The Magical Quantum Post – A Response to Martymer81

Video this is a response to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WusCyD_eTc

So Martymer81, a popular youtube atheist who responds to theists, but who I admire for his attacks on pseudoscientific ideas, has decided to respond to my video Quantum physics debunks Materialism. For the most part he doesn’t come across as rude or arrogant, even though at specific times it seems that way. But he says he’ll try not to be, so I can look past those specific times. However, his response seemed to attack my points by mischaracterizing them. Raatz also did a video response and noted a lot of the same ideas as I did:

So lets dive in and look at his points:

Ending at 2:30 his first point is nit-picky and I hardly see why it needed to be pointed out. I agree with that and don’t see how it contradicted my definition of realism. I agree that realism would be a system that exists in a distinct state even if it is not observed. I did say in my video that realism is the idea that “physical reality exist independent of observers.” I don’t see how different these are, as I go on throughout the video to pretty much define realism as this. Minor point though.

Ending at 3:36 – Unfortunately, he starts out directly misunderstanding what I am saying in my video. He claims that I say observation brings the entire system into existence. But that is not what I said. Of course something exists prior to observation. We would argue that would be information. What I said (and he put on the screen) was, “The conclusion was drawn that the very act of observing caused the wave function to collapse and create the existence of matter either in the state of particles or as a wave.” I would like to ask him where I said observation creates the whole system, because I clearly said it only “creates the existence of matter either in the state of particles or as a wave.” If he can’t listen to what I actually said, and reword things, then he shouldn’t be trying to criticize my video. This is an odd mistake since he flashed my words on the screen and then attacked something I never said.

Raatz and I are pointing out that quantum states do not exist as particles or waves prior to measurement. The state of the system is information, and appearance of particles comes about from that system depending on what we choose to measure. Didn’t he notice the quotes that followed this section from Rosenblum and Kuttner?

“The waviness in a region is the probability of finding the object in a particular place. We must be careful: The waviness is not the probability of the object being in a particular place. There is a crucial difference here! The object was not there before you found it there.1

Here is another from Heisenberg, “. . . the atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.2

Ending at 4:19 – Here we go… Marty accuses me of misunderstanding what the wavefunction is, and then takes it to be that of the neo-copenhagenist understanding. On the screen he flashes this, “A wave function tells us the probability of finding the system in a particular state.” This is similar to what Dirac advanced, that the wavefunction just represents our available knowledge of the system, not an ontological claim. Well this is useful in the Copenhagen interpretation for practical usage. But, if I misunderstood the Schrodinger equation as it pertains to the orthodox interpretation or quantum information theory, then perhaps Rosenblum and Kuttner did as well. Allow me to read what they say:

“Quantum probability, waviness, on the other hand, is mysteriously objective; it’s the same for everyone. The wavefunction is the whole story: The standard quantum description has no atom in addition to the wavefunction of the atom. As a leading quantum physics text would have it, the term “the wavefunction of the atom” is synonym for “the atom. If someone looked in a particular spot and happened to see the atom there, that looked “collapsed” the spread out waviness of that atom to be wholly at that particular spot.3

If you read the surrounding the context, they keep iterating the point “Observing the particle creates it being there,” “the atom’s widely spread out wavefunction to be concentrated at that spot on the screen.” All I do is borrow the same language they used for my video. People sometimes ask me why I fill my videos with quotes from experts. Well the answer is simple: if skeptics are going to say I am wrong on a point, then you are going to say the physicists and philosophers are wrong as well. All I do is stand on their shoulders. Also, we are not saying the wavefunction is that of a physical objection like wave in space-time, but information prior space-time.

Ending at 6:34 – It seems all he is doing is just saying the same thing as I am in different words. Raatz said this in his video as well. I find nothing wrong with this section and wonder where he think I disagree. He rightly points out that Bell’s inequality shows we can only have a theory that either violates locality or have hidden variables. What I said was “If this inequality was shown to be false then the local hidden variable theories would be debunked…” So the idea of having both locality and realism (local realism) would be false. No where do I disagree with him on this as I said, “local hidden variable theories.”

Ending at 7:10 – Here he attacks the idealist understanding of the violation of Bell’s inequality. He says it is wrong to say that only from the violation of Bell inequality we can infer that observation defines the properties particles have. Now I agree, as you can avoid it through loopholes, which were closed later. One could avoid that (as John Bell did) with violating relativity and using faster than speed of light signals. However, the violation of Leggett’s inequality in 2007 takes away that last bit of freedom.

Remember, I am going off the argument that the idealistic view is still the best understanding of this. So of course I will conclude observation is what is giving particles their properties instead of non-local hidden variables or other metaphysical interpretations, which I would argue are ad hoc and suffer problems from later experiments that I get to in the next section of my video.

Ending at 8:39 – Now he is challenging the claim that the observer needs to be conscious. But he never actually explains why this is wrong, he just says it is wrong and moves on. Well if that is his argument I guess there is not much to point other than he doesn’t have one. I was absolutely sure one was going to follow and I was ready to respond with failures of decoherence, employing von Neumann’s work, etc. But unfortunately he didn’t offer an argument, so there is nothing more that needs to be said and all I’ll note is this will be addressed in a later video called “The Measurement Problem.” Expect it this August. In actuality all interaction constitutes as measurement but that doesn’t change the implications of the von Neumann chain and the need for a mechanism to derive the Born Rule. Decoherence/interaction cannot do this. But again, this will be explained in my August video.

Ending at 10:16 – Marty makes the point that quantum effects disappear in macro objects, but I fail to see why this matters or where I disagree. The basic point I am trying to make here is that the macro-world is emergent from the quantum world. So the universe isn’t built by tiny particles that are fundamental and independent existing objects. The macro-world is an emergent phenomenon of an underlying reality. Of course the further in size you go up the smaller the probability spread gets and eventually converges to a classical limit. But this doesn’t mean the macro-world is a separate world with a different ontology, so if one tries to posit that they run into issues.

Second, on a bit of a side note, Anton Zeilinger has said that the effects of quantum mechanics may go quite far. In fact they may go further than we expect, but will have to wait and see. We have already demonstrated quantum effects with objects big enough to be seen by the naked eye:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100317/full/news.2010.130.html

http://www.wired.com/2009/09/quantum-entanglement/

Ending at 10:59 – Now, we get to the core of Marty’s position. He argues for the Many World Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics, and argues that there is no interpretation of QM that makes fewer assumptions than MWI. Well, I can hardly agree, as I can point out that idealism posits much less, namely, only what we know to exist. Which is that consciousness exists (no one can deny that) and that there is a reality we experience and participate in. It is pretty simple, as it doesn’t need to posit extra substances from which the information comes from.

If we just look at the double slit experiment, what it seems to show us is that we decide how to measure the particle and therefore decide which properties they have, whether it is wave-like or particle-like. The 2011 confirmation of the Kochen-Specker theorem, and other recent experiments show us that what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision of what to measure. So we cannot discount the input of the observer.

With that being said, all this idealist interpretation says is that this what reality is, namely information and consciousness (mind). Minds select one possibility to be actual from the only ‘information reality’ we know to exist. All you need to accept is that we exist and are conscious, and there is one reality, which are mathematical possibilities of what we could experience. Why posit these other possibilities are physically, real, existing worlds that we could never detect or know to exist, when it is simpler to say they exist as information, which is how we know them to be in the mathematics?

Why would it be more parsimonious to argue that the particle really has both sets of properties: one in our world and another in an undetectable world, and we are just measuring to find out which world we are in? The idealistic view is really just the philosophical implications of the pragmatic Copenhagen view. The Copenhagen interpretation was formulated as the most practical way to handle quantum mechanics. If the MWI is far simpler, then why didn’t the founders of quantum theory posit that to begin with? Instead they formulated the most practical way of handing it. All idealists like myself say, is that this practical solution is metaphysically true, and there is no need to posit anything else.

Also quick note, I never said the MWI posits one extra entity per world. I was referring to turning the countless abstract possibilities into a real thing. Minor point though.

With recent experiments like the confirmation of the Kochen-Specker, MWI advocates cannot deny the input of the observer is needed to play a role, so they have to assume some sort of superdeterminism, basically saying all our decisions in this ‘one world of many’ are somehow predetermined. Although it appears we are choosing the outcome, we are really not, and we are really just conforming to what is already set in this world.

However, that makes far more assumptions. Why not just agree that we are affecting reality as it appears in the experiments? Why add the assumption that this selection is an illusion? Why posit realism and then an ensemble of worlds we can never detect to save realism, instead of simply saying they are what we know them as, which is information? Why posit an interpretation that cannot be falsified? Where as, it is easy to falsify the idealistic view scientifically, simply with hidden variables, show that matter can act independently. It seems far more parsimonious.

Furthermore, idealism can go beyond collapse and explain other elements of reality, which Brian Whitworth explains and I addressed in my video, “Digital Physics Argument for God’s Existence.4” The MWI is only employed to explain collapse. It is incapable of explaining other areas of reality, unlike idealism. So if one employs it, then they still have to make extra assumptions to explain these other aspects of reality, which idealism has no problem explaining since it is akin to Whitworth’s virtual reality theory. I hardly see why Marty could say that the MWI can explain more with less.

The irony of all this is that he admits that none of this make sense when he says at 11:30, “Hey, it doesn’t have to make sense, just shut up and do the math.” If that is his mentality, then perhaps he really doesn’t have much faith in MWI, and I don’t blame him for that if it is true. I’d invite him to come over to idealism, where it can make sense. If he doesn’t want to take my word for it, then listen to an atheist:

Now quickly I want to address his assumptions he says we make:

  1. That wave functions are “real things”.

– Yes, and as I have described above it is not an actual wave in space-time but non-local information outside of space-time.

  1. That “real things” don’t exist, yet wave functions do.

-This is false, and I addressed in the beginning.

  1. That observation causes wave function collapse.
  2. …but only of the observer is conscious.

– Yes, and I gave plenty of evidence for why this must be so in my video and I am planning another one soon called “The Measurement Problem.”

  1. That consciousness is fundamental to reality.

– Yes, and basically, if idealism is true and matter is emergent I don’t see why this would be an extra assumption. It would be a consequence of monistic idealism.

Ending at 11:26 – He has made another odd mistake. I am not arguing the Copenhagen Interpretation, as that is just a pragmatic interpretation. I am arguing an idealistic view, based on von Neumann (orthodox) and Quantum Information Theory.

Ending at 11:45 – Well this is straw man. He makes the same remark about the wavefunction, which I addressed earlier, but then accuses me of arguing that no real objects exist. Where did I say there are no real objects? Clearly I would argue that minds exists and information exists. I didn’t say “no things” exist… I argue that matter doesn’t exist independent or fundamentally. It is an emergent illusion of underlying information. Even at that it still exists, just not how realist or materialists argue it does, but as an emergent illusion. So I never said real object do not exist.

Ending at 12:18 – Here we go, with the old contingency argument. Marty sadly decided to raise, what I honestly feel is the worst objection to theism: If God created reality who created God? This has been addressed so many times (even by atheist philosophers like Michael Ruse and Nicolas Everitt) that I can’t believe he would even try it. If he has never heard of the response to this, then allow me to sum it up for him.

God is defined as a necessary being, which basically means uncaused and eternal. Philosophers have pointed out for centuries that since contingent things exist, like us, our existence can only be explained by appealing to external causes. However, there has to be a first cause, an unmoved mover, which started this chain to begin with. Whatever this is, it would be necessary and not needing to be created. Now, I argued this more in-depth in my video, “The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument5“, but basically, when theists say that God is the first mover or creator, we are saying He is necessary and that would entail He doesn’t need a cause. He simply is. Just asking who created God is not a good argument and is in fact meaningless. Even Michael Ruse, in responding to Dawkins points out that this is a terrible objection:

Look at it this way, David Hume said the universe was necessary. If you would have gone to David Hume and tried to refute his theory that the universe was uncaused, by asking if the universe is the explanation for our existence then what created the universe, he would have simply replied he stated that universe is necessary and therefore didn’t need a creator. So this objection is meaningless. Sadly, I may need to do a video pointing this simple fact out because I keep hearing it…

12:35 – Marty tries to argue that the MWI is more parsimonious because we know one reality exists, so why couldn’t more exist? My question is: how does that follow that there are trillions and trillions more? We know one exists… how does that infer that there can be more? Just because something is, that doesn’t mean there ought to be more of them. I don’t see how that logically follows. This is like arguing with people who believe we have been visited by aliens, who have tried an argument on me, “life exists on this planet so there must be life on other planets.” Well that is fallacious to assume based on that reasoning. Perhaps there are good reasons to believe in aliens, but life on this planet doesn’t mean there is on others though. This argument he gives for the MWI commits his same error. I address the MWI more in-depth further above, but I just wanted to note here, the existence of our reality is in no way evidence of other worlds. It is only proof that our reality exists. To infer that there are others just from knowing ours exists is fallacious.

Next, all he does is presuppose physcialism, which would be question begging. I didn’t see any argument that matter produces mind, just the assumption. I argued throughout my video that it is mind from which the illusion of matter emerges based on the scientific evidence. To say that we cannot theorize a mind without a brain is question begging, in that it assumes physcialism from the start. I would argue we cannot experience matter without a mind. So Marty needs to argue that matter produces mind, not just assume it.

14:04 – I am not sure where he got this, but he accuses me of creating a false dichotomy. However, I didn’t create a false dichotomy. I didn’t say we pick one or the other: materialism or idealism. I said that science has buried materialism and inferred theism. That is not a false dichotomy. That is claiming that science has ruled out materialism and is favoring another view. So this is, once again, a mischaracterization. No where do I say we can pick only one of these two. My argument is that materialism is scientifically falsified and theism is the best inference. This obviously doesn’t rule out something like agnosticism.

He ends by saying that I resort to “magic’ to explain my interpretation. Well, he can claim “magic” all he wants like this is some sort of theistic witch hunt and all of us are the same, but I clearly don’t need to invoke ad hoc reasoning to respond. Furthermore, if I am going to also throw out cheap shots as well, then the MWI is just magic. How do these several worlds exist, never interact, and where did they come from? Magic? Or I could be nice and call it a misleading metaphysical interpretation. Calling it “magic” is not an argument, it is resorting to caricatures. If Marty wants to show that people don’t know what they are talking about, then he should rest primarily on arguments, not caricaturing.

Other than that I hope Marty continues to do videos because some of them I rather enjoy, even if I don’t fully agree with him.

 

 

 

Notes:

 

  1. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2011) The Quantum Enigma 2nd Edition, Page 81
  2. Werner Heisenberg (1958) Physics and Philosophy, Page 160
  3. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2011) The Quantum Enigma 2nd Edition, Page 83
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2ULF5WixMM
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