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They would say that the astronomers methods are 'unfalsifiable' from their viewpoint, simply because they do not understand them (having never studied physics, chemistry or astronomy in general).
I have to agree with Watsisname here. I think the fact that something is important or not is not the issue here (to evaluate if it is uninteresting). Nor the fact that something is just unknown (that looks a lot interesting to me) or if it's to far away from us to reach and experiment with right now (as I think you were implying in the astronomy example). Is the fact that something is unknown plus the fact that there is no possible experiment to grasp any detail of it because the nature of the hypothesis constrains any debate to the "outside of physics" realm, where everything is possible. If your hypothesis requires the imposibility of you making a single observation that could make that claim either more robust or less probable then it is unknowable by law (unfalsifiable and metaphysical indeed).
I think unfalsifiability has for experimental science the same role as the principle of explosion
has for mathematics. I like to recall the Bertrand Russell's ilustration of the idea that "a false proposition implies any proposition". Let's say that 2=1. This is a false and contradictory idea since that means any number is any other number; for example adding both sides by -1 leave us with 1=0 and multiplying that by 39 (for example) gives you 39=0, adding +1 leaves you with 1=40. But maybe this breach in logic just breaks numbers as separate identities but leaves the rest untouched. Wrong. When you come up with a contradiction you can state anything! For example, let's prove that Bertrand Russell is the pope; "If we have 2=1. The set containing just Bertrand Russell and the Pope has 2 members. But 2=1, so it has only 1 member; but who of them is that member of the set? since that would make a second contradiction with the definition of our set, the only conclusion is that Bertrand Russell is the Pope".
The axioms of logic can be changed to yield "other mathematics" but it turns out that there are few sets of alternative axioms that are self-consistent and yield a specific set of mathematical statements. In general any change would produce "all is valid mathematics". If you for example break the identity axiom
(that states that for any-thing that "thing" has to be the same as itself) you could say that a triangle has 3 vertices but at the same time it has 5 vertices, or none. So there is not a specific mathematical statement. Anything is valid now. That is boring and uninteresting. Why? because of another thing called information entropy
. When everything is equally possible and valid (even contradicting ideas) we have reached maximum information entropy; a soup of indistinguishable ideas from where any reasonable meaning is impossible to extract (as in maximum thermodynamic entropy any usefull mechanical work can't be extracted). The "everything is possible" realm lacks any interest because there is no physical reason any neuron should spark inside your brain any conceivable idea when any usefull infromation can't be extracted from outside your skull. You only can do that because 1) you are not an objective machine and 2) because you are lowering information entropy in some way, assuming there are things that are less likely than others. For example, the idea that your grandmother is the creature runing the simulation might seem less likely than an "alien multiverse being", or the idea of the simulation been self created and that it popped up spontaneusly and without design also seems less probable than others. But that is wrong; all statements are equally probable when you can't build any experiment (by definition) that could discern between one and other proposition. You might think there is space for meaningfull reasoning but there is not, because we are drowning in the information soup, and the only reason you might think like that is because the folklore of your culture, your personal beliefs or any other idealistic cause have inspired you to think that your grandmother been the programmer of the universe looks silly (when it is not) and therefore you feel that maybe there is some way to assing different plausability to different statements inside your hypothesis from where to decrease information entropy and extract meaning, but the truth is the way the simulation hypothesis is framed there is no way to generate that plausibility differential (because there is not a single experiment that can be performed to falsify one or the other).
You could prove that the "real universe", where the simulating machine is placed should be larger than ours if they had the same physical laws as the implemented in the simulation itself (it is impossible to perform a simulation where all the quantum interactions of the universe are taking place using as many computational resurces as our universe has
). But who said that "their universe" has similar physical laws? Is there any conceivable experiment to show that? What if their universe has different laws? What if they have the same laws but their universe is larger? What if their universe is still small but they are running the simulation with a different timescale and each of our second is been calculated each trillion years of the "real" universe. You can always come with an idea that impedes you to falsify any proposition about your hypothesis. All is valid.
I've heard that the similarities between our physical laws and a computer simulation are suggestive; the fact that some magnitudes are quantized (even space-time could turn out to be discrete) sparks associations with the digital world, with concepts like pixels (quantized screen space) or time-steps or iterations (quantized time) etc... The fact that the simulation is not infinite and there are regions that are unaccesible like the end of the map in a videogames, is similar to the fact that we can't explore certain regions of space or extract any information from them. There are walls and event horizons all across the universe (are black holes physical limitations of the simulation itself? are they bugs in the code?). All of that speculation is "fun" in some way but meaningless if there is no experiment that can talk to us about it. It is just an expansion of our cultural suggestives ideas, tthe association between unconnected concepts and reminders of our ability to search for similar patterns to what we experience in our daily lives. Looks to me too antropocentric.
There is another reason why this is "boring". Astronomy has great unknowns but none of those explicitly tells us that we are under the rule of observations and experiments that are impossible to construct because of the way it is framed. We can't touch stars but only for now! it definetely is not impossible. We can still see them with electromagnetic radiation and we have physical laws that have been experimentaly shown to be valid in many other contexts outside of astronomy that allow us to infer more in the unknowns of astronomy. With the simulation hypothesis this is just not true. If you can't see, if you can't feel with any organ or any instrument (sensory organs might bee artificial in a broad sense), if there is no way to interact with the "outside world" then Is it important if it actually exist or not? There is no way to discern between this "ouside world" and nothingness since both have the same consequences for us, they are exactly equal from an epistemic standpoint, and you know if there is something that characterizes a debate about nothingness is that it is very very uninteresting.
The thing I find interesting is what "real" means for any of you (interesting because that really has meaning and tells something about what inspires modern humans to construct such abstract ideas). For me, "real" is what can be experienced or documented by observations. Real world is where all the interactions occur. I don't really care if that world is a simulation because that doesn't diminish its physical/materialistic reality and the fact that interactions are occurring between the elements of the simulation. If this is a simulation, for me this wouldn't mean in any way that all I experienced was unreal or fake. It would be as real as before, but now I would know that there is also another "real" to which expand and generalize my experience of the cosmos. I think we all have the tendency to fall into a solipsism
when we talk about this.
One final note; the fact that, in this thread, we all agree that the simulation hypothesis is part of metaphysics is awesome. You are truly concious and wise people (at least out of the common I would say)