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Thread: Wigner's friend, the existence of the Immaterial soul, and death of materialism

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    tWebber
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    Wigner's friend, the existence of the Immaterial soul, and death of materialism

    What I am presenting here is just philosophy. It isn't hard but it is based on quantum mechanics but no math below. Christians, however, have missed one of the most amazing arguments for our world view by ignoring this area. Sadly, in this thread, I do not want Shunya dragon participating. Last time I discussed this kind of material he hijacked the thread with tangential undocumented claims.

    I had toyed with this idea for years but it wasn't until a week after my cancer reached my bones last July, and I was a wee bit depressed that I read the passage in a Scientific American article which confirmed that there is indeed strong evidence for the existence of the soul and there was no escape from the argument. . I viewed this as a divine cheer up message to me. This issue destroys materialism so even though it is not the easiest reading, it is well worth the effort. Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Weinberg cited by Tim Folger, How Does the Quantum World Cross Over?, Scientific American, July 2018, p. 32
    "Fundamentally, I have an ideal of what a physical theory should be. It should be something that doesn't refer in any specific way to human beings. It should be something from which everything else--including anything you can say systematically about chemistry, or biology, or human affairs--can be derived. It shouldn't have human beings at the beginning in the laws of nature. And yet, I don't see any way of formulating quantum mechanics without an interpretative postulate that refers to what happens when people choose to measure one thing or another."
    If this is true, and no one can doubt Weinberg's expertise in this field, then humans are something integral to quantum mechanics. Humans make choices that affect the material world. When we observe a quantum system, we obtain one answer for, say, where the electron is in space. But the math of quantum says that the electron is in all possible places at once, prior to the observation. This state is call superposition. While the system is in superposition, the electron is everywhere at once. Our observations, however, will see the electron at only one spot; we see the electron in one place, not everywhere at once. This difference between what quantum math says is happening and what we see is called the collapse of the wavefunction to one of the possible answers. It happens when we observe the system according to the still quite popular Copenhagen interpretation.

    In order to understand it, one first needs to understand the von Neumann chain. Rosenblum and Kuttner explain:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, Quantum Enigma, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 184
    "In his rigourous 1932 treatment, The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechannics, John von Neumann showed that quantum theory makes physics' encounter with consciousness inevitable. He considered a measuring apparatus, a Geiger counter, for example. It is isolated from the rest of the world but makes contact with a quantum system, say, an atom simultaneously in two boxes. This Geiger counter is set to fire if the atom is in the top box and to remain unfired if the atom is in the bottom box. Von Neumann showed that if the Geiger counter is a physical system governed by quantum mechanics, it would enter a superposition state with the atom and be, simultaneously, in a fired and an un fired state. (We saw this situation in the case of Schrodinger's cat.)"
    "Should a second isolated measuring apparatus come into contact with the Geiger counter-for example, an electronic device recording whether the Geiger counter has fired-it joins the superposition state and records both situations existing simultaneously. This so-called "von Neumann chain" can continue indefinitely. Von Neumann showed that no physical system obeying the laws of physics (i.e., quantum theory) could collapse a superposition state wavefunction to yield a particular result."
    "However, when we look at the Geiger counter, we will always see a particular result, not a superposition. Von Neumann concluded that only a conscious observer doing something that is not presently encompassed by physics can collapse a wavefunction. Though for all practical purposes one can consider the wavefunction collapsed at any macroscopic stage of the von Neumann chain, von Neumann concluded that only a conscious observer can actually make an observation."
    Von Neumann showed that anything subject to the laws of quantum will go into superposition with the quantum system it interacts with. Wigner's friend paradox asks what happens when one uses a friend to observe a quantum system and you are eagerly awaiting the answer? Does the friend go into superposition with the quantum system? If it does, it creates a paradox.

    Wigner's friend is a paradox which got its name from Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner who presented it in the early 1960s, but the first appearance of this paradox in the literature is found in Hugh Everett's dissertation in 1957. A friend looks to see if Schrodinger's cat is alive or dead. He has observed the system. For him the wavefunction has collapsed to a particular state or answer. But Wigner, not having observed the cat doesn't know whether the cat is alive or dead. This gives rise to a paradox. Two observers describing the same event (the friend's observation of the cat), describe it differently. They don't see the same thing using a rigorous application of quantum mathematics. Remember, according to von Neumann, anything subject to the laws of quantum will go into superposition when it interacts with a quantum system. This is important for IF the laws of quantum mechanics apply to his friend's consciousness, then before Wigner's friend tells him whether the cat is alive or dead, the friend is in a superposition state of friend knows cat alive plus friend knows cat dead. Wigner doesn't know whether the cat is alive or dead so Wigner is forced to use quantum math to describe his friend in this superpositional state. But to the friend, he sees no superposition at all. He sees either a cat that is alive or a cat that is dead. ONLY when the friend gives an answer to Wigner does the quantum math collapse to one state or another--cat is alive or cat is dead, and the observers then can describe the event in similar terms.



    Wigner states:
    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in John Wheeler and Wojciech Hubert Zurek,Quantum Theory and Measurement, , (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1983), p. 176
    "However, even in this case, in which the observation was carried out by someone else, the typical change in the wave function occurred only when some information the yes or no of my friend) entered my consciousness. It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness."
    After mathematically proving his position, Wigner states:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in John Wheeler and Wojciech Hubert Zurek,Quantum Theory and Measurement, , (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1983), p. 180
    "It follows that the being with a consciousness must have a different role in quantum mechanics than the inanimate measuring device."

    Wigner goes on to make two very important points about his friend paradox. First, materialism is false. he says:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in John Wheeler and Wojciech Hubert Zurek,Quantum Theory and Measurement, , (Princeton: Princeton University Press 1983), p. 176

    "The principal argument against materialism is not that illustrated in the last two sections: that it is incompatible with quantum theory. The principal argument is that thought processes and consciousness are the primary concepts, that our knowledge of the external world is the content of our conscioiusness and that the consciousness, therefore, cannot be denied."
    Secondly he states that consciousness is a fundamental aspect of reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eugene Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, in Eugene Wigner, Philosophical Reflections and Syntheses, Springer, 2012, p. 172

    "It may be premature to believe that the present philosophy of quantum mechanics will remain a permanent feature of future physical theories; it will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate reality."
    By an 'ultimate reality', Wigner is implicitly stating that the laws of quantum do not apply to consciousness.

    In my next post, I will discuss an extension of Wigner's friend paradox that has been tested experimentally. It explicitly states that consciousness is not subject to the laws of quantum and thus does not arise from the material. Further the experiment shows a fundamental logical paradox which, if you believe in the multiverse, requires a privileged observer for its solution--that is, a God.

    My friend Gordon Simons and I have written up a comprehensive and understandable (we have tested it) paper which I have placed on my blog which can be found here.
    Last edited by Cow Poke; 05-11-2019 at 02:19 PM. Reason: corrected URL at owner's request

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    So, could our world exist if no conscious being was there to observe it, or according to the Copenhagen interpretation, to create it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    So, could our world exist if no conscious being was there to observe it, or according to the Copenhagen interpretation, to create it?
    According to John Wheeler's delayed choice experiment, described in my article at "Quantum Soul", observers not only bring the particles into existence they create the past as well. This is the correct link, I need someone to fix the link in my OP, I screwed it up.


    Such a view has some serious theological implications, for instance, who is the observer prior to when any possible observer evolved? God? That answer is unacceptable to many and many of those take refuge in the decoherence view of quantum, but in our paper we show why that is no refuge at all.


    The second theological implication I think of is that if we fallen humans (fallen and sinful in the Biblical sense) even have partial control over the structure of this world, then it destroys the atheist objection to God in the problem of evil. We can't lay all the evil in the world at God's feet if we are eve partly responsible for the screwed up nature of this universe. The Bible tells us that God gave us dominion. Maybe it is more than just the animals we have dominion over. I think that fits well with this. My co-author on the paper on my blog site is uncomfortable with this as he is more Calvinistic. I tend to be Arministic.
    Last edited by grmorton; 05-11-2019 at 11:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    This is the correct link, I need someone to fix the link in my OP, I screwed it up.
    Please check to see if I did it correctly.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    tWebber TheLurch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    So, could our world exist if no conscious being was there to observe it, or according to the Copenhagen interpretation, to create it?
    We've been around this before here at TWeb - as noted at the top of the initial post, this is philosophy, and not science. The basic issue is what happens when the state of a quantum system starts getting tangled up (note: not entangled, we don't know if that's possible) with non-quantum objects?The most famous examples is Schroedinger's cat, which may be alive or dead or a superposition of the two based on the behavior of a quantum system. This happens all the time; in practical terms, the "cat" is just some bits on a hard drive that record the results of a quantum experiment. But you can potentially tie the state of those bits to the state of any unobserved object you want - the toppling of a Stonehenge-sized block of rock, for example.

    So the question is what state is the rock in before someone observes it? The scientific answer is that we don't know.

    grmorton prefers that it's actually in a physically indeterminate state, neither standing or toppled. This position has support within the physics community, as his use of quotes from physicists indicates.

    Because we don't have any indication of physics that describe a sort of indeterminate state for non-quantum objects, i personally suspect that the block its in a specific, if not yet determined state. (Put differently, i find it easier to accept "we don't know until we look" than that there's an entire field of physics affecting the objects we observe around us every day, and we've seen no indication of it.) This position also has support within the physics community.

    I think where grmorton and I would agree is that we look forward to a day where someone exceptionally clever figures out a way of determining which of the two options is more likely to be the case.
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

  6. Amen shunyadragon, JimL amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    Please check to see if I did it correctly.
    Thank you very much Cow poke. you did it right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLurch View Post
    We've been around this before here at TWeb - as noted at the top of the initial post, this is philosophy, and not science.
    Sorry, it is science. If you will recall all science used to be called Natural philosophy. And even today math used for physical theory all have a philosophical view--assumptions that go into the math about what reality is like. When I used the word philosophy, I wanted the readers to know that there was no math and that it can be understood easily. It is science.


    The basic issue is what happens when the state of a quantum system starts getting tangled up (note: not entangled, we don't know if that's possible) with non-quantum objects?The most famous examples is Schroedinger's cat, which may be alive or dead or a superposition of the two based on the behavior of a quantum system. This happens all the time; in practical terms, the "cat" is just some bits on a hard drive that record the results of a quantum experiment. But you can potentially tie the state of those bits to the state of any unobserved object you want - the toppling of a Stonehenge-sized block of rock, for example.

    And your point is? This seems rather to avoid the point and issue about the soul and indeed is irrelevant to that point.



    So the question is what state is the rock in before someone observes it? The scientific answer is that we don't know.

    grmorton prefers that it's actually in a physically indeterminate state, neither standing or toppled. This position has support within the physics community, as his use of quotes from physicists indicates.

    I think you need to better understand Wheeler's cosmic delayed choice experiment to which I referred. There is little way to interpret that delayed choice experiment other than that a person is changing history, thus calling history into existence. And it is John Wheeler, a very renown physicist who was the one I was citing that the particles and their history don't exist until observed. Here is a description of it:

    Quote Originally Posted by Antonella Vannini e Ulisse Di Corpo, "Quantum Mechanics (QM), Syntropy 2007, 1, pag. 119-129 p. 127
    "The delayed choice experiment became possible thanks to the speed of computers which can choose randomly when to activate the detectors between the double slit and the screen. The result is that this choice effects the way in which the photon has gone through the slit (wave/particle), and that this effect operates backwards in time. The first two experiments which verified this model were performed independently in the 1980s in the University of Maryland and Munich, Germany. These experiments showed that the decision to activate the detectors affected the nature of photons backwards in time"

    "Wheeler, noted that it is possible to devise a double slit experiment at the cosmic level using light coming from quasars and a galaxy which operates as a gravitational lens on the way to Earth. This light would generate an interference pattern showing that light has travelled as waves. But if a measurement would be performed before the screen on which the interference pattern takes form, the pattern would dissolve and the photons would change from waves into particles. In other words our choice on how to measure the light coming from a quasar influences the nature of the light (particle/quasar) emitted 10 billion years ago. According to Wheeler this experiment would show that retrocausal effects operate at the quantum level."

    Wheeler later rejected retrocausality in favor of his participatory universe, that we observers create it and its history.
    So, I was pointing out in that post what a famous physicist believed.



    Because we don't have any indication of physics that describe a sort of indeterminate state for non-quantum objects, i personally suspect that the block its in a specific, if not yet determined state. (Put differently, i find it easier to accept "we don't know until we look" than that there's an entire field of physics affecting the objects we observe around us every day, and we've seen no indication of it.) This position also has support within the physics community.

    I fear Lurch that most physicists would give you raspberries for saying 'we don't have any indication of physics that describe a sort of inteterminate state for non-quantum objects." Macroscopic objects with trillions of atoms have been put into quantum states. There seems to be no size limit to the application of quantum laws. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8570836.stm

    I think where grmorton and I would agree is that we look forward to a day where someone exceptionally clever figures out a way of determining which of the two options is more likely to be the case.

    But, Lurch you said nothing about the observer and its independence from matter.


    Edited to add: now entanglement, which is like entangled photons has been carried out on objects just below our ability to see them. They are right on the verge of being the size we could see and thus call macroscopic. https://newatlas.com/macroscale-quan...glement/54372/
    Last edited by grmorton; 05-11-2019 at 06:27 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post

    My friend Gordon Simons and I have written up a comprehensive and understandable (we have tested it) paper which I have placed on my blog which can be found here.
    You know when I read stuff like this it makes Berkeley's idealism sound much more plausible...
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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    Quote Originally Posted by seer View Post
    You know when I read stuff like this it makes Berkeley's idealism sound much more plausible...
    Quantum takes you right into Berkeley. I did grad work in philosophy of science and Berkeley, of course was required reading. And he led right into the 19th century idealism, which was killed, not disproven, by G. E. Moore who said you can't live like idealism is true, but the 20th century development of quantum has kind of put us back at the beginning with Berkeley.


    In order to live in this world, we all live by faith. The bible says the righteous shall live by faith, meaning faith in God, but in fact, everyone lives by faith. But we put that faith in different things. We all have to have faith that what we see is real and out there--i.e., there is no solution to the solipsism problem so we live by faith. If we didn't have this faith we would be like Christian Science, which believes the world is an illusion--but then Wheeler's delayed choice experiment kinda says we create our own world. Is it real? And I believe that materialists live by faith (ignoring clear evidence for the existence of the immaterial) to hold their view. Multiverse advocates live by faith that an infinitude of unseen universes surround us (not much different than Christians believing a host of angels surrounds us). This universe is a moshpit of faith.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    Quantum takes you right into Berkeley. I did grad work in philosophy of science and Berkeley, of course was required reading. And he led right into the 19th century idealism, which was killed, not disproven, by G. E. Moore who said you can't live like idealism is true, but the 20th century development of quantum has kind of put us back at the beginning with Berkeley.


    In order to live in this world, we all live by faith. The bible says the righteous shall live by faith, meaning faith in God, but in fact, everyone lives by faith. But we put that faith in different things. We all have to have faith that what we see is real and out there--i.e., there is no solution to the solipsism problem so we live by faith. If we didn't have this faith we would be like Christian Science, which believes the world is an illusion--but then Wheeler's delayed choice experiment kinda says we create our own world. Is it real? And I believe that materialists live by faith (ignoring clear evidence for the existence of the immaterial) to hold their view. Multiverse advocates live by faith that an infinitude of unseen universes surround us (not much different than Christians believing a host of angels surrounds us). This universe is a moshpit of faith.
    Well this is all beyond me, I certainly agree that all men live by faith or unprovable assumptions, Descartes pretty much settled that issue and I also agree that there is no logical way around solipsism. But I don't see how we create our own reality, that doesn't seem to fit our experience. A God generated idealism may be the case, but then we would be living in His world not one of our own making, though we may have minor influences...
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

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