318 – Doctor Who – Pyramid at the End of the World

Those meddling Monks are back and they’ve worked out just how the human race is going to die.  They can save us, in return for nothing but their love and devotion.

Ben and Eugene discuss The Pyramid at the End of the World.

3 thoughts on “318 – Doctor Who – Pyramid at the End of the World”

  1. Interesting discussion – especially drawing the parallels with religion and returning to the RTD theme of The Doctor as Messiah.

    I’m in agreement the treatment here of the philosophical issues is lacklustre. Like Extremis, this is a missed opportunity… And though you might not actually like the idea of determinism, it’s a fascinating and rich area to explore. After all, the idea that free will is an illusion wouldn’t be so compelling if you weren’t so totally wedded to that illusion!

    If we subscribe to the idea of determinism, the limit of the simulations as the errors and simplifications tend to zero will be reality itself. But then, how can the Monks hope to influence it, since their actions will depend on their previous state, too. Wait, didn’t the simulation include the Monks? Well, reality does… So maybe the Monks lie outside the reality in question – they have the power to intervene in an experiment that otherwise will always run the same course? Now we really have got the idea of a Deity! You can’t say there’s no potential in this story… Just that it’s woefully under-explored.

    That said, I cannot criticise the emphasis given to the way one state influences another – the smashed glasses, the hangover – because that’s the whole point about the determinism we’re being invited to consider.

    Does the last ten minutes influence how much you enjoy something? I’m not convinced, but then, in terms of the last 10 minutes of this episode of Fusion Patrol, my appreciation might have been influence if we’d had some references to support those hypotheses! (How do film producers measure satisfaction? Are feature run times going up or down right now? These surely aren’t in the realms of the mystic upon which we can only speculate…) Regardless, I’m willing to judge these episodes in their own right, though I do agree that looking back, my views are influenced by my feeling of the story as a whole (i.e. less than the sum of its parts…)

    By the way, you seemed to discuss the writing of Pyramid as if there wasn’t one writer common with Extremis…?

    1. For the record, I am 100% in the determinism is real camp. We are product of physical laws and nothing more, at some point, computation power will be able to model every thought and every action of the universe.

      It puts paid, of course, to the concept of crime being a choice and therefore everyone is a victim of the universe no more able to change than a leopard can change its spots.

      The fact that I believe determinism is the likely state of the universe does not mitigate the argument that you cannot achieve successful modeling in a computer program that could not model someone going to Las Vegas, since they could not model games of chance, nor could the modelled gamblers gamble. In fact, in the Monk’s simulation, children couldn’t even play Rock, Scissors, Paper.

      My complaint is the magnitude of how stupid this premise turned out to be. This was truly beaten senseless by the Stupid Computer Science Stick.

      But NOT IN THIS EPISODE. It was beaten senseless in the prior episode, which, leading into this one, makes any semblance of the idea that they could predict anything at all preposterous!

      1. Certainly the alternatives to determinism all require rather preposterous hypotheses, although the desire to preserve the illusion of free will encourages people to cling to them!

        There is a (physical) problem with the idea of any simulation being able to completely model everything, of course. The best these stories could have done is explore the ideas; and my main frustration was they showed little interest in doing so.

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