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Thread: Does This Mean What I think It Does?

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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Default Does This Mean What I think It Does?

    The original article is linked below and has some links within it to the experiments referenced as evidence.

    Some implications I get from this read are:

    a. Is this empirical evidence for the existence of mind as a thing separate from the physical brain? If the act of observing changes reality, that act is ultimately mind at work, isn't it???

    b. "Real" reality could be, and probably is, something very different from everything we have perceived to date. In other words, because of how our minds work, we literally cannot perceive at least some aspects of reality. Obviously this is the case with things too small to see, like virus' and atoms, but that's not what we're talking about here. It's more fundamental, like the possibly extra dimensions to the universe or dark matter.

    c. Can we alter/ learn a paradigm to see reality more as it is? I vaguely remember someone telling a story - radio I think - that in the not so distant past the concept of the sky being blue was not within the human paradigm, so you never read references to a blue sky in, say, ancient Greek or Roman texts. And today our paradigm is different, so we can see and appreciate a blue sky. Anyone heard similar? Anyway, if that's the case, its in line with the article, and I have to wonder if at some point in the future we could somehow learn to perceive things we don't now, like dark matter as example.

    d. Something makes me think this might enlighten - in more ways than one - the Fermi Paradox.
    -I've read before the idea we don't see aliens for the same reason the ancients supposedly didn't see the blue sky - they are so outside our mental paradigm we simply can't perceive them
    -Or, perhaps shifting paradigms to enable perception of reality more as it is leads down a path where the universe as we humans perceive it right now is simply uninteresting - not worth exploring, communicating distantly, or even building a mega-civilization in. Or maybe they still do those things but in a way totally outside the human perceptual paradigm.



    Should Quantum Anomalies Make Us Rethink Reality?

    Inexplicable lab results may be telling us we’re on the cusp of a new scientific paradigm

    Every generation tends to believe that its views on the nature of reality are either true or quite close to the truth. We are no exception to this: although we know that the ideas of earlier generations were each time supplanted by those of a later one, we still believe that this time we got it right. Our ancestors were naïve and superstitious, but we are objective—or so we tell ourselves. We know that matter/energy, outside and independent of mind, is the fundamental stuff of nature, everything else being derived from it—or do we?

    In fact, studies have shown that there is an intimate relationship between the world we perceive and the conceptual categories encoded in the language we speak. We don’t perceive a purely objective world out there, but one subliminally pre-partitioned and pre-interpreted according to culture-bound categories. For instance, “color words in a given language shape human perception of color.” A brain imaging study suggests that language processing areas are directly involved even in the simplest discriminations of basic colors. Moreover, this kind of “categorical perception is a phenomenon that has been reported not only for color, but for other perceptual continua, such as phonemes, musical tones and facial expressions.” In an important sense, we see what our unexamined cultural categories teach us to see, which may help explain why every generation is so confident in their own worldview. Allow me to elaborate.

    The conceptual-ladenness of perception isn’t a new insight. Back in 1957, philosopher Owen Barfield wrote:

    “I do not perceive any thing with my sense-organs alone.… Thus, I may say, loosely, that I ‘hear a thrush singing.’ But in strict truth all that I ever merely ‘hear’—all that I ever hear simply by virtue of having ears—is sound. When I ‘hear a thrush singing,’ I am hearing … with all sorts of other things like mental habits, memory, imagination, feeling and … will.” (Saving the Appearances)
    As argued by philosopher Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, science itself falls prey to this inherent subjectivity of perception. Defining a “paradigm” as an “implicit body of intertwined theoretical and methodological belief,” he wrote:

    “something like a paradigm is prerequisite to perception itself. What a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see. In the absence of such training there can only be, in William James’s phrase, ‘a bloomin’ buzzin’ confusion.’”
    Hence, because we perceive and experiment on things and events partly defined by an implicit paradigm, these things and events tend to confirm, by construction, the paradigm. No wonder then that we are so confident today that nature consists of arrangements of matter/energy outside and independent of mind.

    Yet, as Kuhn pointed out, when enough “anomalies”—empirically undeniable observations that cannot be accommodated by the reigning belief system—accumulate over time and reach critical mass, paradigms change. We may be close to one such a defining moment today, as an increasing body of evidence from quantum mechanics (QM) renders the current paradigm untenable.

    Indeed, according to the current paradigm, the properties of an object should exist and have definite values even when the object is not being observed: the moon should exist and have whatever weight, shape, size and color it has even when nobody is looking at it. Moreover, a mere act of observation should not change the values of these properties. Operationally, all this is captured in the notion of “non-contextuality”: the outcome of an observation should not depend on the way other, separate but simultaneous observations are performed. After all, what I perceive when I look at the night sky should not depend on the way other people look at the night sky along with me, for the properties of the night sky uncovered by my observation should not depend on theirs.

    The problem is that, according to QM, the outcome of an observation can depend on the way another, separate but simultaneous, observation is performed. This happens with so-called “quantum entanglement” and it contradicts the current paradigm in an important sense, as discussed above. Although Einstein argued in 1935 that the contradiction arose merely because QM is incomplete, John Bell proved mathematically, in 1964, that the predictions of QM regarding entanglement cannot be accounted for by Einstein’s alleged incompleteness.

    So to salvage the current paradigm there is an important sense in which one has to reject the predictions of QM regarding entanglement. Yet, since Alain Aspect’s seminal experiments in 1981–82, these predictions have been repeatedly confirmed, with potential experimental loopholes closed one by one. 1998 was a particularly fruitful year, with two remarkable experiments performed in Switzerland and Austria. In 2011 and 2015, new experiments again challenged non-contextuality. Commenting on this, physicist Anton Zeilinger has been quoted as saying that “there is no sense in assuming that what we do not measure [that is, observe] about a system has [an independent] reality.” Finally, Dutch researchers successfully performed a test closing all remaining potential loopholes, which was considered by Nature the “toughest test yet.”

    The only alternative left for those holding on to the current paradigm is to postulate some form of non-locality: nature must have—or so they speculate—observation-independent hidden properties, entirely missed by QM, which are “smeared out” across spacetime. It is this allegedly omnipresent, invisible but objective background that supposedly orchestrates entanglement from “behind the scenes.”

    It turns out, however, that some predictions of QM are incompatible with non-contextuality even for a large and important class of non-local theories. Experimental results reported in 2007 and 2010 have confirmed these predictions. To reconcile these results with the current paradigm would require a profoundly counterintuitive redefinition of what we call “objectivity.” And since contemporary culture has come to associate objectivity with reality itself, the science press felt compelled to report on this by pronouncing, “Quantum physics says goodbye to reality.”

    The tension between the anomalies and the current paradigm can only be tolerated by ignoring the anomalies. This has been possible so far because the anomalies are only observed in laboratories. Yet we know that they are there, for their existence has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, when we believe that we see objects and events outside and independent of mind, we are wrong in at least some essential sense. A new paradigm is needed to accommodate and make sense of the anomalies; one wherein mind itself is understood to be the essence—cognitively but also physically—of what we perceive when we look at the world around ourselves.
    Link: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...think-reality/
    Last edited by EyeKhan; 04-19-2018 at 04:59 PM.
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    Local talking head LittleFuzzy's Avatar
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    That depends. Do you think it means I was right back in our old old old argument on ATCC about randomality vs determinist cause and effect?
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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    That depends. Do you think it means I was right back in our old old old argument on ATCC about randomality vs determinist cause and effect?
    My apologies, I don't remember that old argument. Today, however, I don't believe any given event is truly random. The determinants may be so numerous and varied and unmeasurable that, for all practical purposes, a given event may as well be random, but that's a limitation on the ability to measure, not true randomness.

    As an aside: do you think you can have a truly random thought? By that I mean one that has absolutely no precursor (causal) thought or experience?

    EDIT: as another aside, my current belief is that mind is generated by the physical activity in the brain and is not separate from that physical thing. This was making me wonder, but now I'm thinking that even if mind is just a property of the physical brain, why can't it also affect reality through observation?
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    Not an expert by any means however I generally think the way we understand the world of Quantum Physics and large scale cosmology is guesswork. We are basically making equations work by coming up with more and more outlandish justifications for it. At some point in the near future (20ish years) I think we'll uncover something that turns on its head a lot of the assumptions that have been made.

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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewkowski View Post
    Not an expert by any means however I generally think the way we understand the world of Quantum Physics and large scale cosmology is guesswork. We are basically making equations work by coming up with more and more outlandish justifications for it. At some point in the near future (20ish years) I think we'll uncover something that turns on its head a lot of the assumptions that have been made.
    The article talks about and references actual experimental evidence and postulates that this evidence is already enough to turn our current assumptions on their head. The last paragraph sums it up:

    The tension between the anomalies and the current paradigm can only be tolerated by ignoring the anomalies. This has been possible so far because the anomalies are only observed in laboratories. Yet we know that they are there, for their existence has been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, when we believe that we see objects and events outside and independent of mind, we are wrong in at least some essential sense.
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    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    a. Is this empirical evidence for the existence of mind as a thing separate from the physical brain? If the act of observing changes reality, that act is ultimately mind at work, isn't it???
    When Quantum Mechanics use the word "observer", they do not mean 'a conscious observer'. They mean, as I understand it, two quantum systems interacting with each other. Sometimes academics like to take everyday words then use them as very specialized technical jargon, then wonder why everyone gets confused when their work filters back to the general public.
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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    When Quantum Mechanics use the word "observer", they do not mean 'a conscious observer'. They mean, as I understand it, two quantum systems interacting with each other. Sometimes academics like to take everyday words then use them as very specialized technical jargon, then wonder why everyone gets confused when their work filters back to the general public.
    That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, unless by "interacting" you mean not doing anything active to a system but simply recording data about it in a passive way. In other words, just "looking" at it is "interacting" with it so that it changes. And if someone else is just looking at it while you are, then the change resulting from your look is different. I don't know how else to interpret this quote about what QM does:

    Indeed, according to the current paradigm, the properties of an object should exist and have definite values even when the object is not being observed: the moon should exist and have whatever weight, shape, size and color it has even when nobody is looking at it. Moreover, a mere act of observation should not change the values of these properties. Operationally, all this is captured in the notion of “non-contextuality”: the outcome of an observation should not depend on the way other, separate but simultaneous observations are performed. After all, what I perceive when I look at the night sky should not depend on the way other people look at the night sky along with me, for the properties of the night sky uncovered by my observation should not depend on theirs.


    Are you saying this is completely wrong and what quantum mechanics really means by observation is a physical interaction? Everything I have read has been pretty unambiguously the opposite.
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    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense, unless by "interacting" you mean not doing anything active to a system but simply recording data about it in a passive way.
    And how do you plan on recording data in a passive way about it without interacting with your subject, quantum mechanically speaking, hmm? Are you a ghost? A witch?
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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    And how do you plan on recording data in a passive way about it without interacting with your subject, quantum mechanically speaking, hmm? Are you a ghost? A witch?
    When I look at the moon, am I affecting it? Outside of QM that's considered receiving data passively with no effect on the observed object. But in QM, I am affecting it, which is the whole point, isn't it? The change in paradigm is that I can change something without physically doing anything to it - I just have to observe it. That's a lot like witch ghosty magic.
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    Resiste et Mords! Steely Glint's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    When I look at the moon, am I affecting it? Outside of QM that's considered receiving data passively with no effect on the observed object. But in QM, I am affecting it, which is the whole point, isn't it? The change in paradigm is that I can change something without physically doing anything to it - I just have to observe it. That's a lot like witch ghosty magic.
    You affect the moon whether you look at it or not. Just not, you know, very much. Even without considering QM, the your gravity has an effect on it in some abstract, infinitesimally tiny fashion. Quantum Mechanics says a lot of spooky, non-intuitive things and I don't pretend to even remotely understand it, but the thing to do is to not get carried away and remember the following piece of information: quantum mechanical effect do not scale up to the macroscopic realm. This is why when you throw a tennis ball it doesn't turn into a wave and pass through a wall or some shit.
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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    You affect the moon whether you look at it or not. Just not, you know, very much. Even without considering QM, the your gravity has an effect on it in some abstract, infinitesimally tiny fashion. Quantum Mechanics says a lot of spooky, non-intuitive things and I don't pretend to even remotely understand it, but the thing to do is to not get carried away and remember the following piece of information: quantum mechanical effect do not scale up to the macroscopic realm. This is why when you throw a tennis ball it doesn't turn into a wave and pass through a wall or some shit.
    I get that about gravity, but that's not the effect the QM guys are talking about. Beyond the gravity, they are saying looking at the moon affects it in a QM way. That's the WTF factor. And yes, it doesn't scale up so far as anyone knows, and that's acknowledged in the article, but it's also not the point.
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    Let sleeping tigers lie Khendraja'aro's Avatar
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    Instead of going into QM and which term means what, I'll simply quote Feynman:

    It will be difficult. But the difficulty really is psychological and exists in the perpetual torment that results from your saying to yourself, 'But how can it be like that?' which is a reflection of uncontrolled but utterly vain desire to see it in terms of something familiar. I will not describe it in terms of an analogy with something familiar; I will simply describe it. There was a time when the newspapers said that only twelve men understood the theory of relativity. I do not believe there ever was such a time. There might have been a time when only one man did, because he was the only guy who caught on, before he wrote his paper. But after people read the paper a lot of people understood the theory of relativity in some way or other, certainly more than twelve. On the other hand, I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics. So do not take the lecture too seriously, feeling that you really have to understand in terms of some model what I am going to describe, but just relax and enjoy it. I am going to tell you what nature behaves like. If you will simply admit that maybe she does behave like this, you will find her a delightful, entrancing thing. Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, 'But how can it be like that?' because you will get 'down the drain', into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.
    In short: You're trying to convert something you cannot understand into something you can understand. And by "cannot" I mean: Fundamentally unequipped on a biological basis.
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    Impracticaly practical. Cracky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EyeKhan View Post
    I get that about gravity, but that's not the effect the QM guys are talking about. Beyond the gravity, they are saying looking at the moon affects it in a QM way. That's the WTF factor. And yes, it doesn't scale up so far as anyone knows, and that's acknowledged in the article, but it's also not the point.
    No, that is the effect the qm guys are talking about. Not observing on the QM sense would involve putting the moon in some place where neither gravity not light nor any other force or energy could travel between it and yourself. If you are ok with eventually observing sufficient distance will do fine, as is you don't observe the moon on Sub 1.2 second time scales

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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Another QM experiment relating to the weirdness, thought this was interesting.

    From article:

    Their findings, recently reported in a new study, contradicted Einstein's description of a state known as "local realism," study co-author Morgan Mitchell, a professor of quantum optics at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, told Live Science in an email.

    "We showed that Einstein’s world-view of local realism, in which things have properties whether or not you observe them, and no influence travels faster than light, cannot be true — at least one of those things must be false," Mitchell said.


    This introduces the likelihood of two mind-bending scenarios: Either our observations of the world actually change it, or particles are communicating with each other in some manner that we can't see or influence.


    "Or possibly both," Mitchell added.

    https://www.space.com/40557-physicis...adline+Feed%29
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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khendraja'aro View Post
    Instead of going into QM and which term means what, I'll simply quote Feynman:



    In short: You're trying to convert something you cannot understand into something you can understand. And by "cannot" I mean: Fundamentally unequipped on a biological basis.
    It still leaves me wondering if this is subject to the paradigm shift idea. I recently heard a Radio Lab program discussing the theory that ancient people could not see the sky was blue - referenced in the OP. The current theory is that because they had no way to make anything blue, pigments specifically, their languages did not have words for blue, and so when they looked at the sky they saw nothing remarkable. Biologically they could see blue, but they had no reason to distinguish it, encountering it more or less only in the sky on a sunny day, which is something they never actually interacted with. (Except the Egyptians, who could make a blue pigment early on and so had a word for blue. I can't recall if the piece mentioned they referenced the sky color in any of their surviving writing...)

    So maybe we can't understand these phenomena because we've never directly interacted them, but maybe after a period of investigation and some sort of socialization(?), humanity will experience a paradigm shift. It's all very fascinating, how perception can be boxed in by what amounts to, I guess, cultural limitations - in terms of language not encompassing a phenomena - and/or experiential limitations - in terms of having a relevant experience with a phenomena to even generate a need to have language to describe it. Echoes of chicken/ egg, there. And of not knowing something because we don't know we don't know it.
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    That's no moon. EyeKhan's Avatar
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    According to this essay's authors, it does (sort of) mean what I think it means. Or more accurately, there are implications from QM that more or less mean mind is a thing in the universe more than just the manifestation of our neural activity. They suggest mind is central to bringing a defined state to the universe.

    It's an interesting read if you're thinking there's a whole lot of nothing going on with the confirmation of QM's oddities.


    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com...tum-mechanics/


    Coming to Grips with the Implications of Quantum Mechanics

    The question is no longer whether quantum theory is correct, but what it means


    By Bernardo Kastrup, Henry P. Stapp, Menas C. Kafatos on May 29, 2018


    For almost a century, physicists have wondered whether the most counterintuitive predictions of quantum mechanics (QM) could actually be true. Only in recent years has the technology necessary for answering this question become accessible, enabling a string of experimental results—including startling ones reported in 2007 and 2010, and culminating now with a remarkable test reported in May—that show that key predictions of QM are indeed correct. Taken together, these experiments indicate that the everyday world we perceive does not exist until observed, which in turn suggests—as we shall argue in this essay—a primary role for mind in nature. It is thus high time the scientific community at large—not only those involved in foundations of QM—faced up to the counterintuitive implications of QM’s most controversial predictions.

    Over the years, we have written extensively about why QM seems to imply that the world is essentially mental (e.g. 1990, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2017a, 2017b). We are often misinterpreted—and misrepresented—as espousing solipsism or some form of “quantum mysticism,” so let us be clear: our argument for a mental world does not entail or imply that the world is merely one’s own personal hallucination or act of imagination. Our view is entirely naturalistic: the mind that underlies the world is a transpersonal mind behaving according to natural laws. It comprises but far transcends any individual psyche.

    The claim is thus that the dynamics of all inanimate matter in the universe correspond to transpersonal mentation, just as an individual’s brain activity—which is also made of matter—corresponds to personal mentation. This notion eliminates arbitrary discontinuities and provides the missing inner essence of the physical world: all matter—not only that in living brains—is the outer appearance of inner experience, different configurations of matter reflecting different patterns or modes of mental activity.

    According to QM, the world exists only as a cloud of simultaneous, overlapping possibilities—technically called a “superposition”—until an observation brings one of these possibilities into focus in the form of definite objects and events. This transition is technically called a “measurement.” One of the keys to our argument for a mental world is the contention that only conscious observers can perform measurements.

    Some criticize this contention by claiming that inanimate objects, such as detectors, can also perform measurements, in the sense described above. The problem is that the partitioning of the world into discrete inanimate objects is merely nominal. Is a rock integral to the mountain it helps constitute? If so, does it become a separate object merely by virtue of its getting detached from the mountain? And if so, does it then perform a measurement each time it comes back in contact with the mountain, as it bounces down the slope? Brief contemplation of these questions shows that the boundaries of a detector are arbitrary. The inanimate world is a single physical system governed by QM. Indeed, as first argued by John von Neumann and rearticulated in the work of one of us, when two inanimate objects interact they simply become quantum mechanically “entangled” with one another—that is, they become united in such a way that the behavior of one becomes inextricably linked to the behavior of the other—but no actual measurement is performed.

    Let us be more specific. In the well-known double-slit experiment, electrons are shot through two tiny slits. When they are observed at the slits, the electrons behave as definite particles. When observed only after they’ve passed through slits, the electrons behave as clouds of possibilities. In 1998, researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel showed that, when detectors are placed at the slits, the electrons behave as definite particles. At first sight, this may seem to indicate that measurement does not require a conscious observer.

    However, the output of the detectors only becomes known when it is consciously observed by a person. The hypothesis of a measurement before this conscious observation lacks compelling theoretical or empirical grounding. After all, as discussed above, QM offers no reason why the whole system—electrons, slits and detectors combined—wouldn’t be in an entangled superposition before someone looks at the detectors’ output.

    As such, a conscious observer may be indispensable, an idea further elaborated by one of us with regard to so-called “delayed choice quantum eraser” experiments. The bottom line is that we cannot know that detectors actually perform measurements, for we cannot abstract ourselves out of our knowledge. Recall Max Planck’s position: “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness.” (Emphasis added.)

    Some claim that the modern notion of “decoherence” rules out consciousness as the agency of measurement. According to this claim, when a quantum system in a superposition state is probed, information about the overlapping possibilities in the superposition “leaks out” and becomes dispersed in the surrounding environment. This allegedly explains in a fairly mechanical manner why the superposition becomes indiscernible after measurement.

    The problem, however, is that decoherence cannot explain how the state of the surrounding environment becomes definite to begin with, so it doesn’t solve the measurement problem or rule out the role of consciousness. Indeed, as Wojciech Zurek—one of the fathers of decoherence—admitted,

    …an exhaustive answer to [the question of why we perceive a definite world] would undoubtedly have to involve a model of ‘consciousness,’ since what we are really asking concerns our [observers’] impression that ‘we are conscious’ of just one of the alternatives.
    As a matter of fact, peculiar statistical characteristics of the behavior of entangled quantum systems (namely, their experimentally confirmed violation of so-called “Bell’s and Leggett’s inequalities”) seem to rule out everything but consciousness as the agency of measurement. Some then claim that entanglement is observed only in microscopic systems and, therefore, its peculiarities are allegedly irrelevant to the world of tables and chairs.

    But such a claim is untrue, as several recent studies (e.g. 2009, 2011 and 2015) have demonstrated entanglement for much larger systems. Last year, a paper reported entanglement even for “massive” objects. Moreover, quantum superposition has been observed in systems as varied as small metal paddles and living tissue. Clearly, the laws of QM apply at all scales and substrates.

    What preserves a superposition is merely how well the quantum system—whatever its size—is isolated from the world of tables and chairs known to us through direct conscious apprehension. That a superposition does not survive exposure to this world suggests, if anything, a role for consciousness in the emergence of a definite physical reality.

    Now that the most philosophically controversial predictions of QM have—finally—been experimentally confirmed without remaining loopholes, there are no excuses left for those who want to avoid confronting the implications of QM. Lest we continue to live according to a view of reality now known to be false, we must shift the cultural dialogue towards coming to grips with what nature is repeatedly telling us about herself.
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