Daily Archives: 22 February 2008

Friday’s Thought Experiment

Consider your gut reactions to the two following scenarios:

1st Scenario

There is a set of tracks which five repairmen are working on.  Around a bend there is an oncoming train. From your vantage point in a tower above the track you can see the train, but the five workers can’t (privilege of management). In a few seconds the train will hit and kill them all.  You can’t shout to them or warn them in any way because of the ear protectors they are wearing and their dedication to the task at hand that keeps them looking away from you.

Suddenly to realize that there is a lever nearby that you can pull that will divert the train onto some side tracks.  However, there is one repair man working on that track.  If the lever is pulled, the train will kill him.

Do you do nothing and allow five men to die, or do you pull the lever and cause the death of one man?

2nd Scenario

Same track. Same five men. Only this time, there is no lever.  However, there is a particularly large man at the edge of the tower, he’s the guy who would have been working alone on the other track.  If he were to fall, and hit the tracks below, it would stop the train.  He’s a very large man.  All you have to do is. . . give him a little push.

Do you do nothing and allow five men to die, or do you push the man and cause his death?

Assuming your gut answers were different . . . why?

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Work Your Proper Hours Day

You may not be aware that today (22nd February) is Work Your Proper Hours Day.

Normally I’d be up for leaving on time but the train was delayed and ended up getting to work late.  I don’t want to attract too much attention to the fact by leaving on time.  Leaving on time for me is almost the same as anyone else leaving early.

I’ll make sure I’m not the last one out.

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