Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Quantum Consciousness

One of the disturbing trends I've noticed at Huffpo lately are the amazing number of articles on new age topics without appropriate responses from the science community. Three of the most prevalent new agers are Depak Chopra, Robert Lanza, and Ervin Laszlo.

These authors like to post articles that talk about scientific phenomenon such as quantum entanglement, quantum computers, and the multiverse. My knowledge of physics comes from a few introductory courses in college and reading popular books by people like Brian Green. However, even with my basic knowledge it is obvious that these authors don't really understand the topics they are talking about. They simply use the trappings of quantum physics to give a scientific veneer to their new age speculations and to help sell their books and promote their TV appearances. Which is fine. But it should also be fine to respectfully point out their errors and give links to sites that correct them. Here is just one of many, many, comments I posted to a recent Lanza article that was censored -- all word in quotes are from the original article:

=== Begin Comment ===
"Physicists find that almost all models for reality from Newton's laws through Einstein's field equations, have no need for time"

False. Some examples:
Velocity = dx/dt
Acceleration = dv/dt

Those are pretty foundational formulas for Newtonian physics, and the t stands for time.
And Einstein demonstrated that our common sense (Newtonian) notion of time needed to be refined, not that time doesn't exist. Space and time are one concept: space-time but the time part is still pretty important.

"experiments confirm that Zeno was right. Scientists proved what in the world of quantum physics is equivalent to demonstrating that a watched pot doesn't boil."

Uhm, a watched pot DOES boil. Try it.

For some more critiques of the science in this and other articles by Lanza see:
=== End Comment ===

I can't begin to understand how that comment was considered inappropriate.


  1. Howdy, krypton86 here.

    Most of my comments at huffpo have been on articles like this. I pretty much never comment anymore because of an excessive moderation experience I had on some Deepak Chopra articles. I believe it was his article "Are We the Masters of Time?" that finally drove me away (note that my presence in the comments section is quite absent). Although I'm no longer working in the sciences, my training is as a physicist, so I'm in a unique position to critique what Mr. Chopra has to say about quantum physics and phenomena. Curious then that I soon discovered that whenever I attempted to comment on any Chopra article it was immediately moderated into oblivion. Nice, right?

    It's not like I'm an angel online. If I feel like someone is "wrong on the internet," I'm not one to be overly polite or deferential, but I'm certainly not rude. That loses an argument instantly. As far as I can tell, HuffPo (Deepak Chopra?) especially didn't like my comments because they were direct challenges to the veracity of his many, many inane articles. Here's the final one that actually got through: "Bacon. Also, narwhals." You can read that one in all it's eloquent glory in the first page of comments for "Can You Change the Past?"

    If I had actually said something that mattered there is no way it would have gotten through the moderators. Therefore I feel compelled to duplicate the comment that I think got me perma-scrubbed from Deepak's precious articles. Here ya go, from "The Illusion of Past, Present, Future" (Co-authored by Robert Lanza! Wowzerz!!):

    "- "[...] quantum theory implies that consciousness must exist, and that the content of the mind is the ultimate reality. If we do not look at it, the moon is gone. In this world, only an act of observation can confer shape and form to reality [...]."

    No! no No NO! This paragraph is not in any way supported by what quantum physics says about our universe. This is a conflation of scales: quantum mechanics only apply to particles on the (at most) microscopic level, yet Dr. Chopra says that it applies to the macroscopic universe. This is categorically false.

    Quantum phenomena do not apply to macroscopic events. By definition, quantum effects/events vanish when considered on the macroscopic scale because they average out in the presence of a large number of particles. This negates Dr. Chopra's claims. This is, I believe, the main challenge to Dr. Chopra's entire ideology. You cannot claim a basis in quantum mechanics unless you reconcile these questions of scale, and this is actually prohibited by the nature and structure of quantum physics. I openly challenge Dr. Chopra to prove me wrong about the importance of scale in relation to quantum physics. In doing so he will not only prove me wrong, but he will also earn a Nobel Prize by demonstrating the connection between the macro/microscopic worlds as defined by quantum theory.

    I eagerly await a devastating rebuttal."

    Needless to say, Deepak never responded. Shocking, I know.

  2. @ "krypton86" & Red Dog
    3:40 PM CST

    This is such an excellent comment/rebuttal of ALL the woo nonsense being bantered about on Huff. It is a travesty that it was not puplished. Damn I hope we can fix this.

    Maybe I've just been slow on the uptake; it's become very apparent to me that Arianna loves to bathe in mindless woo, especially in light of her recent invention : "Religion and Science". It is clearly an emotional engine driving her bus; having little regard for her bright intellect.

    How regressive can one adult get ? So sad to see a person of her intellect being so emotionally sabotaged by such idiotic sludge.



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