Ok, so I want to frame someone for a murder and get the pre-cogs to predict it.

So I get a stooge to pretend he has murdered my victim's son, knowing full-well that he will murder him when he finds out. (The stooge's family will get a huge pay-off.) I stick him in a hotel room with loads of photo "evidence" of his supposed crime.

Then what?...

Why would my victim actually go to the room?

I'm pretty sure that in the movie, John Anderton only goes to the room because the pre-cogs have predicted that he would murder someone there. But, unless they predicted it, it would never have happened.

And anyway, how did the authorities know that the pre-cogs would actually predict the murder?

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    I think that's a plot hole. I've seen MR many years ago and I remember going out of the cinema making a list of grave argument errors. – Bardo Jul 26 '13 at 10:06

The theme makes more sense in the book version. There are three psychics each one gives a different prediction.

The first predicts the future. The second predicts the future, given the existence of the first prediction. The third predicts the future, given the existence of the second prediction.

There isn't a fourth psychic, so we don't know what's going to happen given the existence of the third prediction.

Generally the predictions are all the same, but for people tightly coupled to the prediction engine (EG the hero) the predictions will be wildly different from each other. In the film version they just said "sometimes they disagree" and glossed over the reasons why.

For this case you could plan to kill the stooge yourself, this would be predicted by the first psychic, resulting in the hero coming to visit, which might cause him to commit the murder when he thinks his son has been killed, which would then be predicted by the second psychic. Given he's seen the second psychic's prediction, the hero might then want to go anyway to clear his name etc.


In the book he commits the murder as he believes in pre-crime as a net benefit, even though it will get things wrong for people who are heavily involved in the system. By committing the murder he proves the predictions true, guaranteeing pre-crime's continuation.

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    +1 Because the infinitely superior short story by PKD explains this way better, like you said. However, I'm not sure about your plan. If you want the precogs to predict your killing of the stooge (your first step), you must plan to really commit the murder. You cannot simply pretend, because you cannot lie to precogs! – Andres F. Jul 26 '13 at 21:54

Why would my victim actually go to the room?

Without access to information from the future they wouldn't. Anderton was susceptible to this trap because he was exposed to information from the future, information that would lead him inexorably toward Crow and the fake evidence. The paradox comes from thinking of the pre-cogs as arbiters of the information they receive rather than a simple conduit. Once the conduit existed between Anderton and the future the principle of least action applied. Anderton's pent-up rage at his son's abductor set up a strong potential for murder. The pile of fake evidence plus Crow's desperation, once assembled, provided a target for the rage. Once the preconditions were established, Anderton's course was set as surely as a bolt of lightning seeking ground by way of a lightning rod.

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Self-fulfilling prophesy. Indeed he went to the room BECAUSE they predicted it. BECAUSE he ended up going to that room, they predicted it. Theirs was a prophesy that only came to pass because they made it.

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    Yeah, but this was a planned event. The question is how the framer actually put the plan into action, starting the prophecy. – jono Jul 27 '13 at 18:25

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