All about flooble | fun stuff | Get a free chatterbox | Free JavaScript | Avatars    
perplexus dot info

Home > Paradoxes
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: ( Back to comment list | You must be logged in to post comments.)
Some Thoughts some silly thoughts | Comment 48 of 84 |
"You don't actually have to drink the toxin;  all you have to do is intend to drink it."  and "The only other conditions are ... arrange for any way to avoid the effects of the toxin."

does not drinking it count as avoiding the effects of the toxin?

my answer is that the paradox of "come the next day, you would no longer have any reason to drink it" can be eliminated by focusing your energies on another goal.  there are many situations where people fully intend to do something but change their mind after new circumstances.  what if the reasoning was, "if my bank balance isn't increased by a million dollars,  i'm going to drink this toxin noon tomorrow"?  this is fitting with the "goodfellas" solution, but without the aid of the mob.

my other thought about "midnight" .... what is defined as midnight?  the one second when the clock hits 00:00am?  or the whole minute in between 00:00am to 00:01am? 

either way, drinking the toxin before midnight would not help, since at midnight, it would be impossible for you intend to drink the toxin;  you drank it already!  sort of like, i intend to fly to another country by noon tomorrow.  if you're already there, you can't intend to fly there.  certainly, you can leave and intend to fly there again, but a) i doubt they have another bottle of toxin for you, and b) what's the point of intending so early to drink the toxin twice?

  Posted by starlitsky on 2005-03-19 15:14:09
Please log in:
Remember me:
Sign up! | Forgot password

Search body:
Forums (0)
Newest Problems
Random Problem
FAQ | About This Site
Site Statistics
New Comments (7)
Unsolved Problems
Top Rated Problems
This month's top
Most Commented On

Copyright © 2002 - 2024 by Animus Pactum Consulting. All rights reserved. Privacy Information