Pascal’s Climate Change Wager.

I know the title is confusing so no, Pascal never made such a wager, but we all know his stance on gambling with God.  The ultimate bluff over eternity one might say.  

 

  1. God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.

 

The natural conclusion, to what Daniel Dennett would surely call a poor logic pump, is that we should believe, because if the sky king does not exist and we lived in servitude the whole of our lives we have lost nothing.  Casting the myriad of problems with this oft debunked stream of logic aside let’s play a game with the very people who use this to validate their beliefs.

 

It is regularly shown in all forms of media that there is a strong correlation to conservatism, religiosity, and the denial of climate change or global warming.  Within this group of scientific repudiators and devout, God fearing, holy rollers we are quite likely to run into Pascal and his trusty tool of insincere faith.

 

Let us now send it back shall we?

  1. Climate change is, or Climate change is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. You must wager (it is not optional).
  4. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that Climate Change is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  5. Wager, then, without hesitation that Climate Change is. There is here an extension of the fragile ecosystem within which we live, a relatively cool space between ice ages, and more time for us to find a solution to future changes that could make Earth almost uninhabitable.  The Chance of gain is one of finite probabilities measuring in the possibility that we may stave off global catastrophe over assuming inevitable destruction or speeding headlong into that pending doom
  6. But some cannot believe. They should then ‘at least learn your inability to believe…’ and ‘Endeavour then to convince’ themselves.

 

Simply put, what do you have to lose by believing in climate change? If climate change is inevitable, uncontrollable, divine, or doesn’t exist and we spent our time respecting the earth’s resources what have we lost?

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