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The key to falsifiability of not evidence but observability


Recently, we featured one of Sabine Hossenfelder (author of Lost in Math’s) columns on the importance of falsifiability in science. I (O’Leary for News) wrote that ideas like the multiverse “cannot be falsified because there is no evidence for them.”

Philosopher and photographer Laszlo Bencze offers a correction:

The existence of evidence for or against a theory is not the issue. There was no evidence for Relativity when Einstein first proposed it. Yet it was a scientific theory because it made claims which might at some time refute it.

The multiverse theory is irrefutable because alternate universes are, by definition, forever inaccessible. (If they were accessible through some very difficult convoluted route, they would still be part of our universe.)

This is why there can be no scientific theories about angels or demons either. They are forever beyond observation. Hence, such theories are known as metaphysical theories which does not mean they are meaningless. Metaphysical theories can be criticized and some determined to be better than others. They just aren’t scientific theories. That’s all.

Good point. Thanks.

See also: Sabine Hossenfelder on the flight from falsifiability Hossenfelder is right to be concerned. Some cosmologists would like to dump falsifiability as a criterion. If they could, they would remove an obstacle to demanding public belief in ideas like the multiverse, ideas that cannot be falsified because there is no evidence for them.

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