Strange Anthropic Probabilities

From: Doug Porpora <>
Date: Sun, 11 Jan 2004 16:32:19 -0500

Hi all,

I have a query about Tegmark's argument I hope some of you might be
able to address.

First, let me say I am not a physicist or computer science person but
a humble sociologist with some lay physics knowledge on this topic.

Let me also say I find it a morally ghastly proposition that each of
us is duplicated an infinite number of times in an infinite number of
universes. If so, why ever bother to do the right thing? Some
infinite set of me's will be doing the wrong thing, so why not be one
of them?

So I have been thinking of possible counter considerations. Here is
one: Is it possible that the parametric coincidences required for
the existence of advanced (beyond microbial) life are so improbable
that (i) even in the right kind of universe, advanced life is likely
to occur only once; and (ii) it requires an infinite number of
universes even to get one occurrence of a me-ish person?

I am wondering whether probabilistically, (ii) is a coherent
theoretical possibility. It seems to suggest a probability that would
be represented as (1 / infinity) or perhaps as the limit as N goes to
infinity of 1 / N.

Then, according to this scenario (I think), the likelihood of a
me-ish person is equal to the limit as N goes to infinity of N * (1 /
N) = 1.

As I say, I am just a sociologist, not a mathematician. So I don't
know whether what I am suggesting is plain nonsense. It is certainly
speculative, but no more so than Tegmark's scenario.

Thanks for any feedback.

doug porpora
dept of culture and communication
drexel university
phila pa 19104
Received on Sun Jan 11 2004 - 19:41:32 PST

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