The decay of materialism

(also called physicalism) and why it is now a form of obscurantism in physics

Before physical considerations, and I'd say more importantly (though may be differently perceived by different people) are logical arguments : a big analysis of the nonsense of naturalism is now in a separate page.
Now some physical arguments
  1. Is complexity finite or infinite ?
  2. The modern state of affairs: evidence against naturalism by quantum physics
  3. Review of pseudo-arguments for physicalism found in "scientific" articles (sic) against the idea of a link between quantum physics and consciousness
  4. References
Another argument against naturalism in another page

The modern state of affairs: evidence against naturalism by quantum physics

A scientific materialism was indeed conceivable before the discovery of quantum physics. Many physicists had, and still have, a strong faith in that the physical universe is the ultimate reality, so they did everything they could to discover that Physical Reality. The result sounded like this mystical experience of James Huber having this conversation with God :

"I asked if I was speaking with God. I got the answer "Yes".(...) I asked if He existed. He said "No." "

So by force of theory and experiment, physicists finally had an encounter with Physical Reality, which revealed itself to them in the form of Quantum Theory. So they asked this Quantum Theory : "Are you the Physical Reality?"
By its countless experimental verifications, Quantum Theory answered "Yes". So they examined it theoretically, for the question "Do you exist (as a physical reality) ?", and the answer was No.
It can happen for a physicist to change his mind in face of that answer, but many have just too strong metaphysical prejudices to be able to accept this rational evidence that the material things have no nature other than as mathematical structures. Einstein and Bell are among the last dinosaurs of scientific materialism. Some physicists still try to persevere in this tradition in spite of its hopelessness: insofar as they keep pretending that science supports naturalism, they are actually more and more unscientific by their very way of claiming so. Physicalists usually going nuts at the idea of a connection between quantum physics and consciousness, believing that such a view must be irrational, but the fact is that they are usually the ones getting totally irrational when entering the topic, as shown with some examples in the below Review of arguments for physicalism.
However, even if the answer is clear and the evidence is there, it is still a hard answer to swallow. So they have to venture into irrational ways to deny the facts. Which facts, you may ask ? Indeed, it is not exactly clear at first. However, naturalists also play with this lack of clarity of the topic, a lack of clarity which they contribute to feed with their own mess. They love "physical reality" so much that even if this physical reality, when revealing itself in all the amazing light of its mathematical wonders, happens to contradict their belief in her reality, they won't believe her. When they ask her "Do you exist ?" the only answer they can understand and accept is "Yes". As long as they get a "No" answer, they will keep searching for ways to imagine that the answer was not clear yet, and they will keep faithfully prophesying that it is just a matter of insistence to keep studying the equations hard enough so that a "Yes" answer will ultimately be found hiding behind the current "No".
This is the whole project of the research field called "Quantum Foundations": the project of trying to twist the interpretation of the "No" answer of Nature to the question of the fundamental reality of matter, so as to understand it as a "Yes".
But, I'd return the ball : which lack of clarity do you exactly mean to refer to, seriously ? Isn't that just a demonstration of laziness to come and claim that things would really be unclear ? If you think things are unclear, let me help you a little bit with the following:

Theorem. One of the following views is true.

  1. Nihilism. There is no knowable universe, no possible science, nothing. Your mind is just the puppet of a playful deamon.
  2. Spiritualism. The mind plays a fundamental role in physics, collapsing the wave function.
  3. Hidden variables
  4. Spontaneous collapse
  5. Many-worlds
The negation of 1. is all we still need nowadays to confirm the news of the overwhelming success of quantum theory as description of the physical universe. Now for each measurement of a physical system which quantum theory describes as undetermined, we may ask: Clearly we have:
Now anyone willing to both endorse the scientific quest and reject spiritualism as above defined, would have to develop and defend the plausibility of at least one of these naturalistic interpretations of quantum physics. against lots of troubles which can be found in the exploration of logical consequences of each, including the fact that the above mentioned kind of purely logical, metaphysical considerations showing the absurdity of naturalist views of the soul, comes back in some even more acute manner, in a way or another once inserted in each of these views.
Instead of this, the overwhelming trend of behavior by materialists, as I saw in Quora answers to any question on the role of consciousness in quantum physics, consists in denying this role by presenting, whenever they try to give a little bit of details (which isn't even so often, as many answers come as raw conclusions simply denying the role of consciousness but without any word on how quantum physics should be understood), raw claims of how things worked instead, in the tone of established scientific facts.
But, letting aside those claims which are plain false not fitting any interpretation (and these are rather common), each specific claim logically has to be specific to one or another of the naturalistic interpretations, automatically excluding the rest of naturalistic interpretations by the same move as they exclude the role of consciousness. However : A handful of scientists may still dedicate their life to try developing precise definitions and arguments for interpretations of quantum physics, especially by hidden variables and spontaneous collapse theories (while many-worlds is more canonically defined), but these progressively drift away from science towards nonsense. They might still try to do their best to keep scientific standards in this work, but they have to admit its lack of success. See also the quote from Chalmers
The resistance of naturalistic views in such circumstances may be finally best explained by Jean-Yves Girard's story of the Houston cuckolds.

This hopelessness of the research field of Quantum Foundations (only part of it, fortunately much of the works on "Quantum Foundations" are genuine scientific analysis of things in logical positivist ways, ignoring the interpretation problem), the fact that it cannot be resolved in the directions where people keep searching, is finally what makes it so great, especially as a job plan. Seriously. So many grants and prizes are given for it by FQXI, and more can be found elsewhere. Candidate solutions will never be satisfactory, so that there will always be more to say and research about it, by developing more and more complicated equations (while the correct understanding I provided is much simpler and does not require any more equation than those we already have, up to the concept of decoherence).
That way, a number of physicists are starting to work like philosophers, heading into the most hopeless, senseless and fruitless ideas just because that is their only remaining way to still have a job for their large numbers, by lack of any more real problem to work on (since genuine physics became victim of its victories). They have to multiply the extravagant ideas, up to inventing nonsense out of nowhere (not inspired by any experimental indication of any deviation from quantum physics, since they are not looking at the right place to find the deviations where they really are).

Review of arguments for physicalism

Problem : can there exist anyone with a feeling of having arguments against the idea of a link between quantum physics and consciousness, without being dumb ?

All what I could find (if you know anything more rational, please tell !!):

Critique of "Quantum Enigma:Physic encounters Consciousness" (Michael Nauenberg, May 2007)
"The central claim that understanding quantum mechanics requires a conscious observer, which is made made by B. Rosenblum and F. Kuttner in their book "Quantum Enigma: Physics encounters consciousnes", is shown to be based on various misunderstandings and distortions of the foundations of quantum mechanics."
The question can be asked as to where a particle is located in between observations, but this question is metaphysical, and lies outside the realm of scientific inquiry. The claim that it requires consciousness to make the location of an object an “actuality,” which is repeated like a mantra throughtout QE, is not supported by any evidence, and it is demonstrably false.
Problem : if "metaphysical" questions should be dismissed as illegitimate objects of scientific inquiry, then why is there any physicist working on any issue of interpretation of quantum physics, and getting paid for such works ? If there was no problem in considering things without consciousness, then why is it that no single other interpretation could be found as satisfying for everybody, to such a point that people defending one or another interpretation are often well aware that they cannot do it positively as really satisfying interpretations, but only as what seems relatively not too bad compared to other interpretations ? If the need of consciousness was "demonstrably false", why is he not giving the reference of a genuine refutation instead of just repeating his belief that it would be demonstrably false, like a mantra ?
"The “facts” that have been demonstrated are correlations"
This remark is out of subject to what it claims to reply, that is, the idea of instantaneous effect of an observation on a distant one. If you have any objection to this idea of instantaneous action at distance by observation, then you are excluding Bohmian mechanics as well. Go try arguing with the proponents of Bohmian mechanics that they are wrong for this reason, and see if you can convince them.
"A particle can be localized by an appropriate recording device, a Geiger counter, a photographic plate, etc., independent of any particular hu man observer."
Where is the proof that the Many-Worlds interpretation is false ? Isn't he mistaking collapse with decoherence ?

So I read the article to this point and found it completely empty and incoherent: his objections actually result in rejecting both the many-worlds and Bohmian mechanics as well, so what option is there left ? Spontaneous collapse, or an angry shut-up-and-calculate ? Just a vain irrational way of repeating mantras of disagreement, as if there were well-known evidences for his beliefs, but never mentioning any of such, simply because there is none, but only widespread prejudice and lack of understanding. There is no kind of rational argument or evidence to reject the mind makes collapse interpretation. Now arrived at this point it looks clear that the expressed opposition is pure emotional nonsense without a beginning of a sense of what is a rational argument and what is the state of the debate on the topic. I don't think it is worth my time reading and replying any further.

Quantum mechanics and free will: counter-arguments (M. Lopez-Corredoira, 2002)
"the different interpretations of quantum mechanics, those that are based on the collapse of the wave function by the mind when this participates in a measurement give rise in some cases to a defense of freedom of will. This idea was proposed by Compton (1935, 1981), von Neumann (1932) and Wigner (1961, 1967) and other authors such as H. P. Stapp (1991, 1993, 1995), L. Bass (1975), W. Heitler (1963), P. J. Marcer (1992), R. Penrose (1994).

"Indeterminism is not an absence of causation but the presence of non−deterministic causal processes (...)we
can understand "causality" in a more general sense: causality as "explanation" or "reason"

"contemporary physics has not succeeded in approximating further to acknowledge of an autonomous consciousness that freely governs the body.
We have a baby without mind, it is just a piece of matter. One second later, we have a baby with a mind that can produce the collapse of the wave function in the systems which he observes. Absurd!
The most difficult question to solve is the paradox of the Universe before the existence of any mind.
Further ridiculous ideas were proposed to explain this paradox (e.g., Kafatos & Nadeau 1990) by arguing that some Universal Mind (God?) was present before the existence of life on the earth to collapse the wave functions, but this pantheist solution does not explain why human mind is now responsible of the collapse instead of God ́s Mind. Did He take a holiday after our appearance? Absurd !
So, purely emotional reaction to ideas which this person decided to reject by principle, but no beginning of a rational argument here. Of course the fundamental role of consciousness to collapse the wavefunction is logically incompatible with the materialistic assumption that consciousness was the product of the brain function and could not exist outside it, so that it would indeed be ridiculous to keep them both. What is ridiculous here is to keep that materialistic assumption as if it was unquestionable, to pretend that the problem must be coming from the other side of the contradiction.

Quantum mechanics needs no consciousness (and the other way around) (Shan Yu, Danko Nikolić, Sep 2010)
This article is obvious bullshit (straw man fallacy): the authors insist on telling their own story of experimental pseudo-test of a "no collapse without conscious perception" hypothesis, according to their own ridiculous misinterpretation of the interpretation (which idiot ever seriously formulated that kind of experimental prediction from "no collapse without conscious perception", believing in it ?), then claims that the experimental results refute the hypothesis (thus "proves collapse without consciousness"), before finally admitting that it does not mean anything at all because the observed result is anyway predicted by quantum mechanics independently of the hypothesis (in whatever the interpretation) - but then why have wasted that time to explain this pseudo-test that had no chance to lead anywhere ? Indeed if you could experimentally prove that a collapse happened in some circumstance without conscious perception then it would be a great news as it would refute the Many-worlds interpretation as well ! Go learn the difference between collapse and decoherence !
" Therefore, we argue that the kind of experiment proposed and discussed in the present paper, for which the results are completely predictable by the known properties of quantum mechanics, is the only kind of experiment that can be in principle proposed. "
Well, no, first because only dumb people could propose this particular experiment as if it had anything to do with the subject at hand, while any reasonable physicist would dismiss it as irrelevant since its expectable results are clear predictions of quantum theory regardless of interpretation ; second, because very different kinds of experiments with different expectable outcomes are possible and even already well-known, so that the ridiculous experiment here might merely be "the only" stupid kind that some pseudoskeptics can figure out as they cannot imagine anything else. Namely, their proud declaration of impossibility to figure out anything else may just correctly qualify their own impossibility in principle to figure out the need to go inform themselves about other kinds of experiments that have already been done, such as those made in parapsychology, which seemed to actually prove the influence of consciousness to collapse the wavefunction.

Skepticism about the implications of near death experiences. I respect the author who writes intelligent criticism of religion, however I think she has not so wise views here (sorry I did not take the time to check it in details).

I will examine later these top found references from some google search

The Case for Naturalism by Sean Carroll ; naturalism vs. theism; God or blind nature ; some more arguments.

What are the arguments for denying that consciousness collapses the wave function?

My conversation with Luke Mastin

Me : His reply:
Hi Sylvain,
I am probably meddling in things I don't really understand here (as I hope I make clear in my websites, I am not an expert, just an interested bystander). My understanding of decoherence, from all that I have read, is that it is indeed the destruction of the superposition, and not the "destruction of the practical measurability of the superposition". I think if I try to describe it that way in an entry level website like mine, I am just going to confuse other entry level people (as well as myself). I have deliberately tried not to be too pedantic and not to get too far into semantics. I also don't understand what "classically probabilistic superposition" means - that is a contradiction in terms as I understand it - either it is classical or it is probabilistic (i.e. quantum). And finally, I still don't see how the known laws of physics can be incompatible with naturalism, but then I didn't really understand your article either). So, basically I think you are probably operating at a higher level than I am, and I don't understand your objections well enough to make any changes to my own works. Sorry,

My reply:
You have been misinformed by similarly careless sources, so that you are spreading a false rumor here. Telling things as I said would make it look a slight bit harder to read, with the difference that it would be a correct information instead of a false one. The feeling of clarity which you are now providing by hiding the truth, is a lie. Please inform yourself more carefully and you will see. I'm just now having a look at the wikipedia article about it, and it makes things directly clear in its introduction in the way I told you, thus directly refuting what you claim to understand from "all that (you) have read".

" I have deliberately tried not to be too pedantic and not to get too far into semantics."

It is not a matter of semantics. It is a matter of not spreading false rumors and incorrect information, which concretely results, as I noticed, in proudly declaring scientifically wrong information in guise of arguments for atheism. This is no more any good approximation.

"I also don't understand what "classically probabilistic superposition" means"

Classically probabilistic superposition, is what the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics is describing at a macroscopic level : that different possible measurement results keep coexisting in parallel universes, with respective weights.
So you are spreading lies by your inability or refusal to learn about what you are talking about and still refusing to shut up. I have a long experience that religious people, when preaching the Gospel, are continuously doing just that, since they refuse to understand my testimony of what I found wrong with religion, and to stop preaching their harmful Gospel as a result. So I see you are not really different from them.

Other references to be commented later

Inspiringphilosophy and contingency
Refuting "scientific" arguments for free will, Ander Smith


Tom Hartsfield has no clear idea:

Interesting news: quantum mysticism is orthodoxy

Materialists have to take refuge in "heterodoxy". That is what can be found in the pinned message of this fb group with 6589 members on 15 sept, 2016 : "This is a group to discuss all things "quantum" and related---ideas, theories, empirical data...---of a HETERODOX nature. This is not a group that will impose orthodox (junk) quantum mysticism, but we will explore the full heterodox (heretical) realm of quantum science, or anything related thereto."; for this, the group description says "We do not embrace the concept of "Mainstream" but the advancement of Independent Researchers". Enjoy !

References against materialism and "skeptics"

My own other pages on the topic:

What it’s like and what’s really wrong with physicalism: a Wittgensteinean perspective against physicalism
Minding matter: materialism alone cannot explain the riddle of consciousness by Adam Frank
Logical but absurd consequences of naturalism by someone actually believing them : My God, It's Full of Clones: Living in a Mathematical Universe by Marc Séguin
Marcello Truzzi's article introducing the term "Pseudo-Skepticism" (1987)
True Skepticism versus Pseudo-Skepticism (a forum message)
Debunking the Pseudoskeptics of Near-Death Experiences with some links
Myths of Skepticism
Skeptical About Skeptics
Debunking PseudoSkeptical Arguments of Paranormal Debunkers - many links
Victor Zammit's $1 Million Challenge
CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview
The James Randi challenge terminated and how it was just a fraud. Links from there to more detailed studies : The myth of James Randi's Million Dollar Challenge - A critical look at Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge - Michael Prescott:The challenge
The Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) has some free resources (I would not support all things there, I think it pitifully mixes good and bad works, but...) - one article : The Pathology of Organized Skepticism
The Unbearable Fear of Psi: On Scientific Suppression in the 21st Century
As another example, here is an interview with Cardiologist and NDE Researcher Dr. Pim van Lommel.
(discussed here). Other interesting interviews can be found in the Skeptiko site.
Unlike antiscientific ideas such as creationism, intelligent design or other irrationalities, and to the surprise of many skeptics, belief in the paranormal does not decrease with education (contrary to other antiscientific views such as creationism).

Differences in paranormal beliefs across fields of study

Former skeptic

Links to philosophical arguments

Berkeley’s idealism
J.Searle's list of arguments against materialism
Related pages : The nonsense of naturalism - Review of "An evidential case for naturalism and against theism V_4" found in Facebook
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