A common reason for why people came up with the multiverse hypothesis was that they couldn’t fathom that a single universe, if it is all that exists, bears the constants necessary to eventually result in life.

As such, people postulated a whole series of more universes with different kinds of constants. After all, if all kinds of configurations are possible, it is not surprising that atleast one of them would result in life bearing conditions.

Ian Hacking, in 1987, calls this a fallacy. See https://www.jstor.org/stable/2254310. He coined a term called the inverse gambler’s fallacy, which is basically what it sounds like: the inverse of the gambler’s fallacy. What this means is that the number of previous trials of a chance based process do not affect the probability of the current outcome. This is because trials are usually independent, and in the case of the multiverse hypothesis, these universe’s conditions are considered independent.

For example, he uses the example of walking into a casino room and immediately seeing someone roll double sixes. You are asked to consider whether it is now more likely that this occurred on his first try or whether or not this occurred after many previous tries. Hacking says that the probability of THIS specific two rolls landing on sixes has no influence from its past.

Although he is correct that the probability of the current trial has no dependence on previous trials, I don’t think it is true that the number of previous trials has no effect on whether or not the current trial occurred by chance.

Allow me to use an example. Suppose you have a lottery that is conducted by chance, and you observe the same person winning two consecutive lotteries. Let’s call H1 = Chance, H2 = Lottery was rigged, and O = person wins two consecutive lotteries.

If you observe O on the first two lotteries ever played, the probability of O given chance (I.e. P(O|C)) is the same as if you observed it after 500,000 lotteries were played. But how does this imply that P(C|O) is the same. What if a person is more likely or more able to rig a lottery the first two times it’s played then after it’s played 500,000 times? I fail to see how the inverse gambler’s fallacy charge adequately responds to what actually matters. With fine tuning, we don’t care about the probability of constants being certain values by chance. We care about whether the universe was fine tuned: I.e. how likely it is that these conditions happened BY chance.

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    Hacking does not call "this" a fallacy, his exact phrasing is:"I observe that one use of the recently propounded anthropic principle commits the same fallacy. This use is connected with an idea of John Wheeler's about sequential universes. The anthropic principle as used by Brandon Carter for coexistent universes does not commit the fallacy." Wheeler's sequential universes are not what is typically called "multiverse", Carter's are. The possibility of rigging is not in the setting of the gamler's fallacy, so it is irrelevant there anyway, and what it means for universes is obscure.
    – Conifold
    Dec 25, 2022 at 9:06
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    White argues that that is just a mistake on Hacking's part and that the fallacious part of the reasoning involves confusing the probability of "some" universe having constants for the probability of "this" universe having these constants. This applies to both Wheeler's and Carter's conceptions. See web.mit.edu/rog/www/papers/fine_tuning.pdf Dec 25, 2022 at 9:32
  • I guess we're really lucky to be here, no matter how you look at it.
    – Scott Rowe
    May 24 at 10:40
  • Ian Hacking is obviously wrong. Sorry. Analyze P(U) = the probability that this our universe actualizes. May 24 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


Two categorically different things are compared here: Probability In One Event, Probability In An Ensemble of Events. An army is compared with a soldier.

Mathematically its comparing probability of Atleast One with probability of Exactly One. If all you have is just one event then you are looking for probability of Exactly One.

If a person don't believe in God then he cannot concile with fact that universe has many symmetries in it as well as many highly improbable events happening at the core of its foundation as well as in its operations. How can all that happen by chance?

The true answer is, it don't happen by chance. There is a Creator who made this universe intelligently. Universe is designed, its not an output of chance.

People that don't let observations and logic destroy their pre-conceived idea that don't have any base (neither in observation nor in logic) are bound to resort to ridiculous theories such as multi-verse and others.

At one pan in balance there is nothing, no evidence, no logic; in other pan there are many, many evidences and full force of logic. Where do you think the balance tilt? How can one deny this? Theories without observations and logic would do no good.

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    "If a person don't believe in God then he cannot concile with fact that universe has many symmetries in it as well as many highly improbable events happening at the core of its foundation as well as in its operations. How can all that happen by chance?" Wouldn't God contain even more symmetries and complexities? By your own logic, this should mean He was designed. If your response is that He is meant to be eternal, then why can't one say that the universe (or whatever came before it) is eternal? Dec 25, 2022 at 9:34
  • @thinkingman The answer is about universe, not about God; as the question is about universe, not God.
    – Atif
    Dec 25, 2022 at 9:45

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