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The Puddle

In my musings on the nature of "stuff", I wrote,

"What's needed is an explanation that takes into account the improbability of our universe having just formed out of thin ether...   We will imagine not just one universe but many.  Not just many, but incredibly many universes.  And you will imagine how they're all related to one another, and how you find yourself in this one.  You'll see that some universes are more special than others, and the most special of all is the one you're in.  Once you're able to imagine all this, I think you'll agree that of all the gazillions of universes, it's highly improbable that you should find yourself in this one.  Yet here you are!"

This prompted one reader, Joe, to remark on the similarity of my view to that of a puddle, as described in Richard Dawkins' Eulogy for Douglas Adams:

". . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for."

I thanked Joe for the story about the puddle.  It fits my philosophy well, since I believe we humans have no more right to the title of "deep thinkers" than a puddle.  What we think of — what I think of, I should say, since I have no clue what anyone else thinks, or even if they think — as "deep thought" a puddle may regard as cause-and-effect.  So why may not the reverse be true?  While we regard the shrinking of a puddle as the macroscopic manifestation of quadrillions of smaller events (molecules evaporating, I might say), the puddle may regard this as its own version of "deep thought".

I am struck by the degree with which I impose my own view of the universe on the universe itself.  Viewing myself as engaged in deep thought is just the tip of this iceberg.  Other aspects of the iceberg include such things as the color and sound, the touch and smell of the universe, its three spatial dimensions, and that such a thing as an "iceberg" has meaning and can exist.  These are all uniquely human (and I should say uniquely "my" for the same reason as above) ways of looking at things, a fact which goes unnoticed due to another uniquely "me" characteristic: that I fancy myself an impartial observer of reality, despite a stunning lack of evidence to the contrary.