Get Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and PDF

By Nick Bostrom

ISBN-10: 0415938589

ISBN-13: 9780415938587

This paintings attracts cognizance to convinced sorts of biases that permeate many elements of technology. information are restricted not just by means of boundaries of dimension tools but in addition by means of the precondition that there's a few definitely situated observer there to have the information (and to construct the instruments). this straightforward fact seems to have wide-ranging implications for fields as different as cosmology, evolution conception, imperfect keep in mind difficulties in video game thought, theology, site visitors research, the principles of thermodynamics and the translation of quantum mechanics. but, stressful paradoxes lie in ambush. The notorious Doomsday argument is this sort of, however it is simply the top of an iceberg.

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The only real difference between the two cases is that you wouldn’t have been around to remark on the unlikelihood of drawing the 256,057th-shortest straw. (van Inwagen 1993), p. 135 Given that the rigging hypothesis did not have too low a prior probability and given that there was only one straw lottery, it is hard to deny that this argument would indeed be silly. What we need to ponder though, is whether the example is analogous to our epistemic situation regarding finetuning. Erik Carlson and Erik Olsson (Carlson and Olsson 1998), criticizing van Inwagen’s argument, argue that there are three points of disanalogy between van Inwagen’s straw lottery and fine-tuning.

For the problem there is precisely that it is not immediately clear—lest the question be begged—whether we ought to change our system and find some alternative explanation or be satisfied with regarding fine-tuning as a coincidence and letting chance pay the bill. Ramsey’s suggestion is thus insufficient for the present purpose. Paul Horwich takes the analysis a little further. He proposes the following as a necessary condition for the truth of a statement E being surprising: [T]he truth of E is surprising only if the supposed circumstances C, which made E seem improbable, are themselves substantially diminished in probability by the truth of E .

268 28 Anthropic Bias This might look like a token of the “annoyingly obtuse” reasoning that van Inwagen thought to refute through his straw lottery example. Nevertheless, there is a disanalogy between the two cases: nobody could have contemplated the existence of intelligent life unless intelligent life existed, whereas someone, even the person immediately involved, could have thought about drawing the shortest straw before drawing it. The question is whether this difference is relevant. Again it is useful to cook up a variant of the straw-drawing example: Suppose that in an otherwise lifeless universe there is a big bunch of straws and a simple (non-cognitive, non-conscious) automaton is about to randomly select one of the straws.

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Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy by Nick Bostrom


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