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

  1. #41
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    Hello Mr. Morton and Lurch. I don't know if you missed my post, #36, but I would greatly appreciate it if one or both of you could give answer to it. I only know the subject from a laymans pperspective, but this Copenhagen Interpretation of the observer being the creator of the reality he observes doesn't make sense to me. Am I missing something with respect to my suggestion in post #36? Thanks.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLurch View Post
    I'm not using it to argue for superdeterminism. (To be clear, I'm not arguing against superdeterminism either - the universe is on record as obviously indifferent to how we'd prefer the world to work). I'm just pointing out that "free will" has a very specific meaning and context in the t'Hooft piece, and so i think the quote you've used from that has a somewhat different meaning from the way you'd like to use that quote.

    And I think the experiment i described poses problems for free will as you'd like to define it regardless of whether the universe is superdeterministic or not. Specifically, even in a non-superdeterministic universe, some things can be determined without conscious choice, and the results of that experiment would seem to fit that description.
    In fairness Lurch, t'hooft is the only one I know of who holds that definition of free will, and t'Hoofts view IS superdeterminism. Most everyone else seems to think the experimenter is a free agent.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Well, observation is only observation if it is conscious observation, no? So, if it takes time for light to travel from the object to the surface of our eyes and then on into our brains wherein we then become conscious of it, how can it be that our observation is the cause of said objects existence? Doesn't the time lapse between the two events, the object existing and the observation of it, contradict the notion that observation is the cause said object?
    I must not have hit send, I thought I answsered this and can't find it now. lol

    The problem is not one of travel time, the problem is that the Schrodinger equation contains multiple realities as if they are equally real, but when we observe we only observe one of those possible realities. All these realities require that 'travel time you mention' so they are not distinguished by that. We see one of the possible outcomes not all of them which are described by Schrodinger's equation. The question is why do we only see one, not all of them, which in some circumstances can be hundreds of possible realities.

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  5. #44
    tWebber TheLurch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Hello Mr. Morton and Lurch. I don't know if you missed my post, #36, but I would greatly appreciate it if one or both of you could give answer to it. I only know the subject from a laymans pperspective, but this Copenhagen Interpretation of the observer being the creator of the reality he observes doesn't make sense to me. Am I missing something with respect to my suggestion in post #36? Thanks.
    Sorry, you were replying to grmorton, so I didn't realize you wanted my input as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    Well, observation is only observation if it is conscious observation, no?
    That's the issue grmorton and I have been going back and forth on. So, while "reasonable" may be giving both of us too much credit, i think it's clear that reasonable people can disagree.

    All of the experiments that describe this behavior takes place far too fast for human intervention, so the observations are done via electronics, and recorded on computers. Humans only get involved in "observing" the results much later, and then probably don't even look at most individual results, and simply examine the bulk behavior of the system across many individual measurements. (Meaning they "observe" at the level of "28% of the time it did this, 47% of the time it did that, etc.")

    So, when does observing take place? I'd argue that it's before there's conscious involvement - the electronics did the observing. grmorton would say a conscious observer is required, and all the computer equipment its in an indeterminate state until a human starts looking over the results. Right now, there's no way to scientifically distinguish between the two possibilities.

    Quote Originally Posted by JimL View Post
    So, if it takes time for light to travel from the object to the surface of our eyes and then on into our brains wherein we then become conscious of it, how can it be that our observation is the cause of said objects existence? Doesn't the time lapse between the two events, the object existing and the observation of it, contradict the notion that observation is the cause said object?
    We know quantum mechanics isn't causal in the traditional sense of the word (in technical language, it doesn't obey local realism). So you're trying to apply rules that we know are invalid here.
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

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  7. #45
    tWebber TheLurch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    In fairness Lurch, t'hooft is the only one I know of who holds that definition of free will, and t'Hoofts view IS superdeterminism. Most everyone else seems to think the experimenter is a free agent.
    Right. t'Hooft is an incredibly smart guy, but he's pretty much wandered off on his own in most of the work he's done post-Nobel. But my point is that the paper he's writing is from his deterministic viewpoint on free will, so when it's used in a sentence in that paper, it has a meaning that's distinct from how most people would define it. It appeared to me that you were quoting a paragraph from that paper to make an argument in favor of a different definition of free will - one that's not t'Hooft's.

    I'm trying to think of a good analogy to explain what i'm saying better and failing pretty miserably. Maybe something will come to me later.
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

  8. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    I must not have hit send, I thought I answsered this and can't find it now. lol

    The problem is not one of travel time, the problem is that the Schrodinger equation contains multiple realities as if they are equally real, but when we observe we only observe one of those possible realities. All these realities require that 'travel time you mention' so they are not distinguished by that. We see one of the possible outcomes not all of them which are described by Schrodinger's equation. The question is why do we only see one, not all of them, which in some circumstances can be hundreds of possible realities.
    Yes, of the many possible realities, according to the schroedinger equation, we only observe the one actual reality. But doesn't that travel time of light show that it is not our observation that is the cause of the conversion from possible reality to actual reality? The conversion actually takes place at the measuring device which doesn't itself observe anything. So if the cause of the conversion isn't our observation, what would you say is the cause? It would seem to me that the only answer is that reality is determined, and that we only observe that reality after it has already occured? I'm sure I'm probably missing something, could you further clarify what that might be?

  9. #47
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    Lurch, Let's look at t'Hooft's definition of freedom:

    "If we would have been deprived of the possibility to freely choose our initial states,
    we would never be able to rely on our model; we would not know whether our model
    makes sense at all. In short, we must demand that our model gives credible scenarios for a universe for any choice of the initial conditions!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerard ’t Hooft ON THE FREE-WILL POSTULATE IN QUANTUM MECHANICS, p.5,6
    "This is the free will axiom in its modified form. form. This, we claim, is why one should really want ‘free will’ to be there. It is not the free will to modify the present without affecting the past, but it is the freedom to choose the initial state, regardless its past, to check what would happen in the future.

    This still puts the human consciousness, the observer, in a very special circumstance as do all things quantum. This is saying that I can stop the universe's machination, the laws of physics, and effectively time itself, to check what happens in the future if I do x y or z. Wow! Sorry, don't buy that as a reasonable thing. It still has consciousness being powerful enough to entertain alternative futures. Kinda like those TV Sliders guys, Rembrant "Cryin Man" Brown in charge of the universe.

    Edited to add: Since the past, the present and the future are all superdetermined, I don't see how one can suddenly say I have freedom to change the initial condition. It seems very ad hoc to me.


    I am off for a couple of days to get scanned,, poked prodded and otherwise tormented by the medical community to see if my drug trial is actually working on me. Silence isn't a sign of me giving up.
    Last edited by grmorton; 05-23-2019 at 11:54 AM.

  10. #48
    tWebber TheLurch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    This still puts the human consciousness, the observer, in a very special circumstance as do all things quantum.
    I just don't see how those statements rule out a computer from making the choice without conscious intervention - based on the photons of a distant quasar, to reiterate a recent example. This is the point i'm trying (poorly) to make - you're treating his use of the term "free will" as indicative of conscious choices, while t'Hooft is treating the term mechanistically, and specifically says it tells us nothing about the nature of our consciousness. It seems to me at least that the two of you are using the same term for two different things.

    Now, it could be that i'm missing something in the paper - stuff like this i often have to read twice. But i have also read other things by t'Hooft and seen him speak, so i have some idea of what he's trying to get at.

    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    I am off for a couple of days to get scanned,, poked prodded and otherwise tormented by the medical community to see if my drug trial is actually working on me. Silence isn't a sign of me giving up.
    I'm recovering from heart surgery right now, so i fully sympathize.
    "Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from trolling."

  11. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLurch View Post
    I'm recovering from heart surgery right now, so i fully sympathize.
    Sorry to hear about that Lurch. I was thinking about t'Hooft's statement while down at MD Anderson getting bone scans, cat scans and MRI scans and I realized I think I have a better point to make about his definition of free will.
    t'Hooft said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Gerard ’t Hooft ON THE FREE-WILL POSTULATE IN QUANTUM MECHANICS, p.5,6
    "This is the free will axiom in its modified form. form. This, we claim, is why one should really want ‘free will’ to be there. It is not the free will to modify the present without affecting the past, but it is the freedom to choose the initial state, regardless its past, to check what would happen in the future."

    The phrase freedom to choose the initial state is exactly a collision with consciousness as something very special. A molecule can't choose anything. A rock in space can't choose anything much less initial states in an experiment. A dog and cat, can choose, but can't knowingly choose experimental settings. The only existing thing in the universe which can chose initial states in an experiment are conscious human beings. Seems to me, t'Hoofts definition far from dumping the specialness of humans, actually shows it. It is the only thing in the universe that can choose to set up an experiment and choose the initial settings. And that makes it very very special and very very different from rocks, asteroids, suns, galaxies and all other material objects.

  12. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by grmorton View Post
    Sorry to hear about that Lurch. I was thinking about t'Hooft's statement while down at MD Anderson getting bone scans, cat scans and MRI scans and I realized I think I have a better point to make about his definition of free will.
    t'Hooft said:
    Are you able to answer post #46 for me? I am trying to understand, make sense of, or conclude it an error that, according to the Copenhagan interpretation, our observation is the cause of reality. My question is basically, how can our observation be the cause of reality when according to the time lapse between the objects of existence and our conscious observation of them, said objects must needs exist prior to our ability to consciously observe them? Doesn't the external world need exist prior to our conscious awareness of it? Doesn't our consciousness of the external world only occur after the light coming from it reaches our eyes? I don't think you are actually defending that idea, since you are arguing free will and that interpretation, if I have it right, wouldn't leave room for free will, or would it? Perhaps I've misunderstood the Copenhagen interpretation, that our observations cause the reality we see. I'd appreciate it if you could set me straight on that. Thanks.

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