Why Boltzmann Brains Are Bad

In Shamik Dasgupta, Brad Weslake & Ravit Dotan (eds.), Current Controversies in Philosophy of Science. London: Routledge. pp. 7-20 (2020)
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Abstract

Some modern cosmological models predict the appearance of Boltzmann Brains: observers who randomly fluctuate out of a thermal bath rather than naturally evolving from a low-entropy Big Bang. A theory in which most observers are of the Boltzmann Brain type is generally thought to be unacceptable, although opinions differ. I argue that such theories are indeed unacceptable: the real problem is with fluctuations into observers who are locally identical to ordinary observers, and their existence cannot be swept under the rug by a choice of probability distributions over observers. The issue is not that the existence of such observers is ruled out by data, but that the theories that predict them are cognitively unstable: they cannot simultaneously be true and justifiably believed.

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Sean M. Carroll
Johns Hopkins University

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