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Is the multiverse popular precisely because it’s unfalsifiable?

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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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2 Replies to “Is the multiverse popular precisely because it’s unfalsifiable?

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    Is the multiverse popular precisely because it’s unfalsifiable?

    I think it’s more that it’s completely nuts. But then again, so is much of QM.

    One note: while the existence of the multiverse (in general) could be unfalsifiable, specific theories considered* to be in the multiverse camp might still be falsifiable (for example, many worlds and many interacting worlds). That’s what their proponents suggest, anyway.

    *I’m sure some here would say that any falsifiable theory is by definition not a multiverse theory, but from what I’ve read, that’s not universally agreed to in the physics community.

  2. 2
    bFast says:

    No. The multiverse hypothesis is popular simply because it is non-teleological. Modern science has unnecessarily made teleology the enemy.

    The problem, of course, with the big bang is that it is an enormous precision event that calls for a cause that is outside of the universe itself. There are only two possibilities that I or anyone else has thought of — the unspeakable, and a theory of gazillions of universes of which ours is just a lucky one.

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