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Alan Discussion

This is a discussion topic for Alan Forrester. Other people are welcome to make comments. Alan has agreed not to post anonymously in this topic.

Elliot Temple on April 24, 2019

Comments (18)

Alan, what are you goals? And plans to achieve them?

curi at 12:16 PM on April 24, 2019 | #12200 | reply | quote

#12200 I'd like to start commenting more on stuff I'm reading and improve my ability to understand and criticise it.

Alan at 12:24 AM on April 25, 2019 | #12213 | reply | quote

Do you have an idea of what problems you currently have with that and want to fix?

Anonymous at 12:30 AM on April 25, 2019 | #12214 | reply | quote

Hey Alan.

What are some of the most important relationships in your life?

Anonymous at 2:01 PM on April 25, 2019 | #12218 | reply | quote

> Do you have an idea of what problems you currently have with that and want to fix?

I'm trying to read things quickly so I don't stop to comment. That's a bad idea cuz I'm not chewing enough.

Alan at 12:04 AM on April 26, 2019 | #12220 | reply | quote

> Hey Alan.

> What are some of the most important relationships in your life?

I don't have any IRL friends.

I don't have a girlfriend and don't want one. I don't like dependence.

I limit work interactions to work topics. The people I work with are lefties.

I limit other interactions to the minimum possible level too cuz most British people are lefty.

Alan at 12:28 AM on April 26, 2019 | #12221 | reply | quote

> I limit other interactions to the minimum possible level too cuz most British people are lefty.

if that's the main reason (lefty), why not attend some sort of right-wing meetup groups?

Anonymous at 12:35 AM on April 26, 2019 | #12222 | reply | quote

> I'm trying to read things quickly


are you resistant to changing?

did you just identify this issue the other day and now you will try changing and see how that goes?

i vary my reading speed and method a lot depending on the material and my goals.

Anonymous at 12:36 AM on April 26, 2019 | #12223 | reply | quote

Modern Physics versus Objectivism

I just read Peikoff's "The DIM Hypothesis" where there is an chapter on physics. There he argues a poor epistemology underlying much of modern physics.

Here are some comments regarding this as well as quotes from Peikoff that I was able to find:


Could you comment on Piekoff's arguments and your, and yours too, Curi, thoughts on the matter? You two coming from a background in both physics and philosophy might bring me better understanding of the issue.

Anonymous at 3:34 AM on May 2, 2019 | #12263 | reply | quote

Peikoff should stop commenting on modern physics, of which he is ignorant.

He can't tell the difference btwn e.g. quantum theory being bad or a particular school of thought about quantum theory being bad. And he lacks the knowledge to evaluate the correctness of physics claims himself.

For example, I recall Peikoff trashing the uncertainty principle[1]. His understanding of it was what you'd read in a magazine. It's true that there are bad ideas about it, but that doesn't make it false. I, by contrast, have personally understood it this much:


[1] lecture 12 of http://www.peikoff.com/courses_and_lectures/philosophy-of-objectivism/

curi at 1:31 PM on May 2, 2019 | #12264 | reply | quote


I read Chapter 6 of "The Dim Hypothesis". His views on quantum theory in that chapter are vague and are on the level of what you would read in a bad popular science book on quantum physics. He is not well informed about quantum physics and shouldn't be writing about it.

Peikoff's section on Einstein is bad. It has a lot of very short quotes, so it's difficult to tell whether Peikoff is presenting Einstein's views correctly. He also makes claims about general relativity with no quotes from Einstein as evidence:

“On the one hand, the structure can cause material objects to accelerate, which is what we identify as gravity; on the other, a body large enough can warp the space around it, thereby requiring other bodies to follow the new curvature. According to Einstein, all these interactions are knowable, because all of them can be derived from mathematical axioms. From his equations, he says, he can deduce the structure of space at any time and place, and one can then deduce how space and matter will affect each other. These deductions are possible, according to general relativity, because space is a non-physical entity. It does have definite attributes, but all of them are quantitative in nature and can be stated as a set of equations. Space in Einstein’s sense is not reducible to relationships among physical objects; it is not a sum of places; it is a purely geometrical entity, a form of mathematics.”

Peikoff has neglected all of the literature on quantum physics, relativity, and the history and philosophy of those subjects. Some of that literature has good information in it. This includes information about issues like what Einstein thought and why, which is relevant to doing good scholarship. It also includes information about what quantum physics and relativity actually imply about how the world works, which is relevant for doing good philosophy.

Alan at 11:38 PM on May 2, 2019 | #12269 | reply | quote


Thank you both. Could you expand on, in short, in layman terms, what he misjudges and what mistake lead him to the things he writes?

Also what are some particular schools of thought about quantum theory that are bad, and why are they bad?

I have "magazine level" knowledge of quantum theory, so I might have a faulty interpretation of concepts; but would quantum field theory be one of the good, replacing the bad wave particle duality that implied electrons being at two locations at the same time (Peikoff's representation?)?

Does anything in quantum theory contradict Objectivism? I reckon not, since at least Curi considers himself an Objectivist.

Anonymous at 10:21 AM on May 3, 2019 | #12270 | reply | quote

David Deutsch's books have quantum physics explanations, especially FoR ch2. http://beginningofinfinity.com/books

curi at 11:38 AM on May 3, 2019 | #12271 | reply | quote

#12271 Thx. I will make sure to read it next.

Anonymous at 12:27 PM on May 3, 2019 | #12274 | reply | quote

Alan, gonna follow up on #12223 ?

Also what do you think of this? http://blog.rongarret.info/2014/09/are-parallel-universes-real.html

Anonymous at 11:14 PM on May 11, 2019 | #12339 | reply | quote

Garret claims a specific paragraph in FoR, which he quotes, is wrong. Reading what he says now:


Thoughts, Alan?

Anonymous at 11:25 PM on May 11, 2019 | #12340 | reply | quote

I wrote this reply to Garret, which is now in the moderation queue:


> 1. I find it disingenuous to claim that the theory of shadow photons is "a.k.a. quantum theory." The theory of shadow photons is in fact a.k.a. Hugh Everett's relative state formulation of quantum mechanics, which was later renamed the many-worlds interpretation by Bryce DeWitt.

DD has argued publicly that MWI *is* quantum theory. He has reasons for that terminology, and the details of what he means are available to interested parties (and already known to you, anyway), so I don't see the problem. He does use other terminology sometimes to avoid confusion.

> and then accept as essentially inarguable the proposition that parallel universes are causally connected on a microscopic level by virtue of their macroscopic configurations

They aren't, they are connected or disconnected on a microscopic level by virtue of their microscopic configuration. But when objects macroscopically differ, we know they are part of "separate universes" without needing to look at microscopic details. The macroscopic states are due to the microscopic states, and give us a shortcut to knowing some things about the microscopic states.

If you have further questions about DD's books, or want to share your understanding of the epistemology or physics for criticism, or want to read other's thoughts, I invite you to join the successor forums to the FoR, BoI, and TCS[1] forums. DD wrote thousands of posts in the past and you can talk with the people who best know his work. http://fallibleideas.com/discussion

[1] TCS is DD's theory of parenting and education based on applying Critical Rationalism. See e.g. http://fallibleideas.com/taking-children-seriously and https://curi.us/tcs/

curi at 11:41 PM on May 11, 2019 | #12341 | reply | quote

#12340 The author of this blog has a standard misconception about the relationship between the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) and quantum mechanics (QM):

> It seems plain to me that such an "explanation" of QM gets you exactly nowhere.

He thinks the MWI is supposed to explain QM. The MWI is just an account of the structure of physical reality according to QM. In other words, given that QM is true, parallel universes exist. The MWI is not supposed to explain why QM has the features it has.

The specific feature of the MWI that the author objects to is stated here:

> RG: I know you probably hear this a lot, but I believe I have found a serious flaw in the theory of shadow photons. In a nutshell, the rules of motion for shadow photons are governed by the macroscopic configuration of *our* universe. If a slit is open in *our* universe, both tangible and shadow photons pass through. If a slit is blocked in *our* universe, both tangible and shadow photons are blocked. It seems to me there are only two possibilities: either the macroscopic configuration of *our* universe governs the movement of shadow photons (in which case shadow-scientists must be mightily puzzled why their tangible photons sometimes pass through solid objects, and sometimes fail to pass through open slits), or we have to postulate that only shadow photons from universes whose macroscopic configuration matches our own can interact with our tangible photons.


> DD: The latter is, to a good approximation, the case.


> RG: But if we postulate this, then shadow photons from universes whose macroscopic configurations do not match ours cannot interact with our universe in any way, and therefore by your own criteria do not exist. Or have I missed something?


> DD: You're claiming there's an inadequacy in the criterion for existing that I presented, not a flaw in the 'theory of shadow photons' (which is aka quantum theory). However, that criterion was not intended as a criterion of what *doesn't* exist. If it were used in that way, then we would have to classify all the photons that have left the sun, and passed the Earth, and are never going to strike anything in the future, as being nonexistent.

RG has misunderstood the relevant chapter of FoR, chapter 4, which states that:

> If, according to the simplest explanation, an entity is complex and autonomous, then that entity is real.

According to the simplest explanation of single particle interference, the multiverse is complex and autonomous, so it is real.

Now, there are many papers explaining that if you put a system in a superposition and then measure the observable with respect to which the system is superposed, then you prevent interference between the different terms of the superposition, such as:


As a result of this, while there are other versions of the experiment with different setups they don't interfere with the version we see because they are being monitored by the environment. And if those different versions of the experiment had different effects on the interfering photon then these different versions of the photon would indirectly have information about their state copied into the environment and so would be unable to interfere. If RG finds this unbelievable, then he thinks QM is unbelievable.

Alan at 2:53 PM on May 12, 2019 | #12353 | reply | quote

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)