Nailed It: Little Kid Solves The 'Trolley Problem' Experiment

September 2, 2016


This is a video of psychology professor E.J. Masicampo's 2-year old son Nicholas providing his solution to the famous trolley problem. What the hell is the trolley problem and how can it be so famous if you've never heard of it? Let me Wikipedia that for you while I heat up some meatloaf in the toaster over:

The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this: There is a runaway trolley barreling down the railway tracks. Ahead, on the tracks, there are five people tied up and unable to move. The trolley is headed straight for them. You are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If you pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks. However, you notice that there is one person on the side track. You have two options: (1) Do nothing, and the trolley kills the five people on the main track. (2) Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person. Which is the most ethical choice?

Basically, is it more ethical to do nothing and let five people die, or intervene and contribute to the death of one person? Nicholas's solution? SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER: Move the single person over to the tracks with five people and kill them all. Pretty genius right? That way there are no survivors to tell the story of what you did. That would certainly help me sleep at night.

Keep going for a video of the next great supervillain.

  • CrazyUncleNicola

    Option 3 tell the one persion to move the fuck out of the way and Pull the lever. Even if they die it is more ethical that you also tried to save them.

  • archer923

    Option 4. Tell the engineer to bail from the train. And flip the leaver half way. Derailing the train. Hope it misses the 6 people. And the driver doesn't die.

    It doesn't say the trolley is loaded. Or even better. I'd say the trolley has no one, on board. And I will say the trolley is in an open/empty area.
    You can tell if it's empty, since I'm picking a open car one, in San Fransisco. Which helps this problem.

    If you want to make a harder problem. Cover all plot holes.

  • Dan Reno

    um...move the one dude and throw the lever so the trolley kills no one. you are all a bunch of psychopaths.

  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    Easy, the robot should sacrifice itself to slow the trolley.

  • Vaidis Weedmantas Lengvinas


  • TheyTukRJobz

    Well, if you switch the tracks and kill the one person, you will be arrested for manslaughter and sued by the victim's family, while nothing bad will happen to you if you just do nothing.

    Either that, or nuke the entire site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

  • iofo61

    Baby Hitler solves the trolley problem.

  • JJtoob

    And renamed it to the Jewish Question.

  • Chaz Gomez

    Destroy the tracks and stop the train... There... Problem solved...

  • Kane Harrison

    What would you have on you that would destroy the tracks quick enough? If you had enough time and a pocket full of equipment, you could just free the 5 people.

  • Chaz Gomez

    Since this is a fiction challenge, is probably make an anonymous call to Batman and/or Superman... I'd mention theta a woman named "Martha" involved...

  • Zachary Zarko

    Hit the switch at the exact moment that the train arrives at the junction. The train's momentum will continue to carry it straight ahead, and it will jump off the tracks.

  • JJtoob

    The chances of that happening are almost like the chances of a speeding bullet striking another speeding bullet. I think in reality even if the train hit the switch dead on, it will destroy it, and continue towards whatever track goes straight ahead.

  • Zachary Zarko

    It always worked on my model trains when I was a kid. But then again, those things jumped the track at the slightest bump.

  • Dani

    Derailing the train will kill the people on the train.

  • Chaz Gomez

    No, not really... the story to the situation said it was a runaway trolley. It did not say the trolley contained people, therefore it was empty...

  • JJtoob

    Exactly, so you'd risk a potentially bigger massacre if you don't know. You can hope it's empty all you want, but you don't know.

  • Chaz Gomez

    In this moral dilemma, the only people specified were those on the track, no where else... you can't add people... ;)

  • Konstantin

    I was not prepared for quite that much lateral thinking. I am still laughing.

  • Ollie Williams

    Congratulations. You've raised a sociopath.

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