Quantum Mysticism : Beyond New Age pseudoscience

Apr 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Articles, Physical Sciences

Albert Einstein, refusing to get dragged into the metaphysical speculation that the new science of quantum mechanics had ushered, remained a deist all his life. Einstein’s God was based on scientific mysticism, as a result of deep humility arising from the awe and wonder that the laws of nature inspire.

“The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that , compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.” (Quote)

As the word quantum gradually evolved (slid) into an all-pervasive New Age terminology denoting all events at a fundamental level of reality (quite divorced from its QM roots), the pseudoscience developed thick and fast.

Deepak Chopra was awarded the Ig Nobel prize (Ig = ignoble, as distinct from Alfred Nobel) for his ‘work’ on Quantum Healing, and his claims of immortaliity, agelessness and reversing the aging process. Notwithstanding the fact that his book ‘Timeless Body, Ageless Mind’ sold over two million copies worldwide, the Ig Nobel Prize committee awarded the prize in physics for “his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness”.(1)

More recently the Higg’s Boson was nick-named the God-particle, bringing this mysticism to the mainstream. It was renamed by some as a more modest and less embarrassing ‘The Champagne Bottle Boson’ as a direct allusion to its cloud shape. (2) Even if the Higg’s particle was discovered, it would perhaps do little more than fill in a hole in the theoretical predictions of the Standard Model (SM).

While the philosophical claims that arise from quantum mysticism is perhaps a form of wild speculation (e.g. quantum structure of consciousness), it must be remembered that quantum mechanics has been a runaway success in areas like power generation and nuclear medicine. No theory in physics is perhaps immortal, and to apply a continuously evolving theory to issues facing human existence like consciousness or awareness is at best an armchair, amateur attempt at a scientific interpretation. Fortunately, mainstream scientists are not that radical – most are content with systematically trying to explore the big mysteries facing us a whole.

References

1http://improbable.com/ig/ig-pastwinners.html#ig1998

2 http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2009/jun/05/cern-lhc-god-particle-higgs-boson

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2 Comments to “Quantum Mysticism : Beyond New Age pseudoscience”

  1. Benji Bear says:

    Arcady Blinov suggested arbitrary choices are indistinguishable from random events (or ones of unknown mechanism).

    In 2000 I used this idea (and others) to argue that non-mechanical actions of agents may be behind the laws of physics. This idea and Quantum Mechanics (in general) sugests universal causation may not be the only possibility.

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