Theoretical Physicists’ Multiverse Speculation Sets a Dangerous Precedent: Scientific Claims Without Evidence
In the past, theoretical physicists were considered more intelligent than their experimental brethren. Because they didn’t need labs.
Not everyone was convinced. Heisenberg, the uncertainty principle guy (1), only got his doctorate. because his score was averaged. He had to take a course in experimental physics and part of the final grade was questions and answers. He could not answer any of the questions posed by a professor, Wilhelm Wien, so Professor Wien threw him a bone; how does a battery work?
Heisenberg didn’t even know this. His adviser, Arnold Sommerfeld, and Wien argued over whether or not this guy knew what he was talking about and whether they did what the United Nations does about everything; they share the difference. Sommerfeld gave him an A and Wien an F, and a III/C passed. His thinking didn’t improve much at first, Einstein and Popper let him down for metaphysical wandering.
Who’s laughing now, Einstein? Well, always Einstein, since hardly anyone understands the uncertainty principle correctly.
These days no one asks about the real world, you can make a whole career out of string theory, even if it’s not a theory, you just had to take some classes and then get a job from someone whose career has been in String Theory.(2)
That’s where we are with the Multiverse stuff today. It’s not based on the real world, it’s not even science, it’s more like “metaphysics disguised as science”, writes Jim Baggott, who is to physics gibberish what Greg Critser was to medical courtesy or Gary Taubes is at food. When theoretical physicists aren’t dumping on real physicists — the people who will have to prove their cosmic fantasies — they’re writing multiverses and temporal trash again and again and again.
“In our post-truth era of casual lies, fake news, and alternative facts, society is under extraordinary pressure from those pushing potentially dangerous anti-science propaganda,” Baggott writes, and makes a good point about what do these supernatural physics on the multiverses to trust all science.
Let’s recognize that theoretical physicists have every right to believe, write and say what they want, within reason. But is it too much to ask that they make their claims with some honesty? Instead of “the multiverse exists” and “this could be true”, is it really that hard to say something like “the multiverse has philosophical appeal, but it’s highly speculative and controversial, and there’s no proof for that”?
Why trust scientists on climate change, vaccines or GMOs when in the next article the science media may be caught promoting metaphysical trash like the Mirrorverse?
Science is distinguished from pseudoscience and metaphysics by being falsifiable. It cannot be a scientific theory (as opposed to using the theory as part of a proper name) if it does not have the potential to be proven wrong.
And the multiverse can’t be denied because it’s philosophy, it’s science fiction, it’s Futurama episodes – but it’s not theory.
It is, however, an excellent Sony Spider-Man movie.(3)
Read “But is it science?” by Jim Baggott here.
(1) At the low level, position measurement perturbs the momentum of a particle. This is a manifestation of the “observer effect”, but is often confused with it, often by modern theoretical physicists who are more interested in time travel articles or science books pop on the weirdness of the universe as science.
(2) He fell away. In “The Big Bang Theory” the guy claiming to be the smartest was in String Theory, presumably that was the physics that Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady had heard of at the time. Then he threw it away.