The Multiverse: An Apology

When Chad first asked me to guest blog here, my first response was that I didn’t have anything to say. After a little thought, however, it occurred to me that this would be an opportunity to do a little exposition. Unfortunately, my research area is quite a bit on the esoteric side, so I had to look elsewhere for possibilities. Thus, the “ask a string theorist” post below. But, the next thing that occurred to me was to talk about multiple universes.

Why do that? Not because I believe that it’s central to string theory, and not because I believe that it’s even necessarily science. What I do believe is that it’s already in the public sphere, that the public finds it interesting, and that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about it. It is a controversial topic, and unlike many of the controversies that apparently will flow from even the most innocuous string theory post, maybe I have something to say that the general public hasn’t heard yet. At the very least, if I have my say here, I never have to speak on this subject again.

So, an apology. To the readers of this blog, I apologize for the mess that I’m sure the upcoming comment threads will become. I apologize for the distortions, elisions and simplifications in my posts. I apologize if I give the impression that this is something that most scientists spend a lot of time on — it isn’t. I apologize if you think that I am stating outright that this is either all physics or all philosophy — you get to make those decisions yourself.

To my colleagues, I apologize for not including citations. Given the controversial nature of the subject, the strong feelings it evokes and the danger inherent in my spotty memory, I thought it best to keep things nameless. This way all the blame falls on me. Most of the thoughts presented here have arisen in various dinner table and office conversations over the past few years. I’ve tried to present the other side as best I can, but my beliefs do come through fairly strongly by the end.

With any luck, I’ve managed to write something that will alienate everyone involved. I hope you find it interesting. I promise to be much more boring in the future.

The posts in this series are:
The Multiverse: An Apology
The Lay of the Landscape
Twisty Little Universes, All Alike
Alone in the Multiverse