The Human Truth Foundation

Quantum Physics Pseudo-scientific Theory of Soul

By Vexen Crabtree 2001

#consciousness #new_age #pseudoscience #quantum_physics #quantum_woo #souls #spirituality

Quantum consciousness is a type of spirituality or soul theory that uses the terminology of quantum physics. It is an example of "pseudo-science", where scientific terms are used without genuine understanding of their meaning, but in a way that makes outlandish theories look reasonable at first glance. In particular, it is used to justify the belief that souls exist, that remote-viewing and other psychic powers are real, and it is used to support "every New Age fantasy from telepathy to feng shui"1. The eminent physicist prof. Victor Stenger (now deceased) was a vocal critic of the abuse of quantum physics done by spiritualists of various kinds: "A new myth is burrowing its way into modern thinking [...] that the principles embodied in quantum mechanics imply a central role for the human mind in determining the very nature of the universe. Not surprisingly, this idea can be found in New Age periodicals and in many books on the metaphysical shelves of book stores"2. The Observer Effect and Quantum Entanglement are two the prime areas where non-scientific minds can often allow their imaginations to distort the science1. However strange these effects may be, quantum physics is not a doorway to magic.


1. The Interconnectivity of All Things

Quantum Physics is a vastly important area of physics for philosophers. The interconnectivity of all things relies primarily on faster than light communication, specifically the effect on one wavicle of another wavicle at speeds which, when measured in a bee line, appears to be faster than the speed of light. Quantum Tunnelling, some theoretical (and occasionally dodgy) black hole physics, some big bang models and a few other quantum "effects" including plurality and Schrodinger's Cat theories can all be interpreted to include faster than light mechanics.

Most of these elements are under dispute and there are multiple variations and differing interpretations of quantum effects. For example, there are some Quantum Tunnelling explanations (especially in Super String Theory) that do not require faster than light travel to explain the phenomenon. In short, quantum theory is still unstable and we continue to make sudden or unexpected discoveries, both in theory and practice.

David Bohm, who died in October, 1992, had been the foremost proponent of a new holistic paradigm to take the place of reductionist quantum physics.3 The failure of his related hidden variable theory did not cause the proponents of the new continuity to loose faith. Rather they have turned the experimental confirmation of conventional quantum mechanics on its head by arguing that a basis has been found for the superluminal signals needed in a holistic universe.

Einstein's principle that no signals can move faster than light implies that separated events in the universe, even those an atomic diameter apart, cannot be simultaneously connected. This fundamentally contradicts the holistic view of an instantaneous interconnectedness among all things. Rather, relativity paints quite the opposite picture: a universe of localized particles that at any instant depend only on the other particles with which they are in direct contact. What is going on elsewhere in the universe at that instant can have no effect until the particles carrying the necessary information can get there, moving no faster than the speed of light. This is a far more complete form of reductionism than is present in pre-Einsteinian mechanics, where motions at superluminal or even infinite speeds were not ruled out by any known theory. Incompatible with the claims of the new holists, relativity not only supports the reductionist view - it makes it mandatory! [...] Relativity has passed every experimental test that has been put to it since being introduced in 1905, so it cannot be casually discarded.

Similarly, the interpretation of quantum mechanics to which Einstein objected, and which Bohm sought to replace, still reigns supreme after being subjected to a similar period of rigorous experimental test, including the tests of Bell's theorem. The EPR paradox thus would seem to suggest that quantum mechanics and relativity cannot be made compatible, and so one or the other must go. Before the experimental results confirming conventional quantum mechanics came in, Bohm and his supporters had argued that conventional quantum mechanics should be discarded. Now that the results are in, the new holists argue that relativity must yield, since quantum mechanics provides a mechanism by which signals can move faster than light.

"The Myth of Quantum Consciousness" by Prof. Victor J. Stenger (1992)2

2. The Observer Effect and Quantum Consciousness

The Observer Effect is one of the most widely misunderstood and abused elements of quantum mechanics, and has been wrenched out of its scientific context by large swathes of the New Age, who have now seemingly produced more books on quantum physics than the (exasperated) physicists themselves. "The inter-connectedness of everything informs New Age attitudes to health and healing [...] in place of the medical-science treatment"4. It's based on the concept that all things are interrelated and can affect each other but without being subject to limits such as the speed of light.

Proponents of this theory see room for free will and a concept of 'spirit' at the quantum level, allowing all kinds of magic and supernatural effects to occur. But this kind of interpretation is utterly rejected by the scientists who are testing quantum mechanics theories: Schrodinger himself complained in his own lifetime that his language was being abused and misunderstood in order to support nonsense1.

The act of observing the electron is said to "collapse" the wave function to that point. To some scientists the collapse of the wave function made it seem as if the conscious act of observation actually created the thing observed. [... Some writers] took it much farther, arguing that since events on an atomic scale are affected by the act of observation, and since everything in the universe is made of atoms, we should not be surprised to find our thoughts influencing events on the macroscopic scale in which our lives are lived. Those with a spiritual bent began talking about "universal consciousness." This was a godsend for the paranormal community. It provided scientific cover for every New Age fantasy from telepathy to feng shui. New Age technobabble was sprinkled with "quantum non-locality," "entanglement," and "collapsing" wave functions. The CIA would spend millions on "remote viewing," and Rhonda Bryne´s The Secret would become a runaway bestseller. To the question, "How can that be?" the standard answer became "quantum mechanics."

"Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science" by Robert L. Park (2008)1

Quantum mechanics is called on further to argue that the cosmic field, like Newton's aether, couples to the human mind itself. In Robert Lanza's view, that field is the universal mind of all humanity - living, dead, and unborn. Ironically, this seemingly profound association between quantum and mind is an artifact, the consequence of unfortunate language used by Bohr, Heisenberg and the others who originally formulated quantum mechanics. In describing the necessary interaction between the observer and what is being observed, and how the state of a system is determined by the act of its measurement, they inadvertently left the impression that human consciousness enters the picture to cause that state come into being. This led many who did not understand the physics, but liked the sound of the words used to describe it, to infer a fundamental human role in what was previously a universe that seemed to have need for neither gods nor humanity. [...]

The overwhelming weight of evidence, from seven decades of experimentation, shows not a hint of a violation of reductionist, local, discrete, non-superluminal, non-holistic relativity and quantum mechanics - with no fundamental involvement of human consciousness other than in our own subjective perception of whatever reality is out there. [...] The myth of quantum consciousness should take its place along with gods, unicorns, and dragons [...].

"The Myth of Quantum Consciousness" by Prof. Victor J. Stenger (1992)2