Quantum magic: not even wrong

2008/04/16


Upon a friend’s enthusiastic recommendation, I have watched What the Bleep: Down the Rabbit Hole. Damn it, can we humans resist wishful magical thinking? While creationists have chosen to deny evidence challenging their world view, the next wave of psychics, diviners, and mystics invent evidence by merging quantum mechanics and neuroscience. Both are equally deceptive. The question is why? – in genuine search for meaning or just trying to make a quick buck?

Both the creationist filmmakers of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed and the New Age authors of “Down the Rabbit Hole” cloak their arguments in scientific authority and claim to be the newer and hipper kind of science. Granted, new agers are gentler, more subtle, more inspiring, inclusive, and sophisticated than bible literalists, but that does not excuse the false certainty and deliberate deceit to manipulate the credulous.

The hypothesis that cognition is best explained by quantum effects has produced no verifiable predictions and is not a productive area of research in neuroscience: not because it’s suppressed but because it has not delivered. Instead a host of new religions are sprouting or reforming (e.g. The Quantum Brain, Noetic Sciences) by incorporating scientific jargon. Quantum consciousness seems to be becoming the intelligent design of new age religions: dressed in scientifically sounding gobbledegook, both serve to soothe the magic believers’ cognitive dissonance.

Paul Dirac once described someone’s scientific argument in a particularly derogatory (to a scientist) way: It’s not right – it’s not even wrong : a claim so vague that it cannot be falsified. The Quantum Mind just as Intelligent Design is not even wrong: they both are marketing tools.

Now what do I say to my enthusiastic friend when I return the movie?

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