Copernican Mediocrity

Contrary to the popular geocentric belief at the time, Copernicus proposed that the Sun is actually at the center of our orbit, and that the Earth is not the “center of the universe” which is what most people believed.

This logic can then be applied to its own “Principle of Mediocrity” - there is nothing special or uncommon about life on Earth, and life should in fact be quite common throughout the galaxy.

There is nothing special about human existence.

But human existence is special to humans. So naturally, human existence is special.

Why does the fact that human existence may not mean anything to non-human entities or perspectives take anything away from the human meaning in human existence?

Well, we are, in all actuality, organic anomalies, and aside from perhaps primordial archetypes or the “Anthropic Principle”, we are nothing more than a mass of organic flesh.

It has huge implications in the field of morality, sociology, etc… Morality is our human invention, and there is no justification for its restraints other than what the popular consensus agrees to. Aside from objectivist principles (which are hard to enforce or even argue for the existence of), the mob rules.

Copernican mediocrity also has implications in the field of metaphysics. For example, how do we even exist? What were the odds of us even being born? Furthermore, what if a different sperm (out of the millions of sperm) had been the one to fertilize the egg we came from? That sperm would have had slight variances in genetic structure, and would have produced a different person entirely. Or what if one molecule was just a few nano-meters out of place during the Earth’s creation, and that one out-of-place molecule had triggered an alternate series of events in history?

If we were to say “these things are coincidental, and our existence is coincidental. We are alive despite the astronomical odds” then it would be in violation of the Copernican Mediocrity Principle.

The Copernican Mediocrity Principle leads us to a different explanation: Everything that can exist must exist within an alternate universe. We exist, because we must exist - essentially, we are filling our “existential time slot” out of necessity.

So where are these “alternate existences”? They are all juxtaposed (in order of similarity) in a virtual and primordial superposition. However, we (who perceive things with a temporal duration) would perceive these “alternate universes” as having either “already happened” or “will happen” in a previous or subsequent universe respectively - this implies that our universe is in an infinite cycle of creation/destruction, with a creation of an alternate universe following the destruction of a previous universe.

I’m going to play the role of the Devil’s advocate against myself =P

The implications of extra-terrestrial life are unfounded.

How does the Copernican Mediocrity Principle imply the existence of extra-terrestrial life? If it implies extra-terrestrial life, wouldn’t it also have to maintain continuity by implying that there is life on other planets within our solar system? For example, shouldn’t there be life on the planet Saturn? Of course, there isn’t life on Saturn, but doesn’t this violate the principle of mediocrity? The fact that there isn’t life on Saturn means that life on Earth is in fact special when compared to Saturn - as well as Mercury, Venus, and indeed all other planets within our solar system.

From this, we have already found a lack of continuity in the Mediocrity Principle - and since the extent of this lack in continuity is unknown, we can not use the Mediocrity Principle as evidence towards implying (or even suggesting) the existence of extra-terrestrial life.

Organic flesh is certainly a part of what we are, yes - but based on what do you conclude that “we are nothing more” than this? Looking at my experiences with consciousness, awareness, thinking, emotions, these seem to be of an entirely different order than the deterministic organic flesh that I experience as my body. If we are going on personal experience, and this seems to be just about all we can go on, then certain aspects of consciousness seem quite distinct and different than the bodily organic reactions and processes. So, with this in mind, how or why can you conclude that “we are nothing more than a mass of organic flesh”? If you cannot account for consciousness in organic terms then how can you make this assumption?

I think there is justification for following one’s own moral ideas and sentiments, even if these are at odds with the popular consensus. We can recognize the subjective and relative nature of morality without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” and dismissing all morality altogether. Just because morality has a large social-consensus factor does not mean that there is no personal morality, and just because morality is not absolute or universal does not mean that morality does not have personal meaning, relevance and existence.

Basically, I do not think that your dogmatic rejection of morality follows from your observations here.

Only if you let it.

The odds against one specific organization of zygote or whatever are astronomically small, yes, in light of all the other possibilities. However, given the existence of these possibilities and the fact that one of them will actualize, the odds that “something” will occur is a given. Whatever form it takes, whatever zygote is created or Earth history unfolds, the odds of that occurance are precisely 100%, after the fact - before the fact, it is meaningless to speak of these events, or rather we can speak abstractly of their probabilities of occuring, but we know that something did occur, and based on all “possibilities” one of these will occur, therefore the idea that “these things are coincidental, and our existence is coincidental. We are alive despite the astronomical odds” is of no concern at all, and really is irrelevant.

Basically since we are assuming that something will occur (we are assuming that there are probabilities for certain possible events or things occuring, therefore it must be the case that at least one of these will actualize, else these probabilities would all be zeroes) so what is the point of second-guessing what does occur and trying to minimalize its reality in terms of other “possible” alternative existences? What happens, happens - speaking of probabilities is only relevant before we in fact do know what did occur. After an event or occurance happens, it is meaningless to speak of the “probability” that is occured, or about other “possible realities” that might have been instead. Well it is not strictly meaningless of course, it can be interesting food for thought, but to project this sort of abstraction into reality itself and make of it some sort of ontologically significant problem is a mistake.

The copernican mediocrity principle, as you call it, means that “we are not special”? That we do not occupy a privileged position in the cosmos. Well, based on that idea alone, it does not follow that there are alternate universes. Quite a few more assumptions need to be made in order to generate such a necessity or logical conclusion. The idea of a possibility does not include actuality, of course - necessarily a possible event does not have actual real existence, because at the point where it attains this real existence it ceases to be a possibility. So the mere fact that you assume there are many many more possible ways that things might have turned out, even if we accept this assumption (which I am not sure has even been demonstrated sufficiently), does not mean that these “possible ways that things might have turned out” need to have any actual existence of any kind - they are possibilities precisely because they do not actualize.

Basically, how do you generate a logical necessity for actualization of X based on an admitted (assumed) probability of X occuring?

Interesting view, but it does not follow necessarily - it might have some aesthetic appeal, or tend to assuade an emotional uncertainty or existential doubt on a psychological level, but there is no reason to believe such a thing based only on our experiences. If you are indirectly refering to quantum mechanics here then I must point out that the Many Worlds Interpretations are not mainstream by any means, and in fact it would be a mistake to take these quantum theories that describe the smallest energetic events and extrapolate these laws of interaction to a macroscopic level. I’m not saying your ideas here are not possible, and they certainly are interesting, but A) there is no logical necessity for believing such things, and B) they certainly do not follow from a “copernican mediocrity principle” of the simple idea that we are not privileged/special.

Who said that consciousness can’t be explained in organic terms?
There are very physical limits to your consciousness.
An example I always use to help illustrate this is the “Blind Spot” experiment.
There is a certain region of your pupil where a bunch of nerves and blood vessels are bundled together and block your line of vision. This “blind spot” is actually relatively close to the near-center of your vision. Yet, you never “see” this blind spot. Most people never usually become aware of this big missing patch in their vision. But it does exist, and it is always blocking your vision of certain things. Its location can be revealed through a simple experiment that you can do right now if you choose to do it. Follow the instructions for the experiment on this site:

So like, woah. How are we not aware of this massive gap in our vision? The truth is, the things that you “see” are not actually what our eyes are seeing, but instead they are merely the concepts of the objects that we “think” we know.
Your brain “fills in the empty spaces” automatically by judging what “probably is in the blind spot”, based on whatever it is you see around the blind spot.
It is perhaps one of the more astonishing optical illusions that exist. Our brain will even get very complex in the ways that it deceives itself by creating non-existent colors or non-existence objects to fill in the blind spot, simply based on maintaining the continuity of a pattern surrounding the blind spot. Our mind pretends to know what’s in the blind spot, when in fact it is nothing but a self-created illusion.

Now, if that already doesn’t make you question the validity of things you automatically “assume” to be true, then I don’t think you’ve thought enough about it.
Our confidence in the existence of something is nothing more than a self-created self-comforting psychological mechanism. The feeling of confidence can exist, even if the mind lacks evidence to support the confidence.
Have you ever been so sure of something, that you swore you knew it as a fact with 100% certainty, but then later you find out you were actually wrong?

An example of this would be a scenario like:
Bob: “John said he would meet us here at 10am”
Joe: “Are you sure? I thought he said 2 in the afternoon.”
Bob: "I am absolutely positive. It is fresh in my memory. I can remember it so clearly, that it is almost like I can actually hear his voice ‘Meet me there at 10am’. "
Joe: “Hmm… alright, if you’re that certain. We’ll wait for him, he should be here any minute.”
… nearly 4 hours later, it is now 15 minutes to 2pm …
John: “Hey guys, you are a little early aren’t you? How long have you been waiting?”
Bob: “Is that supposed to be funny? We’ve been waiting for 4 hours you douche bag! Why weren’t you here at 10am like you said?”
John: “10am? I told you 2 in the afternoon. Are you sure about that?”
Joe: “I remember you saying 2 in the afternoon as well, I think Bob is just imagining things. Well, thanks Bob for making us wait here for 4 hours.”
Bob: “But I was so sure of it… I remember it so clearly… But now that you say you said 2pm, I think I remember that is actually what you said… Oh well, sorry Joe.”

Now that you’ve hopefully become skeptical of and reconsidered your former view of consciousness as being “incredibly complex and mystical”, do you still find it hard to believe that our consciousness is the result of simple organic matter?

You should look at the wikipedia article on Evolutionary Psychology ( which talks about how our psychological processes and predispositions are actually adaptations, and they are traits which have accumulated due to the fact they were beneficial for our ancestors.

Think of the first time you were taught how to do something abstract, like playing a musical instrument or having to understand mathematics. Both are relatively simple when compared to something like learning a language, yet you were able to learn how to speak a language almost automatically during infancy. Yet, it might have taken you a few years of school before you were able to comprehend multiplication and division, and even longer to comprehend algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.
When you think of the raw mechanics of it, mathematics is far more simpler than language. With math, there are only a few basic symbols that need to be learned (numbers 0-9) which follow just a few basic and repetitive principles: two 1s put together will equal a 2 which is addition; multiplication (which is really just a shorter way of expressing a bunch of addition); subtraction; division - and then higher levels of math go into all of the possible implications and applications of those basic mathematic principles.
But with language, there are an indeterminable amount of variables, and an indeterminable amount of possible applications, implications, and variances in principles. Yet, learning it was automatic. And at the time, you couldn’t understand how you had learned it, you just did.
There is a psychological predisposition that humans have for learning language, and the human brain has an increased capacity for language. It is almost instinct. Why? Because evolution gave it to us. Can you really say that you ‘chose’ to learn language, and wasn’t it all just automated?
A good majority of our actions are automated, and we never “choose” to do them.

Is it really that hard to believe? There is a set pattern - a mathematical equation - that describes how neurons interconnect with each other to store and process information. Neurons can be thought of as one grand hall filled with dominoes that will knock each other over based on the intensity of the previous domino in the sequence, but unlike real dominoes, these dominoes are able to set themselves back up automatically a short amount of time after falling over. In nature, there is a certain neuronal sequence/pattern - like a pattern of dominoes being set up - that has the innate ability to process the vision of a specific shape. There is an incredibly large amount of these different types of patterns - and also patterns that have the purpose of connecting those patterns, and so on. All of it working just like dominoes in an automatic cascade of reactions.

Computers can process things that we can not even fathom - yet you find it hard to believe that consciousness can not be accounted for by ordinary organic matter? The engineers who make computer processors know that the number of neurons in the brain alone (and all the connections they form) can easily account for every mental process we experience.

The reason that we have a will, and the reason we experience emotions, is because we are a social species. Evolution found it beneficial for humans to help other humans that are in danger - but, our species needed some sort of medium for communicating this, and not just communicating our request for help, but also for communicating the urgency of our request for help. Evolution instilled us with a spectrum of different emotions, all to help us express ourselves and communicate with others.

A tree falls out in the woods but nobody hears it. Does it still make a sound?
A tree falls on a person out in the woods, but that person knows he is out in the secluded wilderness and there is no one around for hundreds of miles. Does he still feel pain and scream in agony if he knows no one is around to witness it?
Its much like a child who trips over something and falls over, but the child only cries when it sees that other people witnessed it fall over. It cries to let them know it experienced pain, but if they were never around, it wouldn’t have cried and it would have dealt with the pain itself.

Then, through experience, we know that we are not always aware when other people are observing us, so we make sensations real and dramatize our reactions even when no one is around - almost like we are the main character of a movie that is constantly being watched by an invisible audience.

Pain is only painful, because you consciously think about the pain. You might even ask yourself “is pain really even painful? I don’t know, I’ll have to check the next time I’m in a situation that should cause pain” but the contradiction in this is that your very presence of consciousness that asks the question “is this painful?” is what causes your body to respond “yep.” hence creating the sensation of pain.
Haven’t you ever found cut marks or bruises on your body, yet had know clue how they got there? Its usually because we injure ourselves yet we are unaware that we had injured ourselves. Since we don’t know that it happened, we don’t feel any of the pain that it should cause.

A few summers ago, I broke my leg in a car accident. But I didn’t know that anything was wrong until I tried getting out of the car, and realized that I couldn’t move my right leg. I didn’t feel anything until nearly 15 minutes later, and even then it barely hurt. I attribute this to a few things: 1) I was in shock. 2) I didn’t realize that it had happened so it didn’t cause pain until I started thinking about it. 3) I had been put on an SNRI medication a few weeks earlier, and anti-depressants are known to greatly reduce the psychological impact of pain.
I have honestly had sprained ankles that hurt more than that broken leg.

The point is, our perception of reality, our mind/consciousness, is largely a self-created illusion.

I’m going to reply to the rest of your post, but I figured this was a pretty big chunk and I should post it before the rest.

So you acknowledge that the odds are astronomical, but you are saying that we shouldn’t think about how small the odds were since it already happened?
That sounds selfish to me.
That would be like a guy who was just given a million dollars by a rich man, but he doesn’t thank the rich man because he thinks “although it was extremely unlikely, it has already happened. I shouldn’t care about how unexpected or unlikely it was, because that was in the past. Why waste effort thanking the man or telling him how grateful I am? He’s already given me the money.”

I think it is something that we take for granted. And since we never contemplate the alternative (not existing), we find it easy to dismiss it as insignificant.
As far as “paying it forward”, there is no reason we shouldn’t spend every moment of our existence captivated by the fact that we even exist.
I was suggesting an alternative explanation that dismissed the “significance” of our coming into existence, so that way we don’t find it immoral that we take it for granted.

Of course its easy to imagine that consciousness may be wholly organic. But that is not how we experience it. Thus we are of course free to imagine whatever we wish regarding the nature of consciousness, but if we are going to base our ideas on our experiences then the belief that consciousness can be explained totally in organic terms is not justified. My point is that it is an assumption that consciousness may be explained wholly as a function of the organic - this does not make it wrong necessarily of course, but it is an assumption that is counter to our experience.

Yes we can produce effects in consciousness via the body or organic chemicals, but this indicates how consciousness interacts with the body, something so obvious that we already know it. But this fact of interaction does not mean that consciousness is organic, anymore than it means that the organic body is consciousness.

As for probabilities, my point is that a probability exists only before we know the actual outcome. Once something happens it is done, it occured, it exists, it is thus no longer a probability. The only point regarding this that I was trying to make was that your idea of multiple universes does not logically follow from the idea that events can be thought of probabilitistically before they occur. There is no necessity for something to occur “somewhere else” merely because we think that some probability exists that it might occur here. There are multiple contradictions in such a view, the first being the lack of necessity involved, the second being the fact that the “probability of X” only exists before we have sufficient information about the X in question, and the third being the disconnect between this world and other alternate worlds - why are we to assume that some equalizing probability entails across all these worlds? How are they so connected? My point was not that your idea is wrong, but that it involves many more assumptions than I think you were giving credit for.

When I think I do not experience a neuron. That is my point.

If only the simpletons have heard of “confirmation bias”…

I didn’t just pull the phrase “Copernican Mediocrity Principle” out of my ass, it is a fairly well-known philosophical concept.
I was making dichotomal deductions to reach a conclusion…
The options were:
A) The fact that I even exist is extraordinarily significant, and I should spend each waking moment having an absolute gratefulness for the fact that I exist
B) I recognize that my existence is significant, but I take it for granted. Because there are no consequences that will result from me taking it for granted, I find no problem with doing so. I have basically lied to myself, and I am immoral for doing so, but I don’t care because everyone else is doing so.
C) The fact that we exist is insignificant. The mere probability of our existence was enough to ensure that, at some point in time, “we” will exist.

It is not a conclusion that was pulled out of no where with no supporting evidence. There are plenty of simple thought experiments that serve as supporting evidence.

Here is a fairly simple thought experiment that explains it:
i. There is always going to be “something” in existence - this is true according to the Law of Conservation of Energy: “the total amount of energy in an isolated system remains constant over time (is said to be conserved over time). A consequence of this law is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed from one state to another.”
ii. The state of the “something in existence” is constantly changing. This is true simply because that is what energy is: change. If there is always energy in the universe, then the universe is going to constantly be changing.
iii. Given that time is indefinitely long (not necessarily temporal duration as we understand it, but just the fact that causal sequences will never end), then any state of existence that has a probability of existing will exist eventually. There is no problem with “how long” it would take for the state of existence to manifest, because time is indefinitely long.

Hence, all probability becomes reality eventually - even if that probability does not become reality in our universe’s lifetime.

The “Many Worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that those “Alternate Universes” exist right now, but we can’t detect them.
I’m saying that these alternate universes have already happened, and will happen again after our universe’s lifespan is over.

The idea is similar to Nietzsche’s “Eternal Recurrence”…

here is a reference that has all sorts of algorithmic mathematical mumbo-jumbo validating the idea of recurrence: … ce_theorem

And if only the self-proclaimed intellectuals would actually read whatever it is that they are criticizing before they dismiss it as incorrect.
I can get condescending too:
Oh, are you not a good enough reader to actually understand what was said?
Or maybe you are just too lazy to read all of it.
So you’re lazy, is that it?

Aren’t you basically saying “ignorance is bliss”?

Any assumption otherwise is counter to empirical evidence - it would basically be implying “some things can not be explained in physical terms, because the mechanism for them was drawn outside the lines of logic and reason”, if that is true then it can be used as counter-evidence for practically any idea imaginable.

Did you look at the “Blind Spot Experiment”? It shows us a conclusion that we know is true through our own experimentation, but the conclusion is precisely “counter to experience”. We “experience” an uninterrupted field of vision - but based on deductions (which were illustrated in the experiment) we can conclude that there is actually a big bundle of nerves and blood vessels forming a giant empty space in our field of vision.
Experience is unreliable.

How am I making more assumptions than I was giving credit for?
I incorporated physical laws (which have been proven to be true experimentally) into my explanation,
I even gave references supporting my ideas for christ’s sake.
How many other people have you seen on this forum giving references for their ideas? I’d bet anything that less than 1 out of 100 posts on this forum give references for their presented ideas.

If you’re going to tell me that what I’ve been saying is based on unfounded assumptions, have you considered that the same could be said as counter-evidence against any idea imaginable, and anyone else on this forum?

To be fair, all knowledge relies on assumptions at some level, but I think we have all gotten past the point of “not being able to know anything for certain” and have at least start trying to know things with as much certainty as humanly possible, beyond a reasonable doubt.

And also, you are a hypocrit. You selectively chose only information that would support your idea that I’m guilty of confirmation bias, when you were actually guilty of confirmation bias yourself for choosing not to register any information showing that all the ideas I presented were based off of empirical science.

How do you know?
When you see, do you see a big blank spot in your vision?
Its there, you just can’t perceive it through the senses alone.

I agree that the concept is well known, and I am not disputing its validity. In general I tend to agree with the idea, it is after all the basis for all science, and science is, if nothing else, undeniably practical and real-world.

Well, your life is as personally significant as it is, to you. I am not sure how you are understanding significance here, whether you mean your emotional attachment to your life, your “love” of life, your desire to be alive and keep living, your beliefs “My life is significant”…? I think a certain emotional-instinctive attachment to life, along with a deep-seated desire either for life in general or for things in life are inevitable, basically these are just psychological conditions for what it means to be a human. Sure these might sometimes be overcome by severe depression or hopelessness or psychosis, but they will reassert themselves eventually. At least, for most of us. I am not discounting the possibility that you might be an exception to “most of us”.

Significance is totally relative. It doesnt infringe upon life itself, or the world itself - you think life is significant or not, yet things are what they are regardless. This belief is illusory and only a reflection of your psychological state. Now if you are talking about the emotional-instinctive attachment to life, that is somewhat different, but also still relative to you. I think you are making the error here of taking your personal experiences and extrapolating them outside of yourself, applying them to reality itself as if your illusory and arbitrary sentiments and insubstantial beliefs actually indicate anything other than your own psyche. Basically I think you are committing an attribution error.

I am quite familiar with this idea, unfortunately. It is utter absurdity. First of all, the idea that we have infinite time is meaningless. Time for some X is only relevant to something else other than X, to some measure of change (which will always be relative), there can be no “time” for “everything”. Also, the idea that all possibilities must inevitably actualize is also erroneous - it could be the case that the universe cycles over and over and creates the exact same copy of itself ever time. Or perhaps every cycle the laws of nature change, and thus there will never be two universes with the same laws of nature and so it is meaningless to speak of “probabilities” across these universes, from one to another.

And evey if I grant you the idea has some validity, which I do not, it doesnt matter - there would be by definition no way to know what future or past universes will be like or were like. And we will never be able to confirm this idea in any way (we will never be able to experience it at all, by definition (i.e. in a recycling of universes there is no left-over context through which we might divine information or contact from one universe to another)), so it remains total imagination and fantasy. And even if, despite all this, we still make ourselves think that we believe this idea, what does it change? Nothing. We can assume this cyclical universe idea where every possibility eventually actualizes and still it can change absolutely nothing about this universe, this world, this life of ours. It will only change your own personal outlook, which is to say what I have been saying all along, that this entire concept is subjective and relative to you, and has no reality outside of your own imagination.

Nietzsche was not talking about physics. The Eternal Return has nothing to do with a Many World Interpretation of quantum mechanics.

And yes I understand the idea that “probability X has Y% chance of occuring - regardless of how small Y is, given unending time and repeating of the exact same conditions, X will eventually occur”. But, the problem is that this abstract pure mathematical thought-experiment means nothing in the real world. The conditions can never be set up again in exactly the same manner, thus, the idea of probabilities across universes (probabilities that exist in more than one universe simultaneously or across time) is impossible.

Its like youre saying “roll a 6-sided die unending times and eventually every possible number will come up”, but in reality the “recurrence” many-worlds idea is like “every time you roll the die again, the number of sides changes, the numbers on the sides change, and you not only forget what the previous rolls were but you even forget that there were previous rolls.” See the difference?

A neuron is a biological cell like a skin cell or blood cell. The way in which I experience these physical cells of my body, in a physical-sensuous manner, is wholly and totally different in quality from the way in which I experience my own thoughts and feelings.

I have trained myself to, when I want to, yes.

Whether or not I perceive it doesnt matter. The idea that the brain intercedes upon the visual perception process is nothing new, this is basically a given that no one can reasonably argue. And yet it does not change my argument here - regardless of my knowledge of how the brain intercedes upon the visual perception process I still experience my own thoughts and feeling in a completely different way, I experience them as a different substance and essence, than how I experience my physical body.

That is impossible. There are no corresponding neurons in your visual cortex for that region of your pupil.

Its similar to how you can not see past the peripheral limits of your vision - you don’t see darkness past your peripheral vision, do you? Instead, you don’t see anything, not even darkness - your vision just abruptly ends after that point.

In the same way you can’t see darkness past your peripherals, you can’t see darkness in your blind spot.

I can see the dark smudge, yes, when I want to. It takes about a minute of concentration, and closing one eye, to find it.

I won’t deny the possibility, but everything I’ve read about it stated that there are no corresponding neurons in the visual cortex for that area of the pupil.
I could be wrong though, I’m not a professional ophthalmologist or anything.