The Multiverse of Madness and Fallacies


I am very excited! Production has begun on the second Dr. Strange movie, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness! I loved reading Dr. Strange comic books as a child, and I loved the first Dr. Strange movie, so when it comes to this upcoming Dr. Strange movie, I am like a kid at Christmas staring at the animatronic characters in a department store window.

Even more intriguing is the idea that Dr. Strange will apparently be adventuring across the multiverse – a concept introduced to movie-goers in previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies such as the first Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, the Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home. The multiverse establishes a creative playground for endless adventures in alternative universes for the heroes of the MCU. The movie website, Cinemablend.com, explains the multiverse as used in the MCU:      

In short, the idea is that reality as we know it is simply one of an infinite number – including those that are almost exactly the same as ours with only microscopic differences, and others that are unfathomably different. In the film, Doctor Strange will presumably find himself on a kind of universe-hopping adventure, though the full extent of that is currently unclear.

Ah yes, the multiverse. While it creates a background for rollicking adventures across possible alternative histories, it’s not just a figment of the imagination of the writers behind the MCU. Lots of real scientists with real degrees (sorry, Bill Nye) accept the notion that there is a real multiverse out there beyond our reach. It is a place an infinite size and age where an infinite number of universes exist (bubbling out of an infinitely large cosmic pool of some type) which live just next door to us but remain undetectable by us. (Although at least one news report suggests that some evidence may have been discovered for the multiverse, the article shows that the evidence is pretty tenuous.)

Yet, despite the paucity of evidence outside of mathematical modeling (one might reasonably say, lack of any evidence) for the existence of this multiverse, the belief in the multiverse remains extremely durable. The multiverse has largely become a standard tenet for many scientists who spend millions of dollars in grant money seeking to prove its existence or who create theories that assume the existence of the multiverse. However, it is even more important for Internet atheists who need it to save the day for naturalism because, as these same real scientists with real degrees already know, the odds that life has arisen by chance without an infinite number of possibilities is so exceedingly slim as to be statistically zero.

Personally, I love writing about the multiverse because of the ridiculous places it takes us. One of my personal favorite is entitled, What are the Ramifications of a Universe where Zayn Malik Still Sings with One Direction?   And through articles like this, many of us on the CADRE have taken swipes at the logic behind the multiverse here, here  and here (to link just a few).

Well, now it appears that at least one contributor to Scientific American has finally caught up with the CADRE. In an opinion piece written by Philip Goth entitled Our Improbable Existence Is No Evidence for a Multiverse,  Goth points out how the belief in the multiverse, based as it is on speculation from mathematical models and a deep need to explain how we got here, is based on a logical fallacy – the inverse gambler’s fallacy.

Goth begins by painting the picture of the problem:

We exist, and we are living creatures. It follows that the universe we live in must be compatible with the existence of life. However, as scientists have studied the fundamental principles that govern our universe, they have discovered that the odds of a universe like ours being compatible with life are astronomically low. We can model what the universe would have looked like if its constants—the strength of gravity, the mass of an electron, the cosmological constant—had been slightly different. What has become clear is that, across a huge range of these constants, they had to have pretty much exactly the values they had in order for life to be possible. The physicist Lee Smolin has calculated that the odds of life-compatible numbers coming up by chance is 1 in 10229.

He then references the multiverse as the argument and notes the analogy to the Infinite Monkeys Theorem (IMT) which I previously tackled in two pieces entitled Infinite Monkeys, Keyboards and Time – What are the Odds and Infinite Monkeys versus Infinite Universes. But then Goth does the unexpected for someone writing in Scientific American: he notes a logical flaw in the multiverse reasoning.


However, experts in the mathematics of probability have identified the inference from the fine-tuning to the multiverse as an instance of fallacious reasoning. Specifically, multiverse theorists commit the inverse gambler’s fallacy, which is a slight twist on the regular gambler’s fallacy. In the regular gambler’s fallacy, the gambler has been at the casino all night and has had a terrible run of bad luck. She thinks to herself, “My next roll of the dice is bound to be a good one, as it’s unlikely I’d roll badly all night!” This is a fallacy, because for any particular roll, the odds of, say, getting a double six are the same: 1/36. How many times the gambler has rolled that night has no bearing on whether the next roll will be a double six.

In the inverse gambler’s fallacy, a visitor walks into a casino and the first thing she sees is someone rolling a double six. She thinks “Wow, that person must’ve been playing for a long time, as it’s unlikely they’d have such good luck just from one roll.” This is fallacious for the same reason. The casino- visitor has only observed one roll of the dice, and the odds of that one roll coming good is the same as any other roll: 1/36. How long the player has been rolling prior to this moment has no bearing on the odds of the one roll the visitor observed being a double six.

Philosopher Ian Hacking was the first to connect the inverse gambler’s fallacy to arguments for the multiverse, focusing on physicist John Wheeler’s oscillating universe theory, which held that our universe is the latest of a long temporal sequence of universes. Just as the casino-visitor says “Wow, that person must’ve been playing for a long time, as it’s unlikely they’d have such good luck just from one roll,” so the multiverse theorist says “Wow, there must be many other universes before this one, as it’s unlikely the right numbers would have come up if there’d only been one.”

Goth’s article highlights yet another reason to doubt the multiverse. The multiverse theory holds that if I accept the incredibly long odds that would lead to life, then there has to be a naturalistic explanation and that explanation practically requires that I assume that there are an infinite number of other universes that constitute the failed attempts so that the odds that this universe supports life are reasonable. But Goth points out an excellent hypothetical that illustrates the flaw in that reasoning.

You wake up with amnesia, with no clue as to how you got where you are. In front of you is a monkey bashing away on a typewriter, writing perfect English. This clearly requires explanation. You might think: “Maybe I’m dreaming … maybe this is a trained monkey … maybe it’s a robot.” What you would not think is “There must be lots of other monkeys around here, mostly writing nonsense.” You wouldn’t think this because what needs explaining is why this monkey—the only one you’ve actually observed—is writing English, and postulating other monkeys doesn’t explain what this monkey is doing.

I am certain that we there will be slew of comments sent to Scientific American from the true-believers in the multiverse arguing that the mathematics make it perfectly clear that multiple universes are not only possible but likely. However, mathematician and Christian apologist John Lennox has noted:

Scientists create theories which include mathematical laws, in order to explain natural events. However, theories and laws themselves can’t create these natural events. Theories and laws are mathematical explanations for certain things that take place under certain conditions. A law of nature is descriptive and predictive. However, it is not creative and it can’t be.

To illustrate his point, Lennox has also noted:

1+1=2, this simple arithmetic rule has never created anything. This rule has never deposited some money in either my bank account or in someone else’s bank accounts. Today I have $1000 in my bank account. And if I put $ 1000 dollars more tomorrow, this arithmetic rule says I have $2000 in my bank account. But, if I don’t deposit any money and expect it from this rule of arithmetic, then I would stay bankrupt forever.

The mathematics may work, but until it is shown that such a multiverse exists in reality, it remains truly only theory. So, while the multiverse may be a fun background for a comic-book inspired adventure movie (which I am very much looking forward to watching), it remains largely in the realm of science fiction and appears to continue its existence through a desire to explain away the incredible unlikelihood that we should be here to create and watch movies at all.



Comments

Great article BK. The Mv is not proven. It's an ideological failsafe employed to give atheists something to cling to rather than accepting that the universe is a put up job of a higher intelligence.

The atheist argument jut amounts to :there cant be a God because I don't want it."

The real multiverse wqs discovered by Barry Allen in "flash of two worlds," Flash comics 124.
DC had the multiverse first. circa 1964.
Anonymous said…
BK: In the inverse gambler’s fallacy, a visitor walks into a casino and the first thing she sees is someone rolling a double six. She thinks “Wow, that person must’ve been playing for a long time, as it’s unlikely they’d have such good luck just from one roll.” This is fallacious for the same reason. The casino- visitor has only observed one roll of the dice, and the odds of that one roll coming good is the same as any other roll: 1/36. How long the player has been rolling prior to this moment has no bearing on the odds of the one roll the visitor observed being a double six.

[I appreciate this, and most of the other quotes, are actually you quoting someone else.]

How is that analogous to the multiverse?

A better analogy would be a potential visitor who walks past the casino every day of his life. One day he hears someone cheering "Yay, double six", and so he goes inside to investigate, and discovers someone just rolled double six.

What are the odds that someone should have done that just before he walked in? Well, given it was someone cheering having rolled double six, it was pretty much certain.

BK: Philosopher Ian Hacking was the first to connect the inverse gambler’s fallacy to arguments for the multiverse, focusing on physicist John Wheeler’s oscillating universe theory, which held that our universe is the latest of a long temporal sequence of universes. Just as the casino-visitor says “Wow, that person must’ve been playing for a long time, as it’s unlikely they’d have such good luck just from one roll,” so the multiverse theorist says “Wow, there must be many other universes before this one, as it’s unlikely the right numbers would have come up if there’d only been one.”

The fallacy there is taking the unlikelihood of this universe as proof of the multiverse. That would be wrong - for one thing there are other explanations.

However, that does not mean you can turn it around and say the multiverse is not therefore a possible explanation.

BK: You wake up with amnesia, with no clue as to how you got where you are. In front of you is a monkey bashing away on a typewriter, writing perfect English. This clearly requires explanation. You might think: “Maybe I’m dreaming … maybe this is a trained monkey … maybe it’s a robot.” What you would not think is “There must be lots of other monkeys around here, mostly writing nonsense.” You wouldn’t think this because what needs explaining is why this monkey—the only one you’ve actually observed—is writing English, and postulating other monkeys doesn’t explain what this monkey is doing.

Again, not a proper analogy.

The point of the multiverse is that there is a mechanism for selecting the right one. Suppose there is a multiverse, what is the probability of us happening to live in one that supports life? The probability is 1 - an certainty.

Now look at your analogy. Suppose there are an infinite number of monkeys, what is the probability of happening to be in the room with the one typing out English? Vanishingly small!

Pix
Anonymous said…
BK: Scientists create theories which include mathematical laws, in order to explain natural events. However, theories and laws themselves can’t create these natural events. Theories and laws are mathematical explanations for certain things that take place under certain conditions. A law of nature is descriptive and predictive. However, it is not creative and it can’t be.

What Lennox calls a law of nature (I would call a law of physics or laws of science) is a model for the universe. However, there may well be laws underlying the universe that are prescriptive and that do create. That seems likely to me, given the way the laws of science are so accurate - they appear to be approximations of those underlying laws.

BK: 1+1=2, this simple arithmetic rule has never created anything. This rule has never deposited some money in either my bank account or in someone else’s bank accounts. Today I have $1000 in my bank account. And if I put $ 1000 dollars more tomorrow, this arithmetic rule says I have $2000 in my bank account. But, if I don’t deposit any money and expect it from this rule of arithmetic, then I would stay bankrupt forever.

Seriously? This is a university professor's reasoning? If 1+1=2 cannot create anything then, in Lennox's view, it is impossible for there to be mathematically-based laws underlying the universe?

BK: The mathematics may work, but until it is shown that such a multiverse exists in reality, it remains truly only theory.

Agreed. It is a possible solution to the problem, but no more than that.

Perhaps I should say we have "rational warrant" to believe it...

Pix
Anonymous said…
BK: Scientists create theories which include mathematical laws, in order to explain natural events. However, theories and laws themselves can’t create these natural events. Theories and laws are mathematical explanations for certain things that take place under certain conditions. A law of nature is descriptive and predictive. However, it is not creative and it can’t be.

What Lennox calls a law of nature (I would call a law of physics or laws of science) is a model for the universe. However, there may well be laws underlying the universe that are prescriptive and that do create. That seems likely to me, given the way the laws of science are so accurate - they appear to be approximations of those underlying laws.




BK: 1+1=2, this simple arithmetic rule has never created anything. This rule has never deposited some money in either my bank account or in someone else’s bank accounts. Today I have $1000 in my bank account. And if I put $ 1000 dollars more tomorrow, this arithmetic rule says I have $2000 in my bank account. But, if I don’t deposit any money and expect it from this rule of arithmetic, then I would stay bankrupt forever.

No you would not because you started a thousand in there,

Seriously? This is a university professor's reasoning? If 1+1=2 cannot create anything then, in Lennox's view, it is impossible for there to be mathematically-based laws underlying the universe?

BK: The mathematics may work, but until it is shown that such a multiverse exists in reality, it remains truly only theory.

true

Agreed. It is a possible solution to the problem, but no more than that.

Perhaps I should say we have "rational warrant" to believe it...

Yea we do, we are not questioning physical law. Now can physical law exist without God's mind to concave it? That is not the sae thing, that is not proven it is not warranted,,
I have 10 arguments see the ink above here are three



I. Have to know hit rate for life bearing universes

Unless we know the rate at which life bearing is produced, just having a bunch of universes proves nothing.

This applies both to parallel universes and to planets of our own universe. The new research puts the estimate at 22% of stars that have earth=like planets. [1] That certainly seems like a disproof of the FTA since it makes life-bearing planets common. The problem is as has been hinted at we can't say these are life bearing. Earth-like just means size and temperature...size can very and fool us temperature is very important to know too.


The temperature of the planet is important, of course, and depends on how much light the planets gets from its star. As a range, they looked for planets that received no more than four times the light the Earth receives from the Sun, and no less than 0.25 times as much. That should bracket the warm and cool edges of the “habitable zone”, where water can exist. This range may in fact be much broader; a planet can be much farther from its star and still have liquid water (see Enceladus as an example), but they wanted to be conservative.[2]
Dr. Batalha said, “We don’t yet have any planet candidates that are exact analogues of the Earth in terms of size, orbit or star type.”[3]

II.We can never know if other universes exist or not.

One might be tempted to think that doesn't matter because the statistics indicate there must be lots of life bearing planets out there. Yet the important point is the atheists are the one's saying don't believe without empirical proof. They will challenge the believer to show "just one" fact supporting God. Yet they believe this with no empirical proof!

"yes there could be other universes out there, but they would be unobservable no matter how old our universe became...even infinity old!! So, such universes have no meaning to science because there is no experiment we can perform to detect them." (astronomy café) [4]

Robert Koon's, philosopher Univ. Texas said,"Note how the situation has changed. Originally, atheists prided themselves on being no-nonsense empiricists, who limited their beliefs to what could be seen and measured. Now, we find ourselves in a situation in which the only alternative to belief in God is belief in an infinite number of unobservable parallel universes! You've come along way, baby!

III. Multiverse Requires Fine Tuning

Futhermore, the best mechanism for multiverses that last, actually requires fine-tuning itself. The chaotic inflationary model - which seeks to avoid fine-tuning by positing that the initial conditions vary at random over the superspace of the Higgs fields - also fine-tunes its parameters, as Earman has pointed out: "The inflationary model can succeed only by fine-tuning its parameters, and even then, relative to some natural measures on initial conditions, it may also have to fine-tune its initial conditions for inflation to work."[5]

co-author in inflationary theoryPhysicist Paul Steinhardt agrees:
“The whole point of inflation was to get rid of fine-tuning – to explain features of the original big bang model that must be fine-tuned to match observations. The fact that we had to introduce one fine-tuning to remove another was worrisome. This problem has never been resolved."[see fn for more][6]
It is true they were not talking about answering the FTA for God but using FT of a sort in builig inflationary theory. But the application it has here is that the theory of MV requires inflation, and if that theory itself requires fine tuning they can hardly balk at the concept of fine tuning. But they have no mechanism to tune things. This puts inflationary theory in question and thus MV.
BK said…
Pix, I believe Goth is correct in his analogies because it appears that the multiverse theory primarily appeared to try to explain away the incredible fine-tuning of the universe and then Earth to support life. It is very much like hearing someone cheer when they hit the jackpot on a slot machine and assuming that they must have been pulling the long time to be able to win because it would be incredibly long odds for someone to pull the lever and win the first time. But that's exactly what we see here: As the article points out, the odds of the universe supporting life have been calculated at odds that dwarf the likelihood of hitting the jackpot on a slot machine. And since we can only see the one pull of the lever (we only see one universe) and since that one pull we can see resulted in a jackpot, it is a leap to assume that there must have been multiple pulls of the lever.

Your separate analogy is less alike because we don't get to walk past the casino every day and on one of the trips, we hear that someone won the jackpot. We only have one pull of the lever - that's it.

I am not saying that the multiverse is not a possible explanation. I think that there is, however, no more reason to believe that these other universes exist than to believe in that rock floating on air we were talking about yesterday. At least I have rocks that can float. In the multiverse, we don't even know if there are other universes.

You say, "If 1+1=2 cannot create anything then, in Lennox's view, it is impossible for there to be mathematically-based laws underlying the universe?" I don't think that's what he's saying at all. He believes laws that can be explained by mathematics, but not laws that are created by mathematics.
BK said…
In my prior comment, I wrote, "At least I have rocks that can float." I meant to say, "At least we have rocks. That means it is possible that we might find one that can float on air because we start with an actual rock."
thanks for explaining BK. I thought "wow what world does Bill Live in?"
BK said…
Don't you mean, "What universe does Bill live in?" :)
Anonymous said…
BK: Pix, I believe Goth is correct in his analogies because it appears that the multiverse theory primarily appeared to try to explain away the incredible fine-tuning of the universe and then Earth to support life. It is very much like hearing someone cheer when they hit the jackpot on a slot machine and assuming that they must have been pulling the long time to be able to win because it would be incredibly long odds for someone to pull the lever and win the first time. But that's exactly what we see here: As the article points out, the odds of the universe supporting life have been calculated at odds that dwarf the likelihood of hitting the jackpot on a slot machine. And since we can only see the one pull of the lever (we only see one universe) and since that one pull we can see resulted in a jackpot, it is a leap to assume that there must have been multiple pulls of the lever.

It would certainly be wrong to take that as proof, but it seems a reasonably hypothesis.

BK: Your separate analogy is less alike because we don't get to walk past the casino every day and on one of the trips, we hear that someone won the jackpot. We only have one pull of the lever - that's it.

I do not think that changes it.

BK: I am not saying that the multiverse is not a possible explanation. I think that there is, however, no more reason to believe that these other universes exist than to believe in that rock floating on air we were talking about yesterday. At least I have rocks that can float. In the multiverse, we don't even know if there are other universes.

Well we do have one universe, which is one more than the number of floating rocks...

BK: You say, "If 1+1=2 cannot create anything then, in Lennox's view, it is impossible for there to be mathematically-based laws underlying the universe?" I don't think that's what he's saying at all. He believes laws that can be explained by mathematics, but not laws that are created by mathematics.

Read it again. He starts by saying "1+1=2, this simple arithmetic rule has never created anything" and uses that premise to make his point.

1. 1+1=2 has never created anything
2. Therefore it is impossible for a mathematically based universe to create anything

I am not arguing with his conclusion here, I am arguing with the argument he uses to arrive at it. It is just nonsense, and incredible that a university professor would be trying to peddle such idiocy.

Pix
Anonymous said…
So are you guys watching WandaVision?

I am not a big fan of superheroes, but my wife is. Episode three only came out a few hours ago and she has watched it twice already, so I feel obliged to watch it - once anyway.

Pix
BK said…
Pix says, "I am not arguing with his conclusion here, I am arguing with the argument he uses to arrive at it. It is just nonsense, and incredible that a university professor would be trying to peddle such idiocy." As you said last time, we will just have to disagree.

And yes, I have watched the first two episodes of WandaVision. I am really enjoying it. I love the fact that there is a dark undertone connecting the first two sitcoms. Really creative and I am looking forward to all 9 (at least, I heard it was 9) episodes.
Mrs Pixie likes superheroes? cool!

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