A call to clarify the debate on the links between quantum physics and consciousness

The idea that consciousness is not an ordinary physical process of brain computation but plays a crucial role in the foundations of quantum physics, has been put forward by a number of physicists, especially among the very founders of quantum physics. Nowadays, however, such ideas seem to be a minority among physicists, and the amount of works and references for the defense of such views remains therefore small. And not only this, but the number of those which are usually taken as references in discussions on this topic is even smaller: usual discussions focus on just one or another reference, which seem to be chosen for the main reason that they were already most usually quoted by other people. As I could see, the most frequently quoted physicists of our time on this topic are Penrose and Stapp. This is done without any clear picture of :

The lack of such a clarification appears to have 2 effects:

As an example of the first effect, in this article, D. Hoffman wrote that "the accepted view is that aspects of neural dynamics—from quantum-gravity induced collapses of wavefunctions at microtubules (Hameroff, 1998) to informational properties of re-entrant thalamo-cortical loops (Tononi, 2004)—cause, or give rise to, or are identical to, consciousness". But even before putting forward that these "aspects of neural dynamics" are indeed generally accepted to be identical to consciousness, I think a first question should be whether or not the quantum-gravity induced collapses of wavefunctions at microtubules are already scientifically established to occur among "aspects of neural dynamics" in the first place; a question which D. Hoffman seems to have ignored. Meanwhile, the wikipedia article about "microtubule" does not even contain the word "quantum". I believe that a clarification on this point is needed.

As for the second effect, a usual argument pointed out by materialists, is that brain processes would be subject to fast quantum decoherence, so that any idea that fundamentally requires the brain to maintain a form of quantum coherence, looks dubious. But I do not feel concerned by such an argument because I consider the expression of free will in the brain (in a sense of a non-algorithmic behavior not deducible by current physics) to be naturally conceivable as taking place in simpler ways, with no need of quantum coherence.
I propose to distinguish between 3 main views according to their kinds of technical details, and which I also see as naturally matched with different ontologies (as part of a larger list of views including naturalistic ones - see also a more official classification of "idealist" views from the philosophical tradition):

Idealism or mind/mathematics dualism The mind exerts free will in brain function, by choosing after decoherence (but not bound to any other physical circumstances) one possibility among several alternatives (to which the Born's rule would give nonzero probability), instead of letting the outcome be driven by blind randomness following this probability law.
Mind/matter dualism
Stapp's view : the result of measurement keeps following Born's rule, but it still has a material effect by its way of removing the non-diagonal elements of the density operator during conscious observation events that do not fit the natural conditions of decoherence.
Panpsychism or
neutral monism
Something else, to be specified: Penrose, Hoffman...

I support the first option, and also found for example Casey Blood (also in this article) and Amit Goswami to be presenting essentially the same view. I only slightly mentioned the Penrose view (as I currently don't figure out how it is supposed to work) in remarks about spontaneous collapse.

Here are my arguments for idealism (or mind/mathematics dualism)

Philosophical argument

The famous "unreasonable efficiency of mathematics in physics" supports mathematical Platonism, but then also the mathematical existence, not just of our universe, but also of all alternative mathematically possible states of a universe as well. But if all mathematical possibilities coexist, then none of them can be meaningfully said more probable than another, thus destroying the sense of probability laws we find in physics. Thus we need a different kind of existence aside the mathematical one (a sense to qualify specific universe(s) as "real" unlike other mathematically existing ones).
This leads to reformulate the dualism/idealism debate in the following terms: can this other (non-mathematical) kind of existence, be a "material" kind separate from consciousness, or does it have to be reducible to conscious existence ? and then argue for the latter as follows:

Arguments from physics

I find the ontological picture described above as wonderfully confirmed by the mathematical form of quantum physics.

I sketched some arguments for my option against Stapp's mind/matter dualism in the main page where I express my view (section "Perception and decoherence") and another page focusing on Stapp's view. I might keep working to develop the arguments, but first of all I wish to know whether any participant or any reference of a work, can be found in specific support to a different option as opposed to the rest of options, instead of satisfying oneself with general arguments against materialistic views which are usually held as the main focus of concern in books and public spaces.

Feedback from parapsychology

On the experimental side, this article by George Williams tried to match the candidate theories on mind-matter interaction with experimental data, which includes some observed deviations of quantum random generators away from Born's rule. There, he faced difficulty at finding a theory that seemed coherent with these data, by lack of having found any clear statement of the above first option as a candidate theory in usual references. What seemed to him, was that the Penrose model does not fit well, but that Bohm's theory of "implicate order", itself confused with his hidden variables interpretation, would be a better match.

Bad arguments I reject

Ideas as initiated by David Bohm, involving such concepts as "Holonomic brain theory", inspired some authors of Christian apologetic videos, to put forward the holographic principle of quantum gravity as an argument in favor of idealism. The idea of such a link between idealism and the holographic principle was strongly criticized in this blog article, but trying to explain to the authors of these videos, who did a lot of work searching for scientific references, that their argument by the holographic principle really has no weight, was not obvious. See my long reply to this article, which I wrote in a try to fix some very general misunderstandings around issues of scientific credibility in this debate.

In arguments against dualism, I do not consider the "interaction problem" as a real problem, but rather a mere lack of imagination on the possible relations between 2 things of a different nature. I support mind/mathematics dualism, which I do not consider as subject to any such problem (the "interaction" between mind and math is very assymmetrical)

Penrose's Panpsychism : a terrible position "in the middle"

Ironically, Penrose, being himself a declared atheist, seems to have the exact same prejudice against idealism and dualism as the one he seems to be victim of in his way to try relating quantum physics with consciousness, as can be seen for example in the way he dismisses such views as "outside science" in his article here. But by the way he and his group just dismiss idealism as unscientific, they never provide any arguments against it, and thus leave the debate empty. It may be ironical if they try to present themselves as victims of their boldness against scientists prejudices by trying to pioneer metaphysical discussions in physics with possible links between quantum physics and consciousness, when the truth is that, as I could see from their articles, they are themselves discrediting such an adventure by the pseudo-scientific details of their propositions. This goes so not only on the physical side of the argument but also the pure mathematical side: with Penrose made very ill-developed remarks on the non-algorithmicity of the mind in connection with the incompleteness theorem, having no good idea on how to find any coherence, neither in the purely mathematical argument, nor with its possible connection with physics. Namely, beyond classical computation, quantum computation is only known to bring a jump between finite measures of complexity, with no clue of any jump to the infinite which the incompleteness theorem is about.

Related pages

The debate on quantum idealism and science
Specifications for a Mind Makes Collapse interpretation of quantum physics
A mind/mathematics dualistic foundation of physical reality
Introduction to quantum physics (notions of states and measurements)
Main page of arguments on quantum physics interpretations
On materialism and its pathological pseudo-arguments far from science