Physicists who say the multiverse exists set a dangerous precedent: science based on zero empirical evidence

Jim Baggott in Aeon:

There is no agreed criterion to distinguish science from pseudoscience, or just plain ordinary bullshit, opening the door to all manner of metaphysics masquerading as science. This is ‘post-empirical’ science, where truth no longer matters, and it is potentially very dangerous.

It’s not difficult to find recent examples. On 8 June 2019, the front cover of New Scientist magazine boldly declared that we’re ‘Inside the Mirrorverse’. Its editors bid us ‘Welcome to the parallel reality that’s hiding in plain sight’.

How you react to such headlines likely depends on your familiarity not only with aspects of modern physics, but also with the sensationalist tendencies of much of the popular-science media. Needless to say, the feature in question is rather less sensational than its headline suggests. It’s about the puzzling difference in the average time that subatomic particles called neutrons will freely undergo radioactive decay, depending on the experimental technique used to measure this – a story unlikely to pique the interests of more than a handful of New Scientist’s readers.

But, as so often happens these days, a few physicists have suggested that this is a problem with ‘a very natural explanation’. They claim that the neutrons are actually flitting between parallel universes. They admit that the chances of proving this are ‘low’, or even ‘zero’, but it doesn’t really matter.

More here.

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