Multiverses, Infinities, Probability & The Deadly Sin of Reification — WMBriggs Podcast

Multiverses, Infinities, Probability & The Deadly Sin of Reification — WMBriggs Podcast

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June is Probability Month here at, mostly because I’ll be teaching (I’ll be in Ithaca the 12th to 24th) and want to keep from being distracted from the usual rounds of doom.

So today the different kinds of universes and infinities, the difference between what is and what we know of what is, what actually is and what might be, how we make probabilistic epistemology of all this, and the Deadly Sin of Reification.

You’ll have to listen to the podcast because I didn’t have time to write the lecture. Here’s a rough outline:

1. Multiverses, the various kinds; Max Tegmark;
2. Infinities, the infinite kinds; the ultimate infinity;
3. What is actual and what potential; Zeno paradoxes;
4. Probability & Measurement; what we know and what is; God’s middle knowledge.


  1. Gary

    Late spring in Ithaca would be lovely in most universes…

  2. Joy

    1 I was in the garden being stung by nettles,
    2 particles don’t pop in and out of existence!
    3 this podcast was fabulous but I missed the beginning.

  3. Nate

    This is one of my favorite of your shows so far!

  4. Oldavid

    Harking back to one of my earlier comments; infinity, as an infinite progression, regression, division etc. is entirely imaginary; every bit as imaginary as division by 0 or the square root of a negative number.

    Take an ordinary equation which solution is asymptotic as in an hyperbola or parabola. Any real value for the inputs (no matter how large or small) has a solution. The “end” where the asymptote meets its limit does not exist and there is no “solution” for it. To “arrive” at infinity is self-contradictory and thus philosophically (and “scientifically”) absurd.

    The notion of a “thing” called infinity is a confidence trick or illusion used by cunning mathemagicians to flog the idea that reality isn’t real… thereby opening the door to the notion that any speculation is as “real” as reality. The “science” of speculation without constraints like method, observation or logic.

    The notion that God has an infinite variety of options at His disposal is also self-contradictory and absurd because it implies and requires that He could have chosen a less good “programme” and that there is a “before” and “after”… a “when” He didn’t and a “when” He did… a “when” He decided on the “Plan”.

    If I was convinced that “reification” was a deadly sin I’d be taking my fire-proof suit with me everywhere just in case I was suddenly taken to my reward for thinking that Creation was composed of “things” governed by “things” like consistent Natural Laws.

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