Thursday, October 30, 2003

An interesting article in the Times on Tuesday on what physicists call the Anthropic Principle - in this case, the Weak Anthropic Principle. What interested me is that although WAP is being put forth only as a nonmathematical parameter for scientific, mathematical, research - we exist in this universe, so why not use our existence as a point of reference- those who are opposed to it seem irrationally to equate the inclusion of nonmathematical factors with a religious impulse. But the explicitly religious Strong Anthropic Principle, or SAP, is something else entirely.

If physicists can come around to the use of such terms, how long till mainstream economists become willing to factor non-mathematical criteria into their calculations? It's not quite the same situation, but the fear in the hearts of purists is the same. And it clarifies the relationship as it has developed between individualism and the hard sciences.
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8 AM Friday:

Of course economists use non-mathematical criteria. To say otherwise as I did above, is silly. And the result of WAP is to make physics more like economics: my point was perfectly backwards. But greed, unlike our presence in the universe, is both a constant and a variable, and as such is a subject for sociology and literature as much as- more than- mathematics. The use of various mathematically derived, simplistic and explicitly vulgar 'constants' in economics reduces the complexity of human behavior to its lowest common denominator. Technocracy is banality. The Weak Anthropic Principle, by comparison, is simple logic.

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