Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse

There’s a new paper on the arXiv by Sean Carroll called Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse. The abstract is:

Cosmological models that invoke a multiverse – a collection of unobservable regions of space where conditions are very different from the region around us – are controversial, on the grounds that unobservable phenomena shouldn’t play a crucial role in legitimate scientific theories. I argue that the way we evaluate multiverse models is precisely the same as the way we evaluate any other models, on the basis of abduction, Bayesian inference, and empirical success. There is no scientifically respectable way to do cosmology without taking into account different possibilities for what the universe might be like outside our horizon. Multiverse theories are utterly conventionally scientific, even if evaluating them can be difficult in practice.

I’ve added a link to `abduction’ lest you think it has something to do with aliens!

I haven’t had time to read all of it yet, but thought I’d share it here because it concerns a topic that surfaces on this blog from time to time. I’m not a fan the multiverse because (in my opinion) most of the arguments trotted out in its favour are based on very muddled thinking. On the other hand, I’ve never taken seriously any of the numerous critiques of the multiverse idea based on the Popperian criterion of falsifiability because (again, in my opinion) that falsifiability has very little to do with the way science operates.

Anyway, Sean’s papers are always interesting to read so do have a look if this topic interests you. And feel free to comment through the box below.

4 Responses to “Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse”

  1. Peter, any comments on Mario’s paper today?

    Click to access 1801.05061.pdf

  2. Michel C. Says:

    Everything in the Universe must be connected somehow and therefore it should be observable. If it is necessary to explain an observation it must be causally connected. The problem is we might not have the tools to draw the proper conclusions. If there is a disconnected multiverse, it is totally irrelevant, because its existence has no causal effect on our own physical laws.

  3. […] does not work if over-interpreted as a simplistic criterion. Cosmologist Peter Coles remarks: “I’ve never taken seriously any of the numerous critiques of the multiverse idea based on […]

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