[ExI] against Many Worlds QT

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Mon May 18 11:52:40 UTC 2009

On Sun, May 17, 2009 at 9:55 PM, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
> Max wrote
>> I can't agree with you on this Jef.
>> Realism can be highly sophisticated.
> Well, Jef could retort that it is merely *my*
> version of realism that isn't very highly
> sophisticated :)


> Aware wrote:
>> On Sun, May 17, 2009 at 7:13 PM, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
>>> For realists like me, attempting to uncover the truth,
>>> or perhaps just modeling our activities as a pursuit
>>> of a (completely) unattainable final goal, is definitely
>>> the best approach.
>> Lee, my purpose in raising this issue will be served when it's
>> recognized that you simply can't "model" an "unattainable final goal."
>> What is the behavior of this element?  Precisely how does it
>> constrain the behavior of the model as a whole?
> Here is what the driving analogies are: our models
> (or theories *about*) physical reality. Suppose that
> you and I are measuring a temperature or merely the
> length of a rod. It is EXTREMELY USEFUL, I contend,
> to maintain that our measurements are converging on
> something.
> Something real, i.e., though the measuring rod we
> know to be a host of dancing sub-elementary particles
> (again, we "know" as an approximation to something
> that somehow really does make up the measuring rod),
> the thing we're trying to measure is on average of
> our measurements closer and closer to something,
> and our rod is (can be measured to be) more and
> more exactly some multiple of the one they keep
> in Paris.

Would you likewise assert that Ptolemy with his epicycles was actually
more *accurate* than previous theories of celestial motion?  Or
mightn't you agree with me that his theory was more *coherent* within
the broader context of observations of his time?

In the same light, you might recognize that evolutionary "progress",
of which scientific progress is an instance, does not move
teleologically toward any particular goal, but rather, proceeds by way
of exploring its adjacent possible, responding to (local) regularities
(not Truths) with persistent structures reflecting the increasingly

>> Your position is not so much wrong as it is lacking in the
>> sophistication necessary for effective reasoning about complex,
>> evolving, *open* systems increasingly applicable to our world of
>> increasing technological and social change.
> On the contrary, to me your position invites
> degeneration into vague concepts and doubtful
> epistemologies. For example, what I describe
> can be easily translated into any language
> in the world, and then translated back without
> much loss. I'd be far less confident that your
> notions would survive that test as well.

I got that same response from my kids and my newer employees.  "Why
can't you just be simple and clear?"  And in my very practical
positions as a father and a technical manager, my instrumental
effectiveness continued to increase even as I operated within a
broadening scope of increasing uncertainty.  But you are right, it
gets harder and harder to convey the bigger picture.

- Jef

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