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At Scientific American: Another whoop for the multiverse

Cover: The Number of the Heavens in HARDCOVER

In aid of his new book, The Number of the Heavens: A History of the Multiverse and the Quest to Understand the Cosmos, science writer Tom Siegfried fluffs up the idea once again, portraying the history of science as continuing demonstration of the existence of the multiverse:

Of course, just because multiverse advocates have been right historically doesn’t mean that they will certainly be right again this time. But multiverse opponents are certainly wrong to say that the multiverse idea is not science because it is not testable. The multiverse is not a theory to be tested, but rather a prediction of other theories that can be tested. Inflationary cosmology has, in fact, already passed many tests, although not yet enough to be definitively established.

For that matter, it’s not necessarily true that other universes are in principle not observable. If another bubble collided with ours, telltale marks might appear in the cosmic background radiation left over from the big bang. Even without such direct evidence, their presence might be inferred by indirect means, just as Einstein demonstrated the existence of atoms in 1905 by analyzing the random motion of particles suspended in liquid.

Tom Siegfried, “Long Life the Multiverse” at Scientific American (December 3, 2019)

Okay, when another “bubble” collides with ours, we’ll pay attention. Meanwhile, the multiverse exists today for one reason only: to uphold crackpot cosmology, over against the fine-tuning of the universe. The very idea of evidence needs to be undermined in order to prevent considering fine-tuning as a fact. And many are willing to do just that.

All the Cool people believe in it, which is just so much better than evidence.

See also: The multiverse is science’s assisted suicide


What becomes of science when the evidence does not matter?

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Acartia Eddie:
I am a skeptic about the multiverse, but I also don’t see a valid argument against it.
Science requires positive evidence. With biological ID the positive evidence are all the biological structures and systems that meet the criteria. With the multiverse there isn't anything but "nah, nah you can't prove me wrong"- and I want it to be true. But there isn't anything beyond that
Is it possible? Of course.
It's possible because no one has proven it to be impossible? All science so far... ET
AaronS1978, I am a skeptic about the multiverse, but I also don’t see a valid argument against it. Is it possible? Of course. Can it be proven? Probably not. At best I can’t see it proceeding beyond a thought experiment. But I have been proven wrong often enough not to close the door on the possibility. Ed George
An appeal to raw chance is not unlike the so called gambler’s fallacy. For example, suppose a gambler appears to have a winning streak playing roulette. Starting out with small bets he proceeds to win on every spin of the wheel using all his winnings on every succeeding bet. Soon his winnings become so great that the casino management, who have been watching him with their ceiling mounted “eye-in-the-sky” video surveillance cameras, fears that if his streak continues they may not be able to pay. They have also become suspicious that just maybe the gambler has somehow been able to rig the wheel. They decide to contact a mathematician they have retained as a consultant. He advises them that the gamblers winning streak is unrealistic. He agrees with his client that the player has somehow been able to rig the wheel. A manager intervenes, stops the game and then, accompanied by security guards, escorts the gambler out of the casino explaining to him that they will only settle with him pending an investigation. The gambler protests that he has done nothing wrong. The manager explains to him that they don’t believe anyone could be as lucky he had. The gambler then counters that with all the other roulette wheels in the world and all the games that have been played someone, somewhere was bound to get as lucky as he had. Does he have an argument? No he does not. The gambler's fallacy is the belief that some past spin of the wheel (or roll of the dice or flip of the coin etc.) has an influence over the next spin of the wheel. It does not. Every spin of a fairly balanced roulette wheel is independent of the proceeding spins—and therefore all other roulette wheels. For example, the odds of the ball dropping into a slot colored red vs. black are roughly ½ or 50-50 (roulette wheels also have a zero pocket or 2 zero pockets as in the so-called American design.) Streaks (winning or losing) have no influence over the next spins probability. It’s always roughly the same. The fact that other roulette wheels exist and millions, if not billions, of games have been played have no more influence over the wheel’s next spin or on a long winning or losing streak. The existence of other roulette wheels certainly cannot be said to be the cause of a winning streak. In the same way, the existence of other universes have no influence over the probabilities of the fine-tuning that exist in our universe. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7cXemBmo9E The appeal to the multiverse is even more fallacious because we have no evidence that other universes even exist. Is it sufficient for us to infer the existence of other universes simply because the existence of our universe appears to be so improbable without considering the other “possibilities?” On the other hand, is it fallacious for the casino management to suspect someone is cheating if he is on a winning streak? After all highly improbable streaks have occurred. The answer, none the less, is no, because a cheater can only win by appearing to beat the odds. While past experience tells us that games of chance result in there being big winners, it also informs us that cheaters do in fact exist. Casino owners would be naïve if they were not on the lookout for these kind of people—which is why, after all, they have those eye-in-the-sky cameras. So it’s perfectly rational to suspect people who appear to be “too lucky” of cheating. In the same way it is perfectly rational for the theist to argue that the highly improbable fine-tuning we observe in the universe is the result of design. It is exactly what we would expect from a theist’s perspective. The multiverse “hypothesis”, is again, is fallacious, because it doesn’t even begin to solve the problem. Nonetheless, I am willing to concede that fine-tuning could all be the result of chance. Technically one cannot rule out the possibility of such a super fantastically improbable event, because no one can prove that it is impossible. My point is simply that appealing to unknown universes doesn’t help the atheist here. So if he wants to argue that our universe is the result of one super incredible lucky roll of the cosmic dies—like a throwing bucket full of a thousand dice onto a floor and betting that they all come up with the same number, say sixes for example-- be my guest. However, I think we will find very few rational atheists who are willing to take me up on that kind of wager—at least one involving some real money, like your life savings. Of course, if the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of design that implies that the universe has some kind of meaning and purpose. At the very least, it is a question that people think about and ponder, and choose to believe or disbelieve. But according to the atheistic naturalist the universe doesn’t have any kind of ultimate meaning or purpose. The question is then why are they even bothered by such questions? john_a_designer
Indeed. I forgot about sci-fi. I was limiting my argument to things people really believe in but now it occurs to me that some people really believe in sci-fi. For example, some people really believe they are ET. john_a_designer
John A Designer:
The reasons for the so-called multiverse hypothesis are purely metaphysical.
I disagree. It makes for great science fiction shows. :cool: ET
The reasons for the so-called multiverse hypothesis are purely metaphysical. There is absolutely no empirical evidence for such a hypothesis. Some atheistic scientists are more or less willing to admit this. For example, in 2007 while making observations at the Keck observatory in Hawaii, Sandra Faber, a professor of astronomy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, told science writer Anil Ananthaswamy, “that there were only two possible explanations for fine-tuning. ‘One is that there is a God and that God made it that way…’ But for Faber, an atheist, divine intervention is not the answer. ‘The only other approach that makes any sense is to argue that there really is an infinite, or a very big, ensemble of universes out there and we are in one,’ she said. This ensemble would be the multiverse. In a multiverse, the laws of physics and the values of physical parameters like dark energy would be different in each universe, each the outcome of some random pull on the cosmic slot machine. We just happened to luck into a universe that is conducive to life. After all, if our corner of the multiverse were hostile to life, Faber and I wouldn’t be around to ponder these questions under stars.” https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/is-the-universe-fine-tuned-for-life/ Other atheists appear to agree that God counts as a rational explanation. For example, in a debate with Christian philosopher William Lane Craig, California Institute of Technology physicist, Sean Carroll said, “I’m very happy to admit right off the bat – [that God fine-tuning the universe] is the best argument that the theists have when it comes to cosmology.” However, Carroll then deftly takes away with the left hand what he had just offered with his right. “I am by no means convinced that there is a fine-tuning problem,” he told Craig. Oh? Is Carrol speaking for everyone? Is an airy wave of the hand all that is needed to solve the fine tuning as a problem. Other prominent physicists and astrophysicists would disagree, among them Sir Martin Rees, Paul Davies, Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, Max Tegmark, Andrei Linde and Alexander Vilenkin to name a few. All these men, as far as I know, reject traditional theism. Nevertheless, they see fine-tuning as being a real problem in need of an explanation. Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/god-and-cosmology-the-existence-of-god-in-light-of-contemporary-cosmology#ixzz3RlJRmO29 For the theist fine tuning is a problem that has an easy answer. For us an eternally existing transcendent mind (God) is a sufficient explanation for the universe’s fine tuning. What is the non-theists explanation? The most popular, at the present, is the one given by Faber, an ensemble of universes—the so-called multiverse. Popular or not there are several major problems with the multiverse hypothesis. First, no one knows if any other universes besides our own exists. Neither does anyone have any idea how to detect another universe. Furthermore, even if we were able to detect another universe, how would we ever be able to prove there was a sufficiently large number of other universes to solve the fine tuning problem? Secondly, even if we assume for sake argument that a multiverse exists, does it really solve the problem? I would argue that it does not. An appeal to the multiverse is nothing more than a fallacious appeal to chance. The reason “chance” is not a sufficient explanation is that if it really were one would not have to make an appeal to an infinite number of other universes. You would only have to appeal to what chance can do in this universe-- the only universe that we know exists or that we know anything about. john_a_designer
Those who believe in the scientific possibility of a multi-verse have no clue how science works. Just like macro-evolution, it has never been witnessed and cannot be replicated. If it is not witnessed, it is not a valid scientific theory. BobRyan
Talk about unscientific - with the multiverse the "sheer dumb luck" explanation for anything is just as good as the Newton's laws type of explanation, so there is not any reason to even bother to look for an analytical law-based explanation for anything. From https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/the-multiverse-is-anti-scientific/:
"The multiverse is also anti-scientific on another related but independent ground. It seems obvious that the “we just happen to be in the universe where by sheer dumb luck this being or phenomenon was instantiated” explanation may be invoked to explain absolutely anything. And it if that is true, it is also obvious that an explanation that “explains” everything, in fact explains nothing. Why? Because the same “explanation” for a being or phenomenon could be used to explain both the existence of the being or phenomenon and the non-existence of the being or phenomenon at that same time. Thus, with respect to any phenomenon X, resort to “we just happen to live in the universe where phenomenon X occurs” explains the existence of the observed phenomenon. But if phenomenon X were not observed, “we just happen to live in the universe where phenomenon X fails to occur” has equal explanatory value."
Just the tip of the iceberg. doubter
My problem with the multi-verse is it invokes infinite probability Personally I do not see how it could work because it would be inevitable that something catastrophic would happen to us and it would happen infinitely We will and should have collided multiple times with multiple bubbles of multiple universes Events like giant singularities that absorb entire universe is should happen The fact that none of that happens implies that if the multi-verse even exists, which I doubt it does, it would have to be extremely fine tuned so it wouldn’t destroy itself, that would also need an explanation. Intern that would make it even less likely I know my argument is philosophical but it is also common sense. That’s my two cents on it AaronS1978
Let me clarify that for you. So opposition to the multiverse hypothesis is not based on its scientific shortcomings (of which there are multiple) but on the fact that it undermines the fine-tuning argument (it's only purpose) which points to (the obvious) an intelligent designer/God. Got it.(No I don't think that you really have got it yet.) Latemarch
Actually the multiverse would point to God/ an Intelligent Designer. You can't account for ONE universe let alone multiple ET
So opposition to the multiverse hypothesis is not based on its scientific shortcomings but on the fact that it undermines the fine-tuning argument which points to an intelligent designer/God. Got it. Seversky
"All the Cool people believe in it, which is just so much better than evidence." Not only do they believe in it, they think less of you for not. And that's funny, because they didn't think that much of you to begin with. Andrew asauber

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