Adding Up to Normality

[1] After the science fiction writer Greg Egan, who first wrote this phrase in Permutation CityQuarantine.

Applied to Ethics in Many Worlds by MichaelA at 7mo

"It all adds up to normality" is a common phrase used on LessWrong (also known here as Egan's Law: law[1]). Adding Up to Normality is the property of an explanation which adds to our understanding without changing what we already know to be true. for example:

  • Apples didn't stop falling when General Relativity supplanted Newtonian mechanics.
  • As counterintuitive as quantum mechanics is, it all adds up to what we see in everyday life - It's perfectly normal, and it always has been.

The purpose of a theory is to add up to observed reality, rather than something else. Quantum mechanics is not some strange alternative universe, told as a story to delight us with its counterintuitiveness; quantum mechanics is where we have always lived.reality. Science sets out to answer the question "What adds up to normality?" and the answer turns out to be "Quantum mechanics adds up to normality."normality" or "General Relativity adds up to normality".

[1] After the science fiction writer Greg Egan, who first wrote this phrase in Permutation City.

Applied to Changing Your Metaethics by Yoav Ravid at 10mo
Applied to Living in Many Worlds by Yoav Ravid at 10mo
Applied to Adding Up To Normality by Yoav Ravid at 10mo
Applied to Egan's Theorem? by Yoav Ravid at 10mo

Egan's Law: Apples didn't stop falling when General Relativity supplanted Newtonian mechanics. The purpose of a theory is to add up to observed reality, rather than something else. Quantum mechanics is not some strange alternative universe, told as a story to delight us with its counterintuitiveness; quantum mechanics is where we have always lived. Science sets out to answer the question "What adds up to normality?" and the answer turns out to be "Quantum mechanics adds up to normality."

Created by orthonormal at 1y

There are multiple interpretations of this quote. In the field of statistics, the majority of binomial problems in nature distribute normally. Adding up all of the point probabilities under the curve gives you a probability of 1. As Quarantine deals with lots of different probability problems (dice, coins, batteries, silver ions), it's tempting to consider that Egan is being literal here. Most things distribute normally... the space under the curve (literally) *adds up* to normality.

There are multiple interpretations of this quote. In the field of statistics, the majority of binomial problems in nature distribute normally. Adding up all of the point probabilities under the curve gives you a probability of 1. As Quarantine deals with lots of different probability problems (dice, coins, batteries, silver ions), it's tempting to consider that Egan is being literal here. Most things distribute normally... the space under the curve (literally) *adds up* to normality.

"It all adds up to normality" -- Greg Egan, Quarantine.