1. Would you rather die right now, painlessly, or live another 30 years with an increasingly debilitating ailment, with the last 10 years of your life spent entirely bedridden and in extreme physical pain?
On The One Hand:
You won’t have to experience the physical pain, which — as anyone who’s been in pain before can attest to — sucks. You also don’t have to experience the mental anguish that comes with growing old, i.e., friends dying; relationships ending; the realization creeping upon you that you can’t trust anyone or anything; the inevitable mark in time when you understand that the time you spent advancing your career goals was only a glorified diversion from contemplating your own impending nonexistence; the witnessing of sad events like, say, just off the top of my head here, your long-senile grandfather attending the funeral of his wife of 60 years and the sight of her in the casket hitting a deep-buried part of his brain so hard that it takes him out of his decades-long stupor for a moment of brief, horrific clarity during which he shouts her name in a way that leaves not a single family member in attendance without tears streaming down their faces; and TV shows like Carnivale getting prematurely cancelled.
On The Other:
The end result is the same no matter which choice (i.e., you being dead), so you may as well experience all life has to offer, even if that includes decades of terrible pain. Every experience, painful or otherwise, is a net positive simply because it is an experience. We’re working with a binary system here. Even if you believe in a spiritual plane of existence beyond this one, that’s not going anywhere. And, hell, it’ll even give you something to talk about with the other ethereals during the “How’d you get that emotional scar?” parlor game. And if you don’t believe in the next level of reality, then at the very least you get another 30 years with your memories versus, you know, having absolutely no more time with them. This is a consideration that should not be taken lightly.
2. Would you have sex with [ugliest celebrity of the gender to which you are not attracted] in order to have sex with [hottest celebrity of the gender to which you are attracted], keeping in mind, people will find out about the latter right away, but in one year’s time they’ll find out about the former?
On The One Hand:
You get to have sex with [hottest celebrity of the gender to which you are attracted], which is a pretty great deal in and of itself. That’s an amazing, what, 40–45 minutes? But the key is that after the news is released — either by a tabloid journalist or Mr./Ms. Celebrity confirming the rumor themselves, the point being, you’re not just going around and shouting from the rooftops about your sexual conquest, because that’d make you an ass — you get a year’s worth of unbridled jealousy from your friends/colleagues for having, what appears to be, a pretty amazing life.
On The Other:
Once the year is up and everyone knows you also had sex with [ugliest celebrity of the gender to which you are not attracted] and, in fact, that it was part of the deal in order to have sex with [hottest celebrity in the gender to which you are attracted], you will have to deal with so much shit. You will be mocked by friends/colleagues/strangers for the rest of your life. That said, after a few years, most people will forget this happened, and you’ll get to live your life normally. But whenever people truly wanted to hurt your feelings and couldn’t come up with a better insult, they’d always have this in their back pocket. And also, I mean, you’d have to physically have sex with this person who, again, is extremely unattractive and of a gender with which you are not used to having sex. But maybe it would open up a range of physical experiences you weren’t previously aware you enjoyed?
3. Inside your DNA contains the cure for every form of cancer. However, doctors cannot retrieve it until you are dead, and then it will take another 50 years to distill that into a usable vaccine. Do you kill yourself now or wait to die of natural causes?
On The One Hand:
Killing yourself now — as long as you’re able to deal with the ethical consequences that come with it — will save millions of people’s lives. Unfortunately, seeing as the cure won’t be ready for 50 years after your death, it’s not going to save anyone you know who has cancer already. So, if you’re doing this for your great-aunt or whomever, that’s noble and all of you, but it’s not really going to matter. Your payment, therefore, is a prominent place in the annals of history as The Person Who Cured Cancer. The fact that you chose to kill yourself to expedite this cure will only cause the posthumous statues of your likeness implanted around the globe to multiply dramatically.
On The Other:
You’re going to be saving a whole bunch of people’s lives, which is good, but come on, you’re going to be saving a bunch of people’s lives anyway when you’re dead. And either way it’s not going to be anyone close to you. So why waste the rest of your own life when the end result is basically the same? When we’re talking about the amount of people who are going to be cured of cancer in a 100-year span (the approximate 50 years you have left plus the 50 years for the doctors to work their magic) versus the rest of the timeframe that humanity is existence, it’s not really that much of a difference. That said, by waiting, you do risk someone else coming along and having the cancer cure in their own DNA, or doctors figuring it out themselves, meaning your brigade of posthumous statues are gone. How much does that enter your consideration? Also, seeing as how everyone knows you have to die to cure cancer, you’ll probably have to spend the rest of your days ducking a whole lot of assassination attempts. That won’t be fun.
Rick Paulas is a writer living in Los Angeles.