Proof The World Is Not A Simulation?

04 Oct 2017 17:28


The burden of proof to show that the Universe is a simulation lies with those making the claim. The simulation argument is a critical view of other explanations suggested by scientists, the religious, and laymen. Anyone that rejects the argument can go on with life without flexing a single muscle because you don't have a burden, unless of course you make a positive claim.

That being said, I'm surprised at the number of people attempting to disprove something, for which there is no proof of existence to begin with. As a general rule of thumb, I avoid debates involving "proof" against the existence of something, simply because it's quite difficult to prove a negative, hence the burden of proof rests with those asserting a positive claim. Atheism for example is not a positive claim, it does not say "there is no god", but rather it states "I reject your god claim, now prove it". There is a big difference here. That isn't to suggest that no one is making positive claims about the absence of a god, but that smarter atheists will avoid that road since they can't prove that a god does not exist. Likewise, if you're making the claim that the world is simulated, then it is your burden to prove it, if you don't believe this claim, then you need not do anything because if you do, then you run the risk of shifting the burden to yourself.

Summary of Claim

An attempt was made by physicists to simulate a quantum phenomenon present in metals. Within the simulation, the particle count increased and the computer simulation was unable to keep up due to complexity. Therefore, since the system those physicists used to complete the simulation failed, some people claim the world is not simulated.

It is important to note that when physicists post their work, be it in popular format or technical, it is often the readers that turn this into a claim. So don't make the mistake of assuming that a followup article to the work is always an accurate representation of any claims made by the physicist. Many readers will go one step further and post their own work on the topic, sometimes miss-attributing claims of their own, to be claims made by those physicists they are referencing.

So when I read an article over at the Daily Mail written by Cheyenne MacDonald saying that "a new study could finally put the debate to rest", I have to disagree and she should make it clearer from whom that claim comes.

What was stated in the referencing document regarding quantum phenomenon present in metals isn't positive evidence for the claim that the world is not a simulation, this is lack of evidence for the simulation claim, due to an inability to reproduce the effect with the computing power at hand. Lack of ability by a computer system to pull off a simulation is not proof against a simulated reality. If I want to grow corn, and the system I use to grow corn does not work, I cannot make the claim that it is impossible to grow corn. This logic failure also does not mean that the world is a simulation. Anyone making a simulation claim must still prove it.

The Simulation argument ignores the laws of nature?

A logical approach is fair, but this approach only applies when working with facts. I can make a perfectly reasonable logical argument by saying:

All people from Brazil are blue, Stacy is from Brazil, therefore Stacy is blue.

When looking at the conclusion, that is a sound logical argument. But the problem isn't with the logic, it is with the premise that "all people from Brazil are blue". In order for the conclusion to be true, the premise has to be true. When the premise is false, there can be no conclusion, because it is literally inconclusive. Logic works when fed facts, conjecture is not a substitute for facts when used in a logical statement.

So when theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies says that the the simulation scenario ignores the laws of nature and then she or others (again, the Daily Mail author has not made this clear) conclude that: therefore the world is not a simulation, then we experience the same problem with logic that was expressed above. In this case, a misunderstanding of the simulation argument that has led to the faulty premise. The simulation argument proposes the possibility that the universe is a simulation, this would include the laws of nature. A simulated universe contains these known laws and any laws that the simulation would adhere to are unknown because we cannot see beyond the simulation. Hence, the observer problem that science has yet to explain with the current theoretical model of the universe.

In short, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I don't often doubt the abilities of scientist in active pursuit of knowledge within their field of study, but I sometimes doubt the logic invoked as a result of their work, especially when made by 3rd parties.