Posts tagged ‘Karl Popper’

January 8th, 2013

Popper’s Two Cents on Many Worlds

by Max Andrews

In this section (Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics, Ed. W. W. Bartley, III (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1956, 1982), 89-95.) Karl Popper discusses his attraction to the Many Worlds Interpretation as well as the reasons for his rejection of it. Popper is actually quite pleased with Everett’s threefold contribution to the field of quantum physics. Despite his attraction to the interpretation he rejects it based on the falsifiability of the symmetry behind the Schrödinger equation.

Popper’s model allows for a theory to be scientific prior to supported evidence.  There is no positive case for purporting a theory under his model. There can only be a negative case to falsify it and as long as it may be potentially falsified it is scientific.  Thus, a scientific theory could have no evidence or substantiated facts to provide good reasons for why it may be true. What makes this discussion of the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics (MWI) interesting is that despite Popper’s attraction to MWI it’s not the attraction that makes it scientific, it’s his criterion of falsification.

Popper’s arguments:

In favor of MWI:

  1. The MWI is completely objective in its discussion of quantum mechanics.
  2. Everett removes the need and occasion to distinguish between ‘classical’ physical systems, like the measurement apparatus, and quantum mechanical systems, like elementary particles.  All systems are quantum (including the universe as a whole).
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October 23rd, 2012

Karl Popper on the Many Worlds Interpretation

by Max Andrews

In a brief section of Karl Popper’s Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics[1] he discusses his attraction to the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics as well as the reason for his rejection of it. Popper is actually quite pleased with Everett’s three-fold contribution to the field of quantum physics. Despite his attraction to the interpretation he rejects it based on the falsifiability of the symmetry behind the Schrödinger equation.

Popper’s model allows for a theory to be scientific prior to supported evidence.  There is no positive case for purporting a theory under his model. There can only be a negative case to falsify it and as long as it may be potentially falsified it is scientific.  Thus, a scientific theory could have no evidence or substantiated facts to provide good reasons for why it may be true. What makes this discussion of MWI interesting is that despite Popper’s attraction to MWI it’s not the attraction that makes it scientific, it’s his criterion of falsification.

In favor of MWI:

  1. The MWI is completely objective in its discussion of quantum mechanics.
  2. Everett removes the need and occasion to distinguish between ‘classical’ physical systems, like the measurement apparatus, and quantum mechanical systems, like elementary particles.  All systems are quantum (including the universe as a whole).
  3. Everett shows that the collapse of the state vector, something originally thought to be outside of Schrödinger’s theory, can be shown to arise within the universal [Schrödinger] wave function.
    read more »

October 14th, 2012

The Falsifiability of a Non-Fine-Tuning Hypothesis

by Max Andrews

There are two hypotheses for an explanation for the fine-tuning (FT) of nomic behavior we observe, which permits the existence of intelligent life. These hypotheses are that there is a fine-tuner responsible for causing the nomic behavior and a non-fine-tuner hypothesis–anything but a fine-tuner.

The two competing hypotheses rise and fall on the same crux. One of the problems with falsifying ~FT is that whatever falsifier may be presented it could always be attributed to this idea of cosmic Darwinism, the evolution of the multiverse itself. Paul Davies criticizes the multiverse because he believes it could never be falsified simply because many worlds can be used to explain anything. Science would become redundant and the regularities of nature would need no further investigation, because they could simply be explained as a selection effect, need to keep us alive and observing.[1]

July 26th, 2012

Why Many Worlds Cannot be Dismissed due to a Lack of Experiencing Other Worlds

by Max Andrews

The level three multiverse is particular to a certain interpretation of quantum mechanics being Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation.  It is a mathematically simple model in support of unitary physics.  Everything that can happen in the particle realm actually does happen.  Each of the many worlds following a split represents one of the possible worlds remaining after the event which led to the split. There are no interactions between these worlds. No observer or inhabitant of them will notice anything about the other worlds.

Everett’s interpretation is not impossible due to the fact that we do not experience the continual splitting of our world. Observers would only view their level one multiverse, but the process of decoherence—which mimics wave function collapse while preserving unitary physics—prevents them from seeing the level three parallel copies of themselves.[1] It is no more contradicted by our failure to experience the splitting than the theory that the earth rotates is contradicted by our failure to experience its movement. [2]



[1] Max Tegmark, “The Multiverse Hierarchy,” arXiv:0905.1283v1 (accessed March 15, 2011), 10.

[2] Some of the commentary is summarized by Karl Popper in Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics, ed. W.W. Bartley, III (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982): 91-2.