Doom, part I and II

42% of respondents to a recent survey disagree with the proposition that “People should be allowed to say things in public that might be offensive to religious groups,” etc.

In other doom news, Eliezer Yudkowsky runs the anthropic principle backwards. I’m not sure you can do this — conclude from the fact that bits fail on the LHC (an incredibly complex device with a prior probability of something failing that must be pretty close to 1) that if it had worked, it would have killed us all. I’m too lazy right now to take the mind-bending Bayesian leaps through probability that would make that argument sound good, but suffice it to say that it seems to require strong claims about how causation works (such that one can reason from the alleged fact that it’s necessary for LHC failures to keep us alive to those failures) or some kind of strong parallel universes claim (like, “we’re somewhere in the set of universes where the LHC doesn’t work, and that’s why we’re alive”).

Anyway, it seems much simpler to just realize that really complex machines are really hard to get work.


2 Responses to “Doom, part I and II”

  1. Uncommon Priors » An undifferentiated gob of interesting and/or alarming stuff from around the web. Says:

    [...] More ink about the physicists who think that the LHC is doomed — this seems broadly akin to the reverse anthropic principle claim Eliezer was making a while ago.  And while it certainly sounds nutso, the problem is that all [...]

  2. Uncommon Priors » Yr. blogger waxes lyrical on quantum decoherence Says:

    [...] know, there’s something thoroughly appealing about the (slightly mad) reverse anthropic interpretation of this whole LHC failure shebang — the notion that many-worlds is true — that [...]

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