years before we met?) Maybe also see the results for various celebrities. 3. How many times did my heart beat? How many times did I have sex? How many tons of food did I eat?

#17 of 98 OFFLINE   Mark Shannon

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Posted November 30 2005 - 03:14 PM

I think this theory could have a couple of caveats; IF I were to say yes to the original proposal, I would do so with one exception: I only want to know what it is possible to know. For example, it is impossible to know who will win the superbowl in 50 years, therefore I shant know it. I would, however, know who has won the superbowl every year for the psat 50 years. If an answer can't be determined through logical reasoning (for example, if there is a god), then it should not be included.

#18 of 98 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted November 30 2005 - 03:37 PM

Sounds like a plot outline for "Final Destination 4".
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#19 of 98 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted November 30 2005 - 04:17 PM

if you knew how to cure cancer and other diseases, you'd also be able to come up with a solution for overpopulation, probably. CJ
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#20 of 98 OFFLINE   MichaelBA

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Posted November 30 2005 - 04:46 PM

Cassandra, who could predict the future but whose predictions no one would ever believe.
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