I love a good thought experiment. I recently saw a video by Learn Liberty about a really good thought experiment.
So, inspired by that thought experiment, I had a good idea about how to teach people about the burden of proof in law. I firmly believe in innocent until proven guilty. It’s very important, and not just some throw away phrase that people who haven’t further examined it believe. My thought experience is something you can do here on this forum right now. I want you to live up to your own standard. If you believe an accuser should be believed & the accused needs to prove themselves innocent, you’re in for a bad time if you take me up on my challenge.
Here’s my thought experiment:
You are not allowed to change the tab &/or window on your computer until you clear yourself of the charge of selling nuclear secretes to the Russians. The catch, you have to live up to the burden of proof you believe in. You have two choices:
1. Believe in innocent until proven guilty: in which all you have to do is ask me if I have any evidence that you are guilty. I don’t have the evidence (yet) so you would be free to go.
2. Believe in guilty until proven innocent: In which you would have to recount every minuet of your life, submit every chat log, give a copy of every hard drive you have ever used, & realize you will never prove your innocence under such an unfair accusation. .. or admit your guilt, traitor.
It would work well in a college class room. What I really like it how it demonstrate how awful “Guilty until proven innocent” is without the need of any historical examples. It also puts it into context of the social contract, that we don’t do thing out of fear of having them done to us. Sure you would probably have to force a few student into the second category by forcing them to admit double think & hypocrisy on their part though leading questions, but over all it serves it’s point quickly & effectively.
So in this thread, share you favorite thought experiments or submit one of your own for discussion.
"Now, I’ve forgiven the world and myself, too. I teach myself to smile again. One day I’ll get there, I know I will. Even if it takes me not nine, but nine hundred lives." -Susan Ashworth from The Cat Lady
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