Friday, July 22, 2011

Free will in the multiverse

SciAm writer John Horgan reviews a new book in the WSJ:
Mr. Deutsch has earned notice for his vigorous advocacy of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics -— the idea that, although we see a particle follow only one path in our world, it actually follows all possible paths in other universes. Mr. Deutsch touches on this and other esoteric concepts in "The Beginning of Infinity," but his book is animated by an ambition much greater than defending a particular theory. Mr. Deutsch wants us to share his radically optimistic vision of humanity's future, one in which progress continues forever. ...

Mr. Deutsch's emphasis on the nonmaterial qualities of the mind dovetails with his insistence that progress stems, above all, from human creativity. Although we are subject to the laws of nature, he says, we can control our destiny through our own free choices. This might not seem like a terribly controversial claim, but many leading scientists -— from Albert Einstein and Francis Crick to Stephen Hawking -— have argued that free will is an illusion, because our "choices" are pre-determined by physical processes beyond our conscious control. I am heartened that Mr. Deutsch resists this appalling scientific determinism.
I would not get excited by Deutsch's idea of free will. He believes that every time you make a decision, the universe splits into two, with your alter-ego in the other universe suffering from the opposite of your decision. Everything you do to make the universe a better place is actually making some alternate universes into worse places.

The new Scientific American (August 2011) has the multiverse on the cover. Only the pro-multiverse articles are free. Max Tegmark believes that all mathematical ideas are really alternate universes, and compares himself to Giordano Bruno, a medieval heretic. He has no observable evidence for the multiverse but says that opposition is motivated by human hubris, and that anyone who rejects the Tooth Fairy should also reject that human hubris and accept the multiverse.

Leftist-atheist-evolutionist Jerry Coyne tries to assure us that the multiverse is not something scientists concocted to get around the fine-tuning arguments that the laws of physics are designed to make human life possible. As Tegmark says in SciAm:
Our universe appears surprisingly fine-tuned for life in the sense that if you tweaked many of our constants of nature by just a tiny amount, life as we know it would be impossible. ... Some of the fine-tuning appears extreme enough to be quite embarrassing — for example, we need to tune the dark energy to about 123 decimal places to make habitable galaxies.
The leftist-atheist-evolutionists find this fine-tuning argument very disturbing.

The multiverse is a Kuhnian paradigm shift argument. That means that there is no scientific evidence for it, but it catches on anyway by fashion or fad. Tegmark ridicules belief in observable reality as "akin to an ostrich with its head in the sand". Actually, ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. He also makes an analogy to the Earth revolving around the Sun. As I explain in my book, modern physicists often make such bogus arguments when they have no science to back up what they say.

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