# RE: Anything goes?

Stephen Jones (sejones@ibm.net)
Sat, 27 Jun 1998 12:46:56 +0800

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John

On Sat, 20 Jun 1998 16:52:31 -0500, John E. Rylander wrote:

[...]

>>>SJ> Another difficulty with the ultimate ensemble theory is that
>>>>it appears very wasteful. However, Tegmark...says there is
>>>>actually less information in the multiverse than in an individual
>>>>universe...the numbers between 0 and 1....something's
>>>>complexity is the length of a computer program needed to
>>>>generate it....to generate all numbers between 0 and 1, all
>>>>you would have to do is start at 0, step through 0 1, 0 2
>>>>and so on, then 0 01, 0 11, 0 21 and so on--an easy
>>>>program to write. In other words, creating all possibilities is
>>>>much simpler than creating one very specific one...

>>JR>But of course the algorithm he describes doesn't come even
>>>remotely close to listing all the numbers there are, which task is
>>>per se impossible even with an infinitely long list... for
>>>uncountably many numbers between zero and one: no number
>>>with infinitely many digits, leaving out infinitely many rationals,
>>>and uncountably infinitely many irrationals (i.e., all of them)..

>SJ>I don't even understand what the connection is between the
>>ensemble theory appearing very wasteful and there being less
>>information in the multiverse than in an individual universe..

JR>His (flawed) train of thought seems to be this:
>
>(1) Picking any one rational or irrational number to specify the one
>existing universe implies a very large amount of arbitrary
>information, which is puzzling and may lead people to infer design.

And what would be wrong with that?

JR>(2) His proposed solution to this puzzle: -all possible- universes
>are instantiated -- hence there's no longer a puzzle as to why -our-
>universe in particular exists.

No. Then there would be a puzzle why "all possible- universes" exist.
If the answer to that is, they just do! (ie. brute fact), then why not just
say about one universe, that it just does exist (ie. brute fact)?

JR>(3) An obvious objection: if -one- universe contains a large
>amount of information, -infinitely many- universes must contain
>even more, making even more of a puzzle, and being a very wasteful
>way to get a universe suited for life.

Agreed.

JR>(4) His response to that: Infinitely many universes are -in a deep
>sense- simpler than just picking one, in that a very simple low-info
>process leads to the infinity in question.

I have a problem with the idea that there can be an actual infinity of
anything physical.

JR>(4.1) His analogy: Does a list of all the numbers have more
>information than any one infinitely-long real number? So it may -
>seem-, but in fact, this is false: these infinitely many numbers can all
>be generated by a very simple algorithm (given above), whereas
>storing just that one infinitely long number would take an infinitely
>large program/data bank. My point was that his analogy fails,
>because there is no simple algorithm that generates all the real
>numbers. He's just shockingly wrong about that. (One can,
>however, generate all the rationals and an infinitely large proper
>subset of the irrationals. But his algorithm doesn't even do this!)

Agreed. But what he *is* right about is that if there is not an infinite
number of universes, then there is a Creator:

"But the main reason for believing in an ensemble of universes is that
it could explain why the laws governing our Universe appear to be so
finely tuned for our existence. In the 1950s, for instance, Fred Hoyle
discovered that the step-by-step build-up of heavy elements inside
stars depends on a series of spectacular coincidences. Only if the
nuclei of beryllium-8, carbon-12 and oxygen-16 exist in particular
energy states can hydrogen be built up into the elements of life such
as calcium, magnesium and iron. This fine-tuning has two possible
expla-nations. Either the Universe was designed specifically for us by
a creator or there is a multitude of universes--a `multiverse.'" (Chown
M., "Anything goes," New Scientist, 6 June 1998, pp26-31.
http://www.newscientist.com/ns/980606/features.html)

>SJ>But there seems to be a logical flaw in Tegmark's claim for
>>multiple universes but only one algorithm. In an infinite ensemble
>>of universes, wouldn't Tegmark's algorithm be run in each?

JR>No -- the algorithm is just an analogy to show how a
>comprehensive infinity can spring from a simple source, not an
>actual component in his theory that must be instantiated in each
>universe. The utter weakness of his analogy doesn't reflect well on
>his intellectual precision (and so undercuts his authority as a clear
>thinker), but it doesn't itself refute his actual theory. (Am I

OK. Thanks. But if his analogy fails, then he has a problem of
explaining how an infinity of universes is not "wasteful", ie. violates
the Principle of Parsimony (aka. Ockham's Razor), in needing an
infinity of universes to explain just one.

>>the fine-tuning of the universe would defeat all science, because it
>>would destroy cause-and-effect. In a truly infinite set of universes,
>>everything would happen an infinite number of times. Thus any
>>effect following a cause could just be because we happened to live
>>in that universe where that effect just happened to follow that
>>cause..

JR>I don't know if natural laws are allowed to change within these
>universes -- I'd think not. Even so, you're right that in at least one
>universe (if really -all- of them are created), the otherwise least
>probable outcome would occur in every case. I suspect it'd be better
>to say that in a minority of the universes natural phenomena would
>be too unpredictable to make science feasible, but this wouldn't be
>the general case. (The biggest obstacle to practical science would be
>that the vast majority of universes couldn't sustain life.)

OK. But my point was that if there was an infinite set of universes
then everyhting would happen an infinite number of times. If effect B
followed cause A in this universe, then we could not claim B was
caused by A, because in an infinite set of universes, B would
eventually follow A, even if A did not cause B. This would make
meaningless all science.

JR>One aside: it's tricky to apply things like "minority" and
>"majority" to infinite subsets of infinite sets of universes [if each set
>is of the same cardinality] -- one needs some non-counting-based
>way to define such. E.g., it seems natural to say that only a minority
>of the natural numbers are powers of 1000, but since there are
>infinitely many of each [and the same "order" of infinity], one can't
>say there are more of one than the other, merely quantitatively!
>similarly: are there more points in a 5x5 square of Euclidean space
>than a 1x1 square? No, even though the area of the 5x5 square is 25
>times larger. But that isn't determined by counting points.

This type of thing is why I don't believe that an actual infinity of
physical things is possible.

>>JR>If this is really the example he gives, I suspect his theories are
>>>much more profound to those without philosophical training than
>>>those with. Seems pretty sloppy for one trying to start a
>>revolution.

SJ>Indeed. But then if there is not an infinite number of universes,
>>then the materialist has no other way of explaining the design of
>>this one..

JR>Well, there are other theories too, of course, as Loren and David
>have been thoughtfully discussing of late.

I doubt that even the proposers of each of these "theories" really
believes they are true. They seem to me to be just desperate attempts
to avoid the obvious explanation that the universe was created by a
Intelligent Designer.

>>JR>And even if his example did work, his conclusion wouldn't
>>follow..

>SJ>Agreed. It just goes to show the failure of methodological
>>naturalism when it is applied to origins!

JR>Or, more precisely, the failure (we're supposing; this guy could
>still -conceivably- turn out to be right) of a particular scientific
>hypothesis.

Methodologcal Naturalism applied to origins has failed on every
occasion to date. How many times must it continue to fail before you
conclude that there is something wrong with MN? If never then it is
equivalent to Metaphysical Naturalism.

Steve

"Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented."
--- Dr. William Provine, Professor of History and Biology, Cornell University.
http://fp.bio.utk.edu/darwin/1998/slides_view/Slide_7.html

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\ sejones@ibm.net
3 Hawker Avenue / Oz \ Steve.Jones@health.wa.gov.au
Warwick 6024 ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, West Australia v "Test everything." (1Thess 5:21)
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John

On Sat, 20 Jun 1998 16:52:31 -0500, John E. Rylander wrote:

[...]

>>>SJ> Another difficulty with the ultimate ensemble theory is that
>>>>it appears very wasteful. However, Tegmark...says there is
>>>>actually less information in the multiverse than in an individual
>>>>universe...the numbers between 0 and 1....something's
>>>>complexity is the length of a computer program needed to
>>>>generate it....to generate all numbers between 0 and 1, all
>>>>you would have to do is start at 0, step through 0 1, 0 2
>>>>and so on, then 0 01, 0 11, 0 21 and so on--an easy
>>>>program to write. In other words, creating all possibilities is
>>>>much simpler than creating one very specific one...

>>JR>But of course the algorithm he describes doesn't come even
>>>remotely close to listing all the numbers there are, which task is
>>>per se impossible even with an infinitely long list... for
>>>uncountably many numbers between zero and one: no number
>>>with infinitely many digits, leaving out infinitely many rationals,
>>>and uncountably infinitely many irrationals (i.e., all of them)..

>SJ>I don't even understand what the connection is between the
>>ensemble theory appearing very wasteful and there being less
>>information in the multiverse than in an individual universe..

JR>His (flawed) train of thought seems to be this:
>
>(1) Picking any one rational or irrational number to specify the one
>existing universe implies a very large amount of arbitrary
>information, which is puzzling and may lead people to infer design.

And what would be wrong with that?

JR>(2) His proposed solution to this puzzle: -all possible- universes
>are instantiated -- hence there's no longer a puzzle as to why -our-
>universe in particular exists.

No. Then there would be a puzzle why "all possible- universes" exist.
If the answer to that is, they just do! (ie. brute fact), then why not just
say about one universe, that it just does exist (ie. brute fact)?

JR>(3) An obvious objection: if -one- universe contains a large
>amount of information, -infinitely many- universes must contain
>even more, making even more of a puzzle, and being a very wasteful
>way to get a universe suited for life.

Agreed.

JR>(4) His response to that: Infinitely many universes are -in a deep
>sense- simpler than just picking one, in that a very simple low-info
>process leads to the infinity in question.

I have a problem with the idea that there can be an actual infinity of
anything physical.

JR>(4.1) His analogy: Does a list of all the numbers have more
>information than any one infinitely-long real number? So it may -
>seem-, but in fact, this is false: these infinitely many numbers can all
>be generated by a very simple algorithm (given above), whereas
>storing just that one infinitely long number would take an infinitely
>large program/data bank. My point was that his analogy fails,
>because there is no simple algorithm that generates all the real
>numbers. He's just shockingly wrong about that. (One can,
>however, generate all the rationals and an infinitely large proper
>subset of the irrationals. But his algorithm doesn't even do this!)

Agreed. But what he *is* right about is that if there is not an infinite
number of universes, then there is a Creator:

"But the main reason for believing in an ensemble of universes is that
it could explain why the laws governing our Universe appear to be so
finely tuned for our existence. In the 1950s, for instance, Fred Hoyle
discovered that the step-by-step build-up of heavy elements inside
stars depends on a series of spectacular coincidences. Only if the
nuclei of beryllium-8, carbon-12 and oxygen-16 exist in particular
energy states can hydrogen be built up into the elements of life such
as calcium, magnesium and iron. This fine-tuning has two possible
expla-nations. Either the Universe was designed specifically for us by
a creator or there is a multitude of universes--a `multiverse.'" (Chown
M., "Anything goes," New Scientist, 6 June 1998, pp26-31.
http://www.newscientist.com/ns/980606/features.html)

>SJ>But there seems to be a logical flaw in Tegmark's claim for
>>multiple universes but only one algorithm. In an infinite ensemble
>>of universes, wouldn't Tegmark's algorithm be run in each?

JR>No -- the algorithm is just an analogy to show how a
>comprehensive infinity can spring from a simple source, not an
>actual component in his theory that must be instantiated in each
>universe. The utter weakness of his analogy doesn't reflect well on
>his intellectual precision (and so undercuts his authority as a clear
>thinker), but it doesn't itself refute his actual theory. (Am I

OK. Thanks. But if his analogy fails, then he has a problem of
explaining how an infinity of universes is not "wasteful", ie. violates
the Principle of Parsimony (aka. Ockham's Razor), in needing an
infinity of universes to explain just one.

>>the fine-tuning of the universe would defeat all science, because it
>>would destroy cause-and-effect. In a truly infinite set of universes,
>>everything would happen an infinite number of times. Thus any
>>effect following a cause could just be because we happened to live
>>in that universe where that effect just happened to follow that
>>cause..

JR>I don't know if natural laws are allowed to change within these
>universes -- I'd think not. Even so, you're right that in at least one
>universe (if really -all- of them are created), the otherwise least
>probable outcome would occur in every case. I suspect it'd be better
>to say that in a minority of the universes natural phenomena would
>be too unpredictable to make science feasible, but this wouldn't be
>the general case. (The biggest obstacle to practical science would be
>that the vast majority of universes couldn't sustain life.)

OK. But my point was that if there was an infinite set of universes
then everyhting would happen an infinite number of times. If effect B
followed cause A in this universe, then we could not claim B was
caused by A, because in an infinite set of universes, B would
eventually follow A, even if A did not cause B. This would make
meaningless all science.

JR>One aside: it's tricky to apply things like "minority" and
>"majority" to infinite subsets of infinite sets of universes [if each set
>is of the same cardinality] -- one needs some non-counting-based
>way to define such. E.g., it seems natural to say that only a minority
>of the natural numbers are powers of 1000, but since there are
>infinitely many of each [and the same "order" of infinity], one can't
>say there are more of one than the other, merely quantitatively!
>similarly: are there more points in a 5x5 square of Euclidean space
>than a 1x1 square? No, even though the area of the 5x5 square is 25
>times larger. But that isn't determined by counting points.

This type of thing is why I don't believe that an actual infinity of
physical things is possible.

>>JR>If this is really the example he gives, I suspect his theories are
>>>much more profound to those without philosophical training than
>>>those with. Seems pretty sloppy for one trying to start a
>>revolution.

SJ>Indeed. But then if there is not an infinite number of universes,
>>then the materialist has no other way of explaining the design of
>>this one..

JR>Well, there are other theories too, of course, as Loren and David
>have been thoughtfully discussing of late.

I doubt that even the proposers of each of these "theories" really
believes they are true. They seem to me to be just desperate attempts
to avoid the obvious explanation that the universe was created by a
Intelligent Designer.

>>JR>And even if his example did work, his conclusion wouldn't
>>follow..

>SJ>Agreed. It just goes to show the failure of methodological
>>naturalism when it is applied to origins!

JR>Or, more precisely, the failure (we're supposing; this guy could
>still -conceivably- turn out to be right) of a particular scientific
>hypothesis.

Methodologcal Naturalism applied to origins has failed on every
occasion to date. How many times must it continue to fail before you
conclude that there is something wrong with MN? If never then it is
equivalent to Metaphysical Naturalism.

Steve

"Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented."
--- Dr. William Provine, Professor of History and Biology, Cornell University.
http://fp.bio.utk.edu/darwin/1998/slides_view/Slide_7.html

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen E (Steve) Jones  ,--_|\  sejones@ibm.net
3 Hawker Avenue         /  Oz  \ Steve.Jones@health.wa.gov.au
Warwick 6024          ->*_,--\_/ Phone +61 8 9448 7439
Perth, West Australia         v  "Test everything." (1Thess 5:21)
--------------------------------------------------------------------

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