Sarah Scoles at the Smithsonian Magazine on the multiverse:
Astronomers are arguing about whether they can trust this untested—and potentially untestable—idea
Detailing the objections of those who want evidence, she then explains,
Other scientists say that the definitions of “evidence” and “proof” need an upgrade. Richard Dawid of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy believes scientists could support their hypotheses, like the multiverse—without actually finding physical support. He laid out his ideas in a book called String Theory and the Scientific Method. Inside is a kind of rubric, called “Non-Empirical Theory Assessment,” that is like a science-fair judging sheet for professional physicists. If a theory fulfills three criteria, it is probably true.
First, if scientists have tried, and failed, to come up with an alternative theory that explains a phenomenon well, that counts as evidence in favor of the original theory. Second, if a theory keeps seeming like a better idea the more you study it, that’s another plus-one. And if a line of thought produced a theory that evidence later supported, chances are it will again.
Radin Dardashti, also of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, thinks Dawid is straddling the right track. “The most basic idea undergirding all of this is that if we have a theory that seems like it works, and we have come up with nothing that works better, chances are our idea is right,” he says.
But, historically, that undergirding has often collapsed, and scientists haven’t been able to see the obvious alternatives to dogmatic ideas. For example, the Sun, in its rising and setting, seems to go around Earth. People, therefore, long thought that our star orbited the Earth. More.
With so many people rethinking evolution, the Darwinians could use a theory that doesn’t require physical support too. And as for being on the wrong track, they should know as well as anyone that if they can clamp down hard enough on dissent, evidence-based support is superfluous.
See also: How and why there is a demand for a multiverse (its existence is optional).
The war on falsifiability
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