One of the favourite criticisms that our friends the self-proclaimed “guerrilla skeptics” make of writers such as myself is that somehow we are deliberately misinterpreting quantum mechanics in order to prove our “wacky” “woo-woo” ideas and to mislead our readers into believing totally irrational nonsense. Indeed if you read any of their websites you will see them write time and time again the “quantum woo” argument and that there is nothing at all strange or weird about quantum mechanics. As far as they (the guerrilla skeptics) are concerned it all relates to the fact that we (the writers they do not like) are simply thick, irrational scientific-illiterates and that they (the super-intelligent rational scientific literates) understand fully what quantum mechanics tells us about the universe, and that is that science has it totally sussed.
I strongly advise these self-proclaimed protectors of humanity from woo-woo quackery watch this video. It is a lecture by that well known intellectual dwarf Terry Rudolph … he must be a “woo-woo” because in this, his inaugural lecture at that an obscure unscientific institution known as Imperial College, he seems to be far less sure about the status of quantum mechanics than the intellectual giants within the guerrilla skeptics community. This lecture took place just over a year ago so I can only assume that what Terry talks about is fairly up to date.
Terry is actually “Professor” Rudolph who is the grandson of a certain physicist by the name of Erwin Schrödinger. Rudolph’s PhD is in quantum mechanics and he was awarded his professorship just over a year ago. This suggests to me that his knowledge is fairly “state-of-the-art.” Not only that but that at such a young age that he holds a professorship at one of the world’s top science universities….. yes, he is a professor at THAT Imperial College. wink emoticon
Listen VERY CAREFULLY what he has to say …. This is the state of REAL SCIENCE not what the guerrilla skeptics would like it to be. Note how many times he uses the words “realism” with “quantum weirdness” ….. maybe the guerrilla skeptics and the guys who run “Rational Wiki” should actually spend some time ACTUALLY checking what is taking place in the real world of quantum mechanics …
At the end of the talk Terry shows a painting that shows to him how our understanding of the world depends upon what we can actually perceive and what our belief systems allow us to conceive (my words, not his). As such Terry argues that the seemingly irrational elements of quantum mechanics involve our own sensory apparatus and the tools we have at our disposal to allow us to measure the external world. If our tools are not adequate then we will be forced to believe certain things that at a deeper level may be more understandable. I thought his analogy of the African boy and the old man with the one-handed clock was particularly powerful. Again, although he does not mention this, this is exactly what David Bohm meant when he discussed his “hidden variables.”
I agree totally with the logic of Terry’s position. I also have to accept that his knowledge of quantum mechanics is light years ahead of my own. If he is a self-proclaimed “monkey” hard-wired to appreciate the solidity of a banana then I am probably a form of amoeba. As such all I can do is conclude that if such a person, with his clear in-depth knowledge of his subject, is at a loss to explain many elements of quantum mechanics then our universe is a far stranger place than I can ever imagine … and from this also conclude that whatever discoveries await us in the future they will be, as Asimov once said, “indistinguishable from magic.” Therefore my choice to try and apply what little we know of the quantum world to explain a series of inexplicable subjective experiences with regards to Newtonian physics, is as logical a response as any …..
Oh yes, note that Terry discusses why we are rooted so much in our “naïve realism” because, in effect, we are monkeys and we live in a world that is understandable for monkeys. As such the “real” universe may work in very different ways to the way we perceive it as being from our monkey-world-view. I guess that as “gorillas” are more advanced than monkeys I can only assume that the homophonic “guerrilla” skeptics are more advanced than us “monkeys” …..