Re: Flying rabbits and dragons

From: Alastair Malcolm <>
Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999 16:00:40 +0100

----- Original Message -----
From: Russell Standish <>
> Why it fails is that you assume that all universes are wffs. The
> underlying challenge of white rabbits and dragons is that the number
> of non-wffs vastly outnumber the number of wffs. The assumption is
> that that each non-wff corresponds to to a white rabbit universe. As
> we discussed, and you have explained fairly clearly on your web page,
> most non-wff universes are in fact indistinguishable from a wff
> universe sufficiently close to it, so may be identified with it. In
> that case, the number of non-wff universes corresponding to white
> rabbits or dragons (ie actually recognisable paranormal phenomena) is
> a vanishingly small proportion of the total.

No! I am very sorry, but I have to correct this - every sentence above is
false!!! (Though stemming from one underlying misunderstanding, I think.)

One of the main reasons to use the formal systems approach is that it solves
the principal interpretation problem - some symbol strings build wff's, some
wff's are axiom sets, some axiom sets build theories, some theories specify
universes. In my first post to this thread (my web pages don't mention
wff's - yet), wff's rather than non-wff's are selected - wff's are a
precondition for the specification of *any* universe (with or without
dragons/white rabbits); a non-wff is like a nonsense bitstring - totally
irrelevant (except conceivably for some measure purposes).

The only way that a universe couldn't be specified by a wff is if it is not
mathematically modellable (*and* certain other conditions pertain), since
mathematics is grounded in formal systems (see fig 1 in Tegmark's paper) and
formal systems are derivable from axiom sets (a subset of all wffs).

> I am currently writing a paper as I mentioned outlining this argument
> (amongst others). Currently, it is in draft hand-writing form, so I
> can't send it to you yet. I hope to type it up in the next week or
> so. It would be useful getting feedback - maybe we could even
> co-author it.

I think it would be a good idea if some people on the list look over
drafts/pre-drafts of papers (I don't mind volunteering in this case, though
I'm afraid I've too much on my plate to co-author at the moment - thanks for
the offer anyway), but potential commenters should stick to making factual
points (otherwise interminable discussions could ensue), and authors should
try to be fair to alternative all-universe hypotheses.

May be one day we'll all agree on one theory?

Received on Sat Oct 23 1999 - 08:28:50 PDT

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