Frequently asked questions

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What does CTMU stand for?

Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe. The theory is intended to explain the connection between mind and reality, hence the presence of "Cognitive" and "Universe" in the same phrase.

In Langan's early writings, "Cognitive-Theoretic" sometimes appears as "Cognition-Theoretic" or "Computation-Theoretic", and Langan has named "Category-Theoretic" and "Complexity-Theoretic" as other possibilities, since the theory combines elements of all of those disciplines.

How is CTMU pronounced?

Langan's mnemonic pronunciation for CTMU is "cat-mew". To remember this, notice that "mew" is a sound a cat makes. cat mew → cat-mew → CTMU. Of course, the acronym can always be spelled out (C-T-M-U) for clarity.

When was the CTMU created?

Langan created the CTMU in the mid-1980s while working as a nightclub bouncer on Long Island. His first published paper on the theory appeared in the December 1989–January 1990 issue of Noesis, the journal of the Noetic Society, a high-IQ society to which Langan belonged. Mainstream media recognition began in 1999, when Esquire magazine published a profile of Langan and other members of the high-IQ community. For references and more history, see the CTMU article.

Is the CTMU a scientific theory?

It would be better to say that the CTMU is a theory about science. Instead of being a mathematical description of specific observations (like all established scientific theories), it is a "metatheory" about the general relationship between theories and observations…i.e., about science or knowledge itself.[1]

Langan contends that due to the problem of induction, no general theory of reality can ever be reliably constructed by the standard empirical methods of science. Instead, such a theory must be established by the rational methods of mathematics. But this does not mean that science has no part to play. Whereas the necessary properties of reality are verified by logic, its contingent properties are subject to scientific confirmation. In other words, says Langan, the means by which a general theory of reality like the CTMU is constructed must be rational and tautological, while those by which it is subsequently refined may be empirical.

Has the CTMU appeared in a peer-reviewed academic journal?

Yes, on multiple occasions. Most recently, in 2017 and 2018, the CTMU was featured in several papers in Cosmos and History, an open-access journal of natural and social philosophy. Cosmos and History uses a double-blind peer review process. Before that, a 56-page paper on the CTMU was published in Progress in Complexity, Information, and Design (PCID), the journal of ISCID, a professional society investigating complex systems using information- and design-theoretic concepts. Langan's paper in the anthology Uncommon Dissent, published by ISI Books, contained further discussion of the CTMU. The theory has also been published in journals within the high-IQ community and received mention in the mainstream media. See CTMU sources for references.

Has an exhaustive development of the CTMU been made public?

Not yet. The most comprehensive available treatment of the CTMU is Langan's 56-page PCID paper, but this is intended to present a general outline of the theory rather than an exhaustive development. Nonetheless, this outline, together with the papers, essays, discussions, and other material linked at CTMU sources, suffice to characterize the CTMU on an introductory basis and distinguish it in flavor and content from other theories. Langan hopes to publish a fuller account of the CTMU in a book titled Design for a Universe.

What books should I read to prepare for understanding the CTMU?

To prepare for the CTMU, Langan has recommended reading a good history of Western philosophy, a good book on mathematical logic and formalized theories, and a good book on general cosmology. As examples, he has recommended:

  • A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
  • Mathematical Logic and Formalized Theories by Robert Rogers [out of print]
  • Cosmology: The Science of the Universe by Edward Harrison

When will Langan publish a book about the CTMU?

Hopefully soon! Early press coverage reported Langan to be writing such a book:

If offered the chance to do anything he wished, Langan says he would like to make a living by trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. For some time, he’s worked on an ambitious book on the subject. He describes it as “a bridge between mathematics and science on the one hand, and theology and the humanities on the other. For the many seeking a millennial synthesis of human spiritual and intellectual progress, it will be just what the doctor ordered,” he adds. He’s almost finished with the tome, titled Design for a Universe, and hopes to find a publisher for it soon.[2]

More recently, Langan has said that he is writing a book on mathematically proving the existence of God. Whether this is the same book as Design for a Universe is unclear. Langan has indicated that this book will probably be published and distributed through his nonprofit foundation, the Mega Foundation. As of December 2012, the foundation was in a state of construction limbo, but once everything is up and running, he intends to "go at it both barrels again". In July 2014 Langan said that he is working not just on one book but on several books on various levels of sophistication. The simplest one is done and Langan is considering how to print, publish, and distribute this book optimally, and how to promote it.

What about Chris Langan's credibility?

While the CTMU stands on its own merits, ad hominem arguments for and against it usually make reference to its primary author, Chris Langan. These arguments are addressed in the Chris Langan FAQ.

How can I contact Chris Langan?

To contact Chris Langan, try the e-mail address at the bottom of the first page of this paper.

Where can I discuss the CTMU?

There is a discussion board right here on this wiki. You can also try the CTMU Facebook group and the CTMU reddit board.