Here's why the panic will start soon: articles like this one in the Chicago Tribune : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Pascal's Wager

-- a (a@a.a), March 15, 1999


Pascal's wager is an apt metaphor for resolving the y2k conflicts. This Tribune writer is the latest in a now growing list of people making the comparison.

-- Puddintame (, March 15, 1999.

The question is do you feel lucky, well do ya punk? Sorry I have been watching too much Clint Eastwood lately. Tman... :)

-- Tman (, March 15, 1999.

Coates says:

But if I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the side of the angels and hope and pray, as would Pascal, that the Y2K bug really has been fixed.

Coates seems to me to have the right analogy, but the wrong polarity. Pascal's Wager applies to INDIVIDUALS and argues for a conservative, and religously fervent, INDIVIDUAL philosophy in the presence of an unknowable Deity. Coates' conclusion argues for a COLLECTIVE, CONFORMIST stance in view of an analogous intangible risk, that of Y2K.

Is it must me or does the column smack of last minute, heavy-handed editing?

-- Ann Y Body (annybody@nowhere.disorg), March 15, 1999.

Ann, I don't think it's just you. The closing lines made absolutely no sense to me. It's garbled about as much as you can garble a metaphor. Pascal's wager is basically a "lock" in the gambling world. All upside, no downside. So why cite Pascal if you're not teaching his logic?

Then the author says what he would do "if" he were a betting man. Well, I'm no philosopher, but I've been instructed that implicit in Pascal's wager was that you don't have the right to choose whether "you're a betting man" as you *are* in the game, whether you like it or not.

Then, in case there were any readers who were still following some coherent line of thought, the author states that he will side with the "angels." Now I'm not real concerned about all the New World Order and Tri-lateral Commission, etc.etc.etc., but is the author saying that the Federal Reserve and Wall Street investment banking houses are "angels" and that the dirt farmer or beat reporter humbly asking the banker for his $3,000 cash is some sort of anti-angel? The author seems to flaunt Pascal's logic of evangelism and then state that he's siding with the angels.

If someone can explain what was going through the writer's head I'd appreciate hearing it.

-- Puddintame (, March 15, 1999.

The author has anice article going, has us following down the path to about a 4.5 - 5.5 and *BIF* we get this bet on the side of the angels cr*p. SOMEONE read the article and said "You can't say that and still work for us."

SO, we get this "betting man" stuff.

HOWEVER, as has been pointed out, in taking Pascal's Wager it is implicit that YOU ARE IN THE GAME. Perhaps we can read between the lines on this one and see . . . . . (Draw your own, I've drawn mine)


Could contexts be the next means of passing the TRUE message?? No more wink and a nod and a leak, we'll try contextual discontinuities??


-- Chuck (, March 15, 1999.

"If someone can explain what was going through the writer's head I'd appreciate hearing it."

It's clear to me what he's saying. I read the article once. Came back here and read the posts, then read the article again. I still come away with the same message as I got the first time.

He very deliberately point out the double edge sword dilema of Y2K; do nothing and you lose, prepare and you are part of the problem, either way you lose. But which losing side is worse?

Then he ends with "But if I were a betting man, I'd put my money on the side of the angels and hope and pray, as would Pascal, that the Y2K bug really has been fixed."

Forget Pascal for a sec, and assume he knows he's in the game. Afterall, he doesn't sound brain-dead from what he wrote.

"But IF I were a betting man" (which infers he's not a betting man) "I'd hope and pray that the Y2K bug really has been fixed" hence by deductions he isn't going to hope and pray, or bet on a fix.

-- Chris (, March 15, 1999.

the writer is not hiding anything...he's simply relating the inevitable questions that anyone that has pondered this has asked. The real issue will be public reaction. The most obvious conclusion, one I came up with 6 months ago, when I first started browsing the same as he more eloquently related...namely "panic will ensue long before the date arrives" Why? Because it's like a man heading to the gas chamber. The closer he gets to the date, the deeper his feelings, and more unpredictable his reactions. The public will panic. The stock market will crash. The date is not known by any man. And God ain't tellin'.

-- rick shade (, March 15, 1999.

His meaning is clear. Substitute 'Y2k' for 'He' in the Pascal quote.

The author goes to lengths to point out the prudence of considering the downside in ignoring Y2k's "potential existence". Then, in an effort to remain neutral, he keeps reverting to "What do I know -- I write about computers".

At the end of the article, in his mind, he is still maintaining his neutrality. But, he says if he were a betting man, i.e., he weren't neutral (after all, he just writes about computers), he would side with the angels, i.e., bet on the existence of Y2k much as the Pascal Wager suggests betting on Him and His heavenly host -- for without God, there wouldn't be any angels.

Yet, even having made the "Y2k belief bet", he still prays that everything gets fixed. For though the prudent bet is in his favor -- as it would be for anyone who took preparations for Y2k -- he still wants Y2k to turn out not to be a non-event for the sake of those who are taking the other side of the wager.

In short, as is said so many times on this forum, sans analogy, "prepare for the worst, hope for the best".

-- Nathan (, March 16, 1999.

Please scratch the word "not" from the penultimate sentence.

-- Nathan (, March 16, 1999.

DAMN! You people are GOOD!

I love spending part of an evening -- or morning -- or work day -- with you. Clear thinking is so welcome these days. Just imagine what August, or October, etc. are going to be like!

"You go on to bed, dear. I'm gonna hang out at the Club for awhile."

-- jor-el (, March 16, 1999.

Nathan, your explanation may be the correct one. However, I disagree that the writer's meaning is clear.

-- Puddintame (, March 16, 1999.

Of course, Pascal also wrote that 'the trouble with the world is man's inability to sit still in a room.' (Guess he never envisioned computer programmers and all the others who sit for hours before their screens)

-- Spidey (, March 16, 1999.

Spidey -

Pascal was referring to truly sitting still. Not typing, clicking, scanning, printing, reviewing, muttering, gaming, posting, or any of the myriad other activities that take place while using one of these here boxes for fun and profit.

Sitting still. Being still.

-- Mac (, March 16, 1999.

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