Many Worlds vs Multiverse(s)

This is just a riff – obviously prompted by the Deutsch debate – to lay out my original point – “I don’t buy Many Worlds”.

Many worlds thought of as the Everettian interpretation of quantum theory has (had) an easy to visualise metaphor, even if it might also be easy to discount it as a world-view of what really exists. The idea that every quantum event – each wave-function collapse – creates a bifurcation in the universe(s) into one where what actually happened happens and (an)other(s) where what was possible didn’t happen here but (maybe) did happen there. Without any deep understanding of the maths and mechanisms of such theory(ies) it is a simple way to visualise that somehow the statistical distribution of possibilities existed in this world up to that point and then didn’t. Where did they go?

It’s nevertheless almost impossible to hold in your minds-eye world-view that all these gazillions of alternate worlds really exist in any meaningful way? To even entertain that thought is also mentally related to what we hold in mind as the world, the cosmos, the / a universe in the first place. And whilst Many Worlds is completely unrelated physically to The Multiverse(s) – the idea of a whole universe evolving out of a (near-)singularity suffers from the same credulity problems.

Now what’s actually going on here is very close to the most fundamental question of philosophy, let alone physics. Why / how-come something out of nothing? So any physical answer is going to be dubious, even if we manage to establish a mental picture of what we might believe. If that something – seed – existed before this universe, where did it exist and where is that (time &) place now? What does “now” even mean? (also part of Deutsch’s video essay).

One of my “priors” is that “The Universe” is unitary – it is the entire cosmos of possibility and reality. That’s what we mean by “the”. As soon as we entertain the idea of multiple universes we need different names for different things. The entire super-(multi-uni)-verse idea must contain any subsidiary universes, if they really exist. If we open up thought of time itself, not just now, as having no beginning or end – and that “The” (super) universe has always existed, it is not difficult to imagine “This” (current) universe – and other subsidiary universe(s) – evolving from there.

No less credible than the big-bang idea itself, anyway.

The crucial idea that makes this credible is that of an horizon. Whether a tiny compressed “black hole” of a cosmic seed, or the furthest reaches of a universe in time and space, they have a horizon beyond which no information can pass. The contents of a black hole or a a complete universe can never be known to another “region” of space-time the other side of such a horizon. A seed forming a new universe may inherit some information from the existing region in which it formed, but after that – incommunicado. That’s it.

So we may “imagine” the reality of multiple universes and/or many worlds in our thought experiments – different thought experiments, in different unrelated parts of physics, remember – but never have to treat them as part of reality in the universe we inhabit. They can never have any meaning in this universe.

Not quite right, but close enough for now. “True enough” to use Nick Cave / Sean O’Hagan’s humane “Irish” expression.

Need to relate this to my point about Deutsch and his Everettian “World View”.

Many Worlds & Ontological Commitment

Had an exchange with David Deutsch earlier today. I didn’t have the full context of the original question that prompted him to post a 9 minute video essay on YouTube, but it was in defence of the Everettian Many Worlds Interpretation being seen as part of the “concensus” in 21st C physics.

[My gloss on his argument in the video] His emphasis from the off is on “the reality of Many Worlds being as uncontroversial as the reality of dinosaurs and their evolution” seen by future historians of science.

(He also notes that even proponents of the theory will have / had disagreements and distinct interpretations – visible even from history.)

(IF) we agree it describes reality – not just that observations confirm predictions of the formal theory according to limits in confidence and knowledge – but we disagree about that reality described. Does that “function” describe reality or is it reality? [Lots of technical quantum detail still open to disagreement.]

We don’t have the “Many Dinosaurs” interpretation of evolution, it’s just evolution. It’s just Everettian (true) Quantum Physics, not an interpretation.

Explanatory theory split into formalism and interpretation(s) is wrong. It’s just another interpretation. Institutionalised casuistry – unsound sophistry.

Mistaken about what the world is actually like (in reality). What exactly were the unpersuaded, unpersuaded of.

Physicists incorporate accepted new physics (eg Einsteinian relativity) into their worldviews (or not – quantum theory). People stuck in Kuhnian paradigms are probably those that believe in paradigms (implying we shouldn’t).

Apply the theory, test it, note what that tells us about the world and let that inform your worldview.

[Andromeda / Time / Now / Self – who am I? Self-Identity even in computation theories – more nonsense. Unreasonable gullibility. Ada Lovelace denying that computers could think. Positivism as a poison.]

It has become accepted in science education that learning science doesn’t require you to change your world-view. Shut-up and calculate, toe the party line. Sneer at reality.

What’s noticeable is that there is nothing about “Many Worlds” in there – as a reality or otherwise – just dropping it from the naming of quantum theory or any interpretation of it? But there is lots about what we hold as reality in our world-view.

It was a standing joke that few (if any) quantum physicists actually behaved as if QT were a reality, however they actually described or interpreted it. Obviously one factor might be that at the human living and decision-making scale no quantum effects are observable anyway – even if they / we do hold it as part of our world-view.

Anyway my comment was purely about the Many Worlds interpretation / metaphor and any reality to reality held in a worldview.

And this is where it took a weird turn:

And there it ended, but I thought I’d elaborate here, on the ontological commitment.

[Metaphors / Thought experiments >>> Accepted as reality?]
[Goldstein / ontological commitment / Einstein’s rubber sheets / quarks and their properties.]
[And capture the tweet contents more directly. Matt Segall’s tweets too.]

Gender Ideology – One More Time

[Hold – Stub for longer piece.]

I signed-off from the GC vs TRA “debate” a couple of years ago, after 7 or 8 years of getting in quite deep, because I though the right side of history was winning. I had stoppped following many popular GC commentators to make space for attention to other issues – by sticking with a reduced few, I’d always see retweets and replies from the others if new stories emerged. GCvTRA was always an example of a wider woke/anti-woke polarisation around individual identity and class definitions – #GoodFences for me. However in that time several of those were banned from Twitter and re-instated a la Musk and several other sceptic commentators I interact with began taking an interest in the “Trans debate” (at last). So I need to dust off an update.


This Twitter exchange (and GC’s coming to Helen’s defence) is as good as any to lay out my position:

And quite independently James needs to be part of this too:

… [More later]

Subjective Bayesian Credence

Just capturing a pithy statement from Scott Hamilton:

“The best thing about sharing a subjective Bayesian credence is it reduces one’s evaluation of a problem situation to a number. Readers can agree or disagree without engaging with arguments and avoid learning anything new. It’s great for identifying allies.”

Obviously I’m going to want to elaborate on the reductionist motive, where it makes sense and where it becomes problematic (#GoodFences etc.) but like all pithy tongue-in-cheek statements it’s largely true. (Taking sides with little knowledge / no real engagement. As opposed to …. not taking sides / good-faith engagement.)

Original Tweet for follow-up, but link-rot expected these days.

Housekeeping 2023

Done quite a big rationalisation of email accounts and domain names – AND a switch back to Google and Chrome as my default interfaces, synchronized with Android phone etc, whilst maintaining Microsoft for Office 365 document tools. That mostly seems to have worked without a hitch. Also means I have multiple TB’s of storage in different domains.

I’m sticking with WordPress as my main hosted publishing platform (after trying out every other tool going, Medium, Substack, etc.) and like many have a Mastodon channel parallel to Twitter / Tweetdeck, though happy to stick with the latter for now. (Still absolutely hate Facebook, and only persist for a few key groups. The algorithms are SO intrusive and distracting and frankly insulting.) (PS I believe there should be a marginal charge for every social-media post or email – so that the advertising model can be ditched – very small, 0.0001 penny say x no of addressees / followers, but it would generate revenue on a fair personal and commercial basis. But that’s another story.)

My “problem” with WordPress is I have 23 years of content all still backward compatible with my current WordPress version and theme, except for a few rarely followed old broken links – an occupational hazard. But I do have some glitches in Dashboard, Stats, Page & Post Editing and in published Page & Post functions: – (1) loss of Pingbacks – (2) unpredictable behaviour between Classic and Block Editors and advanced editing Plug Ins – (3) unpredictable behaviour losing “sessions” requiring fresh log-ins every few mins between the different functions above. Secure but time consuming!

So I need to do some maintenance to the blog.

Changing theme seems the first port of call – I’m still on 2016, but all those 2020 onwards are very graphic block focussed – and I do have (a few) manual edits of widget contents whose behaviour might be lost and need rebuilding? Not a big deal.

Or, something I’ve considered before, maybe I preserve an archive version of the blog to date – with all working links preserved and any broken ones lost to history – and start a fresh one. But what about a fresh start having a different domain address. They can’t both have the same root address. I’ve noticed for static pages some people are simply using The Web Archive / Wayback Machine versions, but surely live links branch out to original addresses?

Decisions, decisions.

(Anyway – standby for some hopefully temporary glitches as I trial a few options. Let’s start with a full back-up.)

Sexual Dimorphism

Capturing this neat summary, NOT for the decade long Sex vs Gender blip of 21st C insanity, but for the millennia old fact that men and women do have archetypically different brains & minds as well as biological bodies. “Vive la Difference” as I keep referring to it.

Facts are not normative, everything and anything has their own individual evolutionary genetic and conception-to-grave biological & memetic development life trajectory and choices. But facts – statistically significant differences – are worth understanding.

“The term “sexual dimorphism” in neuroscience does NOT refer to two distinct types of brains (M v F). Instead, “sexual dimorphism” refers to any statistically significant difference between the sexes that only differs on average with lots of overlap (see below):”


The main omission in this set of example (nevertheless true) differences is that it focusses on quantities & sizes of things & stuff (brain parts). When it comes to minds & brains the balance of connectivities (connectome relations, and the dynamic making of such connections) counts for a lot more. (Some of the key sex differences for example are in corpus-callosum connections between the hemispheres – McGilchrist.)

[Maybe “Sammy” @NeuroSGS has that data too? And surely it would be better if – after the gross “size” difference – the relative component differences were normalised for actual gross size?]

“Objective scientific types tend to hate circular logic. But such logic is good clue that it’s wrong to focus on objects when reality is made of dynamic relations.” @Psybertron (standalone) Tweet

And, since it’s topical (from yesterday’s “ECO” post) Kevin Mitchell driving some great “Systems Thinking” dialogue on Twitter again (the threads above and below this tweet):

And, I should add, “isomorphism” is one of the key aspects of systems thinking. Extrapolation between levels – same but different – always.

Emergence, Complexity and Organisation

ECO is

Emergence, Complexity & Organization –
An International Transdisciplinary Journal
of Complex Social Systems

It’s the rabbit hole I’ve been down today, so this is just a riff on the content connections I’ve been making.

Kevin Mitchell is rapidly becoming my favourite follow on Twitter.

As well as reviewing his book “Innate, I’ve also quoted conversations that have intersected with mine. Now, as he appears to be researching his new book “Free Agents” as well as his teaching load at Trinity College Dublin, he’s been Tweeting his readings and Retweeting contributions of others. Always fascinating and frankly too much to properly digest and respond to all beyond Likes and Retweets.

As well as a stack of books, one rabbit hole he’s been down is reading W. Ross Ashby’s seminal 1962 paper “Principles of the Self-Organizing System” published in proceedings of the University of Illinois symposium on self-organisation. The paper was republished in ECO Vol 6 Special Edition 1 & 2 in 2004. The link to the actual paper is dead on this page (under reconstruction) – but there are a few on-line PDF copies around, like this one.

As well as the specific snippets that Kevin has been highlighting, my mind has been boggled by these additional connections:

On the very copy of the paper re-published in ECO in 2004, the main reference in the introductory paragraph by Jeffrey Goldstein is “The Mechanisation of the Mind” by Jean-Pierre Dupuy (1994/2000). The very book I suggested Kevin should add to his reading list. Weird coincidence.

And in that very same Vol6/1-2 2004 edition of ECO is a paper by Dave Snowden and Peter Stanbridge – this PDF copy at their Cynefin / Cognitive Edge pages. The very recommedation I made to ISSS on handling complexity and chaos in an organisational management context.

I notice ECO is explicitly focussed on “Social Systems”. Dupuy was a very influential read for me, not least because it derailed this physical science & engineering  “STEM” type out of his comfort zone (my cynefin) into meta-modern and literary universe in terms of system values. Never looked back. Checking Ashby references in Dupuy just now I find the whole first vs second Cybernetics angle was already there. Cybernetics was itself de-railed into the mechanistic IT & Control systems territory that made it famous initially, even though it too was originally focussed on the human and social.

Need to re-read Dupuy in its entirety as well as read a couple of the Ashby originals.

And Peter Allen’s editorial to Vol20/1 includes reference to Iain McGilchrist Master and Emissary and to the paradoxical warning he shares with Merleau-Ponty, Scheler and Wittgenstein that explicitness is a trap for the unbalanced brain.

McGilchrist highlights the paradox of philosophy… we need to get beyond what can be grasped or explicitly stated, but the drift of philosophy, is always and inevitably back to the explicit. Merleau-Pont, Scheler and Wittgenstein perceived that explicitness ties us down to what we already know.

Shrinking world – Definition is a Coffin (Levenchuk).

Also need to make connections with ECO. It seems they are in the process of re-engineering their on-line presence. Most of their archive copy is there, but contact and interaction are currently dead. (I see plenty of UK representation amongst the editorial and review teams, eg Peter Allen at Cranfield / Emeritus and Gerald Midgely at Hull.)

The Between Times

Having a day in bed, trying to shake off this year’s cold between Christmas and New Year. Know exactly where we picked it up. Someone suffering conspicuously badly behind the bar a week before Christmas at one of the pubs we frequent was surely the spreader event. Naughty. Same symptoms, including a damn cough, but not severe, just nagging and lingering over three weeks. We’ve both had all the Flu and Covid jabs available.

Got a few books as Christmas gifts though surprisingly only one from my book wish list (permanently linked top-right) and started reading “Faith, Hope and Carnage” by Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan, already making copious notes after only 3 or so chapters, I’m going to have to make space to do it justice. It’s very good and relevant to my epistemological agenda, which is no doubt why I added it to the list. Since being primarily in writing mode, and even if I weren’t, all reading spawns multiple new reads, impossible to read or even add to the exponentially expanding “library of unread books”. Being very selective in what I give reading time to.

That said, this holiday period has given me a break from the research routine, and lots of fresh distractions. (Let’s just ignore the Thunberg / Tate / JHB / Pizza-box / Autism noise – though Autism remains relevant.) A great forking set of threads started independently by Lee Cronin and Kevin Mitchell:


I added Dupuy’s “Mechanisation of the Mind” to Kevin’s Cybernetics / Systems / Complexity stack after opining that they had really evolved to be a single “science of everything” topic, where original distinctions are moot.

And I added this to Lee’s throwaway after Philip Goff had suggested the missing ingredient was panpsychsim:

A question in response to that sent me down my “it from bit” rabbit hole (30th May 2021):
It From Bit – Psybertron Asks

Which led me to the nothing new under the sun aspect of Bohr’s work pre-dating Wheeler and Shannon’s s original coining of it from Tukey’s bit. (Not to mention Whitehead and Wiener / Cybernetics / Systems-Thinking (12th May 2021):
Mach, Bogdanov, Nagarjuna and Rovelli – Psybertron Asks

An important post in its own right. It’s all connected. Which a couple of links later – via Dante – led me to my year before last 2020/21 turn of the year post (8th Jan 2021). Another important post:
We Can Be Heroes in 2021 – Psybertron Asks

And thanks to that reference shared above with Kevin, this 2012 recap of my 2002 reading of Dupuy is another important post:
Cybernetics – Psybertron Asks

Phew! Not only is there nothing new under the sun, everything has already been said by others – the patterns continue to evolve new species as they always did – I’ve also pretty much said everything I need to say about that somewhere before. It may have been, certainly has been, an entertaining distraction, but it certainly reinforces my main project need for more creative output and fewer content inputs. Back to work.

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