Monday, April 02, 2007

Quantum Enigma


Here's a new book I highly recommend for those who wish to learn why physics and consciousness are inextricably linked, regardless of how much some physicists may wish to exclude this "skeleton in the closet" from their domain.
The authors are physics professors at the University of California at Santa Cruz and critics of movies like "What the Bleep."
To read more about the book, go to the authors' website here.

11 comments:

M.C. said...

Good as far as it goes, but the authors do make an unsupportable slur against psi research:

Most laypeople cannot tell where the quantum physics ends and the quantum nonsense
begins, and many are susceptible to being misguided. According to polls, well over half
of the people in the US and England have significant belief in the reality of supernatural
phenomena.

Dean Radin said...

Actually I'd agree with that statement. Not everything that seems psychic is, and there is a great deal of confusion over what quantum physics is and what it implies. This doesn't say that all such beliefs are nonsense -- it merely says we should be careful about what we claim and not fall into the trap of strongly believing in things that we merely wish to be true.

Fortunately, we don't need to rely on belief. Much of the evidence for psi is now fact-like, meaning observable in laboratory tests, so we don't need to rely on personal anecdotes or metaphysical lore to accept that some psi phenomena are genuine.

David Bailey said...

How much of this book is yet another non-mathematical description of QM, and how much delves into its potential relationship with consciousness? For example, does it contain anything that is not already in - say - Roger Penrose's books?

I must say Dean, that quote by m.c. seems pretty harsh to me. I mean, the only reason that you and other researchers ever started PSI experiments is because of informal beliefs and observations of potential PSI phenomena.

However, in a way, you can't blame them because they would be hammered if they seemed to support anything paranormal. I tried looking up 'paranormal' in the comprehensive index at the back of Roger Penrose's "Shadows of the Mind" and "Paramecium" is followed by "Peano arithmetic"!

Dean Radin said...

David Bailey said...
...they would be hammered if they seemed to support anything paranormal...

This is at least part of the problem. The psi realm is unfortunately associated with more than its share of nonsense, and so any scientist risks credibility capital by stating or merely implying that there may be something to it.

I don't think Bruce (the first author) would mind if I shared something he sent to me in an email exchange when I asked him how his views, as expressed in the book, had changed re psi. He replied, "The fact that Bell's non-local, instantaneous correlations (Einstein's "spooky interactions," Bohr's "influences") have been demonstrated to exist surely makes the a priori probability of anomalous cognition an order of magnitude more likely."

Dave said...

Dean said,

I don't think Bruce (the first author) would mind if I shared something he sent to me in an email exchange when I asked him how his views, as expressed in the book, had changed re psi. He replied, "The fact that Bell's non-local, instantaneous correlations (Einstein's "spooky interactions," Bohr's "influences") have been demonstrated to exist surely makes the a priori probability of anomalous cognition an order of magnitude more likely."



Wow! Comments like that get me quite excited that we may soon see psi research creeping into mainstream. Although it probably will take on a different guise.

Mark Szlazak said...

"The fact that Bell's non-local, instantaneous correlations (Einstein's "spooky interactions," Bohr's "influences") have been demonstrated to exist surely makes the a priori probability of anomalous cognition an order of magnitude more likely."

Also, I'm sure that psi would be considered a naturalistic phenomena if it made it into mainstream science.

Tor said...

Dean, in the light of the many experiments done (including both psi experiments and the more "standard" quantum physics experiments), which of the different interpretations of quantum mechanics do you think is closest to the "truth"?

Dean Radin said...

I lean towards an interpretation in which the fabric of reality is woven from the woof of energy (and matter) and the warp of mind. Reality is created by their mutual interactions.

This is different than a "consciousness is everything" interpretation.

To me, the many worlds hypothesis so violently violates parsimony that I cannot take it seriously. When one tries to calculate how many worlds would be "created" under this model over the course of just a week or two, the numbers start stretching towards infinite awfully fast. While this model may ultimately be true (I doubt it), had a parapsychologist first offered this interpretation you know what most physicists would think of it.

Tor said...

Dean Radin said:
I lean towards an interpretation in which the fabric of reality is woven from the woof of energy (and matter) and the warp of mind. Reality is created by their mutual interactions.

Yes, something like that seems intuitive to me too (although I suspect that nothing would really "exist" without consciousness).

I've been pondering about the different interpretations for quite some time now. The interpretation I feel is the most repulsive is many worlds.

One problem with MW is that it tends towards non-falsifiable.
If you are a believer in MW you can believe in psi and at the same time dismiss it as a statistical fluke (we just happen to exists in the universe where all the experimental results just randomly happened to support psi). If you believe in MW you must also accept that in a alternative just as real world, all things fall upwards against gravity, and will do so for all eternity (since there is a finite infinitesimally small probability for this to happen when random atomic processes do their thing). Not to mention that a MW view of reality is much worse than the most mechanistic world view from the past when it comes to how we view ourselves.

There is one type of experiment I feel the MW-supporters would not be able to "explain" though, and that is your photon experiment. As I've written elsewhere on this blog, I've only heard you mention this study in an interview since it's not published yet, but I feel this study shows one thing quite clear:

The mind alone can collapse an interference pattern.

Regardless if there is an actual collapse or not, this shows a pure observer effect. This observer effect is what the MW interpretation and its fans so proudly claim to have exorcised from physics (and all of existence). I feel that this experiment alone (after replication of course) should be enough to exorcise the MW interpretation from physics.

David Bailey said...

Dean,

Do you feel intuitively that QM is complete (regardless of interpretation), or do you think - as I rather do - that it is the low-complexity limit of something else that maybe explicitly relates to consciousness.

After all, the real problems with QM appear when you consider a lot of particles - the wave function depends on a huge number of coordinates and so contains impossible amounts of information, the many-worlds interpretation becomes absurd because every quantum transition on every star multiplies the number of universes, and indeed it becomes impossible to do accurate numerical simulations of systems with lots of particles.

Maybe the real QM transmits information over entangled links - but not in the limit of very few particles.

Bruce Rosenblum said...

Just now viewing this site, we (Fred Kuttner and Bruce Rosenblum) confirm Dean Radin’s quote of BR saying that the existence of quantum mechanics’ “spooky interactions” substantially increases the believability of some sort of paraphenomena.

In a related vein: Is there any OBJECTIVE evidence for consciousness beyond its electrochemical neural correlates? If so, how would that affect the believability of psi phenomena? In our book, “Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness,” we note how the archetypal quantum experiment can be interpreted as the ONLY such objective evidence.