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PBS hypes Tyson and his simulation stupidities

The PBS spacetime is a textbook example of a pop-science channel that collects and sells the most widespread laymen's and journalists' misconceptions about science as if they were real science. Sometimes the videos summarize the insights or views of the somewhat informed laymen, too, but more often, they don't. I have criticized their takes on the foundations of quantum mechanics and other things.

Just to be sure, there are also some episodes on elementary enough things that are basically OK and maybe even helpful to educate the public.



In this 6-days-old episode, the main host Matt invited Neil deGrasse Tyson, probably to attract some truly superficial viewers who consider this obnoxious moron to be a symbol of science. Relatively to Tyson, Matt talks like a genius. Tyson is reduced to offensively idiotic comments about an extraterrestrial or futuristic teenager in their parents' garage. This kind of a talk is probably expected to make the whole picture "hip" and that's enough for it to be widely accepted among the degenerated youth that pretends to be "into science" but they are really "into pseudoscientific stupidities".




I was capable of watching the full episode – it was sped up by a factor of 1.5. But the concentration of idiocy was immense. Maybe I made this quantity worse by a factor of 1.5 because I sped it up, as I mentioned. ;-)




Any single mistake from the following list would be enough to render these "arguments" hopelessly wrong but these people suffer from all these fallacies simultaneously. It is just terrible:

They assume that we're typical among all packages of information in the whole spacetime that look like our perceptions.

But that's just plain nonsense. There cannot be any "intertemporal equilibrium". They are assuming that different "lives or events in the spacetime" that obey some conditions are equally likely. But there doesn't exist any known – and there doesn't exist any mathematically possible – justification of this "intertemporal equilibrium" or "intertemporal democracy of the observers", if you wish.

In statistical physics, because of symmetries or the ergodic theorem, different states or points on the phase space may be equally likely. But they're always "states that may exist at the same moment". There's no way how "objects at different moments" could thermalize – become equally likely as others in the intertemporal ensemble. (By the word "intertemporal", I mean any set that includes elements that exist at different moments of time.)

It's impossible for such probabilistic distributions to exist because the whole ensemble is extensive in the spacetime, is potentially infinite, and therefore cannot be normalized to unity. Even if the life expectancy of the spacetime were finite and it could be normalized, the normalization cannot be known now because the evolution isn't decided yet.

They call this impossible intertemporal democracy "the Copernican principle" but Copernicus is undoubtedly turning in his grave in Frombork, Poland. Copernicus wasn't an idiot who would say that "one is equally likely to be two completely different things at different moments". No intertemporal democracy rule has ever been successful in science, no intertemporal democracy rule has ever been formulated by a credible scientist in a credible paper, and no intertemporal democracy rule is mathematically possible.

The impossibility of the "equal probability of different times" or "intertemporal equilibrium" is closely logically related to the question of "intertemporal democracy". Ten years ago, I discussed James Hansen's upside down interpretations of Thomas Jefferson. Hansen claimed that Jefferson said that the Earth or the U.S. belonged to the people of all generations, including the future generations that environmentalist loons like Hansen often love to quote as allies and arguments. But Jefferson's point was exactly the opposite. Jefferson wrote that "the earth belongs in usufruct [in its entirety] to the living". What Jefferson meant was exactly that only the people who live now – and not those who are already dead or not yet born – may control what's happening with the Earth.

It seems like a matter of common sense that dead and non-existent people can't do too many things now but indeed, environmentalist whackos as well as the defenders of the simulation šit are incapable of understanding this simple point. In particular, the simulation nuts say that the people who may be born in the future – and computers in their futuristic garages – are capable of persuading you now when it comes to the question about your own origin. Well, it's simply not possible. They don't exist now so right now, they just can't change the opinions – probabilities assigned to a belief – held by the rational people who live now. Rational people may only be affected by things that exist.

These guys say that in the near future, "simulations will be indistinguishable from reality".

Well, when you say "indistinguishable", you should say "indistinguishable by whom" or "by what methods and tools". A computer game may be indistinguishable from reality by the laymen or stupid fake scientists or TV monkeys such as Neil deGrasse Tyson but they are perfectly distinguishable by those who have some intelligence, knowledge, talent, and skills. Take someone whose knowledge and IQ vastly exceeds that of a Tyson. I can run the tests whether we're a simulation or not, I have made these tests many times, and the result of my evaluation of the data from these tests is that the probability that we're in a simulation is equal to a tiny number which is zero for all practical and most of the impractical purposes.

These guys absolutely ignore quantum mechanics.

They're counting how many molecules may be simulated by a computer. But it is very clear in all these descriptions of the would-be calculation that they're assuming that the molecules are obeying the laws of classical mechanics. There's no reason to rationally expect that in a foreseeable future, we will be able to run quantum computer simulations of systems with Hilbert spaces of dimensions \(\exp(10^{26})\) which would be needed to describe a human being. Even a 10-qubit quantum computer seems too hard right now.

Again, the likes of Tyson can't even distinguish classical physics from quantum mechanics. But that doesn't mean that the difference doesn't exist. It only means that these Tysons are total morons. Competent physicists may distinguish them very easily and even at 3 a.m. when you wake them up. The simulations that they verbally described are clearly classical in character so they absolutely contradict almost every observation that is relevant in modern physics.

The very argument that "because something will be widespread in the future, we can say something about our origin" is guaranteed to be logically flawed for causal reasons.

The reason is simple: the future is disjoint with the past – so the events in the future are different than those in the past, and the statements about the events in the future are inequivalent to statements about the events in the past.

Moreover, we don't really know what the future of computer simulations will be.

These Bostrums and Scrotums realize the previous paragraph: so Bostrum says that the probability that we're in a simulation is below 50% because it's also possible that the simulations won't evolve in the way he needs to "flood the Universe" with simulated humans.

But even if he could know what will happen with the computer simulation industry in the future, it is totally obvious that it just couldn't settle any questions about our origin – about the past. The reason why no such reasoning is possible is, as I have already mentioned, that one of these propositions talks about events in the future (teenagers in futuristic garages with very powerful computers) while the other talks about the events in the past (what was needed for you or your father, grandfather, or a more distant ancestor to emerge).

Just like your grandfather is a different object than your grandson, the questions about our origin and the origin of some objects (simulated or biological beings) in the future are obviously different questions. Whoever is confusing these two or saying that they are equivalent is a complete imbecile, one that isn't capable of distinguishing an iPhone from an ancient germ, distinguishing his grandfather from his granddaughter, a senile or childish piece of brain-dead šit. It's just utterly insulting when someone sells such pieces of brain-dead šit as if they were researchers doing cutting-edge research in physics.

To rationally address the question whether you're a simulation, you have to reconstruct events in your past, not your future. Assumptions about the past are examples of hypotheses in Bayesian reasoning – just like different candidate laws of Nature are hypotheses in Bayesian reasoning. You have to formulate these hypotheses, derive some of their consequences for the observations, and figure out which of them is most compatible and ideally nontrivially compatible (boasting some predictive power) with the data. When the empirical data from experiments and astronomical-like observations are taken into account, this example of Bayesian reasoning is known as the scientific method.

These Tyson idiots promoting the simulation šit aren't doing science at all.

When you do science, you will find out that regardless of the precision of the simulations, there will be unavoidable glitches showing that the exact laws of the Standard Model or string theory etc. don't really precisely work if the underlying explanation is a simulation. In sufficiently comprehensive tests such as the LHC, some deviation from the Standard Model – which would manifest itself as a miracle – is predicted with the probability approaching 100%. (Examples of types of these glitches are deja vu cats, rounding errors, Scott Adams' history-on-demand, and many many other general types of glitches that may be used to discriminate between simulations and the reality.) No such miracle has taken place so the simulation hypothesis is ruled out.

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