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Sean Carroll

Beyond Falsifiability

17 Jan 2018, 16:44 UTC
Beyond Falsifiability
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I have a backlog of fun papers that I haven’t yet talked about on the blog, so I’m going to try to work through them in reverse chronological order. I just came out with a philosophically-oriented paper on the thorny issue of the scientific status of multiverse cosmological models:
Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse
Sean M. Carroll
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.
This is well-trodden ground, of course. We’re talking about the cosmological multiverse, not its very different relative the Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. It’s not the ...

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