You’ve seen the headlines. “A scientist may have proven we live in a simulation!” scream the papers.
“Wow, that’s amazing!” think millions of people as they click the headline to unlock the universe’s secrets.
Our excited curiosity turns to disappointment when we read the article and discover the truth.
There is no proof. The headline lied.
Dr. Melvin Vopson, a Physicist from the University of Portsmouth, studies information physics, examining information’s relationship to the universe.
In a newly published paper, he discovered that symmetry and information seem to work against the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the universe tends towards entropy and randomness. Dr. Vopson says that nature inclines towards order, not entropy.
Dr. Vopson compared nature’s inclination to remove extra, unneeded information in the quest for order to a computer, which deletes extra code to save storage space and optimize performance.
That comparison is the “proof” papers touted that we live in a simulation.
Interesting Research, Not Proof
The nascent field of information physics offers exciting new ways to think about the world. Dr. Vopson’s research stands at the cutting edge, exploring relationships between the structure of data and the structure of atoms and how these similarities may support the simulation theory.
The interesting relationships discovered in the new paper aren’t proof that we live in a simulation.
Correlation, Not Causation
One of the most basic principles of science we need to remember is correlation is not causation. That two things are similar doesn’t mean they are related. Even when two things appear related, it doesn’t mean they are.
It takes a lot more research and inquiry to prove causation than it does to prove correlation.
In the case of Dr. Vopson’s research, there could be numerous reasons why information symmetry in nature resembles information management in a computer. The most glaringly obvious is that humans use what they see in nature to create things. We may have created computers based on a subconscious understanding of how nature works – but that doesn’t mean we live in a simulation. Another possible explanation is that it’s the easiest way to do things. The similarities cited in the article are absolutely not “proof” of anything.
A scientist must delve into these complex topics and discover the truth.
Dr. Vopson May Have Real Proof
As an interesting aside, we don’t know from reading the articles about the “proof” whether Dr. Vopson tested all these different correlation methods.
It’s entirely possible he did and discovered authentic proof of a simulation. However, regular people wouldn’t know that from reading the news articles about it.
It’s also possible that his research is just one small step towards unlocking the true secret of the universe. The news doesn’t cover that part or explain any further planned research that will dive even deeper into the idea.
It touts this tiny similarity as proof and expects people to accept it.
Highlights Why We Distrust Science
This whole circus highlights precisely why the public doesn’t trust science. The media makes outrageous claims for clicks without any nuance at all. To be fair, the article did use the word “May” to cover their bases, but we know most folks overlook that in their excitement.
Upon reading the piece, the public rolls their eyes, losing interest in the article and faith in science. They don’t always realize that the media, not the scientists, are making outrageous claims with no real proof.
Dr. Vopson is likely super excited about his research, but he probably knows it can’t be called “proof.”
Evidence, maybe. An idea to follow up on? Definitely. But it’s not proof.
The media needs to stop making outrageous claims for clicks, and we need to do a better job of sharing fascinating scientific discoveries without pretending they’re something they’re not.
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