Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 15:33:07 EDT

Hi, Chris,

I think in the case of the Quantum Suicide experiment you are right - the
universe where the physicist repeated the experiment is unlikely (to the
tune of 10^(-300) ) to be the one in which "we reside".

However, there's a lot hidden in "we reside" & in a MWI framework I'm not
sure how you interpret it. Every time the universe splits (due to multiple
possible quantum outcomes happening), there become two copies of every
living conscious person, and their consciousness would exist separately in
each universe. Each would have exactly the same memories, but their futures
would diverge. You're then stuck with the question "which one is the real
me?". But one of our conscious selves would see the physicist surviving
1000 suicide attempts.

[Aside]. There was a web page that told you how to use this concept to win
the lottery jackpot. It is a very simple strategy. You buy a lottery
ticket and arrange to have yourself killed if you don't win the Jackpot.
Your consciousness continues in a universe where you win the jackpot. (But
how do you know it's the "real you", and what does that mean in this
context?)

However this argument about being "very lucky" to be in a universe where the
extraordinary event of 1000 suicide attempts happens is subtly from the
evolution vs ID argument.

Even if we are extremely lucky to be in this universe where intelligent life
has evolved ( say the ID people are right and p < 1e-150 ), in a MWI
scenario that event, if it has finite probability, will occur in some
universes (actually astronomically many, though a tiny fraction of all
universes). At this point the Anthropic Principle arises and the reason for
it being the one in which we reside is because such universes are the only
ones in which the question is asked in the first place.

MWI-of-the-gaps doesn't explain anything anymore than God-of-the-gaps, but
it could be seen to be an alternative explanation to the Design question
that doesn't involve Design. Neither explanation is any more scientific or
valid than the other, of course ( both are completely untestable ), but it
does raise the point that low-probability doesn't necessarily involve
Design.

I don't think I believe in the MWI; it seems there are other insurmountable
paradoxes (look up Quantum Immortality on Wikipedia - the other paradox of
MWI is that it seems you never die, but are doomed to live in limbo at the
point of death, dependent on a quantum event that will always not happen in
certain universes). However, MWI appears to be a mainstream interpretation
among physicists.

Iain

-- 
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After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian Proverb
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Received on Tue Aug 14 15:33:40 2007

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