Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think : Reflections by Scientists, Writers, and Philosophers

By Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley | Go to book overview

SELFISH GENES AND
INFORMATION FLOW

David Deutsch

ALONG with countless other people, I had been labouring under some significant misconceptions before I relearned A. A.the theory of evolution from Richard Dawkins' book The Selfish Gene.

Many of my own interests have concerned information flow— how information gets from one place to another and how it changes from one form into another. I did not always think of it in these terms at the time, but, for example, one of the fields in which I have worked is the 'parallel-universes' interpretation of quantum theory. It says that the universe that we see around us is part of a much larger structure, the 'multiverse', which contains many such universes, some like ours, some different. And I became convinced of this theory essentially by regarding the world as a system of information flow: if one analyses this flow under quantum theory, it turns out to consist of vast numbers of sub-flows that are nearly autonomous. That is to say, the behaviour of each of them over time depends almost entirely on its own state, and very little on the state of the others. Moreover, the information in each of these sub-flows behaves very like that which would define the universe of classical physics. Because they are not perfectly parallel—they do affect each other through quantum interference effects—one must regard all of them as equally real, and so the multiverse conclusion is inescapable.

Another example is that I learned, by reading Karl Popper, how knowledge (which is one kind of information) is created with the help of evidence (another kind of information), through conjectures and experimental tests. I learned that this process

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