X-Message-Number: 25268
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2004 07:06:30 -0800
Subject: Scientific Resolution to Ben Best's Duplicates Paradox
From: <>

Given the current topic of conversation, I thought it would be 
useful to post my scientific resolution to Ben Best's duplicates 
paradox. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just ignore this 
message (or type these keywords into Google, if you are really 

Ben says it looks like we have to trust people when they claim to 
be the same person. I say, not necessarily. To illustrate this in a 
way that resolves Ben's paradox, consider the following thought 

Have a camera crew follow a person around from birth until age 50. 
The camera will be trained on the individual at all times, and the 
film archived for later reference. Then, when the individual 
reaches age 50, duplicate that individual, with a separate camera 
crew recording the duplication and subsequently following the 
duplicate around.

We then ask both the original and the duplicate the following 

'Are you the same person you were before duplication?'

to which they will both reply, 'Yes, of course.' Now here is where 
Ben would say, we just have to accept what they say at face value. 
I say NO, we do not, and should not.


Simply because we can ask both original and duplicate other 
questions, such as,

'Did you marry such and such a person when you were 26?'

to which they will both reply, 'Yes, of course.' However, we have 
scientific evidence that the original married, since we have 
recorded that event on video tape; but we have no evidence, indeed, 
we know for a fact that the duplicate did not marry, since he came 
into existence but a few days or hours ago.

In like fashion, we can proceed through all the major facts of the 
life of the individual, asking him to confirm each one. In every 
case, the duplicate speaks only falsehood---he falsely believes he 
has lived through the events of the original.

Therefore, if every statement regarding life history coming out of 
the mouth of the duplicate is VERIFIABLY FALSE, using the 
scientific evidence of our video tapes, then why would we ever 
believe his answer to the question, 'Are you the same person you 
were before duplication?'

The correct answer: we should believe no such thing. The duplicate 
did not engage in any of the activities of the original, despite 
false claims to the contrary, and the duplicate is not the same 
person as the original---again, despite false claims to the 

Thus the paradox is resolved in scientific fashion.

Best Regards,

Richard B. R.

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