Sunday, August 06, 2006

Anthropicism, science and time

Couple of weeks ago there was a fun contest on Scott's blog about coming up with best antrhopic statement. I took part in that contest (you can find my 3 entries in the comments of that post). The winning anthropicism was from Lev Reyzin.

Though my thrid entry was close to what the winnig entry implied mine was not stated with proper flavor of wit and context! But then I thought I have my blog to write about what I think on the topic:)

Anthropic thinking mainly questions of why things happen the way they are happening and the things of interest are related to human existence. Scientific thinking tries to focus on answering how things are happening not bothering too much about why they are happening. Eg. Physics answers how two bodies attract each other but does not bother why they should attract at all in the first place. Computer Science for example worries about understanding how to reveal what human mind works in a way that can be applied efficiently to machines. But it does not worry about why human mind works that way.

Anthropicism is an effort to accumulate wisdom with reasoning analogous to science. But it is different from science in the sense that it is not so straightforward to verify and replicate the process. Meaning that it might be practically less advantageous. Nevertheless it also tries to find truths in a meta theoretical and meta practical world. Also the history of humanity shows being obsessed with immediate practical benefits is not that a great idea.

Now we can start thinking there is no point of anthropicism because it mainly works in a layer not immediately applicable. Well so far atleast we have not rated anthropic thinking as irrational thinking:) Science is a layer that is a bit above immediate feelings. Anthropicism is a layer a bit above science. Time is the ultimate judge in deciding what is useful and what is the truth because only time has the ability to question the basic assumptions or axioms on which all other theorems are built. So far anthropicism and science have passed the test of time and we did not need a layer much above anthropicism which is above philosophy which is above science which is above common fleeting experiences.

12 comments:

island said...

But the problem is that people do not attempt to complete the anthropic principle before levying all kinds of responsibility on it, and so anthropic extensions appear to be less scientific than they would if people would only do what Brandon Carter was carful to say needed to be done.

That's the real problem here. Everybody is too busy trying to shoot it down for creationists abuses of it to act like real scientists.

The AP respresents a line of thought against exaggerated subservience to the Copernican-like Cosmological model that falls from the General Principle of Relativity, which requires all observers to experience the same laws of physics, so at any given time, the universe will be both homogeneous and isotropic, (in 3-D space).

This is not what is observed.

Carter said that he believed that the AP was potentially fertile but that it needs further development.

It is equally arrogant to assume a purely copernican universe as it is to conclude that we are at the center of the universe, because it does not logically follow from the ecobalanced nature of the anthropic coincidences and the large scale observational evidence, that life is as completely insignificant as a copernican principle would demand by extension. Carter called this anti-centrist approach, "dogma"... which in its most extreme form led to the "Perfect Cosmological Principle".

Modern anti-centrists and religious "anti-fanatics" are no less arrogant due to their pre-existing pre-dispositioning toward appealing to causality-lacking answers. Carter's observation clearly indicates that they still dogmatically deny the evidence in order to chase the same "random" extreme to the exact same meaningless dead-end. They have an **unbelievably** good imagination when it comes to avoiding any implication for anthropic prference, but absolutely none when it comes to embracing the idea:

What if... there's an uncertain infinite multiverse of quantum weird randomness... ? ... or something just as good...

uh-huh, What if... the freaking implications are true?... didya ever think of that?

Nagesh Adluru said...

Since AP has limited immediate applications I think it's only fair that it receives the limited immediate attention! As I said time will reveal it's ultimate worth.

I don't mean that no effort is needed but all kinds of serious and sincere efforts will have to lead to realization of AP's worth. But it has been Nature's characteristic that things of profound values are revealed only slowly.

My opinion is that anthropicism is an important principle on which all kinds of human efforts are consciously or unconciously based and guided.

Nagesh Adluru said...

uh-huh, What if... the freaking implications are true?... didya ever think of that?

Are you asking me have I thought about consequences of AP being true?

island said...

No, I was referring to the tendency that mainstream science has to try to explain-away evidence that we are not here by accident, rather that look for a good physical reason why it might be so, as well. I can prove this beyond reasonable doubt.

I would have no problem if the investigation of both possibilites were given serious consideration, but there is a very strong predispositioning among scientists to ONLY look in one direction, and that isn't just bad science, it's ideologically motivated crap.

So your previous reply isn't correct for this reason. Time can't reveal the ultimate worth of anything that people dogmatically deny, like evidence for anthropic preference.

I know that I can prove what I say, because I have discovered many things about the AP that require only a cursory effort to find, and I have been exclusively studying the principle for the last four years, so I also have a pretty good idea what people are looking for in the AP and what they have a strong tendency to deny.

Nagesh Adluru said...

It would be great if you can prove AP is really true! But success of science as compared to that of such theories has been mainly because of objective verifiability or because of applicability. If either of the two is possible for AP based on your and others' research then I am sure you will prove your case.

Sometimes objectivity might seem conservative or dogmatic but if 95% of modern scientists agree on something it cannot be called dogmatic I think. And the burden of convincing them should only be considered as fair cost.

island said...

The AP is necessarily "true" or we wouldn't be here, but the question is whether or not the implication for anthropic specialness is true.

But you're still wrong and here is one small example:

Leonard Susskind said in an interview about his new book:

'The "appearance" of design is undeniable...'

Without an infinite number of potential universes, he's an IDist, by rights, (since he doesn't seem to know about scientific concepts like Einstein's idea of purpose in nature), BUT he was also careful to point out that "scientists won't see it that way" if the "landscape" doesn't exist.

So which is it, Lenny, you freaking hypocrit?

His was a conditionally qualified statement of pre-existing intent to deny the implication of evidence if I've ever seen one.

I can give an even better example, but you are not listening.

Nagesh Adluru said...

I am listening otherwise I would not be thinking about it and replying!

There could be beautiful theories one can build but science as per established notion means that it should be useful to human beings in some way or the other. And remember science is not the only thing that is useful to humans though it is one of the finest things.

If implications for AP are true and AP is true what difference will it make in our understanding except for philosophical reasons which is above science anyways. Perhaps it might help prevent doing "bad" science as Greg pointed out in the thread on Scott's blog. But AP is not necessary to prevent doing bad science.

If a physical constant has a particular value then the effort that of understanding why it is that particular value is not doing science but doing philosophy or anthropicism UNTIL one of the following happens:

1. Experiementally verifiable in an algorithmic manner.
2. Theoretically verifiable from the existing set of theorems and axioms.

The only problem is with the notion of "verifiability" which is different for mathematicians and physicists. A nice post related to that can be found here.

And yes if you can give me a better example I am ready to listen!!

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