So, my Best Anthropicism Contest elicited almost 50 submissions. Thanks so much to everyone who entered — if not for you, this tautological tug-of-war would’ve been something other than what it was!
To choose the winning entry, the first rule I adopted was that, when I did find the winning entry, conditions would have to be such as to make it the winning entry, since otherwise it wouldn’t be the winning entry in the first place, but rather a losing entry. Since that didn’t get me very far, I quickly fell back on other criteria.
First, the winning entry would have to be short — longwinded explanations were out right away.
Second, it would have to make sense.
Third, it would have to illustrate the anthropic principle specifically, not some sort of generic Zen wisdom.
That already killed most of the entries. Among the ones left, many dealt Hofstadterifically with the contest itself:
wolfgang: Applying the principle of mediocrity I have to conclude that it is unlikely that I will win this contest.
Matt Wedel: Oh, c’mon! Just give me the prize! If I wasn’t going to win, I’d be living in a different universe where I didn’t win. BUT — I’m not. So give me the prize.
MX: Why am I entering this contest? Because if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be me, I would be a being very similar to me living in a universe in which I did not enter this contest.
Other entries worked well as parody:
sockatume: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would? As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck would, otherwise it wouldn’t be a woodchuck.
Bram Cohen: Why have all dates thus far come before January 1, 3000? Because the universe will cease to exist on that day.
In the end, though, I decided that what I was looking for wasn’t mere wit, but the real, genuine illusion of explanatory insight. And that’s why Lev R. takes the prize, with the following perspicacious pearl:
why aren’t physicists too interested in computational complexity? because if they were, they’d be computer scientists.