Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oprah, Noprah, and the Anthropic Principle

I am not going to presume much about what you think or know about this.

I would like you to just think about it

First review this video.

Now as you think about this a number of things could come up for you.
If you like or respect what Oprah has done, or you believe strongly in a faith or positive thinking this won't be much of a video to shake that.

If you don't like or respect Oprah this video may confirm the thought that I am going to ask you to entertain.

I am not judging Oprah one way or the other. She has done some great work and some not so great work. Human like the rest of us just a lot more successful at it. In fact, I commend her for the cover of her January 2009 magazine showing us how she has "Fallen off the wagon" in terms of gaining her weight back. This is something I would love to see more of on the magazine racks, we are wrestling with life's challenges, we all have set-backs and not everything works out like we have it planned.

I would like to call attention only to the implied theory behind the video. And that is the one that says if we really, really want something, really devote ourselves to it, really pray or surrender or follow any other idealistic wishful thinking available, it will happen for us.

So that is why I would like to introduce Noprah. I am being a little cute by introducing this person but it is for a purpose.

Say Noprah has also read this book "The Color Purple", loved it, is telling everyone about it and handing out copies. She has also been called to the interview (I have trouble believing that someone just called Oprah out of the blue without there being some idea in that persons mind that Oprah was seriously thinking about playing this part) and also tried out for the part.

Noprah, of course will have her own story about what happened to her, i.e. the diet camp she may have went to or maybe she felt she was too skinny for the part and has started eating more to fill out for it. When it comes down to selection time, what is the criteria that determines who is more likely to get the part.

So "The Secret", being the crappy marketing ploy that it is engaging people in deepening their materialism and consumerism with positive thought and expectancy, tells us that when we really believe something will happen, the "Law of Attraction" will bring it to us.

Who gets selected?

Well for this article it doesn't matter. Someone always does get selected. The problem is usually that we are only ever hearing from the one Oprah and not the hundreds, or thousands, or millions of Noprah's.
I'm going to link this to the Anthropic principle. To be perfectly honest it will be a very loose connection but one meant to illustrate a point. As I am using it (and this is my version), the Anthropic principle is an evaluation of the idea that we are particularly special in the universe because we exist where we are and that this is so special that it must be more than just luck.
Maybe even meant to be. Everything has come together so perfectly to support us that it is a special gift. This isn't the principle, the principle ask us to consider the vastness of the universe. There are billions upon billions of planets and galaxies that exist (like little Noprah's) all vying for the title of Earth. Who would be around to tell the story of success? Only the one whose conditions were met to allow intelligent life to propagate and rise to a level that lets it look at its position in life and think how it must have been meant to be. There would be no ability to do all this if all the needed conditions were not met.

There may be a little Nearth somewhere out there, the famous Drake Equation seeks to discover the probability of it, that is only a few billion years away from sharing a success story. But we are here and now and cognizant of the fact that we are here and now.

Oprah likes to believe that it was her wanting it that made it happen, but if Oprah had been Hispanic would that have been a problem? If Oprah lived in Tokyo would that have hindered her chances of being called? Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers" discusses the need for conditions to be met before we are going to hear the success stories, answering questions like why are so many NHL hockey players born between January and March? Many of the conditions are well beyond any hoping, wishing, praying, or wanting we could ever do.

This has been a particularly long article so I'll finish with this. If you were to give up this wanting and just be You. If the rewards came and went, or didn't come at all. Can you live a life that is whole and complete?

What would that look like?