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Poisonous Dilemma (Posted on 2004-04-19) Difficulty: 3 of 5
Suppose you get the following proposal from a weird billionaire:

"Toxin X is a substance that will make you violently ill for a few hours. However, it has no long term effects of any kind. As an experiment in psychology, I'm offering you a million dollars if tonight at midnight you fully intend to drink toxin X by tomorrow at noon. You don't actually have to drink the toxin; all you have to do is to intend to drink it. Your intention will be tested by a device similar to a polygraph which my people have developed and which has been shown to be 100% accurate. If at midnight you have the intention, a million will be wired to your bank account. The only other conditions are that you are to make no bets, do anything that will cause you to become irrational, or arrange for any way to avoid the effects of the toxin."

Suppose you decide that being ill for one day is a reasonable price to pay for a million dollars. Your first thought is to therefore agree to the proposal. It then occurs to you that you won't even have to become sick in order to win the money. All you have to do is to intend to drink the toxin. You don't actually have to carry out your intention.

But now if you know ahead of time that you don't actually have to drink the toxin, then you can't really intend to drink it. So you tell yourself you really do have to drink it. But then if at midnight you really did intend to drink the toxin, and you got the million, then come the next day you would no longer have any reason to drink it: you've already been paid and drinking the toxin would make you unnecessarily sick.

Is there any way for you to win the money?

No Solution Yet Submitted by Victor Zapana    
Rating: 3.8519 (27 votes)

Comments: ( You must be logged in to post comments.)
  Subject Author Date
Thoughtsbroll2017-01-15 02:17:13
Real solutionRyan2009-04-16 02:54:44
Some ThoughtsI would try to disprove the machine.Nick2008-03-04 19:48:48
solutionFionnghal2007-10-20 18:11:07
No Subjectkuja2007-08-08 04:51:21
Solutionhal2007-04-20 01:54:20
Real WorldAmber Williams2006-09-13 15:59:19
re: Rational vs. Irrationalalex2006-08-07 20:58:57
Rational vs. Irrationaltheo2006-06-03 13:48:23
answerArghman2006-06-02 00:32:06
solutionSarah2006-04-06 03:21:18
SolutionAnother approach:Benjamin J. Ladd2006-03-16 00:42:32
just an ideaWallace North2006-03-10 15:47:17
how is this a paradoxdavid2006-03-09 19:09:15
A good friend?Barbie2006-03-03 07:50:31
Irrational???imakolata2006-02-23 06:31:09
SolutionNew solution (I think)Avin2006-02-22 11:17:07
The poison Toxin XCory McKelvey2006-02-17 16:47:22
my opinionjamie2005-10-18 23:27:26
Slight flaw...susan2005-10-15 07:50:00
another solution?hookedonphonics2005-10-09 19:58:40
Solutionsure there's a solutionGoldwing2005-09-21 22:12:43
SolutionRationalizing procrastinationBret2005-08-02 20:20:57
ThoughtDevin Mahnke2005-07-21 05:29:59
Needing to be IllPatrick2005-07-20 19:26:50
No SubjectWill2005-06-09 23:31:08
My OpinionSarah2005-05-30 03:15:00
No SubjectAmber2005-05-16 03:36:21
okAndy2005-05-08 23:02:22
I think i got itmaria2005-04-05 18:48:02
Some ThoughtsI don't get thisAfsal C M2005-04-05 12:53:20
i think that this is obviousgray2005-03-31 01:35:22
Solution Invalidstarlitsky2005-03-30 00:08:13
SolutionSolutionStephen Ticsay2005-03-26 14:52:28
Some Thoughtssome silly thoughtsstarlitsky2005-03-19 15:14:09
I think this is the answer....james2005-03-18 04:00:44
re: The Goodfellas SolutionMike2005-03-12 13:16:57
The Goodfellas SolutionMike2005-03-12 12:45:17
too much intentionhumfoozneydannle2004-12-31 17:13:16
SolutionsolutionVladimir Stroe2004-12-27 09:44:19
bet your lifeJuha S2004-12-22 20:15:46
SolutionAnotherDustin2004-12-06 00:48:25
Solutiononly waySteven Lu2004-12-05 17:58:49
Solutionccvannorman2004-11-11 03:16:50
Some ThoughtsSome thoughtscxd2004-11-05 06:29:29
Seems pretty simple to me...Rachel2004-10-20 21:50:01
solution..Sincuerda Gonzalez2004-10-08 23:06:36
SolutionSid2004-09-26 04:49:57
QuestionNo SubjectVee-Liem Veefessional2004-08-26 23:49:44
No SubjectVee-Liem Veefessional2004-08-26 23:49:39
SolutionNo Subjectmatthew2004-08-05 04:44:26
SolutionSolution.Henry2004-07-23 11:31:05
Solutiondrink and be merry ...David2004-07-09 00:42:09
Solutionsolutionvije2004-07-04 10:43:42
Toxic CommentsGustavo2004-06-15 11:01:58
Definition of 'intend' is nebulousErik2004-06-02 15:20:47
No SubjectJenny Turner2004-05-31 05:08:27
re: Toxic solutionkeith2004-05-22 16:05:34
HELLOChaz2004-05-20 17:14:02
maybe?Shane Anderson2004-05-14 20:00:30
No SubjectGeoff2004-05-06 05:22:24
ulterior motiveElisa McDonell2004-05-01 05:32:33
toxin Xtodd2004-04-30 17:06:33
get but dont drinkluke2004-04-29 23:28:08
No ethics here.Miles2004-04-29 17:10:09
Toxin XJoshua Richards2004-04-28 11:25:10
re(3): No Subject - Logic and ReasonTen2004-04-26 05:04:45
re(2): No Subject - Logic and ReasonBenjamin J. Ladd2004-04-21 15:58:03
re: No Subject - Logic and ReasonSam2004-04-20 23:42:19
SolutionPossible answer?Brittany2004-04-20 22:12:58
SolutionNo SubjectBenjamin J. Ladd2004-04-20 00:21:09
re(2): Song of the Sirens (Solution)Penny2004-04-19 20:05:02
Let me inject a thoughtLarry2004-04-19 16:58:26
Solutionre: Song of the Sirens (Solution)Sam2004-04-19 15:53:13
re: Song of the Sirens (Solution)Thalamus2004-04-19 15:48:42
SolutionSong of the Sirens (Solution)Penny2004-04-19 13:51:24
re: Not masochistic, butThalamus2004-04-19 12:46:20
Not masochistic, butRyan2004-04-19 11:08:25
re: my wayPenny2004-04-19 10:19:23
Is the billionaire....Penny2004-04-19 09:02:55
my wayAdy TZIDON2004-04-19 09:00:52
SolutionToxic solutionPenny2004-04-19 08:47:24
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