Thursday, March 17, 2005

Jesu, Joy of Man's Strategizing

The Ig Nobel organizers point us to, | Christian science:
A whole new side of Jesus is cropping up in the field of decision science. A new generation of scholars is taking Jesus to their collective theoretic, strategic bosom. Two recent studies stand out.
Game theory demonstrates that, among other things, "for both Jesus and his movement, crucifixion is a pareto suboptimal outcome." The author warns, however, "It is difficult to generalise from [my] final conclusion since it suggests that payoffs can be shaped ex-post [facto] by actors capable of resurrection."

So true. So very, very true.

This is utterly tangential, but I think that this connects to a principle from random walk theory. It's trivial to show that in even a very fair game of chance, you are almost guaranteed to go broke in finite time. A bad run of luck will just knock you out of the game. $0 is what we call an "absorbing boundary." But resurrection gets you around that. It's equivalent to having an infinite line of credit to draw on. Since you can't go broke you are left with two outcomes (other than giving up in boredom). You could get infinitely wealthy or become infinitely poor. Both take infinite time.

Strategically, if you plan on giving up after you make $x, resurrection will almost (but not absolutely) guarantee that you will eventually be able to cash out at the pre-chosen level. (There is a small but real chance that you'll get heads every time you flip a fair coin, and requiring a profit allows a few tails in the mix.)

I suppose that's the problem with supernatural explanations. Frankly, I just think this is amusing.

Should I post these at the Evolution Project, as a rational approach to Biblical literalism? It isn't quite biology.