All of nostalgebraist2point0's Comments + Replies

The Anthropic Principle: Five Short Examples

IMO, the anthropic principle boils down to "notice when you are trying to compute a probability conditional on your own existence, and act accordingly."

A really simple example, where the mistake is obvious(ly wrong), is "isn't it amazing that we live on a planet that's just the right distance from its star (etc.) to support life?" No, this can't be amazing. The question presupposes a "we" who live on some planet, so we're looking for something like P(we live on a habitable planet | we are inhabiting a pla

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The Anthropic Principle: Five Short Examples

This all seems like exploiting ambiguity about what your conditional probabilities are conditional on.

Conditional on "you will be around a supercritical ball of enriched uranium and alive to talk about it," things get weird, because that's such a low-probability event to begin with. I suspect I'd still favor theories that involve some kind of unknown/unspecified physical intervention, rather than "the neutrons all happened to miss," but we should notice that we're conditioning on a very low probability event and things wi

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6ESRogs5y
On the Cold War thing, I think the lesson to learn depends on whether situations that start with a single nuclear launch reliably (and rapidly) escalate into world-destroying conflicts. If (nuclear launch) -> (rapid extinction), then it seems like the anthropic principle is relevant, and the close calls really might have involved improbable luck. If, on the other hand, (nuclear launch) -> (perhaps lots of death, but usually many survivors), then this suggests the stories of how close the close calls were are exaggerated.