Re: NYT (Op-Ed) on Multiverse Theory

From: Hal Finney <>
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 13:26:53 -0700

Nick Bobic wrote:
> Paul Davies wrote an article which was published in today's New York
> Times. Article can be found here:
> "A Brief History of the Multiverse"

One of the points Davies makes is a supposed reductio ad absurdum.
If there are multiple worlds like our own, some of them are running
simulations of life like ours, and if they run multiple simulations
then the odds are that we are living in one of the sims.

I made a similar argument March 5th on the Extropians mailing list,
where we were discussing Tegmark's paper at, which appears to be the basis
for his new Scientific American article.

I concluded,

      So I'd suggest that the assumption that the universe is infinite
      in extent, and/or that cosmic inflation exists, combined with the
      assumption that simulations are consciousness, gives us good reason
      to believe that we are presently in such a simulation.

Along these lines, Wired magazine has published in its May issue the
result of a poll asking whether we might be living in a simulation.
This is the question they asked and possible answers:

   What are the chances we're living in a matrix?

   54% No chance
   22% 1-5% chance
    6% 6-20% chance
    7% 21-50% chance
    4% 51-80% chance
    7% 81-100% chance

So almost half the people thought there was a nonzero chance that we
are living in a simulation, and a fifth thought that it was at least
20% likely.

So much for Davies' reductio. If as many as half the population consider
the possibility credible even without being aware of the philosophical
arguments in its favor, the idea can hardly be considered an absurdity.

Hal Finney
Received on Tue Apr 15 2003 - 16:29:23 PDT

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