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Please explain

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This going to sound contrived, but I try anyways :-)

Is it the

Gambler Fallacy?

The probability of her dying at any instant is independent of her run so far (i.e the fact that she has lived for so long, or whether she has eaten the entre or not), but she thinks its higher?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has - Margaret Mead

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@Astro

Yes, the probability of her dying at any instant remains constant (it dosent, but we can assume so for this argument). But the probability of her survival till time t, keeps decreasing as t increases. The cumulative probability.

Basically, if her decision is to have ice cream at time X1 or X2, where X2 > X1, then she has to consider her probability of surviving till X1, and till X2. In which case P(X1) > P(X2) and hence she is making a logical choice by having her ice cream earlier.

I am hoping the math is right here.

If x is the probability of dying at any second, and X1 and X2 are 2 particular seconds in her life.

P(X1) = (1-x)^X1

P(X2) = (1-x)^X2

Since X2 > X1, P(X1) > P(X2).

Here is an example,

If i go to a lottery and buy it a million times. Each time I buy is no different. My chances of winning the lottery each time is the same. But my probability of winning the lottery overall increases the more I try. It can never reach 100%, but it increases infinitesimally every time I try. Similarly even though her chances of dying at a given instant is constant, her probability of successfully completely the ice cream is more, the earlier she eats it.

I know there are always pitfalls in probability. I'm expecting someone to come and bowl me over. Lets see.

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She gives two reasons for eating dessert first,

1. She likes it so wants to eat it as soon as she could.

2. She might die therefore wants to eat it soon.

Argument 1 though odd, seems reasonable. It simply goes against convention. But then she makes a huge jump to argument 2 and on top of that, appeals to emotion at the end.

Argument 2, I just found out, is called

Probabilistic Fallacy, as it appeals to an Unconditional Probability of her dying.

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(06-Sep-2010, 09:08 PM)bala Wrote: She gives two reasons for eating dessert first,

1. She likes it so wants to eat it as soon as she could.

2. She might die therefore wants to eat it soon.

Argument 1 though odd, seems reasonable. It simply goes against convention. But then she makes a huge jump to argument 2 and on top of that, appeals to emotion at the end.

Argument 2, I just found out, is called Probabilistic Fallacy, as it appeals to an Unconditional Probability of her dying.

Makes sense Bala.

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05-Oct-2010, 05:00 AM
(This post was last modified: 05-Oct-2010, 05:52 AM by Ajita Kamal.)
The reason this can be seen as a fallacy is because she doesn't just eat ice cream first as a matter of preference. She makes an argument for why it is logical to eat ice cream before dinner if you like ice cream better than your entre. The guy rightly brings up the minuscule odds, to which her response is to ask him to guarantee that she won't die before its time for dessert.

1. False dichotomy: Leaving aside the odds/statistics for a bit. If you assume for sake of argument that she really is going to die in 10 mins, you'll see how her argument creates a false dichotomy. It is not just the choice between eating ice cream and eating the entre before she dies that must be considered. The choice is between eating ice cream vs doing any number of other things (including eating the entre), before she dies. If I knew that I had 10 minutes left to live, I certainly would not be sitting at a restaurant with some stranger eating ice cream.

If she really is eating ice cream first before the meal because she thinks that there is no guarantee she won't die before she's done, then it logically follows that Indian food is her favorite type of cuisine, that particular Indian restaurant is her favorite of all the Indian restaurants in New York, mango ice cream is her favorite dessert and that dude she's with is the person she cares about the most in life. She doesn't apply her logic to all these other things, just to the order in which she consumes the different courses at dinner. That's pretty fuckin silly.

2. Appeal to Probability: Bala already mentioned this as the probabilistic fallacy. Essentially, the girl in the clip assumes the worst-case-scenario as the guiding principle in making decisions. This type of thinking is very dangerous, and is what leads people with phobias to become dysfunctional. It we assume the worst case scenario about death, we will be paralyzed into non-action, because much of life involves doing things that are not high up on our list of desires. We make decisions about things in life based on preferences, needs and probabilistic availabilities.

If she had just said that she likes ice cream and doesn't like waiting till the end of the meal before she can eat it, there would not be any fallacies here. But she makes it seem as though she is doing the logical thing, which is why this dissection of her logic becomes necessary. People eat their entre's first because of multiple reasons, most commonly because it's nicer to reward our sweet teeth after we've gained sustenance in the form of a nutritious meal, than to lose our appetite filling up on ice cream. In my case, if I eat the meal after ice cream, the meal itself will lose some of its appeal. However, if I eat ice cream after the meal, it still feels great. This is because the sugar in desserts trigger neurochemicals that pleasure and satiate us. People in different cultures who have been eating sweet stuff after their meals rather than before them, for generations, have honed in on this arrangement because of certain benefits.

If you irrationally assume that you're going to die soon, and make your decisions based on it, then it might make sense to reward yourself with ice cream. But if you make a reasoned calculation of the odds, it makes sense to not ruin all your meals for the rest of your life by eating dessert before entre every time you eat.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"

~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.

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Or maybe she can eat only ice cream for all her meals and die early

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Ajita Kamal