Consciousness and Quantum Physics

©Fernando Caracena 2019

In previous posts we have discussed Quantum Theory, which is part of the backbone of modern physics. In developing the theory, physicists puzzled over the wave-particle duality exhibited by matter when examined on a very small scale. The best of the posts that can serve as a background for this present discussion is the one called Wavicles--quantum quanderies, which is about the puzzling wave-particle duality confronted in modern physics. A video hosted by Brain Green illustrates this duality in a vivid way.

Although quantum theory has withstood all tests that might falsify it, it has come through these unscathed and even stronger. The first series of tests of quantum theory came from Albert Einstein, one of the pioneers of quantum theory, who saw its spooky implications, and articulated his doubts. Einstein and his good friend Niels Bohr, carried out a series of spirited public debates , which were philosophical and crucial to the development of quantum theory. In these debates, Einstein brought forth some serious criticisms of quantum theory--why he thought that it was as yet incomplete. It turned out that the mathematics of it were adequate, but the interpretation of what the mathematics represented was controversial. You could say that Einstein was some kind of quantum deny-er when the consensus of physicists was already in favor of Bohr's interpretation.

Having the consensus against him, however, did not stop Einstein. He and younger scientists influenced by him persisted in drawing out some of the spooky implications of the quantum theory as it was mathematically formulated. The strangest feature that is counter intuitive is the phenomenon called quantum entanglement. Entanglement is another feature of quantum mechanics covered by Brian Green's video cited above. This argument of Einstein and collaborators brought out a prediction that could falsify quantum theory, which needed the test by a crucial experiment. The experiment has been done, and the spooky action at a distance feature of quantum entanglement has been proven to be true, see this C net article.

In the Brain Green video, Green cites evolution as the mechanism that establishes an intuitive basis in humans, which formalized, results in classical physics. He further implies that quantum mechanics somehow manages to overcome this evolutionary bias and therefore brings us closer to reality. In a previous post ("Do Our Eyes Deceive Us?") we mentioned a previous use of Darwinian Evolution to explain the bias of our senses in confronting reality in the work of neuro-scientist, Donald Hoffman (see video). Unlike Green, Hoffman does not see as quantum mechanics as exempt form evolutionary bias. He argues that our whole space-time-object conceptual apparatus is a framework that is good enough for Darwinian survival, but not for seeing reality as it really is. That in reality, that framework is a simplified world that functions like the graphical user interface on a computer monitor. Pushing the argument farther, he proposes that quantum mechanics is a finer scale feature of that simplifies our interaction with the material environment through a simplified, conceptual user interface. In other words, both classical and quantum physics are restricted by our evolved, simplified notion of reality.

In a new theory, Donald Hoffman and Chetan Prakash propose that reality consists of and infinite network of interacting conscious agents.

At the same time that physicists and other researchers are invoking Darwinian evolution in their arguments, others are finding that it is falsifiable and has failed tests of rigorous mathematical analysis. See for example, "Mathematical Challenges To Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution, With David Berlinski, Stephen Meyer, And David Gelernter".

There is still more to the story, which will be discussed in future posts.

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