Fabric of Reality by David Deutsch
Deutsch's presentation is fascinating, mind-expanding, challenging, provocative, and--at times--riveting. It is also infuriating, perplexing, reductive, and--at times--vague. (Please note: I am not convinced that the multiverse as Deutsch describes it exists, nor am I threatened by the possibility that it might. As a result, I do not mean to quarrel with--or support--the idea itself. Instead, I am reviewing Deutsch's book from the point of view of a lay reader.)
I do recommend this book to anyone interested in reading a summary of the pursuit of a "theory of everything" and a defense of the science of parallel universes. Deutsch's theory of everything depends on four theories: quantum (as espoused by Everett), epistemology (Popper), evolution (Dawkins), and computation (Turing). Even if one does not ultimately agree with Deutsch's ideas, his book offers some interesting thought experiments (the chapter on "time travel" is especially fun) and a concise overview of several scientific trends. In addition, his book provides a decent defense of why the theory of the multiverse should be considered a reasonable explanation for the interference results obtained the infamous two-slit experiment.
That said, I do think Deutsch's book contains many shortcomings. First, although the multiverse may be a valid explanation for interference phenomenon, Deutsch fails to convince that it is THE explanation. In one short paragraph, he dismisses David Bohm's theory of wave-particle duality. "Working out what Bohm's invisible wave will do requires the same computations as working out what trillions of shadow photons will do." One could easily reverse this sentence as a criticism of Everett and Deutsch: that the trillions of unseen photons requires the same computations as working out what Bohm's single invisible wave will do. Deutsch does not explain (in this book, anyway) why trillions of photons are simpler than one wave, and he does his readers a disservice by pretending that Bohm's work does not deserve a full refutation.
Second, and similarly, Deutsch dismisses with an even shorter paragraph the charge that his "theory of everything" is anthropocentric. (He pretty much admits it is, but tries--unconvincingly, to this reader--to turn it into an argument in his favor.) Third, his discussion of evolution (one of the four "equal" strands of his theory of everything) is a mere 25 pages and, unlike the rest of the book, is at times incomprehensible and seems completely indebted to Dawkins. (Not that there is anything wrong with Dawkins's work; rather, Deutsch just seems in over his head during this part of the book.) Fourth, he rejects Kuhn's belief in the rigidity of scientific paradigms (for example, the inability of thinkers in Galileo's time to accept the full implications of the Copernican system because they were so used to thinking of the world in Ptolemaic and Judeo-Christian terms), but then he describes a modern scientif