Sunday, January 09, 2011

Keep Your Hands Off My Theory!

Looks like I am not the only one truly annoyed by all these New Age mystics who are trying to bastardize quantum mechanics to support their crackpottery. Eric Swanson, a physics professor at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote a wonderful opinion piece article to slash away at all the nonsense that have been sold and using QM as their justification. He took particular aim at a new book written by the author of "The Secret".

Naively, the measurement process requires a measurer -- someone to actually observe the system. Thus you and I have the power to collapse wavefunctions merely by looking at something.

It is only baby steps to the idea that the act of observing something actually causes it to exist. And if it is the Mind of Man that brings things into existence, can't we create anything with our thoughts? Indeed, is the moon there if no one is looking at it?

This conceit is so common that it has become part of the national psyche: If you want it hard enough, it will happen. Got a big problem? Wish harder! Reality looking a bit ugly? Envision a better one! This is the essence of the Law of Attraction.

But alas, quantum physics says nothing of the sort. Wavefunction collapse is merely a physicist's shorthand for saying that nature has chosen a specific realization of a physical system. The moon really is there when you don't look at it. And wishing for things does not make them happen.

So, you see, the theft of quantum spookiness to "explain" dubious New Age philosophy raises my hackles. Keep your hands off of my theory, Rhonda Byrnes!

Anyone who has read this blog for any considerable period of time would have seen my similar complaints against these very same people. In fact, I've even attempted to use their crackpottery to debunk a paranormal phenomenon. And one only needs to read the many blog entries that I've written on the "bastardization of quantum mechanics" to see that I've no patience for these charlatans.

The thing that I've never understood here is that, many of these people, even Deepak Chopra, make no bones that they do NOT understand QM. What they understood are what they probably get out of pop-science books and articles. Yet, they don't feel that such level of understanding is inadequate to be used as a solid foundation to justify that they claim? I mean, they don't even pay any attention to the experts (i.e. physicists) when they claim that these people are not using physics correctly! So if you have an expert that says that "No, you're wrong. That's not how it is", do you think you know better than he/she? I would be thoroughly embarrassed to do such things. What makes these people so conceited that they ignore the experts?

Of course, the public will continue to get suckered into such things, because as we all know, they can't tell the difference anyway between what's valid and what isn't.


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