So recently I read about this guy with a really high IQ, Chris Langan, who crafted an ultimate theory of reality - CTMU, Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe - which he presents as the final answer to all our questions about reality. He makes wild claims about how it is the greatest revelation of all time in all of philosophy, science, and mathematics, and he accuses Academia of intentionally ignoring it.

Now I've tried to read his introduction to it on the link above, but, to be frank, none of it makes any sense to me. I've also tried reading what other people have had to say about it, and most people either seem to ignore it, ridicule it, or claim they don't understand it.

So ... What exactly is he trying to prove? What are his claims and hypotheses? What arguments does he support them with?

Based on his wild claims and some of his ramblings elsewhere (he has said stuff like him being able to prove p = np, or that Trump "obviously" has a very high IQ), I'd normally consider him to be some crank deluded by his own intellect and arrogance, but people tell me that the guy is like really smart, so I am still here trying to understand and give his theory a chance. Can any of you help me out?

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    Can’t even bring myself to click this link. It seems like some rather straightforward crankery. – Joseph Weissman Dec 4 '17 at 22:17
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    I cannot imagine how the problem for physics of explaining itself can be 'glossed'. Either the theory is a TOE or it isn't. As for Langan, anyone who claims that their speculative theory represents a revolution in philosophy is dreaming. Perhaps he means a certain area of philosophy. Hell, I suppose I'll have to go look. . – user20253 Dec 5 '17 at 13:20
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    PS - I've just read his article on time. It seems he is following Kant and the mystics and seeing space-time as a creation of consciousness. I can't imagine why he thinks this idea is revolutionary. Academics have an unfortunate habit of wanting to brand idea as their own. I find his idea of 'Cosmic time' naive and unworkable but the direction in which he's heading seems to be (what I would say is) the right one. It's all been done, however, and once we start heading in this direction we might as well bypass Langer and go straight to the good stuff. – user20253 Dec 5 '17 at 13:33
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    High IQ are a crude way to evaluate intelligence; Feynman who is a famous physicist had an above average IQ, but not startling high; if he's making what he feels as new claims but aren't, it's usually because they've missed out on the kind of education that would have been useful to him. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 5 '17 at 16:25
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    I had a look at his first essay on his website, and it's not crack-pottery, and he seems to have had a reasonable education; but I'm not sure if he is saying something new. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 5 '17 at 16:35

Mostly from skimming over Langan's summary and paper on CTMU, I'll try to provide a minimal answer primarily about the technical aspects...

CTMU appears to be a layman's attempt at a unifying metaphysical theory of everything. Stylistically, it's dense, informal, and manifests a severe sort of idiosyncrasy that one tends to see in those who are self-educated or intellectually isolated.

Generally many elements of his theory are reasonably organized and seem to make sense as rehashing, combining and building upon existing (usually complex and not-well-established) ideas. However, it shows a prominent dearth of formal rigor and citations and is filled with novel and informal thoughts and terminology. As such, it may be mostly incomprehensible unless you already have a good understanding of the ideas Langan is drawing upon (with little or no citation). Even then it's often a stretch. Consider that Wheeler's Search for Links has 179 references for 15 pages, while Langan's CTMU has 50 endnotes which contain relatively few references (many of which refer to Wheeler) for 52 pages.

If you're looking for complex eccentric informal philosophy as part of a ToE I think it's alright to try to read some of it. The sorts of responses you see of ignoring, ridiculing or not understanding it though suggest it may be productive to focus on more traditional sources where possible.

  • "Lack of citations" and "no formal rigor" seem like the absolute worst possible reasons for not taking someones ideas seriously. I get that you don't like this guy because he's not in your "club," but you do realize that a significant fraction of all great philosophy is done by these types of outsiders? – Steven Sagona Aug 26 '20 at 4:14

"CTMU" stands for the Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe. It is a profoundly original theoretical construct which does triple duty as its own universe and model, for which purpose it takes the form of an "intrinsic language" (roughly, a linguistic analogue of intrinsic geometry, which it incorporates as a feature of its universe).

Properly described as metaphysics and thus of universal scope (where metaphysics is properly defined to span all subjects and disciplines along with their content), the CTMU has been the subject of numerous essays and several papers beginning in the late 1980's. The three most recent papers have appeared in the journal Cosmos & History.




The CTMU is unique, significant, and intellectually demanding. Unfortunately, it has also been the subject of unkind remarks by people who seem to know very little of it. (Three things to remember about unkind, underinformed remarks: they're too easy to make, they can make those who issue them appear more knowledgeable and/or intelligent than they actually are, especially where the right sort of derisive language is used, and as a consequence, they are often made for exactly this purpose. Having been publicized by the mass media in connection with the currently unfashionable IQ concept, I've been targeted with them more often than most.)

Note that Cosmos & History is a peer reviewed academic journal associated with the group Foundations of Mind, informally headquartered at UC Berkeley. Its members include many PhD's in fields ranging from physics, to cognitive science and consciousness studies, to mathematics and philosophy. Some are world-renowned. For what it's worth, we communicate with each other regularly. Within the group, my work is known for uncommon technical sophistication and precision. I'm seldom challenged on technical details.

Please enjoy the papers, and thank you for your interest.

[Note: A paragraph was inadvertently omitted from the first C&H paper. At some point, I'll probably ask the editor to insert it. If you'd like to read an autobiographical interview, I recommend this one:

https://superscholar.org/interviews/christopher-michael-langan/ ]

  • If the references supplied will illuminate the OP's explicit questions, no improvements are needed. Else, the inclusion of such references, even if you are the authority, would enhance the value of the answer - it gives people leads on further research. And, welcome to the SE! – christo183 Nov 11 '18 at 0:21

I have to warn younger generations to at least finish college before reading Chris Langan. If kids start dropping out of high school to avoid academics then we’ll have created more social problems than we’ve solved, and it cannot be solved with a eugenics program on the scale of the Manhattan project to build a nuclear weapon to detain citizens or incinerate “the Japs”. Chris was born in 1952 according to Wikipedia, an interesting time of history, so I can forgive some of his way of thinking about Trumpeteerism.

In his Coast to Coast AM Interview he mentions Cramer’s interpretation of quantum mechanics, sub-object classifiers, and how motion is an illusion. He wasn’t at his best during this interview he would say, but I got the gist. One of the predictions he makes is that the universe only seems to be expanding when in fact relative to it, its contents are uniformly contracting. Some of these ideas have been around before separately and implicitly in some form or another. In terms of Tegmark, Langan notes that he mentions mathematical universes but not Topoi, which also seem to unite geometry and logic. There are many different parts to Langan’s ideas, a while back some of us readers tried to organize them on a CTMU Wiki, however I find there comes a point where one needs to refer to other authors, and in Langan’s Cosmos and History he only cites himself thrice, as if he is Hermes Trismegistus the founder of alchemy.

  • I can't say I've even heard of Chris Langan whereas I have heard of Tegmark; is he famous in some way? – Mozibur Ullah Dec 5 '17 at 16:58
  • Chris was born in 1952 according to Wikipedia, an interesting time of history, so I can forgive some of his way of thinking about Trumpeteerism. -- I'm just about that age and I have no idea what you're talking about. Explain please? – user4894 Apr 5 '18 at 4:21

I am one of those independent researchers who after reading Ayn Rand’s philosophy as a sophomore in High School found solace in Chris Langan’s writings after a childhood of being brainwashed by Christian cults. I am beholden to nobody and am willing to give credit to Langan, but to also warn people from falling into the trap of the “cult of genius” which throughout history has lent charismatic authority to those with a seed of truth. While I respect the fact that it was developed in isolation, I also think that somewhere he could have cited Goldblatt’s book on topoi at least. https://ncatlab.org/nlab/show/bi-Heyting+topos

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