# Lewis O’Brien comments on Discomfort Stacking

• I suppose you’re right.

Maybe ‘death’ was a poor example as it inherently leads us to a state of relief from discomfort. If we instead take the example of ‘extreme torture’, then it makes more sense to compare the two.

The ‘discomfort’ I was referring to was more from a ‘physical sensation’ perspective rather than any second-order effects.

Imagine these experiences occur in a closed system with no influence on the outside world. Each person has been brought into existence by some higher power specifically for the purposes of this experiment. They have no family, no friends, and are genetically identical.

Imagine 1,000,000,000 participants with a single rational observer. The observer is forced by the higher power to make a choice – so some method of comparison is required.

Would it make more sense for the observer to choose for every single one of the participants to be burdened with a speck of dust in their eye, or for one single participant to be subjected to ‘extreme torture’?

Is there any point where increasing the number changes your mind?

For me it doesn’t matter how many participants there are – the option of torture should never be taken.

The ‘logarithmic stacking theory’ allows this to work mathematically, while a linear model does not.

• Is there some level of discomfort short of extreme torture for a billion to suffer where the balance shifts?

• In my model, yes.

Whether it be a paper-cut, a punch in the face, a leg break, a limb amputation etc. – there is some level of discomfort where the starting value of for one single person is higher than that of the limit of the log graph for 1,000,000,000+ people dealing with some lesser degree of discomfort.

That doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘extreme torture’ – this was just a more ‘obvious’ scenario that I used as an example.

• Oh, sure. I was wondering about the reverse question: is there something that doesn’t really qualify as torture where subjecting a billion people to it is worse than subjecting one person to torture.

I’m also interested in how this forms some sort of “layered” discontinuous scale. If it were continuous, then you could form a chain of relations of the form “10 people suffering A is as bad as 1 person suffering B”, “10 people suffering B is as bad as 1 person suffering C”, and so on to span the entire spectrum.

Then it would take some additional justification for saying that 100 people suffering A is not as bad as 1 person suffering C, 1000 A vs 1 D, and so on.