We need more discussion of Tegmark's mathematical universe hypothesis

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by James R, Nov 18, 2023.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    If you don't even understand the basics of the topic you said you wanted to discuss, even after months of years of discussion, that raises some questions for me about your mental competence, at least when it comes to being able to distinguish superficially similar claims from one another, when it is actually the underlying differences that are supposedly the point of debate.

    You have yet to demonstrate that you understand what is being discussed here. You can't articulate what my objections are to Tegmark's MUH, for instance, even though I have attempted to explain them to you several times. I don't think the problem's on my end.
    What we know about you is what we can gather from the content of your posts to this forum, Write4U. Believe it or not, those provide quite a lot of information on which people can form judgments about you, including your likely mental capacity.

    Have you formed no opinions at all on the likely mental capacities of the people whose posts you have read?

    Important note: please understand that a lack of capacity in one area does not imply lack of capacity in other areas. Your failure to grasp what Tegmark is claiming about the nature of reality says nothing about your capacity for being a world-class accountant, for instance. You might also be a brilliant swimmer, or something, for all I know. But this stuff, here, obviously isn't your forte.

    Also, please understand that I am never critical because a person lacks the capacity for having a useful discussion about a particular topic on this forum. I am critical of those who pretend to capacities they do not demonstrate.

    Which brings us to this:
    Notice how Pinball1970 asked you a straightforward question, directly pertinent to the topic you said you wanted to discuss. Notice how your reply (a) does not attempt to answer the question that he asked you, (b) fails - again - to engage with the main sticking point in the current discussion, and (c) just strings some random words together, pretending like they mean something when put together in that order.

    Points (a) and (b) demonstrate, once again, that you lack the capacity for discussing the topic at hand. But let's leave that to one side for now.

    Point (c) strikes me as a sort of nervous twitch. It's the sort of thing you come out with whenever somebody puts a question to you that you don't understand, that you think you need to respond to (note: not answer, just respond to).

    Your non-answer to Pinball1970's question makes no sense at all. It's just word salad, again. At some level - unless you actually have less mental capacity that I suspect you have - you must have been aware of that when you wrote it. But, just in case I'm wrong, here's what wrong with it.

    You said "convert everything into relational values". But your claim all along has been that everything is already "relational values". If that's the case, then there's nothing to convert.

    And then there's what I pointed out, but you ignored, in posts #151 and #152, above: that the term "relational values" has no actual meaning. It literally means nothing when you use it. It's just an empty place-holder that only conveys the meaning "something should go here, but Write4U doesn't know what". And the same goes for "generic mathematical principles".

    And look what happens when somebody calls you on your bullshit:
    Somebody asked you what you meant by that word-salad nonsense of a sentence you wrote and your response to them is "What do you think it means"?

    Obviously, when you post something, you're supposed to know - before you post it - what you're trying to say by writing it. An ex post facto rationalisation to yourself about what you might possibly have meant doesn't cut the mustard, Write4U.

    And how about that rationalisation? What do we get from you, as far as that goes? Basic dictionary definitions of the individual words you used, but no explanation of what your intended meaning was when you strung them together. Of course, it would be silly to expect such an explanation from you because, I believe, when you write your word salad you don't actually have any particular meaning in mind. You just like to pretend you're communicating something complicated.

    I don't know who you think you're fooling. It's not your readers here. Maybe it's yourself????
    You clearly think you're doing something useful. But what "single principle" have you ever come up with and posted here, that makes any sense? What "regularities" are you trying to explain? I don't think you know, yourself.
    I don't know what you mean by a "universal constant". Perhaps you are referring to physical constants, like Newton's gravitational constant? Or mathematical constants like pi?

    If the "constants" you are referring to are numbers, then I'm happy to agree with you that - yes - numbers are mathematical in essence. But that's stating the bleeding obvious.
    Gravity: wrong.
    Fractal: could be. It depends on how you define it.
    A quantum: again, it could be. A quantum of sheep could be 3 sheep, which would be a mathematical quantity - a number. Which would be mathematical. But so what? It wouldn't make the sheep themselves mathematical.
    Reality. That's what.
    1. It does no such thing.
    2. That's not ironic. Or, at least, not in the way you thought it was.
    Mathematics can't organise itself.
    Do you believe it for any particular reason, or is it just one more random belief you have about Tegmark?

    If he is trying to do that, that's all well and good, but it's a completely unrelated topic that should be discussed in a different thread.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    A couple of things came up in your replies to Write4U that I think are best addressed to you, lest they get lost in the mess of attempts to get Write4U to engage in a rational discussion.
    Yes. As you know, I am not on board with Tegmark's claim that mathematics is all there is. I do not, for instance, accept that things that are made of matter are mathematics, for reasons I have given previously.
    My own view is a little different.

    I tend to take a more instrumentalist view of mathematics. I am quite happy to agree that mathematics is a very useful tool for describing how our physical universe works and for predicting what physical systems will do in the future. But when it comes to saying something like "the universe is governed by mathematics", whether I take issue with that claim really depends on what the person who is making it means by it.

    If all that is meant is that mathematics is very effective in describing how the universe is operating, how it has operated in the past and how it is likely to operate in the future, then there's no major problem. All that is being said, there, is that mathematics is a useful tool in the human toolbox.

    If, on the other hand, what is meant is that mathematics has some sort of Platonic existence which interfaces - somehow - with the physical universe to determine how physical things behave and interact, then I think somebody might be making a more profound claim than is supported by the available evidence.

    Saying "the universe is governed by mathematics" and saying "the laws of physics, as expressed in human physics textbooks, are mathematical" are two different claims. I accept the latter; I'm not so sure about the former.

    It is notable that mathematics is as effective as it is when it comes to describing our physical world. Clearly, something important is going on with mathematics. I don't deny that. But I'm an empiricist, not an idealist. I don't really subscribe to the idea of Plato's eternal forms.
    I have not referred to Tegmark as a charlatan. But while we're talking about that, I do think he is rather showy. I haven't seen enough of him to conclude that he's dishonest, so I'm happy to give him the benefit of the doubt on that, for now.
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    To be clear: when I say that "the universe is governed by mathematics" I mean that the universe is governed by physical laws that can be expressed mathematically.
    I do think mathematics is more than just a tool, though. I don't think it is a "real" object, but I do think that interactions behave in line with the laws, which can be expressed exactly via maths. To me this makes the universe inherently "mathematical in nature", at least as far as we currently understand it. This, however, introduces its own issues, in the manner of some form of selection bias. I.e. we improve our understanding of the universe through science, and maths, which would otherwise tend to ignore that which is not mathematical. Hence our understanding is driven by maths. etc.
    But we share the view that maths is not a real/physical thing in and of itself. Unlike that which Tegmark is espousing.
    Agreed, but I accept this mostly on intuition, and probably some form of reinforcement bias... i.e. we're taught the way the universe is, therefore we're likely to interpret everything to support that, etc.
    I don't see them as different claims, because I'm not aware of anything that governs the universe that is not a law of physics. And they are mathematical. Hence I think it's okay to say that the universe is governed by mathematics. But, sure, in the debate about whether mathematics has a separate reality, I guess it's important to clarify.
    Ditto. He is one of the "celebrity physicists" of the 2000+ era, along with Michio Kaku etc. I feel their "celebrity" status may tend to give their ideas more newsorthiness, and more credence among the following, than is appropriate. For example, if the MUH was a paper/book by any other non-celebrity physicist would it have ever been given the same publicity?
    exchemist likes this.
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  7. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I understand that and have said so.
    Finally!!!!!!!!!! Thank you.
    Yes, I believe X is a better model than Y.
    Anything wrong with that?

    Let me remind you that I brought Tegmark to this forum because I thought it was worthy of discussion. From my very first post about Tegmark and the idea of a mathematical universe was slammed, including Tegmark as scientist, and my ability to understand what he is proposing.
    Now we are having a spirited discussion (10 pages and counting), which proves that my contribution was a worthy one.

    I have a lot of time invested here and my contributions are quietly influencing the discussion, except for the shrill ad hominem the moment I put a word in.

    And even in your admission that basically I was not wrong, you attempt to disparage my person. The hypocrisy is astounding.
    What is the need for this? Is it scientific to rely on argumentum ad hominem?

    I need a break from this thrash heap. Later....
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I'm not sure that we're expressing the physical laws exactly with our maths.

    Physical laws are constantly being revised. We had Newton's law of gravity, which was good enough for 400 years, but then we found that it couldn't account for certain observations. Then we had Einstein's general relativity for 100 years. But there are good reasons to expect that GR is not the be all and end all when it comes to theories of gravity. So, now people are proposing string theories and the like which, so far, have not been confirmed to be an improvement on GR.

    Pick any area of physics you like. What tends to happen over time is that the mathematical laws get repeatedly tweaked so that they are in accordance with new experiments or observations. On occasion, laws are thrown away and replaced by new laws, although often those new laws include the old ones as some sort of special case or approximation.

    It is fair to say that our physical laws are good enough for many purposes. I just don't think it's right to claim that they govern the way the universe works. They are descriptive, not prescriptive.
    Seattle and exchemist like this.
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Agree. It should also be borne in mind that the practical utility of mathematics in science is limited to comparatively simple or idealised physical systems, of the kind that is often dealt with in physics. In most of the other sciences mathematical models, where they exist at all, give only approximate predictions, due to the complexity of real systems. This is not to deny that one can imagine, at least in principle*, that the complexities could potentially be modelled mathematically, but the effort would be a waste of time.

    *As Walter J Moore memorably stated in the undergraduate physical chemistry textbook I had at university, "from en principe oui, a French expression meaning non".

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    For this reason I am a bit suspicious of attempts to raise mathematics on too high a pedestal in science, and in particular of the claim, which I have sometimes come across, that until you have a mathematical model you have not got a proper scientific theory.
  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    But they are always mathematical in essence. We are not talking about Human mathematics. We are talking about generic Universal mathematics and they don't change.
    You are talking about human mathematics and its incompleteness. But humans do not run the universe. The Universe runs us.

    Universal mathematics do and they do not change for humans. Humans need to learn universal mathematics, not the other way around.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps not at the moment, but the principle is that those absolute laws can be expressed exactly with mathematics. Whether we have the full understanding of the laws at present is neither here nor there, I'd suggest.
    Sure. And how many of these are non-mathematical? All improvements are still mathematical - i.e. can be expressed exactly as understood by maths.
    Not disputed. But let's dispense with what our understanding of them is, and look at the objective laws. The principle is that these laws can still be expressed exactly by mathematics. Is that contentious? What would be an alternative?
    Sure - no dispute between descriptive and prescriptive. By "governed by" I simply mean that things act in accordance with. I don't intend it as presuming a causal relationship, that maths somehow causes.
    Write4U likes this.
  12. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    You seem to be getting excited by what is trivial, and by what everyone accepts almost as axiomatic within science. You're extraordinarily late to the party. If that excites you then sure. You're up to speed. Now drop your enthusiasm for that if you want to discuss higher issues, as is being done here.
    Not per se, but you shouldn't then bleat on about someone who is famous for espousing Y, saying that you agree with him... only to then admit you agree with him about X and not Y. It is disingenuous of you.
    No, they're not influencing discussion. At least not relevantly.
    There's no hypocrisy. You can be right about X, but bleating on about it when we're discussing Y is a character flaw you have. Pointing that out in the hope you stop derailing threads is not unreasonable. Saying that you're right about X does not mean you're vindicated in your manner.
    The need has been explained. You are disruptive. That speaks to character, to the person. Yet you still can't seem to understand why you are disruptive, despite numerous people explaining it to you.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  13. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    That's why I use the term Guiding principle instead of causality.
    I wish I could have said it exactly that way. I've come close....
    I am not sure where you got that analogy from. I have supported and have been chided for my consistency in advancing Tegmark's concept of Reality.

    Frankly, I see no difference between your concept of a MU and Tegmark's concept of a MU. Once his MU is accepted, the rest falls in place.

    I tried to make a distinction between "human numbers" and "natural (generic) mathematically relational values".
    I have never seen a "3" in the universe, but I have seen triangulation in both Nature and in Human geometry, which means it is a correct description of spacetime geometrical properties.

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    Relation in Math | Definition, Representations & Examples
    Actually, I believe that algebra is a better representation of natural physics than numbers. The mathematical aspect remains the same.
    It does away with arbitrary symbolization of values.

    In Nature this happens spontaneously and in a self-ordering manner.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2023
  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Am I screaming too much, pounding my fists on the table? What on earth are you talking about? My words are disruptive? In what way? another POV? At least they are NOT ad hominem. I don't disparage anybody's intellect and I don't call anybody wrong. I just present my POV of what I believe is closest to the truth.

    My delivery? I believe it deserves perhaps a little deeper interpretation than it has been afforded, until just recently when the subject was given some serious consideration. I have yet not seen any serious refutation of Tegmark's MUH.
    .I agree.

    p.s. You use the term "governed", I use Bohm's term "guided by". Close enough?

    p.p.s. I don't want to give his "multiverse" any thought. If we have no "relations" with other universes, it seems like a futile enterprise.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2023
  15. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    Disruptive with irrelevant or word salad comments.

    Stuff like this

    And this.
  16. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And what exactly is irrelevant about universal mechanics? The POVs I present on this subject are not my own but in support of one or more accredited scientists. Are these POVs irrelevant?

    If you have any questions I will answer them as best I can. But your 1 word comments are not productive in any way.
    At least James has done me the courtesy of asking for clarification on occasion, which I always have endeavored to answer and to my knowledge never been proved wrong in my interpretation, except for a minor detail here or there.
    Sarkus now (grudgingly), seems to be very much in agreement in principle on the issue of Tegmark's mathematical universe.

    So what is your problem?
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2023
  17. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    Constantly having to point out your errors, misconceptions.
    It slows down the discussion.
  18. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    This for instance, what do you mean by this? What do you mean by 'natural' physics?
    What do you mean by algebra being a ' better representation?'
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2023
  19. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    So why do you keep saying, 'I think,' 'I believe?'
  20. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    So I have explained why you dilute, deflect and disrupt.
    Can you address the questions I have asked? Without wholesale pastes?
  21. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    I'd think it would clarify items in dispute.
    Naturally occurring physical relationships, based on relational values and mathematical functions.
    Algebra is value-neutral and explains the mathematical interactive process, rather than calculating for a specific result.

    algebra, mathematics
    Algebra | History, Definition, & Facts | Britannica
  22. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    It's all "natural" you are getting confused with natural philosophy.
    The other part of the sentence is yet more word salad. Word salad begets word salad.
  23. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    There is word salad then there is 1000 island dressing.

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