Talk:Fine-tuned Universe

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WikiProject Physics (Rated B-class, Mid-importance)
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Is blogger Luke Barnes a reliable source?[edit]

There are a number of arguments in this article which reference a certain "Luke Barnes" who is one of several bloggers on a blog that is named "Letters to Nature". If you click on these links you will notice that these references are NOT letters to the editor of the journal Nature. They are simply the blog posts of a blogger named "Luke Barnes". Is this a reliable source with sufficient notability to be included in this article? I am of the opinion that it is not a reliable source, and that these parts of the article should be removed, or replaced with arguments that reference a source that is more reliable and/or notable. PeaceLoveHarmony (talk) 19:14, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Good catch. It looks like Luke Barnes is a postdoctorate researcher in cosmology, however he and his ideas appear to be non-notable. His blog posts are not a reliable source nor are they peer-reviewed. The article should be scrubbed of ideas that are sourced with his blog posts. -Jordgette [talk] 20:45, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Barnes has since published a review of the scientific literature on fine-tuning in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. This reference and a short discussion has been added to the relevant section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lbar6937 (talkcontribs) 23:32, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

This is dubious (1) without a clear link to a paper-published journal article (such as SpringerLink), considering that the journal in question open-publishes papers by non-members for a substantial fee. (2) It appears we have a conflict of interest edit here as well given the editor's username. (3) Luke Barnes appears not to be a notable scientist. Considering (1), (2), and (3), I recommend cutting the section. -Jordgette [talk] 01:08, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
Jordgette, I agree with you, Luke Barnes is not a notable scientist - in fact the whole section appears to be self-advertising and the section should be cut. Best regards, David. David J Johnson (talk) 12:25, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
Because of concerns expressed above about notability of Barnes and the lack of further contributions, I have deleted the para.

This just appears to be a blogger attempting to get their ideas into a article. David J Johnson (talk) 10:02, 21 August 2012 (UTC)

To editor Lbar6937 (and with apologies if you are Luke Barnes): The consensus here is that this addition is non-notable. Unlike Victor Stenger and Fred Adams, Luke Barnes is not a notable scientist. There are thousands and thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals, but the mere existence of one does not indicate notability of the idea presented there. If the idea has been reported on by a 3rd party, such as a notable scientist writing a review article in Nature, then it would be notable. Please refrain from unilaterally undoing edits that were made by consensus. -Jordgette [talk] 23:36, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

From Lbar6937: If the title of the section is "Disputes regarding the existence and extent of fine-tuning", it seems strange to only present criticisms and not the replies. The most comprehensive response to the arguments of Stenger and Adams that I am aware of, and the most up-to-date peer-reviewed overview of the scientific literature on fine-tuning (correct me if I'm wrong) is the article of Barnes ( Robin Collins (mentioned in the article and has his own Wikipedia page) has criticised Stenger's conclusions (here: Is he notable enough? His article endorses Barnes' "review of the fine-tuning physics literature, and an extensive and devastating critique of Stenger’s physics". Stenger's "computer simulations" aren't exactly mainstream - they've never been peer-reviewed and never been cited in a scientific journal. This should be noted in a section about "disputes". Would a reference to Collins be acceptable?

Two other points. Firstly, point (2) above, "the journal in question open-publishes papers by non-members for a substantial fee" is not evidence of a suspect journal. All papers published by PASA go through peer review. No author "buys their way in". Either the reader pays or the author pays. Open access publishing is not the sign of a dodgy journal - MNRAS (the UK's premier astronomy journal) has the same policy.

Secondly, how are you - the wikipedia gurus - judging notability? You say "there are thousands and thousands of articles in peer-reviewed journals", and yet you will not find Stenger's work on fine-tuning in any of them, nor cited in any of them. (Wouldn't this suggest that, while his other work as a physicist is notable, his work on fine-tuning is not?). Is notability judged by public profile, google hits, books and popular articles, age, record of scientific publishing, scientific credentials? And what makes you think that a layman (or group thereof) can make such a subjective judgement as "this article/scientist is not notable enough"? You say "consensus", but who are you? Why not defer to the editors and professional referees of respectable scientific journals? I notice that the article by Harnik, Kribs and Perez has also disappeared - which is strange, given that it has its own wikipedia page Weakless Universe. It's based on one peer reviewed article. Are they notable enough? Is the response to their work by Clavelli and White (referenced on the wikipedia page) notable enough? Don't misunderstand me - I think the Harnik et al. work is notable and should be mentioned. But if them, why not Barnes? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lbar6937 (talkcontribs) 05:36, 24 August 2012 (UTC)

This is getting somewhat silly. Jordgette has explained the reasons for the deletions, which I agree with and still appear, to me, to be a self-advertisement. The latest contribution above was not even given the courtesy of signing, but does appear to be the person who is trying to advertise his own personal views - which is against Wikipedia policy. If this behavior carries-on, then I suggest that Jordgette applies for page protection and a block - which I would suppport. Regards, David J Johnson (talk) 09:44, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
A good rule of thumb is if a scientist doesn't have his/her own Wikipedia article, then he/she isn't notable. This makes sense, since a person has to be notable to have a Wikipedia article, meaning they are influential enough that third parties write about them as important thinkers. The same is true of ideas — just because an idea is published doesn't necessarily make it notable. However, if an idea is published in Nature or Science, it will invariably be seen as more notable than one published in a minor journal read by a much smaller audience. Regarding Harnik et al, it's borderline. At least in that case there is one third party writing about their paper (albeit in ArXiv). I personally don't think it ranks for this article — others may disagree — but for Barnes I see little or no notability for either the person or the proposal. -Jordgette [talk] 19:47, 24 August 2012 (UTC)
What follows is probably moot because it seems the references to Barnes' critique of Stenger has been restored, which is appropriate in my estimation. If the article were about Barnes these questions about his "noteworthiness" would be relevant, but what matters here is not how well known Barnes is but whether he is qualified to critique Stenger's argument and whether his critique of Stenger's argument itself is well known and hence noteworthy. The fact is, Barnes is qualified to critique Stenger and his criticism of Stenger's fine tine tuning arguments are well known and widely considered to be a devastating refutation of Stenger. Stenger himself publicly responded to Barnes' arguments more than once, indicating that he himself certainly takes Barnes quite seriously. The suggestion that having a Wikipedia page entry is a good indication of notability is dubious to say the least. There are scores of vanity entries on Wikipedia that get by the editors, ironically in part because the people, places or things are so unknown. It's worth pointing out that this very article cites an argument by William H. Jefferys and Michael Ikeda, neither of whom are noteworthy and and only one of whom has a stub Wikipedia entry of dubious encyclopedic value (it's essentially just a C.V.). It seems to me that Barnes is no more or less noteworthy than Jefferys and Ikeda; all three are notable only for what they have to say about fine tuning. Given the fact that Barnes' critique of Stenger's fine tuning argument is widely regarded as both highly effective and inadequately answered by Stenger, the attempts to remove reference to it create the impression of a bias in favor of those opposed to the notion of fine tuning.CannotFindAName (talk) 17:59, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
"His criticism of Stenger's fine tine tuning arguments are well known and widely considered to be a devastating refutation of Stenger...Barnes' critique of Stenger's fine tuning argument is widely regarded as both highly effective and inadequately answered by Stenger" -- Is this true? If so, there should be plenty of references to back up Barnes. So let's add them. If not, the "inadequately answered" claim may simply result from Stenger being too unknown or even fringe to be on Stenger's radar. So, how do we know this argument is well regarded? -Jordgette [talk] 18:50, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
"If not, the 'inadequately answered' claim may simply result from Stenger being too unknown or even fringe to be on Stenger's radar." Surely you meant to say "the 'inadequately answered' claim may simply result from BARNES being too unknown or even fringe to be on Stenger's radar. In any event, Barnes is neither fringe or unknown to Stenger; Stenger's interaction with Barnes was quite public and is readily available online. Barnes himself by the way does not advocate the idea of a conscious "fine tuner", he just objects to Stenger's claim that there is nothing about the constants of physics that seem "fine tuned". Barnes is comparable to Jefferys and Ikeda in notability, both of whom are also "known" primarily for their contribution to the fine tuning argument. As for your suggestion of adding references to Barnes' argument, I agree wholeheartedly. There are many and they ought to be added.

CannotFindAName (talk) 00:18, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

The History of the Concept.[edit]

Hello, people. I have a suggestion.

I was having a discussion with someone about whether the concept of a fine-tuned universe was first invented by scientists or by religionists. Obviously we came to Wiki for information on the question... but there is none.

The article describes the concept, but never says who it came from, or when.

Wouldn't that be useful information to be included?

Unfortunately, I don't know the answers. Do any of you?

(I have got books by Davies and Rees on the subject, so I'll check them out. But maybe someone knows off-hand?)

Gnu Ordure (talk) 21:42, 25 November 2011 (UTC)

I think the general idea of fine-tuning comes from religion -- the assumption that creation is perfect, or close to perfect. The questioning of "why these laws?" in science seems to be a fairly new, 20th-century concept; before that, it was "the laws are here, so let's just find out what they are." The invocation of the scientific version of fine-tuning by religious scholars is, I believe, newer still. But I don't know of any sources spelling this out that would warrant an addition to the article. If anyone else does, I agree, it would be a valuable addition. -Jordgette [talk] 23:04, 25 November 2011 (UTC)
I am thankful to User:GreenUniverse for adding this section and to User:Jordgette for refinement. I would say that before the 20th century, there was not enough known (pre-Hubble, pre-Dicke) to even come up with a scientific and materialistic model of creation. So the only model offered was a religious model. But the FTU as it presently is, is a very scientific concept. It is not the same as Intelligent design which has many proponents that are coming to the concept with preconceived religious notions and are seeking scientific support. the FTU and AP is about observation (the fact that there are parameters, not just the fundamental physical constants, but initial conditions of the big bang, that for any open-minded observer, would seem to be remarkable or curiously fortuitous for we observers to be observing). I hope that the zealots that own and control the ID article do not return here to rewrite this as some sort of creation of the Discovery Institute. The topic is not such a creation. (talk) 20:55, 12 December 2011 (UTC)
I would be interested in hearing what specifically Jordgettel has in mind when he or she says that "the general idea of fine tuning comes from religion." I am aware of no religious version of fine tuning predating 20th century scientific discoveries of just how improbable our universe is. It seems to me quite a stretch to say that religious notions of a "perfect" or "close to perfect" creation amount to a religious version of fine tuning. I think fine tuning is a very recent concept that could only come about after the scientific discoveries of the last 100 years or so, and has no clear religious antecedent.
While I can understand why a religious person might be excited by any suggestion that the universe was consciously tweaked to produce humans, it seems to me that a "supreme being" of the sort described by religion would not have had to "fine tune" parameters, in a sense be required to wrestle with its own creation in order to force an extremely unlikely outcome (i.e. to allow for life as we know it to eventually exist, albeit for a tiny fraction of the lifespan of the universe). That the fine tuning problem would be spun religiously by some is to be expected but on further thought a bit perplexing; why should the discovery that the laws of nature are such that a universe (briefly) hospitable for life as we know it is extraordinarily improbable weigh in favor of theism rather than against it? The fine tuning problem really isn't particularly compelling evidence for either a god or universe designing aliens, but of the two, the latter would seem far more likely inasmuch as at the former seems suspiciously inept and inefficient for a supposed omnipotent being.CannotFindAName (talk) 23:09, 29 October 2013 (UTC)


I suggest changing the title to "Arguments Against Fine Tuning" which will get us to a NPOV faster than trying to revise the content of the article. Honestly, I love Wikipedia, but the bias in articles like this one make it more or less useless on some topics. Most of the article is made up of bricks, bricks, bricks--large bricks tied to the topic to try to sink it forever at the bottom of the sea. You see it for a moment when the article opens and after that it's submerged: you just watch it's shape shrinking, distorted as it sinks out of view.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:58, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

I dunno. Doesn't seem so biased against fine tuning to me. It begins with the Paul Davies quote. The Victor Stenger opposition has to be cited because there isn't complete agreement that the notion of fine-tuning is correct at all. I thought the edits from the IP were a little biased but not the inclusion of Stenger's position. (talk) 05:24, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
Please confine your edits to specific proposals for improving the article. This is not a forum for general discussion.--Charles (talk) 10:19, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

I read through the main article on the multiverse and the article on the invisible pink unicorn to get a sense of weighting and proportion. My suggestion is that, like other articles on Wikipedia, the bulk of this article be spent on the definition, exposition and explanation of its topic. I do not mean that the bulk of it be spent on advocacy for the idea but rather on the exposition of the idea: that the universe is 'fine tuned'. Who advocates it? On what basis? What was the genesis of the idea. Spend most of the time here. The lion's share of the article simply cannot be given to repudiate the scant space the development of the idea has been allowed. On the previous 2 articles sited we are looking at something like an 80:20 split (exposition:opposition)--here we see something more like a 20:80 split with the 'religious argument' being given the unique honor of having a headed counter-argument immediately following (not to mention the Alien theory which I believe has already been criticized for its strategic placement).

Regarding the opening, I think a smart way to introduce the topic is to refer to the 'appearance of fine tuning' which neither repudiates nor concludes that this appearance constitutes the real situation.

Again, I stand by the content of my previous comment. Were the article titled "The Not Fine-Tuned Universe" I would find the content very balanced. Just enough dissent with the bulk of the article providing a detailed introduction to the individuals and ideas of those who think there is good reason to believe that the Universe is not fine tuned and why--in detail. Sorry, it's backwards. (talk) 00:41, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

You are welcome to edit the article and include additional exposition and explanation, including who advocates for the idea, what they said, what exactly they mean or imply (e.g. Davies support for fine-tuning is not religious, at all) and what parameters appear fine-tuned and what would be different if the parameters were different. I would agree that too much space is spent on Stenger and, long ago, when cited counter arguments to naturalistic explanations or the idiotic explanations like Alien Design, those counter arguments were deleted, yet the counter arguments to religious explanations (essentially teleological) remain.
Wikipedia has changed from neutral POV to a POV that favors science. Some of that is okay, but, if you think this article lacks neutrality in the POV, you should check out Intelligent design.
As it is, I think that this article and Anthropic principle are doing pretty well regarding POV. Certainly better than the ID article, which is blatantly biased, simply because the editors defending it insist that the Discovery Institute solely define what ID is, even though the term has existed decades before the DI or any of their founders or members ever existed. I wouldn't recommend trying to correct the bias at the ID article. Some of those editors are nasty and they have admins as friends. (talk) 16:15, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

or life as it is understood[edit]

"Life as it is understood" is a completely vacuous phrase until it's been introduced and defined by some stated criteria.

When I hear physicists or biologists using this phrase, I often wonder if they mean "a universe where Captain Kirk could conceivably score some green nookie". We're so implicitly anthropocentric.

We look at the landscape of 10^500 vacuum states and somehow decide that few of these contain life "as we know it" without worrying our pretty heads about how many of these lifeless-as-we-know-it universes contain xeno-physics physicists who--if the concept of 'who' even translates--are peering over the multiverse partition and viewing our particular configuration as contrary to life as they know it.

Nicely done, now we're all special--not that we could conduct an experiment to demonstrate this xeno-physics communication gap either way, because where it concerns the Universe, "as we know it" is explicitly N=1 pseudo-science.

Whenever did we prove that the existence of chemistry in a universe (and the stars and planets and biology as we know it) is a prerequisite to natural selection?

"Natural selection without the magic of the carbon atom just couldn't work. Q.E.D." So it's written in the stars.

Sheesh, we can't even figure out if our own physics is conducive to life as we know it, so I wouldn't be rushing to conclude we've achieved much separation between "life as we know it" and "life as it is understood" with that clever little introduction of the passive voice.

The fine-tuning argument hinges on initial assumptions about the general nature of life every bit as much as our periodic table hinges on precise mass ratios of subatomic particles. For the purposes of the fine-tuning argument, one's definition of life must certainly include every universe capable of posing the fine-tuning question, whether they grok carbon or not, or you've finessed your census severely (i.e. all sentient universes overestimate their precious uniqueness). — MaxEnt 03:16, 9 February 2014 (UTC)