Statistics, Universes, and Life

Statistics meets Science: Some things that are scientifically possible are statistically improbable. An example would be that one day you get to flipping a coin. Now every time you flip a coin it lands head. Every single time, no matter how many times you flip it. A million, a hundred trillion, makes no difference (eventually the delimitating factor would be your thumb, but that's neither here nor there).

Scientifically there is no reason for this not to happen, no equation governing the electromagnetic force that says for example "now wait just a minute". But, and this a big but, a reasonable person would use statistics to conclude that this probability is so remote that something else must be at work.

The same could be said about our universe. The four fundamental forces are a overly simplified explanation of the comings and goings of our universe, but serve as a good gedanken experiment. If any of these were off by a tenth of one percent our universe would be "an awfully big waist of space". Just alternating them would make it extremely hard to create a life generating universe. That being said, there are far more fundamental constants that come into making a universe though, such as the speed of light, Planck's constant, and the gravitational constant just to name the biggies.

Now were just getting started here so let's say that everything is open for discussion. The number of fundamental constants, the dimensionality of the universe, space/time dependence, the matter/antimatter ratio, the amount of energy, the existance of virtual particles, the interconnection between some forces/matter and no others, the matter/darkenergy/darkmatter ratio, or simply the existence of matter/darkenergy/darkmatter at all! Try as you like, but you would be hard pressed to change these variables to make a universe more apt for life.

ASIDE: I once tried to invent a board game like chess only different. Being a very good chess player and player of all kinds of games, I figured I would be well prepared for such an endeavor. I also initially envisioned it to be quite easy to develop and I would sell it, retire at 24, and not waste anymore of my time posting on K5. But what I found out is that systems that appear simple (a few rules, some pieces, a board) are amazing complex to solve if everything is left as a variable. In "solve" I mean make a game that is dynamic, fun, quick, and difficult to master. I tried combination after combination but all the games were duds. Finally I figured out what I was doing wrong. I was only one man with only a small amount of time, whereas chess took thousands of years and countless man hours to develop into its final form. If you doubt the difficulty of developing said game I challenge you to make one (and have actual people actually buy it!), when you fail you will know what I am talking about.

So getting back to the discussion of the many variable universe producing life intelligent enough to ask such questions...I would say it would be "extremely" unlikely to produce a universe from a random generation of said universal constants. Much in the same respect that it would be "extremely" unlikely via a computer program and only one shot to randomly generate w number of pieces, with x kinds of pieces, each with y number of movement rules, each with z number of capturing rules, on a random board, in a random configuration, and with a random victory rule and still have people like playing it. Maybe if you had the program run a million billion permutations and combinations, one would be playable...but you don' got one shot, like our known universe.

Well that is to believe that there is only one universe or that our universe has not taken other forms previous to this big bang. I would argue that the our existence only has three possible fathers. First, that there is only one universe, it was generated in a truly random way and we just lucked out. Second, that their are an infinite number of universes or our universe has had an infinite number of big bags each time changing the constants, but still random. And third, that there is only one universe and that is was created by "something intelligent" inorder to produce life.

I personally enjoy the thought of a God interfering with my daily life so my "something intelligent" would be hands off, simply creating and watching. But I suppose if you are to argue that there is a God out there, why wouldn't he be able to "tweak" the experiment in particular cases. Although I do think ID trying to disprove evolution is laughable due to the large amount of evidence to the contrary. And I actually feel that it is somewhat of an insult to any God in is saying that He needs to intervene from time to time to make things better. If that were the case then He wouldn't be very "all knowing" would he now (i.e. the perfect car does not need to be brought in to the dealer because the head gasket leaks after 50000 miles).

In conclusion, there is nothing in science right now that can prove* or disprove any of the three possibilities, but statistics can rule out the first one.

You might argue that multiple universes can be proven by science...and some scientists already believe in the multiverse due to the quantum effects, but the jury is still out of that one. Perhaps in the future more will be known on the subject...hopefully the jury doesn't find OJ innocent again.

Anthropic Principle

This is to say that since we are here we must live in a universe fine-tuned to our existence regardless of whether that universe was created by an intelligent designer or by random chance.

It gets worse than that. If the planets of our solar system didn't experience surprisingly stable orbits, the Earth would have been plastered by extinction-level meteors too frequently to develop life as highly evolved as us.

But there's already a name for this, and it's generally called the Anthropic Principle. Some consider it dubious, I consider it eminently reasonable.

It works like this: the reason the universe seems so amazingly suited for human habitation is because we are alive and observing it. If it were not, we would not be around to notice. There could be millions of other universes that have no life, and we would still see the same universe here. Or Earth could be the only planet in our universe with life. We can push the improbability of life to whatever staggeringly low number we care to imagine, and it doesn't make a lick of difference. The universe only seems improbable because *this* time, *this* place, we happen to be observing it; all the uncounted billions of other planets and universes we could imagine, have no observers on them to notice how small the ratio is.

In general, you're correct, but I'm only able to agree wholeheartedly with your point on falsifiability. I may have time to comment on other things after work.

Subject the First

The current state of mental health as regards the author and humanity in general

I am a cynical person. Some say I lack that basic human quality known as empathy. Others add that I am a "brutal, cold, calculating reptile." While these claims are not without merit, I was not always this way. As a child I suffered from an overabundance of empathy. Often, I would meditate on other people's lives and find myself moved to tears. I learned quickly that it is inappropriate to cry in public unless one is mourning his own loss. I learned to turn it off, to not be moved to pity or share in another's heartache. It was a hard lesson, harder still given an ever increasing exposure to other people's pain.

Most people attribute the rise of depression diagnoses in recent years due to greater identification of existing disorders. Apparently, we've always been this fucked up, but we're only just realizing and/or doing something about it. Somehow I have trouble believing this; too many of my friends are on medication. No, I don't have any statistics to back this up. Mike, I'm looking in your direction.

Subject the Second - The ever increasing level of interconnectivity in modern society

Earlier this evening I was browsing 4chan ever in search of the next mindfuck to keep me stimulated. Unfortunately, I found it. For those unfamiliar with the various peccadilloes of the 4chan community, one of the myriad subjects of interest are cute camwhores for the resident otaku to drool over [insert link to cracky-chan pic]. The most recent victim of this disturbing voyeurism is one Jordanna Leah. Indulging my curiosity, I delved into this random girl's life. Within minutes I discovered that she was recently fired from her job at Best Buy and suddenly an image, without context meaningless, managed to punch through my crusty exterior and moved me to pity.

Who was this person and why should I give two shits about her employment? Delving further, I found large archives of images from her apartment, her job, her trips out to Chicago, and suddenly this person became very real to me. I discovered a few .mpegs and download them, only to hear her voice, watch her dance like a dork, and flop around on a couch in boredom. I now know this girl better than some of my real life acquaintences and all in under twenty minutes. AT&T wasn't kidding when they told us to reach out and touch someone.

So as I try to figure out what bowling moniker is hers, it occurs to me that one day these archives will likely stand as a living testament to her life. In case you haven't heard, enterfornone is dead and his family has been tearing through his comment and diary history trying to figure out why. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if one of them starts an account. We're all being drawn together, sharing more and more of our lives. I'm sure some of you are thinking, "great, if we're closer we can better help each other through life's miseries," to which I reply that we will ourselves be more exposed to life's miseries. Damnit, it's too much.

The potential effects this story could have

To further compound the problem, imagine if Ms. Leah checks her server logs and notices several referral links coming from, or maybe googles herself to find a link to this article. Her own curiosity piqued, she comes here and discovers her life being used for analysis of the post-modern human condition. After an initial boost to her ego, she decides to check out 4chan and sees what else her life is being used for. I imagine she would be slightly disgusted and may even feel a bit used.

Let us further imagine that her curiosity gets the best of her and she decides to investigate our recent loss. She is almost simultaneously introduced to a new person while discovering he has recently killed himself. Assuming she is not as callous as say, myself, this might cause her some emotional distress, only leading her to become more callous herself. I suppose what I'm getting at is that we are constantly being exposed to more and more human misery and that what little shred of empathy we have left is getting taxed to the limit.

Subject the Fourth - The rapid propogation of memes and the development of fashionable perversion

The pace of evolution of popular culture has rapidly increased as a result of the internet. The trend over the last century, like so many other things these days, has risen exponentially. Fads come and go in a matter of weeks, whereas a decade ago they generally lasted a few months. Most of these are quite harmless, such as the ever changing internet idioms such as "lollerskates" and "rofflecopter" to name a few. Others lead to perverse obsessions that cause unhealthy sexual identities and bizarre spiritual beliefs. It also exposes us to many shocking and disgusting images, further hardening us to reality and our fellow humans.

Possibly the most disturbing mental assault made possible by the internet is its ability to not only expose us to the evils of the world, but to misdirect our sympathies such that, while we are less likely to empathize with those like us, we may find ourselves empathizing with evil. Returning to the subject of online legacies, we are left with the writings and animations of a mass murderer, one who may not seem so different than ourselves. This realization makes us question just what we are capable of, and the question is the first step towards an answer.

Subject the Fifth - The consequences of all realities becoming no reality

When people can believe they are fantastic creatures and recieve confirmation from a disparate yet tightly knit group of like minded lunatics, the belief starts to cut into the realm of reason. When artists can give life-like expression to their darkest urges and share them with the world, the fantasy enters the mainstream and eventually becomes acceptable desire. People begin to lose sight of consequence and follow the mad piper to the center of chaos whose name is Azathoth.

The internet is not the only place where the real is being replaced by fiction. The false prophet has already taken over the networks to spread his stories of deceit and lies regarding the End of Days. This vast network has bound us so tightly that we shall stand wonder-struck when Magog bears his armies against Jerusalem and the Antichrist rains fire and brimstone upon the earth and brings death to all that lives.

Subject the Sixth - The author abandons reason and embraces the unreality

What have I to fear? My mind has sailed to distant Shaggai and has heard the mad piping beyond. No thoughts now. The stars are not fixed in the Heavens. I stand in the shadow of unknowable Kadath. The Burning Eye seeks me out in the darkness. He has heard my blasphemous prayers! Iä! Iä! Shub-niggurath! The Black Goat With a Thousand Young!

This is new?

Do you think depression, anger, worry, and all the other things were invented with the Internet? Do you really imagine that the pre-Internet time was sheltered from disgusting and shocking images?

And, on the subject of fiction and non-reality,almost all of the six billion people on this planet believe in all sorts of superstitions, divinities,

People had different things to obsess about, different things to get depressed about, and they saw different disgusting and shocking images. The only reason the past seems better is that people tend to forget the bad stuff and because they tend to attribute their innate unhappiness to something external. However, generally, your level of happiness is largely unrelated to your life circumstances.

For me, all this wondering if I'm getting insane by internet (or other mindboggling things) is quickly done when I remember that there's only two kinds of people in this world: me and everybody else.

'Me' is not concerned nor affected by statistics, what other people do or didn't do. The history of me started when I was born and it'll last about hundred years from that point onwards, so I will not bother myself with something that happens or happened outside of that timeframe.

This worldview of mine is rooted in computergames where the player is the one experiencing a world that wouldn't exist without him. Sounds megalomaniac but it works. I play me through life, experience a world that's there just for me to play and that way all the possibilities really seem infinite.

Anyway, I'd suggest you not to mix statistics/other people/history and your life like you did in your story. Keep it simple and keep'em separated. You is you and everything else is just that, everything else.

One more thing: I've heard that people in US tend to work way too much. Absolutely don't do anything work-related for more than 8 hours in a day. It could be that many of those mental cases are simply due to too much work.