(also called physicalism) and why it is now a form of obscurantism in physicsBefore 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.
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
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.
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: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.
Clearly we have:
- Does only one of "possible results" get reality status after measurement ?
- Is the "choice" of which result is going to get this reality status, already fixed before measurement (namely, before decoherence: while the physical system is still in the same kind of "superposed state" from which those possibilities may interfere if the appropriate circumstance are provided, thus, it seems, "showing" their "coexistence") ?
- No-No gives Many-worlds
- Yes-Yes gives Hidden variables
- Yes-No only leaves us the choice between spiritualism and spontaneous collapse.
- No-Yes would not make any logical sense, or would it ?
"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."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 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.
"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 ?
"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).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.
"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 !"
" 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.
Hi Sylvain,My reply:
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,
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.
Inspiringphilosophy and contingency
Refuting "scientific" arguments for free will, Ander Smith
My own other pages on the topic: