The Zero Maxim

The Zero Maxim

The human brain is a tricky thing. We routinely overestimate our danger in situations that aren’t all that dangerous and underestimate our danger in things that are surprisingly dangerous. This isn’t a real surprise to anyone and I’m sure if you are reading this you’ve already read about those biases.

So what I’m here to try and propose is that we should treat incredibly unlikely situations as functionally non-existent. To set the stage for this idea I want to give you a thought experiment.

Imagine we could create a sphere with a diameter the same size as the Oort cloud. We’ll take the upper bounds of this area. The Oort cloud is an area of space along the edges of our solar system that has a radius of 200,000 AU. Briefly, an AU or Astronomical Unit is the distance from the Earth to the Sun which itself is about 93 million miles.

So this circle would have a radius of 18.6 million million miles. The area of such a circle would be the ever famous πr2. Which is 1,086.87 million million square miles. The Earth, by comparison, is 196.9 million square miles. Which itself will still be too much for the concept I’m about to toss your way.

Imagine now that you were teleported to a random point anywhere within this sphere. What are the odds that you would end up somewhere that doesn’t rapidly kill you? They are certainly non-zero. Nobody could factually  state otherwise. Well, I’m sure they could but they’d be wrong.

But the chances that you would survive such a journey are so incredibly and genuinely astronomically poor that they are functionally zero. This is what I call the Zero Maxim. The reason that we do not say, or I am suggesting we should not say, that survival of this event is possible is that many people will assume that they apply.

Many people will assume that if they made the jump they’d end up somewhere on the surface of the Earth that isn’t fatal. Keeping in mind that if I were to just teleport you anywhere on the surface of the Earth at random you’d almost certainly die in a very short time frame.

Why is this concept important? Well…it will be the foundation for a lot of things I’m going to be talking about in the short and long term. I think it is important to settle on this now and do one of two things.

Either agree that we can move forward with this maxim. Or, at the very least, accept that I am following this and use that to process further thoughts that I end up slinging.

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