Re: on simply being an SAS

From: Fred Chen <>
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 21:42:17 -0800


I will try to make my post more explicit.

> Under AUH, unfortunately it is neither *necessary* for a SAS to perceive
> totally law-like behaviour, nor try to fit all observed behaviour to laws.
> Firstly, there will be a relatively few unlucky SAS's who *do* perceive
> dragon/WR events in any AUH (some will have more than can be explained away
> as hallucinations etc); secondly, it is the case that the majority of SAS's
> on this planet would ascribe at least some paranormal events that they see
> or think they see (like miracles, angels, or nde's) to divine, rather than
> law-based, explanations - this doesn't disqualify them from being SAS's.

An SAS will do its best to fit its universe to some set of laws. However, like
fitting a simple curve to data, this will not be perfect. What happens if there
is an outlier data point (corresponding to a witnessed dragon event)? Choices
are, you can discard it (the hallucination response), or, if you can, you can
fit a better fitting curve (update/posit lawlike explanation). A divine
explanation still refers to a set of principles unknown to yet accepted by the
believer, but this is probably no better than just simply assuming there is a
non-divine law-based explanation, which is unknown.

> I agree that a minimal number of dragon events could in practice be
> dismissed as a mass-hallucination or something like that, but one cannot use
> this fact to *explain* the lack of established dragon events, not least
> because the main counter to the AUH is that there should be *maximal*
> law-less behaviour, consistent with the existence of a SAS (so perhaps
> events on Earth would be straightforward, but elsewhere (except for the
> life-supporting Sun) they would be chaotic). To refute this we need more
> careful analysis, such as that in Russell's paper, or my web site. (For MWI
> instead of AUH it's a whole different ball-game.)

What I am driving at is the SAS will do its best to minimize its perception of
lawlessness in its universe, by doing the curve-fitting, so to speak. With
complete or too much lawlessness, it will cease to be aware of itself, or
practically of anything, because there is no stable environment and no
principles it can use to learn and predict. An awareness of self requires a
stable enough, predictable enough background provided by laws. Knowledge of
these laws is another matter.

Rather than taking the dragon event to be an example of lawlessness, it is
probably more helpful to treat it as a very complex event, requiring complex
laws or complex corresponding algorithms. So, your justification that dragons
are very improbable is the same as justifying that (overly) complex universes
are very improbable.

> I don't agree that the range of fine-tuning is subjective, given a
> reasonable physics framework. We may have problems assessing it, or there
> may be other types of SAS that we are not aware of, but that is a different
> matter.

What I mean here is best posed as a question: what is the difference between the
number of possible values for the fine structure constant, alpha, in the
following interval:


assuming this interval is anthropically allowed, i.e., it allows humans to
evolve. (Note: I am using the central value 1/137.0359895 from Max Tegmark's
paper,"Is 'the theory of everything' merely the ultimate ensemble theory?"
published in Annals of Physics, vol. 270, pp.1-51 (1998).) The point is, you
already have an infinite number of universes corresponding to each real number
contained in this anthropically allowed interval. If you make this interval
larger or smaller while preserving the SAP, how much larger or smaller an
infinite set would be enough to say there is or is no fine-tuning? There may be
a question of precision in determining alpha, but then the question is really
where do you draw the line, why, and does it matter if you already have an
infinite number of universes? To me, it seems kind of subjective.

Received on Wed Dec 01 1999 - 21:47:19 PST

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