Why the Multiverse Can’t Explain Fine-Tuning

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A startling discovery of recent decades is that the laws of physics are fine-tuned for the possibility of life. That is to say, for life to be possible, certain numbers in physics had to fall in a certain narrow range. Some scientists and philosophers try to explain this by postulating an enormous number of universes, exemplifying a huge range of different numbers in their physics, making it statistically likely that at least one will have the right numbers for life by chance. The trouble is that this kind of inference is fallacious; specifically, it commits the inverse gambler’s fallacy.

Here’s the classic example of the Inverse Gambler’s Fallacy (IGF):

You walk into a casino and see someone roll a double six. You infer that there must be lots of people playing in the casino tonight, as it’s more likely that someone will roll a double six if there are many players.

This is a fallacious inference. You’ve only observed one roll, and postulating many other rolls in the casino does not make it any more likely that the roll you observed would be a double six. The challenge for the multiverse theorist to explain why the inference they make does not commit the same fallacy. We have only observed one universe and the postulation of many other universes does not make it any more likely that the universe we have observed would be fine-tuned.

The answer standardly given is that the fine-tuning case, in contrast with the classic IGF case, involves a selection effect: we could not have observed a universe that was not fine-tuned, whereas we could have observed someone rolling something other than double six. This clearly does mark a difference to the classic IGF case. The trouble is when we introduce an artificial selection effect into IGF cases, the fallacy doesn’t go away. Consider the following case:

Jane was conceived through IVF. One day she discovers that the doctor who performed the IVF had a nervous breakdown around the time, and as a result rolled dice to determine whether she would fertilise the egg, committing only to do so if 5 sixes were rolled. The doctor only rolled the dice once, and subsequently got some therapy and never did this again.

There is a selection effect here. Jane could not have discovered that the doctor failed to roll all sixes, because, if the doctor hadn’t rolled all sixes, Jane would not exist. And yet it would be fallacious for Jane to explain the remarkable improbability of her birth with the following hypothesis:

The Many Doctors Hypothesis: Many IVF doctors have been rolling dice to decide whether to fertilise eggs, in most cases failing to get the right numbers to proceed.

This would be another case of the inverse gambler’s fallacy: Jane’s evidence is that her doctor rolled five sixes, and the postulation of many other doctors rolling dice does not make it any more likely that her doctor would roll five sixes. If the multiverse theorist wants to defend the inference from a fine-tuning to the multiverse, they need to tell us why their inference is relevantly different to Jane’s clearly fallacious inference.

More Detailed Analysis

Part of what is objectionable about IGF cases, as pointed out by Roger White in his classic article on this, is that it involves setting aside a specific piece of evidence – this universe is fine-tuned – for the sake of a weaker piece of evidence – a universe is fine-tuned. White offers a nice example to illustrate how problematic this can be:

Suppose I’m wondering why I feel sick today, and someone suggests that perhaps Adam got drunk last night. I object that I have no reason to believe this hypothesis since Adam’s drunkenness would not raise the probability of me feeling sick. But, the reply goes, it does raise the probability that someone in the room feels sick, and we know that this is true, since we know that you feel sick, so the fact that someone in the room feels sick is evidence that Adam got drunk. Clearly something is wrong with this reasoning. Perhaps if all I knew (by word of mouth, say) was that someone or other was sick, this would provide some evidence that Adam got drunk. But not when I know specifically that I feel sick. This suggests that in the confirming of hypotheses, we cannot, as a general rule, set aside a specific piece of evidence in favor of a weaker piece (White 2002: 264).

Following Peter Epstein, we can call the general rule White is expressing here ‘the Requirement of Total Evidence,’ or RTE. As Epstein and others have noted, RTE does have exceptions. Take the example of the inference from the existence of complex organisms to the hypothesis of evolution by natural selection. The Darwinian hypothesis does not raise the probability that certain specific animals, e.g. Tony the Tiger, will come to exist, and hence if we take very specific information about which particular animals exist as our evidence, then we will not get evidential support for the Darwinian hypothesis.

I propose that we are permitted to violate RTE if doing so moves us from a fact that isn’t surprising to a fact that is. How do we define when an event is ‘surprising’? Here White adopts Paul Horwich’s account, which he describes as follows:

The crucial feature of surprising events seems to be that they challenge our assumptions about the circumstances in which they occurred. If at first we assume that the monkey is typing randomly, then her typing “nie348n sio 9q” does nothing to challenge this assumption. But when she types “I want a banana” we suspect that this was more than an accident. The difference is that in the second case there is some alternative but not wildly improbable hypothesis concerning the conditions in which the event took place, upon which the event is much more probable. On the assumption that the monkey is typing randomly, it is just as improbable that she types “nie348n sio 9q” as it is that she types “I want a banana.” But that the second sequence is typed is more probable on the hypothesis that it was not merely a coincidence, but that an intelligent agent had something to do with it, either by training the monkey or rigging the typewriter, or something similar. There is no such hypothesis (except an extremely improbable ad hoc one) which raises the probability that the monkey would type the first sequence. Of course by P1, the human intervention hypothesis is confirmed in the case of “I want a banana.” So what makes the event surprising is that it forces us to reconsider our initial assumptions about how the string of letters was produced (of course someone who already believes that the typewriter was rigged should not be surprised). (White 2000: 270)

The existence of intelligent organisms is surprising to a pre-Darwinian atheist, because the existence of complex organisms is much more likely on a design hypothesis than on the chance hypothesis that organisms came about through random interactions of particles. Of course, Darwin gave us an alternative to both chance and design: natural selection.

Whilst the fact that there are complex organisms is surprising, the fact that these specific organisms exist (e.g. Tony the Tiger) is not surprising. And that’s because there is no non ad hoc hypothesis that raises the probability that Tony the Tiger exists (the hypothesis that there is a designer who specifically wanted to create Tony the Tiger would raise the probability that Tony exists, but that’s ad hoc in the way that a designer who wanted a monkey to type “nie348n sio 9q” would be ad hoc). This, I suggest, is why it’s permissible to violate RTE by moving from Tony the Tiger (and a long list of all of the other particular organisms that exist) exists to complex organisms exist.

I propose, then, that we qualify RTE as follows:

RTE*: It is not permissible to set aside a piece of specific evidence in favour of a piece of weaker evidence, unless in doing so one moves from a piece of evidence that is not surprising to a piece of evidence that is surprising.

Turning to the fine-tuning, is it surprising that this universe is fine-tuned? One might think: ‘No, because there’s nothing special about this universe, as opposed to any other possible or actual universe.’ I see how that can seem to make sense at a very intuitive level. But the fact that our universe is fine-tuned is surprising in the sense defined above. This is because when we run the Bayesian fine-tuning argument, everything but the values of the constants is in the background information of the calculation. And so it’s already assumed that this universe exists. Against that background, the evidence that this universe is fine-tuned is more likely on design/teleology that it is on a chance hypothesis. This explains why it is not permissible to violate RTE in the fine-tuning case by moving from this universe is fine-tuned to a universe is fine-tuned: because this universe is fine-tuned is in itself surprising.

This at any rate is my attempt to formulate a theoretical principle to explain why IGF is fallacious. I may be wrong, and I would welcome potential counterexamples. But the point I am more confident about is that we should expect the correct theoretical principle to rule that the inference from fine-tuning to a multiverse is fallacious, given its similarity to the clearly fallacious Jane case. Or to put it another way, the correct explanation of why IGF is fallacious is unlikely to have anything to do with the presence of a selection effect, given that the presence of a selection effect in the Jane case does not undermine the fallacy.

Response to Quentin Ruyant

Quentin Ruyant has just written an extensive blog post responding to this argument, with lots of very interesting thought experiments. It’s a long piece, and time constraints don’t allow me to answer of all of his objections, but I’ll give here my reaction to some of his thought experiments, and then use that to develop in more detail my analysis of the IGF.

[I have made some edits after initial publication, in response to Tweets from Quentin.]

Quentin claims that is that it would be equally fallacious for Jane to infer that the dice were loaded, which would seem to imply the IGF applies not only to the inference from fine-tuning to the multiverse but also to inferences from fine-tuning to design or teleology (for those who don’t know, I reject the omni-God hypothesis but think the fine-tuning supports something god-ish, e.g. the simulation hypothesis, or Nagel-style teleological laws). That seems to me wrong. Suppose the doctor rolled all five dice for an hour, determining only to fertilise the egg if all sixes came up every single time. This is wildly improbable and it would surely be rational for Jane to infer that the dice must have been loaded.

Quentin then tries out a twist on the Mary experiment which is supposed to be analogous to the inference from fine-tuning to the multiverse:

Jane and Tarzan are the last humans on earth. They are the product of IVF. One day they discover that just before the apocalypse, the aliens that were in control of the earth at the time obliged all doctors performing an IVF to roll dice each time to see whether to fertilise the eggs, determining to do so only if they rolled a double six. Doctors can only perform two IVFs in their career. Given that they exist, Jane and Tarzan conclude that many different doctors must have made trials before to succeed.

I would say that Jane and Tarzan’s inference does not commit IGF because it does not violate RTE*. It is not surprising that Jane and Tarzan were conceived, as there is no non ad hoc hypothesis that would raise the probability of Jane and Tarzan in particular being conceived. But it is surprising that some humans were conceived on the hypothesis that there are few doctors. My account thus allows Jane and Tarzan to set aside the specific evidence that Jane and Tarzan exist in favour of the weaker evidence that some humans were conceived.

Here’s another thought experiment Quentin raises:

Jane* is the product of IVF.  She learns that the success of IVF depends on the co-presence of many contingent factors. Any trial has only one chance over a thousand to be successful, and gives rise to a different baby when it succeeds. A doctor can only make an IVF once, but parents can see many doctors. Given that she exists, Jane* concludes that her parents saw many doctors before her conception.

I would say that in this case, Jane* is not committing IGF because she has some observational data that is made more likely by postulating many doctors, namely that her mother got pregnant. This contrasts with the real-world fine-tuning case, in which our observational evidence, namely that this universe is fine-tuned, is not made more likely by the existence of multiple universes.

Quentin expects this response, based on our Twitter discussion, and objects as follows:

Philip argues that in this case, the relevant evidence is not Jane’s existence, but her mother’s pregnancy. There’s something right in this diagnostic: relevance matters. But it cannot be the whole story, because the mother’s pregnancy can be deduced from Jane’s existence, and so, if we can infer many trials from pregnancy, we can also infer many trials from Jane’s existence.

It should now be clear that Quentin’s point that Jane*’s existence entails that her mother was pregnant is beside the point. The point is that Jane* doesn’t need to violate RTE* in order to get a piece of evidence that would support a many doctors hypothesis, because she can take as evidence that her mother got pregnant. However, the Jane in my original thought experiment described above would need to violate RTE*: the many doctors hypothesis would not raise the probability that Jane’s mother got pregnant, and hence in order to try to get evidence for the many doctors hypothesis, Jane would need to set aside the specific evidence that her doctor rolled all sixes to decide whether to perform IVF in favour of the weaker evidence that a doctor rolled all sixes to decide whether to perform IVF, and this would not involve moving from a piece of evidence that isn’t surprising to a piece of evidence that is surprising (because the evidence that her doctor rolled all sixes to decide whether to perform IVF raises the probability that the dice were loaded). Similarly, the multiverse theorist also violates RTE* by setting aside the specific evidence that this universe is fine-tuned in favour of the weaker evidence that a universe is fine-tuned, which does not involve moving from a piece of evidence that is not surprising to a piece of evidence that is surprising (the evidence that this universe is fine-tuned is in itself surprising, as it raises the probability of teleology/design).

At the end of the day, what Quentin needs to show is that my Jane analogy is relevantly different to the real-world fine-tuning case. I’m afraid I found the discussion here a little bit hard to follow. He claims that what marks the instances of fallacious inference is that ‘the random process we are interested in is causally related to us (its reference is fixed) in a way that is independent of its outcome.’ So, for example, in the classic IGF case, my latching on to the particular roll I observe has nothing to do with whether it is a double six. In contrast, according to Quentin, in the fine-tuning case, ‘…we came to refer to our universe not by some direct acquaintance with the process of selection of physical constants, but by acquaintance with what this universe produced after the constants were selected, and the existence of the selection process is theoretically inferred from its products.’

But how is this different from my Jane case? Just as in the real-world fine-tuning case, Jane is only able to refer to herself and the improbable circumstances of her conception after she comes to exist as a result of the right numbers coming up. Maybe it’s my fault for not understanding the point Quentin was making, but I’m not yet seeing a relevant disanalogy here, and in the absence of that, we ought to conclude that the person who infers a multiverse from fine-tuning commits the inverse gambler’s fallacy.

In a Tweet after initial publication of this post, Quentin clarified that his point is that an instance of IVF needn’t be caused by the rolling of dice, whereas a universe’s having the constants it does had to be caused by the kind of probabilistic processes referred to by multiverse theorists. But the latter claims seems to me false. A universe could exist, having certain constants, without there being any more fundamental explanation of why it has the constants it does.

I know I haven’t responded to all of Quentin’s objection, but I’ve run out of time, and I hope my detailed analysis of IGF will enable reader to work out (if they’re very bored!) how I would respond to the other points he raises.

The Author

I am a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview.


  1. Stephen Davies says

    it is just as improbable that she types “nie348n sio 9q” as it is that she types “I want a banana“

    It’s just as probable that the Dr rolls five sixes as any other roll.

    It’s just as probable that the numbers for fine tuning happened as any other numbers.

    So why is it surprising?

    If the lottery numbers came up in order as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 does that provide any evidence it was fixed? No. Unless there is some other evidence, that sequence is no evidence at all of it being fixed. This remains true if there was only ever one draw.

  2. Your first three claims are correct, but you don’t give a response to the account of ‘being surprising’ outlined here.

    • Stephen Davies says

      If I didn’t win the lottery in the case above and I went to court to sue Camelot and all I had for evidence that it was fixed was ‘well these numbers are surprising’ I don’t think I would, or should, win the case. I would need actual evidence that it was fixed. Surprising numbers are not evidence because they have the exact same chance of occurring than any other numbers.

      • Stephen Davies says

        Where is my error in this lottery example?
        Do you think one draw of surprising numbers, in and of itself, is evidence of it being fixed?
        The surprise tells us something about our (statistically ill-informed) expectations; it tells us precisely nothing about how the draw was actually done.

      • Stephen Davies says

        To try and answer my own question: in the lottery example, the process should be random, but for the universe we don’t know if it should be random or not. I’m begging the question by setting up an analogy where the process should be random.
        So although surprising numbers aren’t evidence against a random process, they are evidence for design where we don’t know if the process is random or not.

      • In your lottery example, there’s no non ad hoc hypothesis that would make it likely that these numbers would come up, so that’s why the numbers aren’t surprising. If, however, the numbers of the husband of the woman who runs the lottery came up, that would be surprising, as there’s a non ad hoc hypothesis that would make it likely that those numbers would come up, namely that the lottery was fixed to make him win. The fine-tuning is surprising because there’s a non ad hoc hypothesis that would make it likely that the universe would be fine-tuned, namely something god-ish.

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  4. First Cause says

    Sorry to rain on your parade Philip, but it is your original assumption that is fallacious here, not the inverse gambler’s fallacy. Numbers don’t “tell” us anything about our universe, they are merely representations of an idea and fine tuning is just that, an idea. Fine tuning is an “after the fact” assessment of a dynamic that none of our current models of reality account for. Materialism doesn’t account for it, idealism doesn’t account for it and neither does panpsychism.

    • First Cause says

      I’ve never understood why “so-called” intellectual academics like yourself, Frankish, Segall, Seth and Carrol just to name a few, spend all of your intellectual capital on frivolous arguments like the ones you folks post about. The only conclusion I can come to is that the academic community at large is convinced that original, novel ideas are virtually non-existent and that there is no fertile ground left from which innovative authentic philosophy can spring forth.

      It’s sad, really sad; members of the academic community are supposed to be the leaders within our culture who are responsible for innovative ideas and ground breaking philosophy. But then again, holding a prestigious position within any institution be is governmental or academic does not equate to competence. Unfortunately, all of our institutions are based upon individual weakness not individual strength, so what else should we expect. Other than small business’, professional sports is the only institution that utilizes a winning strategy, one that is based upon individual strength.

  5. volitiontheory says

    Why questions in science only come close to being answered by appealing to the theory of evolution. I don’t see how something as complicated and fine tuned as our universe could be exempt from the theory of evolution — the universe must be alive! I think the universe has a long genetic code and the big bang was a sex act of two universes becoming one and conceiving a large number of dark matter baby universes! The universe evolved to be a highly elaborate holodeck with conscious virtual homunculi with or even without an external body in order to make universes exceptionally good decision makers with libertarian free will and therefore more successful at reproduction — the goal of evolution!

    In my science fiction story, I imagine Uni and Tin in the superuniverse (a universe of universes), our universe parents! They both have highly engineered artificial bodies that communicate with their dark supermatter universe particle that evolved over a very large number of universe generations! They fell in love with each other and decided to journey down the very lengthy path of culturally approved universe marriage and then merge their universes and also simultaneously produce an enormous number of universe offspring!

    After many elaborate marriage ceremonies thrown by friends and family where anybody that has the slightest reservations about the marriage are encouraged to speak up because the marriage will be such a long lasting (trillions of years!) union almost impossible to undo — they marry! When they are finally legally and culturally married, they seclude themselves in their mansion for a year (their honeyyear!) communicating with the outside world only with minimal text messages — they spend a whole year causing a big bang and consummating their marriage!

    At the end of the year, they still have two separate artificial bodies and live in their mansion in the superuniverse, but their artificial bodies both communicate with only one dark supermatter universe particle using the super-homuncular code! Their two dark supermatter particles have rotated around each other for a full year before finally merging and causing a big bang in which a googol particles are conceived which they will both be raising for trillions of years!

    Much later on, they could promote any dark matter homuncular particle of someone in their universe to be a dark supermatter particle and deliver that particle into the superuniverse! They will have given birth to a child, a baby superuniverse particle that can stay in their heavily protected black box in their mansion with their dark supermatter universe particle and communicate with an artificial body wirelessly — they will then have a child in the superuniverse in addition to the googol offspring in their universe particle!

  6. Stephen Davies says

    You walk into a casino and see someone roll a double six. You infer that the dice must be loaded, as it’s more likely that someone will roll a double six if the dice are loaded towards sixes.
    This is a fallacious inference. You’ve only observed one roll, and postulating loaded dice does not make it any more likely that the roll you observed would be a double six. The challenge for the design theorist is to explain why the inference they make does not commit the same fallacy.

    The answer you give to this (the Dr version) is to provide a more unlikely dice roll of all sixes for an hour. I don’t see how simply changing the probability escapes the fallacy.

    The fallacy only holds if the odds are low but not very low?

  7. Stephen Davies says

    Derren Brown correctly predicts the lottery draw. Three theories emerge as to how this happened and Derren confirms one of them is true.

    1. The draw was random and he was just lucky.
    2. Camelot colluded with Derren and simply released his ‘predicted’ numbers as the winning numbers. There was no random draw.
    3. Camelot colluded by running many random draws but only released the winning numbers when Derren’s numbers came up.

    Our evidence is Derren’s numbers were released as the winning numbers. How does this support each theory?

    1. The evidence does not count against this theory as Derren’s numbers were as likely to come up as any other numbers. To take this evidence as evidence against is the IGF. But nor is this positive evidence for the theory. No set of numbers helps either way as they are all equally likely.
    2. The evidence fits the theory. It is circumstantial evidence for (but not proof of) a non-random draw. Any other numbers would be conclusive evidence against this theory. More evidence, such as the confession of Camelot, would be needed to have confidence in this theory as the random draw theory cannot be ruled out on the evidence of the numbers alone.
    3. The evidence fits the theory. Any other released numbers would be evidence against the theory. The numbers are no longer surprising if the random draws keep going until Derren’s numbers come up and are only then released. As in 2. this is circumstantial evidence.

    In conclusion, the evidence does not rule out 1. and the evidence fits both 2. and 3. equally. That is there is more evidence for the theories that the draw was fixed in some way; however, it could have been fixed by an entirely random process. The evidence in no way favours 2. over 3.

    (Camelot could equally be a creator or physical laws in this analogy.)

  8. Phillip, just passing though. I am agnostic on the multiple universe proposal—whether parallel or serial. I believe that you are underestimating the difference between ‘a lot’ and ‘infinite’—hence the infinite monkey’s typing Shakespeare. As an economist, I’ll share that it makes a world of difference. Also, borrowing from Buddhism, we are just here to pose the question. Were the physics of the universe configured differently, we wouldn’t be here to ask it. Whether something else would be here instead is debatable.

    In the end, the universe does care about numbers, maths, and probabilities. These are human relational constructs, a language we’ve devised to make sense of the world. Maths is not infallible. Finally, there is a marked difference between probability and uncertainty.

    • Thanks! It doesn’t make a different to my argument against the multiverse inference, though, whether the number of universes postulated is finite or infinite. It would still be fallacious if Jane postulated an infinite number of doctors.

  9. Rollo Burgess says

    Very interesting piece!

    It seems to me that one way of putting what we are asking here is – is which of the following is a more likely scenario:

    1. There is one universe, its fundamental constants are a brute fact, and they happened to take a set of values that support the emergence of intelligent life.
    2. There are a huge number of ‘universes’ (spacelike separated regions of a larger multiverse in which the values of fundamental constants differ), in some of which the fundamental constants take a set of values that support the emergence of intelligent life.

    Scenario 2 takes one purportedly improbable fact and attempts to make it seem less improbable by postulating a large number (100^500 gets bandied around) of other equally improbable facts. This seems to me to me to be a wholly ineffective way to solve what is anyway a spurious problem:

    • I can’t see any principled reason to attach any probability value to the universe having the fundamental constants it does – on what basis can we do this? How do we know it is unlikely or likely? What does this even mean anyway?
    • And any reduction in the improbability of finding ourselves here achieved in scenario 2 by postulating lots of other universes is offset (precisely) by the additional improbability of all the other universes existing

    Note, there *may* be proper physics reasons for thinking that there in fact are many other universes (e.g. if you think that some combination of inflationary cosmology and string theory provide a reason for doing so), in which case weak anthropic considerations could justify saying, ok given this mechanism we shouldn’t be surprised that in this universe we’re in these parameters take values in such a range – but the actual anthropic argument does very little work here – the moxie is in establishing the proposed mechanism.

    • Thanks! We could explain Jane’s inference in the way you have explained the multiverse inference, and that wouldn’t make it any less fallacious. Bayesian reasoning works with epistemic not objective probabilities. In this case, the probabilities in question are generated via the principle of indifference. Suppose you’re in a game show and the prize is behind one of three doors. You’d conclude that there’s a 1 in 3 chance the prize is behind door 3.

  10. Soupy says

    Hi Philip,
    Saw you on CC and thought it was a great conversation. However, I respectfully disagree with your viewpoints on fine-tuning.
    1. Your Jane dice analogy is terrible
    2. I like to provide a better analogy
    3. Fine-tuning assumes a lot, so we shouldn’t even be discussing it in the first place
    Here are my thoughts:

    1. Your Jane dice analogy is terrible
    Jane dice analogy is terrible because it assumes a lot of knowledge we simply don’t know. How did Jane find out the doctor will only perform the IVF if only all 6s were rolled? Why couldn’t the doctor have decided all 6s and/or all 5s and/or all 4s or all possible combination is also valid to perform the IVF? Claiming all 6s is disingenuous too, as this is akin to saying all physical constants of the universe is a whole number perfectly divisible by 6. If we saw patterns like this, then yeah, maybe there’s something out there…

    A better Jane dice analogy would be:

    Jane was conceived through IVF. One day she discovers that the doctor who performed the IVF had a nervous breakdown around the time, and as a result rolled 5 dice to determine whether she would fertilize the egg or not. Jane found out the doctor rolled a 3, a 5, two 2s, and a 6. Afterwards, she fertilized the egg.

    This is much more accurate to our knowledge of the universe. In fact, more accurate would be to say, Jane knew a 3 and a 5 were rolled. She has no clue about the rest. She has no clue what the doctor would have done with other combinations and she has no clue how many times the dice were rolled.

    However, this still only takes account for either life or no life. Either tuned or not tuned. Where’s the fine-tuning? This ignores a huge middle ground, just as you said people always do.

    2. I like to provide a better analogy

    Since we’re talking about fine-tuning, consider the following:

    You’ve been driving for long while now, to an area you’re not familiar with. You turn on your old fashion analog FM radio and you’re able to discern a signal is being picked up. You look down and the radio is tuned to 98.3.

    Based on the information given, can you conclude you are indeed fine-tuned to a radio station? Can you conclude the station you’re on is the only one available at the moment? A more accurate situation too is to say, you look down and your radio display is broken. All it’s showing is a number 9.

    3. Fine-tuning assumes a lot, so we shouldn’t even be discussing it in the first place

    Fine-tuning makes people imagine that there’s someone out there tinkering with the numbers until everything just fits so perfectly, that if you change one little piece, everything will fall apart. However, consider the following:

    What if the universe can be reimagined as a clumped up piece of string frozen in position. Segmented so each segment represents a physical constant/attribute. If we’re following from one end to the other, of course we would be amazed, because as chaotic as it is, every segment fulls in place and fits so perfectly that it keeps the string as a whole. And if you were to break a segment off and move it away, the string will no longer be a whole.
    But what if before the segments are frozen in place, you can easy push a segment and the rest will follow along. So there’s an endless amount of arrangement where the string is still a whole. And the idea of a broken string doesn’t even make sense prior to it being frozen in place. Meaning there’s no need of a multiverse, where there’s broken universes that can’t support life. Regardless, if we’re one universe, many universes, whatever the case maybe, it would have always worked.

    Is this how our universe works? Maybe? But we don’t know enough to say so. Just like we don’t know enough to even say fine-tuning is a thing. The only thing that amazes most physicist about fine-tuning isn’t that everything fits so well in place, but rather why do we observe the values we currently observe. Just like, why are we in a universe of matter, instead of all anti-matter.

    What do you think? Should theists still hold fine-tuning up like a guiding light? Should atheists start looking into fine-tuning as if it makes sense? Love to hear your thoughts.

    • It would be fine to adjust the Jane analogy in the way you suggest, so long as those were the numbers the doctor had determined were the ones that would have to come up for her to fertilise the egg. In that way it’s analogous to the real world scenario in which the constants of our universe have values in the rare range compatible with life.

      • Soupy says

        Thank you for your reply. Thinking more into your Jane dice analogy, I quite like it now. However, it still needs more refinement and for that, I’m hesitant in agreeing with your last part. Here’s why:

        We can say that Jane does know there are some constraints for the dice values, in order for the doctor to perform the IVF right. Jane was able to observe and confirm the value of some of the dice. Based on that, she was also able to predict and confirm some more dice values. She was able to make this prediction, because those were the only possible values that satisfied the constraints. Any other value, would have resulted in no life for Jane. Because she was able to confirm all the dice values, she concluded that this combination was the only possible one for her to be alive today.

        But is this correct? Granted, yes, if you hold some values constant, then others will have to fall into a thin window. Take our distance from the sun as an example, because of the size of our sun and the amount of heat it radiates, there’s a small distance earth has to fall in, in order for life to be possible. Earth falls in it, therefore it’s fine tuned.

        However, if the sun was a different size, it’s possible for Earth to be proportionally distance away, where similar conditions are provided. This can be said the same about other physical constraints where we can scale other factors to still produce life.

        Going back to Jane, she believes her combination was the only possible combination, where the doctor would have performed the fertilization. When in reality, it could be that, as crazy as the doctor was, the doctor could have glued the dice together in a line, so that any possible roll, would have still resulted in an unique combination, where the doctor would have performed the fertilization. No multiple doctors needed, No multiple rolls needed. If this is the case, is there still such a thing as fine-tuned, when tuning was never an option?

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  12. swaggermann says

    This seems a bad analogy, as jane is unique. A better one would be that any baby coming from IVF would be named Jane. Then Jane could rightly argue that Jane come from a many doctor IVF.
    When we notice that a infinite casino has a probability 1 of giving a finite sequence of roll when a 1 table one has a very low probability, we can make a good inference for a roll we know happened would be a that a infinite casino is where it happened. As the probability is 1 vs 0.0…01

    • But our universe is a unique, particular spacetime region in the same way. We can pick it out not just as ‘the universe that produced life’ but ‘the universe that began at *this* specific singularity.’ So described, our universe might not have been fine-tuned.

      • swaggermann says

        Why necessarily use *this* , another one would have the same type of result, a Jane, a universe which seems FT. (I just noted that the guy from ingraindesable you replied too also pushed such a point.)
        Then if we are in a universe that seems FT (a Jane), it is more likely to come from a infinite that from a finite random toss, the rest of my previous post.

        Note that if our universe is a subset of the ones that products life, so your description does infact favorise a multiverse.

      • Because you violate Requirement of Total Evidence, which is a non-negotiable principle in probabilistic reasoning.

  13. swaggermann says

    Doesn’t seem to me ; again this is a subset, and the whole set is explained by a multiverse.
    The explanation of the exact position of our universe in the explained habitable set is not required for a multiversial argument.
    The *this* doesn’t matter nor make any sense as another would take its place.

    I will stop here, read the other guy blog for a long explanation of what matters.

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