Apparently, the respectful reception Max Tegmark’s universe of universes book received wasn’t enough. Mathematicians and scientists haven’t just converted en masse. So he offers, via Scientific American, a primer on how to critique his theory:
Many physicists have explored various types of parallel universes in recent books, including Sean Carroll, David Deutsch, Brian Greene, Michio Kaku, Martin Rees, Leonard Susskind and Alexander Vilenkin. Interestingly, not a single one of these books (my own included) makes any outright claims that parallel universes exist. Instead, all their arguments involve what logicians know as “modus ponens”: that if X implies Y and X is true, then Y must also be true. Specifically, they argue that if some scientific theory X has enough experimental support for us to take it seriously, then we must take seriously also all its predictions Y, even if these predictions are themselves untestable (involving parallel universes, for example).
In summary, there is no shortage of potential weaknesses in the arguments for parallel universes. Attacking all these weaknesses involves doing interesting experimental and theoretical physics research. If any of the attacks succeed, the corresponding multiverse evidence is discredited. Conversely, if all the attacks fail, then we’ll be forced to take parallel universes more seriously whether we like them or not – such are the rules of science. In this way, parallel universes are no different from any other scientific idea.
Multiverse skeptic Peter Woit fails to find Tegmark’s list of his options for disagreement quite comprehensive enough and a heated exchange follows in the comments, where Tegmark ends up replying,
In my opinion, science shouldn’t be about emotions and sociology, but about logic and experimental facts. So why are you bringing emotions into the discussion (“if I’m not happy”, “enjoy”, “happily continue”)?
Do you really feel that scientific ideas should be judged by how “prominent” their advocates are rather than by the quality of the arguments and evidence? This and your talk of a “publicity campaign” seems to assume a scientific paradigm where you and I have strong emotional preferences for what we want to discover and are guided by these rather than by logic and facts. I’m sorry, but I strongly disagree with this approach. I feel that my job as a scientist isn’t to try to reach conclusions that I find emotionally pleasing or sociologically popular, but to follow the trail of evidence wherever it leads.
Yet the multiverse was never about evidence, and even Tegmark didn’t make that claim.
I’ve made detailed arguments about exactly what the problem is with your Level IV multiverse in the WSJ review, on my blog, and here. You’ve completely ignored them, in favor of personal attacks on me as “unscientific” and “emotional”, driven by “hate”.
“Hate” is a big one these days. You “hate” people when you identify weaknesses in whatever they are saying or doing.
As I unpack in the Science Fictions series” of posts, multiverse theory exists in order to get around evidence in our universe that points to creation or design. It’s a pretty extravagant alternative, but emotionally very satisfying to its proponents, to judge from their other interests. Tegmark is no different. But he is much better funded.
One senses that mathematician Woit is at the disadvantage of not understanding that the multiverse is a frenzied new religious outlook, and the zeal of its proponents will generally be greater than the zeal of people like him, who like their fields of study to proceed by rationally comprehensible axioms.
See also: Peter Woit, this is your call to conversion
Multiverse skeptic Peter Woit clarifies, he is NOT a creationist
Mathematician wonders about the respectful reception new multiverse book is getting
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips
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