Re: [asa] Multiverse and ID

From: dawson wayne <>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 12:47:19 EDT

2009/5/9 Bill Powers <>

> What Koonin is doing is just what ID attempts. He, at least in principle,
> is attempting to "rationally" assess when a paradigm has failed, needs to be
> abandoned, or a mark of when more fruitful research ought to be sought.
> All the commentators responded exactly as those who respond to ID respond:
> the time is not yet, you abandon too soon the quest.
Reviewing the previous post, I am probably the one who has argued that (at
least the most strongly). But I have observed and experienced this kind of
thing happen before so it is based on experience. Whether to continue
and when to give up are very difficult questions. I have witnessed a
scientist who did not decide that point to quit properly. However, even
now, with a real life example, I don't know where I would have decided to
throw in the towel.

> By which I am reminded of Kuhn's Planckian dictum: new theories are adopted
> only after the older generation have passed away. There is, Kuhn maintains,
> never a "perfect" reason to abandon an older paradigm, and always a good
> reason to maintain it.
Unfortunately, Planck turned out to be as much a problem in his old age and
his own adage is applicable to himself. This is what makes it really
difficult; one moment you're a pioneer, the next a Pharisee. If anyone
needs copious portions of humility, it is probably a scientist.

Consider that the man who charges up the hill with his soldiers and wins the
battle is called courageous and a hero and the man who charges up the hill
and gets himself and his men slaughtered is called a fool, but both of them
did the same thing.

> Can you comment on how the anthropic principle can be used in a scientific
> theory. To me it simply affirms that we should not be surprised. If I take
> this in a Bayesian sense, that would seemingly entail that it can play no
> distinctive amongst alternative theories.
> I am simply speculating at this point. String theory is definitely divided
on the anthropic principle, and I am not an expert on the subject at all. I
am suspicious of a model that yields such a huge range of possible
landscapes. That usually is an indication that something is
missing. However, this was the Weinberg of Weinberg-Salam electroweak force
unification and skilled writer of science who was thinking this. So it's
not like it is me saying that. Some people have pilloried him for thinking
anything like that. Shhhhhh, the thought police are listening.

I don't say he's right or he's wrong. I only say, well, what if he is
right? Where do we go with it? Then the most reasonable thing to
think (given it is true), is that the anthropic principle works as a kind of
fitness parameter. It could then be a super set of laws that select a
particular type of universe. That would mean that if this is part of a
multiverse, you would mostly have universes with properties similar to
ours. It would also follow that in our universe, there should be other
places that have intelligent life and that life should not be a lot
different from earth. It might be something like Star Trek without the warp
fact. So, in fact, it is a testable argument and we don't even need more
than one universe, just one additional example in this universe. Even if we
find a planet somewhere that has something similar to bacteria, that would
lend some limited support to an anthropic principle operating in the

Now what would govern that super set of laws. Well, obviously as a
Christian, I would say it is God, but that is going beyond the question you
raise here. It is also hidden in the sense that God doesn't announce these

by Grace we proceed

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Received on Sat May 9 12:47:43 2009

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