Monday, August 6, 2018

Copenhagen is rooted in logical positivism

From an AAAS Science mag book review:
Most physicists still frame quantum problems through the sole lens of the so-called “Copenhagen interpretation,” the loose set of assumptions Niels Bohr and his colleagues developed to make sense of the strange quantum phenomena they discovered in the 1920s and 1930s. However, he warns, the apparent success of the Copenhagen interpretation hides profound failures.

The approach of Bohr and his followers, Becker argues, was ultimately rooted in logical positivism, an early-20th-century philosophical movement that attempted to limit science to what is empirically verifiable. By the mid-20th century, philosophers such as Thomas Kuhn and W. V. O. Quine had completely discredited this untenable view of science, Becker continues. The end of logical positivism, he concludes, should have led to the demise of the Copenhagen interpretation. Yet, physicists maintain that it is the only viable approach to quantum mechanics.

As Becker demonstrates, the physics community’s faith in Bohr’s wisdom rapidly transformed into a pervasive censorship that stifled any opposition.
This is partially correct. Quantum mechanics, and the Copenhagen Interpretation were rooted in logical positivism. Much of XX century physics was influenced, for the better, by logical positivism and related views.

It is also true that XX century philosophers abandoned logical positivism, for largely stupid reasons. They decided that there was no such thing as truth.

This created a huge split between the scientific world, which searches for truth, and the philosophical world, which contends that there is no such thing as truth. These views are irreconcilable. Science and Philosophy have become like Astronomy and Astrology. Each thinks that the other is so silly that any conversation is pointless.

Unfortunately, many physicists are now infected with anti-positivist views of quantum mechanics, and say that there is something wrong with it. Those physicists complain, but have gotten nowhere with there silly ideas.


  1. You are pretending that these people are sincere. They aren't! Bullshit jobs that never went away after the bomb.

  2. I argue that government science has become far more to do with employing scientists (or hiding off the books spending) than doing science. Exhibit A: The James Webb Telescope... pitched for 500 million dollars in 1997 and was to be launched in 2007, and presently is going on strong at over 10 billion dollars (they are asking congress for ever more money) over budget and counting with a launch date that has been pushed back to 2021, and will be placed in an orbit that makes it next to impossible to service the damn thing... not a very good idea, as for reference, the Hubble telescope frequently required servicing and would have been crippled if this had not been possible.

    We have more than enough problems in this country which require attention more than boondoggles for make-work science projects.

    1. Look at the fusion scam. With DEMO, ITER, IFMIF and PROTO, they have plans beyond 2050! Unbelievable. It wouldn't be economical even if it worked. Need fusion energy? Look up!

    2. Also, the Webbs has no backup to my knowledge. A bad launch and $10+ billion goes poof.