Re: Fermi Paradox in the news

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Wed Oct 25 2000 - 12:29:58 MDT

Jason Joel Thompson writes:

> I'm very aware what the anthropic principle is-- which is the reason I
> pretty much ignored your use of it. A few questions:
Perhaps you shouldn't have.
> If dolphins were intelligent, would this be a two blip, or a one blip? Why?
1+x blip, if hominization and cetaceanisation were completely
independant. The second blip would be still tighly coupled to whatever
special conditions may be present in our neck of the woods, hence the
x uncertainty. Notice that emergence of a second sentient species in
the same habitat is highly improbable, because both also couple --
aquatic species is a good choice of yours (unfortunately, making tools
underwater is very hard).

> If we discover a lost African tribe next week, is this a two blip, or a one
> blip? Why?
Still one blip, of course. We're talking about people, not even
intelligent aquatic species.

> Do you believe that the anthropic principle is a "good enough" answer as to
> the origin of existence?

Huh? We started this with talking about explanations to Fermi's
paradoxon. Instead of choosing the straightforward solution -- we are
not in an advanced culture's lightcone -- you suggested that our
existance is a proof that there are other cultures out there. I
objected that a single blip proves nothing due to anthropic
principle. The anthropic principle has nothing whatsoever to do with
the origin of life, it's just a measurement bias.

> Do you believe that real world science should treat the (strong) anthropic
> principle as a fundamental truth?

I don't know what you mean by strong AP. And of course you have to be
aware of measurement biases in real sciences.
> In what way do you feel that the anthropic principle biases our universe to
> the emergence of only *one* intelligence? There is a pleasing synergy

Huh? That's a rather strange interpretation. All AP says is that a
single blip does not give you any constraints on life nucleation
density, because the measurement process is coupled to the measured
observable. As soon as there is a second data point, this bias is

> between multiverse theories and the (weak) anthropic principle. We are,
> necessarily, in one of the universes that is capable of creating life.
> Doesn't that really make discussions of the anthropic principle moot?

You're not seeing that the anthropic principle is also applicable to
the Fermi paradoxon, not just the "best of all possible worlds" thing.

> Aren't we still pointed at the same fundamental fact: we live in a universe
> that is capable of creating life?

Necessary but not sufficient if we're talking about estimating
advanced culture nucleation density. Cyanobacteria need not apply.

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