This is a striped down version of a thought prompted by am item in today's news. The scenario is fictional. I'm fairly sure that it is essentially some kind of paradox/fallacy, probably a well known one. But which is it, if so?
A closed world faces doom. The leader has two options:
- Send everyone (including him/herself) to emergency shelter. 5% death rate can be expected due to panic/accidents.
- Attempt an extreme kind of remedy. This has a 30% chance of working (everyone lives) and a 70% of failing (everyone dies).
The leader reasons that if they choose the second option, they will come out of it better, even though its expected outcome is on balance far worse.
In the second option (he reasons), either everyone dies, in which case they face no criticism whatsoever (as they will be dead and lack awareness), or nobody dies and they are a total hero.
To him, this means the outcome will be either neutral (no harm will be experienced by him) or highly positive (hero for saving everyone). By comparison the first option will always give a slight negative outcome (for him) as he is likely to survive, and the other survivors will lay the deaths of 5% at his feet, even if he could have done nothing better.
This seems fairly logical, and optimal for the leader. What's going on? The crux seems to be that the negative outcome actually isn't negative since nobody (including himself) will survive it in order to have that perception, or any perception of wasted opportunity.
(Side observation: I * think * this might be related in some way to the question of "if I take an action which risks death or mental incompetence due to accident (and cannot have any other non-success outcome), should I consider these as negative consequences, since I wouldn't be around to notice them?" Also related to questions of what or whom is "I")
Is this scenario actually a well known paradox/fallacy in disguise?