I just finished a book titled Farewell to Reality (2013) by Jim Baggott that provides a good overview of how current-day physics has been unable over the last 20-30 to find observational information or test results that can support any of its major new hypotheses; or example superstring theory, supersymmetry, black-hole information, the multiverse (as an explanation for our universes fine-tuning), etc.
Because of this, many of the theoretical physicists supporting these theories have proposed “changing the requirements” for validating a new physics theory. Different schemes for doing this have been proposed Baggot summarizes many of these – basically easing the empirical requirement. Baggott does not buy any of them, and he has taken to labeling these new physic’s concepts as “fairy-tale physics.”
Early in his book (Ch. 1), Baggott presents his idea of reality as a principle. Below is a quote on reality that he labels “The Reality Principle.”
“Reality is a metaphysical concept, and as such is beyond the reach of science. Reality consists of things-in-themselves of which we can never hope to gain knowledge. Instead, we have to content ourselves with knowledge of empirical reality, of things-as-they-appear or things-as-they-are-measured. Nevertheless, scientific realists assume that reality (and its entities) exists objectively and independently of perception or measurement [ignoring the problem created by the role of consciousness in quantum mechanics]. They believe that reality is rational, predictable and accessible to human reason.”
This first chapter is basically Baggott’s philosophical discourse on the nature of knowledge and what can be obtained using scientific processes. He goes on to define his five additional principles related . These are listed below with a brief note of his key concepts/ideas for each:
- The Fact Principle – our knowledge of empirical reality is founded on scientific facts verified from careful observations or tests.
- The Theory Principle – any approach [to creating a theory] is valid providing it yields a theory that works.
- The Testability Principle – the test exposes the veracity or falsity of the theory (even though the theory is itself abstract or metaphysical).
- The Veracity Principle – over time a good theory becomes accepted as true (or possessing a high truth-likeness or veracity).
- The Copernican Principle – Universe is not organized for our benefit.
The book provides us (non physicists) with an overview of what is happening at the leading edge of theoretical physics (BTW, Baggott’s view is generally supported by other skeptical physicists such as Peter Woit, who I have written about is earlier blogs). Woit’s review on Farewell to Reality is provided here. Woit very much supports Baggott’s book and assessment of the state of modern physics.
My bottom-line assessment is that we have reached the limit with what can be done using a physical-based concept of reality. This is why I believe that my approach and findings in my book Frontiers of Knowledge are on the right track and are providing us with a new and expanded view of reality – one beyond what can be obtained with a physical-only perspective of reality.
After this blog post, I did my own review of Baggott’s book; to see click here.