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Why the multiverse can’t just die of an overdose of hype

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From Columbia mathematician Peter Woit at Not Even Wrong:

One possible reaction to the phenomenon of hype in fundamental physics is to not worry much, figuring that it should be a self-limiting process. While there’s a huge appetite in the media and elsewhere for the “exciting new idea”, overhyped “new” ideas sooner or later should pass into the category of no longer “new”, and less capable of producing “excitement”. The problem is that this doesn’t seem to be happening: favored physics hype keeps getting promoted as “new” and “exciting”, no matter how old it is. More.

Woit perhaps doesn’t grasp that some theses in cosmology are not held on a rational basis, and evidence for or against them does not matter. Sooner than just accepting that the multiverse is not science because it is not falsifiable, proponents will declare war on falsifiability and evidence-based science.

Indeed, they are doing so already. That tells us how much faith they put in their own research efforts.

Finally, it will come down to science or them. One wonders on which side the pop science media will, in the end, fall.

See also: Peter Woit on Sean Carroll and science as religion

and

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3 Replies to “Why the multiverse can’t just die of an overdose of hype

  1. 1

    Atheists don’t talk much about multiverse theory anymore because there is no real evidence to support it. Below is selected text from an article published last summer in Symmetry Magazine:

    ———–

    As we’ve gained more knowledge, we’ve had our planet downgraded from the center of the universe to a chunk of rock orbiting an average star in a galaxy that is one among billions.

    So it only makes sense that many physicists now believe that even our universe might be just a small piece of a greater whole. In fact, there may be infinitely many universes, bubbling into existence and growing exponentially. It’s a theory known as the multiverse.

    One of the best pieces of evidence for the multiverse was first discovered in 1998, when physicists realized that the universe was expanding at ever increasing speed. They dubbed the force behind this acceleration dark energy. The value of its energy density, also known as the cosmological constant, is bizarrely tiny: 120 orders of magnitude smaller than theory says it should be.

    For decades, physicists have sought an explanation for this disparity. The best one they’ve come up with so far, says Yasunori Nomura, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, is that it’s only small in our universe. There may be other universes where the number takes a different value, and it is only here that the rate of expansion is just right to form galaxies and stars and planets where people like us can observe it. “Only if this vacuum energy stayed to a very special value will we exist,” Nomura says. “There are no good other theories to understand why we observe this specific value.”

    For further evidence of a multiverse, just look to string theory, which posits that the fundamental laws of physics have their own phases, just like matter can exist as a solid, liquid or gas. If that’s correct, there should be other universes where the laws are in different phases from our own—which would affect seemingly fundamental values that we observe here in our universe, like the cosmological constant. “In that situation you’ll have a patchwork of regions, some in this phase, some in others,” says Matthew Kleban, a theoretical physicist at New York University.

    ———–

    Now you know why atheists don’t talk about multiverse theory anymore.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    Truth Will Set You Free @ 1

    Atheists don’t talk much about multiverse theory anymore because there is no real evidence to support it

    Atheism per se entails no particular position on the multiverse or string theory so, unless you’re a cosmologist or theoretical physicist, there’s not much to talk about. As I understand it, it’s a work-in-progress, an attempt to find a mathematical solution to fundamental problems in these disciplines and, unless you have a firm grasp of the math involved, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    What’s more interesting here is why such an esoteric branch of mathematical physics should be such a bugbear to people here. What difference does it make?

  3. 3
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Seversky @ 2

    What’s more interesting here is why such an esoteric branch of mathematical physics should be such a bugbear to people here. What difference does it make?

    Oh, that’s easy. Here are three reasons:

    1. Intellectuals are supposed to point out inconsistencies; it’s what you do. Well, here is a big one. The multiverse is being used as a bait and switch, to advance a metaphysical world view under the guise of something else. Militant materialists trumpet “science” in order to gain credibility from observability, testability and falsifiability, but on the sly give us scientism instead, which has none of these three. They do this so they can extend the authority of “science” to encompass their world view of materialism. It’s a metaphysic masquerading as physical science, at least in the popular imagination, and that is precisely the effect that its popular advocates want to use it for.

    Thou shalt not steal.

    2. It’s a glaring example of pompous hypocrisy. For ID proponents who are constantly being ridiculed for not being “scientific,” it is almost beyond belief that those doing the ridiculing are doing the same thing they accuse others of. For ID proponents, this is too much.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness.

    3. It is coming for us, and for science. As the article intimates above, either Scientism or science will endure. It’s a cage match; two world views enter; one world view leaves. The war on falsifiability is a war on reality, just like trangenderism and abortion and so-called same-sex marriage. Once one is invested in a Big Lie (pace Solzhenitsyn), no reality must remain behind to remind the conscience of what one has denied. So, with the multiverse, it is either us or them. There are plenty of fantasies “out there” such as bigfoot, Area 51, changes in the bond angle of the water molecule (yes, that’s a thing with some people), etc., but those fantasies aren’t coming for us.

    Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them….

    I hope it’s clearer now.

    Best regards, Dean

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