Re: [asa] Multiverse and ID

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Sat May 09 2009 - 13:19:23 EDT


I don't see why finding other life forms in our universe would
distinguish between strong and weak forms of the anthropic principle,
where here, it seems, the anthropic principle is viewed in the contexts
of possible universes, and from the point of multiverses that these are
actualized possibilites.

An anthropic principle in which there is only one real world makes
little sense to me. From what probability space is the one possibility
drawn: merely a conceptual one, one of our making? Lacking a
probability space any speculation of the probability of our world is
nothing but stupid. It is highly unlikely that a flipped coin will
stand on end, but observing a flipped coin do just that, I have no means
of assessing whether it is likely or not lacking some notion of the
probability space, in which case, the proper Bayesian attitude is that
it is 50-50, presuming, of course, that I have reason to believe that a
flipped coin could not stand on end. We lack, however, even that
knowledge of the probability space. Hence, all speculation is more than
a waste of time.

I suppose these comments would apply to any theory, including a multiverse
one. Without access to the world outside our world, in which case it is
not outside our world, multiverses and probablistic realizations of worlds
appears to me to be only valuable for metaphysicians.


  On Sun, 10 May 2009,
dawson wayne wrote:

> 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
> universe.
> 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
> laws.
> by Grace we proceed
> Wayne

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Received on Sat May 9 13:19:43 2009

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