# Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: Iain Strachan <igd.strachan@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 16:24:09 EDT

Yes, I did oversimplify, omitting the CSI side of it for the sake of
brevity. Toss a coin 500 times and similarly you get an event of
probability < 10^(-150).

My understanding of the CSI argument is that if you have complexity, but
also structure that allows a significantly reduced description length of the
data, then you can indeed calculate these "magic number" low probabilities.
If the data has length N bits and you can find a description that is length
M bits where M << N, then the probability of this happening is 2^(M-N) and
if THAT is below 10^(-150) then it is deemed either "impossible" or the
result of deliberate design. So a piece of English text of sufficient
length would appear to be CSI because a program like WinZip will reduce it
to about 1/3 of the original size. If N-M > 500 you get to the magic bound.

The random coin-tossing is unspecified & hence the probability argument
doesn't have any weight.

However 500 survived 50/50 suicide attempts has a genuine pattern - 500
heads - highly specified but simple. To be specified and complex you'd have
to have the bit patterns represented by the sequence of Heads and Tails (or
spin up/spin down in the original example) spell out come complex
information, like a Shakespeare sonnet, or a chapter of the bible. As soon
as the sequence deviates from the desired text "Shall I compare thee to a
summer's daz" then the physicist gets killed. But in a tiny subset of the
universes, the sonnet gets reproduced exactly and the physicist survives.
The CSI arose simply because of the vast number of possible universes
available.

Iain

On 8/14/07, David Heddle <heddle@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi Iain
>
> No, what you claim that Demnski said:
>
> "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. "
>
> is not what he said, He never said that events with probability lower than
> his magic number are impossible or the result of deliberate design. You're
> missing the whole CSI side of the argument. (Aside, I don't think Dembski's
> EF is legit, but you might as well give him accurate attribution.)
>
> No need for many worlds. Just add 45 more distinct cards to a normal deck.
> Shuffle and deal those 97 cards. You have just witnessed an event that has a
> probablility around one in 10^152. But I am fairly sure Dembski would not
> claim that the event is either impossible or designed.
>
>
> On 8/14/07, Chris Barden <chris.barden@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > 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
> > >
> >
> > To unsubscribe, send a message to majordomo@calvin.edu with
> > "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> >
>
>

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Received on Tue Aug 14 16:24:40 2007

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