The gospel according to St Ray

Deja vu, man. Transhumanism is just Christian theology retranslated. An ex-Christian writes about her easy transition from dropping out of Bible school to adopting Ray Kurzweil’s “bible”, The Age of Spiritual Machines.

Many transhumanists such as Kurzweil contend that they are carrying on the legacy of the Enlightenment – that theirs is a philosophy grounded in reason and empiricism, even if they do lapse occasionally into metaphysical language about “transcendence” and “eternal life”. As I read more about the movement, I learned that most transhumanists are atheists who, if they engage at all with monotheistic faith, defer to the familiar antagonisms between science and religion. “The greatest threat to humanity’s continuing evolution,” writes the transhumanist Simon Young, “is theistic opposition to Superbiology in the name of a belief system based on blind faith in the absence of evidence.”

Yet although few transhumanists would likely admit it, their theories about the future are a secular outgrowth of Christian eschatology. The word transhuman first appeared not in a work of science or technology but in Henry Francis Carey’s 1814 translation of Dante’s Paradiso, the final book of the Divine Comedy. Dante has completed his journey through paradise and is ascending into the spheres of heaven when his human flesh is suddenly transformed. He is vague about the nature of his new body. “Words may not tell of that transhuman change,” he writes.

I’ve never trusted transhumanism. There’s a grain of truth to it — we will change over time, and technology is a force in our lives — but there’s this weird element of dogmatism where they insist that they have seen the future and it will happen just so and if you don’t believe in the Singularity you are anti-science. Or if you don’t believe in Superbiology, whatever the hell that is.

Anyway, read the whole thing. I’m currently at a conference at HHMI, and we’re shortly going to get together to talk about real biology. I don’t think the super kind is going to be anywhere on the agenda.


  1. HappyHead says

    I’m pretty sure Superbiology is just regular biology with a Superman logo slapped on it. Just like all of the other Super stuff in Superman’s comic book.

  2. says

    Yeah I saw “superbiology” and was like, what the hex is that?Is “super” even a scientific term? I feel like anything starting with “super” is probably malarkey, like Superman and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, and I didn’t look that up so if it’s spelled wrong oh well.

  3. wzrd1 says

    Scientists, engineers, science fiction writers have all tried to predict our technological future.
    All have succeeded in one thing; getting the future wrong.

  4. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    I thought “Super” was DC Comics Trademark IP while “trans” belonged to Marvel Comics. This all sounds like some kind of meta cross-smashup of comic books.
    I know nothing…

  5. emergence says

    I suppose this might be my one weird thing I support. I don’t think that the kind of transhumanism preached by people like Kurtzweil is credible, but there are a few basic aspects of the idea that seem plausible.

    I don’t think that the singularity is ever going to happen, or that you can revive a frozen corpse, or that you can turn a human brain into a computer program. However, I think it’s completely possible that one day we’ll be able to use synthetic biology and cybernetics to alter ourselves. Basic, rudimentary forms of these technologies are already being developed. I don’t know how far in the future this will happen, and I don’t think that it’ll be easy, but I don’t see it as being impossible.

    Really, I’m more interested in the advancements in cybernetics and bioengineering that are being developed right now than I am in sitting around speculating about some hypothetical utopian future.

  6. Pierce R. Butler says

    Duth Olec @ # 2: I feel like anything starting with “super” is probably malarkey…

    Don’t tell that to your supervisor, unless prepared for a career shift.

  7. unclefrogy says

    it seems to me that it depends on a soul as conceived by the christian west as much as it does the Enlightenment
    just another hockey religion
    uncle frogy

  8. cartomancer says

    The interesting thing about that Dante quote is that its vagueness about the nature of the resurrected body in the hereafter is probably very deliberate. Dante’s late 13th Century thought world was heir to recent panics about heretic groups that apparently believed unacceptable things about the resurrection. The Cathars of the late Twelfth Century were out and out dualists. To them the flesh was evil and only the spirit was divine, so the final state of mankind after the Day of Judgment would be as purely spiritual beings shorn of unclean flesh. The Amauricians and Oribasianists of the early Thirteenth Century, however, went too far in the other direction. Basing their thelology on obscure Greek works previously unknown in the Latin west they adopted a kind of monism, whereby flesh and spirit were really different grades of the same thing and the final Resurrection would be an upgrade of all flesh into the most refined sort of spiritual matter (culminating in the return of everything to complete unity with God). Neither option was acceptable to mainstream catholic theology, which insisted that both body and soul came from God, and so both would be required for resurrection as God does not give rise to worthless or superfluous things. With this being such a theological hot topic in the universities of the Thirteenth Century (Dante was pretty much contemporary with Aquinas, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham) it would have been very prudent indeed for a poet such as Dante to avoid being specific about the topic of the Resurrection.

  9. Dark Jaguar says

    Yeah, most people who call themselves “transhumanists” seem to have a dogma about them, and it’s very hard debating the finer points with them or trying to tamper their hopes at brain uploading with the sheer scale of the problem they’re dealing with (with help from this very site). While I’m a bit of an optimist in that I think it’s at least conceptually possible, given maybe a few centuries and some massive shift in tech of some sort (and that issues of “is it you?” resemble the Ship of Theseus paradox enough for me to not be all that concerned about it), I’m not going to call it “certain” by any means, and frankly I’m very clearly being optimistic about it’s chances even acknowledging I’m certainly going to be long dead if and when it arrives. I do “get” them though. I have NEVER felt comfortable in my own slowly rotting meat sack, and merely accept having a body as a physical necessity all thanks to the wretched physicality of the universe. Mundane issues like getting just a slight bit of orange peel under my nail or my arm being just an inch too short to reach something under my bed make me far angrier than by all rights they should, because I’m mainly angry that it’s necessary and unavoidable that we need to deal with it. I would prefer a world of pure systems, where the flaws are all flaws in code that can be resolved and it would be impossible to apply force to anyone, but that’s just an idiotic pipe dream, I’m fully aware. I’m also aware that those who absolutely love physical activity, the “feel of the wind in your hair” so to speak are, right now, churning their stomach at this attitude. Well, I can’t really help it. I’ve tried to get a healthier outlook, but I’ve never quite felt “connected” to this pile of flesh. And yes, I did give thought that maybe it’s the particular form of that flesh that’s at issue, and disregarded it. Changing my gender would just be a superficial rearranging of meat to my mind, and wouldn’t put me at ease in the slightest. It isn’t a body image issue either. Again, on a fundamental level, I’m pretty much certain no matter how I might cut or reshape the meat, it still just ends up being oily slowly dying meat I’m moored to up until it becomes worm food.

    I’ve painted a rather bleak picture of my outlook, but it isn’t so bad. On a rational level, I’m fully aware that without a body, I couldn’t enjoy those things I do like about my life, namely learning new things and interacting with the minds I’m closest to. I’m fully aware it’s not a situation any rational person could ever hope to do anything ABOUT, at least not at our present understanding and tech (as a result, I abandon transhumanism even as appealing as it’s overblown promises that will never be realized in my lifetime are. I am also not consumed on a moment to moment basis with this perspective. Most of the time, I go from one thing to the next without really thinking about my body at all. It’s only when my body imposes it’s limitations upon me, such as when a joint flares up or, worst of all, I feel even the slightest, even a single drop of sweat for any reason, that it comes flooding back (metaphorically). (I hate being sweaty and abuse the heck out of my AC.) Ya know, it’s nothing crippling, nor do I think I have a mismatched identity that needs to be resolved, nor do I think I’m suffering from depression. Frankly, if I could pop a pill to suddenly BECOME comfortable in my own skin, I’d probably not take it. That’d feel like deceiving myself, to me at least.

    This isn’t meant to compare with the very real issues this sounds like, or to whine about how terrible my life is. I’m only painting this picture to show how easy it would be for someone to go for this sort of techno-mythology, with some god willing to simulate “all possible mental states” (which, well think about it, there’s be an infinite spectrum of “you” all trying to get back in touch with very specific members of infinite spectrums of “your family and friends”, with no hope of ever actually getting in touch with that one specific “them”, and also most of the entities on that spectrum would be gibbering masses of incoherent thought, since there’s a lot more ways for a mind to be broken than working and that singularity god just made ALL of them. This is not an ideal situation at all, but rather a unique kind of hell for social minds like our’s. Anyway, I’m sure plenty of those involved have similar attitudes about being stuck in our fleshy tombs and just grabbed onto the nearest hope of a way out.

    Oh, and yes, reading about the complicated systems and amazing adaptations in our bodies does alleviate the disgust a bit, but not altogether. I mean, I frequently am amazed at what old software designers were able to do with old hardware, but it would suck to be stuck with the very first computer I ever had for life.

  10. tacitus says

    Scientists, engineers, science fiction writers have all tried to predict our technological future. All have succeeded in one thing; getting the future wrong.

    To be fair, some have occasionally gotten a few of the details right, perhaps the most famous being Arthur C Clarke’s prediction of the geostationary communications satellite.

    I’ve written a collection of science fiction short stories that explores what might happen should we ever succeed in making contact with alien life (some more serious than others). I didn’t write them as predictions, I wrote them because the subject interests me, and, in part, because I got sick of hearing the tired old (and almost certainly incorrect) trope that contact will be fatal to us/them for… reasons (looking at you, Stephen Hawking).

    It’s also fun to speculate how people would react if such an event did happen. For example, if an advanced alien race sequestered the US Presidential Cabinet and asked them to decide whether Earth was ready to join the wider galactic community, how would the debate go? Full disclosure — I completely failed to predict President Donald Trump (and Brexit), so I may have gotten a few other things wrong too…

  11. Trickster Goddess says

    “just another hockey religion”

    Many people in my country are members of that faith. Services are held on every Hockey Night in Canada.

  12. cavebear says

    The Singularity is just rich people wanting to live forever, and profit from this belief along the way. So, yes, just like religion.

  13. cavebear says

    Another thing about singularities is that new processes not in your original model become important as you approach a singularity – be it dissipation in shock waves or quantum effects in black holes. Maybe Zardoz is the movie version.

  14. Rich Woods says

    @Duth Olec #2:

    anything starting with “super” is probably malarkey

    A long time ago I thought that Lyall Watson‘s Supernature was quite plausible, but then I grew up.

  15. cartomancer says

    Superbiology, n.. The study of overweening pride and arrogance (early 21st century, colloq. from Lat. superbia – pride, arrogance + Gk. logos – word, idea, concept) “Experts in superbiology have welcomed the Trump era as a case study of groundbreaking importance”.

  16. blf says

    The Singularity is just rich people wanting to live forever,

    The Singularity is arseholes believing they want to live forever, showing they are as incapable of reasoning as they are at humanity.

  17. Dark Jaguar says

    blf: I’ve heard this before about life extension, that living forever would ultimately be a torture. Fine, whatever, but can’t you use your imagination a little bit and see there’s a rather blindingly obvious solution to that problem? It’s called “suicide” and in such a future it would of course be a basic human right. What’s wrong with going out on your terms instead of it being something beyond your control? Again, not supporting their ridiculous assertions about it’s “inevitability” or even feasibility, but if the tech DID exist, people like you outlawing it would be no different than murder. Frankly, you’ve got no business telling others whether or not they have the right to live, or how long they are allowed to live.

    I say this as someone who wouldn’t want to live “forever”, but would enjoy perhaps a thousand years or so of extra life, and also as someone who knows fully well that that just isn’t in the cards, at least within my lifetime.

  18. blf says

    [T]here’s a rather blindingly obvious solution to [Dark Jaguar’s imagined] problem[, namely suicide]?

    I am quite familiar with the problem of a loved one committing suicide. I do not appreciate your condensing and insulting attitude, apparent ignorance of the effect on others, your statement that suicide is a “solution”, or your implication it is not without problems.

    You are clearly an immoral inhumane bigot, exactly te sort of monster was alluding to.

    Feck off.

  19. Friendly says

    just another hockey religion

    There are hockey religions? Are they practiced outside Canada??

  20. says

    @4, wzrd1

    Scientists, engineers, science fiction writers have all tried to predict our technological future.
    All have succeeded in one thing; getting the future wrong.

    Nah, there’s been some success. The internet, pocket computers like our smart phones (I even predicted that one shortly before it happened, though to be fair it might have been obvious by then), robotics, medical improvements, computer abilities and physical size, transportation (on ground and in air), forensics, visual display technology, brain-machine interfaces, virtual reality, robots,

    And let’s not forget that innovation design engineering actually is the prediction of future technology.

    And the future isn’t over yet, there’s more to come.

  21. springa73 says

    I don’t think that dreams of immortality are restricted to rich people or assholes – people of all levels of wealth and decency have been dreaming of immortality for many thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of years. Of course immortality or even extended life would be a curse if one can’t remain healthy, but most visions of immortality assume immortal health as well as life. In short, there is nothing surprising or inherently wrong with the transhumanist vision – it’s a dream of immortality that doesn’t invoke magic or the supernatural. Unfortunately, it does invoke technology so advanced that we don’t know if it’s even possible.

  22. tacitus says

    Unfortunately, it does invoke technology so advanced that we don’t know if it’s even possible.

    True, we don’t even know how to defeat cancer or Alzheimer’s yet, both of which are prerequisites to extending lifespan (amongst many others).

    Thing is, unlike other possibly impossible goals, like viable interstellar travel, the goal of life extension dovetails quite nicely with much of the impetus that drives one sixth of the 18 trillion dollar US economy — i.e. healthcare.

    So while true life extension (beyond 120 years) remains a pipe dream, tens of billions of dollars a year are being spent on research into genetics and related fields that, if nothing else, will continue to bring a far better understanding of what makes us tick.

    Perhaps in 1,000 years our lifespan will still be around 100 years, but the intermediate goals of living into old age cancer free and without fear of the devastation of dementia may well have been long achieved by then, and I don’t think human beings are capable of giving up on figuring out ways to live longer and healthier lives (even if most of us don’t act like it most of the time!)

  23. emergence says

    Technological development happens slowly over time, so it makes no sense to expect to develop complete agelessness without first learning how to extend people’s lives for only about a decade or so. There’s also a world of difference between slowing aging down and completely stopping it. Even if it’s impossible to completely halt aging, it might still be possible to slow it down slightly. Some, but not all, of the ethical issues about life extension also stop being issues if people just live for a long time but still die from old age eventually. Still, I’d find actual lab results that successfully slow senescence in model organisms more convincing and worth talking about than the speculation of futurists like Kurtzweil.

  24. Dark Jaguar says

    Rereading how I put that, I can clearly see I put across the wrong message blf, and I apologize for the harm I’ve caused.

    To clarify, I did not intend to suggest people who dislike technology should go kill themselves. That would be a cold and terrible attitude. I also do not suggest that people who are sick should kill themselves. That’s a terrible thing to say and for failing to watch my words more carefully I’ve put that idea out by mistake and I take full responsibility for the harm caused by this failure to communicate. I spoke without care, and will try to speak better.

    Let me start by explaining a common problem in the places I frequent. You see, when it comes to talk of immortality, there is a staunch group who insist that immortality would be a horrific existence and conclude that pursuing life extension is in and of itself a flawed goal, because how insufferable would living far beyond having any interest in life any more be? To that end, I agree that past a certain point a person is very likely to lose interest in living any more, and that being forced to live past that point would be horrible. I would never get in the way of someone’s right to suicide. At this point I think I’ve clarified exactly which viewpoint I’m coming from and which viewpoint I’m arguing against. If I’ve misunderstood your’s, I accept responsibility for that as well and would be open to correction in this regard. Where the failing of people like this (and I’ll say for example Richard Dawkins holds this view) comes from is the lack of imagination in how a society can resolve this sort of suffering for those who have tired of life. I glibly said “suicide” as the “obvious” solution, because I tend to try and soften blows with my bad comedy. I should say instead that if suicide conjures terrible images of those who suffer from depression, I certainly don’t consider depression caused suicide the same as the reasoning of someone suffering from a terminal disease would have for requesting assisted suicide, and again I apologize for my lack of distinction. Clearly those ARE very distinct cases, and should be treated as distinct categories.

    For my part, and for the purposes of the proposed argument, life lived long past a human mind’s ability to enjoy it seems like it fits in the latter category rather than the former, and so I proposed the same solution, a person should be willing to end their own life on their own terms. Death is a tragic thing that affects everyone attached to that person no matter how it happens. Around here we all agree that “ranking” tragedy is a fool’s errand that does more harm than good. It seems clear to me that, to the best our medical knowledge allows for, it should be up to the individual to decide the time and manner of their death (within reason). This doesn’t contradict our desire to intervene and prevent suicide caused by depression, which is a distinct illness that doesn’t come from someone in their right mind and the desire to do so usually passes when the darker moods pass (from the first-hand accounts I’ve read in my attempt to understand it anyway).

    With all of that established, my only conclusion in this fictional world where people can live forever would be that the moral solution to the issue of those who grow tired of life is to allow them to end things, and provide them the dignity and respect that decision deserves, just as we should for those here in the real world with a terminal illness. There will be pain every time it happens, but I argue that there would be less pain for everyone involved when it’s on the terms of the one choosing to do it than death that just… happens. What possible benefit is there in having death be unpredictable and random, caused by illness, accidents, or just the flow of time, as opposed to us taking the reigns and being able to plan it for ourselves and help prepare all our loved ones for it? THAT is what I’m driving at when I say it would be immoral to block such life extension and say, in an all too paternal way, “You may say you want to live longer, but I know best, so enjoy the horror of a sudden heart attack and the knowledge your family will be shocked and devastated by how unexpected it all was. I choose this for you, because I know better.” Heck, let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say that planning the end of our lives really IS, somehow, a worse thing than having no control over it, being somehow MORE devastating to all our loved ones. Ultimately, other people still don’t get to make that call. Ultimately, I would STILL argue that we don’t get to decide for someone else the terms of their own death.

  25. Dark Jaguar says

    Brian Pansky,
    A good list of pluses and some negatives there.

    You went and got me started on Internet of Things… I hate everything about it, from the name of the thing to the sorts of things that are becoming “internet of things” things.


    Hilariously, they’re putting cameras in EVERY home appliance EXCEPT microwave ovens. Of all the devices that idiot speaking for Trump could have picked, she named the ONE thing they haven’t made a “smart” version of (primarily due to just how hard it is to put something wireless, communicating in the microwave band, on a microwave generator).

    The thing is, I’m not against the notion of a “smart home”, I just think everyone’s going about it entirely the wrong way. Nothing about a “smart home” should ever have to get online, or send any signal outside the home itself. It would be better to set up a self-containted offline computer to manage all the “at home” functions and wire everything to that. Ethernet is STILL not standard in home setups (mine’s one of the few exceptions), so wireless COULD work, but it would still need to connect to an entirely local solution that didn’t have to go out over the internet and then double back to the device in question. LAN, not WAN. This change would pervent the ridiculous botnets that have been springing up in the era of online freaking light bulbs.

    This is the stupidest possible techno dystopia.

  26. KG says

    Dark Jaguar@33,

    As I suspect you’re aware, the purpose of designing “smart homes” so that everythnig is online, is not the convenience of the occupants, but that of the corporations that sell information about you to advertisers, and of the “security services”.

  27. wzrd1 says

    Which would make sense, save that if you don’t provide the smart home device a default gateway or DNS server IP, such reporting is impossible.
    That’s networking 101.

  28. John Morales says

    wzrd1, you have faith in the purity of firmware, never mind drivers?

    (You do know wireless is a thing, right?)

  29. wzrd1 says

    You do know that TCP/IP requires a default gateway in order to send traffic outside of its local network, yes?
    All of the drivers and firmware in the world won’t transmit to the internet if it lacks that default gateway. The closest thing that could bypass that limitation would be for a device to be on a ceullar network, which does provide a default gateway and hence, would be a major vulnerability as an unknown bridge in a network. Those can and are detected quite quickly by security researchers, who then report on such an offending device. They’d also add an additional expense for a manufacturer, both in burden of paying for that illicit cellular service and in reputation loss.
    For one illicit technology example, I recall to your attention the infamous Sony rootkit. That one cost Sony a *lot* of money, both in FTC action, multiple state class action litigation and increased regulatory oversight.

    Now, there is one IOT item that is suspect and does share data with third parties, smart televisions and smart assistants, such as what Google and Amazon sell. Those, by nature, require a default gateway in order to function. As what all gets shared and with whom is opaque, I’ll not have such devices on my network.
    But, my surveillance cameras are on my network, on an isolated subnet that can only see one server, there is no default gateway on that subnet, nor is routing to other networks possible.

    Frankly, I’m more concerned with device security. One current example is Mirai malware botnet, hijacking devices due to lousy or absent security in their implementation of various devices.

  30. consciousness razor says

    Dark Jaguar:

    You see, when it comes to talk of immortality, there is a staunch group who insist that immortality would be a horrific existence and conclude that pursuing life extension is in and of itself a flawed goal, because how insufferable would living far beyond having any interest in life any more be?

    You make them sound awfully unreasonable (or anyway not very logical), whoever these people are supposed to be. I wonder if they’re really making such conclusions, or if you’re reading something else into it which wasn’t really there. In several places throughout your comments here, you’ve been conflating something like “a long time” with “immortality.” This is also a fairly common rhetorical move made by transhumanists and their ilk. It’s probably not just rhetoric, because at some level that is the dream that they’d like to see realized, as suggested in the OP. (Or they think they’d want that, although they might be mistaken.)

    There are obviously some problems with this. To start with, I take the word “immortal” to literally mean “not mortal.” (And no, this is not a case like “inflammable = flammable.”) So, the language is being used in a contradictory way, when the suggestion is that people are immortal in this hypothetical magic future, while being comforted with the (also hypothetical) proposal that they would nevertheless be able to end their life if that would be best for them, which as you argue is a valuable thing that we should not want to eliminate. But it looks like you need to pick one or the other, if those words are going to maintain their ordinary meanings and we’re able to draw valid conclusions about them as such. It’s up to you if you feel like talking metaphorically or colorfully or whatever, but you shouldn’t be very surprised when (1) others misinterpret such statements that so easily lend themselves to misinterpretation — by construction, it seems — and (2) you’re actually aware that you’re saying something that doesn’t make sense on a literal reading. (If you’re aware, that is.)

    A big number, even a very big number, is not infinity. We should not act as if those were mathematically or logically equivalent. On top of that, a very big (finite) number, as far as I’m concerned, is not an accurate representation of a thought like “more than a normal human lifespan, in years.” I’m comfortable saying that 100-120 or so is not big at all, as numbers go. Whatever happens, my lifespan will not be “big,” in these terms — and so what if it isn’t? Would bigness, ceteris paribus, make it significantly better? I sincerely doubt that. I can think of a lot of things that would; but nearly all of them are not about its duration.

    Anyway, adding a bit more to that is all the words “life extension” should presumably mean. It’s helpful that that is also all we could ever hope to get from any sort of medical/technological procedure or invention. It’s a vastly more modest claim to say that a person might someday live to be 150 years old or even 300 years old, compared to saying a person might someday live to be 10^50 years old (or more!). There’s no need to draw the line very sharply here, but there ought to be somewhere in that extremely wide range of logical (not physical) possibilities, where everybody should be profoundly embarrassed by the idea that anybody could physically live that long, no matter what we might do or whatever might happen in the future. This is not about being technologically unfeasible for people, nor is it about being too expensive, not really worth it or anything else like that. The physics has to be taken seriously, and that kind of pipe dream is taking it like a fucking joke. But it’s no joke. It simply will not happen. That’s all before we even get close to the talk of “immortality” or related ideas, so it’s hard to understate how completely absurd that shit is.

    THAT is what I’m driving at when I say it would be immoral to block such life extension and say, in an all too paternal way, “You may say you want to live longer, but I know best, so enjoy the horror of a sudden heart attack and the knowledge your family will be shocked and devastated by how unexpected it all was. I choose this for you, because I know better.”

    It’d odd that you think death itself is “unexpected.” Not death at any particular time, but simply that it happens at all (because at all times one could “want to live longer”). Learn to expect it, then. It’s going to happen eventually, and you don’t have that much time to learn that lesson. Perhaps you’ll be a bit less shocked and devastated by it all, any time it happens to someone you care about.

    Right, but… they could’ve been a brain in a vat that lives for eternity — and who am I to take that away, however I’d do that? — so we’re supposed to be devastated by the thought of what could’ve been….. But hold on a second. Is this seriously supposed to connect up somehow with all of the nonsense about singularities and mind-uploading and so forth? Or are we supposed to be thinking here about something completely different that could’ve been, something which isn’t just a bunch of nonsense?

    Heck, let’s say I’m wrong. Let’s say that planning the end of our lives really IS, somehow, a worse thing than having no control over it, being somehow MORE devastating to all our loved ones.

    But this isn’t the choice anybody has. You can decide to die earlier than you would have otherwise (which can sometimes be the right decision), but that is not a decision about whether or not you will die. None of these things are equivalent (sometimes they’re not even vaguely related), and if you let things shift around like this as you’re reasoning about them, then whatever conclusions you try to draw just aren’t going to be worth a damn.