What-if 0009: "Soul Mates"

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TemporaryLife
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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby TemporaryLife » Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:22 am UTC

I won't lie to you, folks: I decided to register here to post in this thread.

It surprises me that, with as many responses as there are in this thread, that nobody has brought up the film Timer with Emma Caulfield (AKA Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which people are fitted with a device that counts down to when they will meet their true love. (It's not a GREAT movie, but it is fun.)

I am even more surprised that Whole Wide World by Wreckless Eric has not been mentioned, here:

When I was a young boy
My mama said to me
There's only one girl in the world for you
And she probably lives in Tahiti


I went back and forth on whether or not to make this my very first posting here, but I enjoyed the new What-If too much to not bring this up.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:21 am UTC

"alone forever"? I thought it was spelled "forever alone".
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project2051
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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby project2051 » Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:44 am UTC

Well you know there is always a ghost of a chance it will happen
http://youtu.be/un0qNgKo62E

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Lode
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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby Lode » Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:57 pm UTC

Once two people found each other, they are removed from the search pool, making the search simpler for the rest. Only half as much eye contacts as described are needed!

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby hilstad » Mon Sep 03, 2012 5:07 pm UTC

Wow, so a completely arbitrary "creepy age difference" factor. I'll have to tell my soul-mate, my wife who is eleven years younger than myself, about that.

Thanks, that wasn't too prejudiced and judgemental at all.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby JustCurious » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:08 pm UTC

This comment on a bog where this was resposted made me curious (enough to register just to ask this):
If you're the sort of person who believes in a soul-mate, then you're probably the sort of person who also believes that soul-mates are destined to meet at some point—or at least, that there's some sort of "pull" towards your soul-mate.

What would happen then, like there was some sort of pull (some sort of gravity) involved?

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby Sprocket » Mon Sep 03, 2012 6:36 pm UTC

Obviously if we had "soul mates" they wouldn't be so randomly chosen as to be out of all people ever. They would definitely be contemporaries. The question of their survival is still perfect valid, but to suggest a soul mate would just be one random human that EVER existed is a bit of a stretch for the purposes of being as abjectly negative about a concept as possible. I often wonder if my soul mate died in a car crash when he was 11 or something. I also don't believe in soul mates.
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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby rcox1 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 1:11 am UTC

If we count every person who ever lived, then it only makes sense that we count everyone who ever is going to live. In that sense, the chance of finding a soul mate is infinitesimal. Likewise, even if we limit to souls living in the now, natural mortality would reduce the chances for finding a soul mate from very small to infinitesimal.
<p>
I am more of the idea that there are a limited number of souls and if we have a soul mate it is a shared soul, which we have many. The issue is then not just finding a soul mate, which I think from my experience is not hugely difficult for a person who is open to love, but to find the soul mate that one can spend a lot of time with. This means that the cultural and childhood experiences are similar enough to be compatible.
<p>
All this of course is bunk. For the most part most people are happy enough to find someone they can have regular sex with.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:28 am UTC

hilstad wrote:Wow, so a completely arbitrary "creepy age difference" factor. I'll have to tell my soul-mate, my wife who is eleven years younger than myself, about that.

Thanks, that wasn't too prejudiced and judgemental at all.

How about we* redo the math such that your soul mate, rather than being guaranteed to be within ten year of your age, is more likely to be closer to your age than further from it, curved such that they're probably (for some reasonable value of "probably") within ten years of your age, but some outliers are expected, in decreasing frequency with larger age gaps.

Better yet, we* could find some actual statistics somewhere showing the age gaps between couples which lasted 'til death did them part, and devise a curve that fits that data.

*(read "someone else (I'm lazy)")
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false premise

Postby egc52556 » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:34 am UTC

As always, funny and interesting. But I think it starts with a false premise: that the search for a soul mate begins after birth. The people who believe in "soul mates" assume a spiritual world where souls are created before birth and continue after death. In this spiritual world, the organizing forces arrange for "soul mates" to be born into bodies that will find each other during the normal course of their lives.

Before you mock me, I am not saying what I believe. I am saying that the term "soul mates" implies a belief in souls.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:16 pm UTC

rcox1 wrote:All this of course is bunk. For the most part most people are happy enough to find someone they can have regular sex with.

I'd rather find someone I can have frequent sex with </pedant>

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Sep 04, 2012 12:27 pm UTC

hilstad wrote:Wow, so a completely arbitrary "creepy age difference" factor. I'll have to tell my soul-mate, my wife who is eleven years younger than myself, about that.

Thanks, that wasn't too prejudiced and judgemental at all.


Rule of 7 dictates that an 11 year age gap is acceptable if you were 36 , and she 25 when you met started dating.

Reality however dictates nothing of the sort,

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby MrTornadough » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:19 am UTC

I think the biggest faulty assumption in this what if is that we KNOW. We somehow know there is a single soul mate, and base our entire civilization around finding them.

But how did this come about? In reality, as there IS such a small chance of ever meeting, unless something physically or mentally stopped us from mating with anyone but our soul mate, how do we possibly know they exist? In this setting, it could be argued that the current world is in fact set up that way, and there are soul mates, but, as the article says, some of us fake it, or settle for close enough to not be alone. The ones that say they found their soul mate/believe in soul mates, we dismiss as they found someone who they are very happy with, not litterally that they were matched up.

But, ignoring that and assuming that we did somehow know, I still think the chance has been unrealistcally made far worse. Why are gender, sexual orientation, culture and language all dismissed? It is stated because then it won't be random, but the idea behind soul mates is it's not 100% random. It's not like a dice is rolled and you're matched up with someone, the whole point is it's someone you are compatible with. So if you are a homosexual male from a small town in the middle of Australia with a population of 1000, you're not going to be matched up with a straight christian male from New York that not only are you unlikely to ever meet, but they won't want to be with you, which doesn't make sense as it's supposed to be a 2 way connection. We should not assume when your eyes meet all your ideals are changed.

The point is, you should have SOME idea of what your soul mate is going to be like, so if you were using a ChatRoulette style system, and you are homosexual, you should be able to filter it to only other homosexuals. If you are jewish and would never be with anyone who isn't jewish, it should follow that your soul mate is. This would also mean minorties ultimately should have a higher chance of finding their soul mate.

I would also assume it is someone who is alive within your own lifetime, as far as them dying before you meet, I assumed it would also be someone you are able to meet within both of your lifetimes, however short.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby mathmannix » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:55 pm UTC

First, let me go on the record saying that I believe in soul mates, but not everyone necessarily has one. Some people are better off alone.

Now that that's out there, it needs more explaining. If someone believes in soul mates, then it isn't that there is a random person somewhere in the world for you, and you have to spend your whole life trying to find them. No, it means that God (my personal belief), or fate, or destiny, or the universe, will bring the two of you together, no matter what you do to fight it. Looking back on all the seemingly arbitrary choices that I made in my life before meeting my wife, choices that, had I made them differently, would have resulted in my never having met her, there are two possible ways I can look at it: (1) it is stupid, blind, arbitrary luck, and I could have ended up with any one of a million other people, or alone, or (2) God (or fate or destiny or the universe, if you prefer) had a hand in it, and kept us on paths that would eventually intersect, and she was the one for me. I choose to believe this.

Now, I don't base my philosophy on popular songs, but the Rascal Flatts song (originally by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, apparently) really resonates with me:

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby VectorZero » Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:57 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:it is stupid, blind, arbitrary luck, and I could have ended up with any one of a million other people, or alone
Yep. Pretty awesome, huh?
Van wrote:Fireballs don't lie.

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby PatrikLord » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:58 am UTC

I reread this what-if today and something struck me.

I thing Randall made some false assumptions regarding who your soul mate can be.

Claiming that it can be persons living in a past or future is contradicting the definition used: "We’ll assume your soul mate is set at birth".

The reason why this is contradictory is that, as said, your soul mate is set at birth I'm of course assuming that soul mates are one-to-one, ie. I have only one soul mate and my soul mate has only one soul mate (me). This means that if my soul mate is set at birth, this also means that my soul mates soul mate is set at birth and since that is me then me and my soul mate has to be born on the exact same moment. How long this moment is is of course hard to establish, but even if you just know which hour you are born, this limits the possible number of soul mates to around 10 000 to 15 000 according different sources regarding births per hour.

Claiming that soul mates are not one-to-one kinda takes away the magic and actually makes the concept pretty sad, because that would imply that your soul mate is the only person you're truly happy with but that person isn't necessarily happy with you.

By the way, sorry for the thread necromancy but I just had to spill out my thoughts regarding this. :-P

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby DR6 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:07 pm UTC

PatrikLord wrote:I reread this what-if today and something struck me.

I thing Randall made some false assumptions regarding who your soul mate can be.

Claiming that it can be persons living in a past or future is contradicting the definition used: "We’ll assume your soul mate is set at birth".

The reason why this is contradictory is that, as said, your soul mate is set at birth I'm of course assuming that soul mates are one-to-one, ie. I have only one soul mate and my soul mate has only one soul mate (me). This means that if my soul mate is set at birth, this also means that my soul mates soul mate is set at birth and since that is me then me and my soul mate has to be born on the exact same moment. How long this moment is is of course hard to establish, but even if you just know which hour you are born, this limits the possible number of soul mates to around 10 000 to 15 000 according different sources regarding births per hour.

Claiming that soul mates are not one-to-one kinda takes away the magic and actually makes the concept pretty sad, because that would imply that your soul mate is the only person you're truly happy with but that person isn't necessarily happy with you.

By the way, sorry for the thread necromancy but I just had to spill out my thoughts regarding this. :-P


No. The relationship being one-to-one doesn't mean they have to be born at the same moment: the "soul mate" can be someone who hasn't been born yet.

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Re: What-if 0009: "Soul Mates"

Postby azaethral » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:38 pm UTC

I'll stop short of endorsing the idea that soulmates exist, but I will advance the argument that Randall gave up easy on this one.

The one firm assumption that we're making is that every person has a single, unique soulmate (the soulmate may be someone who is already dead or has yet to be born).

Other assumptions can optionally be added (or not), for example:
  • homogeneity requirement: only humans can be soulmates of other humans (if you want to generalize, any soulmate-capable species can only be soulmates with members of a species which is capable of mating with the first)
  • duality requirement: a soulmate can only be of the opposite gender (the gay and TG community would obviously take issue with this, so I suggest it not for that reason, but because added constraints can make matching problems more interesting)
  • coinciding existence requirement: the lifespans of a person and their soulmate must overlap at some point
  • awareness requirement: a person must in some way come in contact with or be concretely aware of their soulmate during the course of their lives (the possibility of infant mortality would necessarily complicate this requirement)

A person may die as an infant or a child, and a person may have multiple classical relationships (with children from more than one). Therefore, a classical relationship cannot be either a sufficient or necessary condition for being a soulmate.

Let a society be some set of people, including possibly virtual people (ones that have died or have yet to be born). A soulmate matching is a matching in which every person p in the society has a unique, distinct soulmate p', who is also part of the society. A society is soulmate feasible if a soulmate matching exists for that society.

The originally posed question refers to the possibility that everyone has exactly one randomly chosen soulmate. I'd argue that a stronger interpretation of the question is one where society persistently maintains a state of soulmate feasibility. At that point you can begin to introduce quantum arguments, as in: given a soulmate feasible society, take the set of all possible soulmate matchings for that society. The society has a soulmate state which is the superposition of all soulmate matchings (ie a combination of all of them with probability weightings for each individual one). If a pair of soulmates is ever affirmed, then the state collapses to only allow matchings which are still consistent. Thus, this model guarantees that people who have found their soulmate are represented as such, some people may never actually find their soulmate, but a soulmate always exists for any individual, among a set of possible candidates.

I'd argue that there's no reason to write off the chance of soulmate meetings on the basis of pure chance, because it dismisses the possibility that a pair of soulmates, by virtue of being soulmates, share an intrinsic characteristic which would lead them to gravitate towards each other. For example, look at the way that most of the brightest physics minds which pioneered the atomic age also happened to be colleagues. If you want to get esoteric, you could point to the fact that miniature wireless phones exist, and use that to argue the possibility of some sort of unconscious telepathy which actively homes in on a soulmate.

Ultimately, the biggest hurdle to an analysis of soulmates is the fact that it's inherently unverifiable - only the person in question and their soulmate actually know for sure that they're soulmates, and it's a sense that is easily deluded (ref: the vast majority of teenagers).

Disclaimer: obviously I don't see thread-necromancy as an authoritative objection, especially with the book now in print. :)

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Re: What-if 0009: Soul Mates

Postby peregrine_crow » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:56 am UTC

TemporaryLife wrote:It surprises me that, with as many responses as there are in this thread, that nobody has brought up the film Timer with Emma Caulfield (AKA Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which people are fitted with a device that counts down to when they will meet their true love. (It's not a GREAT movie, but it is fun.)


I realize I'm responding to a two year old comment, but if we have access to that device the problem suddenly becomes much easier: just let everyone post the exact date and time they are destined to meet their soulmate online and then, assuming you meet your soulmate at the same time your soulmate meets you, match them up accordingly.

Even if the device doesn't give enough precision to match people up one to one (I haven't seen the movie in question) it would probably still reduce the pool of potential soul mates sufficiently to make this problem managable. Assuming you have accuracy to the level of seconds the average number of people that match your time is something like 3 (7 billion people on the planet divided by ~2.2 billion seconds (=70 years) to meet your soul mate), if it is on accurate to the minute the average number of potential soulmates is 180.

This does, of course, raise question of whether the device takes its own existance into account. If it does, this method might introduce some nasty feedback loops.
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