Devil's advocate against Max Tegmark's hypothesis

From: Alastair Malcolm <>
Date: Sat, 3 Jul 1999 11:23:46 +0100

I have been looking through the archives on this list and cannot find any clear arguments against the following challenge to Tegmark's hypothesis ( 'Is the theory of everything merely the ultimate ensemble theory?'):

If our world can be equated to a mathematical structure which is related by the physical laws that are apparent to us, then it can also be a far more complex mathematical structure which explicitly specifies the universe as it has evolved during our lifetimes (for example a phase space specification of all the particle positions/momenta for a universe coming into existence say in 1850, and happening to obey classical/quantum-mechanical laws as required to convince us that the universe does follow simple laws).

Now there would seem to be far more different mathematical structures where this type of scenario occurs (but with sufficient deviation from 'normality' such that we would notice - the odd white rabbit scuttling across a ceiling, for instance, to reuse an earlier example), than there is of the relatively simple mathematical structure(s) that science implies underlies our phenomenal world. So statistically we should be in one of these 'contrived' universes. (This also happens to be the essence of what I take to be John Leslie's position against Tegmark's - and David Lewis's - hypotheses, though he has expressed it differently.)

Perhaps I could play the role of devil's advocate for the moment, and say that if no counter-argument can be found to this challenge, then Tegmark's scheme must be rejected out of hand, because we see no levitating rabbits. (I would also just like to say that I am specifically addressing Tegmark's scheme described in the paper mentioned above, and not any TOE entirely confined to a MWI of QM (which, as a 1b category hypothesis would be vulnerable to the criticism mentioned in his paper), nor Shmidhuber's 'Great Programmer' hypothesis (which would seem to need to address a 'turtles all the way down' accusation).)

Does anyone happen to have an idea about how to respond to this challenge to Tegmark's hypothesis?

Received on Sat Jul 03 1999 - 03:45:40 PDT

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