Guest post: Rick Ryals – “The Anthropic Principle” June 23, 2008Posted by dorigo in cosmology, physics, science.
Tags: anthropic principle, guest posts
Rick Ryals, a frequent visitor of this site, wrote a guest post here some time ago, on Dirac’s theory and the Einstein constant. He sent me today another text about his views on the Anthropic principle, which I am happy to host here. Of course, his views and mine need not be the same 😉 for me to find the following text fit for this site. -TD
Ever wonder why David Gross calls the inability of science to produce a “dynamical principle” that would “make the landscape go away”, the biggest failure of science in the last twenty years?
I would assert that it’s quite obviously because scientists can’t or won’t add one and one.
The anthropic principle is possibly the most misunderstood and misused observation in all of science, whose mere mention brings about the most extreme reactions from just about everyone who comes into contact with it. Creationists read-in the hand of god, while some String theorists find hope for a real theory, but most others find only utter disgust and complete disdain, as very few actually get the point. If this post was about a “variant interpretation”, then it would be called “The Unpopular Anthropic Principle”, because that’s exactly what it will be, since it includes all of the dirty little truths that nobody on any highly motivated side of the popular issues really wants to know about.
The physics concerns the unexpected carbon-life orientation of certain structure defining features of our universe that do not concur with the cosmological projections of modern physics.
The pointed nature of the physics indicates the direction that one might look in for the as yet undefined dynamical structure mechanism that is normally expected to explain why the universe is configured the way that it is, rather than some other way. Brandon Carter called this “a line of reasoning that requires further development”. But the Anthropic Principle was originally formalized by Carter as an ideological statement against the dogmatic non-scientific prejudices that scientists commonly harbor, that cause them to consciously deny anthropic relevance in the physics, so they instead tend to be willfully ignorant of just enough pertinent facts to maintain an irrational cosmological bias that leads to absurd, “Copernican-like” projections of mediocrity that contradict what is actually observed.
Carter was talking about an equally extreme form of counter-reaction-ism to old historical beliefs about geocentricism that cause scientists to automatically dismiss evidence for anthropic “privilege” right out of the realm of the observed reality. I intend to put very heavy emphasis on this point, because people go to unbelievable lengths to distort what Carter said on that fateful day in Poland, in order to willfully ignore this point as it applies to modern physics speculations and variant interpretations, which are neither, proven, nor definitively justified, theoretically.
Why do none of the popular definitions of the anthropic principle include what Carter actually said?
…a reaction against conscious and subconscious – anticentrist dogma.
This a the real problem for science.
Carter’s example was as follows:
Unfortunately, there has been a strong and not always subconscious tendency to extend this to a most questionable dogma to the effect that our situation cannot be privileged in any sense. This dogma (which in its most extreme form led to the “perfect cosmological principle” on which the steady state theory was based) is clearly untenable, as was pointed out by Dicke (Nature 192, 440,
1961). -Brandon Carter
Carter expounded on the anthropic coincidence that Robert Dicke had deduced from Dirac’s Large Numbers Hypothesis. Dicke had noted that “the forces are not random, but are constrained by biological factors” that cause the universe to evolve contrarily to the standard cosmological prediction in a unique manner that favors carbon life. It is important to note that this evolving physics includes all carbon-based-life, and this also limits life to a very narrow range of time in the history of the universe. But this feature also dictates that the same combination of “homeostatic” environmental balances that define the Goldilocks Enigma will occur on similarly developed planets in similarly developed galaxies that exists along the same fine “layer” or time/location “plane” that our galaxy evolved on, so there is absolutely no apparent reason to assume that the physics applies exclusively to only one planet, or to a single form of carbon-based life.
How Carter’s anti-political statement applies, including its strength, depends on the cosmological model that physics is being applied to, so Brandon Carter’s own “strong” multiverse interpretation differs from what is actually observed. Carter’s point was that unscientific ideological bias should be honestly weighed into consideration whenever a scientist is faced with anomalous features of the universe that are also relevant to our place in it, in order to serve as a counterbalancing constraint on their preconceived prejudices against evidence for “preference” or “specialness”. Unfortunately for science, this is rarely the case, as these words will fly right past the theoretical confidence of the “cutting-edge”.
Add to that the creation/evolution “debate” and you have all the makings for a very bad situation for science, where zealots will either, embrace what physicists commonly call the “appearance of design”, as being just that, or, on the other side of the fanatical coin, anti-zealots will all together deny that there is any such implication for “specialness” in the physics whatsoever, while appealing to multiverses and quantum uncertainty, in lieu of causality and first principles. This is done in order to “explain-away” the evidence, rather than to honestly recognize and give credible time to the most readily apparent implication for a biocentric cosmological principle that is indicated by the “appearance of design”. The anticentrist’s tendency to deny the significance of the observation is an over-reaction to pressure from religious extremists and from ill-considered assumptions about human arrogance, which doesn’t even make sense if we’re spread-out across the universe like bacteria on a thin slide of time. Unfortunately for science, it is also a perfectly true example of Carter’s point, as anticentrists typically and wrongly believe that such an admission constitutes evidence in favor of the religious fanatic’s argument, so willful ignorance takes the place of science when the argument is a culture war between zealots and their antifanatical counterparts.
But it is an unavoidable fact that the anthropic physics is directly observed to be uniquely related to the structuring of the universe in a way that defies the most natural expectation for the evolution of the universe in a manner that is also highly-pointed toward the production of carbon based life at a specific time in its history, (and over an equally specific, fine-layer or region of the Goldilocks zone of the observed universe).
If you disallow unproven and speculative physics theory, then an evidentially supported implication does necessarily exist that carbon-based life is somehow intricately connected to the structure mechanism of the universe, and weak, multiverse interpretations do not super cede this fact, unless a multiverse is proven to be more than cutting-edge theoretical speculation.
That’s the “undeniable fact” that compels Richard Dawkins and Leonard Susskind to admit that the universe “appears designed” for life! There is no valid “weak” interpretation without a multiverse, because what is otherwise unexpectedly observed without the admission of speculation, is most-apparently geared toward the production of carbon-base life. Their confidence comes from the fact that their admissions are qualified by their shared “belief” in unproven multiverse theories, but their interpretation is strictly limited to equally non-evidenced “causes”, like supernatural forces and intelligent design.
These arguments do not erase the fact that the prevailing evidence still most apparently does indicate that we are somehow relevantly linked to the structure mechanism, until they prove it isn’t so, so we must remain open to evidence in support of this, or we are not honest scientists, and we are no better than those who would intentionally abuse the science. We certainly do not automatically dismiss the “appearance” by first looking for rationale around the most apparent implication of evidence.
That’s like pretending that your number one suspect doesn’t even exist! There can be nothing other than self-dishonesty and pre-conceived prejudicial anticipation of the meaning that motivates this approach, and often *automatically* elicits false, ill-considered, and, therefore, necessarily flawed assumptions, that most often elicit equally false accusations about “geocentricism” and “creationism”. That’s not science, it’s irrational reactionary skepticism that is driven without justification by sheer disbelief and denial.
And then along came this highly inconvenient… WHOOPS! WHAT’S THIS SUPPORTING HERESY that we must only work to explain-away?!?!
Does the motion of the solar system affect the microwave sky? http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/29210
Lawrence Krauss even talks about this direct observation:
THE ENERGY OF EMPTY SPACE THAT ISN’T ZERO But when you look at CMB map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy. We’re looking out at the whole universe. <b>There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe.
“That’s Crazy”… “There’s no way”… Really, Larry?… Are you sure that it isn’t more-like… willful ignorance and denial?
Or isn’t it actually compounded supporting evidence for the life-oriented cosmological structure principle that we already have theoretical precedence for?
The problem here isn’t that we don’t have evidence, (make that, compounded evidence, and/or independently supportive evidence), the problem is that nobody is looking into this from any perspective that isn’t aimed at refuting the significance of the evidence.
They have had some success at this, too, because it has been discovered that the correlation applies to a specific region of galaxies like ours, but they act like they don’t have a clue, (and I’m sure that they don’t), that this is exactly what the Goldilocks Enigma predicts will be found.
It isn’t a case of not having evidence, rather, it is a matter of unscientific interpretation and an unwillingness to look at the physics straight-up, without automatically dragging some abstract and unproven assumptions about quantum observers into it, to see if maybe something that we do quite naturally might make us entirely necessary to the energy-economy of the physical process.
If you take Brandon Carter’s statement and bring it with you to the “consensus of opinion”, then you might begin to understand why the problem doesn’t get resolved:
And it ain’t pretty: