Non-Fiction Book: The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World.

The New York Times bestseller: A provocative, imaginative exploration of the nature and progress of knowledge

In this groundbreaking book, award-winning physicist David Deutsch argues that explanations have a fundamental place in the universe—and that improving them is the basic regulating principle of all successful human endeavor. Taking us on a journey through every fundamental field of science, as well as the history of civilization, art, moral values, and the theory of political institutions, Deutsch tracks how we form new explanations and drop bad ones, explaining the conditions under which progress—which he argues is potentially boundless—can and cannot happen. Hugely ambitious and highly original, The Beginning of Infinity explores and establishes deep connections between the laws of nature, the human condition, knowledge, and the possibility for progress.

 

 

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  • David T.

    Actually it illustrates the effectiveness of the pervasive disinformation campaign by the climate "skeptics". The arguments have all been debunked. One does not have to look to computer forecast models when the data show the changes actually happening. Still we get arguments about computer predictions being limited - as if that were all that climate scientists do.

    2 · May 17, 2013

  • Steve B.

    Something I found interesting in the discussion. It's fascinating that some people are quite willing to go along with less than a majority of scientists who propose the multiverse conjecture without any evidence, but are then unwilling to accept the well-documented results of over 4,000 peer-reviewed studies by over 10,000 climate scientists (97%). Wow! Now that is optimism ... or something.

    1 · May 17, 2013

  • rob s

    I'm sorry, but bringing consciousness into a discussion of quantum mechanics/physics/cosmology, is an unfortunate detour into woo. As far as I know, it is an extreme minority of scientists, in the relevant fields, that don't scuff at the notion. The Copenhagen interpretation itself isn't thought by more than a very very few to involve consciousness. Sean Carroll has a fascinating discussion on a poll at a gathering of experts on 'quantum foundations', asking what is there favorite interpretation, see
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZacggH9wB7Y

    May 14, 2013

    • Linda F.

      Do you feel the same way about an infinity of parallel universes that are beyond experimental verification?

      May 16, 2013

    • rob s

      To me, probably back to the time I first read or saw a story dealing with that theme, it's seemed obvious that such other universes exist, how could they not? Or, maybe a better question might be, why would one expect them not to? How can it be that this universe, however it may have come about, is the only one blessed with existence? I'm probably not thinking along Deutch's line, I'm not saying other regions of reality [don't really know what that means anyway], but more like other realities. Utterly speculative, utterly untestable, but without any evidence against, unlike duality, which seems glaringly falsified by neuroscience. If falsified is too strong, it surely renders it groundless, a superfluous addition that only serves to cloud the issue, and adds no explanatory power.

      May 16, 2013

  • Linda F.

    The experimental motivation for ideas such as Deutsch's multiverse of unobservable universes is provided by measurements of correlated particles. I'll bring handouts on Bell's inequalities from the textbook by Arno Bohm (no relation to David Bohm) and Mark Loewe.

    May 15, 2013

  • Linda F.

    In his 2006 book "Not Even Wrong", Peter Woit criticized string theory because after 30 years it has not produced experimentally testable results.

    May 12, 2013

  • Steve B.

    I'm not sure how to accept one thing over another when neither has any experimental support, unless one just makes you feel better. Then, maybe it's no longer a scientific matter.

    May 12, 2013

  • Patrick D.

    I didn't get to hear your discussion of Wigner, because I missed last month's book group. I don't really buy his idea that consciousness is special when it comes to quantum measurement.

    There is no substantial difference between the many worlds interpretation and the Copenhagen interpretation with respect to QM. It's the same QM underlying both of them, and reasoning about how things work can be done in either interpretation. The Copenhagen interpretation, with its ponderous "collapsing the wave function" language, is particularly non-intuitive. I think it's that way because it was an early interpretation, developed before anybody thought about how to describe it to non-Mathematicians. The words themselves refer to the mathematics of QM, and when they're used outside the mathematical context it doesn't make any sense at all.

    May 11, 2013

  • Linda F.

    As an explanation of the quantum measurement problem, Deutsch favors an infinite number of parallel universes (multiverse) that are not subject to experimental verification. Last month, I introduced Wigner's explanation of the quantum measurement problem in terms of consciousness, which implies dualism with ONE parallel universe (not necessarily related to any known theology), also not subject to experimental verification. I'm curious as to how many people in our group would reject dualism but accept the multiverse.

    May 11, 2013

  • David T.

    I've found the book so I might as well read it an come.

    April 19, 2013

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