It is generally considered that a lack of scientific knowledge is why people believe “unscientific” things such as precognition, Out-of-Body Experiences, Near-Death Experiences and most other “fringe beliefs”. materialist-reductionists cite this regularly as the reason for such “illogical” (i.e. counter to the accepted scientific paradigm) thought-process. For such critics all that is needed to wean people off these “nonsensical” and “irrational” beliefs is simply a good grounding in science. This belief is that once a person understands the mechanistic materialist-reductionist model they simply will refuse to believe in irrational rubbish. By understanding the Newtonian model of science they will realise that “spooky action at a distance” and other weird beliefs are simply not supported by modern science. …… But as I stated earlier this is a two-edged sword. To be scientifically correct we cannot stop at simply educating the masses about materialist-reductionism because it is known that materialist-reductionism breaks down at the quantum level. Suddenly the oh-so-cosy world of general science simply breaks down. More importantly this “crazy” world of quantum mechanics rules supreme with regards to the basic building blocks of the material universe. It is as if a wall made solely of bricks, has certain physical characteristics that are not the same as the physical characteristics of each individual brick. In other words if we break down a “material” (i.e. we “reduce” it …. Hence the term materialist-reductionism) we should find that the individual components (the bricks) should have the same physical characteristics as the house (after all the wall is simply an aggregation of bricks. Without the bricks there is no wall). modern quantum physics has revealed that the “bricks” that make up the material universe (the wall), electrons, protons and neutrons are, in turn, made up of quarks. Protons and neutrons (the nucleus) and electrons are the constituent particles of the atom. The atom itself is made up of mostly empty space and what is “solid” is not really solid within the general understanding of the term. Electrons, neutrons and protons are, in turn, made up of quarks. an it this is just the beginning of the mystery. It has been discovered that “matter” in the form of molecules (that is, groupings of atoms) behave differently if they are “observed” than if they are “unobserved”. What constitutes an observation is an area of debate as it could be simply any interaction with other particles …. But the absolute fact of the matter is that an “unobserved” atom (or the molecules that Professor Anton Zeilinger and his team at the University of Vienna have been experimenting on … LARGE molecules such as the 60 atom “Buckyballs”) is a “wave” if unobserved and a collection of “particles” after it is observed (technically when its “wave function” is “collapsed into a point particle). Furthermore this “wave” is not a physical wave of anything …. It is a “statistical” wave, a mathematical concept stating the statistical probability of finding a particle in one location rather than another. Now if a person is introduced to this science …. As well as the safe and cuddly Newtonian Model (which I readily accept works just fine and dandy for big objects … once we don’t focus too closely on The implications of Relativity!) ….. They will, quite naturally, become quite confused. this confusion will be similar to the confusion (and ultimate rejection of the facts) by Jim Al-Khalili’s wife in the initial posting). And here lies the other side of the double-edged sword. By introducing such information without the supporting context will lead people to start to question the true nature of the “material world”. The certitudes of Newtonian science (hence my comment regarding the Pre-Planck world of pre 1900) will be lost and a new world of (statistical) uncertainty will be accepted as another “scientific truth” supported by empirical observations and scores of experiments. this weird model of reality has been proven time and time again and is the source of many of the wonders of modern technology. But this model suggests that the universe is far weirder than anything we can imagine. Suddenly we have a model of “reality” that may be able to explain the subjective observations regarding precognition, the OBE, the NDE and many other “weird” experiences. suddenly the terms “weird” and “illogical” all become relative. Do I believe that such discoveries can be used to explain such phenomena? I am not sure, but one thing I am sure of is that using materialist-reductionist “certitude” to claim that such experiences are impossible is no longer a tenable argument. We have a new model of science in which the seemingly impossible is witnessed on a daily basis in laboratories, research centres and in the technology we use…… And this is what excites me. and if this makes me a purveyor of “woo-woo” nonsense so be it ….
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