Re: [asa] promise trumps biology (multiverses)

From: David Campbell <pleuronaia@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Dec 30 2008 - 16:07:03 EST

> "Actually, if the knob settings are random, about one out of every twenty knobs will be set outside of the 95% range of the norm."

Bernie replied: > Why is that important, when you have universes
constantly popping into existence, the vast majority of them being
non-viable? If this has been going on forever (new universes
constantly being produced), why is probability important or even
considered? If you get a fraction of universes viable from an almost
infinite set, that's a lot of universes!<

It is of relevance to arguments based on the fallacy of ignorance
(e.g., one in Discover about 15 years ago) that assert that our
universe is surely just average in its features. Conversely, even if
we could confirm that our universe happens to deviate drastically from
average in a few features, that does not prove special design. In
reality, any actual specimen out of a variable group is likely to be
significantly unusual relative to the norm in some way. (This is also
very important in evolution-any isolated subpopulation will almost
certainly not be fully typical.)

> Dr. Campbell said: "Unless we have data on a statistically significant set of knobs, we can't tell whether our settings are within the normal ranges for a multiverse."<
>
> But you can look at the values of our knobs, and ask if there's anything significant about them, other than being in the viable range. It is like when we humans thought we were so special and the Earth was the center of the universe, then we discovered we are just a dot on the arm of a spiral in the Milky Way. It seems that there's nothing special in our placement in the galaxy… maybe the same thing with the values of our knobs, other than being dialed into the viable range?<

We can ask, but as far as I know we can't answer. Theoretically, some
sort of new natural law relating different parameters might be
discovered, or if it ever were possible to determine properties of
multiple existing universes, we could see whether ours was
statistically anomalous.

Another issue in here is exatly what multiverse scenario is envisaged.
 Quantum universes all have the same natural laws and do not address
the fine-tuning issue; a series of bang and crunch universes would
likewise have a fair amount of similarity. String theory suggests
that there is a huge number of possible universes, with varying laws,
but I am not clear as to whether it actually predicts that they exist,
or merely says they could happen. Given the difficulty that string
theory has had in finding testable predictions, I don't know if it is
feasible to judge how unusual our set of parameters is.

-- 
Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Dec 30 16:07:28 2008

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