QR1.5.1 Science and Quantum Realism

Science is a way to ask questions of reality not a set of fixed ideas:

Science is not about building a body of known ‘facts’. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good.(Pratchett et al., 1999)

It limits not the questions we ask but how we answer them, so to question physical reality doesn’t deny science but engages its spirit of inquiry. Quantum realism is a question about this world,not an untestable meta-physical speculation on universes beyond ours (Tegmark, 1997), that virtual universes can be saved and restored (Schmidhuber, 1997) or the idea that virtual realities create each other (Bostrom, 2002). These speculations are beyond the scope of science but quantum realism as a statement about the world we see is open to the scientific method.

Science doesn’t test theories in isolation but forms mutually exclusive hypotheses and rejects the least likely. It doesn’t “prove” theories but given two falsifiable alternatives, picks the best. Quantum realism is falsifiable because any incomputable physics would disprove it:

… the hypothesis that our universe is a program running on a digital computer in another universe generates empirical predictions, and is therefore falsifiable(McCabe, 2005) p1

If the physical world wasn’t computable it couldn’t be virtual, but it is. Physical realism is falsifiable too but its falsifications are called unsolved mysteries (Aspect et al., 1982).

Quantum theory is a science even though it refers to quantum states that aren’t by definition physical because being able to observe what a theory describes isn’t a demand of science, and never has been:

Atomism began life as a philosophical idea that would fail virtually every contemporary test of what should be regarded as ‘scientific’; yet, eventually, it became the cornerstone of physical science.”(Barrow, 2007) p3

Current physics has unobservable quarks, invisible fields and virtual particles so it can hardly make visibility a demand of science. There is no need, as what science must observe are a theory’s predictions not its parts. A first event that we can never observe is now accepted based on the evidence we can. If science can decide there was a big bang based on evidence, it can decide if physical reality is virtual or not based on evidence. Quantum realism doesn’t contradict science, but denying it does.