From: Thomas Buckner (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Dec 15 2004 - 07:24:09 MST
--- Samantha Atkins <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hmm. Last time I checked his theory is just
> that, theory.
Thirty years ago it was sci-fi crazy talk. Now,
it's strong enough to get the *cover* of
> Whether it
> actually says a lot about how reality really is
> is unknown. It is
> doubtful there could actually be a way to
> validate universes with
> radically different physical laws, or even the
> same laws. We know of
> no way to prove the existence of other
That's why they run experiments. As I recall,
recent progress in 'particle teleportation' tends
to support MWI.
> Yet we treat the
> theory so seriously as to use it to define our
> own morality.
> Perhaps it is just me but this seems really
> absurd. We should define
(I don't like the word 'morality', people misuse
and abuse it; I prefer 'ethics' which still has a
> first and foremost in terms of our own
> nature and concerns.
> After we have a good handle on that and after
> we have evidence
> broadening the scope, we can broaden our moral
> reasoning and action.
> Instead we theorize about the moral
> implications of the universe while
> often doing precious little in this one or even
> on this one world we
> call home.
> It is fun and all to speculate. But it feels
> like intellectual
> masturbation much of the time.
It would be, except I have come to understand
that humans base their morals on what sort of
world they think they live in (as well as
rationalizing what they already were inclined to
do). There are millions of people in this country
who think the world is supposed to end soon, that
there are no others worth considering, and that
trying to keep this one running would be
paganistic and show a lack of faith in God's
plan. There are others who sincerely think
everything repeats infinitely and that one may as
well be one of the winners, and that ruthlessness
is perfectly acceptable. There are still others
who will form a mob and lynch one of their
neighbors because they think he's a witch doctor
and has used magic to cause their penises to
retract into their bodies! (I'm not making this
I find MWI convincing because of the principle of
'what nature does not forbid is compulsory.' It
seems whenever a scientist rejects the
implication of some equation because it's 'too
crazy,' it later turns out to be true. Do I
believe in other universes I can't see? Well, I
believe in China, and I never saw it. For me,
it's simpler to believe, and explains where all
that Wal-Mart stuff is coming from. To doubt it,
I must depend on all sorts of epicycles,
phlogistons, and dormitive principles. MWI gives
me a framework for thinking about what is and is
not possible, even in terms of my own creativity.
I've been sold on it for many years and I don't
see it getting weaker (I can think of quite a few
cherished ideas that have not aged so well).
Much of our behavior is directly based on what we
think is real, and it would be a big mistake to
think everyone you meet lives in the same
'perceptual universe' as you. They may not
*literally* live in other universes, but they
might as well.
In view of all this, I try to comprehend the
deepest levels of reality as an adjunct to
ethical decision making. It's not a perfect
approach, because nobody has perfect information,
but I find that it allows me to spot most
charlatans a mile away, because so many of them
make claims I know to be logically impossible in
any universe. If more people-in-the-street were
conversant with the subtleties of our world as
scientists like Tegmark understand it, it would
be very, very hard to get a cult or lynch mob to
Does that sound like intellectual masturbation to
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