Response to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuEHe_BK-oI
When a video starts out with a bunch of name calling, you know the video doesn’t have good arguments. The reason is because one has to bolster his arguments by trying to throw out a bunch of insults in an attempt to give the illusion that one’s opponents are beneath him. Calling someone a ‘fringe quack’ is not an argument. There was a time when the big bang was thought to be quackery, as well as the need for doctors to wash their hands. You need arguments and evidence to show why a theory is wrong, but name-calling doesn’t work. This seems to be the new tactic of some angry new atheists: just call quantum mechanics ‘woo woo’ and move on. It’s really hysterical when we cite scientific studies, and they come back with-name calling. ThePolymath decided to do an hour-long response to my video, “Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism” and that was pretty much what he did. There was little to no evidence given for why the video was wrong, and he didn’t even address many of my points. Here, I’m going to respond to his points (if you can call them that), and show how he failed in many several ways to debunk the video, or to give evidence of hidden variables, giving realism a leg to stand on. Perhaps next time, he should spend more time doing research instead of wasting time figuring out fun ways to insult someone he disagrees with.
Ending at 8:55 – He starts by getting technical and saying that when it comes to observation, “As a matter of physics, it cannot be a human observer, as our eyes are not sensitive enough to see the low intensity light that is frequently dealt with in these types of experiments.” That I agree. I thought it would have been obvious that we are not actually seeing subatomic particles, which is why in my original video I only say an observer makes measurement or an observation, never that we are ‘seeing’ particles. This technicality is hardly a problem for idealism and I’ll explain more in a moment with the decoherence project and the von Neumann chain, as you still need an observer to begin with.
But first, ending at 9:17 – He seems to accuse me of endorsing the pseudoscience documentary “What the Bleep do we know” by Fred Allen Wolf. But do I ever refer to Fred Allen Wolf or cite him in my original video? No, because he does take things too far. I merely use graphics from a documentary to explain the double slit experiment. I never endorse his work, nor do I say that I agree with him. This shows desperation if you have to get upset over the graphic choices I used, and jump to the conclusion that this means I endorse the documentary. Ironically, ThePolymath also uses graphics from the same documentary later in his video, so I guess he must support Wolf… In fact by his own reasoning he does agree with Fred Allen Wolfe.
Ending at 15:27 – Now as expected Polymath tries the interaction/decoherence argument, that observers are not needed to cause collapse to one definite state. But this has been dealt with so many times now. When two photons interact they will cause collapse, but that is only because one is connected back to conscious observer, through what is known as a von Neumann chain.1 When one photon is measured by another they entangle, which is what Bohr pointed out mathematically years ago. If one particle measures another it inherits part of it wave function, so to speak, and that particle (which is supposed to be measuring) cannot be fully explained without what it is measuring. So you need another measuring device to collapse that (initial measuring) particle to a definite state and so on and so on. This creates a chain of material objects in a superposition of measuring. Since quantum laws are what truly describe all material things some other particle or measuring apparatus always need to collapse the next one so it can also measure. You keep going back until you get to something non-local, outside the system, which escapes this chain by not being described by physical quantum laws, which is a conscious observer. And the observer cannot be fully described by quantum theory. I like the way the physicists Stephen Barr explains this:
The surprising claim, however, is that this cannot be done. The observer is not totally describable by physics… If we could describe by the mathematics of quantum theory everything that happened in a measurement from beginning to end-that is, even up to the point where a definite outcome was obtained by the observer- then the mathematics would have to tell us what that definite outcome was. But this cannot be, for the mathematics of quantum theory will generally yield only probabilities. The actual definite result of the observation cannot emerge from the quantum calculation. And that says that something about the process of observation- and something about the observer- eludes the physical description.2
On top of that advocates of the decoherence project (that interaction will cause collapse without the conscious observer) admit this cannot fully explain why there is a collapse to one definite state and derive the Born Rule. E. Joos says, “Does decoherence solve the measurement problem? Clearly not. What decoherence tells us, is that certain objects appear classical when they are observed. But what is an observation? At some stage, we still have to apply the usual probability rules of quantum theory.”3 G. Bacciagaluppi says, “Claims that simultaneously the measurement problem is real [and] decoherence solves it are confused at best.4“
See more in this paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0312059
Why would they say this? Well as, G. Grübl demonstrates in “The quantum measurement problem enhanced,” initial state environmental effects cannot explain the occurrence of definite experimental outcomes. The environment lacks the ability to choose between the possibilities in the wavefunction and choose one to be actual. Plus the environment is also described by the same quantum laws and has the same results. Thus is why Stephen Adler says “Decoherence, in the absence of a detailed theory showing that it leads to stochastic outcomes with the correct properties, has yet to achieve this status.”5 Even in “Preferred states, predictability, classicality and the environment-induced decoherence” Zurek refers to the observer being involved in the ultimate collapse.6
Interaction stems back from an observer’s ability to make “Heisenberg choice” (to use Henry Stapp’s terminology), which derives a “Dirac Choice” back from nature. That is how we can derive the Born Rule and get one actual outcome from the possibilities of the wavefunction. Only the observer has the ability to ‘choose’ (give a Heisenberg choice) between possibilities. Non-conscious measuring devices cannot. As Henry Stapp says:
The observer in quantum theory does more than just read the recordings. He also chooses which question will be put to Nature: which aspect of nature his inquiry will probe. I call this important function of the observer ‘The Heisenberg Choice’, to contrast it with the ‘Dirac Choice’, which is the random choice on the part of Nature that Dirac emphasized.7
Niels Bohr said in reply to Einstein once said:
“To my mind, there is no other alternative than to admit that, in this field of experience, we are dealing with individual phenomena and that our possibilities of handling the measuring instruments allow us only to make a choice between the different complementary types of phenomena we want to study.”8
Ending at 16:21- Here is tries to claim particles actually have properties prior to measurement. And of course, he provides no evidence for this hidden variable, or why we can choose what properties a particle has, as shown by the double slit experiment. How does the particle know what we are going to pick so it can conform to that?
He continues with this theme even though he provides no evidence, he just assume he is right. The problem is, in absence of observation, all we can speak of in regards to a photon is its wavefunction, which is a wave of possibilities rather than a real thing. As Niels Bohr said, “No elementary phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is a registered phenomenon.”9
As they point out in book, ‘The Quantum Enigma’, “Quantum probability is not the probability of where the atom is. It’s the objective probability of where you or anybody, will find it. The atom wasn’t someplace until it was observed to be there.”10
As Heisenberg said years ago: “. . . the atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.”11 Unless there is evidence of some hidden variable, then how can someone even suggest that a particle has its properties prior to measurement? ThePolyMath doesn’t seem to care or provide any evidence for hidden variables.
But at 21:43 – He tries to quote Victor Stenger to say that particles have properties prior to measurement. However, Stenger never actually explains why this is so. He goes on for several minutes and concludes, “This whole thing is a total misunderstanding.” Okay… Why? Can skeptics not back up this claim, or it is easier to pretend it already has been?
You can call it what you like, but that doesn’t make it true. This would be as bad as if my argument was: “Idealism is true because Amit Goswami says so.” ThePolyMath fallaciously thinks he can just appeal to the opinion of Stenger and be done with it. It’s truly adorable.
Now, lets be clear before we move on. I am not attacking the use of referring to an expert here. That is fine. Quotes are a good way to provide support for your argument, but the key is using them to support an argument, not just saying “person X” disagrees with you, therefore you are wrong. It would have been fine if he gave an argument for hidden variables then quoted Stenger, or even vice-verse. But just relying on the beliefs of one physicist is not an argument.
Ending at 30:10 – He tries to say Haisch doesn’t support an idealist picture of reality, which is laughable! I don’t think he has read much of him. I’d recommend his book “The God Theory” even though I don’t entirely agree with his theology. But to say that astrophysicist Bernard Haisch doesn’t support the idea that mind is fundamental shows very poor research.
He also continues to claim that particles really have properties prior to measurement, but doesn’t really say how or why. In 1982, the violation of Bell’s inequality demonstrated that particles can obtain their properties instantly over a great distance, when the other entangled particle is measured by an observer. So what causes this if not the observer? Why does it just appear we can decide what properties a particle has, and cause non-local effects instantly? Why does observation just appear to collapse the wavefunction to a definite state every time, and even so non-locally?
John Bell theorized that maybe the particles can signal faster than the speed of light. This is what he advocated in his interview in “The Ghost in the Atom.” But the violation of Leggett’s inequality in 2007 takes away that possibility and rules out all non-local hidden variables.12 Observation instantly defines what properties a particle has and if you assume they had properties before we measured them, then you need evidence, because right now there is none which is why realism is dead, and materialism dies with it.
Ending at 30:16 – ThePolymath tries an ad hominem against Haisch here, which shows his desperation. Because Haisch believes some crazy stuff (in his view), he must be wrong about the violation of Leggett’s inequality. So how does that follow? To refute an argument you need evidence, not character assassination. ThePolymath fails to give any. Instead, he just moves on thinking he did his job.
Imagine if I said Dawkins is wrong on his philosophy because he is just a biologist and an atheist… That is pretty much what ThePolyMath does here. In my original video I merely use a video clip of Haisch talking about the 2007 violation of Leggett’s inequality, who is citing “The New Scientist magazine.” Nowhere did I say that I fully agree with Him; just that Leggett’s inequality was violated, and any testable hidden variable has been ruled out.
Ending at 32:37 – Things start to get interesting now. ThePolyMath becomes vague and obscure in his choice of words. He admits something interesting, which is that the knowledge of the properties a particle has, is inaccessible to us. Right! And so we must then ask why it appears that my choice of how to measure gives it a definite position. Are they really there when we don’t measure? If so, why can’t we find hidden variables showing that matter is not dependent on how we choose to measure?
Ending at 34:11 – He continues to remain vague and says something that I could not agree more with at this point. He directly says, “the system itself is information.” Why would this challenge idealism? I doubt he would agree with this claim metaphysically, but he never clarifies. We idealists would completely agree because all reality is information. I also love some of the other things he says before this, like “…in this sense the experimenter is preparing the wavefunction with an initial condition. It can be said that the “which path’ information of any quantum mechanical experiment reduces the state vector, simply because the preparation of the system at any point in time of observation is such that an amount of information which would tell you one of the many eigenstates or paths of the superposition is known to be the definite state or path.” So basically the observer prepares the wavefunction to yield one definite state, which is something I completely agree with. The observer chooses one possibility from the wave function to be actual. How is this challenging what I already said in my original video?
Also love how he says “in principle” we could of measured something different and obtained some other result, and I agree. This is actually the same thing taught in “The Quantum Enigma.” In principle we could of chosen a different possibility to be actual. How does any of this show particles have defined properties before we choose to measure them?
Ending at 36:02 – I almost laughed out loud at this point. Things really start to go down hill now (if they weren’t there already). In my original video I quote Anton Zeilinger talking about the implications of the Kochen-Specker theorem. That our notion of reality depends on our earlier decision of what to measure, which destroys the idea that matter acts independent of us. ThePolyMath says he agrees. Well, if he accepts that our notion of reality now depends on our earlier decision of what to measure, then he agrees that there are no hidden variable acting independent of us, which refutes his opinion (I can’t call it an argument because there was no evidence for it) he gave throughout the first half of a video: that measurement doesn’t give a particle it’s properties. So was he too lazy to go back and fix the first half? Whatever it is, we can’t avoid the implications of the Kochen-Specker theorem.
But he seems to think he can by arguing this doesn’t apply to the macro-world. Now if he’d actually cared to research this topic before thinking he can make a response video, he would’ve of watched the full interview with Zeilinger that I cited. He would have seen that Zeilinger was asked this very question next, no less than a few seconds later. So here ThePolyMath is caught once again doing very poor research. Zeilinger’s reply to question (whether or not the effects of the observer are limited to just quantum objects and not macro-objects) was, “As people say, this is comforting possibility, but there is no reason to believe that, nothing in this theory tells us that. There is no limit for the validity of Quantum mechanics and we and other groups are actually exploring how far can we go and I’m sure we will go to sizes that our quite surprising.” If ThePolyMath actually cared about research instead of just finding any way he thought might work to refute the overwhelming evidence for idealism, he wouldn’t have put his foot in his mouth by trying to argue they very thing that Zeilinger says is not possible in the next question of the interview.13
The Kochen-Specker theorem applies to all matter including the macro-world. Our notion of reality depends on our earlier decision of what to measure, and you cannot escape by positing a separation of the macro world, as Zeilinger points out. And if he agrees with this section, then what was he talking about in the first half of his video that properties of particles exist prior to measurement? As Zeilinger said in the interview (which appeared in my video and his response video), “…we know it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement.” Case closed on hidden variables.
Ending at 39:03 – I am not sure if he remembers the video he is responding to. I directly cited several violations of the Leggett-Garg inequality. When he states the Leggett-Garg inequality has not been violated, he is just wrong. But he does say experiments, which show violations of the Leggett-Garg inequality, are criticized. OK… Why? What evidence can he give? Or is he just going to assume that is good enough? The recent violations are even harder to dismiss. Such as:
Why are these not violations and where is the line between the quantum and macro-world? Furthermore, there is no way around the fact that the macro-world is made of quantum objects. So the fundamental nature of reality stays quantum (indeterministic and dependent on observer’s input) and the macro-world is just an emergent illusion of this quantum world. That fits just fine into my worldview.
This idea of a dividing line as recently been challenged by Johannes Kofler and Caslav Brukner in a presentation titled “Macrorealism Emerging from Quantum Physics,” which I cited in my original video. As they say, it is conceptually different from the decoherence program but not dynamically. What they say is macrorealism emerges from quantum mechanics under coarse grain-measurements, not independent through a limit for large quantum numbers. Observation still affects macro-objects; we just don’t notice it because the effects are so small.
They argue, and I agree, it has more explanatory power as it can fully explain isolated systems and how macro-realism emerges. Where as the decoherence program has a hard time explaining the dividing line and how to explain why we observe one definite outcome. Coarse-grained measurements for macro-realism has more explanatory power so far, and fits with the frequent violations of the Leggett-Garg inequality.14
So continuing this, ending at 41:00 – I can stop laughing at this point? When Zeilinger was asked what the limit was on showing quantum effects on macro objects. He replied “Only Budget.”15 As I write, physicists are already planning experiments on mid-sized proteins and viruses and no one doubts that the results will be different than before. As I already said in my original video, quantum effects have already been demonstrated with macro-objects. There is no dividing line here. Macro-objects are quantum objects and this has been shown. Case Closed.
Ending at 46:17 – This shows his anger, bias, and ignorance. Nowhere did I see an argument here; just immature bully tactics. Obviously he has some personal anger issues he needs to work out. These arguments from quantum mechanics are really bothering him, and it appears more personal than ‘respectful disagreement’.
Schrodinger’s thought experiment about the cat was meant to show quantum mechanics was absurd and needed to be fixed, but as I already demonstrated in my videos with the experimental results, and as Michio Kaku pointed out: the answer is that this thought experimental is actually true in a sense. Matter, even macro-objections, are quantum objects and observation gives a definite outcome to one state. He has done nothing to show this is false.
Naming-calling is the tactic of children when they are outsmarted, and that is all he does here. So instead of refuting my original video he only reconfirms that he cannot and can only insult.
Second, this shows his bias. ThePolyMath’s thought process seems to be: scientific evidence is okay as long as it doesn’t support the existence of a God. This is not thinking objectively; this is presuppositional atheist apologetics, meaning all the evidence must favor his worldview, or something is wrong with it. If I am actually wrong, then he can show that with evidence, not presuppositional beliefs that science cannot provide evidence for theism no matter what.
Just before the end he throws up a slide saying that the words “mind” or “consciousness” do not appear in any of Zeilinger’s papers. Well, neither does idealism, but so what? ThePolyMath continues with his list of fallacies by now adding an argument from silence. Not using certain words doesn’t mean the evidence doesn’t favor the idealistic explanation. And I doubt he has ever read anything of Zeilinger papers, because Zeilinger use phrases like, “If the observer measures,” “No naive realistic picture is compatible with our results,” “one can actively choose whether or not to erase which-path information,” “achieved by independent active choices,” “Victor is free to choose” “we can actively delay the choice of measurement.” These are only a few phrases from two papers.16,17
To be fair Zeilinger, keeps his personal beliefs private, which I would prefer. He is a scientist, not a philosopher, and I believe he would prefer to present the findings of his results, and leave his personal view out of it. Nowhere do I say “Idealism is true because Zeilinger said so.” I merely cite his experimental results as evidence that idealism is true.
To conclude this response, I have one final thing. At the end, he tries to compare me to Deepak Chopra, which is an ad hominem. Although we would agree on many things, that doesn’t mean we agree on everything. Is ThePolymath actually thinking that these comparisons should be taken seriously? This is like if I said, “Stalin believes the earth is round, God doesn’t exist, and evolution is true. ThePolyMath believes the earth is round, God doesn’t exist, and evolution is true, therefore ThePolyMath is Stalin.” This a cheap shot, but we wouldn’t expect anything better from someone like ThePolyMath, who can’t give a coherent argument, and just resorts to insults as the basis of his argument. This is something you would get from someone in the first grade, not someone claiming to be intellectually honest. He should be ashamed and apologize for this. Of course he won’t, because of the pride and rage in him is obviously overpowering his intellectually honesty and reason, but I hope I will be wrong about this point. We’ll have to wait and see. To be honest, if he apologizes by taking down his video and re-uploading it without all the childish insults, I am willing to redo this blog post and make it sound more respectful, because I long for respectful, intellectual conversation. This mud-slinging is a disgrace.
He ends by saying (in comparing me to Chopra) “Would you really trust some who spews as much bullshit as he does?” Well, the different between ThePolyMath and myself is that I use evidence, scientific experiments, and quotes from the experts. He uses insults, opinions, and no evidence. So why would we trust someone like this guy, who can’t even give evidence for his worldview, and then throws a tantrum when the evidence is presented and contradicts his worldview? He can call it all BS, but that is not an argument. I’ll choose to follow the evidence. He can stay with his pseudoscience and continue to respond with anger.
1. John von Neumann (1955) The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics. Princeton: Princeton University Press
2. Stephen Barr (2003) Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, Page 231.
3. E. Joos (2000). Decoherence: Theoretical, Experimental, and Conceptual Problems, Page 14.
4. G. Bacciagaluppi (23 April 2003) Lecture at workshop, Quantum Mechanics on a Large Scale, Vancouver. http://www.physics.ubc.ca/∼berciu/PHILIP/CONFERENCES/ PWI03/FILES/baccia.ps.
5. Stephen Adler (2002) Why Decoherence has not Solved the Measurement Problem: A Response to P.W. Anderson. http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0112095
6. Wojciech H. Zurek (1994) Preferred states, predictability, classicality and the environment-induced decoherence, Page 30 http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/9402011
7. H. P. Stapp (1999) “Attention, intention, and will in quantum physics,” J. Consciousness Studies Page 21 http://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9905054v1.pdf
8. Niels Bohr (1951) “Discussions with Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics”
9. N. Bohr (1984) in Quantum Theory and Measurement, J. A. Wheeler and W. H. Zurek, Eds. Princeton University Press, Page 9-49.
10. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2011) The Quantum Enigma 2nd Edition, Page 129
11. Werner Heisenberg (1958) Physics and Philosophy, Page 160
12. Simon Groeblacher, Tomasz Paterek, Rainer Kaltenbaek, Caslav Brukner, Marek Żukowski, Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger (2007) “An experimental test of non-local realism” http://arxiv.org/pdf/0704.2529.pdf
13. See full interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiNJRh2fxY8
14. See the presentation here: http://www.powershow.com/view/11ad57-NjM4M/Macroscopic_Realism_Emerging_from_Quantum_Physics_powerpoint_ppt_presentation
15. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2011) The Quantum Enigma 2nd Edition, Page 156.
16. (2013) “Quantum erasure with causally disconnected choice” http://arxiv.org/pdf/1206.6578v2.pdf
17. (2012) “Experimental delayed-choice entanglement swapping” http://arxiv.org/pdf/1203.4834.pdf