Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: Chris Barden <chris.barden@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 14:33:47 EDT

Iain,

This is potentially a clever way of testing the question. But I
wonder.. how can we be sure that the universe in which 1000
potentially lethal experiments resulted in a live physicist will be
the *actual* universe in which we reside? I would think, rather, that
the probability of that happening is rather small. It may be that in
many other universes, the experiment continues, and in one of those we
verify the MWI. We'd be awfully lucky to be in that universe however.

Chris

On 8/14/07, Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com> wrote:
> I recently had some thoughts about the Everett "Many worlds" interpretation
> of Quantum Mechanics, and how this might affect ID hypotheses.
>
> It stemmed initially from stumbling upon the "Quantum Suicide" article in
> Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_suicide )
>
> Quantum Suicide is a thought experiment developed by cosmologist Max
> Tegmark, that should in principle distinguish between the Many Worlds
> interpretation (that at each instant in time, all possible quantum outcomes
> actually happen in separate non-interacting parallel universes). This is in
> contrast to the Copenhage Interpretation, where the exact quantum state is
> determined at the time of the collapse of the wave-function due to an
> observation being made.
>
> In the Quantum Suicide experiment, somewhat similar to the Schrodinger's Cat
> experiment, a physicist sits in front of a loaded gun. The apparatus then
> measures the spin state of an electron, and either fires or doesn't fire
> according to the measured result. It is assumed that the physicist's
> consciousness is terminated on death. At the point of measurement of the
> spin state, the universe buds into two parallel universes; in one the gun
> fires and kills the physicist, and in the other it doesn't and the
> physicist's consciousness continues. Clearly this process can be repeated
> indefinitely, and at every run of the experiment, the physicist's
> consciousness continues to exist in the universe where the gun didn't fire.
>
> Therefore if the MWI is true, one can have universes in which incredibly
> unlikely events can happen. ID theorist Dembski proposes the "universal
> probability bound" of 10^(-150) and that events with probability lower than
> this are deemed "impossible" - or the result of deliberate design. However,
> the calculation is based on the number of discrete events in a SINGLE
> universe over its (currently accepted) lifetime.
>
> To defeat the Universal Probability Bound, one only has to repeat the
> Quantum Suicide experiment, say 1000 times in succession ( P approx =
> 10^(-300)) - and if the MWI is true, then this will happen in some universe,
> and a conscious physicist will be sitting there having observed 1000
> non-firings - an event that should be impossible in a single universe.
> Clearly it can continue indefinitely ( a million times).
>
> It is recommended that you don't try this at home unless you are VERY
> convinced that the MWI is true! (And you accept the deep philosophical
> questions as to whether it is "your" consciousness that survives).
>
> However, if we now apply this to something like evolution, then one can see
> that even if the ID people are correct, that the sequence of mutations
> required to get from primordial life to intelligent life is incredibly
> unlikely, nonetheless if MWI is true then it will have occurred with
> probability close to 1 in some universe, without the need for a designer.
> At this point, if you argue "yes but why did this incredibly unlikely event
> occur in OUR universe", the answer is simply to invoke the Anthropic
> principle - if it didn't happen in our universe, then we wouldn't be here to
> ask the question.
>
> It should be noted that this argument doesn't really make a proper
> scientific explanation of why we're here. It is akin to a "God of the Gaps"
> argument - anything you can't explain by other scientific methods can be
> explained away by appeal to MWI, in which all sorts of whacky things can and
> will happen, like the molecules in the air spontaneously assembling to form
> the Mona Lisa, or kicking a football at a wall, and it passing straight
> through it by Quantum Mechanical tunnelling. As an undergrad exercise in QM
> classes I was given the task of computing the probability of this happening
> - it comes out to something like 1/( 10^10^34). Note the double
> exponentiation this is 1 followed by 10^34 zeros! However, it's negligible
> compared to the number of new universes that bud off at every instant in
> time. Hence the football miracle also happens a lot in the MWI
> interpretation. [ Incidentally we also computed the probability of a
> thermodynamical "miracle" where all the atoms in the football happen to be
> vibrating in the same direction, and it carries it over the wall. This was
> immensely greater than the QM Tunnelling probability!].
>
> However, the key point I was going to make is that incredibly low
> probability doesn't have to imply design, except it does involve appeal to
> "MWI of the Gaps", and one can't, I think make a distinction between the
> two.
>
> Any thoughts?
>
> Iain
>

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Received on Tue Aug 14 14:34:08 2007

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