:Re: NYT (Op-Ed) on Multiverse Theory

From: ns <jv.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 05:01:36 +0100

"Bruno Marchal" <marchal.domain.name.hidden>

> Ok but here history has its basic inescapable role.
> And brain physics or psychiatry should only make things
> less predictable, I think.
> Bruno

I can imagine that Immanual Kant could have had a similar
problem to that which I have been left with, in designing his
own categories. Kant is recognised as one of the greatest
of Western philosophers, and as well, always showed a
keen and continued interest in science and cosmology.

Now like Kant, I see science and mathematics as a important
goal for further study. But life is changing so much today I
believe that there may well be a necessity to, at least
temporarily, abridge the necessity to meet every metaphysical
exactitude, dilemma and indeed sometimes somewhat bogus
problem in quite so much detail.

 I pointed out here that a great many people go much further
 than this, for example futurists and the like. (see for example
 the work of Ed Regis for many examples of this). But Kant
pointed out that it is certainly necessary to have some kind
of rough roadmap (like for example his own categories) to
proceed from and indeed to frequently adhere to. And one
of the problems can arise if one does not have at least some
such roadmap. Now I would not, and more often than not do
not, disagree with Drexler but here I think we have a problem
where ordinary scientists throughout the field of physics can
see that Drexler must use the word 'nanotech' with some
meanings valid for the future but, even with the present
existence of nanotech Institutes, feel that many of the
more useful applications of Drexler's work must be 'some
time away'. But science always wants to do its experiments
now, at this moment and here is where I may call lack of
at least a small level of 'metaphysical planning' can let us down.

Hence I take the trouble to try to do a small amount of
planning or surveying first, not necessarily a large amount
of planning but enough to get us started withou writing
long philosophical tomes if I can avoid that.

Hence I start with the four categories as defined on 19 April
and I quote:
> I give four rough categories and do not claim other than pro tem
> practical (not metaphysical) justification for them.
> 1.Crowd psychology. (as can apply and be applied mathematically in
> stock market shifts and pressures, etc.). Market surveys, neural network
> stock studies, Lewin, Leeper, Wertheimer etc but ultimately shading into
> category 4. at least for the three names just mentioned.
> 2. Religion. It could be God, (ones own or someone else's -
> covered by 4)) etc.etc.
> 3. Statistical "luck". May cover anthropic-type arguments,
> approaches like that of Rees (astro-ph/0101268) etc. etc. May also
> lead to rational and semi-rational arguments about Newcomb paradox,
> Monty Hall style arguments etc.
> 4. Psychiatry. Already much used by police in forensics trying to
> pinpoint crimes, and more generally to predict reactions of people
> individually and en bloc, as I pointed out in this forum on the 16th.
> ('monkey see, monkey do'). Often used for monkeys, people with damaged
> minds etc. but can clearly find other uses, such as perhaps the public
> of a whole country. (Stanley Milgram's famous studies are probably
> mainly more 1 than 4, but since the categories are for classification
> only that probably hardly matters).
> But these are just a few of the options and as I pointed out, what seems
> work at least in a limited way is brain physics (approach 4), and this
> the virtue that quite basic and variable ideas can be tried, tested and
> improved on or disgarded. And most importantly it remains for the most
> part as science and not conjecture or simply educated guessing.
> I daresay marketing managers or science fiction film screenplay writers
> might prefer a different approach. They would likely want to use
> spindoctors or image consultants etc.(roughly approach 1 with some 3).

Accordingly for the moment I retain my categories as they
are and place semantic or formal history in category 1 and some
aspects of mathematical history in category 3. Category 3 thus
includes the Everett approach, Deutsch's work and so on - at
least until it can be better placed or the categories altered by
real need. I point out that the general Everett approach is
accepted a great deal nowadays in preference to Copenhagen.
So far there is no real need to worry at all about Copenhagen
in category 4. Category 4 by implication, blamelessly brings
its own mathematical baggage with it (We might have had a
problem there if Penrose's model or schema for the brain were
accepted, and then might have had to adjust our categories
slightly but in possibly significant ways; however it is not
generally accepted at this time. So we do not have to either
do this, or even, quite importantly, need to make a guess).
Thus (like Deutsch) but unlike Penrose, we remain as described
within the mainstream framework of physics.

Bruno makes an important point about history. Now here
we see that if by some chance Penrose's interpretation
of the brain turns out to be correct, then history may well
come into it in that it will be a historical fact that we may
have to revise our categories.

Similarly if we, and by this I mean most scientists in the
world, feel that God physically appeared from the
sky and said his say, at say 3 pm next Saturday afternoon,
then we certainly have to reconsider the work of Vilanur
Ramachandran! At the moment this seems unlikely, but
will, at least for now, not stop us from worshipping
whatever God we choose which could for example be
chosen from the God-of-the-Month Club
or indeed at the Church of our choosing.

And while I have to admit that all this comes quite close
to admitting that we can set up a mathematical
axiom-system for our categories, for various reasons
possibly including Chaitin's work, Berry's work and
for excellent practical reasons as well - I do not
think that it as yet does.
Received on Wed Apr 23 2003 - 00:06:33 PDT

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