Dianne Collins, Quantum Think |588|

This is classical Alex, once again, and I fucking love it! This "quantum think" shit is another scam! Just like Dr. Shiva's fucking "raise your consciousness" bullshit!
 
This is classical Alex, once again, and I fucking love it! This "quantum think" shit is another scam! Just like Dr. Shiva's fucking "raise your consciousness" bullshit!

I get your point... then again, I don't think it's a fair comparison. sure, she's stretching the quantum thing, but a lot of other people have done the same.

But the main difference is that she was able to own her stuff and acknowledge the " stretch "

her book has a lot of nice, positive psychology, spiritual-ish stuff in it. I kind of liked it
 
(Relatively) long-time listener, first-time poster. Really, really love this podcast, and I really love the “Skeptiko treatment” that Alex gives his guests. I actually want to take this episode as my opportunity to give Alex himself a little bit of the Skeptiko treatment. Alex, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that this isn’t an attack on you at all, just a friendly “attack” on some of the quantum stuff that I frankly think you’re wrong about. Hope I’m not rehashing a conversation that’s been had somewhere else on the forum, and apologies for the wall of text to follow.

Just a little background: I’m a PhD student in applied math, not a quantum physicist, so I have to admit that I’m nowhere near being an expert; however, I know a bit about it, including some of the math involved, which I think makes me more knowledgeable about quantum stuff than almost everyone.

What I always like to say is that quantum physics definitely points you in the right direction, but it doesn’t get you there itself. For example, on the quantum level you have “spooky action at a distance”, and we know from parapsychology that PK and remote viewing are real, but I don’t see any reason to believe that there’s a connection between these two facts (not that Alex, or anyone else in particular, would necessarily say that there is).

What I want to challenge is the idea that quantum mechanics is evidence of the primacy of consciousness, and therefore evidence for spiritual reality. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think there’s any evidence for this at all. I do believe that consciousness is fundamental, but I see no reason to believe that QM supports that idea. First off, what we call the “observer effect” really just has to do with the limitations on our ability to measure certain quantum-mechanical properties–after all, when’s the last time you were just conscious of the position of an electron? You’d have to have done a measurement to be conscious of it, and it’s in the measuring that we have some effect on the position.

At least, that is what quantum physicists say about how it works. We can still believe in some form of idealism while acknowledging that in the terms set forth by establishment quantum physicists–the authority of which I think we appeal to when we use “quantum” ideas to back up spirituality–consciousness has nothing to do with it. If you want to argue that it does, I ask you to tell me, in precise terms, why the equations and experimental data, done by establishment physicists, prove this.

Okay, but what about Dean Radin’s experiments with quantum-level PK? Doesn’t that show us that quantum physics has something to do with consciousness? And to that I would say yes, but what does this tell us that PK experiments on the level of classical physics don’t? Why is the quantum level special? Because it’s smaller? Should we believe that the correct understanding of reality involves breaking it down into its smallest parts? How much of the materialist ontology should we hold on to, as we’re simultaneously trying to throw it out?

In today’s prevailing scientific paradigm, the quantum level is obviously assumed to be the most fundamental, and so I can kind of see why you might say that if conscious intention can affect, say, the double-slit experiment, then what’s actually fundamental is consciousness; but I don’t think that necessarily follows. I think it tells you that quantum physics is at least as fundamental as consciousness–or vice versa–and that’s all you can say about it.

Imagine that someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson were to actually accept the results of Radin’s double-slit experiment. Couldn’t he still turn around and say, “Of course, this doesn’t suggest that consciousness is fundamental; it does tell us that there’s something quantum mechanical about consciousness, but the mind is still just an epiphenomenon of physics, and reality is still essentially just an algorithm acting on data.” I think he would be wrong to say this, but what is there in our model of quantum physics that would refute him? Again, there may be something that I’m missing, but I’m reasonably confident that I’m not.

I guess the upshot of all this is, if we misconstrue quantum physics as evidence of the spiritual when it actually isn’t, then we can easily fall into a materialist trap, like the one I’ve used NDT to illustrate above. Incidentally, some version of this might be an answer to Alex’s question about why quantum thinking doesn’t protect us from materialist thinking.

Anyway, not necessarily a complete argument, but I’ve really wanted to say these things for a while and I’m just now taking the time to do so. Don’t know how active I can be in these forums (what with being in a PhD program, and also having a sick mom to take care of), but I’ll definitely try to follow up on any responses here. Thanks!
 
great. thx for the post.

What I want to challenge is the idea that quantum mechanics is evidence of the primacy of consciousness...

This topic is well traversed in skeptiko so there are probably a lot of different instances of where things have been said one way or another but my bottom line is that quantum mechanics represents a huge step towards the falsification of materialism... I.E you are biological robot in a meaningless universe it's out the window.

It's hard to remember without laughing, but 20 years ago it was fashionable for nitwits like Daniel Dennett to publicly say that they thought Consciousness was an illusion. Neil deGrasse Tyson echoed the same. Sam Harris didn't have the will or the intellectual muscle to resist and went along for the ride.

I do believe that consciousness is fundamental, but I see no reason to believe that QM supports that idea. First off, what we call the “observer effect” really just has to do with the limitations on our ability to measure certain quantum-mechanical properties–after all, when’s the last time you were just conscious of the position of an electron? You’d have to have done a measurement to be conscious of it, and it’s in the measuring that we have some effect on the position.

I think it's bigger than this... and that's what I tried to present in my book, why science is wrong. it's not just that we can't measure "certain quantum mechanical properties" it's that since science accepts that those properties are fundamental to everything we observe we must by extension conclude that we can't really measure anything.


At least, that is what quantum physicists say about how it works. We can still believe in some form of idealism while acknowledging that in the terms set forth by establishment quantum physicists–the authority of which I think we appeal to when we use “quantum” ideas to back up spirituality–consciousness has nothing to do with it. If you want to argue that it does, I ask you to tell me, in precise terms, why the equations and experimental data, done by establishment physicists, prove this.

Not sure where you're going with this since you have said that you are a post-materialism "Consciousness is fundamental" guy. I mean, I totally accept the "shut up and calculate" principle. I totally accept that there are very precise quantum physics principles/ equations that allow Engineers to build really cool stuff.

In today’s prevailing scientific paradigm, the quantum level is obviously assumed to be the most fundamental, and so I can kind of see why you might say that if conscious intention can affect, say, the double-slit experiment, then what’s actually fundamental is consciousness; but I don’t think that necessarily follows. I think it tells you that quantum physics is at least as fundamental as consciousness–or vice versa–and that’s all you can say about it.

Right, we're just talking about falsification of materialism.

Imagine that someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson were to actually accept the results of Radin’s double-slit experiment. Couldn’t he still turn around and say, “Of course, this doesn’t suggest that consciousness is fundamental; it does tell us that there’s something quantum mechanical about consciousness, but the mind is still just an epiphenomenon of physics, and reality is still essentially just an algorithm acting on data.” I think he would be wrong to say this, but what is there in our model of quantum physics that would refute him? Again, there may be something that I’m missing, but I’m reasonably confident that I’m not.

Right. Again, this is a burden of proof kind of thing. Radin's experiment shifts the burden of proof onto the shoulders of the " you are a biological robot in the meaningless universe" materialists. they must now explain how Consciousness can be both an illusion and demonstrate agency [[p]]

I guess the upshot of all this is, if we misconstrue quantum physics as evidence of the spiritual when it actually isn’t, then we can easily fall into a materialist trap, like the one I’ve used NDT to illustrate above. Incidentally, some version of this might be an answer to Alex’s question about why quantum thinking doesn’t protect us from materialist thinking.

Anyway, not necessarily a complete argument, but I’ve really wanted to say these things for a while and I’m just now taking the time to do so. Don’t know how active I can be in these forums (what with being in a PhD program, and also having a sick mom to take care of), but I’ll definitely try to follow up on any responses here. Thanks!

Ok, but don't you think I got on Dianne about this? I mean, I hit her with some pretty hard shots... and she kind of came around to admitting that she was really, really stretching the quantum metaphor. so it seems like we're saying the same thing, right?

As far as spirituality I'm suggesting that the evidence points to a hierarchy of consciousness... of course you can't get there if you think Consciousness is an illusion. that's what got me into the quantum physics debate in the first place.
 
we must by extension conclude that we can't really measure anything.

[...]
there are very precise quantum physics principles/ equations that allow Engineers to build really cool stuff.

I still don't get how this can be
 
(Relatively) long-time listener, first-time poster. Really, really love this podcast, and I really love the “Skeptiko treatment” that Alex gives his guests. I actually want to take this episode as my opportunity to give Alex himself a little bit of the Skeptiko treatment. Alex, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that this isn’t an attack on you at all, just a friendly “attack” on some of the quantum stuff that I frankly think you’re wrong about. Hope I’m not rehashing a conversation that’s been had somewhere else on the forum, and apologies for the wall of text to follow.

Just a little background: I’m a PhD student in applied math, not a quantum physicist, so I have to admit that I’m nowhere near being an expert; however, I know a bit about it, including some of the math involved, which I think makes me more knowledgeable about quantum stuff than almost everyone.

What I always like to say is that quantum physics definitely points you in the right direction, but it doesn’t get you there itself. For example, on the quantum level you have “spooky action at a distance”, and we know from parapsychology that PK and remote viewing are real, but I don’t see any reason to believe that there’s a connection between these two facts (not that Alex, or anyone else in particular, would necessarily say that there is).

What I want to challenge is the idea that quantum mechanics is evidence of the primacy of consciousness, and therefore evidence for spiritual reality. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think there’s any evidence for this at all. I do believe that consciousness is fundamental, but I see no reason to believe that QM supports that idea. First off, what we call the “observer effect” really just has to do with the limitations on our ability to measure certain quantum-mechanical properties–after all, when’s the last time you were just conscious of the position of an electron? You’d have to have done a measurement to be conscious of it, and it’s in the measuring that we have some effect on the position.

At least, that is what quantum physicists say about how it works. We can still believe in some form of idealism while acknowledging that in the terms set forth by establishment quantum physicists–the authority of which I think we appeal to when we use “quantum” ideas to back up spirituality–consciousness has nothing to do with it. If you want to argue that it does, I ask you to tell me, in precise terms, why the equations and experimental data, done by establishment physicists, prove this.

Okay, but what about Dean Radin’s experiments with quantum-level PK? Doesn’t that show us that quantum physics has something to do with consciousness? And to that I would say yes, but what does this tell us that PK experiments on the level of classical physics don’t? Why is the quantum level special? Because it’s smaller? Should we believe that the correct understanding of reality involves breaking it down into its smallest parts? How much of the materialist ontology should we hold on to, as we’re simultaneously trying to throw it out?

In today’s prevailing scientific paradigm, the quantum level is obviously assumed to be the most fundamental, and so I can kind of see why you might say that if conscious intention can affect, say, the double-slit experiment, then what’s actually fundamental is consciousness; but I don’t think that necessarily follows. I think it tells you that quantum physics is at least as fundamental as consciousness–or vice versa–and that’s all you can say about it.

Imagine that someone like Neil DeGrasse Tyson were to actually accept the results of Radin’s double-slit experiment. Couldn’t he still turn around and say, “Of course, this doesn’t suggest that consciousness is fundamental; it does tell us that there’s something quantum mechanical about consciousness, but the mind is still just an epiphenomenon of physics, and reality is still essentially just an algorithm acting on data.” I think he would be wrong to say this, but what is there in our model of quantum physics that would refute him? Again, there may be something that I’m missing, but I’m reasonably confident that I’m not.

I guess the upshot of all this is, if we misconstrue quantum physics as evidence of the spiritual when it actually isn’t, then we can easily fall into a materialist trap, like the one I’ve used NDT to illustrate above. Incidentally, some version of this might be an answer to Alex’s question about why quantum thinking doesn’t protect us from materialist thinking.

Anyway, not necessarily a complete argument, but I’ve really wanted to say these things for a while and I’m just now taking the time to do so. Don’t know how active I can be in these forums (what with being in a PhD program, and also having a sick mom to take care of), but I’ll definitely try to follow up on any responses here. Thanks!

The thing about quantum mechanics, as far as I understand it (and I'm not an expert by any means) is that mathematically, it works and is useful. Since it does, the temptation is to posit that therefore one of the interpretations of it such as hidden variables, or influence by consciousness, or measurement somehow causing collapse of the wave function, etc., must be correct.

I wonder if that's so. It may be that why and how QM works is simply unknown. We may not have the capacity to understand what is really going on and may never do so. The whole discussion about it may be a red herring. I think Bernardo Kastrup is right about Idealism, but I'm not sure I agree with the way he talks about loophole-free experiments with Bell's and Leggett's inequalities proving that either locality or realism is true, but not both. Or the way he uses that as part of the evidence supporting Idealism. IMHO, God bless him, he does tend to weave in physicalist concepts when they fit in with his Idealism.
 
[QUOTE="What I want to challenge is the idea that quantum mechanics is evidence of the primacy of consciousness, and therefore evidence for spiritual reality. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t think there’s any evidence for this at all. I do believe that consciousness is fundamental, but I see no reason to believe that QM supports that idea. [/QUOTE]

I would like to congratulate you on your post and your PhD program and am sorry to hear about your mother.

It seems to me that the reason people with spiritual aspirations like to look for evidence of consciousness in the weirder aspects of QM is because these seem to offer an opportunity for non-material things, like consciousness, to affect material things, like brain neurons. One of the traditional arguments against a spiritual reality was that even if it existed there was no known mechanism for it to affect the material universe. QM seemed to offer some acknowledged mechanism for this to happen.

Personally, the only way I have been able to come to terms with these weirder aspects of QM is to follow the lead of some QM experts I have heard who say information is primary, not matter. If information is primary then an object may have various properties, some materialistic, some QM, maybe some spiritual. With this paradigm we live in a universe of ideas rather than things.

For instance in the case of an electron, it will have mass and energy properties and also QM properties which will allow it to tunnel through a charge barrier in the functioning of a transistor. It's a stretch to imagine a spiritual property but who knows? I mean it is equally hard for me to imagine how a particle that has no size can have mass? Yet an electron does have measurable mass yet it has no measurable size.

With this paradigm compound objects would then possess the properties of their constituents plus perhaps have some emergent properties of their own arising from the interactions of the constituents.

The BIG problem with this idea is how is the view kept consistent between multiple observers?
 
Hope it’s not too late to pick this thread up again.

Okay, it’s possible that we don’t actually disagree on any of this. I should probably go ahead and finally get your book to fully understand your position, but in the meantime, let me try to restate my position in a more succinct manner: Quantum mechanics does not say anything about consciousness. When people talk about the “observer effect” (this being the result from QM that confuses people the most, I think), and point to it as evidence that consciousness is affecting the quantum realm, this is just a straight-up misunderstanding of QM. Radin’s experiments with QM-level PK probably is evidence for consciousness, but that’s a result that’s added on to the findings of QM, not actually part of QM itself. Also, I still don’t really see why we need QM-level PK when we have classical PK. What does QPK add?

my bottom line is that quantum mechanics represents a huge step towards the falsification of materialism... I.E you are biological robot in a meaningless universe it's out the window.

Your point about QM falsifying materialism is important, but I’m not sure how far it goes. It certainly forces us to ask what “material” is in the first place, since we started with little billiard balls knocking around in a void (protons, electrons, etc.) and ended up with fluctuations in a field. But I don’t see that this really challenges the “biological robot in a meaningless universe” thing; in fact, this is actually why I put those specific words in my hypothetical Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s mouth: “it’s all just an algorithm acting on data.” It seems to me that you can still believe that consciousness is an illusion, even without the specific concept of “material” that we’ve had for a couple hundred years.

Right. Again, this is a burden of proof kind of thing. Radin's experiment shifts the burden of proof onto the shoulders of the " you are a biological robot in the meaningless universe" materialists. they must now explain how Consciousness can be both an illusion and demonstrate agency.

So, suppose Tyson really sees that the ball is in his court, burden-of-proof-wise. Couldn't he at least come up with even a vaguely-plausible explanation of psi phenomena using QM? Or if not, he could always just posit more physical laws that account for psi, couldn't he? Our conception of physics is probably not complete yet, so why not?

Of course he could, and that in itself doesn't bother me too much. But to be honest, what has been bothering me this past week is that my belief in some form of idealism might not actually be well-founded, for the reasons outlined above. What if it really is all just undiscovered physics? I still believe that consciousness is fundamental, but should I really believe this now, before all the physics has been worked out? Please, someone help me out of this little box I've constructed around myself, I'm suffocating.
 
I would like to congratulate you on your post and your PhD program and am sorry to hear about your mother.

Thank you very much, Robin.

Personally, the only way I have been able to come to terms with these weirder aspects of QM is to follow the lead of some QM experts I have heard who say information is primary, not matter. If information is primary then an object may have various properties, some materialistic, some QM, maybe some spiritual. With this paradigm we live in a universe of ideas rather than things.

I am sympathetic to the idea that information is primary, but I'm always careful to emphasize that "information" is just a mathematical term we use to describe a lower-dimensional cross-section of something much larger and more alive–which I guess would be consciousness, or the full spiritual reality, or something.

It seems to me that the reason people with spiritual aspirations like to look for evidence of consciousness in the weirder aspects of QM is because these seem to offer an opportunity for non-material things, like consciousness, to affect material things, like brain neurons. One of the traditional arguments against a spiritual reality was that even if it existed there was no known mechanism for it to affect the material universe. QM seemed to offer some acknowledged mechanism for this to happen.

I suppose that's one of the problems with dualism, right? If spirit and matter are two fundamentally different kinds of stuff, then how does spirit affect matter? Might this violate the conservation of energy/information? My own attempts to puzzle through this from a mathematical perspective might actually be dualistic, I have to admit. But fI've always been somewhat inspired by what Turing apparently said, something along the lines of "science is a differential equation, religion is the boundary condition". If I'm correct in assuming that no new discoveries in physics will ever explain psi, then maybe you need to look at the boundary conditions instead–e.g., there is no "mechanism" that makes PK work, per se, it's just information imposed by the boundary conditions, which are in turn set by forces "out there", beyond the realm of physical cause-and-effect.
 
Thank you very much, Robin.



I am sympathetic to the idea that information is primary, but I'm always careful to emphasize that "information" is just a mathematical term we use to describe a lower-dimensional cross-section of something much larger and more alive–which I guess would be consciousness, or the full spiritual reality, or something.

With software information relates to the property of an object. An object is a logical construct describing a class of entities. I tend to think of 'stuff' in this way because software is my daily life. From this point of view objects, like you, or Alex, or me, or the dog, or an electron, can have properties which affect its behaviour in relation to other objects. Like they must obey the law of gravity, or not. For example the object 'strong nuclear force' only operates within the confines of the elementary nucleus. If this is its a property you don't have to explain it, it just is like that. That's the way the universe works. On the one hand I find this frustrating because I like to be able to fix stuff, like software, by figuring out why it works the way it does. On the other hand the universe is too complex for me to figure out and this approach provides a working framework within which one can 'shut up and calculate' as Alex says.

I suppose that's one of the problems with dualism, right? If spirit and matter are two fundamentally different kinds of stuff, then how does spirit affect matter? Might this violate the conservation of energy/information? My own attempts to puzzle through this from a mathematical perspective might actually be dualistic, I have to admit. But fI've always been somewhat inspired by what Turing apparently said, something along the lines of "science is a differential equation, religion is the boundary condition". If I'm correct in assuming that no new discoveries in physics will ever explain psi, then maybe you need to look at the boundary conditions instead–e.g., there is no "mechanism" that makes PK work, per se, it's just information imposed by the boundary conditions, which are in turn set by forces "out there", beyond the realm of physical cause-and-effect.

Yes Dawkin loves to beat up religious people with this argument against dualism. It is actually a strong argument. The counter is to take it on with a full frontal attack. What we see and feel is only our 'user interface'. The real universe is nothing at all like what we see and feel. Matter doesn't really exist at all, it's just an idea. Matter is our interpretation of the presence of other objects with properties that obey the laws of gravity and electromagnetism. There are plenty of other objects, many well known and understood by science, that do not obey these laws, and are not included in our 'user interface'. Maybe some of them are spiritual?
 
Hope it’s not too late to pick this thread up again.

Quantum mechanics does not say anything about consciousness.
I would suggest that this is incorrectly framing the problem. The issue is whether consciousness i.e. "the observer effect" can affect measurement. QM, or more precisely, focusing on measurement at the quantum level, is merely a means to control the experiment. the whole thing is about whether Consciousness is fundamental or matter is fundamental. If the "observer effect" can be shown to be real then the natural conclusion is that Consciousness is fundamental because something Beyond the material is affecting the measurement.

So says Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, John von. Neumann, and Eugene Wigner and many others. And anyone who wasn't on board way back 00 years ago should be convinced by Dean Rady's experiment since it clears up any confusion about the role of the Observer when measuring the Photon beam on Dean's desk. The only issue I can see is whether or not the experiment was done correctly. It seems to me that it was. The observer effect is real. Game over for materialism.


Radin’s experiments with QM-level PK probably is evidence for consciousness

agreed. mic drop [[p]]
 
I've been thinking more about your post. it's really great and I thank you for it. below...

Quantum mechanics does not say anything about consciousness.

I think I may have breezed by this important point too quickly. I think you're absolutely right.

QM is just a story/ engineer's handbook about how things work at a very, very small scale.

when the "observer effect" pops up during Quantum level experiments we shouldn't make the assumption that it's limited to small scale stuff... but of course they did... and maybe the reason they did is because no one wanted to deal with the implications of "the observer effect"/ consciousness/ ghost in the machine. the implications being that we can't really totally measure anything and science is obsolete... or to be more accurate, science is just another branch of engineering.

shut up and calculate [[cb]]
 
when the "observer effect" pops up during Quantum level experiments we shouldn't make the assumption that it's limited to small scale stuff... but of course they did... and maybe the reason they did is because no one wanted to deal with the implications of "the observer effect"/ consciousness/ ghost in the machine. the implications being that we can't really totally measure anything and science is obsolete.

Then I guess we can agree that we don't really need to make reference to QM if we want to show that consciousness is real, and that there really is a spiritual dimension to reality, right? Because you're right, whatever we need to point to can be found in other places: the experimenter effect, NDE research, psi phenomena (including classical-physics-level PK), stuff like that. And to your point that we can't really measure anything entirely precisely, I completely agree; one way or another, you can't use the scale, so to speak, without putting your thumb on it.

I think we could just leave it at that... but I still think you might be mistaken about QM. And it wouldn't even be important, except for two issues: one, it confuses spiritually-inclined people and makes them believe that the "observer" effect is proof of consciousness and so on, when it actually does not; and two, it could still function as a materialist trap, to the extent that there might be a plausible basis for explaining NDEs, psi, etc., as real but still just epiphenomena of physics.

Just having done a cursory search for "observer effect" and finding the wikipedia page for it, there are apparently multiple versions of it. I want to highlight one in particular: "In thermodynamics, a standard mercury-in-glass thermometer must absorb or give up some thermal energy to record a temperature, and therefore changes the temperature of the body which it is measuring." This is another type of thumb-on-the-scale issue that I was talking about before, but you probably wouldn't invoke consciousness to explain it. The quantum observer effect is the same.

I know that many of the great quantum physicists from the early days of quantum physics interpreted their findings in a mystical way, but those are just interpretations. I'll concede that they might even be correct, but there are all kinds of interpretations of QM, some of which don't depend on consciousness at all, and either way, they're all super-added to the actual empirical results–which must be what people are referring to when they say that QM confirms spirituality... right?
 
Then I guess we can agree that we don't really need to make reference to QM if we want to show that consciousness is real, and that there really is a spiritual dimension to reality, right? Because you're right, whatever we need to point to can be found in other places: the experimenter effect, NDE research, psi phenomena (including classical-physics-level PK), stuff like that. And to your point that we can't really measure anything entirely precisely, I completely agree; one way or another, you can't use the scale, so to speak, without putting your thumb on it.

Agreed. again, thanks for clarifying this important distinction.

I think we could just leave it at that... but I still think you might be mistaken about QM.

How so? I think we are in agreement that quantum mechanics is very precise description of matter under certain circumstances.


And it wouldn't even be important, except for two issues: one, it confuses spiritually-inclined people and makes them believe that the "observer" effect is proof of consciousness and so on, when it actually does not...

I think this is more of an issue about the relationship between science and culture and religion.

and I think you could make a strong argument in the other direction... IE many nitwit atheistic scientists have "confused spiritually-inclined people" by insisting that the case for " biological robot in a meaningless universe" materialism is proven when their best experiments resoundingly falsified materialism.

it could still function as a materialist trap, to the extent that there might be a plausible basis for explaining NDEs, psi, etc., as real but still just epiphenomena of physics.

I think you're going against your own argument here. " the extent to which there might be a possible explanation for ndes/psi/etc" is independent of qm. however, the fact that experiments done w/ qm level precision do falsify materialism suggests NDE deniers have a very large burden of proof to overcome.


I know that many of the great quantum physicists from the early days of quantum physics interpreted their findings in a mystical way, but those are just interpretations. I'll concede that they might even be correct, but there are all kinds of interpretations of QM, some of which don't depend on consciousness at all, and either way, they're all super-added to the actual empirical results–which must be what people are referring to when they say that QM confirms spirituality... right?

Yeah, but maybe you're being a little dismissive of the point. I'm really glad we've broken this down to this level of detail because I think it's important to be precise with language, but at the end of the day if the Swami meditator can affect the photon beam in Radin's office... well, that's pretty freak'n mystical. and the last thing I want to do is take another phony promissory note from a sour puss materialist scientist who can't deal with Paradigm collapse [[p]]
 
Alex, I just want to thank you for having this conversation with me. I don't get to have nearly enough conversations like this in my daily life, and you've also forced me to clarify my thoughts on the subject. At this point, I would say that my problem with "quantum woo", to borrow a phrase from the materialists, is twofold:

1.
and I think you could make a strong argument in the other direction... IE many nitwit atheistic scientists have "confused spiritually-inclined people" by insisting that the case for " biological robot in a meaningless universe" materialism is proven when their best experiments resoundingly falsified materialism.

Of course, this is one of my concerns, but it's not all I'm concerned about. I'm also concerned about the people in our camp, whose understanding of spirituality is shot through with a sloppy misunderstanding of what science actually says. At the very least, it annoys the hell out of me, but I think it can be worse than that. For one thing, I think we're just better off if our own thinking is as clean, coherent, and informed as possible. But more than that, it provides an easy target for the materialists to latch onto, allowing them to derail the conversation with objections that, we'll both agree, are ultimately beside the point. "No no, you don't understand QM, and now I have a reason to dismiss everything else you say." Of course, they'll do this anyway, but why give them more ammo? Especially when the kind of spiritual person who believes in woo will not be equipped to handle those objections.

Perhaps even more importantly, though, is that we need spiritually-inclined nerds on our side (your core demographic, I imagine), and when we parrot sloppy misconceptions of science, we alienate the nerds who might be on the fence. I say this from my own experience, because for a few years I was very much on the materialist side, and I was very turned off by exactly those sorts of misconceptions.

2.
I think you're going against your own argument here. " the extent to which there might be a possible explanation for ndes/psi/etc" is independent of qm. however, the fact that experiments done w/ qm level precision do falsify materialism suggests NDE deniers have a very large burden of proof to overcome.

You may be right about me going against my own argument, but let me say a little more about what I'm thinking, and you can tell me if I'm still missing the point. First, let me remind of you this:

So, suppose Tyson really sees that the ball is in his court, burden-of-proof-wise. Couldn't he at least come up with even a vaguely-plausible explanation of psi phenomena using QM? Or if not, he could always just posit more physical laws that account for psi, couldn't he? Our conception of physics is probably not complete yet, so why not?

I only had a vague idea of what this explanation might look like, and now that I've given it some more thought, I think it wouldn't really hold up. However, that obviously wouldn't stop the materialist scientists from not only trying to make this argument, but also fully buying into it; so maybe you should just take this whole exercise as preemptive strategizing for when they do try to deploy the following:

"Okay, well it turns out the mind can affect quantum systems. That must mean that Stuart Hameroff was right all along about his neuronal microtubules, and somehow there's an entanglement between those microtubules and the photons/electrons in Radin's double-slit experiment. But it can all still be explained within a 'naturalist' (read: 'materialist') paradigm. Nothing spooky, nothing more than equations."

And the counterargument: "But then how do you explain something like psychometry? How could the entanglement between an object and someone's microtubules persist over any significant length of time before decoherence takes place? Or, to take a more concrete example, how do you explain the quintuple-blind study that Dr. Julie Beischel conducted on mediums? How can the microtubules in a medium's mind be entangled with those of a person (the sitter, not even the 'discarnate') that they've never met in their lives?" (Maybe you can tell that I finally got your book, Alex )

Again, it's actually an easy argument to knock down, but when (not "if"!) the materialists finally begin to realize that their paradigm is on the ropes, I think they'll probably deploy it, and it will be annoying. And if they do, they'll only acknowledge the results that support the QM-based materialist interpretation of psi, and ignore the rest. And the weird nonlocality of QM will have given them this, which classical-level physics could not have done for them.
 
I think we're just better off if our own thinking is as clean, coherent, and informed as possible. But more than that, it provides an easy target for the materialists to latch onto, allowing them to derail the conversation with objections that, we'll both agree, are ultimately beside the point. "No no, you don't understand QM, and now I have a reason to dismiss everything else you say." Of course, they'll do this anyway, but why give them more ammo? Especially when the kind of spiritual person who believes in woo will not be equipped to handle those objections.

Totally agree with both parts of this. have spent lotta time in these kind of arguments :) But lately... Last couple years... have come to appreciate the " own thinking " part. What I think is so very cool about this little thread is that you have shaped my "own thinking."

One fallout from this thread happened during a conversation I was just having with Dr Steve Bierman who you may remember from a previous episode. I drew the connection between the qm stuff we're talking about and the " placebo effect" and was able to explain how both are really just issues regarding measurement problems in science which are fundamentally linked to consciousness/observer effect. I think this is a new way of thinking about this. it only came about because you nudged me in that direction.


"Okay, well it turns out the mind can affect quantum systems. That must mean that Stuart Hameroff was right all along about his neuronal microtubules, and somehow there's an entanglement between those microtubules and the photons/electrons in Radin's double-slit experiment. But it can all still be explained within a 'naturalist' (read: 'materialist') paradigm. Nothing spooky, nothing more than equations."

Haha... Brilliant! I think this is exactly what we've been pointing toward! IE the fuss re quantum effects and microtubules is unwarranted. Entanglement/observer effect /place placebo effect suggests the consciousness thumb is always on the scale (to borrow your idiom [[p]])

==
BTW what did you think of Quantum Doug?
Dr. Doug Matzke, Quantum Computers and Extended ...
 
Haha, you know, it's funny, this whole thing reminded me of that episode, and I felt much the same way about it–that it's all "metamaterialist", as I've heard you say before about most versions of the simulation hypothesis. Not for nothing, I felt the same way about Riz Virk's quantum simulation thing too, although I didn't really look back to that one very much.

But as for Quantum Doug, and the episode you mentioned, I actually started reading that forum thread the other day, to prepare any thoughts I felt might be relevant. I also re-downloaded the episode, although I haven't even begun to listen yet (so many podcasts, so little time). Not finished reading the thread yet either, but I'm definitely going to take both of those in soon, and see if I feel any differently about the whole thing at this point.

In the meantime though, yes, I wasn't sure where in his whole thing the non-materialism is supposed to come in. It seemed to me that you could easily, and without even much effort, divert it into a purely materialist model. Gotta revisit before I commit to any position, though.
 
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