Sunday, November 4, 2012

Explaining quantum weirdness

Johannes Koelman explains some quantum paradox with analogies, and then gives a choice of interpretations of the weirdness:
1) Deny Its Existence
2) Accept Non-Local Socks
3) Embrace Precognition
4) Deny Free Will
5) Avoid The "Would Have Happened If" Fallacy
He takes the last one, of course. It is the positivist view that Bohr advocated all along. The other views cannot be ruled out, but they are pretty crazy.

Most explanations of quantum mechanics are filled with nonsense. For example, the latest Scientific American says:
Throughout the 20th century scientists and mathematicians have had to accept that some things will always remain beyond the grasp of reason. In the 1930s Kurt Gödel famously showed that even in the rational universe of mathematics, for every paradox that deep thinking slaps down, new ones pop up. Economists and political theorists found similar limitations to rational rules for organizing society, and historians of science punctured the belief that scientific disputes are resolved purely by facts. The ultimate limits on reason come from quantum physics, which says that some things just happen and you can never know why. ...

Quantum mechanics may be a better model for human behavior than classical logic, which fails to predict the human impulse to cooperate and act altruistically. Instead of trying to force our thinking into a rational framework, we are better off expanding the framework.
No, Goedel and economists did not show that. The claim about "historians of science" seems to be a reference to Kuhnian paradigm shifts. That is where philosophers say that physicists are irrational.

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