When my friend mentioned the Original thought theory to me, I was at a loss, so I did decided to read and think about what the theory implies. The Original Thought Theory suggest that anything anyone can ever think of has already been thought by someone else or will be done so by someone in the future, i.e. no thought is original. A bold claim! One that got a few of us involved in arguments. They argued that it makes a valid theory given the number of people that have ever lived and that are yet to live. I, on the other hand, failed to come to a logical reason why it would be true. Let me explain why.
First of all, it should be noted that this remains a theory because it cannot be proven to be true or false, so what follows is just my short understanding of the topic. I am not trying to prove or disprove it, but rather explain my understanding of it. I probably did not do my concept justice because I am not being able to explain it as well as I understand it. Be warned: this is going to get fairly mathematical!
There are namely 4 factors that should be taken into account when discussing this argument.
- The think pool - the total number of unique thoughts that can ever exist. This includes thoughts of things that have not yet been discovered or invented. Contrary to common belief, the greater the think pool, the less likely it is for someone else to copy your thought, hence a greater possibility that your idea really is unique. Let’s look at a minuscule example: a think pool consisting of only 10 possible thought (call this a-j), and there were only 2 people, with only 2 thoughts that they can think of. If the first person chooses thoughts a and b, the chance that the second person chooses one of the two is 2/10 or 20% i.e. there’s a 20% that one of the ideas is not “original”. As we increase the size of the ‘think pool’, that percentage keeps on getting smaller and smaller, i.e. less chance of it not being original.
- Number of thoughts - the total number of thoughts one individual can have during his/her lifetime. If we use the same example as before but increase the number of thoughts to 6, then the chance of an idea not being original is 6/10 or 60%. Thus increasing the number of thoughts, increases the chance of the idea not being original. However one must look at the number of thoughts:the think pool ratio, to get the overall picture, and considering how vast the think pool is, one would suggest that ratio to be relatively small.
- The population size – no one knows how many people have lived on Earth since the beginning, and how many will come to live before the inevitable end. Once again if we use the original example, but this time have a population size of 3, the chance that the third person’s idea not being original, is 4/10 or 40% (considering the second person’s ideas are original). As the population size increases the percentage also increases i.e. more chance that an idea is not original.
- Complexity of thought – ideas have varying degree of depth and complexity. The more complex or tiered an idea is the less likely it is to be thought by someone else. Taking the original model, but with the thought being 2-tiered, the chance of the idea not being original is 2/100 or 2%, instead of the 20% we mentioned above.
So in summary things that increase the chance of an idea not being original are population size, and the number of thoughts; while a more complex thought and a greater think pool increases the chance of an idea being original. Taking this into account, if we can effectively reduce the population size then the chance of an idea being original is increased. How do we reduce the population? By choosing a topic that has less exposure – for example specific details about quantum physics which will be not available to everyone, furthermore the fact that this was discovered only recently means that we can assuredly say that anyone before this probably did not have an idea about quantum physics. Thus we have effectively reduced the population by number of multiplicity, hence increased the chance of an idea being original.
What we can be certain of is that as long as the ‘think pool’ contains more thoughts than the population size x number of thoughts, there is still a chance that an idea will be original. Not to mention that complex/tiered thoughts reduces the chance of an idea not being original logarithmically i.e. by several logs.