Charles and Maggie have been
celebrating at the
Coffeehououse the critical thinking responses to Challenge #69 by
Peace's logic students and the others who submitted their thoughtful
deductions. "How nice it is to receive so many thoughtful
responses...congratulations to all!," added Maggie. "Charles, do you
have a new Challenge to pose for Zeno's patrons?"
"Yes I do, dear Maggie, and let me pose our new challenge as my variation of a long-standing paradox known as 'Newcomb's Paradox.' I want to exercise creative decision-making thinking, and some inductive logic, as our Zeno's patrons are challenged to think and reason abstractly. I learned of this from our good patron Troy last week. Mine, however, goes like this for our next Zeno's Coffeehouse Clallenge, so read it carefully."
Assume the following as a true fact, hypothetically, as your decision depends upon this assumption.
A foreseer claims to have the ability to predict your thoughts and actions days in advance. But unlike most who claim to foresee future actions, this being has been correct 100% of the time with over 100,000,000 precictions and with no single error! You have agreed to take part in an unusual test of the foreseer's powers. Several TV news programs have provided the facilities and put up a large sum of money. All you have to do is abide by the conditions of the experiment. On a table in front of you are two boxes: A and B.
Box A contains a thousand-dollar bill. Box B either contains a million dollars or is empty. You cannot see inside either. Of your own free will (if there is such a thing), you must choose either to take Box B only or to take both boxes. Those are the only options.
The true assumption you must make is this: Twenty-four hours ago, the foreseer predicted what you would choose and decided then whether to put the million dollars in box B. If the foreseer predicted correctly that you would take only box B, he put the million dollars in it. If the foreseer saw your taking both boxes, he left box B empty.
Personally, your only motive is leaving the experiment with as much money as possible. You are not so wealthy that money means nothing. The thousand dollars in box A is a lot of money to you. The million dollars is a fortune. Your Zeno's Challenge is to analyze the situation and decide on the most profitable of the two options, given the assumptions. What should you do? Take both boxes or just Box B?
If it is really true ex hypothesi, that the foreseer can foresee your thoughts with 100% accuracy, then to maximise your income you must take only box B, since the foreseer will have correctly predicted you would and will have put the $1m in it. However, if the foreseer were guaranteed to predict correctly, there would be no point in doing the experiment. The existence of the experiment presupposes some doubt as to the foreseer’s abilities. Under these conditions, and particularly being a risk averse person, I would take both boxes and the chance that the foreseer gets it wrong. This also presumes that the foreseer is the only person who decides what goes in box B.