Perspectives on Current Issues Is “Anthropic Selection” Science?

Larson, Ronald G.
March 2007
Physics in Perspective;Mar2007, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p58
Academic Journal
I argue that there are strong reasons for resisting as a principle of science the concept of “anthropic selection.” This concept asserts that the existence of “observers” in a universe can be used as a condition that selects physical laws and constants necessary for intelligent life from different laws or physical constants prevailing in a vast number of other universes, to thereby explain why the properties of our universe are conducive to intelligent life. My reasons for limiting “anthropic selection” to the realm of speculation rather than permitting it to creep into mainstream science include our inability to estimate the probabilities of emergence of “observers” in a universe, the lack of testability through direct observation of the assumed high variability of the constants of nature, the lack of a clear definition of an “observer,” and the arbitrariness in how and to what questions anthropic selection is applied.


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