Talk:Anthropic principle/Archive 2

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Article too vague, too much jargon.

The article does not a good job to exactly describe what the term is. In short, it is too vague, and too long. Also there are way too many links in one sentence which make the reading even more confusing.

It is nice to bormbard an article with all kinds of philosophical and scientific words , links to theories, to impress, but an article should be to the point, factual, and understandable for the majority of readers. If something can't be explained clearly it should be deleted. Therefore, I suggest placing the tag

. Marminnetje (talk) 14:35, 9 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article starts out vague because unfortunately the Anthropic Principle has not been defined well from the beginning, even the name itself is subject to criticism(and rightly so). Please point out the sections most in need of jargon removal - I find the first section ok in this respect. (It also doesn't help that Wikipedia requires a neutral and non-creative point of view, which disallows contributors from leaving out undesirable versions and interpretations of the Anthropic Principle for better formulated versions). I bet most science articles and computer language articles are gibberish to most readers of Wikipedia; This doesn't mean that an article is not helpful. I can give you a one line intro: "The AP means that you can only observe universes that allow you to live for the duration of the observation.", but then I would be rewriting the AP in my own words, which is not tolerated on Wikipedia. Highlander (talk) 23:17, 11 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Long ago the article had pretty concise and plain-language definitions for the WAP, SAP, and Barrow's FAP (as well as a critique of the FAP called the CRAP). They came from good sources, I thought, but maybe not as seminal as Dicke or whomever coined the term. I can only remember what it was for WAP, because it was so concise and illustrated exactly the tautological nature of the WAP: "Conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist.". Along with Fine-tuned universe, I think this article as greatly declined in time, since those days.
Too bad. (talk) 03:33, 12 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I like that version too, now we just need a source to quote it from .. However I think it still needs some work .. what about observers that consider themselves to be out of the universe they observe, like running a simulation .. well that still works both ways, but like in a matrix with a small submatrix leaking into the big matrix if you get me. Of course that requires a force acting only one way, maybe that isn't really possible in physics ?!?Highlander (talk) 21:08, 16 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Here is the same source that the 2006 version of the article used for the WAP: "conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist". Simple and tautologically to the point. I cannot see why this simple statement of the AP, the least common denominator of what it means, does not go into the article lede sentence. (talk) 04:45, 17 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How about an appeal to Cosmology textbook writers to contribute to wikipedia. I looked at the article, and I did not think it very good.Julzes (talk) 08:01, 29 May 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

this article is an egregious spate of fanboy noodling that far exceeds the significance of the topic. throughout there are clear indications that the contributors have not mastered the concepts; quotation is wielded like spackling paste and hairs are split into infinity. wikipedia at its worst. the four simple limiting issues can be briefly stated: there is only one universe that we can observe, and we live in it; there is no evidence that physical constants can combine in any other way than the way they in fact do (any appearance of "coincidence" to the contrary); the outcome of other combinations in other universes is pure speculation without a shred of evidence of any kind; it is impossible for observers to appear in a universe that makes observers impossible. (see the britannica definition quoted just above.)

isn't there a consensus of wikipedia editors on board who can just do the merciful thing and scrap this tumor for a less fatuous previous version? someone, please ... stop the madness. Macevoy (talk) 23:35, 6 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It would be helpful if you could provide small examples of what is wrong and how to do it better. Adding your own (unsourced) thoughts to AP would just increase the confusion, even when it is good thinking. You are completely right that there is a kind of tumor growth happening, but I really can't figure out myself which anthropic principles should go(maybe all of them?), as all have good references.Highlander (talk) 18:57, 7 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Fully agree with Highlander. The simple WAP definition above came from Merriam-Webster, not Britannica. This article is about both epistemology in general and the science of cosmology in specific. (talk) 21:58, 13 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Could just as easily call this the dendronic principle

Substitute humans for trees, or anything else in the universe. (A universe like ours must necessarily contain trees, because our universe contains trees!) Epistemologically, strictly, this is true. However, from a biological standpoint, this is not a necessity. Different actions might happen with the things originally in the universe.

The main problem with this is that this tautology of a statement that has been misinterpreted again and again - that a universe like ours must necessarily contain people (because our universe contains people) - is used to attempt to justify other ridiculous things, such as religion, which is the pinnacle of ridiculousness, and the bizarre idea that some humans have that humans are somehow exceptional. (talk) 20:08, 22 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've always considered that the AP is used to set aside religion. No need for an intelligent designer if, for some reason, the "development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, or life as it is presently understood" is unavoidable. I don't really see the concept as supporting or refuting religion or ID. But sorta like VSL, whether one thinks it's crap or not, it is a concept (that may or may not have anything to do with reality) and should have a presence here so that, at least someone looking it up has some idea of what people are talking about. (talk) 21:58, 13 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I think that Douglas Adams' satirical Puddle thinking analogy should be merged here. It has been cited a few times as an example of criticisms of the anthropic principle, but it hasn't been discussed in enough depth to be considered independently notable. Fences&Windows 13:12, 19 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Brilliant. Since it has been discussed explicitly in an AP context it seems absolutely appropriate to discuss this in the present article. And of course it's going to make it more attractive. Hans Adler 14:21, 19 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support. Decent sources, but will never be more than a stub. / edg 15:32, 19 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oppose. Puddle thinking is only an analogy if there is something to be an analogy to. In particular, it is an analogy to a principle worded maybe like this: "Conditions in the universe are favorable to the survival of X and will be favorable for the survival of X in the future." So it is only an analogy to one of the more contested versions of anthropic principle among those listed in the article, which is the Final Anthropic Principle "Final anthropic principle (FAP): Intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and, once it comes into existence, it will never die out." and even that is not a close match, since puddles arguably are not intelligent or information processing. Almost everyone who argues against "THE anthropic principle" seems to make up their own version of it to argue against. Do we really need to include all these versions to heighten the confusion of the reader over what is "THE anthropic principle" when we already have to work with two versions proposed initially in vague wording? I say not.Highlander (talk) 19:06, 19 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Retract opposition I retract my opposition on the grounds that sources move Puddle thinking close to the anthropic principle. Still think it is a bad analogy to the two anthropic principles formulated initially, and that nobody should spend their time merging these two articles, but I understand if you want to act based on sources.Highlander (talk) 19:13, 3 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oppose. Puddle thinking might be an amusing joke in a book of fiction, but it's not particularly germane to this encyclopedia article on a scientific/philosophical line of thinking. Similarly, I'm sure hundreds of writers have made allusions to Descartes Cogito ergo sum, but few or none actually clarify the base concept. LotLE×talk 22:37, 19 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hm, I'm surprised at the opposition, I'd not thought that this would be controversial. You don't have to like or agree with Adams' analogy for it to be an acknowledged part of the criticisms of (an) anthropic principle. The material already exists on Wikipedia and this is the best merge target. It'd only take up a couple of lines, and surely the fact that Richard Dawkins and James Kirchner have used it makes it more than just yet another literary allusion. Fences&Windows 20:16, 22 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see that the merge is good for Puddle thinking, but is it good for the Anthropic principle? Merge it with Final anthropic principle if you must merge it, because there the criticism is appropriate. Regarding that Richard Dawkins and James Kirchner have used it, I don't think they are good sources for the concept that puddle thinking is an analogy to the anthropic principle, because it just isn't an analogy and they have failed to realize this or preferred to entertain their audiences.Highlander (talk) 23:56, 22 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Undecided. To me, the thinking puddle is sorta in the Strong self-sampling assumption (SSSA) mode: "the anthropic principle essentially just says that the conditional probability of finding yourself in a universe compatible with your existence is always 1. ... To gain more predictive power, additional assumptions on the prior distribution of alternative universes are necessary." Assuming the puddle has a consciousness (somehow without a brain), it can legitimately wonder in the case of only one Universe. If there are a "distribution of alternate universes", then the puddle thinking is sufficient to point out that the WAP really says nothing remarkable and its existence in some universe (one of them that is happy to support puddles) is not remarkable. I don't really care if there is a merge or not, but the puddle shouldn't get many column inches. Maybe it should be merged with FTU instead. (talk) 05:03, 23 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
A merge to Fine-tuned universe might be better. Fences&Windows 14:59, 24 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That looks like the perfect fit if it can be supported with sources. Hans Adler 15:33, 24 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Support Sourced, and works for me as criticism. Paradoctor (talk) 22:05, 3 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I still oppose this merge. Or more specifically, I do not think the joking analogy is notable for this article, so the only relevant "merge" would be deletion of the content. I suppose I could live with one sentence mentioning the joke, but definitely not with the whole long direct quite currently in that other article. That would be hugely WP:UNDUE weight for this article. However, the joke would not be quite so garishly ill-fitting in Fine-tuned universe, so I do not per se oppose that.LotLE×talk 23:05, 3 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merge to FTU

My impression is that "merge to fine-tuned universe" seems to be an acceptable solution here, so I started discussion there. Paradoctor (talk) 00:20, 4 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Performed merge to Fine-tuned Universe#In fiction and popular culture. Paradoctor (talk) 00:16, 29 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Honestly, what does it boil down to?

Bad redundant rhetoric? "A universe with life in it must have life in it"? "Subject A must be Subject A"? A=A? So it is restating information that was already given in the subject of the statement? Its real application in physics was to invalidate theories that proposed scenarios where life couldn't exist. For example, some scientist thinks he has a working "big bang" model, but then he punches the numbers into the computer, sees the results, and thinks "Wait.. according to this model, all matter in the universe should have been annihilated by corresponding anti-matter particles shortly after the big bang... Well, we obviously are here right now, so this has to be wrong." So really, what is the point of the Anthropic Principle? To restate common sense? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 11:56, 21 February 2010

(moved this edit from article Paradoctor (talk) 13:29, 21 February 2010 (UTC))Reply[reply]

Every proven theorem is a Tautology, it only differs from a Truism in how interesting it is. Well, I see two uses for the (Weak) Anthropic Principle: One is to explain why a Fine-tuned_Universe does not imply the existence of a designer (although there can be one). The other is to do away with questions about how unlikely the Universe is in some theory of physics: Our existence severly constrains the parameters. This should not discourage research, it is always good to have a theory on why the parameters are the way they are.Highlander (talk) 22:19, 23 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Highlander hits it well. I would say that the WAP explains the FTU only in the context of a multiverse having many, many diverse universes. It's like you have a deck of cards and only the Ace of spades is the "life supporting" card. If you draw any other card, that's a universe that doesn't have the conditions necessary for life and goes completely unnoticed by anyone. So this experiment of shuffling the deck honestly and drawing a single card out of it is repeated, time and again (with the drawn card reinserted into the deck for the next run). Eventually the Ace of spades will be that single card drawn and only then will there be anyone around to notice and say, "My, isn't it remarkable that the Ace of spades, of all cards, was drawn?". No, it isn't, if the experiment was repeated time and again for hundreds of instances.
But how does that explanation work if the Universe (this time with a capital U) is the only one out there? It does not. There was a conference in Great Briton with John Polkinghorne that was titled or had a session called "Multiverse; the last refuge of the atheist", but I can't find an online reference to it now. One link to look at is . In my opinion, the fine-tuning continues to be remarkable in a totally naturalistic existence, if this Universe is the only one around. But like belief in a supernatural designer, human beings will never be able to measure if there are other universes or not. (talk) 01:51, 24 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is the argument that the Universe is "unlikely" that requires a background of other universes, since a probability argument requires to step out of this universe and to postulate others in order to assess the probability. I think the argument that our Universe could be the only one is only valid when we know that our Universe is one in which all other universes can be experienced through simulation or study of mathematics and physics.Highlander (talk) 18:39, 4 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Surely it all boils down to - as a fan of Penrose this is the anthropic principle as I remember it. -
The universe and ourselves exist and this requires a particular physics which must exist a priori. The problem comes because the number of sets of workable physics that produce habitable universes compared with those that don't is vanishingly small, something like (from memory) 1 : 10^50. This is a strong argument because it shows that simple randomness cannot explain our existence. And this leads to various unpalatable options. --
- That 'God' created everything, - that there are an infinite numbers of universes, - that reality doesn't exist.
Even the argument that the anthropic principle is wrong and that we simply exist because we exist is no better because it still doesn't explain why - its very similar to the argument about turtles. Another answer is that there is a non-causal mechanism of selection like self evolution where future potential states guide the past. - (That is from my own work and is OR by the way :) ) Lucien86 (talk) 06:59, 20 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's definitely not the meaning of "the" anthropic principle. The meaning of the weak anthropic principle in its abstract form, being anthropic only because we discuss it as two humans, is "The probability that our universe exists as it is now is 1". And this statement is true regardless of whether you assume a background of others universes or not, making the statement that other universes are required wrong. That statement does not mean there is no God, it does however remove the need for one from the view of physics. The only thing the statement does assume that you somehow can take a snapshot of the universe, and things get complex here because of quantum physics. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Highlander (talkcontribs) 18:09, 20 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
HighL, I am convinced that Lucien86 is definitely a crank or crackpot. I wasn't even going to bother responding, but I like to respond to you, because you're knowledgeable and coherent. I don't think that the WAP speaks to the existence of God, but that the FTU may speak to that issue, if one accepts the premise of fine-tuning and that this Universe is the only one. The only place where the WAP speaks to the issue is with the additional premise of other universes, with different fundamental parameters (and/or initial conditions). Then, of course, it is not remarkable that we find ourselves in the universe or one of the universes that are compatible with our existence just as it is not remarkable that we find ourselves existing approximately 14 billion years into the Universe we have now. Our Universe once was 1 million or 10 million years old and, I suppose, will someday be a trillion years old. It gets to run its experiment of all sorts of different ages, and only for the Universe that is approximately 1010 years old are the conditions "just right" like with Goldilocks. So it is unremarkable and it's sorta silly to be wondering "Isn't it amazing that the Universe has an age of 14 billion years, just the right age to allow or support sentient and intelligent beings like us capable of asking the question?" But that is not the same wondering question as "Isn't it amazing that the Universe has a fine-structure constant of (137.036)-1 (or pick your favorite fundamental constant), just about the right value to allow or support sentient and intelligent beings like us capable of asking the question?" Without many multiple universes, there is no compelling model to suggest that other values for these fundamental constants get to be experimented with, and then the remarkability of the FTU remains.
But just because the FTU is (or may be) remarkable does not mean that God must exist, it only (for some) seems to be better explained by such. Richard Dawkins will never be persuaded of such, and that's fine, but if there is only one Universe, and these parameters (that, from a naturalistic POV) have no compelling reason to take on any particular values, let alone life-friendly values, I think then he continues to have some explaining to do. And, my opinion, is the explanation that uses the multiverse concept works with the WAP (the latter is non-controversial because it's a tautology) relies just as much on a tenet of faith (in the existence of other universes) as is religious faith or faith in a transcendent, supernatural agent of creation. (talk) 22:57, 20 April 2010 (UTC) (The same as[reply]
Sigh! I know you just don't get it but I was arguing the physics case that the probability of the universe happening just by chance is vastly remote. Physicists must use logic and all the options I listed apart from the one I marked 'OR' are quite well known in standard cosmology. No one wants to say that reality is some kind of fake or that some supernatural force created the universe, but either are at least an answer, as is a multiverse. Saying that things are like they are because thats what we see is not an acceptable answer in physics - and this is ultimately a physics question. Lucien86 (talk) 12:57, 21 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Lucien is rightly pointing out my bad wording of the weak AP, which I was using to acknowledge the tautological nature of it. I wanted to point out that the WAPs wording and validity does not change when you assume a background of infinitely many universes, or just one universe, or if physics and group theory would work out that, for example, there could be only a limited number of universes with certain characteristics. That is why I agree with you, but I go a bit further and think that someone using a background of universes as explanation for the WAP is using a philosopical argument, not a scientific one, since other universes cannot be observed as straightforward as in other physics experiments. Highlander (talk) 19:08, 21 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I dunno whom you mean by "you" (whom you agree with). I fully agree that "wording and validity [of the WAP] does not change when you assume a background of infinitely many universes, or just one universe". But I believe that the utility of the WAP to explain away the remarkability of the FTU does change depending on the assumption of one Universe or zillions of universes. Having zillions of universes, each that might draw at random a set of fundamental parameters and/or initial conditions, along with the WAP means the FTU we may observe is unremarkable, just as it is unremarkable that we happen to observe a universe at about 1010 years of age rather than 104 years (coincidentally what Young Earth Creationists believe) or 1024 years old. As far as I understand the logic of the various philosophical arguments, it's not the WAP anyone is needing or proffering an explanation for, but their usage of the WAP as an explanation for the FTU. (talk) 00:34, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sorry I think I was putting it slightly wrongly, I don't think many scientists actually like the idea of multiple universes or any of the other options. What its really saying can be interpreted as that the answer has not been found and the science answer is still incomplete. I know there is a completely philosophical argument, but this is pretty critical to physics because its closely related to the supposition that reality exists which pretty much defines the rest of the subject. Lucien86 (talk) 08:06, 22 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is a mess for one clear reason: it's talking about two different principles but never points that out

One principle is that from back in the 70's, when steady-state theorists asserted that we shouldn't think of ourselves as holding a privileged place in the Universe, in terms of location in space or time, because such reasoning is associated with the boogy-men of geocentrism and theism. The point made was that we can of course hold a privileged place in the Universe, without relying on superstition to explain it: the massive coincidences are in fact a necessity for our observing that they are massive coincidences at all.

The second principle is a response to the Fine-tuning argument, and is how the word is most often used today.

In essence, the anthropic principle has been formulated twice to respond to people on complete opposite ends of the spectrum: theists and Copernican Principle extenders. —Preceding unsigned comment added by MarcelB612 (talkcontribs) 04:43, 7 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

So far, no one has associated any variant of the AP to Copernican Principle but User:MarcelB612. MarcelB612 has to justify injecting this ancillary topic (and use references) for it not to be considered WP:OP. MarcelB612 attacks others and then projects his own attitude onto the others by accusing them of making Ad Hominem attacks, precisely what he and he only is doing. It's the Karl Rove strategy.
Now, this isn't the main deal (the complete rewrite of a contentious article without consensus is the main deal), but since MarcelB612 seems to be fixated upon it, let him justify that a tautology or truism is not a vacuously true statement. Perhaps he can give examples of tautologies that are not also vacuously true. A tautology that is false is not vacuously true because it's not true. And a statement (true or not) that makes a substantive claim or association is not vacuous. But a tautology is a statement with conclusion that is equivalent to its premise. Like A2+1 = (A+1)2-2A . It's true, but it doesn't say very much about what A is.
So MarcelB612, try, yourself, to lay off the attacks, justify your edits, get references, and do this the way you agreed to when signing up for Wikipedia. And maybe try signing your comments. (talk) 16:56, 7 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To be fair, it is already mentioned that Carter said "Although our situation is not necessarily central, it is inevitably privileged to some extent." so there is an association with the Copernican Principle. The alternative version is well written, a bit long maybe, but I am missing a clear statement on what exactly the definition of the (weak) anthropic principle is when it is being formulated as a reply to the Copernican Principle in contrast to when it is being formulated as a reply to the concept of a Fine-tuned Universe. Also, is this really the main point(and thus there are two main versions of the anthropic principle) that needs explaining when the same people who paraphrased the weak anthropic principle also have offered their formulation of a strong anthropic principle? Other weak points in the alternative version are claiming that constants of nature can be predicted using the weak anthropic principle. While that isn't wrong, as you _could_ work like this as a physicist, I'm quite convinced that physicists could work out the values of the constants even without explicitly knowing of the weak anthropic principle, and, as a tautology, the weak anthropic principle for the most part doesn't allow to extract information that is not otherwise available from observations of the universe. However, I too hate the term "vacuously true statement": While A2+1 = (A+1)2-2A tells us nothing about A, it still tells us that this equation holds. So really, when is a statement "vacuously" true? Isn't every proven theorem that is exact i.e. A=>B and B=>A a tautology that can be considered to be "vacuously" true? Now back to the alternative version, I could welcome it if it leads to a more concise text, and if it takes into account the existence of other versions of the Anthropic Principle but two. Highlander (talk) 01:40, 8 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
High, I take your point regarding the Copernican Principle and Carter (I missed that). But it is still largely not what the AP is directed to (as you point out, it is more directed as an response to any perceived remarkability of the FTU). To qualify this as "To the best of my knowledge...", the AP was originally used by Dicke to explain why it isn't so remarkable that we find ourselves in a universe about 1010 years old rather than 104 as the young earth creationists would have us believe or 1020 years when it would just be too damn old (heat death, whatever). Now the AP is used both by theists (or those maybe sympathetic to theism) to assert that the Universe was designed for us (an argument I believe is bass-ackwards) and by materialists to assert that the apparent fine tuning isn't remarkable at all (an argument that can work within the context of multiple universes). Toss in theistic sympathizers like Barrow, et al, and you get also their version of SAP, FAP, and the appropriately named CRAP. Now, the article certainly shouldn't be taking any side about this, but it should present it as Dicke, Carter, Barrow might, ascribing any disparate meanings to the originating authors. There may be other authors of note. I still very much like the concise Merriam-Webster definition of the WAP and believe it is worthy of mention in the article. And it's still a tautology. Non-living things (except maybe the machines created by once living things) do not observe anything.
About A2+1 = (A+1)2-2A, the point is that it is no different than saying A=A or 5=5. These are true, but transmit no new information. I am saying that a "vacuously true statement" is one that Shannon would say has a measure of information of zero bits. Now if we had some context for what A meant, and I said "A=5", that would not be a vacuous statement (and might not even be true, you might say that A=6 and we can argue about the validity of either statements).
In comparison, the WAP is vacuously true, no one will argue with it because it really says about nothing. But it can help us turn a question around and it works very well for the Dicke coincidence about the age of the Universe. It turns around the question "My, isn't it remarkable and aren't we lucky that the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, just what it needs to be for life like ours to exist?" to the question "In a Universe that once was 10 years old, 100 years old, 1 million years old, 100 million years old, etc, and will someday be a trillion years old, at what age will that Universe most likely be when sentient intelligent life, capable of asking this question, exist?". And with a multiverse having zillions of universes all with disparate collections of fundamental physical constants, the WAP serves to turn a similar question (regarding the FTU) around, too. But the SAP, FAP are not vacuous statements at all because they actually make a claim (like A=5) that some might dispute. But they should be presented in the article anyway, but in a different light than the WAP because of their controversy. (talk) 04:18, 8 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is nothing wrong with being ignorant. What you do if you are ignorant is you seek to educate yourself. What is being done on this Wikipedia article is that the people editing it are not realizing their complete lack of knowledge in this area. Both of you clearly have no clue what the phrase "vacuously true" means. Anyone who has taken even the most cursory interest in logic should know what the phrase "vacuously true" means, and yet neither of you have a clue. THAT IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF, being ignorant of formal logic is not insulting or shameful, but perpetuating mistruths on Wikipedia, a project devoted to spreading knowledge, due to such ignorance, is quite inappropriate. Until you have cursory knowledge of what you're talking about, please, for the love of knowledge, refrain from bastardizing a wonderful project dedicated to the perpetuation of knowledge.
This is why people laugh at Wikipedia, I showed this article to one of my math professors and he said "what do you expect, any stupid kid can edit Wikipedia", I know you're not stupid,, and I have edited Wikipedia for a while, so I expect much more than my math professor. Don't be part of the problem,, please be part of the solution. I know you're not stupid, stop acting like it. MarcelB612 (talk) 02:22, 9 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I see you are right about the term "vacuously true", which I never felt comfortable with, but you still didn't tell which are the two versions of the anthropic principle that in your opinion are the main two.Highlander (talk) 12:32, 9 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I did. They are actually already present in the article, it's just written so extremely poorly and unorganized and misleadingly that it takes someone who already knows the subject to sort it out and make any sense of this enormous mess at all. I reordered and reworded the article to fix it, and make the article far more readable and clear, but unfortunately continues reverting my edits, because he is bent upon perpetuating ignorance and mistruths. I hope you are all aware that this article is an embarrassing mess, and a shame to the standards of the Wikipedia project, and it is apparent that this is due to users like who would rather flex their own uneducated opinions than present a clear, truthful article on a contentious issue. It is useless to try to improve this article until the vandal stops trashing it and reverting the article back to saying things that are blatantly untrue and laughably ignorant. MarcelB612 (talk) 16:55, 9 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, I have a little time now, but I won't again for about another day. A couple of things to point out:
1. I'll remove the reference to albeit a "vacuously true" statement while this is in discussion, but I'll put it back and defend it (since it relates to the whole issue of the use of the WAP by some to explain away some perceived remarkableness by others regarding either the fine-tuning premises of the FTU or of Dicke coincidences).
2. Marcel, I might suggest that you look at your contribs regarding this issue and try to imagine how someone on the outside might behold them. You were the initial and only person to be accusing others as making ad hominems or (today) of ignorance, bastardization, vandal, or alluding to being a "stupid kid", etc. Who is it really that is launching the ad hominems? Just to let you know, it's likely (not certain, of course) that I'm older than your math professor. It's unlikely that he majored in Electrical Engineering as an undergrad (some folks do that and then go into something else as grad students), but if he did, and if he was attending the U of North Dakota in the 70s, it's likely (well, possible) that I had him as a student. It's also likely that I would run circles around you in the area of "Applied mathematics" since that is what I do for a living (and have for over 3 decades), but we don't know that for sure. But I am not going to identify myself (and I have good reasons for not, and good reasons not to reveal those other good reasons). You might want to consider your own ignorance of facts and maybe consider being less condescending, particularly since you know less about who your being condescending toward than the information that you have revealed about yourself.
3. You have neither answered HighL's question about the your change to the article of the AP as a response to the Copernican Principle (some of us might think that they have little to do with each other) vs. the AP as a response to the perceived remarkableness of the fine-tuning of fundamental constants or the AP as a response to the question of why the Universe is as old as it is (the latter two are common applications of the AP). By changing that very issue, I continue to assert that it's OR, and I think the onus is upon you to show that it is not.
Okay, this is for both High and Marcel: What level of "technicality" are we going to use for the definitions of words and concepts? This has to do with the commonly held meanings of tautology, truism, and vacuous truth. Also, where in the spectrum between pure mathematical definitions (where there are no physical observations of what is "true" or "factual") and the rest of us (including physical scientists) are we placing the line?
Let's leave truism out of it, at least for the moment. A common-language definition of vacuous truth is a logical statement is vacuously true if it is true but doesn't say anything of substance and a common-language definition of tautology is a logical statement in which the conclusion is equivalent to the premise. Google either, if you don't believe me.
Now, I have asked Marcel to give us an example of a vacuous truth that is not also a tautology, or the other way around, would you please do that, Marcel?
I have not asked this of you before, High, but I will now. You have said "Every proven theorem is a Tautology..." and I sorta agree with that statement (which is why I consider A2+1 = (A+1)2-2A to be roughly equivalent to A=A, the latter which appears to be both a tautology and vacuously true), but upon reflection, I am wondering about that. Is Fermat's Last Theorem a tautology? How immediately must the conclusion follow from the premise to be considered a tautology? Or a vacuous truth. The difference between A2+1 = (A+1)2-2A and A=A is only that some commonly held axioms are applied and one comes from the other.
But that wasn't even my main point. The main point is about making claims of "fact" or "truth" based upon what physical scientists see in the "world" (or "universe" or "reality", whatever) which is not the same as a mathematical fact (or derived theorem) which has an equal measure of truth no matter what physical reality one might find themselves in. There is a big difference between saying that 137.03599959 < α-1 < 137.03599978 and that 70 < 10/(π-3) < 71 . The roots to the truth of those two statements are completely different, the latter will never be revised, but the former might be. This is what I meant by an observation that some quantity A is 5 is true is not a vacuous truth. Saying A=5 (if such is true about some A somewhere) actually says something. It's not vacuous, and it may not be true if someone else making an equivalent observation or determination is saying that instead A=6. Saying A=5 is a message of intrinsic information content of greater than zero bits. It's not vacuous. A compound statement that A=5 and A=6 would require infinite bits, since it has a probability of zero. But saying that A=A requires zero bits and committing a code for such a message is vacuous, because it wouldn't matter if you sent the message or not. But, admittedly, for common language usage, I would be uncomfortable saying that Fermat's last theorem, which is a proven fact (although I am far from understanding the proof) is a vacuously true statement nor even a tautology.
So now, how superficially obvious does a truth need to be to be considered "vacuous"? Is A=A vacuously true or merely a tautology? Or neither? How many levels of operation (using mathematical axioms like the old commutative, associative, or distributive properties or that of substitution of equal quantity) will we allow to be applied to A=A before we declare that the truth in the statement is not vacuous? This is similar to a system of two equations:
A + B = 1
Adding the additional
B + (A+1)2 = A2 - B + 3
tells us nothing more, we cannot use it to determine either A or B and is vacuously true, although it doesn't look obvious from first glance. It contains zero extra bits of information. Adding the additional
A+B = 2
is not vacuous, but is contradictory. The measure of information of that message would be infinite. But including the additional
A - 2B = -4
adds real and non-contradictory information to the first statement and conclusions can be made regarding A and B.
As applied to this article, I don't think that either tautologies or vacuous truths are totally useless, but they don't represent any new information added to the mix. Given, what I'll concede that I use as an axiom, that things that are not living do not observe, then saying "conditions that are observed in the Universe must allow the observer to exist" really says nothing, but thinking about it does help us turn around a question that is really a silly question, into a meaningful question. That is the common-language and common-sense application of the WAP for the "layman" to consider regarding the age of the Universe. It works because the Universe gets to try out all of the experiments of different ages and we get to see at what ages life, capable of observing a Universe of 13.7 billion years, would exist. Together with an additional postulation of multiple universes, the same reasoning works with the observed fine-tuning of the universe life would happen to exist in.
High, I am making no condescending assumptions of anyone here. I consider High and Paddy to be the respected experts here, but only want to make sure that the article has both use for non-cosmologist while remaining accurate. Marcel, you have to earn your bona fides. And you might do well to consider how well your arguments look to an outside objective observer.
You guys plug away at that. I'll maybe take a look at this tonight late. (talk) 20:34, 9 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
As said, I am still waiting for a reply by Marcel to the question of which two AP he is talking about. I read the text you wrote, Marcel, and I didn't see wordings of the AP, except one where you used your own words(So that it would constitute original research if that was the definition of the AP we use). If I've missed it be so kind to tell it to me again.
Regarding me being an expert, I just try to keep my tongue still long enough so that the brain can do its work.
The question about "level of technicality" is a very good one, since in non-technical language, it would be fine to say that the weak AP is a "vacuous truth", while in mathematical/logics language it appears that the term only applies to conditional statements that have an untrue condition. As it is possible to avoid confusing the logics experts by using a different wording, my opinion is a different wording should be used, even if the content is intended to be readable by non-experts.
Marcel, I see that the article would be clear and maybe truthful if everything that would not fit in with your concept (of just two principles) was removed from it. However, for it to be really truthful, at least some of the other wordings of the AP need to be adressed.
I said "Every proven theorem is a tautology" and I stick with that except that it needs some corrections: Either the theorem must be exact, such that A implies B and B implies A, or I am using the term tautology in a more non-expert way with the meaning "a logical statement in which the conclusion is (the consequence of) a subset of the premise". A similar mistake might be made when saying the weak AP is a tautology - it is only a tautology if some context is there: In the statement "if the observer exists then the universe where he exists must allow him to exist" for example, most people would assume a universe exists, however there is nothing that stops me from holding the notion that the observer might "exist" just by himself frozen in a sort of cosmic clipboard. Maybe the term "tautology" is technically inappropriate when you need additional theorems(outside the realm of basic formal logic) to prove that "the conclusion is equivalent to the premise" even if these theorems are well-known, such that people would normally call it a tautology. Also, I needed to word the statement "if the observer exists then the universe where he exists must allow him to exist" in this way; other wordings of a weak AP might need even more context.
As you asked what the term observer means to me, I think it can mean any subset of the knowable state of the universe - a sentient observer is just a special case. Clearly such a subset would constrain the universe in which the subset could exist a lot, such that it would often be hard to distinguish from the universe that a second observer would see or imply, or from a second universe that allowed the first observer to exist(as e.g. in the many worlds interpretation). There is room here for interpretation, as you could also define the observer by a (short) sequence of observations.
Highlander (talk) 22:15, 9 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is a difference between being non-technical and being completely wrong. The phrase "vacuous truths" refers to implications that are true because their hypothesis is false e.g. "If knew the first thing of what he's talking about, he wouldn't be compelled to perpetuate ignorance and falsities." The phrase "vacuous truth" does not refer to things that are true but are either too obvious to be worth mentioning, or true only by the axiom of identity, i.e. because it says essentially A=A (a truism and a tautology, respectively). "If you can see it, then it is constituted in such a way that you can see it" could be characterized as a tautology. Some people could characterize it as a truism, and it could be characterized as such (though its APPLICATIONS in Science are sometimes far from obvious). It could not be characterized as a "vacuous truth" by anyone who has any clue whatsoever of what they're talking about.
That you would "defend" something that is so obviously false, while attempting to flex your age and experience in electrical engineering as credentials for why you feel qualified to perpetuate your horrendous ignorance, is absolutely hilarious. My professor was far too kind to you. MarcelB612 (talk) 05:16, 13 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Stay on point

The purpose of the discussions page is to center in on neutrality, not combat over viewpoints. Figure out how to merge the contrasts into a neutral article rather than try and get one up over the next person. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:54, 25 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm just trying to understand what the conflict is all about. Lots of heat, little light. (talk) 03:40, 26 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Looks like some speculative bullshit is trying to find its way into the article again.

  1. The only relationship that the AP has with other universes is that the AP combined with the supposition of an extremely large number of different universes, each supposedly with their own tuned parameters and initial conditions can account for the apparent fine-tuning of the Universe we find ourselves in.
  2. The AP has nothing to do with the measurement or determination of life or anything else in other universes. It may have something to say about the expectation of life elsewhere in our universe, and that can be debated, but the AP has nothing else to do with the concept of a multiverse.
  3. We should leave the article to describe what Carter, Barrow and Tipler, and other published authors say about the AP. We know from other writings that anthropic reasoning has been used to explain how a life-friendly universe has come to exist around us, but other than that one argument combining the AP with one of several multiverse suppositions (Bubble, String Landscape, etc.) as an explanation of apparent fine-tuning there should be no talk or speculation about any other connection of the two topics. (talk) 17:59, 3 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removing irrelevant sentence about SETI

An anonymous editor ( (talk · contribs)) has twice inserted the following sentence into the article:

"No observational evidence bears against Carter's WAP despite ongoing searches in the depths of outer space by SETI Institute for extraterrestrial intelligence by teams of scientists since 1985." with the following reference: SETI Institute mission Statement

Their second insertion had this edit comment:

"Undid revision 371560088 by Gandalf61 (talk) sorry you're simply an idiot. ET intelligence found by SETI would falsify WAP. lern to science."

I have reverted this addition (again) because:

  • The sentence implies that SETI has been explicitly searching for evidence against Carter's WAP. This is, of course, false. The "source" provided is simply a link to SETI's mission statement, which does not mention WAP at all.
  • Carter's WAP does not claim that we are the only intelligent life in our universe. Therefore the discovery of extraterrestrial life by SETI (or by any other space program) would have no bearing on Carter's WAP. Gandalf61 (talk) 08:06, 7 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You have the support of this other anonymous IP editor (me). Whether ET exists or not, and whether we humans know about it or not, doesn't change the obvious and tautological claim of either Carter's or Barrow's WAP.
Also should understand that SETI is not (and cannot) search very deep. The farther out we go, the more certain that any unnaturally created EM radiation is completely drowned out by stellar radiation at similar frequencies. Anything received from ET outside of our quadrant of the Milky Way is just never going to happen. should "lern to science". (talk) 15:55, 7 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yep, agreed as well. I reverted an earlier version of the SETI claims. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Crumley (talkcontribs) 16:02, 7 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Separating the wheat from the chaff is simple: Point at the star of interest, and note all the signals. Then train your scope on another patch of sky a few degrees away – a so-called “comparison field” – and tally up the signals there. Any signal that’s in the first group and not the second is a candidate transmission from deep space." ( In other words, should stick to watching children's cartoons.
"Anthropic" = pertaining to Humans; ET = non-humans (if confirmed through scientific investigations) and robots = non-humans. If ETs (intelligent non-humans) were found, whose location in the universe was very hostile the existence of earth-native humans yet the ETs via Darwinian evolution were thriving with advanced capabilities to observe the universe, Carter's WAP could be falsified because we would have proven that our location in the universe (earth) is not privileged but only appears so because earth-native humans adapted to it via Darwinian evolution just as ETs adapted to their environment which might appear "privileged" to them, but our environment would likewise be inhospitable to the ETs. Further, if ETs were discovered to be anthropic ancestors to earth-native humans (via panspermia) but adapted robust respiratory and circulatory systems to thrive in a thinner atmosphere than earth's, whereas earth-native humans could not survive without special equipment, this too would show that earth is not special or "privileged" even for human-like anthropoids as observers. So once again idiocy prevails on WP.
WP: 2 / Science: 0
Lern 2 science. (talk) 22:45, 7 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We already establish in the first section of the content that the term "anthropic" can be considered a misnomer. A weak "non-anthropic" principle could better have been formulated: "When observations are made in a universe by an observer within the universe, conditions in the universe must allow the observer to exist at least for the duration of these observations." However, since we know that humanity is an observer, which is carbon-based, the weak anthropic principle and even the version accused of carbon chauvinism follows directly from such a neutral non-anthropic formulation. If we detected e.g. a silicon-based lifeform with a different sweet spot for life, we would simply concede that the universe is friendly to other kinds of life as well, where "friendly" just means that it is friendly enough not to disallow life at all.Highlander (talk) 14:55, 8 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There's no doubt many variants related to AP exist, but the issue here is specific to Carter's WAP - in this case the argument is whether it is testable. The above "neutral non-anthropic" version speaks nothing against it being so.
That aside, the version you present can be countered in consideration of what the nature of the "observer" is. Satellites and robot systems make observations. To object to this statement on grounds of cognitive principles is a regression to the anthropoid's bias, however the state of monitoring/recording data input (observing) is the same, neither does the principle make provision to only include consciously aware observers. Robotic observations can be recorded, stored, and shared as observational data with other identical robot systems built at a time when it did not "exist at least for the duration of these [in this case, the first robot's] observations" because the latter is observing the observations of the former entirely removed from the original period of time of the observation. Indeed, the principle of time itself is an observational bias: the robot is not programmed with a conception of time (or anything else); time is not relevant to the observations of the robot as it is for the anthropoid observer. The robotic system observations, generated as 1s and 0s and shared among other identical robot systems, are exactly the same and cannot be considered as separate observations nor separated by a time principle having no cognition of it (observations simply are or are not, digital like 1s and 0s, time is not a factor), even if from the POV of anthropoid observers it stubbornly appears otherwise. (talk) 05:28, 9 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In the version of a non-anthropic principle I presented above, I'm completely fine with a robotic observer or the "observer" being a community of robotic observers who pass on observations made in certain times and locations to other robots, while individuals may be disassembled. Thus, I don't consider that argument to be a counter at all. I'm also fine with the observer being a single atom. Time can be represented as 0's and 1' and thus can be relevant even to robots. You might even be able to encode and determine time as locations and distances instead to moving objects, e.g. you could compute time(or at least a part of it) from your location and GPS signals. Highlander (talk) 19:01, 9 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Digital cameras make observations and know nothing of time. 1s and 0s may represent time to humans, but it means nothing to a digital camera because it has no cognition and cannot make sense of its own function to itself anymore than a math equation can understand its own function. The camera merely operates as it is programmed to by humans who may translate the numbers to make sense in their own separate observations cognitive of time, space, cause, effect, cognition itself, and so on. We should not conflate our observational bias with raw material programmed to make observations for us.
Returning to the main issue for a moment - do you see Carter's WAP as being testable, considering everything discussed here? (talk) 00:59, 10 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It doesn't need to be testable. I don't even see how Carter's WAP could be falsified, considering that it is a true tautological statement. By this I mean, I believe with a decent definition of what an observer is, and some assumptions about the universe and the flow of time, it follows from the definitions. I admit that I haven't seen anyone pulling off the necessary definitions and reasoning involved yet.Highlander (talk) 18:53, 10 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Anonymous editor at
Please read our policy against original research on Wikipedia. You appear to be creating this new argument on your own, not relating an argument used by professional scientists or philosophers and published elsewhere.
That's not ok here. If you cannot provide references, the argument does not belong here on Wikipedia. Period. We are an encyclopedia for existing established fact and published relevant opinion, not personal publication of novel new ideas. Georgewilliamherbert (talk) 01:55, 10 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thank you Georgewilliamherbert. Now please follow your advice and remove the unreferenced opening lines in the article under the header "Observational evidence." I agree, we should not violate our policy against original research on Wikipedia in the article.
@ Highlander Carter's WAP could be falsified if it can be shown that we human's do not live in a "necessarily privileged" location as the principle asserts and by applying Darwinian evolution (cf. Stephen Jay Gould [58] [59], Michael Shermer [60]) this can be tested and is being tested now with SETI's ongoing deep-space observations. Leslie further shows Carter's SAP can be falsified if non-carbon lifeforms are discovered (SETI could make such a discovery). Hawking also points out it can have more refined predictive power in quantum cosmology using Bayes statistics, and he provides an example. Hoyle famously applied successful anthropic arguments in a predictive manner as well. These are just 3 positive examples by high-profile professionals that can be referenced in the article. If something can make predictions, it can be tested and potentially falsified. To assert Carter's AP is untestable edits all of this out of reality and embraces willful ignorance. (talk) 23:01, 10 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
From Crank (person):
Cranks overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate that of acknowledged experts.
Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important.
Cranks rarely, if ever, acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial.
... [Cranks] misunderstand or fail to use standard notation and terminology,
Also take a look at John Baez's crackpot page.
97, I'm not sure you understand the meaning of the word "falsifiable" or what the WAP (either Carter's or Barrow's & Tipler's or Webster's) is saying. I'm not going to bother to explain it to you. I'm not going to bother to explain how many watts per steradian is needed for ET 104 lightyears away to make a transmitter that can compete with all of the background stellar radiation and to stand out in our detectors. I doubt that ET is going to hook up a telegraph key to a series of thermonuclear detonations. If ET did do that, the radiation had more likely fell upon the Earth 106 years ago or 106 years into the future, than is likely for us to notice in this century. But even if we heard from ET, whether ET is based on C or Si or whatever element in that group, it wouldn't change the tautological statement that the weak anthropic principle is.
Please continue to act arrogant, believing that you're smarter than everyone else around and that your knowledge about the topic is just so dependable. In fact, since you're so confident, why don't you take this up at the USENET newsgroup sci.physics.research and see what those guys have to say? They're just a bunch of incompetent amateurs anyway. I'm sure you're much smarter than they. (talk) 03:30, 11 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Why is it I who use sources to back up what I say but you assert your opinions as if to refute 150+ scientists at SETI Institute? Talk about arrogance, you know all about it!
I'm not going to bother to explain how many watts per steradian is needed for ET 104 lightyears away to make a transmitter that can compete with all of the background stellar radiation and to stand out in our detectors. This is the kind of shameless ignorance masquerading in self-important down-talk that perfectly highlights the dirt-level stupidity and hypocrisy that passes as intelligence around here. Hey genius, when SETI scientists talk about listening to "deep space" this can refer to anything outside our solar system ( The most obvious places to start would be the nearest stars. Guess how far away the nearest ones are big boy? 4.22-4.35 LYs ( SETI has listened to stars as close as 11 LYs away in the Waterhole (radio) region where it's quiet ( So the question is, why would you even "bother" to bring up 10000 LYs unless you were completely clueless? Yes, just keep chanting "tautology tautology" like a cult member. And where's Mr. WP:OR? Shouldn't he be making noises at your unsourced warblings along with the lines in the actual article doing exactly what he was accusing me of doing on a talk page? He's certainly not putting his money where his mouth is, is he? I'm shocked!
Lern 2 science. (talk) 14:00, 12 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yo, Crank. Do you know about the Drake equation? Do you know how to compute probabilities? Even though (at least it would seem to me) that the likelihood of ET somewhere else in the Milky Way is above 50%, maybe, from some people's calculations quite high, near 100% (there are an awful lotta stars out there, a good fraction potentially life friendly), what do you think is the probability of ET out there, with sufficiently developed technology, within 11 lightyears? How many stars are there within that sphere of 11 lightyear radius? What do you think the probability of such an ET within 100 lightyears (again, how many stars in that sphere)? Now for us to hear about it, this ET must have been developed to the same degree that we were 80 years ago, and they must not have nuked nor polluted nor starved themselves to extinction. It might be a window of only 200 or 500 years. And that window may have happened a million years ago (and their society has long since pass away) or it might happen a million years into the future.
We should be listening. SETI is a good thing to throw some money at. The certain and repeatable discovery of transmissions from ET will be quite the watershed event, both for science and for society (not to mention some religious traditions). But I don't think you've done the math. You really have no idea what you are talking about and you fancy yourself some kind of expert. There is a reason we haven't stumbled upon ET transmissions yet, and that is because there are relatively few opportunities for ET to exist in our time frame and close enough that ET has any hope to compete against the stellar radiation that is virtually everywhere you point a radio telescope. At 1000 lightyears, there is no hope, in my opinion (if you would like to do some more math, try to figure out how much power per steradian is this background radiation, and then try to figure out how big of a transmitter you would need at 1000 lightyears). I used the 10,000 lightyear number because that is about the size of a decent sized section of galaxy. If the likelihood of ET existing somewhere in the Milky Way is good (which we don't know, but we think that it is), it is also pretty good that ET is within around 10,000 lightyears. But we won't hear anything from ET that far away. That is what is "deep space" as far as astronomers are concerned. I don't think they see Alpha Centauri as particularly deep space.
What's really funny about cranks is that they are sooo self-satisfied with their "expertise" that they don't even know enough to be embarrassed when they should be. (talk) 15:30, 12 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What's really funny about cranks is that they are sooo self-satisfied with their "expertise" that they don't even know enough to be embarrassed when they should be. Truer words were never spoken.
Lern 2 science. (talk) 10:15, 13 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So tell us, expert... what is the likelihood of ET (intelligent or not) evolving within 11 lightyears distance? How many stars are there within 11 lightyears? Couple dozen, maybe? Pick any star at random, what is the probability of evolving life on any planet around that star? Then what is the probability that such life would evolve to be intelligent and microwave radio capable within 100 years of the present? Some of us actually do science for a living (others pretend). (talk) 15:54, 13 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you think I'm supposed to take your ignorant strawman serious you're in worse shape than I gave you credit for. Do you really think things haven't moved past 11 LYs? That was only the nearest place to start in deep-space, and showed how painfully ignorant you are on an elementary level while coming off like some smug know-it-all. Your 10000 LY strawman was pure face-palm. The fact you're now stuck on 11 LYs in your new strawman demonstrates again how you haven't the foggiest clue what you're droning on about, yet you want to throw down gauntlets? Face-palm again. No, it doesn't take an "expert" to spot a complete charlatan, don't flatter yourself! On top of all that, it would be a lost cause to "bother" explaining how ridiculously loaded with bias and ignorance your "life-friendly" pseudo-analysis is. You really should be embarrassed if you had any sense. Just believe whatever you wish, don't do any research, and just call me a Crank all you like. Your claim to "science" should be an alarm to all for how the field is losing all credibility. Don't bother - I'm not going to take the bait again. Nice diversion anyways.
Lern 2... oh forget it. (talk) 13:21, 14 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No one will be "lerning" any science from you. You don't seem to be capable of computing even the roughest of conditional probabilities. Even if you accept the most optimistic guess that there are as many as 20,000 ET civilizations out there (among 400 billion stars in the Milky Way), how likely is it that any of them will be around one of the 26 stars (not counting Sol) within 12 lightyears? Or how likely will any of them be around one of the approximately 10,000 stars within 100 lightyears? Show us that you know how to do science and tell us. At least just a back-of-the-envelope calculation.
Now, do you know about the inverse-square law? Can you calculate what the radiant intensity of a gigawatt transmitter is that is 100 lightyears away? How well do you think that transmitter will compete against all of these stars that emit on average maybe 1026 watts each?
What you fail to understand is that when SETI finds no ET yet, that tells us exactly nothing, because it is what we would expect. ET will be very difficult to impossible to hear, but we might get lucky. If SETI does find ET someday, that will change the values of some of the parameters in the Drake equation (because if ET is close enough for us to hear them, ET must be quite plentiful in the galaxy and even the "most optimistic" guess was too pessimistic). But it doesn't say diddley about the AP. The fact that we are here is both necessary and sufficient to support the AP. It says that the Universe must be old enough (and not too old) so that we can be here, and it says that some of the fundamental physical constants (the ones we know about) are within a range to be conducive to the establishment and development of matter, astronomical structures, elemental diversity, and life as we see it. It suffices to be an explanation for the age of the Universe, because the Universe gets to experiment with all possible ages and it's only in the Goldilocks range that we would expect to see life such as our own. With an additional supposition of many universes, it appears to suffice to explain, from a materialist POV, the fundamental constants.
97, despite your attacks, despite your "lern 2" repetitions, you are not fooling anyone. I am no astronomer (but I know a couple, and reasonably famous ones too), but I do science for a living and I know how to do sufficient math to tell if some simple claim is plausible or not. You evidently do not. You are the charlatan, because you insisted that this SETI thing is relevant (due to your own misunderstanding) and when that was legitimately challenged, you tried to assert your own authority (which is non-existent) and to attack and shame others by telling them that they haven't "lernt science". It's you who do not know much science. You can't even do the most rudimentary calculations to check for plausibility of a claim. (talk) 16:02, 14 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Paragraph deleted

I deleted this paragraph from the "Criticisms" section. It wasn't clearly woven into the writing. It seemed out-of-nowhere and possibly irrelevant. Plus it wasn't in "encyclopedic tone" but, rather, written in the tone of someone who's trying to convince me of something or trying to prove a point. Anyway, here's the material I deleted. If someone can spell out the relevance, then put it back in>

Lee Smolin argues using his fecund universes theory that fine-tuning for black hole creation is the fundamental cause for the observed values of physical constants.[1] Conditions for carbon based life are similar to conditions for black hole creation which creates the illusion of the anthropic principle. Instead there is a "black hole principle"[self-published source?][unreliable source?]. Compare correlation is not causation[2][self-published source?][unreliable source?]

ask123 (talk) 07:00, 9 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, I think it serves as an example for the line "All versions of the principle have been accused of discouraging the search for a deeper physical understanding of the universe". It would be kind of neat if the theory of "fecund universes" worked out. However, I would consider the thinking behind it to be more complicated than the thinking behind the AP, because the theory really requires a background of universes that our universe evolved from, a multiverse. Also, at what point is such a universe "good enough" to harbor life? It appears to me the argument behind Lee Smolins theory is really about increasing the probability that a universe harboring life exists. The WAP on the other hand, is not about probability, it is about conditional probability being 1. As you can see from the many lines I have written above, the idea is interesting to the subject. Maybe it can be included if worded better Highlander (talk) 19:27, 9 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Highlander, please feel free to do that. Could you do that (rewrite and/or reinclude the section)? I don't understand that theory of Smolin's well enough to do anything with it one way or another. (talk) 18:34, 11 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I read some of the available references and tried to make sense of the theory of fecund universes in the context of the anthropic principle. So the paragraph is back up in my own wording.Highlander (talk) 14:24, 12 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks, High. (talk) 14:56, 12 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Reposting, from my previous statement, it looks good.

The 12C stuff

I don't know if Fred Hoyle's 12C theories really need to be in this article. 12C isn't the only atom that could have given rise to life; 13C could have worked as well. Heck, if the neutron-proton mass difference had been smaller than it actually is, 14C would be stable rather than radioactive, in which case it could have worked as well. Stonemason89 (talk) 00:26, 31 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Recent edits.

There seem to me to be a few problems with the most recent edits that I believe would be best thrashed out here and then made to the article. Some of the changes were good, in my opinion, but my opinion isn't the only one. Some are problematic. I don't think, unless we move the article to Anthropic Principles, that the name in the lede should be made plural. There are different variants of the Anthropic Principle, but it continues to be essentially one principle. I actually believe some of the changes were good. The AP does say that "observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life observing it." The AP is not about that conditions observed in the universe are compatible with the life observed, but more so with the observer, that is us. A reality that is compatible with bacteria we see is not necessarily the same as a reality that is compatible with humans.

It is also important that the AP retain much of its original meaning and usage (Carter and Dicke) and, although it is a legitimate topic of inquiry (Barrow and Tipler) that the same principle is adapted to speak to new questions (regarding the values of the fundamental constants), and that might be arguable, the original application was to speak to the question of the age of the universe, and that is not particularly arguable. It's pretty much settled science. So I have trouble with language that couches this as "philosophical perspectives" with "proponents". Who are the opponents of the AP? Is anyone saying that our observations of the properties of the universe need not be compatible with our existence in it? (talk) 02:13, 11 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

False claims about testability and unobservability

"However, as any other universe is, by definition, unobservable (otherwise it would be part of our universe), this test cannot be carried out, and Barrow's SAP is untestable."

This claim depends on the assumption that theories with unobservable entities are untestable. That is not the case. If the theory as a whole makes testable predictions it is testable even if it includes unobservables.

A further claim might be that unobserables can always be stripped out of testable theories without harm. That is also not the case. While it may be true that theories can always be restated without loss of predictive power in such as way as to eliminate unobservables, it is not always true that there is no harm. Eliminating unobservables may make the theory harder to calculate, or it may make the theory harder to understand. Thus multiverse theories of quantum mechanics have the great virtue of making it clearer how the theoretical calculations are supposed to proceed.

The notion of unobservable itself also raises difficulties. Entities thought to be unobservable at one stage of theory development can come to seem observable at a later stage. Assuming that multiple universes are unobservable could be wrong--later theories might explain how interuniversal travel could occur. Gluons seem less and less unobservable as time wears on--they show up as clumps of particles shooting out from a collision.

Bottom line: the emphasis needs to be on testability, not observability.

Also, at early stages of theory development, complaining about unobservability can be a reactionary damper on the imaginative process.

I'm not saying that unobservability is a useless critique. It points us back towards testability. I am saying that unobservability is not a fatal critique. Thus Dawkins basically does not attack the God hypothesis for unobservability, but rather for being part of a falsified predictive model. Burressd (talk) 05:11, 21 October 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Far too many unsupported generalizations and POV statements

Currently, much of the article reads like an essay written with the goal of 'debunking' the anthropic principle, and it makes numerous unsourced generalizations towards this end. For instance, the current concluding sentence of the intro states: "Those who invoke the anthropic principle often invoke multiple universes or an intelligent designer, both controversial and criticised for being untestable and therefore outside the purview of accepted science." I have never seen a serious physicist or cosmologist invoking an intelligent designer in this way - in fact, the weak anthropic principle is a refutation of the arguments for intelligent design! Throughout the article, there is a tendency to give the 'last word' or summary to those making statements critical of the anthropic principle in various forms, often in a rather strawman-type way. Many of the arguments against various forms of the anthropic principle are addressed and answered in Barrow & Tipler's book, but these are mostly omitted from the article. For instance, Barrow and Tipler claim, in contradiction to the editorial assertion in the article, that the Weak Anthropic Principle indeed can be used to make testable predictions, and they give several examples, both historical and contemporary. Ben Kidwell (talk) 11:59, 31 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ben, Owen Gingerich and Freeman Dyson are both serious physicists/astronomers that have written something about "design" (Gingerich likes to say "small 'i', small 'd'" and distances himself from the Discovery Institute crowd). And it is completely true, in my opinion, that the WAP is used as "a refutation of the arguments for intelligent design". But I have heard theists try to use it as an argument for the existence of the divine in proto-nature. I don't get that argument either. (talk) 22:00, 13 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, there seems to be a bit of a problem with a US-centric view. I don't believe that creationist variants of the anthropic principle are worth much attention from a global point of view. It would be nice if there was a way of splitting the article into a discussion of the genuine anthropic principle and its abuse by creationists. This might also solve the terminological problems introduced by the creationist re-definition of the terms WAP and SAP.
From a global POV this entire article is a massive breach of WP:UNDUE, by making the creationist redefinitions look much more significant than they are outside the US. A physics student from Germany, say, doesn't come to this article to read debunking of creationist nonsense in every single section. They come here to read about the real anthropic principle, which is tautological and far from discredited. But by talking about the Barrow & Tipler bullshit in every second paragraph the reader gets the impression that there is something wrong with the real (original) anthropic principle.
I guess the article's sorry state is due to some scientifically minded editors in the US not having heard of the term "anthropic principle" outside the creationism debate. Hans Adler 13:00, 31 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Hans and Ben, this is very interesting. I didn't think the global point of view would be different from the US point of view in something like this. I have read brief overviews of this in different books, and have not looked into it deeply. But I think it is worth looking into. I can see your point about how this article is framed, and that the real principle is outside of this "debate" (framework). Why not tag it WP:UNDUE, and begin rewriting in a more objective frame of reference.
By the way, the brief overviews that I have read did not frame this in relation to creationism at all. So, I was surprised by the last sentence of the introduction. I am sure muliple universes are not outside the purview of accepted science. I think multple 'verses are considered to be very much within the purview of accepted cosomological science. Then to equate this with "intelligent design" - well I never heard of such a relationship before this article. After saying that I have to agree that this article is POV. Steve Quinn (formerly Ti-30X) (talk) 07:02, 1 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, I went ahead and tagged it as NPOV. The POV tag looked a little too strong, at the moment. Steve Quinn (formerly Ti-30X) (talk) 07:12, 1 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I haven't done anything significant with this article (I think I fixed a typo or the like), but I definitely agree with some above editors that the writing is far too tortured to discuss trite (and US-centric) creationist misuse of the concept. I am personally, for example, skeptical about the real "take away value" of the anthropic principle, but this skepticism is about philosophy of science not about some simple misunderstanding of the term. In other words, while I cannot promise I'll get around to it myself, I would strongly encourage some thorough rewriting of the article. Maybe spin off the minor US creationist silliness into one section, but leave the rest of the article to discuss the actual conceptual move by physicists. I'm not sure, however, that NPOV is precisely the way to characterize the problems, it's more about focus and clarity. But the need for rewriting remains in any case. LotLE×talk 08:50, 1 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is really hard to fix the intro and article without splitting the weak AP off. And it cannot be split up because then some zealots would merge it again under the guise of removing irrelevant pages and redundancy. From what Lulu has been saying, I gather that it would be acceptable to her to have the page discuss mostly the weak anthropic principle. However, the page is named "Anthropic Principle", so that really is the kind of thinking that contributes to this mess. If you want to see more about the weak AP, then maybe rename the page. And even then, few have bothered to define the weak AP clearly, and the best of these definitions are not "anthropic". So we would at best be stuck without proper references. Maybe all that ever needed to be said about this topic is "cogito ergo sum" - I think therefore (the universe) exists. Highlander (talk) 23:45, 2 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Regarding what has been said above, that "I am sure muliple universes are not outside the purview of accepted science". The problem here is that a different universe by definition of "universe" can never been observed, only be imagined or simulated. So it is not possible to use the scientific method of proving your guesses by experiments and logic. In particular, you cannot use experiments to disprove the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics. So it is philosopy. So the AP is really only important to science because scientists need to understand a little philosopy to understand what they are doing. People who misunderstand the AP contribute eventually to the bloat of this article, even if only in a line refuting the idea.Highlander (talk) 00:00, 3 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I personally don't think that the WAP should be split off, but that this article should emphasize the WAP as the principal meaning of the AP. I think that the WAP itself is very uncontroversial and that it can be clearly, accurately, and succinctly defined for the non-physicist as the Merriam-Webster has: "...conditions that are observed in the universe must allow the observer to exist."[1] This is virtually a tautology, it almost says nothing, how can anyone seriously dispute it?
But, even if it says virtually nothing, it does gives a framework for thinking about some astronomical and cosmological observations. I think that it speaks well to some questions like why is the universe about 1010 years old rather than 108 or 1013 years (similar to what Dicke was asking). But this works for the age of the universe better than it does for fundamental physical constants, because the universe gets to try out all possible values for its age. (It was 1 millions years old once, and someday it will probably be a trillion years old, both of those universes were or will be far different than the present which obviously has to be supporting life sufficiently sophisticated to ask the question "why is the universe about 10 billion years old?" So it really isn't remarkable that the universe is about 10 billion years old because the question is better turned around: "At what age of the universe is it most likely for life, sophisticated enough to ask the question, to exist?")
It has been applied to the same kind of question about the few fundamental physical constants, some of which needed to be restricted to a relatively small range just for matter to form (the fine-tuned universe). And, if the universe was able to experiment with all other combinations of fundamental constants, then the same "why" question applied to the constants could be answered simply by the WAP. Or if there really is the multiverse and many other universes with some random distribution of values for the fundamental constants, then the WAP is sufficient to answer that "why" and no one need conclude that it is "remarkable" that the universe is so fine-tuned.
The SAP is different. It is not a tautology or truism and, at least superficially, should be considered a controversial assertion. We just do not know that it is true or not. Perhaps if SETI was intercepting dozens of instances of ET communication, or if we really understood how, given enough time, any small, rocky planet (of similar chemical composition as ours) just can't help itself but to eventually produce life, then the SAP would be less controversial. That wouldn't prove the SAP, but it would provide observational evidence that supports it. But we don't know either. Unlike the WAP, there is no solid reason of science to insist that the SAP is true. It might be true and ours and other galaxies might have thousands or millions of, not just habitable, but habited worlds. But we don't know and there is no solid evidence of such. We barely even know that there are small rocky planets outside our solar system (but it looks like it's the case).
Their FAP is even more speculative and, if included, should be depicted as such (rather than settled science). And I think it's legitimate that if the Barrow-Tipler definitions are included for completeness, it is very appropriate to quote Gardner's citing of their final statements and dubbing it the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP).
Even though the language above is my own, I think it's a very conservative view that considers what this term has been used for in the more popular media. I guess I can't claim it's NPOV, but it's so conservative in its claims that, even if it's my POV, it surely seems neutral to me. (talk) 00:46, 3 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Made into a bit more encyclopedic language, it seems like 96- gets the summary of what we should present just about right. LotLE×talk 02:13, 3 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess I'm responsible for much of the tortuous prose. The trouble is that there are several straightforward ways this could be put which are mutually contradictory, since even the professionals don't agree what terms like WAP & SAP actually mean. Right here in this talk section, Ben Kidwell takes Barrow & Tipler at face value, while Hans Adler thinks B&T are "bullshit" (& I agree their approach has seriously muddied this subject, despite their major contributions), while 96... prefers Merriam-Webster which is short enough that it could be read as meaning any of the various WAPs & SAPs (and therefore quite likely to mislead, since each reader will read it in a way consistent with their own pre-exisiting ideas).
Another problem, as guessed by several above, is that many notable American scientists deem it their duty to rubbish the AP because they have only heard of it in the context of creationism. The "last word" effect that Ken mentions seems to be due to various editors finding such quotes and tacking them on at the end of sections that seem vaguely relevant; I don't think it is an organized attempt to discredit the AP. If you delete them, you are essentially claiming that, say, Stephen J. Gould's opinion of the AP is not notable, which seems dubious, or not worth recording because it's a misunderstanding, which is OR (though I would agree with you!). Furthermore you can't pretend that creationism is irrelevant given that Barrow & Tipler not only give this as a possible implication of their SAP but insist that the WAP is a development of classical arguments for the existance of god (quite wrongly in my view). And you can't just ignore B&T since their book is the major study of the subject (and still in print after 25 years).
As for the original complaint which lead to the current neutrality tag, this is only a B-class article and certainly not fully referenced, but I don't think the tag is deserved. Barrow, Tipler and Paul Davies are all very well known scientists who have claimed that the AP *may* imply a designer. None of them are really talking about an old man in the sky but at least Tipler and Davies actively advocate positions which are basically religious. Plenty of scientists believe in god (opinion surveys unsurprisingly show); of course such people mostly think that this has nothing to do with science, so they don't work in speculative cosmology. PaddyLeahy (talk) 21:44, 8 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I really think that the concepts of AP and FTU need to be differentiated. It's the FTU that may imply a designer (assuming that the universe is actually fine-tuned), not the AP. The FTU is the observation (possibly leading to a question of design) and the WAP is an explanation for the FTU that different people accept to different degrees. If the multiverse hypothesis is true (and I dunno how that could ever be tested), the WAP along with the notion of a zillion universes with a distribution of values for the dimensionless fundamental physical constants actually makes sense to explain FTU without needing a designer. (talk) 08:02, 9 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think you are on the right track, but not with regards to the need for multiverses. The WAP, when formulated right, means that since the probability of an observer existing is one, since otherwise the observer could never make the observations. Then, since we know the observer exists "cogito, ergo sum", all other pieces of the universe that have been observed directly or indirectly must fall neatly into their places. This is true even if we cannot directly observe and connect to other universes, although we can use mathematics to figure out how they would work. The idea of a multiverse just adds a little extra meat to the WAP, but at a price. For example, one such price is that people get the idea to calculate some probability that our universe exists. And this somehow leads to people questioning the WAP based on this incorrectly derived probability. See, calculating the probability is incorrect, since you cannot know the a priori probability distribution of the parameters. In fact, knowing the a priori distribution would require an outside observer, e.g. god. This is why the multiverse theory is not a good support for the WAP.Highlander (talk) 20:57, 9 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I thought the WAP sorta supported itself, since it doesn't claim much to be controversial. And it's the WAP that offers an explanation for the ostensible FTU. (talk) 02:52, 10 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed, that is why I think using a multiverse to make the WAP stronger actually weakens the argument.Highlander (talk) 23:20, 10 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
But what I do not understand is, without a mechanism for generating a plethora of trials (the "multiverse" is such a mechanism), each with different fundamental constants, how the WAP can hope to speak to the cause of why the fundamental constants are what they are (or in an acceptable range for matter to form, supernova to cook up heavier elements, and enough time for rocky planets like ours to form long before their suns burn out). This is the cause-and-effect that I can understand: The Universe is not adapted to fit life, but life is adapted to fit the Universe. With many universes, taking on a variety of random values for the fundamental constants, the WAP does explain the selection process, why it's the life-friendly universe that we find ourselves in. But it doesn't do it for a single universe. I don't see how. (talk) 00:38, 11 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The WAP works in that case for the very same reason that the WAP works to explain the question "Why is the Universe about 10 billion years old? My, aren't we lucky that the Universe is just about exactly as old as it needs to be to be supportive of life like us?" But the single Universe gets to try out all those other experiments: It gets to try out being 1 million years old (no life), 10 million years old (still no life), 1 billion years old (life unlikely) and 1 trillion years old (assuming no Big Crunch but maybe heat death - life unlikely). Just like that, if there are many universes with varying combinations of fundamental physical constants, it's only in the life-friendly universes with those constants in acceptable ranges that we'll be around to behold the coincidence and ask the question. But if this Universe is the only one, the "remarkable" or "uncanny" coincidence of those constants to be good enough for Goldilocks (it's the only bowl of porridge she got to taste) remains an intriguing question and the WAP says nothing to explain it. (talk) 08:02, 9 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, the WAP is also a way of saying "things are the way they are because they are" in addition to talking about observers and their history. That is not a very useful statement, and so every scientist should still be on the look-out for better explanations. There is not need to refute the WAP though, scientists just need to be aware of its nature.Highlander (talk) 21:03, 9 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I didn't think one can even refute the WAP or other truism. I didn't think the issue is so much whether or not some truism is true (we accept that it is, but it might be a vacuous truth). I thought the issue of controversy was whether or not you can build on the truism to make a tangible conclusion about something else, such as an explanation for the FTU sans designer. In my opinion, it works with the multiverse as an additional axiom, but does not with a single Universe in all of physical reality. It doesn't mean that some other designerless explanations for the FTU cannot be found or don't presently exist, it only means that the WAP, by itself, doesn't have enough to explain it. (talk) 02:52, 10 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I tried hard to find something that is not neutral - that is if you grant some room for mentioning criticisms at all - and did find nothing. However, I found the paragraph starting with "Opponents of intelligent design are not limited to those who hypothesize that other universes exist..". The mentioning of intelligent design seems to come from nowhere(or maybe from some paragraphs up which was fine when the article was smaller), and the paragraph is so tortured it contradicts itself. How about adding a line like "Proponents of intelligent design often quote the fine-tuning observations that support the anthropic principle as a proof of an intelligent designer."Highlander (talk) 21:11, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, I made the edit. The few claims of fact I made are supported by the articles on Intelligent design, Fine-tuned Universe and Design argument, which are linked.Highlander (talk) 21:32, 25 November 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Does someone speak up in favor of the NPOV tag? I think the article will not be improving much in this respect because it is hard (to me at least) to find POV statements, maybe with the exception of people who don't want to believe the weak anthropic principle and find the entire article to be POV. By the way, I am not surprised at all about the recent edit mentioning an argument that there is no anthropic reasoning involved in the discovery of the nucleosynthesis of C-12 - the very intro of this article mentions that "building up other substantive arguments based on a tautological foundation is problematic" and it always seemed to me that starting reasoning from measurements of the occurance of C-12 would be just as good as starting from an anthropic principle.Highlander (talk) 14:11, 15 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Anthropic reasoning and the LHC(or similar devices)

I'm not exactly sure that it is smart to start up the LHC, or maybe later a more powerful device.

I'm not scared, because I think doomsday would arrive much too fast for that. In addition, according to the many-worlds-interpretation of quantum theory, I'll continue to exist somewhere. Still, it would probably be more worlds without the LHC.

Is this a theory without falsifiable statements? No, not at all. I'm predicting that, should the LHC continue to be in operation for longer times, the scientists will find much fewer micro black holes than expected.

This will lead to the formulation of yet another "asymmetry"-law. When really, and this is where anthropic reasoning comes in, the following happened: Most micro black holes made the world cease to exist in seconds, so the possibility to really observe a black hole didn't exist for a long time.

I wish you a nice doomsday. The restaurant at the end of the universe is right around the corner.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Highlander (talkcontribs)

High, I didn't know you felt that way. You might want to take this up on sci.physics.research and/or sci.physics.foundations (both moderated). (talk) 15:43, 26 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks for the pointer. There is at least one mistake in the CERN LSAG report. In particular, because of selection effects similar to those for the AP topic, Earth is not a good example of an astronomical body that has not been destroyed by micro black holes created by cosmic radiation - because the adverse event would destroy the observer, so that the observer would end up getting 100% non adverse events regardless of the actual probability. As this has been overlooked, my guess is similar statistical fallacies apply to other astronomical bodies as well.Highlander (talk) 23:49, 26 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
High, are you saying that if they make a micro-blackhole at CERN LHC, that we'll get eaten up by it (and the whole planet) in short order? (talk) 05:44, 27 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's what I have to say, but of which I cannot be 100% certain, What I am certain of is that the current safety report as it is is based on a statistical fallacy. See the intro of the report here:
If it helps, one can use the many-worlds-interpretation of quantum physics to see the fallacy, though that is just a tool to visualize the probability graph and isn't strictly necessary.
It can be attempted to fix the report by simply not speaking of Earth, but only of astronomical bodies that are farther away, but that raises the unanswered question, how far away has a micro-black-hole event to be to not have affected adversely the evolution and growth of humanity? And the further away objects are, the further on can look back in time, and the further one looks back in time, then some events actually appear that adversely affected life on Earth, like mass extinctions, suspected meteorites, and suspected gamma radiation hazards. Any arguments against the above might work, but will not be the clear-cut statistical almost-certainty of safety of the LHC that the report makes it out to be. In addition, that such a simple to spot mistake escapes the greatest minds makes me worry. I think at some point, maybe now, maybe with the successor to the LHC, intelligent life will have to learn NOT to conduct some experiments.Highlander (talk) 18:34, 27 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I dunno why not? We still have about 10,000 or 20,000 nukes left on the planet. Why not detonate them all on the Antarctic continent to see if we could melt enough ice to raise the ocean level a little bit? A worthy experiment. (talk) 06:31, 28 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I learned that many of my above views have already been expressed in by Max Tegmark (MIT), Nick Bostrom (Oxford). I wrote my own text, but I guess it is written in a too authoritative tone to be accepted by newsgroup moderators.Highlander (talk) 17:23, 30 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
High, I find it difficult to believe that the moderators of either sci.physics.research or sci.physics.foundations rejected a post from you about this. Did they send you back an email telling you why it was rejected? (talk) 18:11, 30 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, the mod of sci.physics.particle said I needed to give scientific arguments for my claim.. Then I broke down the argument right into the details at a very low level and submitted to both .particle and .research and the mod of .research said it was a posting inappropriate for the newsgroup. I guess it is really my fault for starting out with "I'm severly concerned.." I have since refined my position and arrive at a pair of probabilities (p,p2) as a lower bound for a disaster probability upper bound where p=number of LHC experiments vs number of naturally occuring collisions in the atmosphere of Earth, p squared is the LHC disaster probability bound. Using the LHC report data, this gives a pair of (10-6,10-12)Highlander (talk) 18:49, 31 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well, after making many mistakes in calculations, I made a javascript calculator which actually does calculate the probability pair mentioned above from 2-3 inputs. Hopefully, I made no mistakes this time.. See Explore the result tuples yourself to form an opinion. (I hope nobody sees this as self-advertisement - the site is quite lacking polish for that; I simply intend to replace the above (bad) guess with a decent calculator).Highlander (talk) 21:16, 9 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Selection Effects"

I was reading the intro and I came upon this sentence, "Within the scientific community the usual approach is to invoke selection effects and to hypothesize an ensemble of alternate universes, in which case that which can be observed is subject to an anthropic bias." I'm kind of unclear on what sense the term "selection effects" is being used. Does this mean that scientists believe that those who posit the anthropic principal are cherry picking their figures so as to make it seem like various constants need to be the way they are for life to emerge; or does it mean that, since we only have ourselves one example of intelligent life, ourselves, our observations are biased; or some other third thing. This issue is, I'm sure, explored in the body of the article itself, but still...I think this could be a bit clearer. Corbmobile (talk) 01:56, 21 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excellent question. I wonder why it was willfully ignored, and yet somebody decided to make the revision anyway? I have returned the page to resemble something more like what it was before what appears to be fanatics decided to make up their own ideas about it. island001 (talk) 16:05, 28 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
So Island001, check out [2] . What fanatics do you mean? Physicists? (talk) 02:01, 29 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What are you babbling about? Answer the question, or I start modifying the page without any discussion, and I can tell you that misrepresenting the citation as being that of a physicist, when, in reality, it is the ill-considered opinion of one lame FiLOsiFeR... doesn't help your credibility as being anything less than a truth spinning fanatic. Do you know any physics at all, Mr. Anonymous chicken, Nathan Brazil? It isn't like I didn't give you plenty of opportunity to prevent this from happening in the comments section of; "In reference to 'Failed science'", and it isn't like I have to justify anything that I've done here either, since the question has been willfully ignored for two years. The ball is in your court, sonny, and you had better start putting up or shutting up, fast. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Island001 (talkcontribs) 13:26, 29 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Interesting. Great article, thanks for the taking the time to collate and write. Anyone else said that?

In Origin, we see that "the steady-state theory, [which] had recently been falsified by the 1965 discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation. This discovery was unequivocal evidence that the universe has changed radically over time (for example, via the Big Bang)".

CMB discovery does no such thing, even though it was predicted by one party and discovered by another. It is quite possible that we live in a steady state Universe, and the burden of proof for modern science is onerous indeed.

If, however, I accept at face value that I can dig for a fossil, and that is proof that dinosaurs roamed the Earth long before Humans, and that I can point my dinosaur bone at the moon, and prove from it's cratered surface that a 'heavy bombardment' precluded any form of life, then from the very thinking that includes CMB as evidence, we predict a 'slow heat death' for the Universe, an incredibly long period of time until all matter is converted to photons.

Looked at this way, if, say, we stack sheets of paper from here to the Moon to represent time, then all life as we know it would be contained in less than one of those sheets.

An anthropic Universe? Seems we can't have it both ways. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Glebefarmer (talkcontribs) 10:37, 9 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Participatory Anthropic Principle

I deleted this sentence after the entry on PAP: "However, the argument leads to a chicken-and-egg problem, for those observers must exist in some universe of their own in order to act (unless the observer(s) is self-existent, which returns to the prior possibility)[citation needed]". This is original work, not cited, and anyway the idea of PAP is that observers emerge or evolve in a universe. That is they do not have to exist originally (in some universe of their own). I'm not sure whether Wheeler's argument is that observers necessarily have to emerge in any universe (I think actually that may be Barrow and Tipler's interpretation of Wheeler's idea), or only that it is very likely that they do, but anyway the egg came first - I thought everyone knew that? Aarghdvaark (talk) 04:28, 5 May 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

By logic, anthropic principle is absurd anytime we can rest: there must be infinite universes where life exists badly, for any one perfectly fitted for life, so let's rest and forget anthropic principle, it's just a story. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:24, 12 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Opening Statement

I hope it's okay to sorta interject. Lot's issues brought up and I don't want to copy quotes.

First off, there is no "the" anthropic principle in the manner that the current section tries to favor it as a selection effect, or we wouldn't have all of these variant interpretations of the observation, of which selection effects and selection bias are one of these speculative definitions. The umbrella term, "anthropic principle", comes from the various applications of the observation that can make it strong or weak IF you have a complete theory.

I don't think that people need to have a complete theory to contemplate the general idea of the AP. The AP need not be the WAP, but none of the stronger variants dispute or are inconsistent with the WAP. The WAP is the least common denominator (in the metaphorical sense in terms of political or social blocks). No one disputes the WAP. But it certainly is not true that no one disputes the stronger variants. But we should get a citation.
All variants of the AP either say or are consistent with "observations of the physical universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it."

Selection effects and selection bias certainly aren't the AP, unless somebody comes up with a complete theory that justifies the assumption that the observation that carbon based life appears to be favored by the forces is just a consequence of either, for which, there is none.

The current opening statement, (directly below), is intentionally weak, because it willfully ignores the fact that the apparently bio-oriented observation is not expected by our best complete and conventionally tested theories that predict quite the opposite of what is observed.

"In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the philosophical argument that observations of the physical universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it."

It needs to be replaced by the following to make it fair and unbiased:

In physics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is an umbrella term for a number of different applications of the observation that carbon based life appears to be favored by the forces <of the universe, at least in the locality of the life>,

No, that's the fine-tuned Universe. The AP is posited as a possible explanation for "...the observation that carbon based life appears to be favored by the forces" of the universe at least at their location in space and time.
And it isn't true either that the AP requires carbon chauvinism. When you put that in, you are making a qualification (that weakens the AP, as far as I can tell) that is also uncited. Conscious life perhaps, but the

in order to explain the structure of the observed universe, which runs contrary to the natural expectations of our best, most well tested theories. [3]

The current opening statement is also intentionally biased toward one variant interpretation:

"Some proponents of the argument reason that it explains why the universe has the age

That's Dicke and Carter ...

and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life.

... and that's Carter and also Barrow and Tipler...

As a result, they believe that the fact that the universe's fundamental constants are within the narrow range thought to allow life is not remarkable."

... I think that means (if one accepts some anthropic reasoning) there need be no intelligent designer to explain the FTU. It's not lucky. At least I think that was what is meant. Still sounds pretty consistent with what I remember in my astrophysics course long ago. I don't see this as misrepresenting how the AP is commonly discussed. Certainly with Carter vs. Barrow and Tipler and different wordings for SAP and the like, not everyone agrees on specifically what it all means (the WAP doesn't insist that conscious life had to emerge as does the SAP, at least one definition of it). But they all acknowledge that, whether it's remarkable or not that conditions that are observed in the universe, whether one accepts that they're fine-tuned or not, are consistent with the fact that some form of life is observing such conditions. It's anthropic; consistent with at least (not exclusively) anthrōpos. That's the common denominator.

This assumes that selection bias can be applied to the observation without a complete theory to justify it,

Maybe that reference to selection bias shouldn't be in the second paragraph. But I would like to hear from User:Highlander or User:PaddyLeahy before it's moved or removed.

and while it may currently be just as good as any other plausibility, this weak variant interpretation certainly is not "the" anthropic principle and should be removed unless it is changed to read something more like the following, which should go underneath the opening statement, (above):

I would point out that the WAP is consistent with every variant interpretation, but the primary definition is not merely the WAP. It's even less than the WAP. It's just saying that there is some connection with the content of the observations and the fact that people are observing the observations. You find that controversial? (talk) 05:09, 30 July 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The weak anthropic principle is the philosophical argument that observations of the physical universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Some proponents of the argument reason that it explains why the universe has the age and the fundamental physical constants necessary to accommodate conscious life if there is a multiverse. As a result, they believe that the fact that the universe's fundamental constants are within the narrow range thought to allow life is not remarkable.

The strong anthropic principle as explained by Barrow and Tipler (see variants) states that this is all the case because conscious life, in some sense, needed to exist. On the other hand, in a sufficiently large universe, some worlds might evolve conscious life regardless of adverse conditions. Douglas Adams used the metaphor of a living puddle examining its own shape, since, to those living creatures, the universe may appear to fit them perfectly (while in fact, they simply fit the universe perfectly). Critics argue in favor of a weak anthropic principle similar to the one defined by Brandon Carter (see variants), which states that the universe's fine tuning is the result of selection bias, e.g. in the long term, only survivors can report their location in time and space. Opponents of this will point out that this is an assumption that is not born out by any fact or established theory that supercedes the apparent connection between carbon based life and the structure of the universe, itself, via the commonality that the "flat" balanced universe shares with the numerous balanced conditions that are necessary for the habitable zones that enable the conditions for carbon based life to exist. They will argue that it is this commonality that most apparently calls for a carbon life-oriented cosmological structure principle that defines the structure of the universe from first physics principles, which is the preferred scientific solution, rather than to resort to speculative ideas that are neither established, nor observed.island001 (island001|talk) 20:00, 29 July 2011

  1. ^ Lee Smolin (2001). Tyson, Neil deGrasse and Soter, Steve (ed.). Cosmic Horizons: Astronomy at the Cutting Edge. The New Press. pp. 148–152. ISBN 978-1565846029.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
  2. ^ Smolin vs. Susskind: The Anthropic Principle
  3. ^