Conjecture #5–Quantum Solipsism (Part one)

“Cogito Ergo Sum”–René Descartes

“What if god is our dream, and we’re his?”–Christian Bale as Jamie Graham in Empire of the Sun

I conjecture:  In a Many Worlds quantum multiverse, each individual consciousness represents a distinctly different universe.

I'm pretty sure I do exist most of the time--with the possible exception of some Monday mornings.   Exist tee shirts.

I’m pretty sure I do exist most of the time–with the possible exception of some Monday mornings. Exist Tee-shirts.

I once overheard a friend explaining the multitude of religious beliefs to her young daughter in following manner.

She said, “everyone believes something different, and everyone is right!”

Really?  This seems to be the ultimate illogical statement in the illogical realm of religious beliefs.  If everybody believes something different, it seems to me infinitely more likely that everyone is wrong.  I won’t get into the implications for religious beliefs in this conjecture, mainly because I don’t care.  Suffice to say that stretched to an outre extreme,  this conjecture does suggest a manner in which everyone could be right.  It’s always fascinated me how different individuals could be so certain of world views that are so diametrically opposed.  Of course, one can tie that to cultural and cognitive differences resulting in seemingly different worlds.  But then maybe we’re all just be living in our own distinct quantum  universes.

At any rate, if Conjecture #4 was a possible ontological extension of The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum weirdness,  the current conjecture–#5–clearly emanates from The Many Worlds Theory.

Let’s be clear on one thing.   In my own head, I’m sitting on the fence between Copenhagen and Many Worlds…a kind of quantum superposition, simultaneously believing both.  But let’s get to the heart of the matter before I get too far ahead of myself.

What, exactly, is solipsism?  The brief dictionary description is simple enough: it’s the notion that only the self exists, or can be proven to exist.  Taken to the limit, it can result in a second definition: extreme self-absorption and egoism.

I don’t buy this and am not suggesting it.  While I’m not 100% certain of anything, external or internal, I still believe that you exist and our interactions do influence each other.   We may be in separate parallel universes, but these planes of existence overlap, in much the same way that these universes interfere with each each other on the quantum level.  (It’s worth noting that the conjecture wording says “distinct different” universe and not “distinctly separate.”)  But the fact remains: if The Many Worlds theory holds true the notion of quantum solipsism in some form must be taken seriously.  It’s as if our observations roll the quantum dice and influence which course through the multiverse each individual consciousness takes.  This notion will be the subject of conjecture #6, though at the rate I am going, this may take place a long, long time from now in a galaxy far, far away.  For more on solipsism including more detailed and nuanced description of it, and its various sub-categories, go here.

In the second part of this conjecture, I’ll deal with two very disturbing and controversial extensions of a “strong” quantum solipsism world view.   Quantum suicide and quantum immortality.  You’ll need to hold on to your metaphysical hats for this one.

And if you don’t get any of this, don’t worry.  I’m just impressed that I used “ontological” in a sentence.




  1. Reblogged this on Jesus Christ Party Politics.

  2. danielmullin81 says:

    Fascinating piece. As I recall, another consequence of the Many Worlds interpretation is that ‘Boltzmann brains’ would be far more probable than us. I may not grasp all the implications of this, but one of them seems to be that solipsism is highly probable in the grand scheme of things.

    • I hadn’t even considered the Boltzmann Brain thing–interesting. But I don’t think their existence or non-existence really changes this conjecture–one might expect they would exist in some universes and not others, but they probably don’t have an effect on any one individuals consciousness.

      • danielmullin81 says:

        You’re right; it wouldn’t change the conjecture. I’m just going off on a slightly different tangent. The Many Worlds interpretation coupled with the Boltzmann Brain hypothesis suggest that there are more solipsistic universes than not. If that’s true, the prior probability of solipsism would be quite high. Does that make it rational to be a solipsist? Not necessarily, because we could say that our experience of interacting with other minds makes the antecedent probability of solipsism very low. But, for the sake of argument, a Cartesian skeptic could say that, given the prior probability of solipsism, his experience is far more likely to be illusory than not. Anyways, I just think it’s interesting that quantum physics makes certain philosophical arguments rejected by ‘common sense’ a lot more difficult to dismiss.

  3. Michael Crichton would’ve loved this post! 🙂

  4. Maybe. Seems more Douglas Adams-y to me. 😉

  5. El Marko, you just blew my mind. But quantum physics is hard to grasp on a Sunday morning!

  6. So very much over my head! But I loved the “ontological” and the “outre extreme” … I’m an autodidact lexiphile. ;o)

  7. It’s great that it all remains a big fat mystery – how can anyone ever be bored in this life?

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