Barry Arrington notes
Absence of evidence for a proposition does not make it unfalsifiable. A proposition is unfalsifiable if, in principle, there can be no empirical test that would disprove it.
That is of course correct. But where does it leave the multiverse?
Writing as I did, I had taken for granted that no evidence could support the multiverse. Science is about studying this universe, not hypothetical others.
But I was getting ahead of myself. There may be no evidence for a cougar concealing himself in the wildlife preserve adjacent to a hog barn. But anyone familiar with the big cat’s elusiveness would be unwise to rule it out in principle. A systematic search with well-trained tracking dogs might verify or falsify the proposition. (Or just persuade the cat, if he is there, to move on … )
By contrast, the multiverse is a pure construct of the imagination, created to evade the implications of cosmic fine-tuning. One result is that the desire to believe makes evidence not only superfluous, but actually a problem. Evidence can be undermined in a way that desire cannot.
Thus, putting the multiverse beyond the reach of falsifiability is comforting for those who seek philosophical and religious certainty from science. It is likely to grow increasingly respectable. Then the trend will continue to spread to other areas of science as well. (Cf. “The debate is OVER!”)
Stay tuned and stay buckled.
See also: Will there still be science in 2020?
and How the multiverse was created
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