The Virtual Reality Theory
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12-01-2014, 01:04 AM (This post was last modified: 12-01-2014 01:24 AM by Chippy.)
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(11-01-2014 09:15 PM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this.

Maybe he can make another video when his testicles drop and his voice stops cracking. His voice is extremely irritating.

I downloaded Whitworth's paper and my first observation is that it wasn't published in any journal of physics, philosophy nor even computer science (Whitworth's area of expertise). That's a bad start.

I will read it closely but judging from the video and the quick look it is analogous to a Rube Goldberg machine:

[Image: rube-goldberg.jpg]

Rather than explaining things in an elegant and simple manner, it represents an extravagance which needlessly multiplies the furniture of the universe and by so doing multiplies the number of things that need explanation.

Clearly booting a computer is not like the Big Bang in that booting a computer depends on the existence of a computer, its firmware, an operating system and an (human) agent to actually perform the bootstrap. Agency was also involved in the creation and integration of each of the components of a computer system. If it is legitimate to simply presuppose the preexistence of the computer then it should be just as legitimate to presuppose the preexistence of the physical universe and dispense with the VR hypothesis altogether--furthermore that would be more ontologically economical (i.e. consistent with Occam's Razor).
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12-01-2014, 01:10 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(12-01-2014 12:50 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  
(12-01-2014 12:43 AM)Chippy Wrote:  No, for what its worth Occam's Razor eliminates the entire idea of the universe as VR.

Can you explain why that is perhaps?

Occam's Razor is about ontological economy, i.e. in proposing an explanation to not needlessly add to the furniture of the universe. The VR Hypothesis needlessly adds to the furniture of the universe, it is prodigious in its waste and multiplication of entities. If you are going to be guided by Occam's Razor then it is much simpler--i.e. more ontologically economical--to suppose that the physical usinverse is objectively real and not a simulated VR.
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12-01-2014, 01:41 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
So you're saying that Occam's Razor basically says that (despite any evidence there is or will be) there's no need to complicate the reality of the universe by "needlessly adding furniture" that implies a virtual reality and instead just stick with the idea that the physical universe is objectively real?

I believe philosophers have noted that the exact meaning of simplest may be nuanced:

"In analyzing simplicity, it can be difficult to keep its two facets – elegance and parsimony – apart. Principles such as Occam's razor are frequently stated in a way which is ambiguous between the two notions ... While these two facets of simplicity are frequently conflated, it is important to treat them as distinct. One reason for doing so is that considerations of parsimony and of elegance typically pull in different directions."

Alan Baker (2004 Revised 2010). "Simplicity". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

I do suppose that the Physical Universe is objectively real because it is indeed the simpler option so far that hasn't been completely disseminated.
But maybe that's the part of Occam's Razor you're mixing up.
Parsimony in OR is where we focus on the infinite simulations of universes being an unnecessary expenditure of resources.
Elegance in OR is where you may be focusing on an unnecessary complication of the nature of the universe.
If I were to be expected to be consistent, then it's as if you're saying that I should assume that there be both infinite universe simulations in infinite minds, otherwise the VR theory just isn't consistent when using Occam's Razor.

"The principle of simplicity works as a heuristic rule of thumb, but some people quote it as if it were an axiom of physics, which it is not. The law of parsimony is no substitute for insight, logic and the scientific method. It should never be relied upon to make or defend a conclusion. As arbiters of correctness, only logical consistency and empirical evidence are absolute."

Phil Gibbs; Sugihara Hiroshi (1997). "What is Occam's Razor?"

Basically, I think Occam's Razor was being used to be logically consistent and break down the theory into something tangible.
If you take that one should use Occam's Razor even further down the line because one used it on a particular ideal, then you could technically start shaving things down into obscurity until nothing makes any sense.
I think it's more of a rule of thumb used correctly to say that we shouldn't postulate infinite simulations or minds. That seems to complicate this reality more than VR Theory does.
In VR Theory, they are at least using observation to make inferences.

“What you believe to be true will control you, whether it’s true or not.”

—Jeremy LaBorde
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12-01-2014, 01:42 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(11-01-2014 11:44 PM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  The evidence made it seem like mind doesn't need matter and that in fact matter required a mind in order to exist.

There is absolutely no evidence that there are such things as disembodied minds and everything that we know in nueroscience suggests that mind is a product of the actvity of the brain.

Mind isn't a noun--there is no such thing as a mind--it is really a verb; that is why Szasz uses minding to keep it clear that it is a verb and not accidentally reify it. Mind-Body dualism--which is what you are appealing to--is pretty much dead and is maintained only by a minority that typically need it for religious reasons rather than because it has more explanatory power than naturalism.
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12-01-2014, 02:01 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(12-01-2014 01:41 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  So you're saying that Occam's Razor basically says that (despite any evidence there is or will be) there's no need to complicate the reality of the universe by "needlessly adding furniture" that implies a virtual reality and instead just stick with the idea that the physical universe is objectively real?

Bear in mind that you invoked Occam's Razor. I know it is just a heuristic. The key point here is that there is no evidence that we are in a VR. In the absence of supportive evidence Whitworth's paper is just speculation; it is bad speculation because it violates both the parsimony and elegance aspects of Occam's Razor. An objective reality (OR) is simpler and more elegant than a VR.

It is also arbitrary to invoke Occam's Razor only to avoid the infinite regress of simulations. Since the VR hypothesis does not have more explanatory power or explanatory scope than the OR "hypothesis" it needlessly complicates the explanatory problem and so should be removed also. In the absence of evidence the VR hypothesis could only be justified with reference to the general principles and criteria of theory building (e.g. explanatory scope, explanatory power); and on those criteria it fails.
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12-01-2014, 02:22 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
//The key point here is that there is no evidence that we are in a VR.//

Wasn't the video I posted referring directly to evidence as well as sources?
Why do people always say there is "no" evidence for this or that when they disagree with whatever it is or implies?

“What you believe to be true will control you, whether it’s true or not.”

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12-01-2014, 02:30 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(11-01-2014 11:44 PM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  Towards the last half of the video, he started showing how this theory shows that mind is required to collapse a wave function in order for particles to exist.

It's not a mind that collapses a wave function, it's a physical piece of equipment (a detector) that is put in the path of the wave. This detector is the observer.
They aren't referring to a mind or even a person observing it.

So many people get this wrong and it's not their fault. It's all in the wording.
People read the word observer and infer a person. It's just a piece of equipment in the lab. Nothing more.

============

Virtual implies that there is something outside of this world.
Show me that part and then I can give the virtual idea some thought.
Beyond that all you have is an electronic idea based off of the real world.

I can make up anything that models the real world and say look....my model matches the real world to a tee. Maybe we're living in a magic bottle.
Of course you can create models that resemble what we know.
Can that model predict something about the universe that we don't know ?

Show me that and then we can talk.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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12-01-2014, 03:02 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(12-01-2014 02:22 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  Wasn't the video I posted referring directly to evidence as well as sources?

No. No such evidence was presented.

What would evidence that we are in a VR look like?

Quote:Why do people always say there is "no" evidence for this or that when they disagree with whatever it is or implies?

I don't, I can't speak for all people.

One piece of evidence that we are not in a VR is the presence of non-computable features in the world. An example that immediately comes to mind is randomness. There exists no algorithm to generate random numbers yet the physical universe exhibits randomness. To this extent the physical universe is not consistent with a computer simuation.

I'm sure there are other features of the physical universe that are non-computable but just one is sufficient to defeat the VR hypothesis.
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12-01-2014, 03:30 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
All right. While the video presents a formal logical structure of an argument towards the end, the general drift of the video follows the following pattern:

1) Proposing the idea that we exist in a virtual reality.
2) Suggesting that quantum mechanics supports this model, over an "objective" reality.
3) Transitioning from this notion to the notion of God as the simulator.

Underneath all the computer-world glitz and the gallon of quantum mechanics that was added in hopes of masking the taste of apologetic BS, this is basically the Argument from Truth, reinforced a little bit by the Cosmological Argument. I'll break it down by the three points above.

1) What about the idea that we live in a virtual universe? I'd regard this as unfalsifiable under the conventional notions of a universe. This is "brain in a vat", a very old question.

I've got fairly unconventional definitions of reality. In my book, reality includes exactly everything, past or present, with the potential to register on my consciousness, directly or indirectly. So for example if something influences something that influences something that sends a few photons to my eye which fires an impulse to my brain which registers as an image in my consciousness, then that first something that I mentioned (and all the intermediate somethings) is part of reality. If you and I are talking then anything in your reality is in mine and vice versa, because it's influencing one of us and that one of us has the potential to influence the other of us based on it. If we're in a virtual reality, then the simulator is part of reality as well, because it is influencing our consciousnesses. So they're not nested levels of reality, they're just the one reality.

This is more semantic than falsifiable. (At least, I think it's unfalsifiable. Haven't come up with a way of falsifying it yet. If someone does, please let me know.) But that's okay. The whole brain in a vat thing is also unfalsifiable. Both are interesting thought experiments and ways of viewing the world, but if either has pragmatic implication then I've yet to figure it out. My definition of reality does, however, render the "objective reality hypothesis" versus "virtual reality hypothesis" debate... well, meaningless. Which suggests that it is also unfalsifiable.



2) Arguing that quantum mechanics (and also the Big Bang) supports the model of a virtual universe.

Now it's time to break out the boots, because they're spreading a hefty layer of, um, fertilizer around. Has anyone ever noticed how apologists put in ten times as much effort in making the earliest parts of their arguments sound good as the later parts? Is it that they think they only need to sound reasonable long enough for us to trust them and once we start doing that they can stop trying? How many suave lines and expensive dates do they have to expend on us before they can just switch to pizza nights and routine sex?

Most of this section is arguing that this or that bit of counter-intuitiveness in the universe is evidence that we're living in a virtual reality. I'll go through most of them, but they lay it on thick and I might overlook an argument here and there. I'll start with some broad classes of errors this argument makes in this section, and then go through the specific errors point by point.

Classical Physics Bias: The assumption that classical physics is true physics, and that any deviation from it into the realm of quantum mechanics is unnatural and evidence that we are in a virtual reality. Rather than, you know, a way that an objective universe might operate. No evidence for this is presented.

Universe Homogeneity: The assumption that whatever universe is running the simulation is similar in physical design and laws to the universe in the simulation. No evidence is offered for this.

Tech Homogeneity: The presenters make a great many assumptions about the technology of whatever computer the virtual simulation is run on, but most of these can be described as "the technology it runs on is similar to our own computer chips and our own computers". When speculating about some exterior universe that in no way need be identical to our own, this is utterly unfounded. Just imagine characters stuck inside, say, Final Fantasy VI, speculating on how the programmers constructed computers using magicite and steam power. (For those of you not familiar with the game, all you need to know for this metaphor is that magicite are little crystal stones that make magic work in the game universe.) This error is then compounded by assuming the limitations and capabilities of our computer chips would also apply to whatever technology is running our little simulation.

Temporal Homogeneity: The assumption that time in the simulation and time outside of the simulation have to run at the same rate. This is flat-out false, unless you want to have some sort of "real-time IO". That's important in things like shooter video games or a brain in a vat (one wag once commented that programming a video game was coding at 30 frames per second), but anyone who's played Civilization knows that a century in the simulation can pass in a minute outside of the simulation.

Stupid Programmers: Sometimes the presenters emphasize that the simulation would HAVE to do things a certain way, when a decent dev team could find more efficient ways of doing it if they put their minds to it.

..... ugh, getting tired. I'll continue this in the morning.
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12-01-2014, 04:30 AM
RE: The Virtual Reality Theory
(12-01-2014 03:30 AM)Reltzik Wrote:  This is more semantic than falsifiable. (At least, I think it's unfalsifiable. Haven't come up with a way of falsifying it yet. If someone does, please let me know.) But that's okay. The whole brain in a vat thing is also unfalsifiable.

Not according to Hilary Putnam's argument. I was trying to avoid this but since you asked.

Putnam argues that the claim that we are brains in vat entails that we aren't brains in vat, i.e. it is a self-defeating argument. It is a complicated argument that pulls in stuff from philosophy of language.
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