Speaking of the fact that people you might not have expected to are beginning to notice that we are drowning in cow plop from popular science media: Every so often someone there notices the problem briefly. But that person always has to be careful not to notice it too much.
In a review of Max Tegmark’s latest, Our Mathematical Universe: My quest for the ultimate nature of reality, a New Scientist writer finds himself asking a question that might well have been asked a decade ago: “When does multiverse speculation cross into fantasy?”
Tegmark? Yes, the perceptronium man: “I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter.” He’s also a big multiverse proponent, which is why writer Mark Buchanan’s question is directed at his book:
Even so, there does seem to be something a little questionable with this vast multiplication of multiverses. While the notion of the Level I Multiverse at least makes contact with real physics and possible evidence, it isn’t clear that any of these other ideas ever could. Multiverse champions seem quite happy, even eager, to invoke infinite numbers of other universes as mechanisms for explaining things we see in our own universe. In a sense, multiverse enthusiasts take a “leap of faith” every bit as big as the leap to believing in a creator, as physicist Paul Davies put it in an article in The New York Times.
In the end, this isn’t science so much as philosophy using the language of science. “Inflation”, Tegmark notes, “is the gift that keeps on giving, because every time you think it can’t possibly predict something more radical than it already has, it does.”
Uh-uh. Stop right there. This is not philosophy using the language of science. This is nonsense using the language of nonsense.
If popular science writers hadn’t decided, with Stephen Hawking, that science has replaced philosophy, they would have been quicker to spot the elementary problem: Speculation that can predict anything predicts nothing. Science is only the first loser, not the only one.
Of course, the review ends by praising Tegmark’s speculative abilities, as if he were a science fiction novelist. Which he is. But the rules of the pop science game today require that players never say so. They just dance around the fact. And ask questions about what that implies only in situations where either nothing or banalities follow.
Note: My Science Fictions series focuses on how the issues around the origin of the universe, life, the human race, and the human mind play out in the popular imagination vs. what the evidence suggests. Just look what we have been getting for all our time and money. ): – O’Leary for News