Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hyperactive Hypotheticals from the World of Perhaps

I love hypothetical questions. I probably spend at least 35% of every day thinking about what I'd do if I were a trolley conductor faced with swarms of shockingly inattentive hoboes all over my rails, or whether the life of a child is worth the extinction of a species, or just how much dirt you can take out of a pile of dirt and have it remain a pile. I think they're interesting ways to approach philosophy and ethics, and can also lead to some good story ideas. But, judging how many other people are annoyed by them, I think I might be in the minority here. So, with that in mind, let me shoot you a few hypothetical questions of my own (because my husband is pretty sick of listening to them).

Question #1: Which would you prefer: to have a glimpse of a wholly positive future that you cannot change, or a glimpse of a wholly negative future that you can change only through very hard work and self-sacrifice? Would it matter if it was six months in the future vs. six years vs. six minutes? Think about it, Jack.

Question #2: The wizard of hypotheticals (who looks a lot like Chevy Chase in the April Fool's episode of Community) will lower seven adorable puppies into a vat of hydrochloric acid unless you agree to spend one year protesting on the wrong side, as you personally define it. You could be an anti-choice protestor, you could be a neo-Nazi, you could be an anti-union agitator. (It has to be an important issue, not being on the "wrong side" of zoning regulations. Also, you have to be really into it; it's not beyond the realm of possibility that your actions will contribute to anti-choice sentiment/anti-Semitism/anti-union rhetoric and make the world a slightly more shitty place to live.) You have sixty seconds to choose. Will you protest, and for what cause? The wizard's clock is ticking, what do you decide??

Question #3: Would you spend one month out of every year for the rest of your life eating nothing but unflavored rice cakes and fried spiders if it meant you could have the weather just the way you like it all the time? Assume that this does not affect greater weather patterns; your "zone of comfort" is a literal Bubble Boy-like mini-climate. Also, you can choose the month and it can change year to year. It's your move, Jason Bateman.

Question #4: Never read a book for the rest of your life, or read nothing except paranormal teen romances for the rest of your life? (If you enjoy paranormal teen romances, substitute Spanish-American War battle studies. If you enjoy both those things, substitute the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary.) Ball's in your court, friend.

Question #5: A small but not insignificant number of people -- let's say 4% -- have been replaced with android doubles. These doubles are identical in every way to the original human, except that when asked directly if they are an android, they must answer in the affirmative. (Humans can choose to lie.) Would you:
a) ask your significant other if they are an android?
b) ask yourself if you are an android?
c) accept the answers as valid?

It is your choice whether to continue to love your significant other, or continue to live with yourself. Decisions, decisions.

Question #6: Would you choose to die at the age of 100, after a perfectly normal life, or die at the age of 65, after a life which is perfectly normal except that you don't have to sleep? You will get the same amount of waking life either way. Consider that if you live to 100 your physical/mental condition might not be ideal, but that you'll probably die before your significant other or even your parents if you only make it to 65. You also won't be able to enjoy retirement, but you'll get a lot more free time spread out through each and every day. And don't say that you enjoy sleep, because nobody enjoys sleep, you enjoy the refreshed feeling you have after you wake up. We have to go... deeper. BRAAWWMMMM!!!

Question #7: You are the only conscious, sentient human being. This can without a doubt be proven to you. Everyone else in the world is a meaningless collection of nucleopeptides, dopaminergic receptors, and predetermined actions. You are the only one with free will or what most people would refer to as a "soul." Also assume that you are a fan of reality television. Would you:
a) continue to watch reality television, despite the radical alteration to your concept of "reality"?
b) continue to call in or vote online in support of your favorite players?
c) continue to lie about enjoying reality television to your snobbish friends?
d) not even bother with showering anymore, because hey, what's the point?

Call in your answer to 1-800-REA-LITY, $3.99 a minute.

Question #8: The wizard of hypotheticals returns and gives you a choice between continuing to answer more hypothetical questions and boarding a boat which has a 75% chance of crashing, which will be followed by a choice about who should board a lifeboat: a man who is slated to donate one kidney and one lung, a pregnant woman in mid-labor, a brilliant surgeon who is also a murderer, or the bratty child of a wealthy dowager who will donate one million dollars to the charity of your choice if you save him. How long does it take you to run to the harbor? And... we're done here.


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