Open thread for episode 21.34: Tracie and John


All donations sent to the ACA today will be sent to the Foundation Beyond Belief / Humanist Disaster Recovery for Hurricane Harvey relief and will be matched dollar for dollar by the ACA (up to $1000). Click the yellow donate button at atheist-community.org .

Links of interest in this week’s program:
Most importantly: Hurricane Harvey Relief Donations
Kumare – documentary about cult building.
Simulation Universe – theory about the construct of the universe.
Sleep Paralysis – sleep disorder that can result in hallucinations.
Migraine Aura – visual disturbances sometimes associated with migraines.

Comments

  1. Guillaume Gay says

    The video Dennis and David are talking about is​ “Universe Computer Simulation? – Neil DeGrasse Tyson Debate Emotional Speech” on Youtube

  2. cosmin says

    The simulation of a game works after the laws of the creator of the game, laws that are in this univers. The creator ( software guy) works after the laws in this univers. So the example does not work. You cant say that there is a god like creator that is functioning after the laws in this univers because then is no god. You cant say that the creator works by others laws because what you say is that god made this laws in this univers (simulation) using other laws that we cant know about them and that is just stupid.

  3. says

    Neil Degrasse Tyson is an astrologist not a physicist.
    Simulation theory still isn’t confirmed. It’s a non falsifiable hypothesis currently.
    The double slit experiment shows that we don’t have a complete understanding on what matter is at the quantum level.
    Nothing stated proves that we live in a simulation but it is an interesting thought experiment but it would be irrational to state that we do without ‘sufficient’ to show that that is the case.

  4. Murat says

    Let’s go on with the assumption that our universe is actually a simulation, and that at a point this is “proven”. As opposed to Tracie, I’d find the outcome pretty relevant to theism / atheism debates.

    BUT no challenges of science towards any religious dogma would need to be RETRACTED. We would be facing a new, different picture.

    We would come to a point where the mystery of existence was DIAGNOSED, but none of the previously tried MEDICINE could be prescribed again; we would have to tackle with the issue in a much different way than we did before.

    And the primal motivation should be to SEND someone or something to whatever is OUT OF the simulation, to catch a glimpse of what it looked like from THERE and to send us that kind of INFORMATION; just like we sent satellites, rockets and spacmen some centuries after we discovered what SPACE was actually like.

    I believe such a discovery would, before introducing us to the “simulator”, trigger many new religions, some of which needed the backing of previous ones to collect new kinds of believers.

  5. says

    @Murat
    The hypothesis is that the simulation is of reality, similar to the moview -The matrix. The idea is that if we could, in the future, be capable of simulating a reality, based on our technological advancements in this past 100 years, and that that reality would then over time also be able to create a reality within ours, and their reality again, who is to say that our reality was the first one and not one of the simulated ones. In that hypothesis, it would be more likely to be one of the many simulated realities than the one original. Nothing has been shown to make us think that we could be within a simulation, hence the hypothesis is a hypothesis.

  6. Jon Gillespie says

    Simulated universe is a hypothesis yes but not by any means a true fact, it’s an interesting idea created in an attempt to explain what at the moment is inexplicable to us… big whoop, untill you have evidence it’s just as likely as the jolly green giant created the universe from a bit of sweet corn and even after that to jump to a god as an active agent requires it’s own evidence. It was no different to an apologists who say I know how it happend! …and then proceeds to use word like assume and opinion

  7. Fred West says

    This was the worst show ever..! Tracy and John you really blew it and you wasted a hour and half of my time. Learn how to hang up.

  8. Murat says

    A motorcade of a group of friends who have whatever common agenda trying to catch up with one another on the road is not even a coincidence.

    They have used stickers they recently bought from a shop together, maybe they’re a couple of divorced men on a collective road trip trying to spread out a message, just like the one that guy got.

  9. suedoenimm3 says

    I get the scintillating scotomas too. The first one when I was about 52. While it was happening someone walked up to ask me a question and when I looked at him the upper right quarter of his face wasn’t there. And there is the crescent shaped zig-zags. I get no headache but they are annoying. Last about 25 minutes.

  10. Bestrides says

    The “tells” in the points Dennis and David were making about the likelihood that we’re living in a simulation struck me as obvious; if people keep using words like “if”, “could”, “would”. “may”, etc., aren’t you admitting that you’re speculating?

  11. Engie says

    about that deja-vu thingy. i’m not exactly a neuroscientist, and if i were – normal people wouldn’t understand the language anyway, buy i’ll try to explain it still, ’cause i kinda experimented with it a lot back in the times.
    so, we’re all technically living in the past, though not very much: there’s about 0.1 second delay before the signal from our sensory organs can reach the brain to be processed, so. it then enters our short term memory, and that is what we’re working with. there’s also a long term memory, but to remember something from there – it should be called into the short term memory first. and here’s the problem: sometimes, there’s a glitch in the system, and the sensory data goes into the area in our short term memory that is usually used to call for the data from the long term memory, which leads to a strong feeling that we’ve already experienced whatever our sensory organs are telling us, and even that we know what’ll happen next. that’s pretty much what deja-vu is. this state can easily be induced by reducing the effective short-term memory through fatigue, overworking, or certain drugs. the effect can also easily be dispelled by trying to remember when that situation happened, and trying to remember what should happen next. once the real long term memory kicks in – the difference between things going on and things that you can remember will be more and more noticeable, so you can’t really predict the future here, more than 0.1s into it anyway. so, there’s no mystery about it at this point.

  12. Tobias(yes like the bible, my parents are catholic) says

    I don’t know if this is the right video because it says Tracie, but I think i have an explanation for part of the YouTube video that was posted today with a caller named Adam who had an “experience” so he can’t say he’s atheist. I beleive the experience he described where his legs felt like they were falling asleep and then he collapsed and felt fuzzy all over has a medical explanation. Sometimes if you lock your knees for a long time in certain ways while standing you actually do cut off the blood flow to the legs and it can cause you to pass out. Passing out can feel like your whole body “fell asleep.” I believe that this is what happened to him because it has happened to me and he described the feelings I had exactly.

  13. Tobias(yes like the bible, my parents are catholic) says

    Never mind, I found the right video and I’ll post it there, moderator please feel free to not post that while I post it on the right video

  14. suedoenimm3 says

    (Paraphrasing) “I don’t know physics so I don’t want to hear it.” Disappointing. Maybe that is not “close minded” but it was vetoing and filibustering. Should have given him a couple minutes to present his argument and then maybe said something like, “I don’t know enough about physics to know if that is true or woo, but maybe others will comment on the blog.” And moved on.

    And there was woo in what he proposed.
    The “conscious observer” is a slanted, incomplete interpretation.
    Reality is not pixelated. (Quanta are not pixels.)
    Who is simulating the simulator?
    We have no more evidence of a simulator than we have for a god.

    You don’t need physics to counter argue all of that.

    But physics is useful. Theist often get it wrong and it can be used against them.

    The callers argument was no more irrelevant than most theistic arguments. We are supposed to be able to deal with pretty much everything that comes our way. That doesn’t mean that you have to immediately have the knock down argument. Let the theist argument be presented and we as a group and over a little time will refine a response.

  15. Engie says

    now, about the simulation hypothesis. the first thing to do when you have a hypothesis should be trying to come up with a way to confirm it. NOT asking if it’s plausible or not: you can not decide the truth by a popular vote, not in science. NOT jumping to the next thing and building an argument on a premise that this hypothesis is true: until it was actually demonstrated _without_ that assumption – it’s all circular reasoning. and NOT jumping to the stretched out definitions of deities based on that unconfirmed hypothesis. once there’s a solid case for hypothesis being true – then we can talk about the implications. the same is applicable to the other concepts, like god and supernatural. until there’s a solid case for it’s existence that is not based on the assumption that it exists – there’s little to no point in seriously discussing the implications of it’s existence.

  16. grasshoppermouse says

    Even if the world was a simulation, I’m not sure if I’d consider any being who created the simulation a god or not. They certainly wouldn’t be a god in the way that most religions conceive of god. There would be no reason to think they necessarily know or care if we worshipped them. There also wouldn’t be any reason to think such a being or beings would be supernatural. There certainly wouldn’t be any reason to think there was an afterlife, which is one of the major reasons many people say that they want to believe in God.

    In fact, if such a thing were proven, we’d probably gain a new branch of science trying to learn what’s outside the simulation, and regardless of whether you believed the creator of such a simulation would count as a god or not, the fact that science, not religion, is the best way to determine the truth would remain true.

  17. uglygeek says

    About “You don’t need physics to counter argue all of that”
    This is not true. Nick Bostrom’s “simulation argument” argues that technologically mature civilisations would have enormous computing power and if even a tiny percentage of them were to run “ancestor simulations” (that is, “high-fidelity” simulations of ancestral life that would be indistinguishable from reality to the simulated ancestor), the total number of simulated ancestors in the universe would greatly exceed the total number of actual ancestors. Or in other words, if simulating a universe is even possible, then it would be much more likely that we find ourselves in one of the simulated universes rather than in the real one.

    What was really bad, in the caller argument, to bring quantum computers in the picture only because they are “weird” and while it is not even proved that they might actually be more powerful than traditional computers.

    I do agree that Tracie’s replies were a little disappointing. Sometimes I have the impression that the hosts are used to debate American Bible-thumpers and are a little out of their depths when the arguments become more philosophical.

  18. bigzebra says

    So the point was made at about 01:18 that if there is evidence we live in a simulation, then the simulation must be run by ‘somebody’
    That somebody is me. I’m sorry about all the trouble I caused. This universe is my first simulation, and frankly things have not gone as smoothly as I hoped.
    About 2000 years ago I sent someone to fix things, but it only led to more trouble. I was supposed to send him back again, but I keep delaying the return, dreading the further complications that may result.
    I am working on a update simulation software path. If things down there make any sort of sense, then you know the patch is working

  19. Murat says

    I don’t see why both callers have gotten so fixated on the assumption / possibility.
    In that debate they mentioned, people just entertain the idea:

  20. Dec says

    Simulation hypothesis … as old as Plato’s parable of the cave. Except that the callers today turn the lesson on its head. Their goal isn’t to see reality as it really is, but see the simulation idea as a way to project their existing beliefs in a god onto the cave wall. The null hypotheses here should be (a) there is no simulation; and (b) there is no god. Just because a scientist creates a gedanken and they (the callers) parrot some half-baked Dancing Wu-Li Master-style ideas that they collected magpie style (they are for the birds, so I’ll allow my own mixed metaphors) because they don’t understand the physics (which they invariably get wrong) it does not move us a jot off the null hypotheses.

    As Douglas Adams pointed out, nobody in their right mind would actually carry out the famous Schroedinger cat experiment. A similar line of thinking should apply here: if we accept that our universe could be indistinguishable from one that it so perfectly simulated that it is impossible to tell the difference, then the only logical answer to “is the universe a simulation” is the same as the answer to the Joshu koan about whether a dog has Buddha nature: Mu. Or, to translate that “mu” back to something relevant to this case, “by asking that question, you are projecting Plato’s cave wall” (not just projecting something onto the wall; but, probably unconsciously, projecting the wall in its entirety).

  21. Brian Fundytus says

    Tracy Harris, you are a fine example of a human being, male or female here is irrelevant. Your patience and openness is inspiring. I’ve watched this show for awhile, and you and Matt, and the rest of the hosts to different degrees, are very empathic and able to relate rationally to the interactions you encounter. Thank you for some excellent content….

  22. says

    @19
    >I do agree that Tracie’s replies were a little disappointing. Sometimes I have the impression that the hosts are used to debate American Bible-thumpers and are a little out of their depths when the arguments become more philosophical.

    It wasn’t a philosophical argument. It was a claim about science–and a science that is still being reviewed. Additionally before even launching, the person putting it forward acknowledged that it wasn’t convincing as an argument for the existence of god. It boiled down to “if it’s a simulation then it’s plausible there’s a simulator entity.” This is no better than saying “If there is a creation, then there is a creator,” “If there is design, then there must be a designer,” “If there is a DNA code, someone must have written it.”

    The only difference is that in this case, the person putting it forward is admitting up front it doesn’t get you to a simulator.

    Literally it boils down to: “Let’s talk about a field of science, and a specific hypothesis, the implications of which are still being examined, and that isn’t evidence for the existence of god.”

    I’m simply saying that there are people who have devoted their lives to this field, and who are paid to hash this out–and that’s what they’re doing. What is the rush to jump to conclusions or implications, when, if we’d simply wait, they’ll eventually publish research on it, and ultimately come to some consensus about what it means for their field and our reality?

    Why should any novice jump to try and draw pre-conclusions about something that experts will eventually determine–when we have the option to simply wait for the results to come in? Why not wait and see what comes of it? What’s the point of sitting around speculating about something that seems irrelevant at the moment, and may later have relevancy? Why not talk about if / when it becomes relevant?

  23. Geoff Linehan says

    Please read this Wikipedia article about the “Holographic Principle”. It’s a theory with some serious support. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holographic_principle

    Also, David was earlier referencing spooky action at a distance which is quite commonly explained in lay books about quantum physics. It was coined, as I recall, by Einstein, referring to the reaction of one particle to a change in its twin faster than light.

  24. Charles Kunkle Jr. says

    I hate to say this, but you were either being pranked here, or these two guys are both just a couple nut jobs.
    The claim that there’s some kind of “consensus” among physicists is false. NO self respecting physicist would dare claim that this is anything but an interesting idea, it’s not currently even a valid hypothesis, because there’s no real way to test it.

    Neil Degrasse Tyson isn’t even a physicist, he’s an astronomer.

    There is zero evidence for the “simulation” idea (I refuse to call this a hypothesis, and it’s certainly not a theory) At the present time, it’s nothing but an idea, and there is even a lot of evidence that it may not be true or even possible. If you actually research it, you’ll find not a single reputable physicist that supports it.

    On the other hand, YouTube is awash in wakadoos who think this has all been proven, and NONE of them have any credentials at all, just like these two moronic callers.

  25. keplov says

    I have a similar issue to Eddie – King George, VA does, but sometimes it is 5-10 seconds ahead and others it is more split second. It is random like his, but (unless I misunderstood) more frequent. Also instead of any type of tactile warning I would zone out almost akin to lag spikes while gaming (not that I think there is much to the universe simulation idea). Sometimes the events seemingly unfold directly correlated to the events I feel as if I have foreseen. Other times I interrupt it because it does make me feel a bit disoriented and very uncomfortable.

    Not saying that there is anything to these experiences, but I just wanted to share. It was pretty exciting to know others experience similar and I’m not some freak weirdo.

  26. says

    @16
    >(Paraphrasing) “I don’t know physics so I don’t want to hear it.” Disappointing.

    Well, then we’re on equal terms, because I’m always disappointed when a fan shows their inflated sense of entitlement. Try watching the show without the pedestal next time, and you might save yourself some feelings of violated expectations (disappointment).

    > Maybe that is not “close minded” but it was vetoing and filibustering.

    It’s the role of a host.

    > Should have given him a couple minutes to present his argument

    You mean like I did?

    > and then maybe said something like, “I don’t know enough about physics to know if that is true or woo, but maybe others will comment on the blog.”

    You mean like I did?

    > And moved on.

    Yeah, like I did.

    > And there was woo in what he proposed.

    It’s irrelevant if it was woo or 100 percent truth, because he said before he even started it fails as a demonstration of the existence of god.

    > The “conscious observer” is a slanted, incomplete interpretation.

    Yes, we touched on this, but he never really explained how it’s relevant.

    > Reality is not pixelated. (Quanta are not pixels.)

    So what? It doesn’t matter, because even if it is, he admits it wouldn’t be evidence of the existence of a god.

    > Who is simulating the simulator?

    Yes, I pointed out that we have seen this argument in various forms forever. I even gave examples. You’re saying “who created the creator?” I said that for ages people have looked at what is here and asked “who is responsible?” I used evolution, but there are a number of similar examples.

    The difference is that in the prior positions, they claimed it was evidence of the existence of a creator/designer/influencing entity. This makes it relevant to try and point out they’re using an argument from ignorance–or if people want to dig in and do the tedious blow by blow they can; but the point is “who simulated the simulator” doesn’t matter, because the caller isn’t claiming there is a simulator–he clearly stated his point was not to demonstrate the existence of god, so your rebuttal is not relevant to his point, which was not to say there has to be a simulator. The caller never claimed there is a simulator–so arguments against a simulator are misplaced and fail to address his point.

    > We have no more evidence of a simulator than we have for a god.

    And he never claimed there is evidence of either–so how is your response relevant?

    >You don’t need physics to counter argue all of that.

    But he didn’t put forward anything you just countered–so you aren’t actually countering what the caller said, but your misinterpretation of what he said.

    > But physics is useful.

    I never said it wasn’t. I said the call wasn’t relevant, because the caller wasn’t calling in to provide anything that would alter the atheist view. Giving an atheist arguments that don’t prove the existence of a god, or pointing an atheist to science that doesn’t demonstrate the existence of a god, is valueless.

    > Theist often get it wrong and it can be used against them.

    Theists often get many things wrong, but usually there is a fallacy at the base of their arguments, or they misrepresent scientific consensus. Science without consensus, isn’t relevant, because it’s still being reviewed. I’ve heard arguments about simulation, they’re tedious and irrelevant. Theists often get many things wrong–I don’t intend to get multiple degrees in history, paleontology, physics, divinity, world religions, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and so on. That’s doing it the hard way. Learn to spot a fallacy and you save yourself all of that. And if you don’t believe it, I suggest you watch some “Cordial Curiosity” videos to see how a person simply asking questions, with no expertise in anything relevant can do a fabulous take-down of unjustified beliefs. It’s done *all the time*.

    > The callers argument was no more irrelevant than most theistic arguments.

    Incorrect. Most theistic arguments claim to get you to a god. This caller called to talk about science that he admitted doesn’t get you to a god. That makes it *loads* less relevant.

    > We are supposed to be able to deal with pretty much everything that comes our way.

    Who is “we”? I speak for myself, for example. I don’t “represent” anyone else, except that I can’t say/do things at odds with the mission statement of ACA while on the air–but I speak for myself alone, and not for any other atheists. Do you speak for anyone other than yourself? If so, in what capacity? Who is it you claim is “supposed” to be doing what you’re saying to do? And on whose authority do you presume to tell anyone else what they’re supposed to do in this capacity?

    > That doesn’t mean that you have to immediately have the knock down argument.

    What argument? He wanted to talk about science, and said up front it wasn’t going to get us to god. What am I knocking down? He said out of the gate he had nothing.

    > Let the theist argument be presented and we as a group and over a little time will refine a response.

    Again–who are you speaking on behalf of? Who are you authorized to represent beyond yourself?

  27. says

    @12

    >if people keep using words like “if”, “could”, “would”. “may”, etc., aren’t you admitting that you’re speculating?

    Yes. And also admitting your point doesn’t get you where you need to be. This is why I failed to see the relevancy of it. Atheists are people who don’t believe in the existence of god. Arguments that suggest a possibility of god are not justification for belief in a god. Even though what was said doesn’t get even to that, the point is that the time to believe a claim is when it’s justified. Reasons or evidence that get you to “it’s one possibility of many” do not justify belief.

  28. simulateddennis says

    Hey guys, this is Dennis (the annoying caller with the simulation argument from the show) I feel like I must let you guys know that tonight I was terribly drunk while being live on the show. It´s Sunday here and I came home from an awesome birthday party where I had a few drinks too much to be finally live on the show that I love and watch regularly for 3 years now. (and which I spent probably a few hundred dollars waiting on hold since I am calling from abroad and tried a few times before to get on)

    I am happy to see the discussion here is mostly about the topic that we discussed but I regret that the first time that I made it into the show was the day I was so drunk that I wasn’t able to bring my point across properly. What is even worse is that I wasn’t able to express my honest appreciation for the hosts and everyone involved in this show but rather where attacking especially Tracy in a way that doesn´t reflect my respect for her.

    I have literary applauded her arguments in my living room while watching the show more than once and I am honestly sad about the way things played out and how I must have come across today.

    Ok now, Things happened as they did and I can’t change it anymore but maybe I can make it up to you guys by providing some sources that might be useful for anyone who is interested in this topic.

    I just want to add a little preface because I am taking a side of the argument that I don’t really am behind 100%

    1. I am not claiming to have any knowledge about the universe, how it came to be or what the reason why we are here. I am Changing my “believes” on a daily basis according to new information I get. Although I admit that the simulation argument is very compelling to me I do not believe that it is the ultimate answer to all the questions that theist or atheists might or might not have.
    2. I grew up in a secular family in a secular environment. I have been and am a hardcore opponent of any institutionalized religions (especially the Abrahamitic ones). Like the co caller on the show (David) I am a Physics enthusiast and my prophets are people like Einstein, Darvin, Newton or Hume. Yet I try to apply the same method that I use to beware my self from false believes onto trying not to dismiss anything that opposes my actual world view (non-believes). The same way theists irrationally defend their believes although they might be rational in any other field in live, I was irrationally dismissing anything that opposed my atheist worldview. I came to the conclusion that this is proportionally irrational and thus I try to avoid it.
    3. As a non-physicist, I have to rely on what experts say. Unless there is a hidden agenda where some of the most credible “limelight” scientists conspirated to create a new religion by fooling all of us into believing that we might be living in a simulated reality, I think it is reasonable to take what they say seriously. Especially when most of them are openly atheists and what they are saying does open the door to a world view that goes along with the very core points of religion (afterlife, eternal life, a creator etc.)

    I think it is important to discuss those things without going automatically into defense mode like the regular theists, that we deal with daily, do.

    To give everyone who is interested in this topic the opportunity to dig deeper here are some links that I find usefull. (Again, I am not advocating all of the stuff that might be said or written in the sources provided. It’s just an interesting compilation of opinions on this very topic)

    – The thought experiment by Nick Bostrom (philosopher at the University of Oxford)
    Called the simulation hypothesis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlftshhkO4k (short version)

    – Ted talk by Nobel Prize winner George Smoot: You are a Simulation & Physics Can Prove It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chfoo9NBEow/

    – Website dedicated to the Simulation argument listing various sources on the topic https://www.simulation-argument.com/

    – Elon Musk speaking about simulation argument https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZgBcRhGPqs

    – The Isaac Memorial Debate mentioned in the show https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgSZA3NPpBs

    – Superficial video summarizing the core arguments of the simulation argument https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2x8fTTS4F8

    – Very polemical and rather entertaining video on the topic including cuts from most of the videos above https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqULEE7eY8M

    Last but not least I would like to adres one very important statement made by Tracy. “Why would it be relevant to me as an atheist if we are living in a simulation or not if there is no god”. Well, you determine for yourself what is or is not important to you, but as the host of a show which I thought was all about searching truth based on evidence it should be extremely relevant to if there is evidence pointing towards something that you have not taken into conscideration especially when it is something that challenges everything you have accepted as truth so far. This very statement is very closeminded and differs in no way from the irrational replies I get from theists regularly.

    Have a good day and remember to put the same standards for yourself that you expect from others when discussing your (non) believes with other fellow human beings.

  29. Bestrides says

    I’m astonished by those who are asserting that Tracie didn’t give David and Dennis enough of a chance to articulate their views regarding the possibility that we are existing within a simulation. My impression is that they were given, in the aggregate, at least 20 minutes, yet I think the substance of what they were saying could have been generously addressed in 3 to 5 minutes. And Tracie identified why quite quickly. The callers admitted that their views were speculative, and didn’t represent a consensus within the Physics community. As Tracie said to the first caller, since she isn’t nor John are physicists, they aren’t in a position to judge whether the statements by a non-physicist random caller have any validity, much less the consensus view of physicists.

    Since one of the main ideas of the show (and among the hosts) involves meeting a burden of proof, and these two guys wouldn’t actually take that on (preferring to instead complain that their views weren’t being given sufficient respect), there wasn’t much to discuss after a few minutes.

  30. uglygeek says

    @24
    >It wasn’t a philosophical argument. It was a claim about science–and a science that is still being reviewed. Additionally before even launching, the person putting it forward acknowledged that it wasn’t convincing as an argument for the existence of god.

    You are right, it was presented as a claim about science, but that was a mistake that both callers made, in my humble opinion. Because the claim that our universe could be a simulation is not scientific and because they both tried to use surreptitiously this idea as a vague prove that God might exist.

    But I don’t think the issue here is to wait for physicians to prove that we live in a simulation (a thing that by definition could probably never be proved, what is inside the simulation could have no way of knowing what is outside it). This is actually a philosophical argument, one that gives way to many interesting considerations and thought experiments.
    What if somebody could simulate a whole universe in a computer? Why would he/she/it do that? Would it set the fundamental rules and observe how the system evolves? Would the appearance of life just an involuntary side effect of this simulation?
    And why should the programmer care about being venerated by those simulated characters? Why would it expect them to pray five times a day? Why would it be interested in their thoughts or in their sexual life? Doesn’t this idea immediately destroy the idea of a ‘Personal God’ showing that it can’t be more than a juvenile fairy-tale? Doesn’t this show even more clearly the absurdity of personal religions like Christianity and Islam?
    And would the existence inside of a simulate universes define epistemological limits to what can be known (inside that universe)?

    I am totally atheist, but I think these were ideas that deserved being explored in this case. Often callers just present their scripture-based religious claims, and the hosts task is to effectively argue against them. But in some other cases it is possible to fly a little higher than that.

  31. Mary B. says

    Tracie, your experiences with the swirling colours may be ocular migraines. They are painless, temporary visual disturbances. Though they can be disconcerting, ocular migraines typically are harmless and self-resolve without medication. These are different from pre migraine auras.
    My husband has ocular migraines fairly regularly. We were unfamiliar with the condition until his specialist explained them. His are less frequent and less intense since he has retired.

  32. Bestrides says

    Another reason I agree with Tracie about the “simulation” calls has to do with something I call “The Rosemary Woods Problem”. At the height of Watergate, an 18-minute gap was found on one of the Nixon’s Oval Office tapes, and when the White House was asked for an explanation they said that Nixon’s secretary, Rosemary Woods, had inadvertently caused the gap while transcribing it, saying that she was interrupted by a lengthy phone call, during which she forgot to take her foot off tape system’s erasure pedal. When investigators asked her to demonstrate exactly how this occurred, this was the result:

    http://a.abcnews.com/images/Politics/ap-rosemary-1-er-170608_4x3_992.jpg

    So, to believe the erasure was inadvertent, or that she even had anything to do with it, you have to buy into the idea that she could sustain such physical contortions over a long period of time.

    If have the same response whenever I hear complicated philosophical arguments for the existence of God, or equally convoluted arguments in physics. If a God actually exists who possesses massive powers, why are such verbal contortions necessary to mount a compelling argument for that God’s existence? Why shouldn’t we expect that such a force would be as demonstrable as gravity?

    I’ve always found William Lane Craig’s apologetics ridiculous for the same reason. When he supports his argument for the Kalam by resorting to copious legalistic interpretations of history and principles of logic (many of which are in fact equivocations), I find his intellectual histrionics undermining his credibility, not supporting it. “First you start at A, and then you jump to K, and then it’s D for a while, and then R is absolutely necessary, because H follows naturally from that as a result of the law of F, and then: JESUS”

  33. Monocle Smile says

    @Paddy
    Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with a fairly impressive CV. He’s an expert on starlight.
    http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/tyson/curriculum-vitae

    @many
    The “simulation” argument amounts to little more than mental masturbation. It’s a bunch of bullshit physics (the Holographic Principle is something completely different) culminating in a fallacy of composition (“simulations” exist in this universe, therefore the universe is a simulation). It’s fodder for know-nothing woo-heads.

    Also, we already do simulate universes. Computational cosmology is a thing. How do you think we test big bang models? But the bits are just bits. The simulation is the map, not the place.

    @Fred West
    Bret Frost? That you? Get fucked.

  34. uglygeek says

    @Monocle Smile
    The “simulation argument” is just an interesting thought experiment (which has *nothing* to do with computational cosmology, by the way). Nobody said that “It’s true and therefore there is a God!”
    So, why does it make you so aggressively upset?

  35. says

    @monocle
    My bad, astrophysicist – should have googled before posting, but I was only tring to point out that those guys where using him as a “he said it, so it must be true”, and although I believe him to very reliable, I think you should never take only one persons word for it, plus it was out of context as they were just humoring an idea, which they took as the case.

  36. Michael Garner says

    I see someone else has already told Tracie what her “visual auras” without accompanying headaches were, flittering or scintillating scotoma, have had
    them for decades myself, bizarre and unsettling but understandable.

  37. Murat says

    What a simulator does is to simulate a reality for the purpose of something like a mapping, an experiment or a study.
    The loophole in the idea of our uinverse being a simulation is that, it DOES evoke the existence of something that is in itself a REALITY, but ditances itself too quickly from the possiblity that this original reality is our very existence.
    *
    What Tyson says in 1:11 of the video I previously shared “nails” the confusion, I’d say:
    “If you are a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”.
    And the IT revolution is the main reason such ideas began to hold more water with fans of physics recently.
    It’s just how we got accustomed to approach the unknown.

  38. Tim Lawson says

    A sane take on the Simulation Hypothesis:
    For the Proponents of it, yes, it is interesting to think about. That being said, to assert plausibility without any knowledge of possibility is dishonest.
    The caller came in asserting that a quantum computer could (and likely is) creating this universe as a simulation. He can’t even honestly claim to know it is possible in any universe for any computer, let alone a quantum computer as was his assertion, to create a simulation of a universe as complex as our own.
    If he can not know if the very foundations of the simulation hypothesis is possible, he can not claim the hypothesis is plausible.

    This relates to a god in that it is disingenuous to claim a god is probable, if you don’t even know if a god is possible.

  39. Ncikolas Gaspar Arachovitis says

    “Simulation” is an Observer Relative Term(John Searle’s position on people’s tendency to project their activities as qualities shared by Nature too. ex. information,calculation, etc).
    Yes, The classical world is an “emergent phenomenon” of Quantum mechanics, but to assume that it is a simulation, you need to provide the evidence on the hardware used and the agent doing the simulation….the simulation of what, of a physical world?
    This idea by default, assumes that there is actual physical world that for a reason someone with a super computer and quantum mechanics as a computer language, tries to simulate in the first place? if not…why calling it a simulation in the first place! Why not an imaginary physical world on a computer.

    You need to prove that Quantum Mechanics DO need a super computer to exist in order to form an emergent phenomenon like a classical world.(anti Copernican way of though all over again).

    In my opinion, with out any empirical evidence, we just have a “poisoning the well fallacy”. The suggestion of a “simulation” assumes way to many things beyond any reasonable Null Hypothesis that we can construct.
    Its also a god-like hypothesis that is based on our incredulous interpretations.

    Science needs evidence and rejects authority figures …so credible scientists should not be used as arguments in favor of a hypothesis on the underlying nature of reality.
    Just because our computers follow the laws of quantum mechanics does not prove that our world (that also follows the same rules) needs a cosmic “microwave oven” to exist.

    This is just a philosophical speculation based on scientific evidence that are interpret by different auxiliary philosophical principles. This renders the hypothesis part of philosophy not science, since the ontological implications are non naturalistic huge and all falsifications tests (if there will be any) acceptable to interpretation.(Methodological Naturalism goes out of the window without evidence against its principles).

    You need serious evidence if you want to introduce mind properties in addition to Nature.(an agent as owner,programmer and user of the computer, plus the original world that “he simulates”, are things you need to take in to the account of a Simulation hypothesis).
    Maybe they intended to mean something different but the Language mode(by using the word simulation) is really BAD.

  40. lexx says

    About the déjà vu thing… I get the same sensations as the caller (I thought I was the only one who got those and that there was something wrong with me so I’m relieved to know it’s not te case!), and I managed to link those episodes to the few days before my periods. It seems that for me it might be a hormonal thing. Men don’t get hormonal shifts like women do as far as I know so I’m not sure if that it’s hormonal in his case. If it’s not, then there’s a good chance it might be related to stress (and maybe to a bad diet as well).

  41. RationalismRules says

    @BigZebra

    About 2000 years ago I sent someone to fix things, but it only led to more trouble.

    That seems a very odd way for a programmer to deal with a flawed program. Why didn’t you just recode to eliminate the bugs?

  42. freeformlogic says

    Not to rag on Tracie because she happens to be one of the most well spoken, astute, and considerate people I have seen on the show, I just feel like she shut down David wayyyy too fast. Its fine that she didn’t see the relevance to atheism, but there was really no opportunity given to David to make that connection until much later in the conversation when David was already feeling heavily attacked. I understand that it wasn’t Tracies intent to attack anyone, but I believe David certainly felt that way.

    The connection I can draw between the topic of a possibly simulated world and atheism/theism is that David was approaching it as a “new”, more plausible, concept of what “god” might really be. I think what threw the conversation off was this simple idea being communicated to Tracie.

    I am not going to get into my personal thoughts on the subject of simulation theory, but I do believe David had a relevant topic and had he been given a chance to better explain his position in the beginning a better conversation could have been had. I do hope that Tracie watches the episode and can see how Davids position wasnt as irrelevant as she may have originally thought.

  43. RationalismRules says

    @Geoff Linehan #25

    David was earlier referencing spooky action at a distance which is quite commonly explained in lay books about quantum physics. It was coined, as I recall, by Einstein, referring to the reaction of one particle to a change in its twin faster than light.

    David’s personal ‘study’ of physics hasn’t even got him far enough to learn the correct term: quantum entanglement. Einstein’s ‘spooky action at a distance’ was a derogatory reference, because he did not believe it to be possible. It turns out he was wrong – it has subsequently been confirmed through experiment.

    It’s kind of like claiming to have studied communication, and then going on to call radio waves “vibrations in the cosmic ether” – it doesn’t leave you with much confidence in his grasp of the subject.

  44. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Thank you, BigZebra, for your efforts in fixing the system but damn, couldn’t you just rewrite the events in a way that we won’t be waiting for the other being you send in? Can I speak to your manager? I’d like to issue a complaint on behalf of civilization(in the mainframe.)

    LMAO, Tracie was being told after the first few minutes to hang up on the dual-bros. Even after 10 minutes in people were like, “They still on?” and some even left. She gave them enough time to climax and then she let them go rather gracefully.

    I understand that a lot of people like to do these thought experiments about what’s going on in science but bringing it on the show as if it’s a viewpoint that’s unheard of is annoying, we’ve all confronted this “reality isn’t prime reality” thing at some point, I’ve encountered it prior to my becoming an atheist and it’s just as uninteresting to me now as it was then.

    I extend my appreciation to the hosts and bts crew for their efforts this show and I hope they all had a decent relaxation period after it.

  45. RationalismRules says

    @uglygeek
    Regarding “not science” – if you’re interested and have a spare half-hour, this clip on why ‘non-scientific claims’ can still be evaluated through the scientific method is good food for thought. It changed my thinking somewhat.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQMLFpQEOI8
     
    Regarding all your philosophical “why?’s, I’ve never seen the point of these sorts of questions. If a god/programmer exists they are on such a different plane to us that there’s no reason to think that their motivations or thoughts would in any way conform to our cognitive thought processes. If the starting point is that a god/programmer exists beyond everything we can understand (ie. the physical universe we inhabit), then it seems pointless to speculate about it using our own limited paradigm.

  46. Murat says

    @RR

    Regarding all your philosophical “why?’s, I’ve never seen the point of these sorts of questions. If a god/programmer exists they are on such a different plane to us that there’s no reason to think that their motivations or thoughts would in any way conform to our cognitive thought processes. If the starting point is that a god/programmer exists beyond everything we can understand (ie. the physical universe we inhabit), then it seems pointless to speculate about it using our own limited paradigm.

    Very true.
    But it’s also a fact that, such speculation is the most practical way to escape our paradigm, which gets boring after several decades of dwelling in.
    Hence…

  47. says

    To the guy calling about déjà vu – you were having temporal lobe seizures. I’ve had the same thing happen several times (as did my ex-wife) they are way ahead of normal déjà vu, which is a memory formation glitch.

  48. Jay says

    The idea that universe is a simulation is not new. That scientists came up with it now just only show how narrow-minded they are and do not go beyond their field of interest. There is a lot of literature that explores that idea. Most of the Polish writer’s Stanislaw Lem books explores that topic. In 1970s i have read a short story in the popular magazine about the boy who have a toy, a box in which he could create anything. He created a universe (not knowing what it is) and then mother calls him for dinner. He shuts the lead…. I remember it because the idea was so shocking to me and eventually changed my mind. Throughout the history people tried to prove or disapprove the existence of god using new inventions or events or things they could not comprehend. Bubbling crude oil from the soil was used as a proof of hell. (They were chimneys from the hell.) Now, when we have computers and can simulate things on it, its not unusual to try to apply the idea to the explanation of the laws of universe (God). However I BELIEVE we won’t be able the prove or disapprove the existence of God in any way. In case of simulation theory scientists would have to intercept the simulation or the simulator to do that. Its beyond us.
    Atheism, in my mind, should be understood as the rejection of the established religions, rituals and powers of the church(es) and not necessarily of the unknown.

  49. Jay says

    Atheism, in my mind, should be understood as the rejection of the established religions, rituals and powers of the church(es) as well as personalized God but not necessarily of the unknown.

  50. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    Ultimately, we’re all just Twin Peaks characters, just waiting on the dreamer(or programmer, I guess) to wake up.

  51. Lost Fake Email says

    @Fred West no9. Spot on. The hosts seem incapable of staying on topic. Instead they are happy to waste time on nonsense even though it has nothing to do with religion or god. No other (religious discussion )show would do that, but as long as idiots give them money the rot will continue. Religions worldwide have nothing to fear from this group. A simple phone call will shut them down and they are too stupid to realize this. Just watch 10+ year old episodes. They are what the AXP is about and are still better than the current shite.

    Glad to hear that they weren’t adversely hit by the floods but watching live is waste of effort.

  52. bigzebra says

    @RationalismRules I didn’t want to recode to fix the bugs because most of the bugs are people. It would mean destroying all the people who are bugs. The thing is, most people are bugs. People that constantly move their jaws in a manner similar to bovines because they are always chewing gum? They’re bugs. People who hear a noise and think ‘that must be a ghost!’. They’re bugs. People named Trump? Bugs.
    The last time I sent someone to change human behaviour he told people not to wash their hands before eating. He brought a message of non-violence by saying “I did not come to make peace, I come with a sword.”. Also, he was total crap at playing cards….he would give off all sorts of ‘tells’.
    So I’m in a bit of a bind here.

  53. bigzebra says

    @Chancellor of the Exchequer
    Thank you for your polite letter. Most people just send me email filled with profanity. Your suggestion of ‘re-writing the events’ is antithetical to a simulation. Re-writing events would just be me writing fiction. I can change some conditions of the simulation as it goes on. I can introduce new elements. I can re-start the simulation, but then all these virtual beings in existence right now would cease to exist. So I am sorry that I must decline your suggestion. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, you must appreciate the situation I am in. 2000 years ago I sent someone to fix some very basic errors in the system, and he implied that the currency that facilitates easy trade (replacing the wasteful and difficult ‘barter system’)… well he implied that each piece of currency belongs to whomever is depicted on the currency. When all currency belongs to a single person, no trade is possible. It has occurred to me that Chaos theory may hold the key to my problem. That no matter how refined and how exactly I execute the simulation, tiny infinitesimal calculations will add up and produce an unexpected results. These results include people who deny the science behind global warming. Another example are those goddamn ‘hobbits’ on that island in Indonesia. They couldn’t even make a decent chicken sandwich. effin’ hobbits. Trust me, that wasn’t part of my plan. But the important thing to remember about simulations is that they must react in ways you don’t expect so that you can learn from the simulation. If simulations always ran exactly as you expected, you would never bother running them in the first place.

    You asked to ‘speak to manager’. I’m the manager. As for complaints…sure file all the complaints you want…if you think it will help?

  54. RationalismRules says

    @bigzebra
    Dayumn – so many bugs! Have you consider a different occupation? You don’t seem to be very good at the one you currently hold.

  55. bigzebra says

    RationalismRules says
    September 4, 2017 at 11:09 am
    @bigzebra
    Dayumn – so many bugs! Have you consider a different occupation? You don’t seem to be very good at the one you currently hold.

    Dear RR…May I call you ‘RR’? it’s so much more convenient. As for bugs, well It’s true that many people are starving. And there’s cancer. And there’s daytime TV. And nighttime TV. But sometimes the simulation makes me smile, so all-in-all I think it’s worth it. And if the bugs bother you remember that the simulation allows for the self-correction of bugs. For example Ron Popeil came pretty close to ending all energy problems when he almost created a free-energy perpetual motion device by hooking up his Giant Food Dehydrator to a Humidifier. So RR, slap yourself on the back and keep up the good work. But work to solve your own problems. I would recommend that you invent a safe, commercially-viable Fusion Energy Generator. They are great! I have one in my garage right now. Also, If you would make me a chicken sandwich, that would hit the spot. Light on the mayo please.

    Oh and RR, thank you for your concern, but please don’t worry about me. I have a wonderful job that pays well. The simulation is just something I do for fun in my spare time.

  56. David Hasselhof says

    Here is another video about the Simulation theory. If the simulation theory is correct, and there is a simulator. Then things like the resurrection, hell, heaven, etc, are possible in a perfectly natural and scientific way. As this would just be simply rebooting the program that is you and running it in a heaven or hell sim? I know people who have adopted atheism as a psuedo religion instead of being open minded don’t want to hear this but that makes you just as rediculous and obtuse as the bible thumpers.

  57. says

    >This was the worst show ever..! Tracy and John you really blew it and you wasted a hour and half of my time. Learn how to hang up.

    @9 – LOL… and yet others on the thread are giving me heat for this week’s show because I threatened to end one call.

    #cantpleaseeveryone

  58. says

    @48:
    >I just feel like she shut down David wayyyy too fast.

    You’re not alone.

    > Its fine that she didn’t see the relevance to atheism, but there was really no opportunity given to David to make that connection until much later in the conversation

    When he still didn’t.

    > The connection I can draw between the topic of a possibly simulated world and atheism/theism is that David was approaching it as a “new”, more plausible, concept of what “god” might really be. I think what threw the conversation off was this simple idea being communicated to Tracie.

    I have said many times that if there was a manifestation of a god, at least we’d have something to study. I am OK with David’s initial statement that if an agent/agents were responsible for us/our world, it is not unreasonable to say “Oh, ok, this is like that god thing people have been describing.” In the same way I might agree that a great ape living in the North Americas is “big foot”–even if it doesn’t conform to all aspects of the legend. I would still understand that this thing is a good candidate for the cause of some of these sightings, and claims about a Big Foot. I took no issue with that and conceded I thought it was reasonable.

    > I am not going to get into my personal thoughts on the subject of simulation theory, but I do believe David had a relevant topic and had he been given a chance to better explain his position in the beginning a better conversation could have been had. I do hope that Tracie watches the episode and can see how Davids position wasnt as irrelevant as she may have originally thought.

    He started out saying he had evidence to prove a god is possible. Most atheists already label as “agnostic”–which means they are already of a mind that a god is possible. Saying a god is possible necessarily also says that it’s possible there is no god. So, before the points were given, I already had been told that by the end of the call we would, literally, have no more information that would sway opinions than before we took the call. That’s the very definition of “irrelevant”.

    While jumping from simulation to agent simulator is just as much an argument from ignorance as jumping from creation to agent creator, let’s say it wasn’t. Let’s say there is that “magic wand” step John mentioned, where we get to show that it’s actually even possible for an agent simulator to be the cause of this universe. What does that tell us?

    It’s possible there is a god. And it’s possible there is no god.

    How is that relevant?

    Literally an atheist seeing the same information could call the show to say that they were in an argument with a theist who was using this information as proof of god’s existence, they went to watch it, and at the end, the most that could be said about it is that it results in a conclusion that we can’t rule out a possibility of god, and it isn’t evidence of the existence of any god, after wasting X amount of time watching it, he’s just witnessed yet one more “evidence of god” that isn’t evidence of god.

    Now, moving to David’s call–he started out admitting it wouldn’t do any more than show a possibility of such a being. Without parameters for what allows for the existence of such a being, I can’t really understand how we’d conclude it’s existence is possible or impossible, but regardless, we have evidence that an atheist and a theist were agreeing isn’t good evidence for demonstrating the existence of a god. They both see the same evidence, they both see the same conclusion, and nobody’s view is shifted. What’s the point?

    I *am* seeing that some folks find this interesting rather than maddeningly useless and tedious. So, I can *try* to grasp that and be more sensitive to the idea that not everyone views it in the same way. But I think there is a need to separate “cool science, and I’m into cool science” from “relevant to determining the existence of a god.”

    You can see the opinions above are all over the map for people telling me I should hang up sooner, I should let people go on longer, and people supporting David’s call, if you read their response, are also all over the map–everyone seems to have their own view of what that call was about. People are arguing about the implications of the science. And this makes sense, because until it’s resolved about whether it necessitates an agent simulator or not–it seems anyone can say anything. Nonexperts challenging non experts, including people who say they’ve viewed the same information. Would it have been any less chaotic as a call on the show? What’s wrong with waiting for some conclusions to come out of peer review, and basing our opinions on those?

  59. says

    @31:
    >Last but not least I would like to adres one very important statement made by Tracy. “Why would it be relevant to me as an atheist if we are living in a simulation or not if there is no god”. Well, you determine for yourself what is or is not important to you, but as the host of a show which I thought was all about searching truth based on evidence

    *David* said up front his evidence ended with “god is possible.” If god is possible, then it’s also a fact that it’s possible there is no god. What conclusions can we draw about the existence of a god based on the finding that there may or may not be a god?

    > it should be extremely relevant to if there is evidence pointing towards something that you have not taken into conscideration especially when it is something that challenges everything you have accepted as truth so far.

    How does “it’s possible there is a god, and it’s possible there is no god,” “point” to anything? That’s the opposite of pointing to something. It’s the very example of ambiguous evidence, which is sometimes called “bad evidence” and sometimes declared to not be evidence of anything at all.

    > This very statement is very closeminded and differs in no way from the irrational replies I get from theists regularly.

    It’s not close-minded to point out the fact that someone is making an *irrelevant* point.

    > Have a good day and remember to put the same standards for yourself that you expect from others when discussing your (non) believes with other fellow human beings.

    I do use the same standards. I don’t try to claim that “evidence” that points to both conclusions is relevant. If you see me do that, feel free to offer criticism of it.

  60. says

    @34
    >But I don’t think the issue here is to wait for physicians to prove that we live in a simulation (a thing that by definition could probably never be proved, what is inside the simulation could have no way of knowing what is outside it). This is actually a philosophical argument, one that gives way to many interesting considerations and thought experiments.

    But the caller wasn’t calling for any of the reasons you’re about to list. He was calling–as he stated–to prove it’s possible a god exists, which tells me nothing new. I don’t accept that even if we show the universe acts like a simulation that it means it is automatically possible there is an agent simulator, anymore than I accept that the current universe necessitates the possibility of an agent-creator; but let’s say there was a consensus in quantum physics that there may or may not be a god. That tells me literally nothing. Even without physics in the mix, we’re already dealing with the idea there may/may not be a god. So, what would change? Now we have scientific evidence we don’t know if there’s a god or not? 😉

    >What if somebody could simulate a whole universe in a computer? Why would he/she/it do that? Would it set the fundamental rules and observe how the system evolves? Would the appearance of life just an involuntary side effect of this simulation?
    And why should the programmer care about being venerated by those simulated characters? Why would it expect them to pray five times a day? Why would it be interested in their thoughts or in their sexual life? Doesn’t this idea immediately destroy the idea of a ‘Personal God’ showing that it can’t be more than a juvenile fairy-tale? Doesn’t this show even more clearly the absurdity of personal religions like Christianity and Islam? And would the existence inside of a simulate universes define epistemological limits to what can be known (inside that universe)?

    The caller actually addressed this. He said that in his view such a god isn’t a god to necessarily worship. For me, either science will discover more about this or it won’t. If they don’t, then all the speculation in the world is just ignorant musing. If it does, then there won’t be any need to speculate, because we’ll have actual data to base our views on. I would rather wait till we have sufficient data to form relevant, cogent views, than spend time trading uninformed opinions.

    > I am totally atheist, but I think these were ideas that deserved being explored in this case.

    If they’re not true, then I should not act on them. If they are true, then I should wait till that is sufficient verified before I begin acting on them.

    >Often callers just present their scripture-based religious claims, and the hosts task is to effectively argue against them.

    Because they are making a claim that this demonstrates the existence of a god. The caller was claiming evidence there may or may not be a god.

    > But in some other cases it is possible to fly a little higher than that.

    When a caller calls in to talk about evidence in the Bible, hosts often ask why the Bible should be treated as true. We back it up, very often, to ask “if a god didn’t write it, why is it relevant?”

    In this case, instead of a Bible, we have a question of a creator of the universe. It’s not new–it’s just different labels. Creator = simulator, and Simulation = universe. But it’s the same structure. Why do I want to discuss the attributes of a creator before we’ve established there is a creator? How is that flying any higher than discussing what message this creator has sent us through the Bible, before we have even demonstrated there is a god that authored it? It’s putting the cart before the horse–if we want to have an *informed* discussion.

    Don’t get me wrong. I can try and gain some perspective on why some folks find this interesting, but it’s a quagmire in my mind, to start speculating on the nature of a god we haven’t established, and have no information about.

  61. freeformlogic says

    @ heicart

    >He started out saying he had evidence to prove a god is possible. Most atheists already label as “agnostic”–which means they are already of a mind that a god is possible. Saying a god is possible necessarily also says that it’s possible there is no god. So, before the points were given, I already had been told that by the end of the call we would, literally, have no more information that would sway opinions than before we took the call. That’s the very definition of “irrelevant”.

    Ok, you have gone wayyy off the rails here buddy. How many times on this show have we heard the same exact arguments for a biblical god from different people entertained? Almost every single show we hear something that has been said before, so the argument that he didnt have anything relevant to say because he was trying to prove that god is possible, holds no water at all. The fact is he was approaching the call as a way to bring up a newer idea of what a god may be. Though it isnt a standard idea of god, it is still relevant, because it is on the topic of god. On top of that he claimed there was actual scientic evidence to back it up! These are the calls that should get hosts excited, not evoke a “shut it down” mentality. Just because he may not have been right about it doesnt mean its irrelevant to atheism… If that approach were taken with everyone then the show would turn into an atheist problems call in show with no theists ever given a chance. And saying that there is no more info that would sway opinons is absolutely NOT the definition of irrelevant. Is the point of the show to sway peoples opinions? If it is, then youbmight want to mention that to EVERY SINGLE HOST THAT HAS SAID IT IS NOT THE POINT OF THE SHOW.

    > While jumping from simulation to agent simulator is just as much an argument from ignorance as jumping from creation to agent creator, let’s say it wasn’t. Let’s say there is that “magic wand” step John mentioned, where we get to show that it’s actually even possible for an agent simulator to be the cause of this universe. What does that tell us?

    It’s possible there is a god. And it’s possible there is no god.

    How is that relevant?

    Jumping from simulation to an agent controlling that simulation is not a fallacy at all. Why? Simple, because we have thousands upon thousands of examples of simulations that REQUIRE agency. Of course that doesnt mean that if everything IS a simulation that it requires agency, but it certainly lends more credence to the idea that there may be an agent behind the simulation if its real. And I believe I already provided you with an answer as to how it was relevant.

    Questions for you… Do you work on the show directly? Where is the caller Davids reply? I see a reply from one David Hasslehoff but nowhere does he identify himself as the caller.

  62. says

    @33
    >I’m astonished by those who are asserting that Tracie didn’t give David and Dennis enough of a chance to articulate their views regarding the possibility that we are existing within a simulation. My impression is that they were given, in the aggregate, at least 20 minutes, yet I think the substance of what they were saying could have been generously addressed in 3 to 5 minutes.

    I have no idea how long we were on. I will admit that much of it was me asking why the call was relevant, and asserting it wasn’t. I literally had a caller who wanted to go through some quantum proof to get to a conclusion that there may or may not be a god.

    For my part, I just wanted to know why we had to go through a proof for that, when we could just agree without all the rigmarole that there may or may not be a god. It would have taken no time at all, and saved a lot of discussion. I guess next time, to appease the viewers who find it interesting, I’ll consider playing it out, let it get to the end, and ask “So, we’re saying there may or may not be a god, then. Is that it?” I can thank them for the call and go to the next one.

  63. Aaron Rodriguez says

    Hello, my name is Aaron and I am a physicist. I have my undergraduate degree in Applied Physics with a concentration in Computer Science; I also have a minor in Mathematics. I just graduated this past May, and now I am working saving money so I can return to school this Spring. As an undergraduate, I conducted research on Quantum Dots and I created a low-cost cluster computer so that undergraduate students may conduct computational research. I am very interested in simulation of physical phenomenon as a method to determine what would be needed for space equipment. I have a goal to earn a PH.D. in computational physics concentrating on model simulation of space equipment for either high Earth orbit or for within our Solar System.
    I was viewing the live stream for episode 21.34 when there was a three-way call between John and Tracie, David from Barcelona, and Dennis from Frankfurt. This call was primarily focused on the discussion for a simulated reality. While David and Dennis had some disagreements, they both leaned towards agreeing that there is a strong possibility that the universe is a computer simulation. When Tracie pointed out that this issue is best left to the experts in the field, and Dennis accused her of being closed minded.
    The field of Physics is enormous. Therefore, my response will cover the following:
    Provide a very brief overview of the mechanics and forces of the field.
    Describe the area where the simulation theory fits within the field.
    Describe where members of The Atheist Experience Blog may read about the current research being done in the field and who I think they should look at.

    Physics is the study of energy/matter and the forces that affects them. To understand how the simulation theory falls within the field of physics, allow me to quickly describe the field itself. Physics is divided into 4 realms of mechanics that are used to describe the four general forces we observe within reality. Mechanics can be generally divided into four realms:
    Classical Mechanics (CM) – describes how objects move in “everyday”, e.g. cars, boats, and airplanes. This realm fails to describe objects moving at high speeds, i.e. near the speed of light (Griffiths).
    Special Relativity (SR) – describes how objects that are moving at high speeds, or near the speed of light). This realm fails to describe objects that are very small, i.e. near the size of atoms (Griffiths).
    Quantum Mechanics (QM) – describes the movement of objects that a very small, or near the size of the atom. This realm fails at describing the movement of these small objects at high speeds (Griffiths).
    Quantum Field Theory (QFT) – describes the movement of small objects (near atom sized) at high speeds (near speed of light). This realm is a unification of QM and SR, and it is consistent with SR since it was the main stimulus of the field (Griffiths).

    We use mechanics as a system to describe the behavior of an object when it is subjected to a force, for which there are generally four:
    Strong Force – this is the force that holds the atomic nucleus together, i.e. protons and neutrons. It has a very short range (within the atom), but is the strongest force in the universe.
    Electromagnetic Force – this is the dominant force in everyday life, as it can be used to describe the chemical forces that bind molecules together to the impact forces of car crashes (Griffiths). It has an extremely long range and is the only force we have come to understand.
    Weak Force – this is the force that is responsible for radioactive delay and, as a point of consideration, is the reason we can communicate electronically around the world (Griffiths). Thank you, Cesium timing.
    Gravitational Force – this is the weakest force of all and the only reason why it is even considered is when there is a huge deposit of mass in the universe, e.g. Earth or the Sun (Griffiths).
    Now there are many theories that describes a realm and one or more forces that describes some behavior. What the field of Physics currently lacks is a Unified Field Theory (UFT), or a single theory that can be used to describe behaviors in any realm of mechanics and with any force exposed on it. Einstein was the first to think of this idea and there have been many theories (string theory, super-gravity theories, etc.) that have been proposed to hypothesize on what this UFT could be, if it is possible. The problem is that there is not a currently a realm that describes the interaction between quantum mechanics and gravity. When one is discovered, it will undoubtedly give us more questions to the answers it gives.
    Now that you grasp the basic concept of the field, I can tell you that there are many fields of study within Physics, such as solid-state physics, particle physics, and astrophysics to name a few. The field that seems to be thrown in atheistic conversations is the field of cosmology. Cosmology is the field that emerges from astrophysics that primarily deals with the origin and evolution of the universe (Redd). There are many theories proposed to explain cosmology, e.g. superstring theory, multiverse theory, etc. One to emerge is Simulation Hypothesis. Simulation Hypothesis (often credited) to emerge from a paper titled “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” (Bostrom); Hans Moravec, whose life’s work is within robotics and artificial intelligence, is also credited as he published before; Bostrom just happens to be cited more.
    The Simulation Hypothesis can be summed up as our reality is transpiring within a computer simulation, from Singularity (Big Bang) to the present expansion, which is still be happening long after we are all dead. It also supposed to encompass all laws of Mathematics (Logic) and Physics (Applied Logic). There are many arguments for, some of which you heard on the show and on the YouTube video of the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?
    I am not going to discuss the reasons to believe this hypothesis, but rather I discuss those reasons why we shouldn’t. Now please bear in mind that to think scientifically is truly a difficult task. Most people cannot do it as you need years of training to do it well.
    Let’s start with Lisa Randall, who is a theoretical physicist from Harvard, and who just happened to sit on that very panel that debated the Simulation Hypothesis at the American Museum of Natural History. She has calculated the probability of the Simulation Hypothesis and has found it to be so low that it is effectively zero (American Museum of Natural History). When somebody reads this statement, there will be those few individuals who believe that any chance means that there is a chance. Let me put it in simpler terms: if you are hungry and wanted to eat a slice of pizza, then you would get a slice of pizza. Well what if the chef of the pizzeria only had one large pizza left, and he sliced it into a thousand pieces. He then hands you a “slice” on a plate, how much pizza did he give you? That would be effectively zero, but only if in the same situation happened but the pizza was sliced by the hundreds of trillions (quadrillionth or 〖10〗^(-15)) of times and/or further into the infinitesimal. But there is a chance, right?
    Now if any member of this community wishes to conduct their own research on this or any other topic in Physics then I would encourage them to do so. There is a website where I can point you to begin on this endeavor – the arXiv. The arXiv (pronounced “archive”) is an electronic source that houses over a million scientific papers from fields such as Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, and Quantitative Finance and Statistics (Cornell University Library ). Feel free to access this site and search the fields you want to know about.
    I bring up the arXiv because there is a paper that I have been looking at by a man by the name Neil Turok, who is the director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics). He published a paper named “Quantum propagation across cosmological singularities” (Gielen and Turok), and I think this paper is mind blowing.
    The reason why I bring this paper up is because of Neil Turok is; to do that let me describe someone else to give further context. Without a doubt, the most intelligent man on the planet is Stephen Hawking. The man who has been trapped by his disease and yet has changed the world using only his thoughts. From my perspective, the circumstances surrounding Dr. Hawking is seemingly absurd; If we lived in a comic book world, then he would be the real-life Professor X.
    An equally absurd thing to consider is which of his contemporaries can compete with him in the world of Physics…who is his Magneto? Enter Dr. Neil Turok. I bring him up, not only because I am a fan, but because he is the guy whom Stephen Hawking will call up to debate with so he can refine his ideas with. I was privileged to listen to him speak at a Physics conference. It is my opinion that it is not a matter of if, but when Dr. Neil Turok will win the Nobel Prize for Physics. It is very exciting stuff, especially if you are into Cosmology.
    Please feel free to ask any questions. I will be on throughout the week. Thanks again and I hope my analysis was simple to follow.

    References
    American Museum of Natural History. 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation? Ed. AMNH. New York, 08 04 2016. YouTube. 04 09 2017. .
    Bostrom, Nick. “Are You Living In A Computer Simulation?” Philosophical Quaterly 53.211 (2003): 243-255. pdf. 04 09 2017. .
    Cornell University Library . arXiv.org. Ed. arXiv Scientific Advisory Board. Ithica, n.d. 03 09 2017. .
    Gielen, Steffen and Neil Turok. “Quantum propagation across cosmological singularities.” 16 05 2017. arXiv.org. pdf. 04 09 2017. .
    Griffiths, David J. “Advertisement.” Griffiths, David J. Introduction to Electrodynamics. Fourth. Boston: Pearson, 2013. xiv-xvi. Book. 04 09 2017.
    Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. NEIL TUROK. 2012. HTML page. 04 09 2017. .
    Redd, Nola Taylor. What Is Cosmology? Definition & History. 07 06 2012. HTML page. 04 09 2017. .

  64. says

    tracy @ 30:58:

    i don’t think i fear [death]. it’s not like i’m looking forward to it, but i don’t… i fear DYING more than i fear death. death doesn’t really frighten me. i hope that my mode of death is not horrific.

    if pressed, i think most folks would agree. i wrote the same things in the foreword to a stalled book project i turned into an early website way back in the 90s: Ain’t No Way to Go. (so is it still blog-whoring if the site predates blogs and has lain dormant for many many years but is kept online just for posterity…?) an excerpt:


    Foreword: On Our Common Heritage

    “Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
    Albert King and “Little” Milton Campbell
    “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven”, 1970

    THE FEAR OF DEATH is, in actuality, a false fear.

    For those of us who are religious-minded, there is no death. What we call death is merely a means or a process or a point of transition to some more profound, and thus more deeply desired, level of existence.

    … For those of us who are not religious-minded or otherwise spiritually-inclined, death is merely a concept of nonexistence. Nonexistence is the absence of experience and the absence of the capability to experience.

    … So it seems that no one truly believes that they themselves will be in a state of suffering once they are dead. Thus this fear of death we all share cannot be the fear of being dead.

    What most of us regard as the fear of death then is, in actuality, the fear of dying.

    … This site, however, is dedicated to that 5% minority that died as a result of accident or perfidious design.

  65. Disentropic says

    Regarding David & Dennis, I don’t think theists making such irrelevant points and refusing to recognize the lack of relevance to atheism would’ve been tolerated for half as long. Perhaps this is a case of atheists’ affinity for science being abused. It was rather frustrating to watch such a presumptuous attitude be rewarded with so much airtime, particularly in the case of Dennis. Every objection you raise is exactly correct, so why couldn’t you just put your damn foot down and end the call? If that’s not your policy, perhaps you should notify viewers that the program makes peripheral forays into amateur speculation on the implications of theoretical physics.

    This was a waste of everyone’s time, but to find some value in it perhaps considering the error at some point would make for a learning experience. In my view the lesson here is to weigh a person’s (or caller’s, in the case of AXP) argument as opposed to their identity or general worldview. These two guys sounded reasonable and respectful of science, and David showed patience when you rejected his argument until he was encouraged to be more unreasonable by Dennis. Frankly, I think Dennis sounded like he did not want to be told anything by Tracy in particular, and while I may be reaching in this diagnosis I felt he came across as misogynistic. At any rate, he was very disrespectful. Point is, whether someone seems like the sort of person you think you can reason with or not has to come second to the argument they put forward. If the argument doesn’t make sense and you know it, it shouldn’t matter whether they sound like they generally defer to science or not. On a personal level I understand why you’d feel differently about these callers than the sort of science deniers you often deal with, but please put that affinity aside. Superficial deference to science does not render a person’s views legitimate or worthy of our time.

    You may not be able to please everyone, but I think I’m right about this. What do you think?

  66. freeformlogic says

    @heicart

    I dont understand why you are treating the call from David so differently than all the calls about people trying to put little twists on the kalam or something else. Yes, you are right that the conversation can be boiled down to “a god is possible and possibly not”, but the conversation is where the importance is. Again, if you applied that same logic to every call, the show would just be athiests asking for help with atheists and every theist caller would be hung up on promptly after discovering what their argument for god is with just saying “been there, covered that, its irrelevant because it doesnt prove anything.”

  67. spookiewon says

    “Neil Degrasse Tyson is an astrologist not a physicist.”

    No, he isn’t. He’s an astrophysicist; astrophysics is a subset of physics, so calling him a physicist would be correct. Calling him an astrologist wouldn’t be. Astrology isn’t a science.

  68. says

    @72:

    >>He started out saying he had evidence to prove a god is possible. Most atheists already label as “agnostic”–which means they are already of a mind that a god is possible. Saying a god is possible necessarily also says that it’s possible there is no god. So, before the points were given, I already had been told that by the end of the call we would, literally, have no more information that would sway opinions than before we took the call. That’s the very definition of “irrelevant”.

    >Ok, you have gone wayyy off the rails here buddy. How many times on this show have we heard the same exact arguments for a biblical god from different people entertained?

    “I want to talk to you about Bible proofs—that show there may or may not be a god”—when have you seen that call?

    Have you not seen hosts ask callers why the Bible should be considered as a reliable resource? I have advised people numerous times to *not* debate the existence of god via Biblical proofs, because it’s a quagmire. If no god exists, then it didn’t write the Bible. Therefore, before we can answer the question “did god write the Bible,” we need to demonstrate a god. And it works the same way for a simulated universe.

    > Almost every single show we hear something that has been said before, so the argument that he didnt have anything relevant to say because he was trying to prove that god is possible, holds no water at all.

    He wants to offer evidence, which shows there may or may not be a god. Literally, at the end of his evidence, we’re exactly where we were before the call started—and he’s letting us know this, *before* we even start his list of evidence. That’s what made his call unique.

    > The fact is he was approaching the call as a way to bring up a newer idea of what a god may be.

    Because a universe with a creator/controller is something we haven’t encountered before?

    The fact is—if you listened to the call, I acknowledged that this “type” of creator would be a good candidate for the label “god” in so far as people could point this this, and we could study it, etc. But what is the point of then going through the simulation theory? Why not just say “there is some quantum talk about a simulation universe—if the creator were a simulator agent—would that be a god in your book?” … “Yeah, sure, why not?” … OK. Why do we need to go through the physics of it, when that isn’t going to add anything to the discussion?

    >Though it isnt a standard idea of god, it is still relevant, because it is on the topic of god. On top of that he claimed there was actual scientic evidence to back it up!

    No, he didn’t. He said there was science that *didn’t* back it up. The conclusion he drew from the science is that a simulation agent may or may not exist. That’s not evidence such a thing actually is.

    > These are the calls that should get hosts excited, not evoke a “shut it down” mentality.

    So a call that I’m told at the start will end with “there may or may not be a god” is exciting?

    > Just because he may not have been right about it doesnt mean its irrelevant to atheism…

    I never said he wasn’t right. I said a proof that ends with “therefore there may or may not be a god” isn’t relevant.

    > If that approach were taken with everyone then the show would turn into an atheist problems call in show with no theists ever given a chance.

    If he had said it demonstrates a god, that would have been relevant. It would have led to a discussion about why he is interested in science as a proof, but rejects consensus. But he said it didn’t demonstrate a god.

    > And saying that there is no more info that would sway opinons is absolutely NOT the definition of irrelevant. Is the point of the show to sway peoples opinions?

    The show has many points. I agree. I don’t think the point of the show is to have someone talk about a proof to demonstrate what isn’t in dispute, though—do you? If someone called any of the hosts to say “there may or may not be a god” (which is what “it’s possible a god exists” asserts), *why* would they need to invoke physics to demonstrate that?

    > If it is, then youbmight want to mention that to EVERY SINGLE HOST THAT HAS SAID IT IS NOT THE POINT OF THE SHOW.

    There are many points to the show, but providing scientific proof for something almost nobody is disagreeing about seems useless.

    >> While jumping from simulation to agent simulator is just as much an argument from ignorance as jumping from creation to agent creator, let’s say it wasn’t. Let’s say there is that “magic wand” step John mentioned, where we get to show that it’s actually even possible for an agent simulator to be the cause of this universe. What does that tell us?
    It’s possible there is a god. And it’s possible there is no god.
    How is that relevant?

    >Jumping from simulation to an agent controlling that simulation is not a fallacy at all. Why? Simple, because we have thousands upon thousands of examples of simulations that REQUIRE agency.

    And below you answer your own question about why it’s actually an argument from ignorance:

    >Of course that doesnt mean that if everything IS a simulation that it requires agency,

    And then you go back to wrong:

    > but it certainly lends more credence to the idea that there may be an agent behind the simulation if its real.

    No it doesn’t. There are man-made lakes. This is not a fact that lends credence to the claim all lakes require an agent to create them.

    Ironically, many people make the argument that if people can’t do X, it lends validity to a greater agent as the cause. Now you’re saying that if people can do X, it’s evidence of a greater agent as a cause—even though you explain why that’s not the case.

    >And I believe I already provided you with an answer as to how it was relevant.
    Questions for you… Do you work on the show directly? Where is the caller Davids reply? I see a reply from one David Hasslehoff but nowhere does he identify himself as the caller.

    I had posted a comment about that, which I think you may be referencing, but thought I’d deleted it. Caller “Dennis”—who was the other participant, is the one who commented. It was a mistake I made in their names.

  69. says

    @75
    >I dont understand why you are treating the call from David so differently than all the calls about people trying to put little twists on the kalam or something else. Yes, you are right that the conversation can be boiled down to “a god is possible and possibly not”, but the conversation is where the importance is. Again, if you applied that same logic to every call, the show would just be athiests asking for help with atheists and every theist caller would be hung up on promptly after discovering what their argument for god is with just saying “been there, covered that, its irrelevant because it doesnt prove anything.”

    I have sat beside Matt while he points out to people that Kalam doesn’t get you to god (just a cause) and seen it go no further. How is this different than that?

  70. says

    @76
    >On a personal level I understand why you’d feel differently about these callers than the sort of science deniers you often deal with, but please put that affinity aside. Superficial deference to science does not render a person’s views legitimate or worthy of our time. You may not be able to please everyone, but I think I’m right about this. What do you think?

    Clearly, I agree with you. Except I’m not sure anything said by the callers was wrong or unreasonable (because I can’t make that determination, lacking the requisite expertise). But I do know their point was “We have this super cool science thing that proved there may or may not be a god,” to which my response is “why?”

    I’m trying to pay attention enough to understand *what* some folks find compelling about evidence that demonstrates nothing (and where I’m told at the start nothing will be demonstrated), but so far, I’m having trouble with it. I’m kind of curious what would happen if I let someone like David go on, then at the end, agree it means nothing about the existence of a god–we’re still at “there may or may not be a god, but we have no basis for belief.” And move to the next call. Perhaps if I do this enough times, people will understand there is literally nothing to discuss here? And additionally they’ll be happy that someone came on to list these things they like to hear about, whether or not they’re relevant?

    I’m considering different ways of handling it, but that’s definitely one. On the one hand, someone like you–the viewers who were telling me to end the call in chat–would have to sit through a list of irrelevant science ideas. But it actually might make the calls go more swiftly. Like, “give your proof. I agree there may or may not be a god. Thanks for your call.”

    My arguing about it dragged it on, making it even more tedious and painful. So, you’re right on that front as well–I should “shit or get off the pot.” I think that’s a valid criticism.

    I think you may be onto something that some people are just so enamored with science that anything that touches it is automatically interesting even if it goes nowhere in a specific context?

  71. Henry Leirvoll says

    My opinion on the matter is that Tracie was right in what she was saying, for several reasons. First, and foremost exactly why she said; there is no debating it – only entertaining it. There is no consensus on the matter, and I have not sat through the two hours of this debate on youtube, and all they are doing is entertaining the idea – they are certainly Not making any claims.

    Second .. if simulation theory is true – so what? Like they said in the debate, even the results from the testing is part of the simulation. The guy who called the show mentioned Minecraft, and ok – per some definitions of what “god” means, within the minecraft universe I am a god if I am an admin or owner of a server. – I can do anything I want, albeit always bound by the laws of the game. I could not change the laws of the basic code.

    Even still, then what? If we’re in a simulation, what about the universe that holds the simulation? We can make simulations (ref: Minecraft) in our “simulation” so who’s to say if what lies beyond also is a simulation?

    The end point is: There is no getting anywhere.
    Even two hours of this show, and we all go our separate ways no where near a conclusion than before the debate.

    So Tracie was right .. we can talk about it, but it won’t get us anywhere at all. No where. – Not even in an inch in any conceivable direction.

    Just another “what if”.

    So yeah – move along.

  72. says

    I’ve pretty well expressed anything I have to express on this idea of David’s call. I don’t understand the objections, but *recognize* they exist. I will consider how or if I can incorporate the feedback going forward, but realizing we all have lives we need to attend to, people are free to continue discussing.

  73. says

    Murat .1: What is it that the simulation is “simulating”?
    This should give pause to thought. In a conversation between N.D. Tyson and M. O’Dowd, Tyson argues that you would only need to simulate enough for that person to be convinced that they were living in a Reality. I disagree, you would need to create a reality for each person, which means basically creating enough of the universe so that, say an astrophysicist studying the simulation would be able to discover aspects about that simulation that correspond to the Reality it is simulating. You also basically have to simulate enough of the universe so that enough wave functions collapse (since that is the nature of our universe) to create the simulation. In other words, you are already having to fine grain the simulation to emulate what is essentially Reality.

    @Paddy, @Charles Kunkle Jr
    N.D. Tyson is an astrophysicist, which covers aspects of astronomy and physics. I see someone corrected this already.

    @Charles Kunkle Jr
    Agree with the rest of your comment, there is no consensus and no evidence. This idea of living in a simulation seems to have had a popular resurgence in the past week or so.

    @Murat .6
    {Let’s go on with the assumption that our universe is actually a simulation}
    Let us not. That is presuppositional apologetics in a woo guise.
    But, for the sake of discussion/argument…

    {As opposed to Tracie, I’d find the outcome pretty relevant to theism / atheism debates.}
    OK. If it simulates the latest version of the Abrahamic god as being real, it would have to simulate an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god. So this god would then know it is a simulation, exists throughout the simulation, and is in essence the simulation, correct? The simulation would even have to simulate the “mysterious ways” (i.e. cherry picked random events) of this god.

    It would also have to simulate true randomness.

    Having just finished watching the Matrix for the first time, I was struck that they used telephone booths to escape from the Matrix. Today, telephone booths are rare at best in the U.S., but an English police box has become popular!
    This means, for our present reality, the simulation program would have to simulate progress, in a sense, predict the future. Which brings up one of the criticisms of the simulation hypothesis – when do you stop it, right before the simulation becomes capable of making such a simulation, or when the beings being simulated become capable of exploring outside of the simulation? And if exploring outside the simulation, then wouldn’t the simulation need then to simulate itself? Which brings up the scene of infinite regress if you do not stop it before this point.

    {And the primal motivation should be to SEND someone or something to whatever is OUT OF the simulation…}
    Here we see the parallel points being made, but instead of “outside the universe” or a glimpse of heaven, the latest fad is that it is a simulation we live in. [Flammarion engraving]

    Another point brought up is, are the simulators simulating ancestors (themselves) or are they simulating some other being? If it is themselves, then we are them, and we are no gods.

    @bigzebra
    Weird, I thought it was I 🙂

    @Dec
    {…nobody in their right mind would actually carry out the famous Schroedinger cat experiment.}
    At least not with a cat.

    @simulateddennis
    {…searching truth based on evidence…}
    What truth?

    Also, how is the idea that a simulation is relevant to the existence of a god, unless you follow DarkMatter2525? BTW, for a beautiful and poignant take on his version of the simulation there is his last episode of the Power Corrupts series, “A Dangerous Idea”. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLhtZqdkjshgq8TqwIjMdCQ

    @uglygeek
    {What if somebody could simulate a whole universe in a computer?}
    I have a problem that the simulator would be a “computer”, even a quantum one. I used to argue you would need more energy that exists in the universe to simulate it, but told I might be wrong, especially if the whole universe did not have to be simulated, yet see my counter argument above, but to add to your speculation, of whether it would expect them to pray five times a day and so on, yes it would, because that is our reality, people do that. Also, how many bits would this quantum computer need? As many as the universe? Then call it the universe.

    @Ncikolas Gaspar Arachovitis, @Jay
    Ok, I rehashed your comments. Take it as another way of saying the same thing.

    @Chancellor of the Exchequer
    See The Tommy Westphall Universe Hypothesis, which deals with fiction within fiction TV series.

    @David Hasselhof
    { Then things like the resurrection, hell, heaven, etc, are possible in a perfectly natural and scientific way.}
    Meaning there is evidence for them?
    ——–
    In the end, what our minds seem to be trying to grasp at the quantum weirdness is the reality creating itself, and we project our own humanness on it because we perceive the world in relation to ourselves.

  74. suedoenimm3 says

    @28 Heicart

    >@16
    >>(Paraphrasing) “I don’t know physics so I don’t want to hear it.” Disappointing.
    >Well, then we’re on equal terms, because I’m always disappointed when a fan shows their inflated sense of entitlement. Try watching the show without the pedestal next time, and you might save yourself some feelings of violated expectations (disappointment).

    Yes, I definitely feel entitled to have an opinion.

    Violated? In no way do I feel violated.

    >> Maybe that is not “close minded” but it was vetoing and filibustering.
    >It’s the role of a host.

    Well, I’d say you at least have that prerogative.

    >> Should have given him a couple minutes to present his argument
    >You mean like I did?

    Yes, after five minutes of telling him his point was irrelevant because there isn’t a consensus among physicists that his position proves god.

    >> and then maybe said something like, “I don’t know enough about physics to know if that is true or woo, but maybe others will comment on the blog.”
    >You mean like I did?

    Eventually.

    >> And moved on.
    >Yeah, like I did.
    >> And there was woo in what he proposed.
    >It’s irrelevant if it was woo or 100 percent truth, because he said before he even started it fails as a demonstration of the existence of god.

    Multiple times he said he had evidence of the plausibility of a god-like entity.

    Are demonstrations of the existance of god the only type of call allowed on the show?

    >> The “conscious observer” is a slanted, incomplete interpretation.
    >Yes, we touched on this, but he never really explained how it’s relevant.
    >> Reality is not pixelated. (Quanta are not pixels.)
    >So what? It doesn’t matter, because even if it is, he admits it wouldn’t be evidence of the existence of a god.

    In fact he said he was trying to present evidence for the plausibility of a god-like entity.

    >> Who is simulating the simulator?
    >Yes, I pointed out that we have seen this argument in various forms forever. I even gave examples. You’re saying “who created the creator?” I said that for ages people have looked at what is here and asked “who is responsible?” I used evolution, but there are a number of similar examples.
    >The difference is that in the prior positions, they claimed it was evidence of the existence of a creator/designer/influencing entity. This makes it relevant to try and point out they’re using an argument from ignorance–or if people want to dig in and do the tedious blow by blow they can; but the point is “who simulated the simulator” doesn’t matter, because the caller isn’t claiming there is a simulator–he clearly stated his point was not to demonstrate the existence of god, so your rebuttal is not relevant to his point, which was not to say there has to be a simulator. The caller never claimed there is a simulator–so arguments against a simulator are misplaced and fail to address his point.

    Pointing out that possible question was not intended as a complete rebutal.

    >> We have no more evidence of a simulator than we have for a god.
    >And he never claimed there is evidence of either–so how is your response relevant?

    He said he has evidence supporting the simulation.

    >>You don’t need physics to counter argue all of that.
    >But he didn’t put forward anything you just countered–so you aren’t actually countering what the caller said, but your misinterpretation of what he said.

    I wasn’t trying to present a counter argument. I was pointing out avenues that someone (you maybe) who was arguing with him might have taken.

    I think you misinterpreted what I have said.

    >> But physics is useful.
    >I never said it wasn’t. I said the call wasn’t relevant, because the caller wasn’t calling in to provide anything that would alter the atheist view. Giving an atheist arguments that don’t prove the existence of a god, or pointing an atheist to science that doesn’t demonstrate the existence of a god, is valueless.

    You didn’t say physics isn’t useful. But you pretty well said it wasn’t useful to you (unless there is a consensus of physicists that say something).

    Only a very small percentage of the calls on the show are someone (a theist) trying to prove the existence of God. There are all sorts of related topics like morality, family relationships, philosophy, logic, public policy, etc. They are discussed. They are relevant. (Yes there some irrelevant tangents on occasion.)

    >> Theist often get it wrong and it can be used against them.
    >Theists often get many things wrong, but usually there is a fallacy at the base of their arguments, or they misrepresent scientific consensus. Science without consensus, isn’t relevant, because it’s still being reviewed. I’ve heard arguments about simulation, they’re tedious and irrelevant. Theists often get many things wrong–I don’t intend to get multiple degrees in history, paleontology, physics, divinity, world religions, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, and so on. That’s doing it the hard way. Learn to spot a fallacy and you save yourself all of that. And if you don’t believe it, I suggest you watch some “Cordial Curiosity” videos to see how a person simply asking questions, with no expertise in anything relevant can do a fabulous take-down of unjustified beliefs. It’s done *all the time*.

    You don’t have to have a degree in a subject to have useful working knowledge. I have seen you make points from fields you don’t have a degree in.

    Thanks for the tip on Cordial Curiousity. I’ve bookmarked it and will take a look.

    >> The callers argument was no more irrelevant than most theistic arguments.
    >Incorrect. Most theistic arguments claim to get you to a god. This caller called to talk about science that he admitted doesn’t get you to a god. That makes it *loads* less relevant.

    I disagree for the reasons I have given above.

    >> We are supposed to be able to deal with pretty much everything that comes our way.
    >Who is “we”? I speak for myself, for example. I don’t “represent” anyone else, except that I can’t say/do things at odds with the mission statement of ACA while on the air–but I speak for myself alone, and not for any other atheists. Do you speak for anyone other than yourself? If so, in what capacity? Who is it you claim is “supposed” to be doing what you’re saying to do? And on whose authority do you presume to tell anyone else what they’re supposed to do in this capacity?
    >> That doesn’t mean that you have to immediately have the knock down argument.
    >What argument? He wanted to talk about science, and said up front it wasn’t going to get us to god. What am I knocking down? He said out of the gate he had nothing.
    >> Let the theist argument be presented and we as a group and over a little time will refine a response.
    >Again–who are you speaking on behalf of? Who are you authorized to represent beyond yourself?

    When you and your coleagues get in front of that camera, yes, you do represent the atheist community. And when I discuss/argue with theists I am mindful that my actions will reflect on the whole community. Theists will take us as representatives. It might not always be fair. We are all individuals. But that is the way it is.

    (You probably recall incidents where a beloved sports star gets caught doing something reprehensible. He is asked, “How could you do that knowing what a role model to young people you are?” And he responds, “I never told them to take me as a role model.”)

    I like you, Heicart. You’re intelligent and funny. (Just not real big on physics. 😉 ) I remember in one episode your comment, “Argument from ick.” 🙂 Funny/clever. And your ideas/argument against nothing. That’s good. I remember that. I’ll use it myself when the occasion arises.

  75. Rosalie Brown says

    Two comments about the simulation guys. 1. just because the Aztecs thought the Spanish were gods didn’t make them gods. (A child in a basement on a computer is not a god). 2. Who made the simulators? Turtles all the way down? More talk on that only when someone has ‘evidence’, and no equivocation over an entity that is ‘thought of’ as a god merely due to advanced technology and a ‘biblical type’ god. They are not the same thing.

  76. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#61(:bigzebra:)

    I no longer feel the desire to write a list, I’m just processing that I’m a bunch of code, by someone posting on this site, like why? Why do this to me? Does it amuse you to see me live in a vacuum of your own creation? What happened to my phone? I can’t find it.

    Give me the power of flight, I need it for stuff.

    @#74(:Aaron Rodriguez:)

    Noted.

  77. steveng says

    The only times i have seen this idea mentioned was to contrast how insufficient the common arguments are for a religion to be true. This argument is presented as one that at least makes no big assumptions to get to a creator so it is scientifically more plausible then most religions. The scientists that i have heard use it use it as a tool like the flying spaghetti monster or the tea pot.

  78. steveng says

    I would guess the most commonly run programs run on supercomputers now are climate prediction/global warming. If we could simulate a human population on the planet to see the effects then i am sure we would. A good world war simulator would also be a possibility, if so then lucky us….

  79. Tsukihime says

    Wow, that Donte call… Tracey you REALLY should have hung up on him before he got too far into the crazy talk.

  80. Murat says

    @Rosalie Brown

    just because the Aztecs thought the Spanish were gods didn’t make them gods. (A child in a basement on a computer is not a god)

    This is debatable.
    Not every god has to be a “creator”. The capacity to control and totally change the fate of a subject pretty much comes close to how religions define gods.
    Plus, the two examples you have provided back to back have totally different features with regards to whom they are a god to: Adversaries of lesser power vs. their own creation.

  81. Murat says

    @spookiewon

    “Neil Degrasse Tyson is an astrologist not a physicist.”

    No, he isn’t. He’s an astrophysicist; astrophysics is a subset of physics, so calling him a physicist would be correct. Calling him an astrologist wouldn’t be. Astrology isn’t a science.

    The first part of your explanation is correct.
    However, to be more precise with the second: The “astro” of “astrophysics” has nothing to do with “astrology”, which definitely has little to do with science. It’s the “astro” of “astronomy”, which IS science.
    Someone calling him an “astronomer” would have skipped his authority on “physics”, but still be much less wrong than coming up with something like “astrologist”, which is practically the same as “fortuneteller”.

  82. Murat says

    @Aaron Rodriguez
    Can you also provide a much shorter text, one summarizing the issue the way it can help a layman understand your take on?

  83. Murat says

    @heicart
    In the case of David, what you say regarding how you treat a caller suggests that, one deserves more of an attention if he comes up with the claim that what he will present DOES support there to definitely BE a god.
    I agree on that with regards to the format of the show.
    The same person may have the right to defend his case less interruptedly if he strategically chooses to lean on the side that actually CHALLENGES the stance of the hosts.
    If there is a ring, both boxers KNOW that they may lose. But it makes much more sense for the sake of the whole thing (motivation, entertainment value, etc.) for each to clearly be in the mood that they will DEFINITELY win. So, even if David had doubts regarding how the idea would serve theism, he should have known better than mixing them into the conversation.

  84. bigzebra says

    @Chancellor of the Exchequer
    I’m very sorry that being aware that you are a program running in a simulation has caused you some evident distress. But look at it this way: You existing as data within a computer is not very different from the existence you previously thought you possessed as a collection of cells in a disgusting planet-sized pietre dish. Normally most human beings believe they live in what is the equivalent of a red agar substance that is used as a growth medium. But you now now that you are in a squeaky-clean computer. Now that you that, your list-making activities may now continue unabated.
    Best Regards,
    BigZebra

  85. uglygeek says

    @82
    > The end point is: There is no getting anywhere.
    > Even two hours of this show, and we all go our separate ways no where near a conclusion than before the debate.

    Ok, but then, let’s be frank, there is no getting anywhere in any case.
    A caller calls, asserts that God exists because it’s written in a holy book. The hosts reply that “No, it’s a fallacy, it’s just a book, there is no prove, there are hundreds of different religions…” and that’s all. It is not like the caller could say anything that really prove that God exists in any case. So WHERE do you want to get exactly? The callers and the callees will go their separate way anyway. As a way of getting anywhere, repeating over and over these arguments is quite useless, after a while.

    I do understand that being atheist in the States is a particular situation, most people are religious, atheists are despised and sometimes for them it is even difficult to get out of the closet. In this sense, having a show that focus on the ‘experience’ part of the atheist experience makes a lot of sense. Maybe because I come from Europe, where there is no stigma associated to atheism and many people don’t believe in God, I don’t find this aspect very compelling. But I guess that is the main point of the show, and any philosophical digression is a big no-no.

  86. Bunny Mellon says

    Some interesting links. for those that have the patience and want to look into it. I am just posting the links but am not big on the topic and certainly don’t understand the topic, but I AM a great researcher. So— Have fun!
    1) Via Philosophy Now Magazine- 2009 “The Simulated Universe: Brent Silby asks, is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?”

    “The Simulated Universe Argument is not new. Frank Tipler put forward the idea of a simulated universe in his 1994 book The Physics of Immortality.(1) He suggested that we may all become immortal when we’re recreated inside a simulation of our universe in the distant future… So how would it work? Well, you can’t switch on a video screen to peek inside the simulated universe. The computer running the simulation does not contain virtual reality versions of people who live out most of their lives in their ‘real’ world. It is not like playing a video game such as The Sims or Second Life. From the outside looking in, all you see are the hardware and numbers, and that’s all the simulation is – a complicated manipulation of numbers. The numbers are stored on permanent storage devices equivalent to hard-drives and moved into RAM to be operated upon by Central Processing Units. The behavior of the numbers in a simulated universe program demonstrate the laws of physics in that universe, and they also represent all the matter and energy. As the program runs, the numbers are manipulated by algorithms which stand for the laws of physics. This manipulation yields yet more numbers, which continue to be operated upon by the program. Large data structures are thus moved around within the computer’s memory, and they interact with other data structures. As the simulated universe grows, these structures become increasingly complex, but the laws that govern their behavior remain constant, as they’re all part of the program.

    So from the designer’s point of view, the simulated universe contains nothing other than complicated data structures manipulated by the program. But for the creatures who exist inside the simulated universe, it’s all real. They marvel at beautiful sunsets. They walk around in the open air and enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass. They may study the stars in their sky and dream about one day visiting other worlds. For the inhabitants of the simulated universe, everything is as solid and tangible as it is in the real world; but it’s all reducible to numbers and rules.” Here is the entire article- https://philosophynow.org/issues/75/The_Simulated_Universe

    On March 15th, 2017 Sabine Hossenfelder, theoretical physicist and writer from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany wrote on her blog titled Back(re) Action an article: “No, we probably don’t live in a computer simulation” http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2017/03/no-we-probably-dont-live-in-computer.html as a response to Nick Bostrom’s “Are You Living In A Computer Simulation?” Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University, Published in Philosophical Quarterly (2003) Vol. 53, No. 211, pp. 243-255. https://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html & “Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards” by Nick Bostrom Published in the Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 9, No. 1 (2002). (First version: 2001) https://nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html

    Another link via Gizmod on March 20th, 2017 “Think We’re Living in a Computer Simulation? Prove It” by Ryan F. Mandelbaum http://gizmodo.com/think-were-living-in-a-computer-simulation-prove-it-1793381182

    I was told this was important. It looked like it was written in Urdu so, best of luck 🙂 https://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0302131.pdf

    Seriously though, I hope folks keep it light. Satire, snark and humor are important!
    (1) https://www.amazon.com/Physics-Immortality-Modern-Cosmology-Resurrection/dp/0385467990

  87. Bestrides says

    All these complaints about Tracie hanging up too quickly are ridiculous. Since when is a television program supposed to be about making sure that people making arguments that are essentially rank speculation are entitled to enough air time to make themselves feel like they’ve been “heard”? If you don’t have anything of interest to add – and yes, deciding what’s interesting is a call that’s made by the people in the host’s chairs – then you shouldn’t waste people’s time. If you want to just hang out and talk, find a different venue (Exception: if someone is reaching out to the show because a situation related to religion is actually and currently endangering their well-being, as has been the case a few times).

    In the vast majority of Theist calls, the flaws in their argument are identified clearly within a minute or two, after which the rest of the call is devoted to finding different ways to repeat the same faulty arguments. For most calls, 10 minutes would be very generous, and 5 minutes would be more appropriate. If people aren’t going provide real information, keeping them on the line simply enables the spreading of misinformation.

  88. letsfindinfo says

    51:25
    1)Why would Tracie say,
    “If this is not evidence for the existence of a god, why are you calling an atheist show to discuss it instead of talking to a physicist…Have you actually gone through vetting your concepts here with physicists. + You’re not a physicist, I’m not a physicist.” ?
    The fact is, either someone’s argument’s good or bad. Citing to their credentials is a really bad way of making an argument. Because people who have done the studies/research, they can have an opinion on them.

    2) “I can’t vet this information, what is the point of telling me the information.”
    Tracie has made her point here. To be fair, she should repeat this to all the callers whatever their reasons for calling the show.

    3) Why would you shut down a caller before he even gives his information/reasons.
    Yes, you can say ‘I don’t know’. But in this case you did not adopt the ‘Let’s check it out…or Let’s find out more about it.’ approach like people who wants to know about truths.

    4)”There’s no value to it because I don’t know… your points are irrelevant. Make your points and then I’ll show you why they are irrelevant.”
    So, this show is just about callers can only talk about things Tracie knows about.
    She’s unwilling and denying any new information that she could have check it out.
    Tracie is acting exactly like those radical christians.

    5)” So Dennis do you have credentials to go with your opinion?”
    Same as to… Tracie do you have credentials to go with your opinion?
    And the people would come back with, “I don’t know, can’t vet it… your points are irrelevant… means nothing to me”
    Circular reasoning. But hey, see point 1) .

    6) In science, research, crime investigation, they are always ready to learn new information which could lead to new discoveries and progress from there.
    Saying, “I don’t know… I don’t understand it… can’t talk about it… not interested in this field… it’s irrelevant.” without even trying to find out more about it is not what a real researcher do.

    7)” What am I supposed to do with this…but what I would be interested in, any findings that affect my beliefs… So I don’t understand the relevance of them to me… even if I am completely convinced, now what?”
    Again Tracie has made her point with this ‘Whatever. Who cares.’ position. To be fair, she should also repeat this to all the callers whatever their reasons for calling the show.

    Of course as the host Tracie can state her position, then what’s the point of people calling in with their experience/info if she’s just going to respond with “I don’t understand the value or the relevance to my life as an atheist.”

  89. says

    Simulation – quantum of the gaps…
    The first caller compared the Universe to a coded software video game running on a a quantum computer. Then jumped from “coder” to “god.” No, you’d have a programmer (or team of programmers).

    Our Universe may be a simulation. It ends up being a semantic distinction without a difference (like idealism vs. realism). The relationships between subjects and the objects of their perception remains the same.

    And we end up with the same problems with these programmers as we would have for a creator god – i.e. it can’t be benevolent, it lets gratuitous suffering happen in its simulation, or if it has a goal, it uses our suffering to achieve it. It may be ignorant of us, we may not be part of the intended plan of the simulation.

    I always end up here: if I am a simulated entity made entirely of code in a quantum computer with no way of existing outside the simulation (aka an NPC in the simulation) there’s nothing I can do with that. It’s the same thing as no-life after death, end of the road, that’s it.

    If, however, I am effectively a *player character* who has an existence outside the simulation, who or whatever put me in here had better hope I never get out, and never find them.

  90. says

    Just to clear things up…. This is a simulation and I am the one running it. I live in what would be for you 2135 and we live underground because of what we did to the planet. We are running many of these simulations because we are very bored. Some of the sims (not all) feel it when we rerun certain parts that we thought were funny. The prof you need is that all the sims that feel “Déjà Vu” feel it at the exact same time world wide. (check it out for your selfs). Anyway I just thought I would clear this up for you and let you know you are no closer to a GOD because it is just me (yet another human ) running a very boring simulation…..

  91. David Hasselhof says

    Has anyone heard of the Princeton PEAR (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) lab and the Global Consciousness Project? They did experiments to see if Consciousness alone could affect physical devices. Look up the Random Number Experiment:
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pear/

    Video about the Global Consciousness Project developed at Princeton’s PEAR laboratory. By Dr. Roger Nelson.

  92. Monocle Smile says

    @Hasselhof
    Most of that PEAR site appears to be written with the specific purpose of confusing the reader. The papers are just as bad if not worse. Also, your conclusions from those experiments are unwarranted.

    John Hagelin is a kook whose work is laughed at by his colleagues. It’s no different than the crap that Penrose and Hameroff push in “what the bleep do we know.” They play word games with terms like ‘consciousness’ and dive into Deepak Chopra woo talk.

    Do I really have to use the Economic Argument again?
    https://xkcd.com/808/

  93. steele says

    @38

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with a fairly impressive CV

    MS gets off on big CVs. Seriously this blog needs to get better about the comment section constantly trying to figure out who is responding to you and having to put @ symbols to get the persons attention is rather tedious. I realize for the lame brains like MS who have nothing better to do it’s ok but I am a busy person.

    $teele’s CV:

    Only John Wayne American Bad A$$ left on the Wild Wild Web

    The GOAT

    Atheist shamin, guitar playin, rhyme sayin OG of the AE

    Postdoctoral Fellow Hard Knocks Realville University

    Honorary Ph.D. in sciency stuff, Brandeis University

  94. andre01 says

    Long time fan, you guys are awesome. But I must admit I was extremely surprised and super disappointed that Tracie seemed to want to dismiss the simulation theory and the callers simply calling for a discussion on a topic that is in fact very plausable and very fascinating. And in my opinion entirely relevant in athiestic circles. And ironically theistic circles. Even though the callers did a poor job positing the theory, Tracies lack of curiosity was confusing. When the call came through, my ears pricked up. Finally, a call that challenges our current understanding and one we as atheists cant scoff away so easily. Not simply another infantile theist burp about Genesis we can smack out of the park to the cheers of the audience. But something worthy of, at least conversation right? What we got was the equivalent of Tracie putting her hands over her ears yelling no no no no no. I actually wanted to know your thoughts on this. But you didn’t have any.. or didn’t want to have any. This may have been one of the only real questions in the shows entire history and you completely wet the bed. Better sharpen your pencils. Love Science.

  95. mond says

    I think the simulation hypothesis would not be out of place in BAHFest – The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypothesis.

    One of the most recent uploads ; James Propp: Dinosaur Extinction Caused By Gravitational Reversal Event

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeAnr-EJ48M

    This is a real expert (Maths Prof) making a presentation (for humourous effect) with all the language and trappings (that’s powerpoint to us mere mortals) of science.

  96. tonyinbatavia says

    Animal House did it bar better — and much more humorously — years ago:

    Larry: Okay. That means that our whole solar system could be, like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. This is too much! That means one tiny atom in my fingernail could be–

    Jennings: Could be one little tiny universe.

    Larry: Could I buy some pot from you?

    Tracie was right. An “argument” that concludes with “and there may or may not be a god” is useless. And there might be a universe in my fingernail. So what? The concept might be interesting the first time you smoke pot, but it’s completely irrelevant to the show she was hosting. Tracie gave them enough rope to, well, say nothing of usefulness and conclude nothing we don’t already understand. I appreciate that she didn’t let it continue.

  97. Monocle Smile says

    Personally, I think this thread shows us that atheism is not an inoculation against poor thinking and woo. The “simulation hypothesis” is not new (nor particularly interesting to people who have a clue) and has always lacked any real evidence. Tracie was down on the call for excellent reasons (the caller openly admitted that it didn’t conclude with anything approaching evidence for a god), but apparently we have some viewers so butthurt about it that they feel warranted in going after Tracie personally.

  98. theisntist says

    I have watched the show for years and been a fan of Tracie – until the conversation of the simulated universe theory. After all the rehashing of the same topics over and over, we had a rare opportunity to discuss a completely new possibility, one that sidesteps the usual theist/atheist dichotomy and is being taken seriously by the scientific community. As one who takes a keen interest in the frontiers of scientific theory, such as string theory, the multiverse, and wormholes, I was immediately intrigued about one which could fundamentally change our views on cosmology and theology, and wanted to hear more. Yes we did eventually get to hear it, but not before a huge amount of time was wasted telling us why it was not worth hearing. Even more time is being wasted by her domination of this blog thread. I understood her position in the first 30 seconds after the subject was broached, and everything she has said on the topic since has basically been restating that position. In a communal discussion, one needs to know when to get out of the way and let the conversation go where it will, and not rebut literally every sentence. Perhaps TAE should take a mulligan on the topic and revisit it again with a different host.

  99. Bill Bo says

    #103 said “If, however, I am effectively a *player character* who has an existence outside the simulation, who or whatever put me in here had better hope I never get out, and never find them.”

    What if you put yourself in the simulation because you were bored with existing forever and nothing ever changing or being of any consequence? ie. This universe is basically a video game for infinite beings. It is our amusement park.

  100. Bill Bo says

    Man, I don’t think that guy, Dennis, was trying to do anything other than show God is possible. Tracie then jumped down his throat as trying to prove God exists. Bunch of comments seem to be jumping to the same conclusion. That is what I am seeing. As always, I could be wrong.

  101. Murat says

    @tonyinbatavia
    Infinitely self-reproducing realms of different scales is quite different than a “simulation”.
    Yes, they are equally entertaining and unproven, plus they both have inspired a lot of fiction, but I think you should actually narrow it down to what a “simulation” actually is, in order to keep the mocking relevant to the subject.
    Recently I binge watched the series Rick & Morty (which Russell alo recommends) and this episode is very much in line with what you mention: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4832268/?ref_=ttep_ep6 Yet, nor is it actually about “simulation”.

  102. rectorsquid says

    I love to look up all of the strange things I hear about on the internet. Here’s all I found in my 30 second Google search about a pixelated universe:

    “In a new result 1 Search for space-time correlations from the Planck scale with the Fermilab Holometer released this week after a year of data-taking, the Holometer collaboration has announced that it has ruled out one theory of a pixelated universe to a high level of statistical significance.”

    But really, any guy who calls up and says “.. the research I did personally…” is not someone I want to hear from. Unless he happens to work at CERN or somewhere else where they actually do research, and not some guy who just thinks up weird stuff and proposes it to everyone who is not qualified to understand it (and is probably not qualified to present the information).

    There is no way to test for a simulated universe if it is a reasonably good simulation. Heck, how would you ever detect if you were a simulation, even if there were flaws in the simulation?

    Both those guys were dicks. Tracie says that she doesn’t know how to use the information they present and they keep telling her she is wrong.

  103. VoxVulgus says

    Love Tracie and John as hosts, and I agreed with their response to the first two calls – that they both where individuals who wanted to go on about off-topic items and they (the callers) needed to bring it back to the issue of theism.

    The bulk of the show is the hosts telling the callers that, and the callers BULLYING the hosts so that they could rant on. I found this so unpleasant that I had to stop listening (and I’m a fairly sturdy snowflake having watched untold hours of TAE).

    Sometimes cutting through the chat and simply insisting that the caller “put up or shut up” is called for. Or perhaps putting them on hold and then politely saying “thanks, goodbye, call back when you can bridge these gaps in your argument for a god.” And moving on to a caller who is willing to having an actual discussion (even if they aren’t particularly polite about it).

  104. tonyinbatavia says

    Understood, Murat @113. I appreciate the distinction. Having said that, I don’t mind putting both into the same category for the purposes of mocking the shit argument that leads to zero non-obvious conclusions. One could just as easily say “infinitely self-reproducing realms may or may not require a first cause” and the conclusion would be just as irrelevant as the simulation argument.

    Besides, c’mon, I got to quote “Animal House.”

  105. Murat says

    @rectorsquid

    But really, any guy who calls up and says “.. the research I did personally…” is not someone I want to hear from. Unless he happens to work at CERN or somewhere else where they actually do research, and not some guy who just thinks up weird stuff and proposes it to everyone who is not qualified to understand it (and is probably not qualified to present the information).

    No.
    This is not how information is diffused.
    Science is not done to find its reflection solely among scientists. Even a somewhat misrepresented version of a scientific hypotesis can find the best resonance for the real thing among people of lesser education. It happens at times. Chance gets triggered by widespread information.
    I do not understand why the excitement of “fans” is frawned upon just because they are not “competent”. The attitude of downgrading people for their enthusiasm just because they lack in knowledge is not encouraging.
    Okay, the two may have totally misunderstood and exaggerated the idea. So what?
    Thanks to them, here we are sharing stuff, showing interest, indulging in something scientific (or simply, thought provoking) best as we can.
    And this is exactly what shows like AXP should aim to do.
    People who are on a totally higher level with regards to science are already there in Cern. AXP is not a platform for acedemics. It should not be so hard to build empathy both with Tracie and with the two guys who passionately talked about the issue.

  106. Monocle Smile says

    @Murat

    I do not understand why the excitement of “fans” is frawned upon just because they are not “competent”. The attitude of downgrading people for their enthusiasm just because they lack in knowledge is not encouraging.

    See, this is why I’m going to probably going to start just ignoring your posts for the most part, which is probably no skin off your nose. I am about as strongly against this position as possible. I hold nothing but utter contempt for this appalling celebration of the Dunning-Kruger effect. I don’t give a fuck about “enthusiasm” if there’s not a mountain of dedicated effort and acumen to go along with it. Few people are more obnoxious than fake “experts” who think they know stuff because they read a book once.

  107. says

    Yay, somebody else who gets scintillating scotomas without the migraine! And for my weird coincidence of the day, I had not had one of those scotomas for about a month, but then had one while listening to the show, twenty minutes BEFORE Tracy mentioned them. Cool.

    As for deja vu, it strikes me that we have some kind of process in our brain that matches up what we are perceiving with all the memories we have, and gives us a result of either a feeling of “this is familiar” or “this is not familiar”. And most of the time that system works very reliably. But like any brain system, there’s no way that it could be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. If it feeds you a false positive of “familiar”, you get a “deja vu”. And it also would not surprise me that this might be more common for some people’s brains than for others. So nothing supernatural, just a glitchy brain.

  108. John Iacoletti says

    @86 suedoenimm3

    In fact he said he was trying to present evidence for the plausibility of a god-like entity.

    And he failed. At best he presented a claim that if a simulation hypothesis is correct, then an “entity” could be controlling it. That doesn’t make the existence of such an entity plausible. It’s basically a tautology: if a god-like entity exists, then a god-like entity exists. Saying that such a being could be controlling a certain process is no different than saying a god-like entity could be controlling evolution or could have caused the big bang. It tells you nothing about whether such an entity actually exists or not.

  109. Murat says

    @John

    Saying that such a being could be controlling a certain process is no different than saying a god-like entity could be controlling evolution or could have caused the big bang.

    I can see what you’re getting at, but no. This is not even how the scientist approach the “idea”, which is not yet a “hypotesis” or something to that effect. Had it really been proven that there really was such a thing about the universe, then yes, it would suggest much more clearly the existence of a “god-like entity”.
    As opposed to evolution, which, also historically, has made the exact reverse and challenged the idea of a god.
    Big Bang doesn’t suggest an “intent” within itself, but a “simulation” does. What you are saying needs a 2nd step, which would be the assertion of “simulating” to the table of “natural forces”.
    Physics, at least the way authorities define it, does make way to a Big Bang that doesn’t require an “orchestrator”.
    But not to a universe-wide simuation. That one would need to have the concept of “nature” redifined.

  110. says

    With regard to simulation hypothesis, it is a hypothesis and not even a theory. It is based off the hypothetical number crunching associated with the possibility of abundant alien/intelligent life in our universe. It pre-supposes some previous intelligent life wanting to run ancestor simulation. In several hundred years, if we dont kill ourselves and the planet in the meantime, our computing algorithms will have evolved enough to simulate correctly to atom level on a very small scale. With enough resources and further technology evolution you could theoretically build a roughly moon sized computer to simulate fairly accurately our universe to be believable to any in-simulation entity. There are lots of caveats along the way.
    The hypothesis, whilst deemed somewhat plausible by theoretical physicists according to caveat laden number crunching, it has no base in reality. Just as the possibility of intelligent/alien life is calculated as certainty, but we have no way of telling if our formula and assumptions are not completely way off due to some yet unknown factors.

    It has nothing to do with quantum computing directly, as that is just our comparative model from what we can do now. It has nothing to do either with the related double-slit experiment that models quantum entanglement. Einstein described quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance” in his frustration with quantum theory/mechanics, which he did not believe possible. Throwing all these quantum related matters into the mix is not very relevant. Neither is the concept of god. Even if Neil deGrasse Tyson manages to weave a nice for common people story using all these terms, regurgitating it in a less than cohesive manner is not recommended as a persuasive argument of sorts. A god, of any sort, is only an explanation away. He/she will once again recede into yet further realms of superstition, by definition. I believe Matt would have been more able to bring this hypothetical discussion under control, notwithstanding Tracie’s valid argument.

    With regard to Dejavu dreams. Had a few of those in childhood and adolescence like most people. I was certain that the incidents were exactly as I dreamed prior to the incidents. It turns out there’s a much more plausible explanation. Neuroscience has demonstrably proven that human memories, including memories of dreams, can be recalled with incorrect timing information. So in simpler terms. The incident happens and we dream about it afterwards. On recall of the dream we mistakenly think that the dream occurred before the incident. This is not limited to dream memories of course.

    Science is fun, interesting and sometimes mind-blowing. Let us not let our imaginations run away with it too much, as that’s science fiction.

  111. Murat says

    @Chris

    Science is fun, interesting and sometimes mind-blowing. Let us not let our imaginations run away with it too much, as that’s science fiction.

    As long as we can distinguish the two… Why not?

  112. Murat says

    @Agimaso Schandir
    *
    I agree totally with the first part of your post.
    *
    As for the one touching on “The Matrix”: There are parts of it that I did not understand thoroughly (will read again in a different setting) but I believe at a point we meet on the question of WHY a simulation would be put to use, which would inevitable reply to the question of who and what it is that is being simulated.
    In the movie, there is mention of extraterrestrial life that is battling humanity, hence, creating a simulation in which people unconsciously control their very own simulations.That’s a very good “explanation” to WHY there is a simulation: To divert a species from its very own reality; to leave that reality open for occupation for the smarter one, the “simulators”.
    The interesting part is that, you just can not understand the WHY before you are contacted with those who are OUTSIDE the simulation.
    So, the bottom line is, it seems quite impossible to detect a simulation solely from within, which makes sense.
    And this is the main reason WHY the progress of science could not, at any point, confirm the universe to be a simulation UNLESS the efforts are answered to from the OUTSIDE for some reason.

  113. Bestrides says

    I think we need to define what seems to be a new religion in which a teaspoon of scientific knowledge is leveraged to make claims that are unproven. Since Scientology is taken, perhaps “Scienciness” will have to do. But be careful about pointing out to a Sciencer that the half-baked, unconfirmed scientific “information” they’re touting about matrixes, quantum mechanics, etc. aren’t any more credible than historically-based Theist claims for the existence of a God. When you do, they get really mad and scream endlessly about unfairness (the same response we hear from theists complaining about anti-religious discrimination), because they feel like a part of their identity has been attacked.

    With so many callers unable to get onto the show, dumping those who have little to offer than yet another Argument from Ignorance should be politely and quickly dismissed.

  114. Murat says

    @Bestrides
    What you wish to name as “Scienciness” and classify under “religion” is actually part of the thinking process that serves actual “science” at the end of the day.
    Neil Degrasse Tyson, Isaac Asimov, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einsten, etc. all shared this “religion” without calling it one, and the bulk of science benefited from the “spirit” it provided them.

  115. says

    OK, so.. we could be in a simulation. However, the simulation is so real as to be exactly the same as what we call reality, take your pick. Whether we it is reality or a simulation makes no difference to us.

    Meanwhile, the same questions can asked about the entity running the simulation as about a god – who made them?

    Hence why, although it is an interesting idea, it doesn’t really change our experience of reality as we know it.

    Also, evidence? I mean *REAL* evidence, not debunked evidence from people on websites dedicated to the belief of this idea.

  116. Murat says

    @Shaun
    Unlike Neil Degrasse Tyson, I do not think this to be a “likely” scenario. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say we ARE in a simulation and this somehow got proven by science.
    Well, it this case, it DOES make a difference to us. Because, the method used to PROVE this has to be dramatically different than the technology we are currently using. For it was light rays they were trying to work on so as to solve the “glitch” thing, we can assume that, whatever was used for the confirmation of the idea would, itself, be something groundbreaking. And, even if we would not be able to further investigate the situation by stepping outside of the simulation, that new technology which made it possible to understand the situation would change the way we live and experiment.
    I don’t think people would stare at one another with blank expressions and say “Yeah, so what?”.
    The outcome of such big a discovery does not have to be directly related with the initial concerns starting the discovery.
    Think of it like this: Columbus believed in the existence of another route to India and went on a mission to prove that. He had in his sack some previous knowledge, rumors, assumptions, navigation technology, etc.
    And on the way, he discovered America – some say he was the last explorer to discover that continent, but that’s another story.
    Did he also find another route to reach India? Well, yes… Eventually… But the ultimate finding was so much more important than the initial aim that it didn’t matter anymore. He had found something greater than India.
    That’s what we should remember when talking about such stuff:
    The mental exercise which soon becomes rooted in practical experiments does not limit us to prove or disprove one single idea. Along the way, other things happen thanks to the endeavor itself.
    So, I’d say, “Yes”, such a discovery would change the world in which we live – even if we could not transcend the simulation.
    We would at least find ourselves in “Level 2”.

  117. favog says

    I haven’t had a chance to watch this episode yet, but all the comments about the simulation theory are disconcerting me. I hope not much time is wasted on that silly topic.

  118. Snow says

    I’m worried about Donte. His entire call was a flashback to a friend of mine that went through alcohol withdrawal and the associated delirium tremens; and that was before he got to the seizure at the end.

    I hope somebody close to him had the good sense to drag him to a hospital.

  119. says

    @murat

    I would tend to judge the simulation idea the way I judge a god or solipsism. I treat each of these things in relation to the impact they each have on my daily life: None.

    If I am a brain in a vat, so what? The imaginings I have are so consistent, that I can’t tell the difference between them and what we consider is reality.

    If I am in a simulation, also so what? The simulation is so complete that I know nothing other than it as my reality.

    Finally if there is a god, He makes the same impact on my life as a god that doesn’t exist so once again I can’t tell the difference between this god and a non existent one.

    Reality is what it is. The simulation, the god concept, solipsism each offer ideas of what is behind the reality. But it doesn’t really matter, because you can’t see behind the reality anyway, so you can never confirm what is behind.

  120. Murat says

    @Shaun
    This is understandable on a personal level. But not at all compatible with the mindset behind science. Curiosity is the main drive behind innovation and progress. After all, there probably was a huge majority of people back in the 15th century who would argue a different route to India would not affect their day to day life. But just a few either thought differently, or did not even care about that aspect of the thing.
    If the mere idea of a simulation is attractive enough for a bunch of physicist to begin thinking out of the box, then, regardless of it corresponding to reality or not, the argument has already had its impact on science.

  121. Cesar says

    I have noticed the podcast audio gets cut off with certain frequency (like, for a fraction of a second or a second at certain points). Is this happening to anyone else?

  122. says

    @Murat

    The route to India exists within our reality and was always there. What we are talking about is ideas that, as I say, need the ability to see behind the curtain of reality, so to speak.

    If a physicist one day demonstrates that we really are in a simulation, great. If, as a result there is a noticeable impact on my life, also great. In the meantime, reality remains for me what it is, with no capacity for me to influence it.

    And with my inclination towards the detail of physics being low, I will not be the person and the forefront of developing it, so my attitude towards such ideas is appropriate for me.

    One thing I do know, is that anything that is actually discoverable by humans will be discovered one day. If there is one thing that has no bounds it is human curiosity.

  123. Dan Schulz says

    I think Tracey was spot on with her response. Even if you accept the stimulation hypothesis as correct, what are we to do with it? Practically speaking we would all go about life in the same manner. Whether we are composed of electrons in some quantum computer, or composed of quarts and other particles, we still exist. It has no revalence to the supernatural whatsoever. Presumably this program follows a set of laws, and nothing we’ve observed points to anything magical in existence.

  124. moldred says

    By your definition isn’t all of life coincidental? Anything that happens is filtered through your mental filters based on your life experience. Erisians call the MAYBE LOGIC.

  125. ArmelP says

    The discussion about the simulated universe was one of the most irritating I had heard in a while. It’s been some time since I started yelling in my car at the podcast. (Alright, it was probably just four or five episodes.) But since I’m very late to the discussion—I’ve scanned the comments, and all that really needs to be said is said—I won’t write much about it. I do want to reiterate some things, though.

    The Planck length (or volume) is not a pixel. The use of the term pixel to describe it is merely an analogy to help communicate the idea. You can’t just take the analogy of the pixel and be justified to expand it and assume a digital source.

    Simulation “Theory,” as the callers referred to it, is really a simulation hypothesis. The callers were injecting it with more significance than it deserved by calling it a theory. But even as a hypothesis, it is so at best. I am not a physicist, but all I’ve heard about it suggests that it is really an unfalsifiable thought experiment. If someone more knowledgeable can confirm or disconfirm that, I would appreciate it. Assuming that is an accurate characterization, the callers may have been confusing the fact that it has not been shown to be false with it having been shown to be true.

    Quantum entanglement is not satisfactory evidence for believing in simulation hypothesis. I’m not qualified to pass judgment on the physics, but I can use a little reason. The speed of light seems to make sense in other contexts including its relationship to our limitations for examining the whole of the universe, which would mean that the distance itself is being simulated, yet we are asked to believe that for quantum entanglement the rules of the simulation suddenly rely on distances external to the simulation. This sounds like special pleading to me.

    The double-slit experiment is not satisfactory evidence for believing in simulation hypothesis. The idea, I believe, is that we need to resolve how light can act as a wave without a medium. The general idea I expressed in my statement about quantum entanglement seem to also apply here. The argument supposes that a whole of the physics of a universe is being simulated to generate a universe and then simultaneously supposes that the simulation includes a property of external physics. Isn’t that special pleading again? But beyond that, the simulation hypothesis seems to be guilty of the argument from ignorance here, as well. “I can’t imagine that light can act like a wave so I’m going to presuppose an unfalsifiable explanation that satisfies me instead.”

  126. favog says

    @Murat
    Yeah. I was posting in a hurry and used the word “theory” in the vernacular sense. It is just an idea, and as I say, one I deem to be a silly waste of time.

  127. Murat says

    @favog
    The point I was making with the Columbus example was that, the nature of the idea does not matter as much as the attention and time dedicated to it, for the outcome to make sense. What practically matters much more is the turn of events along the way. The initial idea is, in many cases, just the motivation for a new approach in a field to blossom. This is why no leading physician is talking down so deterministically about these things.

  128. Murat says

    @Dan Schulz

    Even if you accept the stimulation hypothesis as correct, what are we to do with it? Practically speaking we would all go about life in the same manner. Whether we are composed of electrons in some quantum computer, or composed of quarts and other particles, we still exist. It has no revalence to the supernatural whatsoever. Presumably this program follows a set of laws, and nothing we’ve observed points to anything magical in existence.

    I’m amazed how very quickly the “probable” outcome of entertaining a thought is dismissed so quickly with the claim it would definitely NOT change the way we live.
    Seriously?
    Be it relevant to the supernatural or not, every single theory that has found resonance in physics has actually changed our life with its practical applications so far. If this idea gets to become a theory and gains recognition, it obviously won’t have any less effects.
    You could argue “confirming the existence of atoms” would not change our lives – ask that to the non-existing grandchildren of hundreds of thousands of people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki… For better or for worse, theories DO affect life, history, culture and politics after a point.
    I want to stretch it a bit just for the sake of the argument:
    Let’s assume we actually are living in a simulation, and everything we know are somehow coded, manipulated digitally, whatever… This might not change at once how we deal with existential stuff, but may change the ways we foresee disasters, tackle health issues, approach peace on earth etc.
    When entertaining the idea, many people are talking as if its “probable” confirmation will depend on a group of people getting into a room and discussing it over lunch.
    No, what would affect our lives is the bits and details to be experienced in the course of such change.

  129. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#108(:steele:)

    Hey! Have you been good? I see you’re still shooting your shot at MS, lol.

    Glad to see you back around here, guess it’s god ordained as Sam came back also.

  130. Rocky Roller says

    “Maybe we are a simulation”…The best argument I have heard from this is that…Eventually we will have have the technology to develop simulations of reality, we would probably create many of them to help us predict the future, therefore we are likely a simulation. That is the best… but why simulate a world without the ability to create simulations of the future? This world is obviously the real one. Even if it wasn’t the real world it makes no difference in our lives.

  131. Murat says

    @Chancellor
    Unlike Tracie’s attitude seemed to suggest, I don’t think the recognition of a god (to be reached via the confirmation of the universe being a simulation) would upset or disappoint free thinker communities.
    After all, people make up their minds about the issue coming from myth-based religions, traditions and other forms of dogma.
    It would be a totally different thing to actually “reach” (the idea of a) god through science.
    Who knows, maybe zealots of currently existing religions would turn a blind eye to even this “scientifically proven” god and keep playing their own game in denial; whereas this “simolator god” enjoyed the company of previously atheist individuals, while awarding them for not falling into the “traps” it had written into the simulation.

  132. Steve Bradfield says

    I was just watching the clip of the caller “Kevin” from Atlanta, GA. The discussion was about possible causes of unexplained phenomena (the chair rocking by itself), and I felt moved to share my own experiences. The first was in 1967. I was a teenager and had suffered a couple of fainting spells, apparently unrelated. I had just stood up to change the channel on my TV when the TV set moved away from me! I though “Oh, I’m going to faint again”. I turned around to see my floor-length window curtains swaying by themselves when the truth hit me. I lived in the Los Angeles area, and it was “just” another earthquake.

    A few years later I was living in an apartment when I was awakened in the wee hours by my dresser banging against the wall. After a moment’s terror and incoherent morning thoughts about devils…yep, another earthquake, this time the big one in early ’71.

    No whenever anyone describes anything out of the ordinary, my first though is never supernatural, but curiosity as to what caused it. Great show, guys.

  133. findmore info says

    51:25
    1)”If this is not evidence for the existence of a god, why are you calling an atheist show to discuss it instead of talking
    to a physicist… Have you actually gone through vetting your concepts here with physicists. + You’re not a physicist,
    I’m not a physicist.” ?
    The fact is, either someone’s argument’s good or bad. Citing to their credentials is a really bad way of making an
    argument. Because people who have done the studies/research, they can have an opinion on them.

    2) “I can’t vet this information, what is the point of telling me the information.”
    Tracie has made her point here. To be fair, she should repeat this to all the callers whatever their reasons for calling the show.

    3) Why would you shut down a caller before he even gives his information/reasons.
    Yes, you can say ‘I don’t know’. But in this case you did not adopt the ‘Let’s check it out…or Let’s find out more about it.’ approach like people who wants to know about truths.

    4)”There’s no value to it because I don’t know… your points are irrelevant. Make your points and then I’ll show you why they are irrelevant.”
    So, this show is just about callers who can only talk about things Tracie knows.
    She’s unwilling and denying any new information that she could have check or find out more on it.
    Tracie is behaving exactly like those radical christians.

    5)” So Dennis do you have credentials to go with your opinion?”
    Same as to… Tracie do you have credentials to go with all your opinions you had given and henceforth?
    And the people would come back with, “I don’t know, can’t vet it… your points are irrelevant… means nothing to me”
    But hey, see point 1) .

    6) In science, research, crime investigation, they are always ready to learn new information which could lead to new discoveries and progress from there.
    Saying, “I don’t know… I don’t understand it… can’t talk about it… not interested in this field… it’s irrelevant.” without even trying to find out more about it is not what a real researcher would do.

    7)” What am I supposed to do with this…but what I would be interested in, any findings that affect my beliefs… So I don’t understand the relevance of them to me… even if I am completely convinced, now what?”
    Again Tracie has made her point with this ‘Whatever. Who cares.’ position. To be fair, she should also repeat this to all the callers for whatever their reasons for calling the show.

    As the host Tracie can state her position, screen the calls, but if someone call with a sound experience/info and
    she’s just going to respond with “I don’t understand the value or the relevance to my life as an atheist. +… even if I
    accept that it’s true I don’t understand the relevance to me or my beliefs…”

    Take the Sun for example, that should be significant enough for everyone.
    Sun.
    a)Would people rush to call the show telling Tracie there is a sun in the sky or the existence of a sun?
    b)She responds with, “What am I supposed to do with this… I don’t understand the relevance to me… even if I am
    completely convinced, now what?”
    c) The Sun is gone/destroyed, she responds with, “What am I supposed to do with this… I don’t understand the
    relevance to me… even if I am completely convinced, now what?”

    It is disheartening to see this shows has turned itself into ‘I don’t care. Now what?’

  134. Chancellor of the Exchequer says

    @#151(:Murat:)

    Mmm, I don’t think so either, especially if it’s just a “run of the mill” being in it’s own universe. Since theists have the implanted distrust of science and scientists I don’t expect a lot of them to bother, in fact I can see them taking it as a gotcha and saying science has been about religion all along.

  135. John Iacoletti says

    @153, findmore info

    As I said on the show, this is The Atheist Experience, not the “Here’s a Cool Physics Thought Experiment” Experience. Assuming that a simulation requires a simulator is no more valid than assuming that universe requires a creator. That’s why it’s not relevant to the show — even if we find it personally interesting (which Tracie and I at least do not). You don’t need to appeal to any physicists to state that it’s possible that a god-like entity exists. We want to know what reason you have for thinking it’s actually true.

  136. purplerane says

    Simulation theory is OK. Atheists don’t need to defend it. Tracy is a bit ludicrous in fillabustering, and preventing intelligent conversation on a subject. This same tactic was used a few months back when there was a new guest, and the new guest along with the host refused to debate epistemology, and made the show look bad, and everyone commented how it was wrong. The same thing happened here. Simulation theory is very easy to understand, and rather than say everyone has to have credentials and by a physicist – read or listen about simulation theory, and comprehend it. Your worldview will not change. It’s also alarming to me that Tracy is defending herself on this blog. She made a mistake, and the quickest way to repair reputation is to admit you were wrong. Instead she’s claiming she handled the call correctly. I think it paints a picture of Tracy’s personality. We thought she was kind, shy, and patient, but there seems to be a vindictive seflish know-it-all to herself where she can’t lose conversations.

    What if the hosts aren’t prepared or are too ignorant for a caller’s question. Y’all should say I don’t know. Interesting conversation, and hang up, and let next week’s hosts tackle it. The hosts should never refuse to hear out arguments – especially such common philosophical ones that obviously many of the commentators are familiar with.

    And it’s absurd that time is spent on callers with talking radios, saying the F word every other second, or on callers who don’t understand deja vu medically. That stuff is nonsense and elmentary. Meaty philosophical arguments are far more interesting.

    Last note on simulation theory. It doesn’t imply a god. I don’t believe the first cause arguement, but I do believe simulation theory. There’s nothing to lose by saying simulation theory is true. So what if we’re in a simulation? We’re still going to die at age 80 or so, and still need food, shelter, and comfort. We’re still not going to be in an afterlife. Everything’s still the same as it was in a non simulated world. I’ve simulated thousands of environments, and I’m not a god. Someone or something is simulating us, and it is not a god. It might require a good grasp on technology to understand and accept simulation theory.

  137. Murat says

    @John

    Assuming that a simulation requires a simulator is no more valid than assuming that universe requires a creator.

    It is.
    Come to think of it, it’s the even the most valid idea among those so far heard of being entertained among physicians.
    It being true is a totally different issue.

  138. Murat says

    @findmore info
    I agree that Tracie reacted abruptly at first. I even got the impression that this subject was somehow triggering something she was uncomfortable with. That initial rush was almost like trying to avoid a frenemy from high school.
    But later, she did a good job pulling it together. I guess Dennis was believed to be willing to confront David when they connected him, but the two proved to have more common ground than differences.
    Anyway, the episode was a good one with many flavors. I find the simulation idea to be very unlikely, but strongly disagree with it being tagged irrelevant to (a)theism or being silly.

  139. findmore info says

    @155, John Iacoletti
    Let me say with I enjoy this show very much, I’ve been following this season’ 21 and I go by logic reasoning and science.
    You guys have done a great job on the show and expressing your beliefs.
    I agree with you, this show is about “We want to know what reason you have for thinking it’s actually true.”
    and your jobs are to decide which cases are relevant to the show. I too, also want scientific facts vetted by the organization.
    The caller appealed to a physicist was because he was given the impression that he was not take serious as Tracie cited his credentials.
    Now for my concerns.
    1)How would the callers know if you are knowledgeable in their topics/discussions?
    2)Does your lack of knowledge in the topics warrants a shut down on the discussion?
    When this show is about, “We want to know what reason you have for thinking it’s actually true.”
    3)Is it your intention to end every discussion with “… even if I am completely convinced, now what?”
    When this show is about, “We want to know what reason you have for thinking it’s actually true.”
    4)Would you call this show knowing the host will just patronize you even when you have the actual facts and proof.

    Just a thought.

  140. Monocle Smile says

    @findmore
    Answers to your questions:
    1) The hosts are open about what they know or don’t know. Furthermore, if I were calling into a radio show, I’d do my homework first and call in with something relevant. It is blindingly obvious that this isn’t the “talk about random shit” show, and defending callers who fail to recognize this rubs me the wrong way.
    2) Largely, yes, and that’s okay. What’s the point of discussing stuff if nobody knows the facts?
    3) Nobody said this. Your portrayal of this is ludicrous to the point where I don’t think you even believe it.
    4) This sounds like the TrueEmpiricism brand of butthurt. When has this ever happened?

    The caller said in advance that the argument would not lend credence to a god belief even if true. Questioning the relevance is natural and correct.

    @purplerane

    There’s nothing to lose by saying simulation theory is true. So what if we’re in a simulation? We’re still going to die at age 80 or so, and still need food, shelter, and comfort. We’re still not going to be in an afterlife. Everything’s still the same as it was in a non simulated world. I’ve simulated thousands of environments, and I’m not a god. Someone or something is simulating us, and it is not a god. It might require a good grasp on technology to understand and accept simulation theory.

    Unadulterated rubbish. Fix your thinking.

  141. Devil Travels says

    Just as in religion, when a person gets fired up about an idea (like a simulation universe), they can become deaf to what another person is asking or saying. This usually results in misunderstandings and even false accusations.
    Even in science this can happen to researchers. Thus enters The Scientific Method. A series of checks and balances that try to weed out the fired up deafness.
    It was clear to me that the 2 arm chair astrophysicists had trapped themselves into this emotional bubble.
    Perhaps they should have been the ones to take the 10 deep breaths.
    I also suspect they were being a bit lazy when they decided to deflect Tracy’s question on what relevance the supposition meant. Perhaps they knew they had no answers and deferred to authority.
    Something theists do…they say something like ‘it’s in the bible, go read it’.

  142. Justin says

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
    -Christopher Hitchens

    Let us be absolutely clear: there is no evidence to support any kind of hypothesis regarding all of the universe being a ‘simulation’. None.

    What people *do* have are a few observations of interesting laws of physics at work. Those observations are drawn into unfounded conclusions influenced by popular culture. These people are gullible followers of the Cult of the Quantum… a laughable community of pseudo-intellectuals who attach the word “quantum” to everything they find mysterious while expecting everyone hearing those golden words to swoon in admiration. Seriously, it gets tiresome… and the joke is very old. Time to give it up.

    Tracie and John had a great show-and they let the unfounded nonsense continue on much longer than others would have allowed, certainly beyond what I would have tolerated. Entertaining interesting ideas about religion, gods, whatever, is just fine… but to assert lies and blatantly misuse clearly defined words only goes so far when promoting yourself as a messenger of new truth.

    Consider, for a moment, my fellow intellectual students of the sciences, that we are *not* at the technological apex of our species. Shocking, I know. Let us not only reflect on our achievements in full appreciation, however, but also to limit those appreciations within reasonable limits and humble ourselves before the truth. Asserting our intellectual prowess over the universe with declarations of keen mastery when we, collectively as a species, haven’t even been able to send ourselves beyond the orbit of our own planet’s moon… arrogance is quite possibly the kindest label. I doubt very much most of the Quantum Cultists have any idea what kind of evidence would be required to make judgments on the very foundation of the universe, especially at this point in our development.

    So, anyway, keep your pride in check… and don’t swoon at the first silly person throwing around big words you happen by today.

  143. says

    @Murat

    Anyway, the episode was a good one with many flavors. I find the simulation idea to be very unlikely, but strongly disagree with it being tagged irrelevant to (a)theism or being silly.

    Atheism is the disbelief in the proposition that a god exists *within this reality*. It matters not what the reality consists of.

    The simulation idea is just an interesting idea,nothing more.

    God matters and is relevant to atheism because god botherers love to impose their views on others. Simulation or not they are still doing that. If they weren’t doing that, not believing becomes unimportant. In Australia, atheism isn’t so much of a big deal, because most people are apatheists. They simply don’t give it much thought.

    So atheism is a thing because of the opposition to religious people trying to say, “you must live by our rules”.

    People who are proposing the simulation idea are not creating a dogma around it, so I don’t see it’s relevance to atheism.

    I can see the parallels to religion though – I don’t know why I am here, so I will propose this idea that asserts an explanation, that has no proof whatsoever.

    However, someone is running the simulation and they are still confronted with the god question.. unless of course, as someone else said, it’s simulations all the way down.

  144. findmore info says

    @Monocle Smile
    1)Isn’t it more blindingly obvious that you just want callers to rub you the right way.
    2)That why it’s a discussing and to know something out of it.
    3)The video is there.
    4)You do sound like this TrueEmpiricism brand of butthurt.

    If the credence to a god belief is true, the hosts would have heard it from their own sources
    rather than sit down and wait for some random strangers to call in and tell them that.
    I agree your “Questioning the relevance is natural and correct.” but you also mentioned “What’s the point of discussing stuff if nobody knows the facts?” Do we question or not to question?

  145. Monocle Smile says

    @findmore
    Are you trolling or can you not read English? How is any of that a real response to my post?

  146. Murat says

    @Shaun #162 (tho these numbers friggin’ change)
    Ummm, I don’t think we have opposing ideas at all. Check #151 where I replied to Chancellor.
    Yes, atheism *comes from* a position taken against (the existing) religions historically and inevitably, but that’s not what ultimately *defines* it.

    However, someone is running the simulation and they are still confronted with the god question.

    Yes.
    But the same thing applies to any call on any issue. So, this particular one did not require a special pleading, I’d say.

  147. Murat says

    @Purplerane

    So what if we’re in a simulation? We’re still going to die at age 80 or so, and still need food, shelter, and comfort. We’re still not going to be in an afterlife.

    Some kind of an “afterlife” would be the most promising aspect of investing in an idea like simulation, I’d say.

  148. RationalismRules says

    @purplerane

    There’s nothing to lose by saying simulation theory is true.

    Yes there is. Skepticism. Not accepting things as true without compelling evidence.

    In fact, the opposite of your statement is true, there’s nothing to gain by accepting simulation theory.

  149. Murat says

    @RR
    Both statements are equally false as simulation is not yet a theory, not even a hypothesis.
    May look like a case of colloquial language, but I sueggest we watch that in order not to assert this idea the gravitas of an actual theory like evolution.

  150. RationalismRules says

    @Murat
    To make my statement false there would have to be something to gain from accepting ‘simulation theory’, whether or not the name is accurate. If the name is incoherent it is still true to say that nothing can be gained by accepting it.

    Also, the colloquial form is still used in science – ‘string theory’ is an example. Sure it can be frustrating because it leads to the “evolution is only a theory” argument, but the reality is there is both a colloquial meaning and a rigorous scientific meaning. It’s unlikely to change any time soon, so we may as well resign ourselves to pointing out the difference.

  151. Murat says

    @RR
    As I pointed out in some previous posts, I think that the very process of “the idea of the universe being a simulation” evolving into a “scientific theory” would come with certain “gains” the nature of which we can not predict from now.
    Check #147.

  152. says

    The Simulation Hypothesis is a compelling idea to talk about, but just because it’s something a lot of people want to discuss doesn’t automatically make it a good subject for the Atheist Experience. If you want to shoot the breeze on any old random subject, then there’s plenty of radio and TV phone-in shows that will let you do that. If Tracie and John couldn’t get the discussion onto anything bearing on the rationale for the show then it’s entirely within their purview to shut it down and move onto the next call.

    If it seems likely to spin off into uncharted realms of assertion and counter-assertion before it gets started, even, they would have been right to go on to the next call. And it did start off that way, with the caller claiming that this was a solid theory, and not just something that physicists are just tossing around like the rest of us, like whether there’s any intelligent life out there in the universe (simulated or not), or whether math is real or invented. The hypothesis is still barely beyond the beer-and-pretzels stage, even for people who might have an inkling of an idea of how to test it.

  153. RationalismRules says

    @Murat
    Why should I give a rat’s what flights of fancy you can come up with? I was discussing whether or not there is anything to be lost or gained by accepting what is, at best, a fringe hypothesis, now, before it has even made it out of diapers, not in some imagined future after it has actually been confirmed as a theory.

  154. findmore info says

    @Monocle Smile
    If you want to mention trolling, others can say the same about you.
    Anyway, there is no point of this going on since you know whatever the response, you would not accept it.

  155. Murat says

    @NelC

    … just because it’s something a lot of people want to discuss doesn’t automatically make it a good subject for the Atheist Experience. If you want to shoot the breeze on any old random subject, then there’s plenty of radio and TV phone-in shows that will let you do that.

    Can we not say the same thing for scintillating scotomas, rocking chairs in empthy houses, or anything else covered in the episode as well?

  156. favog says

    If the universe is a simulation, everything in it is a simulation. Including me. So the universe is at least as real as I am. I don’t know how much more real I could ask for the universe to be. That just scratches the surface of how worthless this topic is.

  157. says

    Can we not say the same thing for scintillating scotomas, rocking chairs in empthy houses, or anything else covered in the episode as well?

    No. These are relevant to atheism, because people assert they are evidence of the supernatural and hence that if the supernatural is possible, then a god is possible.

  158. Murat says

    @Shaun

    These are relevant to atheism, because people assert they are evidence of the supernatural and hence that if the supernatural is possible, then a god is possible.

    No. Because “supernatural” being real does not directly anser the question of whether a “god” exists. Fairies may be real and god still not. That’s why you’ve ended your statement with “possible”. This is exactly the same thing Tracie said to David; simulation OR supernatural being proven “real” does not in any way affect the question of god directly. It still remains a separate “probability” in both cases.
    Hence, there is no logical explanation to distinguish a fringe-ish and “sciency” idea from rocking chairs with regards to their relevance to (a)theism.

  159. says

    My experience with deja vu is I’ll have a dream and in that dream I’ll be doing something I haven’t done before. It’s confusing at the time of the dream. Then weeks or months later I’ll be in the situation I experienced in my dream. It’s crazy and I don’t remember many of my dreams, so when I do remember a dream in the morning I’ll write down what I remember.

  160. favog says

    @178:
    And can you tell me what that might be? I’m betting you can’t even speculate. That’s where proposing that reality isn’t real, or maybe isn’t real, falls down. It’s up there with denying the utility of logic because you can only justify logic with logic. We engage in thought and discussion by applying logic to the universe, and if you deny one or both of those things thought and discussion have no basis and nowhere to go

  161. suedoenimm3 says

    @123 John Iacoletti

    >>In fact he said he was trying to present evidence for the plausibility of a god-like entity.

    >And he failed.

    He was fillibustered and vetoed. He was told his idea was “irrelevant” if there wasn’t a concensus of scientists saying it proved god.

    The Sci Am article you folks link to above is good.

    > At best he presented a claim that if a simulation hypothesis is correct, then an “entity” could be controlling it. That doesn’t make the existence of such an entity plausible. It’s basically a tautology: if a god-like entity exists, then a god-like entity exists. Saying that such a being could be controlling a certain process is no different than saying a god-like entity could be controlling evolution or could have caused the big bang. It tells you nothing about whether such an entity actually exists or not.

    If there is a simulation that pretty well implies the “entity”. But I don’t find the simulation idea all that plausible. There is no evidence of it.

    One thing he brought up was “pixelation”, apparently inspired by the quatization in quantum mechanics. But that doesn’t hold water because quanta are all different sizes and they change size.

    When a spotlight with the label “Sirius” falls from the sky (Truman Show) I might take the simulation hypothesis more seriously (or siriusly, RR).

  162. Murat says

    @favog
    Had there been nothing to even remotely suggest that there is a “possiblity” of this being true, physicists would not even talk about it. But they do. Because there are bits and pieces of observations which bring up the idea. So, it’s not like some guy just wrote it into a sci-fi book.
    I do not believe the universe to be a simulation. But I believe this assumption is good enough to open new doors in fields that need the start-up of fantasy-induced thought exercises.
    While trying to observe the glitches better, they may configure the ideal way for sending signals to a probable intelligent alien life within this very universe. Or the by-product of some related experiment may end up providing a different source of energy to be used for transportation on earth. The possibilities are endless. The idea of simulation is just a cue. Such cues do not necessarily matter in terms of how close to reality they are. Being fresh and eye-opening is more important.

  163. says

    Hence, there is no logical explanation to distinguish a fringe-ish and “sciency” idea from rocking chairs with regards to their relevance to (a)theism.

    You have clearly not been watching. There absolutely is. One example. The guy who used to be an atheist and decided to believe in god because a light bulb exploded when he and a friend were talking about a girl who killed herself in that house.

    People use what they say as evidence of the supernatural to say.. therefore god.. all the time. Hence why it is debated on the AXP all the time.

    By contrast, the simulation idea does atheism/theism question. It is not relevant. Interesting idea, which I believe is a possibility, but as I have already said it is a competing explanation for reality, and goes nowhere near the god/or not question.

    And also as I have already said the primary reason for atheists speaking out against old superstitions is that people use these to try to tell other people how to live. People who are saying we are living in a simulation are not doing that. It’s relevant to another show, perhaps Infowars?

  164. Murat says

    By contrast, the simulation idea does not address the atheism/theism question.

    It has, for the caller.
    He clearly stated that, IF “simulated universe” was proven to be true, he would find the idea of a god “more plausible”.
    It may not be a “generic” reason to go that way, but it is as good as the next one.
    There really is no good excuse for the hosts to cherry pick from among a bunch of ideas, claims, experiences and concepts when the bottom line question is “what YOU believe and why”.
    It would’ve been a different case if the show was into “what MASSES believe and why”.
    So, just saying that one subject was more interesting or worthy for the hosts over another is a much more clear way of explaining things. They have a right to choose, after all. It’s their show. Coming up with criteria that smells special pleading makes it only more convoluted.

  165. says

    He clearly stated that, IF “simulated universe” was proven to be true, he would find the idea of a god “more plausible”.

    Ok we get it. You like the simulation idea.

    However, just because someone believe what essentially is a non sequiter,(i.e. the simulated universe being proven would not say anything about whether a god exists or not, whether or not he says he would find god more plausible) doesn’t mean the hosts have to debate it.

    If for example the simulation did include a god (let’s just say). So what? You would still have to show the evidence for the god *WITHIN* that simulation.

    Are you saying the hosts have to debate every idea presented to them?

  166. gnostic says

    Holy crap. I love Tracie’s work as a host, but she should have hung up on those non-physicist physicists the first time they didn’t get the point that she was _very clearly_ making. And that earlier caller going on about his TV and radio talking to him needs to be calling some sort of help line, not an atheist call-in show.

    John was mellow as always. Wish I had his unflappability.

    Great show, not the best luck of the draw on the callers today.

  167. Murat says

    @Shaun

    Are you saying the hosts have to debate every idea presented to them?

    No.
    On the contrary, they should feel even more free to talk on whatever suits them.
    What I have a problem understanding is why some viewers try to advocate that a claim of ghosts rocking empty chairs is by definition more relavant in the light of some “criteria”.
    Read this reflection of your very sentences and you’ll see:

    Ok we get it. You like the rocking chair idea.

    However, just because someone believe what essentially is a non sequiter,(i.e. proving the chair was rocked by a ghost would not say anything about whether a god exists or not, whether or not the observer of the apparition says he would find god more plausible to be behind the ghost) doesn’t mean the hosts have to debate it.

    If for example there are ghosts (let’s just say). So what? You would still have to show the evidence for the connection between their presence and the idea of a god.

    If it boils down to “nothing we can ever see or even prove will suffice to point to the plausibility of the idea of a god”, then each of the calls in that episode were equally off-course.
    What I am saying is, each of them were equally relevant.

  168. says

    <blockquote However, just because someone believe what essentially is a non sequiter,(i.e. proving the chair was rocked by a ghost would not say anything about whether a god exists or not, whether or not the observer of the apparition says he would find god more plausible to be behind the ghost) doesn’t mean the hosts have to debate it.

    Nice try, but your defence is now getting into disingenuous territory here.

    It is not a non sequitur at all to go.. unexplained phenomenon – therefore supernatural realm, therefore god. In fact, that was the EXACT approach Mike Licona took in his debate with Matt Dillahunty.

    I’m happy to debate you, but if you’re going to get too much more disingenuous, I’m definitely going to lose interest. I really can’t stand dis-ingenuousness.

  169. Murat says

    What’s disingenuous about what I think will suit the format of a show?
    It’s YOU taking the position of Mike Licona here. What I am saying is that supernatural and god are not better connected than any fringe sciency idea and god are.
    Before debating anything, you need to see that my argument is about how normal it was to have the question on the show. So, the format of a show (over which neither of us has any control whatsoever) would have to be the context of a debate. Because we didn’t get anywhere near something else.

  170. says

    What’s disingenuous about what I think will suit the format of a show?

    It’s YOU taking the position of Mike Licona here. What I am saying is that supernatural and god are not better connected than any fringe sciency idea and god are.

    OK mate, I’m getting sick of this. Let me explain what is disingenuous. Claiming that something is a non sequitur that is clearly not. Unless of course you don’t understand the definition of a non sequitur. In that case I suggest you look it up.

    The “there is a supernatural dimension to this existence and that is the realm in which god exists” is in fact such a common argument for the existence of god, that it is indeed not a non sequitur. In fact virtually all god claims made on the show are variations. God is essentially a supernatural being, not bound by the laws of nature.

    So yes. This line of attack (the supernatural realm, therefore god) is far more connected than fringe science ideas and god. It is in fact it’s central to god claims.

    So, by all means, be obtuse in your answer. I won’t be labouring the point further however. When a point cannot be made more clearly at yet someone refuses to concede the point, time to disengage.

  171. Murat says

    The “there is a supernatural dimension to this existence and that is the realm in which god exists” is in fact such a common argument for the existence of god, that it is indeed not a non sequitur.

    I don’t care how common it is.
    It is textbook non sequitur.
    Go watch the clips from episodes where Matt destroys the nutjobs jumping directly to god from whatever supernatural phenomenon they believe in.
    It would be ridiculous to expect callers to follow “generic” non sequitors while avoiding “less common” ones.
    Claims of a simulated universe and a supernatural dimension have NOTHING inherently different with regards to being non sequiturs.
    Neither confirms the existence of a god.
    Period.

  172. says

    @Murat

    I’m domn. When a simple term in common usage can be argued about there is nothing further I can do. It’s like disagreeing in what the word carrot means.

  173. says

    Murat @176: We can, but those subjects were dealt with relatively quickly, they did have a bearing on the show’s remit (the caller was mistaking them for supernatural phenomena) and Tracie tried to give some good advice about it. The Simulation Hypothesis dragged on well past its welcome, had nothing to do with the show, and no-one can say anything useful about it.

  174. Michael Davis says

    Just catching up on this show. And nothing against Tracie and John at all, but that was excruciating. Please hang up on some of this nonsense. I’ve valued this show so much and I’m afraid it’s just going to lose credibility by giving these idiots an audience. My thoughts anyway.

  175. holomorph says

    All stuff these two simulation guys claimed is false.

    The douple-slit experiment has nothing to do with consiousness. A long time ago there were some interpretations of quantum mechanics which stated the consiousness causes the collapse of the wave function – but this is esoteric bullshit. Nearly all quantum physicists refuse this interpretation today; it has absolutely no backup by scientists.

    The simulation theory also is no physical theory. It is a hypotheses which seems unfalsifiable and therefore is no science. Furthermore, it does not lead to a supernatural entity – at most it leads to another physical being simulating the world. This has nothing to do with the god concepts of the religions. Therefore Tracie is right – it just has NO relevance for an atheist TV show.

  176. Dr. Dave J0hnson PhD says

    Maybe this comment is a bit late. I also haven’t read any of the other comments here (yet), I just wanted to post what was on my mind after listening to the callers talking about the hypothesis that our universe is a simulation.

    Assuming that’s true, so what? What’s running the simulation, and how? What’s the simulation for? Is the computer that runs the simulation, itself part of another universe which is also being simulated? Does it go back infinitely? Is there even any way for us to tell? I doubt it. There’s no information about what’s beyond our universe, so why make assumptions?

    And assuming that our universe is simulated, the programmer(s) responsible for running the simulation (AKA ‘God’ if you insist) may not even be aware of our existence. Or even if it is aware, it may have absolutely no interest whatsoever. We and our planet may just be an insignificant artefact/noise in its dataset. I think that’d be a likely case if the universe really is a simulation, especially when you consider the size of the universe, the number of planets and stars, etc etc.
    Even if this is true, I see no reason to believe in a god.

    This is a really fascinating discovery if true, and people are jumping to conclusions and trying to stick a ‘god’ into it when we actually barely know anything yet. It really gets on my nerves. It’s also annoying that religious people will just take this as ‘proof’ of their specific religious belief tradition. A christian guy I know has already been rambling on about it.

  177. Jacob Killpack says

    The thing that bothers me with the debate about the simulation theory is that whether or not we ARE living in a simulation is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that all that David was arguing is that the simulation theory would suggest that the existence of a God is PLAUSIBLE. Atheism is not the denial of the possibility of God’s existence, it is merely the stance that there is not sufficient evidence presently to justify a belief in a God. It’s POSSIBLE that any number of the God’s that people believe in exist, but there is not enough evidence to rationally believe in any of them. So I found the whole simulation theory argument to be baseless for the purpose of the show.

  178. Mac Dude says

    @simulateddennis

    The thought experiment by Nick Bostrom is just that, a thought experiment. Here’s another thought experiment for you, “What if the Nazis won the Second World War?” Thought Experiments are something to discuss not something to take seriously, especially not take as fact. Nick’s thought experiment breaks down immediately as it’s based on an Argument from Ignorance. He list three possibilities and says it must be one of these because he doesn’t know what else it could be. That’s an argument from ignorance.

    You listed a bunch links to people discussing the idea, the fact that very smart people are discussing it doesn’t mean any of them take it seriously.

    To simulate the universe down to the sub-atomic level (which the simulation would have to be doing if we were in one) would take a computer larger and more complex than the universe.

    Take an atom, for example, to store two pieces of information about it (its location and velocity) for use in the simulation would require more than a single atom. And you would need to store and manipulate a lot more than just two pieces of information.

    The claim also presumes that the simulators have let the simulation run for (at least) 14.7 billion years. Assuming the simulation could even run in real time. If you’re going to claim that the simulation has a starting point other than the big-bang then you’ve just validated the beliefs of Last Thursdayism. And there isn’t much that is stupider than Last Thursdayism*.

    * Note: Last Thursdayism was created to show the ridiculousness of non-falsifiable beliefs. In that context it’s fine, to believe it’s true is stupid.

  179. jonfitt says

    Simulation theory is just new Solipsism, or “world was created last Tuesday” theory. It has been knocking around since long before the Matrix movie.
    It’s unflasifiable and unproven. It’s a fun game physicists can play to try and work out how it could be done given what we know.

    Any “new evidence” is merely something which knocks down something that would make it impossible and returns it to “not shown to be impossible”. But “not shown to be impossible” doesn’t make it possible, or true.