Split Identities and Parallel Universes

Splitting into two (or more) identical selves appears to be a process of simultaneous creation: Each identical self becomes separate from the other, resulting in the original self being replicated. The original self is now gone. Did the original self perish? What if YOU were the original self -- before (and after) this existential transformation?

I have researched several ideas on this topic, exploring the famous theories of Hugh Everett and John Wheeler regarding multi-universes and quantum worlds. It seems apparent that if these complex speculations are true, then all of us must be splitting apart -- all the time.

Flip a coin. The universe splits into separate (or parallel) branches of itself. In each universe, you examine the coin as faceup or facedown. In each scenario, each of you remains unaware of the other.

Your original self is still you, but there's also a duplicate of yourself in a different dimension. Your other self reaches a complementary conclusion. Nothing unfamiliar during the transition has been experienced by the other. In addition, you're each continuous from the state of being you were in before the coin's flip and your subsequent duplication.

Let's take it a step further. What if you split apart in the SAME universe? Suppose that you're sitting on a park bench. You split into a pair of identical entities, each one separate from the other. Each one is sitting on the opposite side of the bench. The logical result: You'll each experience a sudden shift to the left (or right) side of the bench -- but which of the sides will be a statistical coin flip. Each person who identifies as you will be sitting on the opposite side of the bench in the same universe.

Let's add some jalapeno sauce. Suppose that each time you split on the park bench, your left-shifting duplicate is killed -- a nano-second after the split. The question becomes: Have YOU died? The answer: Perhaps not. The most plausible reason: each time you split apart, you find yourself on the right side of the bench. What else could you expect? Your other self is dead! Perhaps your reaction on the right side of the bench is to emit a sigh of relief. But is that emotion of relief justified?

Let's not stop there. What if thousands of sequential experiments take place on the park bench? Should the lost duplicate in each experiment be considered a murdered soul -- or just a flicker in time? Perhaps the definition of death should be reconsidered. On the other hand, if you (as the conscious survivor) remain intact and undergo a shift to the right, perhaps the question should be irrelevant.

For example: Suppose that if you die in this life, your identical self (in a duplicate universe) escapes that fate -- due to a random set of variables on the other's parallel world. Your original consciousness, at the threshold of immediate cessation, continues to exist -- if it departs from the critical point of variance and resumes life as your other self on the parallel world. Could that be possible? (This idea is not new.)

The crucial question now becomes: Could you and your counterpart emerge as a seamless individual, taking up where "you" left off, to continue as if neither had died? Could parallel selves shift through countless near-identical situations, until there's nothing left to escape to? Perhaps under meticulous conditions.

It all depends...

When it comes to parallel worlds and quantum universes, the ultimate truth might be a set of mind-bending paradoxes.

Written by John DiPrete

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