The cable guy paradox

Analysis 65 (286):112–119 (2005)
Abstract
The Cable Guy is coming. You have to be home in order for him to install your new cable service, but to your chagrin he cannot tell you exactly when he will come. He will definitely come between 8.a.m. and 4 p.m. tomorrow, but you have no more information than that. I offer to keep you company while you wait. To make things more interesting, we decide now to bet on the Cable Guy’s arrival time. We subdivide the relevant part of the day into two 4-hour long intervals, ‘morning’: (8, 12], and ‘afternoon’: (12, 4). You nominate an interval on which you will bet. If he arrives during your interval, you win and I will pay you $10; otherwise, I win and you will pay me $10. Notice that we stipulate that if he arrives exactly on the stroke of noon, then (8, 12] is the winning interval, since it is closed on the right; but we agree that this event has probability 0 (we have a very precise clock!). At first you think: obviously there is no reason to favour one interval over the other. Your probability distribution of his arrival time is uniform over the 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. period, and thus assigns probability 1/2 to each of the two 4-hour periods at issue. Whichever period you nominate, then, your expected utility is the same. The two choices are equally rational. But then you reason as follows. Suppose that you choose the morning interval. Then there will certainly be a period during which you will regard the other interval as..
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