Every Theory Is Held Inside a Physical Substrate

You’re always bound by the laws of physics
There goes my solution for Zeno’s paradox, which says before you can get all the way somewhere, you have to get halfway there. And before you can get halfway there, you have to get a quarter of the way there, and therefore, you’ll never get there. One way to get past that is to say even a series of infinite things can have a finite sum. More

All Knowledge Is Conjectural

Be skeptical of absolute certainty
All knowledge is conjectural. It’s always being guessed. It’s our best understanding at any given time. You’re right to say that the axioms might be incorrect. How do we know that an axiom is incorrect? Traditionally the answer has been, “Because it’s clearly and obviously the case.” How can you prove that x plus zero must equal x?  You just have to accept that it’s true. More

The Methods of Mathematics Are Fallible

Even if the subject matter is not
If I compare math to physics: We have this domain called particle physics, and the deepest theory we have in particle physics is called the standard model. This describes all of the fundamental particles that exist and the interactions between them, the forces that exist between them, and the gauge bosons, which mediate the force between particles like electrons, protons and neutrons. More

Good Explanations Are Hard to Vary

They should make risky and narrow predictions
Brett, would you say that a scientific theory is a subset of a good explanation? Yes. They’re the testable kinds of good explanations. Falsifiable theories are actually a dime a dozen. This doesn’t tell you anything about the quality of the explanation you’re being given. The example that’s used in The Fabric of Reality is the grass cure for the common cold. More

Good Explanations Are Acts of Creativity

They’re not derived from looking at the past
There’s a phrase you’ll hear Brett and I use over and over again: “good explanations.” Good explanations are Deutsch’s improvement upon the scientific method. At the same time, it’s beyond science. It’s not just true in science but in all of life. We navigate our way through life, and we do it successfully by creating good explanations. More

Humans Are Unique in Our Ability to Understand Things

Knowledge is in the observer, not the observed
The value is in the knowledge, and the knowledge is inside the observer and the creator, in other words, a human. It’s not inside the thing itself. For example, oil is useless unless you know how to refine it, burn it, and use it for combustion. Information is useless unless there’s a brain there to receive it.  There could be a signal broadcasting English into outer space, but if there isn’t a creature capable of understanding what that language is, how it works, and who’s conveying it, then it’s just modulated electromagnetic frequencies that don’t mean anything. More