Intelligent Design Multiverse

Multiverse cannot even be observed, let alone falsified.

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Further to The war on falsifiability, from Laszlo Bencze:

In This Idea Must Die, cosmologist Sean Carroll argues that the criterion of falsifiability as a characteristic of scientific theories must die because it is holding back the advance of science. So what is “falsifiability” and why does it matter?

First of all, falsifiability is not a scientific theory at all. It is a philosophical proposition about the nature of scientific theories. Basically it is the tent pole for Karl Popper’s attempt to distinguish science from other things like pseudo-science, metaphysics, and mathematics. It states that unless a theory allows for the possibility that certain observations would prove the theory false, the theory is not a scientific one.

 Karl Popper (1902–1994)  in his seminal treatise, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, explains his stand as:

Natural laws might be compared to ‘proscriptions’ or ‘prohibitions’. They do not assert that something exists; they deny it. They insist on the non-existence of certain things or state of affairs, proscribing or prohibiting, and ruling them out. And it is precisely because they do this that they are falsifiable. If we accept as true one singular statement which infringes the prohibition by asserting the existence of a thing (or the occurrence of an event) ruled out by the law, then the law is refuted.

Strictly existential statements, by contrast, cannot be falsified. No statement of an observed event can contradict the existential statement, ‘There are white ravens’. Only a universal statement could do this. On the basis of the criterion of demarcation here adopted I shall therefore have to treat strictly existential statements as non-empirical or ‘metaphysical’. —The Logic of Scientific Discovery, p. 69

Thus we see that the statement “There exists a multiverse” is necessarily existential and thus metaphysical.

But if we say, “Because the multiverse does not exist, I therefore know that there are not an infinite number of copies of me,” we have made a falsifiable statement. Anyone could easily falsify that statement by producing evidence of there being an infinite number of copies of me. In fact, even one perfect copy of me (identical down to the very last atom and identical in all life experiences down to the finest detail) would falsify the statement. Thus the negation, “There is not a multiverse,” is valid as scientific theory.

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The desire to eliminate falsifiability as a criterion of demarcation is simply a way to allow certain favored wild, non-scientific ideas to sneak in as science and thereby gain the prestige that our society accords to science.

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It’s important to note that pseudo-science which we all view with contempt gets lumped in with mathematics, which we all respect. So there is meaning and importance on both sides of the divide between science and non science. Moreover sometimes metaphysical theories like the atomic theory of the ancient Greeks can migrate from metaphysics to science as more refined techniques of observation are developed. In fact, it’s even possible for pseudo-science to enter the fold of science as happened with the theory of plate tectonics which the scientific community of 1912 dismissed as preposterous but which is now accepted as obvious.

When it comes to the multiverse the situation is clear. Multiverse theory cannot be falsified. It cannot be observed at all. It exists only as a mental speculation (or as Popper puts it, “an existential statement). It is therefore not science. Multiverse theory is metaphysics. Or, if you prefer, it is pseudo science. But science it is not. Popper’s rule for demarcation makes it easy to so classify multiverse claims.

The desire to eliminate falsifiability as a criterion of demarcation is simply a way to allow certain favored wild, non-scientific ideas to sneak in as science and thereby gain the prestige that our society accords to science. But if we grant scientific status to the multiverse by eliminating falsifiability as a criterion of science, we must also grant scientific status to astrology which has a long history of not being falsifiable. (And by the way, Kepler happened to be a first class astrologer which skill he used to help support himself while he worked on his studies of the orbits of the planets.)

It is important to remember that it does not matter whether falsification is possible on a practical level. It may well be impossible to test the theory by any means available to technology. What matters is that the theory is so stated that some sort of test is theoretically possible.

I will close with this quote which summarizes Popper’s views rather well:

Falsificationists…believe…that we can never give positive reasons which justify the belief that a theory is true…We hold that…the rationality of science lies not in its habit of appealing to empirical evidence in support of its dogmas—astrologers do so too—but solely in the critical approach— in an attitude which, of course, involves the critical use, among other arguments , of empirical evidence (especially in refutations)….therefore, science has nothing to do with the quest for certainty or probability or reliability…we are only interested in criticizing [theories] and testing them, in the hope of finding out where we are mistaken; of learning from our mistakes; and, if we are lucky, of proceeding to better theories. —Conjectures and Refutations, p. 228

See also: Will there still be science in 2020?

and How the multiverse was created

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23 Replies to “Multiverse cannot even be observed, let alone falsified.

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    The Multiverse in general and String Theory’s extra dimensions in particular complicate the age old question “How many Angels can dance on the head of a pin?”

    Modern Science is starting to resemble Medieval Theology. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – Medieval Theology had some deep stuff.

  2. 2
    daveS says:

    But if we say, “Because the multiverse does not exist, I therefore know that there are not an infinite number of copies of me,” we have made a falsifiable statement. Anyone could easily falsify that statement by producing evidence of there being an infinite number of copies of me.

    Easily? That appears impossible, considering that he also states that the multiverse cannot be observed.

    By the same token, the statement “There is not a multiverse” is not a valid scientific theory because it is also unfalsifiable (it seems to me, anyway).

  3. 3
    Mapou says:

    There is only one universe for the simple reason that all properties in the universe, both positive and negative, must add up to nothing. There is only one nothing and everything derives from that. This is what makes everything ONE and why it’s called a UNIverse in the first place.

    All those poop-flinging multiverse monkeys (you know who you are) are just practicing their usual chicken feather voodoo science in plain view for all to see. Not very pretty.

  4. 4
    ppolish says:

    When a push turns to a shove, it is either God or Multiverse. Many have not been shoved yet. They still believe accident/oops/chance can explain our fine tuned existence. When they get shoved, ie realize chance has been falsified – they will choose Multiverse. Lesser of two evils lol. Belief in Multiverse will grow and grow.

    Too bad God can create a Multiverse but not vice versa:)

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    Okay, try this.

    There is nothing in the science we have now that precludes travel back in time. We don’t know how to do it but it’s not impossible.

    The problem with time travel, as every good SF fan knows, is the Grandfather Paradox – which is usually completely ignored by films and TV shows. That says that if I can travel back in time, I could go back and kill my own grandfather. But if I did, I would never be born so my grandfather would not be killed, so I would be born able to go back and kill my grandfather and so on. Hence, Paradox.

    One way out of that is to say what if there were two separate timelines – or universes. However, What if, when I travel back in time, I also move into an alternative reality. In that one I kill my alternate grandfather and in that timeline I am never born. The multiverse hypothesis is certainly worth considering.

    The alternative is there is something we haven’t seen yet which does prevent time travel, although the only SF novel I can think of that offers an interesting scientific speculation about such an effect is Gregory Benford’s Timescape.

  6. 6
    Mapou says:

    Seversky:

    There is nothing in the science we have now that precludes travel back in time. We don’t know how to do it but it’s not impossible.

    Bzzzt! Of course time travel is impossible and it’s easy to prove. In fact, time travel in any direction is hogwash. Time travel implies a velocity in time which would have to be given as v = dt/dt, which is nonsensical. It’s that simple.

    This being said, it boggles the mind that mainstream crackpots like Stephen Hawking can claim that time travel is possible and get away with it.

  7. 7
    ppolish says:

    Seversky, Global Warming kills off humanity before they can invent Time Travel. Otherwise they would have come back and warned us. Duh.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Seversky: There is nothing in the science we have now that precludes travel back in time.

    In order to travel back in time you’d need a measuring device and that right there breaks the physical asymmetry.

    Come back and visit us from the future after mankind has figured out how how to get around that problem.

  9. 9
    daveS says:

    Mapou,

    Time travel implies a velocity in time which would have to be given as v = dt/dt, which is nonsensical.

    I don’t recall your exact position on this—is it just dt/dt that is nonsensical? What about dx/dx?

    WolframAlpha doesn’t have any issues with it.

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    daveS, why do you insist on insulting my intelligence? Of course, WolframAlpha does not have a problem with dt/dt = 1. Neither do I. It is just not a measure of velocity.

    PS. I will ignore your reply. So don’t bother.

  11. 11
    daveS says:

    Heh. Ok.

  12. 12
    Virgil Cain says:

    Splintering- they call it (time travel) splintering. 😎 “13 monkeys” plug

    But anyway it is said that the multiverse is a product of the mathematics. That would mean to falsify it one would just need to either disprove that math or the conclusion.

  13. 13
    ppolish says:

    I think once time travel is invented, folks will only travel back a day or so. Make a $$ killing in Vegas off track / sport bets – and retire.

    Why travel back hundreds of years? What would you wear? What currency to bring? Nasty diseases for your constitution and you infecting others with your modern germs yikes. Don’t drink the water.

  14. 14
    Axel says:

    Hilarious! And they used to say, theology/philosophy/mathematics is like a blind man looking for a black cat in a dark room! At least the searcher had a chance of hearing or touching said critter.

    How about the multiverse as a brainfart of zombies? It was bad enough atheists claiming nothing turned into everything, but everything turning into nothing…? Which is what it amounts to. The nihilism to plumb all nihilism.

  15. 15
    Barry Arrington says:

    Anyone else notice this:

    Seversky and daveS: The design inference is preposterous!

    Seversky and daveS: Time travel? Yeah, I’m down with that.

  16. 16
    daveS says:

    Seversky and daveS: Time travel? Yeah, I’m down with that.

    No, I’m not down with time travel, as the term is normally used. If we’re talking about things such as the twin “paradox”, sure.

  17. 17
    Mung says:

    Wouldn’t it be neat if we could travel back to the time of unicorns and other imaginary beings?

  18. 18
    leodp says:

    Of course everyone believes that *something* has always existed. For materialists that’d have to be something material. Since this universe is finite, with both beginning and end, then there must be an infinite succession of finite universes. To explain the fine tuning sans-mind-plan-intent then each of the infinite succession must have slightly different fundamental forces and by chance this one got them right for life and us. Given an infinite number of tries, the probability of this becomes 100%. Never mind that all of this is faith sans evidence… but it is also faith contra logic. For example Thomas Aquinas showed the logical impossibility of an infinite succession of finite, or caused, events. Physicists are getting more metaphysical than theologians these days. Keith Ward offers some helpful words here:

    http://youtu.be/TyYBBpbzgc0

  19. 19
    SteRusJon says:

    Seversky, re: time travel

    OK, let’s assume for argument that time travel is possible.

    If someone, somewhere were to achieve time travel, I would presume that the traveler would suddenly appear at someone else’s time and place. How would that sudden appearance and disappearance, when the traveler moved to a different time, be any different from the appearance of a corporeal angel or demon? If that traveler interfered, say in the course of a fatal disease, with secretly applied technology presently unknown to us, how would you detect that it was not a miracle? If time travel is possible, how can we be sure any event in our present is not caused by the actions of another from another time with the chain of causality of the event disconnected from its antecedent or, even, shall I say, postcedent cause?

    As I see it, if you hold to the possibility of time travel, you must accept the possibility of events that are indistinguishable from miracles.

    Stephen

  20. 20
    EvilSnack says:

    Severksy @ 5:

    But remember, everyone kills Hitler their first time going back.

  21. 21
    Seversky says:

    So our universe must be one of the few, perhaps the only one, where Hitler survived? In the others he was taken out by a fellow Austrian Terminator from the future…

  22. 22
    Axel says:

    Don’t you worry, our Intelligence Services, Western industrialists and mega-corporate types would have found and funded another Hitler or a plausible approximation, such as Pinochet. To protect us from they Commies, doncha know.

  23. 23
    EvilSnack says:

    Actually, because no Hitler == No WWII == no rapid advance in technology == no time travel, the league of temporal adventurers has a squad who goes back and saves Hitler every time some newbie kills him.

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