WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

Craig's arguments for God, Pt 4

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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#21  Postby Shrunk » Jun 08, 2011 6:04 pm

Another aspect of the "fine tuning argument" I don't believe I have ever seen discussed: It presumes that certain parameters of the universe can be varied infinitely, presumably by God, but others are fixed. If God is able to vary some parameters, I fail to see why he cannot vary the others.

For instance, one commonly cited example of "fine tuning" is that the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force must be set within finely tune range in order for carbon to form efficiently. However, that law itself is one of the parameters of the universe that could be varied, if only in theory. IOW, the "law" that states "The efficient production of carbon requires that the strong and electromagnetic forces be set at their current level" is just one paramter that could also be varied. It could be changed to say "The efficient production of carbon requires that the strong force be set at twice the current value, and the EM force set a half the current value" or alternatively "The efficient production of carbon requires that the strong force be set at 29.568 times the current value, and the EM force set a 0.057896 times the current value." With this addition of this one additional value that could also be varied, the number of possible conditions that could result in the efficient production of carbon becomes incalculably large. Infinite, in fact.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#22  Postby John P. M. » Jun 08, 2011 7:45 pm

Sweenith wrote:
If that's what you're assuming, then the objection isn't relevant, strictly speaking. Craig's fine-tuning argument doesn't say anything about the designer being omniscient or omnipotent or omnibenevolent.


Oh - you see, I'm not playing philosophical games; I'm a very down to earth, practical, get-down-to-business kinda guy, and I know that Craig supports and believes in an omni-God. He may ditch that to get out of a sticky debate situation (I don't know if he would, but you seem to imply so), but he'll go back home praying to his omni-God in any case.

Sweenith wrote:
And if you aren't presupposing that a designer would want a more populated universe than this one, then the various facts you cite regarding its inhospitality do not constitute evidence against the universe's being designed.


No, just that it would be poor design by an omni-God (omni-benevolent being one of those attributes), unless this is the best possible physical world, in which case he should have ditched the plans once he realized this, and instead continued creating in his own, or some other, realm.

Sweenith wrote:
There's a reason theologians once thought the earth had to be at the center of the universe; because we are allegedly at the center of God's attention.

being "at the center" of a person's attention is just a way of talking about whatever that person happens to be most concerned with. It has nothing to do with spatial location. So the connection between the two uses of "center" in the statement—in order for something to be at the center of God's attention, it has to be at the center of the universe—is an equivocal one


:picard:

I thought perhaps the point would still get across, but I guess not.

So say you wanted to have a fountain in front of your house, and decided that it would look and "work" better if you had a patch of grass around it. And then, when you're finished, people ask you "Umm... where is this fountain you were raving about?", you'd say - "Oh yes - it's the most important piece of my property. But I started planting this patch of grass, and ended up making it into an incredibly huge garden. So the fountain ended up way over there, almost into the bushes you can barely see at the other end." ?

Still nothing? Oh well. I'm tired.

Sweenith wrote:
According to the monotheistic religions, this universe is not a permanent dwelling place for any of us, but basically a 'pit stop' on our way to another, better realm. In the mean time, people are awaiting the return of a Messiah, who is also going to whisk us away into a better realm. And scientifically, we know the universe won't be suitable for life at all in a few billion years anyway. All of which shows that this universe was - according to this then - not designed to be 'teeming with life' as life expands its borders throughout space, but that it was created for a relatively short life span, with specific entities in mind.

Not sure I follow you, but the fine-tuning argument doesn't specify how much life exists in a life-permitting universe, nor how long that life might exist - it's talking about being able to sustain life at all, in any amount and for any length of time. So I don't see how that is an objection to the argument.


It wasn't an objection to the fine tuning argument, it was a continuation of my train of thought, it's not my fault you chopped it up. Basically; you don't need a gazillion stars and planets in a universe of the Christian or Muslim God. We are apparently the reason for its existence, and we're apparently not staying here for long. If you have a different theological view, hooray for you.

Sweenith wrote:
It is with this backdrop it seems strange that the universe should have been created in such a way that life is forever but a speck of dust compared to other matter and space, and that life has to strive and clutch at straws so as to not fall off the cliff, figuratively speaking, in the tiny areas it does exist. It's not about having a gigantic universe (like we have now) overflowing with life, but rather an 'efficient', parsimonious universe, sufficiently large for the relatively few entities it was created to sustain, and that the area they would inhabit was also created to be as benign to them as possible. Carrier makes a similar point in the video above.

First, as I suggested before, the sort of universe you have in mind may not be physically possible (it may or may not be);


Then scrapping the physical plans would have been possible.

Sweenith wrote:
And second, in assuming that this universe is not 'efficient', you are presupposing that you know all of the designer's goals (the universe may be inefficient with respect to bringing about the existence of intelligent life alone, but it may be extremely efficient with respect to bringing about all of its designer's ends).

And third, efficiency is only a concern when one has limited resources. If the universe's designer were omnipotent (as you assume that it would be), then he wouldn't be limited in resources.


I don't assume anything; I'm trying to make coherent arguments against a myriad of a plethora of diverging ideas within a belief system, which is no easy task, but I have to grab hold somewhere in order to at least attempt to do so, and one way is assuming someone's beliefs 'for the sake of argument'. That people then say 'it's not what they assume' is par for the course.

Anyway - I don't think an omnipotent being would have to be sloppy or slobby and wasteful. By all means, if you owned a forest, you could cut it all down in order to make a single toothpick, but it would seem strange to me from a design point of view.


This post should of course have been a lot more eloquent and full of beautiful prose, devastating arguments and fantastic analogies, but to be honest I need a break from this debate malarkey. I've grown tired of it, having gone through it for quite a few years now. I'll see if I can muster something for your other reply in a while.

:yawn2: :sleep:
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#23  Postby Clive Durdle » Jun 08, 2011 8:08 pm

We now come to the teleological argument, or the argument for design. Although advocates of the so-called Intelligent Design movement have continued the tradition of focusing on examples of design in biological systems, the cutting edge of the contemporary discussion concerns the remarkable fine-tuning of the cosmos for life.


I had not realised how much rhetoric WC uses.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#24  Postby Clive Durdle » Jun 08, 2011 8:13 pm

intelligent gasbags

References please! His Holiness St Carl Sagan - Cosmos.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#25  Postby murshid » Jun 09, 2011 10:07 am

Shrunk wrote:Another aspect of the "fine tuning argument" I don't believe I have ever seen discussed: It presumes that certain parameters of the universe can be varied infinitely, presumably by God, but others are fixed. If God is able to vary some parameters, I fail to see why he cannot vary the others.

For instance, one commonly cited example of "fine tuning" is that the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force must be set within finely tune range in order for carbon to form efficiently. However, that law itself is one of the parameters of the universe that could be varied, if only in theory. IOW, the "law" that states "The efficient production of carbon requires that the strong and electromagnetic forces be set at their current level" is just one paramter that could also be varied. It could be changed to say "The efficient production of carbon requires that the strong force be set at twice the current value, and the EM force set a half the current value" or alternatively "The efficient production of carbon requires that the strong force be set at 29.568 times the current value, and the EM force set a 0.057896 times the current value." With this addition of this one additional value that could also be varied, the number of possible conditions that could result in the efficient production of carbon becomes incalculably large. Infinite, in fact.


:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

I asked something similar here. An omnipotent god shouldn't need the strong nuclear force and the electromagnetic force in a finely tuned range. He should be able to produce carbon for any value of those two forces.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#26  Postby Alan C » Jun 12, 2011 9:13 am

John P. M. wrote:According to the monotheistic religions, this universe is not a permanent dwelling place for any of us, but basically a 'pit stop' on our way to another, better realm. In the mean time, people are awaiting the return of a Messiah, who is also going to whisk us away into a better realm. And scientifically, we know the universe won't be suitable for life at all in a few billion years anyway. All of which shows that this universe was - according to this then - not designed to be 'teeming with life' as life expands its borders throughout space, but that it was created for a relatively short life span, with specific entities in mind.


I'm curious about the bolded part here. I'm familiar with the 'time-limit' of our solar system being in the order of five billion years based on the lifetime of the Sun. The Universe though? I'm familiar with accelerating expansion with the possibility that galaxies down to the atomic level could be torn apart but life being untenable in [just?] a few billion years is news to me.

:ask:
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#27  Postby Rumraket » Jun 12, 2011 9:17 am

Laurens wrote:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6FQdyHUXwc[/youtube]

Hmm, I'm a little confused. How can the laws of nature be optimally tuned for producing black holes? Wouldn't an increase in the gravitational force result in more black holes over time?
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#28  Postby John P. M. » Jun 12, 2011 9:26 am

Alan C wrote:
I'm curious about the bolded part here. I'm familiar with the 'time-limit' of our solar system being in the order of five billion years based on the lifetime of the Sun. The Universe though? I'm familiar with accelerating expansion with the possibility that galaxies down to the atomic level could be torn apart but life being untenable in [just?] a few billion years is news to me.

:ask:


My overall point was the relative brevity of our existence in this universe from a theological point of view, and I threw in the scientific view of a most likely non-eternal existence for 'good measure'.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#29  Postby Alan C » Jun 12, 2011 10:11 am

Understood.
:thumbup:
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#30  Postby Oldskeptic » Jun 13, 2011 11:54 pm

Rumraket wrote:
Laurens wrote:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6FQdyHUXwc[/youtube]

Hmm, I'm a little confused. How can the laws of nature be optimally tuned for producing black holes? Wouldn't an increase in the gravitational force result in more black holes over time?


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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#31  Postby josephchoi » Jun 14, 2011 8:50 am

why would an omnipotent god who created the universe from nothing need to fine tune anything for life to pop up? wouldn't such a being be able to have life pop up from any condition?

So you'd have either cases: either god is omnipotent and he can and has had life pop up in any random condition, and life ISN'T fine tuned, or god is constrained and is forced to fine tune the universe for life to be possible, which would mean god isn't omnipotent.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#32  Postby Shrunk » Jun 14, 2011 4:31 pm

josephchoi wrote:why would an omnipotent god who created the universe from nothing need to fine tune anything for life to pop up? wouldn't such a being be able to have life pop up from any condition?

So you'd have either cases: either god is omnipotent and he can and has had life pop up in any random condition, and life ISN'T fine tuned, or god is constrained and is forced to fine tune the universe for life to be possible, which would mean god isn't omnipotent.


Yeah, I don't get that either.

I think the "fine tuning argument" is even weaker on theological grounds than it is on scientific ones.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#33  Postby andrewk » Jun 14, 2011 11:17 pm

Shrunk wrote:[William Lane Craig has said that..]
¨Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the Big Bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 1010(123). Penrose comments, “I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010(123).”

Does anybody know the basis of the probability calculation ascribed to Roger Penrose? I would have thought that, in order to calculate the probability of our universe commencing with entropy within a certain range, he would have to make assumptions about the process that caused it to exist.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#34  Postby John P. M. » Jun 15, 2011 12:22 pm

- Just apropos the whole thing; Victor J. Stenger will soon be releasing has released a new book today in fact, on exactly this topic.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#35  Postby Larkus » Jun 16, 2011 1:24 pm

Sweenith wrote:Take Leslie's example: suppose you're in front of a firing squad of a hundred armed marksmen who are about to execute you; the guy counts down 3 2 1, they fire; you open your eyes to find you're still alive. Now, would you say that there's nothing surprising about the fact that all the marksmen missed, since if they had not, then you wouldn't be here to be surprised about it? (i.e. "Given that I'm alive, I ought to have expected them all to miss!") — clearly not.


There clearly isn't anything surprising about it, if you don't assume, that the firing squad was about to execute you.

For that reason, Leslies firing-squad-example is irrelevant to the fine-tuning-argument.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#36  Postby Foxymoron » Jun 16, 2011 4:58 pm

Larkus wrote:
Sweenith wrote:Take Leslie's example: suppose you're in front of a firing squad of a hundred armed marksmen who are about to execute you; the guy counts down 3 2 1, they fire; you open your eyes to find you're still alive. Now, would you say that there's nothing surprising about the fact that all the marksmen missed, since if they had not, then you wouldn't be here to be surprised about it? (i.e. "Given that I'm alive, I ought to have expected them all to miss!") — clearly not.


There clearly isn't anything surprising about it, if you don't assume, that the firing squad was about to execute you.

For that reason, Leslies firing-squad-example is irrelevant to the fine-tuning-argument.


Eh??? Of course the firing squad was about to execute you. That's what the analogy states. You can't just randomly change the analogy, you can only show that it is not comparable to the reality e.g. the apparent improbability of fine-tuning.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#37  Postby Foxymoron » Jun 16, 2011 5:12 pm

Larkus wrote:
Sweenith wrote:Take Leslie's example: suppose you're in front of a firing squad of a hundred armed marksmen who are about to execute you; the guy counts down 3 2 1, they fire; you open your eyes to find you're still alive. Now, would you say that there's nothing surprising about the fact that all the marksmen missed, since if they had not, then you wouldn't be here to be surprised about it? (i.e. "Given that I'm alive, I ought to have expected them all to miss!") — clearly not.


There clearly isn't anything surprising about it, if you don't assume, that the firing squad was about to execute you.

For that reason, Leslies firing-squad-example is irrelevant to the fine-tuning-argument.



From the 'Letters to Nature' blog of Luke Barnes, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute for Astronomy, Zurich. (My underline).


What Chances Me? A Fine Tuned Critique of Victor Stenger (Part 1)
http://letterstonature.wordpress.com/20 ... er-part-1/


This post is part of a series that responds to internet articles on the fine tuning of the universe. Here I will respond to Prof. Victor Stenger, who is a particle physicist at the University of Hawaii and known for his defence of atheism. Stenger, according to Wikipedia, is currently writing a book on fine-tuning. Here I will respond to a point he made in a debate with Dr. William Lane Craig.

Stenger proposes the following counterexample to the claim that interesting conclusions can be drawn from the improbability of the fine-tuning of the constants/initial conditions/laws of nature:

Low probability events happen every day. What’s the probability that my distinguished opponent exists? You have to calculate the probability that a particular sperm united with a particular egg, then multiply that by the probability that his parents met, and then repeat that calculation for his grandparents and all his ancestors going back to the beginning of life on Earth. Even if you stop the calculation with Adam and Eve, you are going to get a fantastically small number. To use words that Dr Craig has used before, “Improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.” Well, Dr Craig has a mind-reeling, incomprehensibly low probability – a priori probability – for existing. Yet here he is before us today.

Stenger’s argument is that sometimes we cannot draw interesting conclusions from low probabilities. The most obvious problem with Stenger’s argument is that sometimes we do, in fact, draw interesting conclusions from low probabilities. For example, British illusionist Derren Brown claimed that he could predict the lottery, and then appeared to do so on national television. From the extremely small probability that he would predict the correct numbers by chance alone, we rightly infer that he didn’t just guess and get lucky.

So what’s the difference between your existence and a lotto draw? The difference is the existence of an independently specified target or pattern.

Let each of the 14 million possible lotto predictions be represented by a ping-pong ball. Place all 14 million balls in a big bag, and shake well. Brown (apparently) reaches blindly into the bag and pulls out the one winning ball. Why is this amazing? It is not just that his ball is unlikely – any ball is unlikely. It is this low probability coupled with the fact that the winning ball is specified independently of Brown’s choice. While the balls are all still in the bag, one is a winner (independent of Brown’s choice) and the rest are losers. He didn’t just pick an unlikely ball; he picked the winning ball. He can’t pull out just any ball and proclaim: “I win”.

Now fill the bag with balls representing the vast number of possible outcomes of different egg-sperm combinations. The hand of fate goes into the bag and out you come. Why isn’t this anything special? Because there is nothing to single out this ball, improbable though it is, while it is still in the bag. We only know who “you” are after you come out of the bag. “You” are not specified independently of the choice of ball. Whatever ball comes out of the bag, the corresponding person can proclaim: “I win”. (In this game, you win by existing.) You can’t lose!

Let me illustrate the difference another way. I shoot an arrow at a huge wall, 100 metres away. When the impact zone is inspected, we find that the arrow has hit the centre of a small red spot. The probability of hitting this point on the wall is tiny. Am I a talented archer? It depends. If I proclaimed: “watch me hit that red spot” before firing the arrow, then I’m the new Robin Hood. However, if I shot the arrow and then took some red paint and painted the spot around my arrow’s impact point, then you can’t reach any conclusion about my archery skills.

So which of these cases does the fine-tuning of the universe resemble? Potential universes can be marked “intelligent life can/cannot live here” independently of the properties of the actual universe. This universe is not special because it is ours. It is special because it can support intelligent life. When we consider the fine-tuning of the universe, we are not considering the probability of this universe. We are considering the probability of a universe that supports intelligent life. Choose a different sperm, you get a different person. Choose a different universe, and you almost certainly do not get a different form of intelligent life. You get no intelligent life at all. The fine-tuning of the universe involves a low probability event and an independently specified target, and thus cannot be dismissed as just another low probability event. Stenger’s counterexample misses the target.


Note that where Barnes talks of a universe that can "support intelligent life" he means a universe capable of creating the heavy elements and complex chemistry required for any kind of material life-form. NOT just bipedal church-going republicans.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#38  Postby John P. M. » Jun 16, 2011 6:49 pm

Foxymoron wrote:

This universe is not special because it is ours.

It is special because it can support intelligent life.


How are these sentences different? "Ours" would be that of any universe that could support self aware intelligence, because "we" would be whatever beings are able to ask questions.

Foxymoron wrote:

When we consider the fine-tuning of the universe, we are not considering the probability of this universe. We are considering the probability of a universe that supports intelligent life. Choose a different sperm, you get a different person. Choose a different universe, and you almost certainly do not get a different form of intelligent life. You get no intelligent life at all.


"The probability of a universe that supports life" seems 'life-centric' to me; that was Stenger's point, I believe.

If we see life as something that should arise, or something important that must happen as an end result, then the fine tuning argument holds. Argue the same for a universe that seems specifically tuned to support only a non-living substance that couldn't speak on its own behalf, and it falls apart.

Is the 'fine tuning' of the constants mind-boggling because of the complexity and 'specialness' of life? Or does it not matter one jot what a 'fine tuned' universe produces?

Stenger meant that Craig existing as specifically Craig, is seen as infinitesimally low probability if you view specifically him as being an end goal of an unguided process among his ancestors, but if you see Craig as something that ends up existing due to a unguided process, it's not a surprise that Craig is Craig, and lo and behold; he's standing right there.

"The independently specified target" of intelligent life is specified by us. If not seen as a target, but something the universe ended up producing due to its properties, I can't see how the argument is valid.

In the example of the bag of balls where one ball represents our universe including life, and other balls represents other universes, pulling out 'our universe' would only be special and low probability if the ball already had a special significance to you.


But I'm open to suggestions to the contrary.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#39  Postby andrewk » Jun 16, 2011 9:48 pm

I read the post by Dr Barnes, and most of it made sense. But then, for no apparent reason he lost it when he asserted:

"The fine-tuning of the universe involves a low probability event"


without giving any support for the statement. As I posted above, unless one can show and justify a rational basis for calculating probabilities ("probability measure"), one cannot make any meaningful statements about the probability of a certain type of event. Dr Barnes has not proposed, let alone justified, any basis for calculating probabilities of physical constants falling within certain ranges, so his statement is pure conjecture.
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Re: WL Craig: The Fine Tuning Argument

#40  Postby Larkus » Jun 17, 2011 8:10 am

Foxymoron wrote:Eh??? Of course the firing squad was about to execute you. That's what the analogy states. You can't just randomly change the analogy, you can only show that it is not comparable to the reality e.g. the apparent improbability of fine-tuning.


I didn't 'just randomly change the analogy'. I did change it specificly.

Leslie's analogy is not 'comparable to the reality' we find ourselves in:
1. We don't know whether there is a 'designer' (whether there is a firing squad) at all.
2. Even if we assume a 'designer', we don't know his intentions (whether the firing squad was aiming at you or at someone/something else):

Take Leslie's example: suppose you're in front of some position relative to a firing squad of a hundred armed marksmen who are about to execute you someone; the guy counts down 3 2 1, they fire; you open your eyes to find you're still alive. Now, would you say that there's nothing surprising about the fact that all the marksmen missed you, since if they had not, then you wouldn't be here to be surprised about it? (i.e. "Given that I'm alive, I ought to have expected them all to miss me!") — clearly not indeed.


Concerning Barnes' blog post:

I wrote in another place:
Let’s take an example of this blog post, that you linked to.

“Let me illustrate the difference another way. I shoot an arrow at a huge wall, 100 metres away. When the impact zone is inspected, we find that the arrow has hit the centre of a small red spot. The probability of hitting this point on the wall is tiny. Am I a talented archer? It depends. If I proclaimed: ‘watch me hit that red spot’ before firing the arrow, then I’m the new Robin Hood. However, if I shot the arrow and then took some red paint and painted the spot around my arrow’s impact point, then you can’t reach any conclusion about my archery skills.”

And there’s another possibility. The red spot was already there, but he didn’t announce beforehand, that he would hit the red spot (as opposed to, for example, the blue spot some inches to the right, the tiny Y-shaped crack far to the left, the n-th atom from the top or any other “independently specified target” on the wall), then you can’t reach any conclusion about his archery skills either.

Luke Barnes, just like you, commits the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

This reminds me of this conjurer’s trick where you have to pick a number between one and ten, then I tell you to look under an object, where you find a note with the number you just picked. Of course I prepared a note for every number and hid them each under a different object.
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