Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy

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Psychology Press, 2002 - Philosophy - 224 pages
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Anthropic Bias explores how to reason when you suspect that your evidence is biased by "observation selection effects"--that is, evidence that has been filtered by the precondition that there be some suitably positioned observer to "have" the evidence. This conundrum--sometimes alluded to as "the anthropic principle," "self-locating belief," or "indexical information"--turns out to be a surprisingly perplexing and intellectually stimulating challenge, one abounding with important implications for many areas in science and philosophy.

There are the philosophical thought experiments and paradoxes: the Doomsday Argument; Sleeping Beauty; the Presumptuous Philosopher; Adam & Eve; the Absent-Minded Driver; the Shooting Room.

And there are the applications in contemporary science: cosmology ("How many universes are there?", "Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life?"); evolutionary theory ("How improbable was the evolution of intelligent life on our planet?"); the problem of time's arrow ("Can it be given a thermodynamic explanation?"); quantum physics ("How can the many-worlds theory be tested?"); game-theory problems with imperfect recall ("How to model them?"); even traffic analysis ("Why is the 'next lane' faster?").

Anthropic Bias argues that the same principles are at work across all these domains. And it offers a synthesis: a mathematically explicit theory of observation selection effects that attempts to meet scientific needs while steering clear of philosophical paradox.

  

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Contents

Introduction
1
A BRIEF HISTORY OF ANTHROPIC REASONING
5
SYNOPSIS OF THIS BOOK
7
FineTuning in Cosmology
11
DOES FINETUNING NEED EXPLAINING?
13
No INVERSE GAMBLERS FALLACY
16
ROGER WHITE AND PHIL DOWES ANALYSIS
18
SURPRISING vs UNSURPRISING IMPROBABLE EVENTS
23
SLIDING REFERENCE OF SOON AND LATE?
119
DOESNT YOUR THEORY PRESUPPOSE THAT WHAT HAPPENS IN CAUSALLY DISCONNECTED REGIONS AFFECTS WHAT HAPPENS HE...
120
THE SELFINDICATION ASSUMPTIONIs THERE SAFETY IN NUMBERS?
122
ObserverRelative Chances in Anthropic Reasoning?
127
ANOTHER GO
130
INDEXICAL FACTSNO CONFLICT WITH PHYSICALISM
132
IN CONCLUSION
136
THE NOBETTING RESULTS
137

THE ANGEL PARABLE
32
PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
39
Anthropic Principles The Motley Family
43
ANTHROPIC HODGEPODGE
46
FREAK OBSERVERS AND WHY EARLTER FORMULATIONS ARE INADEQUATE
51
THE SELFSAMPLING ASSUMPTION
57
Thought Experiments Supporting the SelfSampling Assumption
59
TWO THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS BY JOHN LESLIE
62
THE INCUBATOR GEDANKEN
64
THE REFERENCE CLASS PROBLEM
69
The SelfSampling Assumption in Science
73
SSA IN THERMODYNAMICS
76
SSA IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY
78
SSA IN TRAFFIC ANALYSIS
82
SSA IN QUANTUM PHYSICS
84
SUMMARY OF THE CASE FOR SSA
86
The Doomsday Argument
89
DOOMSAYER GOTT
90
THE INCORRECTNESS OF GOTTS ARGUMENT
92
DOOMSAYER LESLIE
94
THE PREMISSES OF DA AND THE OLD EVIDENCE PROBLEM
96
LESLIES VIEWS ON THE REFERENCE CLASS PROBLEM
104
ALTERNATIVE CONCLUSIONS OF DA
107
Invalid Objections Against the Doomsday Argument
109
THE BABYPARADOX
111
ISNT A SAMPLE SIZE OF ONE TOO SMALL?
115
COULDNT A CROMAGNON MAN HAVE USED THE DOOMSDAY ARGUMENT?
116
ARENT WE NECESSARILY ALIVE NOW?
118
Paradoxes of the SelfSampling Assumption
141
THE ADAM EVE EXPERIMENTS
142
PREDICTIONS AND COUNTERFACTUALS
144
REASONS AND ABILITIES
150
SSA AND THE PRINCIPAL PRINCIPLE
154
UPSHOT
156
THE METANEWCOMB PROBLEM
157
Observation Selection Theory A Methodology for Anthropic Reasoning
159
THE OUTLINE OF A SOLUTION
161
TAKING ACCOUNT OF INDEXICAL INFORMATION OF OBSERVERMOMENTS
162
REASSESSING INCUBATOR
165
HOW THE REFERENCE CLASS MAY BE OBSERVERMOMENT RELATIVE
168
THE OBSERVATION EQUATION
172
A QUANTUM GENERALIZATION OF OE
174
WHY R MUST BE REJECTED
175
A SUBJECTIVE FACTOR IN THE CHOICE OF REFERENCE CLASS?
181
Observation Selection Theory Applied
185
THE FREAKOBSERVER PROBLEM PLACES ONLY LAX DEMANDS ON THE REFERENCE CLASS
193
MODELING IMPERFECT RECALL
194
THE CASE OF NO OUTSIDERS
195
THE CASE WITH OUTSIDERS
196
SYNTHESIS OF THE 12 AND THE 12 VIEWS
198
ROBUSTNESS OF REFERENCE CLASS AND SCIENTIFIC SOLIDITY
202
WRAPUP
204
Bibliography
207
Index
219
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