Re: Evidence for the simulation argument - and Thanks and a dumb question.

From: Bruno Marchal <>
Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2007 11:55:36 +0100

Le 12-mars-07, à 12:37, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

> OK, but it seems that we are using "reductionism" differently.

Perhaps. I am not so sure.

> You could say that a hydrogen atom cannot be reduced to an electron +
> proton because it exhibits behaviour not exhibited in any of its
> components;

Nor by any juxtaposition of its components in case of some prior
entanglement. In that case I can expect some bits of information from
looking only the electron, and some bits from looking only the proton,
but an observation of the whole atom would makes those bits not
genuine. It is weird but the quantum facts confirms this QM prediction.

> or you could say that it can be reduced to an electron + proton
> because these two components appropriately juxtaposed are necessary
> and sufficient to give rise to the hydrogen atom.

In general this is not the case.

> And if the atom is just a part of UD*, well, that's just another, more
> impressive reduction.

But just comp, without the quantum, makes it implausible that an atom
can be individuated so much that it makes sense to say it is just a
part of the UD. And QM confirms this too. To compute the EXACT (all
decimal) position of an electron in an hydrogen atom, soon or later you
have to take into account of white rabbit path, where the electron
will, for going from position x to the position y you are computing,
follow the path x too earth, reacts locally and transforms itself into
a white rabbit running for the democrat election in the US, loose the
election and come back to y. Same with the UD, the object "atom of
hydrogen" is only defined relatively to an infinity of first person
plural expectation dependong on the WHOLE UD*. There is no sense to say
an atom is part of the UD. It is "part" of the necessary discourse of
self-observing machine. Recall comp makes physics branch of machine's

> As for knots, can't any particular physical knot be described in a 3D
> coordinate system? This is similar to describing a particular physical
> circle or triangle. 

Not really because the knot is a topological object. Its identity is
defined by the class of equivalence for some topological transformation
from your 3D description. If you put the knot in your pocket so that it
changes its 3D shape (but is not broken) then it conserve its knot
identity which is only locally equivalent with the 3D shape. To see the
global equivalence will be tricky, and there is no algorithm telling
for sure you can identify a knot from a 3D description.
People can look here for a cute knot table:

> Only if God issues everyone with immaterial souls at birth, so that
> reproducing the material or functional structure of the brain fails to
> reproduce consciousness, would I say that reductionism does not
> work...

OK, but then you identify reductionism with comp. I identify
reductionism with the idea that something is entirely explainable in
some finitary theory. From this I can explain that comp can be used to
refute all reductionist theory of both matter and mind (and their

I am aware it is a subtle point, but if you understand the Universal
Dovetailer Argument (UDA) from step 1 to 8, in the version:
then you should, I think, understand that the idea that there is
anything made of something, although locally true and useful for many
practical purpose, is just wrong, globally. Even with just comp, but
this is also entailed by the quantum empirical facts (even with the
many-worlds view: if not they would not interfere). People can ask if
they are not yet convinced by this. I have refer this by saying that if
comp is true, physics is a branch of bio-psycho-theo-logy. matter
emerges (logico-arithmetically, not "temporally") from mind and number.

You can attach a mind to a body, like children does with dolls, but you
cannot attach a body to a mind, you can and must attach an infinity of
"relative bodies" to a mind. "relative bodies" are only defined by
infinity of arithmetical relationships, not by sub-bodies.

(I know this contradicts Aristotle notion of Matter, but see Plotinus
for old platonist reasons, a priori independent of comp and QM, to
already suspect that Aristotle was wrong).

> unless you add the soul as an element in the reduction.

Of course, but *that* would make any explanation a reductionism.


> Stathis Papaioannou
> On 3/12/07, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
>> Le 11-mars-07, à 17:56, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :
>> > Reductionism means breaking something up into simpler parts to
>> explain
>> > it. What's wrong with that?
>> Because, assuming comp, neither matter nor mind (including perception)
>> can be break up into simpler parts to be explained. That is what UDA
>> is
>> all about. First person expection (both on mind and matter) are
>> already
>> global notion relying on the whole UD*.
>> And empirical physics, currently quantum mechanics, confirms that
>> indeed, we cannot explain matter by breaking it into parts. That is
>> what "violation of bell's inequality" or more generally "quantum
>> information " is all about. This has been my first "confirmation of
>> comp by nature": non-locality is the easiest consequence of comp.
>> A good (and actually very deep) analogy is provided by the structure
>> of
>> knots (see the table of knots:
>> A knot is closed in its mathematical definition (unlike shoe tangle).
>> You cannot break a knot in smaller parts, so that the whole structure
>> is explained by the parts. Knots, like many topological structure,
>> contains irreductible global information. The same for the notion of
>> computations (and indeed those notions have deep relationship, see the
>> following two impressive papers:
>> I know that Derek Parfit call "comp" the reductionist view". this is a
>> very misleading use of vocabulary. Comp is the simplest destroyer of
>> any reductionist attempt to understand anything, not just humans.
>> Bruno
>> >
>> > On 3/12/07, Bruno Marchal <> wrote:
>> >> Le 10-mars-07, à 18:42, John M a écrit :
>> >>
>> >> > I don't deny the usefulness of science (even if it is
>> reductionist)
>> >> ...
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> How could science be reductionist? Science is the art of making
>> >> hypotheses enough clear so as to make them doubtable and eventually
>> >> testable.
>> >>
>> >> No scientist will ever say there is a primitive physical universe
>> or
>> >> an
>> >> ultimate God, or anything like that. All theories are hypothetical,
>> >> including "grandmother's one when asserting that the sun will rise
>> >> tomorrow. The roots of our confidence in such or such theories are
>> >>  complex matter.
>> >>
>> >> Don't confuse science with the human approximation of it. Something
>> >> quite interesting per se, also, but which develops itself.
>> >> Lobian approximations of it are also rich of surprise, about
>> >> "oneself".
>> >>
>> >> "Science" or better, the scientific attitude, invites us to listen
>> to
>> >> what the machine can say and dream of, nowadays. How could such an
>> >> invitation be reductionist?
>> >>
>> >> I would say science is modesty. It is what makes faith necessary
>> and
>> >> possible.
>> >>
>> >> With comp, when science or reason grows polynomially (in a trip
>> from G
>> >> to G* for example), then faith "has to" grow super-exponentially.
>> >
>> >
>> >  >
>> >
>> >>

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Received on Tue Mar 13 2007 - 06:56:10 PDT

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