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, Stewart, & Cohen, 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 as a query of everything is a question about this world, not some meta-physical one, unlike untestable speculations on universes beyond ours (Tegmark, 1997), that virtual universes can be saved and restored (Schmidhuber, 1997) and visions of virtual realities making each other (Bostrom, 2002). These are beyond the scope of science but quantum realism is not because it is a statement about the world we see. Quantum realism is a theory about this world that is open to a scientific method that puts a thesis about the world, defines its anti-thesis, then picks the one that best fits the evidence.

Science doesn’t test theories in isolation but forms mutually exclusive hypotheses to reject 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 falsification has been overlooked (Aspect, Grangier, & Roger, 1982). The part of science we call quantum theory is based on quantum states that aren’t by definition physical, hence physical observability is not 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

The current physics of unseeable quarks, invisible fields and virtual particles can hardly make visibility a demand of science. There is no need, as what must be observed are the theory’s predictions not its parts. A big bang we can never see is now accepted based on the evidence we can. If science can decide there was a first event, it can decide if physical reality is virtual or not. Quantum realism doesn’t contradict science but denying it does. Science should evaluate hypotheses not assume they are wrong.

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