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The Paradox of Quantum Immortality

According to the Many Worlds Theory (MWT) interpretation of quantum mechanics, which is the least convoluted and most widely accepted interpretation among quantum physicists, every time a quantum-random event happens—every time the Schrödinger wavefunction collapses—multiple new branches of reality, or timelines, are created in which each possible outcome of the event is realized.

While the chances are unimaginably small for most outcomes, just about anything is possible. For example, there is a vanishingly small but nonzero probability that your head will suddenly turn into a basketball in the next split second. This possibility must therefore be realized in some particular timelines.

This, interestingly, has some logical implications regarding personal immortality.

In the event that you die in certain timelines, in other timelines branching off from just before your death, atoms just happen rearrange themselves in such a manner that you avoid death, or quantum events otherwise lead to that result. You won’t experience those timelines in which you died, because you’ll be nonexistent in those timelines, but in the remaining timelines you’ll experience your continuing to live. This will happen no matter how many times you die in certain realities or how long you happen to live in a minority of them.

Since all of the above timelines are necessarily the causal results of their trunk timelines in the same way we observe causation, or the passage of time, in everyday life, this means that the yous that survive experience a continuity of self progressing from the would-be time of death into the future, at least in the timelines where the quantum events causing the avoidance of your death are not so drastic that the resultant form of “you” has lost its sense of identity.

Since there’s on meaningful way to say that those yous that lived are any less you than those that died, therefore, it’s only logical to say that you will experience life continuing onward into the future indefinitely.

That’s quantum immortality in a nutshell. The paradox comes in when we consider your life from the perspective of outside observers.

From the perspective of the rest of the worlds in the realities in which you continue to live, the frequency at which individuals miraculously avert death N number of times is in perfect accordance with mundane statistical prediction. There will be no flooding in these realities of people who are apparently immortal, because the chances of those particular quantum events in those realities that led to your continuing to live are just as small as the ratio of branching timelines in which you survived is to the ones in which you died. For every centillion realities, there will be like one person who happened to quantum-randomly avert death for, say, 500 years.

So, from the individual’s perspective, his or her chances of quantum immortality are 100%, while from the public’s perspective, they’re virtually zero, and the likelihood matches that predicted according to normal causality.

So there’s the paradox: quantum reality must totally be a real thing for the individual, even though it’s not real, and will never be statistically observed as anything beyond the mundane, from the perspective of the rest of the world and science.

The Purpose of Pain

There’s something very fundamental about the purpose of pain that nobody seems to understand or talk about.

Because of our rationalistic, materialist mindset, we assume the purpose of pain must merely be to cause us to utilize our motor neurons in such way to mechanically fix the problem, and maybe to deter us from doing things that will cause us pain in the future (obviously because pain indicates damage, and damage can be life-threatening and hinders our ability to pass on our genes to further generations).

But this completely ignores the power of the mind over bodily processes that has been scientifically demonstrated in the past, even concerning influence on very specific areas of flesh (of course, not speaking merely of motor control and our muscles).

The main purpose of pain is actually to draw our attention to the affected area, just that. By consciously focusing on the damaged area, we impart more life energy to it and thereby speed up the healing process. Your will for the pain to diminish is probably essential to the process, because, in order for the pain to go away, the site of the pain must be healed, so willing the pain away is implicitly willing the site to be healed.

This explains why evolution would have given us the ability to feel pain in our internal organs, which we could do nothing about on a physical level before the invention of medical science, which is when virtually all of our evolution took place. That is, if we couldn’t possibly do anything to mitigate the damage, then why bother to make us feel it?

So, the next time you experience a physical pain, focus directly on it instead of trying to ignore it, and it’ll heal faster, and hence the pain will go away more quickly.

In response to the question on RetroSpring (a social Q&A site), “Does the physical world only exist in our mind?”

That’s a complicated question. First, even if there is an objective world “out there,” it necessarily doesn’t exist anything like how we perceive of it with our arbitrary organic, macroscopic senses, nor how we think of it with our human, simplifying and modularizing abstractions. Anything we can know of, such as the world, is necessarily ideological insofar as we know of it, and presumably the world “out there” isn’t ideological. And, since any two things we can possibly compare and contrast with each other (in our minds, of course) must necessarily both be ideological, there’s therefore no greater schism than between the ideological, such as our knowledge of the world, and the ideological, such as the world-in-itself. So, even if the world exists “out there,” it may not exist in the way that we understand as being “physical,” therefore in that sense the physical world may only exist in our minds.

Also, it’s possible that things don’t exist when we’re not witnessing them. There’s no way to prove otherwise. Perhaps the whole universe is in a superposition of all possible states until we “collapse the wavefunction” with our observations. What exactly constitutes a “measurement” or observation that can collapse the probability wavefunction is ill-defined in physics, and there’s debatably an infinite regress problem where, whatever interference happens within a system to collapse the wavefunction, the entire system from the outside could still be an uncollapsed wavefunction, and if something from the outside collapses it by interfering with it, then the entire system including that interference from outside could still be uncollapsed from an even more-outside view, etc., so it makes sense that the buck could ultimately stop at consciousness observing it, perhaps one universal consciousness.

Another possible worldview is idealism (I wrote more about this here), which holds that everything is ultimately mind. In that case, what is the physical? Maybe it’s no more than a mental model we make based on the qualia we experience for whatever reason which is necessarily generated by mind, be it internally or externally. Or, maybe seeing the physical is actually just a mode of perception of life/spirit/mind, maybe some particular spirit/mind, afforded by our physical bodies. Of course, that raises the question of how we can have physical bodies if nothing is physical. The answer would be that we have bodies made of mind and/or spirit, or perhaps of the relationship between our minds/spirits and some other entity’s, like a soul that comprises the physical universe, and from the perspective of these vessels, our own vessels appear physical just as the rest of the world does.

Seeing Most Inspirational/Motivational Quotes and Messages as Spam

Being fooled into thinking there’s truth in many of the “inspirational”/motivational messages we’re inundated with on an hourly basis will fuck. you. up. Beware of most of those kinds of messages. Most of it doesn’t really come from an enlightened place; they’re just shiny concepts/memes that the purveyors are attracted to for the same reasons you are (shiny as in “not all that glitters is gold”). For the most part, the purveyors of the messages don’t really know something you don’t, and the concepts are often misleading, as in not actually wise (especially when it’s advice that’s supposed to be categorical. Reality/life isn’t really that simple).

I think the tendency to disseminate “inspirational” tweets comes mostly from three places: 1. the desire to gain psychic energy from people believing what one says, following one’s advice, etc.; 2. the desire to gain adulation (or validation?) for appearing wise or enlightened or maybe even “above” the receiver of the message; and 3. hypocrisy, as in one knows, or at least believes, that they should be doing X (for example, to live life to their fullest or escape stagnation, to be a good person, to heal their wounds, or whatever), but they’re not doing X, so they figure they might as well convince others to do X instead.

An example of this would be any of the myriad variations on the theme “follow your dreams”, “don’t let your dreams just be dreams”, etc. The result is just to make people feel guilty for not following their dreams just like the purveyor of the message didn’t. Life is complicated, and for many reasons it’s just not practical for most people to achieve their dreams. Who would clean the toilets, pick up the garbage and man the cash registers? And what if your dream is something only few people can achieve? That gives you pretty bad odds, and you can lose a lot by going out on a limb, quitting your day job, spending lots of money and putting in lots of effort pursue your dreams if you don’t happen to succeed.

And even if if you have a job that matches your passion/interests, it can still become a nightmare because it’s constrained to the capitalistic workforce where a person’s life’s work is just a part of the exploitation of the employee by the employer, the person must show up at work at a certain time and stay until a certain time every day or be fired, they don’t have much freedom of self-direction because the system is set up so that most people take all orders from someone “above” them, etc. (There are people who are their own bosses, but not everybody can be their own boss; society would collapse or magically turn into something completely different overnight. And many practical realities limit what even most entrepreneurs are able to do, and most business owners have to work 80+-hour weeks to maintain their businesses..)

Another random example of misguided inspiration is the idea that our challenges and traumas are blessings in disguise because they make us stronger, make us who we are now, or whatever. Challenge can actually be a good thing, but ideally it’s issued at the behest of the person accepting the challenge, not so ungracefully thrust upon us. And trauma is never a beneficial thing. It’s purely destructive and tragic and only exists in a fucked up, barbaric world such as ours. And trying to appreciate trauma for what it supposedly did for us only serves to distract one from the pouring in of self-compassion that’s needed to fully emotionally address the evil that’s been done to us (or sometimes even to temporarily bring it all back to the surface) and thus to heal from it.

So, as you can see, for the most part, “inspirational” and motivational messages on Twitter, Facebook, and everywhere else are actually predatory in nature. Your best defense against the chronic inundation of wise one-liners is probably just to ignore them. Actually, reading the same things hundreds of times has an effect on the subconscious either way, so maybe the best bet is to make a habit of actively debunking them, or at least briefly deriding them in your mind, as they come up.

No doubt some people will feel reflexively angry upon reading about how inspirational quotes and messages are predatory or about the three classes of people who tend to spread them.. if that’s you, you may want to consider that chances are it makes you irate because it’s the truth and it applies to you. 😛