Ask A Genius 426 – Scientific Nihilism: Nihil (3)

In-Sight Publishing

Ask A Genius 426 – Scientific Nihilism: Nihil (3)

October 28, 2018

[Beginning of recorded material]

Rick Rosner: Here’s the argument against magic, whether in a simulated world or a natural world, a good simulation, one that you can’t tell is a simulation, will not break its own rules on a regular basis; so, a simulated world where magic is possible is breaking the rules of nature, and those rules are what appear to apply.

You can not go around violating them willy-nilly. Otherwise, you’re living in a shit simulation. The point of a good simulation is the simulation being good.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I like that argument. Baruch De Spinoza had this notion of a natural world. He deconstructed, maybe in Ethics, all these basically supernatural beliefs, e.g., the liturgy, prayer, and so on. 

He simply does not take into serious account the supernatural beliefs of the standard faiths. They are irrelevant and nonsensical. He says there is a natural world, and no afterlife. What you’re saying takes an IC context with that plus a digitized form of that…

Rosner: We will see a gazillion convincing simulated worlds in the future. We already have them. You have a number of games with believable reality. But they are market and technology-driven.

It gives them both severe limitations. Nobody or few people think, ‘Wow, I am really in this world.” Unless they are psychos or idiots.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosner: Few simulated worlds, even in the super high-tech future, will be entirely devoted to being entirely convincing so that you’re immersed without realizing that you’re immersed.

There may be a niche for that. The people who want the San Junipero experience from Black Mirror. Even in the show, the characters know that they are living in a simulated world.

It is just a nice one. But they also know that they are somewhere else. That they are a digital simulation housed in a bank of computers.

Jacobsen: That could be programmed out.

Rosner: Some people may want that. But the preserving of the illusion of a simulation means that it won’t glitch regularly. There are all sorts of arguments. We have already started talking about the ratios of infinities. The ratio of simulated to natural worlds; you can argue if there is such a thing as a natural world.

If there is a ladder of worlds with our information of the universe is stored in a higher storage, and same with that, and if that infinity is a real thing, and if it does make sense, how can you know that all infinity universes along that ladder are not infinity themselves?

There is a whole system of logic that has to be fleshed out. We have tried to use Set Theory to talk about the set of all possible universes. We have had reservations. In that, the members of the set are fuzzy, perhaps for quantum mechanical reasons.

Jacobsen: Also, there is something that should be included in that. The current fuzzy set should include an implied past, somehow, and a set of possible futures.

Rosner: Yes. You can characterize a fuzzy particle precisely. Thus, it is not entirely legit to state that states of quantum existence or the possible worlds are fuzzy because of quantum mechanics, because of the math of quantum mechanics.

Since a particle may be fuzzy or an electron, while not precisely defined in space and time, it is a precise object or mathematical entity in quantum mechanics.

Jacobsen: I have heard this defined as precise not as in 0% or 100% but as statistical precision.

Rosner: Also, fuzziness seems like it will always creep in. One reason: if you imagine every possible world as a moment, or as a string of moments along a worldline, the deal is, when you’re working with it, you’re working with a single moment or a series of moments.

But “moment” cannot be precisely defined because moments are quantum mechanically linked to one another; you cannot entirely separate the moments because the moments are defined or the worlds are defined by the playing out of a string of entwined moments, which seems brutal in a set-theoretic point of view.

Jacobsen: You have Set Theory. You have Fuzzy Set Theory or Multi-Valued Set Theory. The form you’re talking about: let’s say you have a universe with 10^85th particles, we’ll call those particles elements to put them in the language of Set Theory.

You have that, in the language of set theory, with a set of 10^85th elements plus the 10^85th implied past elements plus the 10^85th per possible set future elements.

Rosner: It is like a tapestry. You have a bunch of tangled particles comprised of the past putting limitations on the future, but the weave untangles the further into the past or into the future that you go.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


Rick Rosner

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing


[1] Four format points for the session article:

  1. Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
  3. Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.

For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:

  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from

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