Pascal's wager

Pascal's wager suggests that it makes more sense to accept and believe certain things even though eventually we may be proved wrong; small losses versus large gains.

Blaise Pascal was an eminent scientist who lived some four hundred years ago. We are all familiar with him; his name is given to the unit of pressure.

Every time we put air into our tyres, say around 2 bars which is 100 kilopascals, we acknowledge him.

Centuries before his time he was playing with ideas concerning probability theory that today is considered old hat. He was a genius.

Blaise PascalBlaise Pascal

Pascal's wager

We shall apply the logic of Pascal's wager to the supply of water to our homes by our utility, in my case the local municipality. It works like this.

  • Day Zero will arrive when the taps run dry, or it will not happen in my lifetime; by reasoning power alone we find ourselves unable to choose between the two alternatives.
  • Pascal's wager means you have to make a choice, one or the other; it is not optional.
  • It's all about chance; weighing the potential gains and losses.
  • If you decide Day Zero will arrive and take some remedial action, and you are right the gains are infinite; you will have plenty of water when everyone else is gasping.
  • If you are wrong and Day Zero does not arrive, then you have lost very little; the cost of a few tanks or an underground reservoir.
  • Pascal's wager demands that you choose one way or another; you cannot sit on the fence.

Religion

"May God never abandon me."

- Blaise Pascal's last words on his deathbed.

Contrary to popular opinion many of the great scientists were religious; Pascal, Galileo and Newton, for example were all Christians. Albert Einstein too believed in God.

Pascal's wager is applied to religion as follows.

  • God of creation does exist, or no it's all a myth. By reasoning alone you find it difficult to choose.
  • But choose you must; in applying Pascal's wager you cannot be agnostic.
  • Pascal adjured us to believe that God does exist. If you are right then the gains are infinite; a happy and fulfilling being and eternal life.
  • And you avoid the infinite loss of an eternity separated from the presence of God; Hell.
  • If you were wrong then there are only a few finite losses; some pleasures and a luxurious life of self indulgence.

We could equally apply Blaise's wager to the electrical grid.

  • The grid will fail, or no we will never have total blackout. You have to choose, one or the other.
  • If you choose the former and put in a solar network, the gains are infinite. You will have an ample supply of electricity when everyone else is starting up their generators.
  • If you are wrong then your losses are finite; a fairly large sum of money wasted.
Total blackout.

Pascal's wager

2.5kW of west-facing solar panels.

Pascal's wager is a philosophical argument put forward by an eminent scientist.

Bernie's wager is that the grid will fail in South Africa and Day Zero will arrive in my village; so I have installed a solar network and an underground reservoir as a precaution.

The gains, finite ones it is true, have already proved to me that it was the right decision; both are paid off and I have free electricity and water for the foreseeable future.

I have to wait and see if there will be infinite gains; whether the grid will fail and Day Zero arrives.

Actually there have already been infinite gains; I have made my small contribution to the survival of planet Earth.

I'll leave it to you to apply the logic of Pascal's wager to "the poles will melt and sea-level  will rise by 100m."

He is also renowned for his plan for the first public bus system in the world, established in Paris in 1662.

Sadly Blaise Pascal died at the tender age of 39 from stomach cancer.

Complete underground reservoir.

Pascal's wager and the pandemic

It is clear that the virus will not be fully eradicated[3]. And that somewhere between 10 - 30% of us will experience Long Covid after the infection. So let's apply Pascal's wager.

  • I will not suffer from Long Covid after the infection; the chances are low.
  • No, I might well experience Long Covid; the risk is significant.

Choosing not to make palpable changes of lifestyle means there is a chance of around 20% of significant loss. The gain is better health not only against the virus and its insidious effects, but overall protection against diabetes and other comorbidities.

Choosing to believe you might experience Long Covid and making significant changes means great gain of lessened likelihood of ongoing sequelae of the disease; and the small loss, in the opinion of some anyway, of having to strictly limit refined carbs.

Understanding how net carbs work is the first step, after vaccination, to protect ourselves against Long Covid.

  1. Pascal's wager @ Wikipedia
  2. Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)
  3. COVID-19 in 2022; the Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?

Newsletter

Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself, the family and friends, and Mother Earth for future generations. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books!

Here are the back issues.

  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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