Cosmologic philosophy: anthropic principle opinion (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 23:22 (104 days ago) @ David Turell

Ethan Siegel thinks it is misused:

"But sometimes, you don't know how to conduct the experiments or gather the observations you'd need. Sometimes, you can only resort to the most basic of assumptions: that however the Universe may behave, it behaved in a way that allowed it to give rise to intelligent observers like us. This line of thinking is known as the Anthropic Principle. While it can serve as a useful starting point, it's no substitute for actual science.


"We assume that we're good at identifying which properties are incompatible with intelligent life. We assume that we're good at pointing out which kinds of Universe could not admit our existence, or the existence of some observer like us. And we assume that the philosophical conclusions we'd draw, based on our experience and extrapolations, are meaningful in constraining how the Universe is wired. This is the essence of the Anthropic Principle, and it may not be as correct as we typically accept.


"The Anthropic Principle came about in 1973, when physicist Brandon Carter made the following two statements.

"We must be prepared to take account of the fact that our location in the Universe is necessarily privileged to the extent of being compatible with our existence as observers.
The Universe (and hence the fundamental parameters on which it depends) must be as to admit the creation of observers within it at some stage.

"The first statement is now known as the Weak Anthropic Principle, which simply states that the Universe must be such that we could have come into existence within it. The second, more controversial statement is called the Strong Anthropic Principle, which states that if no one arose in the Universe, we'd never be here investigating it.


"Unfortunately, the Anthropic Principle has been grossly misinterpreted, and is often misapplied. Claims are common in the scientific literature today that the Anthropic Principle:

"supports a multiverse,
provides evidence for the string landscape,
demands that we have a large gas giant to protect us from asteroids,
and explains why we're located at the distance we are from the galactic center.

In other words, people argue that the Universe must be exactly as it is because we exist the way we do in this Universe, which exists with its presently observed properties.


"the Universe is not the way it is because we are here. That line of reasoning is the greatest enemy of the Anthropic Principle of all: a simple logical fallacy.


"There can be no doubt that the Universe is governed by laws, constants, and the initial conditions that gave rise to it. This very same Universe then, in turn, gave rise to us. But that does not necessitate the Universe was required to have the exact properties it does in order to admit our existence, nor does it imply that a Universe that was different in some fundamental way would be an impossibility for observers. Most importantly, we cannot use the Anthropic Principle to learn why the Universe is the way we see it, as opposed to any other way.

"The Anthropic Principle may be a remarkable starting point, allowing us to place constraints on the Universe's properties owing to the fact of our existence, but that is not a scientific solution in and of itself. Our goal in science, remember, is to understand how the Universe arrived at its current properties through natural processes. If we replace scientific inquiry with anthropic arguments, we'll never get there. The multiverse may be real, but the Anthropic Principle cannot scientifically explain why our Universe's properties are what they are."

Comment: Exactly how I feel.

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