Total Posts:43|Showing Posts:1-30|Last Page
Jump to topic:

Neutrino experiment suggests reality is...

Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 1:38:31 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
...Not 'real.' In the sense that it exists completely independently of the observer.

This experiment happened a few months ago, but since I was away I didn't get to hear what DDO made of it.

Background Info:

You're familiar with the thought experiment 'does a tree that falls in a forest make any sound if nobody is there to hear it?' Scientists have made a literal quantum replica of this idea using neutrinos. Neutrinos exist in a single state at any given time, and will naturally oscillate between a variety of states in a predictable fashion over time. To simplify, I'll call the states A, B and C. The researchers in this experiment fired off A neutrinos and expected them to be B neutrinos at a certain measuring point.

Findings:
The findings instead showed that the neutrinos remained A all along. This means that the neutrinos didn't actually have a flavour until they were observed. This also ties in with other research suggesting that particles don't really have any properties, unless someone is looking at them.

Implications:
The role of the observer in reality cannot be denied. It would appear that reality is not completely independent of the observer, much to Einsteins dismay. It's stirred up debate as to whether or not reality is actually simulated, or if it's all in our head. Certainly the realist might be feeling a tad uncomfortable with these latest findings.

Thoughts?
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
Q-ter
Posts: 23
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 11:31:06 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 1:38:31 AM, Smithereens wrote:
...Not 'real.' In the sense that it exists completely independently of the observer.

This experiment happened a few months ago, but since I was away I didn't get to hear what DDO made of it.

Background Info:

You're familiar with the thought experiment 'does a tree that falls in a forest make any sound if nobody is there to hear it?' Scientists have made a literal quantum replica of this idea using neutrinos. Neutrinos exist in a single state at any given time, and will naturally oscillate between a variety of states in a predictable fashion over time. To simplify, I'll call the states A, B and C. The researchers in this experiment fired off A neutrinos and expected them to be B neutrinos at a certain measuring point.

Findings:
The findings instead showed that the neutrinos remained A all along. This means that the neutrinos didn't actually have a flavour until they were observed. This also ties in with other research suggesting that particles don't really have any properties, unless someone is looking at them.

Implications:
The role of the observer in reality cannot be denied. It would appear that reality is not completely independent of the observer, much to Einsteins dismay. It's stirred up debate as to whether or not reality is actually simulated, or if it's all in our head. Certainly the realist might be feeling a tad uncomfortable with these latest findings.

Thoughts? : :

The simulation program is being played out continuously through the minds of each created character who experiences life with not only it's sense of sight but with all the other senses, too. This means the character can be totally blind and still experience life. He doesn't have to observe any light waves to experience all the other beautiful things God created for his characters to enjoy.
Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 12:04:42 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 11:31:06 AM, Q-ter wrote:
The simulation program is being played out continuously through the minds of each created character who experiences life with not only it's sense of sight but with all the other senses, too. This means the character can be totally blind and still experience life. He doesn't have to observe any light waves to experience all the other beautiful things God created for his characters to enjoy.

I too believe that vegetables are secretly experiencing the vivid moments that life has to offer.
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
Q-ter
Posts: 23
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 12:07:19 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 12:04:42 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 11:31:06 AM, Q-ter wrote:
The simulation program is being played out continuously through the minds of each created character who experiences life with not only it's sense of sight but with all the other senses, too. This means the character can be totally blind and still experience life. He doesn't have to observe any light waves to experience all the other beautiful things God created for his characters to enjoy.

I too believe that vegetables are secretly experiencing the vivid moments that life has to offer. : :

Isaiah 40
6: A voice says, "Cry!" And I said, "What shall I cry?" All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7: The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people is grass.
8: The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.

Ecclesiastes 3
17: I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work.
18: I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men that God is testing them to show them that they are but beasts.
19: For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity.
20: All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Silly_Billy
Posts: 654
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 12:25:44 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
It could indicate that we are living in a artificial, "matrix"-type reality. The universe as we know it is governed by a fixed set of parameters (the laws of nature) that defines how everything functions where as the quantum universe seems to work on completely different principles where those parameters do not exist. The same can be said about the functioning of a computer where a program is limited by the parameters it has while the underlying foundation of the program, the computer on which it is running, has no such limitations.
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 1:11:19 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 12:25:44 PM, Silly_Billy wrote:
It could indicate that we are living in a artificial, "matrix"-type reality. The universe as we know it is governed by a fixed set of parameters (the laws of nature) that defines how everything functions where as the quantum universe seems to work on completely different principles where those parameters do not exist. The same can be said about the functioning of a computer where a program is limited by the parameters it has while the underlying foundation of the program, the computer on which it is running, has no such limitations.

So what? The simulation is based on a reality that actually exists. The simulations aren't real but the programmer is. So how was that reality created? Who created the Programmer? Why was the simulation created and why was the programmer created?
Silly_Billy
Posts: 654
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 1:28:46 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 1:11:19 PM, Furyan5 wrote:
At 9/15/2016 12:25:44 PM, Silly_Billy wrote:
It could indicate that we are living in a artificial, "matrix"-type reality. The universe as we know it is governed by a fixed set of parameters (the laws of nature) that defines how everything functions where as the quantum universe seems to work on completely different principles where those parameters do not exist. The same can be said about the functioning of a computer where a program is limited by the parameters it has while the underlying foundation of the program, the computer on which it is running, has no such limitations.

So what? The simulation is based on a reality that actually exists. The simulations aren't real but the programmer is. So how was that reality created? Who created the Programmer? Why was the simulation created and why was the programmer created?

I never offered it as an explanation to why everything. It is quite clear that any artificial reality must have a basis in an actual reality but where is it written that such a simulation would have to be based on a reality that actually exists? The fun thing with artificial realities is that you can make it into whatever you want to be.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 1:38:31 AM, Smithereens wrote:
...Not 'real.' In the sense that it exists completely independently of the observer.

This experiment happened a few months ago, but since I was away I didn't get to hear what DDO made of it.

Background Info:

You're familiar with the thought experiment 'does a tree that falls in a forest make any sound if nobody is there to hear it?' Scientists have made a literal quantum replica of this idea using neutrinos. Neutrinos exist in a single state at any given time, and will naturally oscillate between a variety of states in a predictable fashion over time. To simplify, I'll call the states A, B and C. The researchers in this experiment fired off A neutrinos and expected them to be B neutrinos at a certain measuring point.

Findings:
The findings instead showed that the neutrinos remained A all along. This means that the neutrinos didn't actually have a flavour until they were observed. This also ties in with other research suggesting that particles don't really have any properties, unless someone is looking at them.

Implications:
The role of the observer in reality cannot be denied. It would appear that reality is not completely independent of the observer, much to Einsteins dismay. It's stirred up debate as to whether or not reality is actually simulated, or if it's all in our head. Certainly the realist might be feeling a tad uncomfortable with these latest findings.

Thoughts?

So, first of all, I'd really like to see a citation for the experiment.

Second, at face value, the "observer effect" mythos is routinely blown far out of proportion, usually by people who are trying to push some kind of reverse materialism (physical substrate is instantiated by the mental) or anti-realism (disclaimer, I don't think the metaphysics matters). The problem is the so-called effect doesn't remotely mean what it's often said to mean.

People often play fast and loose with definitions, and with transit between the classical and quantum worlds (which, true, the objective is to install a conceptual bullet train between them, but we don't have one right now). That's actually why the "does it make a sound question" is advanced as an example of a tough philosophical question--if people are meticulous enough to be consistent and transparent, it becomes an immediate non-problem, because they just agree "Well, the jiggle in the air caused by the tree falling propagates out, but there aren't any brains with ear drums in range to be jiggled" instead of arguing endlessly over what "make a sound" "truly means".

So, if we're being rigorous when talking about observer interference, nobody's saying anything about conscious brains exerting a mysterious consciousness-related effect on a neutrino that causes it to behave differently, like you walked in on it showering and it's suddenly all embarrassed. The neutrino doesn't actually give a damn--at the level where neutrinos are disturbed from what they're ordinarily doing (which is hard enough anyway, because they pretty much don't interact with most stuff unless we make 'em), "observer" doesn't mean anything. It's pretty much just clouds of complex amplitude booping around and getting mixed up with other clouds of complex amplitude. I mean, if you're looking at two quantum states (you can break them down with individual probabilities, or represent them with state vectors, or whatever), even the most meager and specific interaction (say one of those states involves just a photon) is going to completely mess around with how the amplitude distribution evolves, which is what you'd expect given you're entangling more stuff in there and getting a new system out of it. So like, if we're thinking strictly in terms of amplitudes, you'd count the detector as an "observer" just as surely as you'd count a human being or a pebble. You don't have to leap to "so maybe we're all just experiencing a mass delusion" or whatever form of it to say "quantum states are really really sensitive, and even seemingly insignificant changes can produce vastly different measurements way up on the human level).

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 2:42:40 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 1:28:46 PM, Silly_Billy wrote:
At 9/15/2016 1:11:19 PM, Furyan5 wrote:
At 9/15/2016 12:25:44 PM, Silly_Billy wrote:
It could indicate that we are living in a artificial, "matrix"-type reality. The universe as we know it is governed by a fixed set of parameters (the laws of nature) that defines how everything functions where as the quantum universe seems to work on completely different principles where those parameters do not exist. The same can be said about the functioning of a computer where a program is limited by the parameters it has while the underlying foundation of the program, the computer on which it is running, has no such limitations.

So what? The simulation is based on a reality that actually exists. The simulations aren't real but the programmer is. So how was that reality created? Who created the Programmer? Why was the simulation created and why was the programmer created?

I never offered it as an explanation to why everything. It is quite clear that any artificial reality must have a basis in an actual reality but where is it written that such a simulation would have to be based on a reality that actually exists? The fun thing with artificial realities is that you can make it into whatever you want to be.

And yet, we judge simulations by how real they appear. Artificial intelligence, by how like us they behave. Even robots are becoming human like in appearance. It's natural that our creation resemble us.
Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 2:46:30 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.

On the contrary, the simulation debate is especially heated among particle physicists. I recommend if you have facebook or whatever to subscribe to a bunch of science news journals like new scientist or science alert. The debate is substantive due to the fact that the intuitive position on how reality works holds that observation does not affect reality. A state should be the same whether or not there is a detector, as a detector does not output anything that could interfere with the system. However, observation does in fact interfere, so the question is why does it interfere?

Obviously there must be a reason, and it must follow a cause-effect relationship. However, if we accept that an observation can be the cause for a change in reality, then we have proven false one of our most dearest assumptions: that reality exists independently of the observer.

The tree in the forest analogy is probably one of the most widely misunderstood analogies. The question isn't asking whether or not a falling tree ripples the air which can be detected by humans, it's positing a hypothetical which does not presume the technicalities that so many people love to mention in response.
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:12:17 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 2:46:30 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.

On the contrary, the simulation debate is especially heated among particle physicists. I recommend if you have facebook or whatever to subscribe to a bunch of science news journals like new scientist or science alert. The debate is substantive due to the fact that the intuitive position on how reality works holds that observation does not affect reality. A state should be the same whether or not there is a detector, as a detector does not output anything that could interfere with the system. However, observation does in fact interfere, so the question is why does it interfere?

Obviously there must be a reason, and it must follow a cause-effect relationship. However, if we accept that an observation can be the cause for a change in reality, then we have proven false one of our most dearest assumptions: that reality exists independently of the observer.

The tree in the forest analogy is probably one of the most widely misunderstood analogies. The question isn't asking whether or not a falling tree ripples the air which can be detected by humans, it's positing a hypothetical which does not presume the technicalities that so many people love to mention in response.

I agree, but in part I blame science for giving misleading and sometimes contradictory descriptions. Some definitions describe sound waves as sound. Only those with an understanding of qualia grasp that the sensation of sound is an interpretation of our minds. Take colors. Science talks of red light and blue light, when as far back as Newton they knew light itself has no color. With such seeming contradictory terms I can't blame the typical layman for getting confused.
Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:15:56 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 3:12:17 PM, Furyan5 wrote:
I agree, but in part I blame science for giving misleading and sometimes contradictory descriptions. Some definitions describe sound waves as sound. Only those with an understanding of qualia grasp that the sensation of sound is an interpretation of our minds. Take colors. Science talks of red light and blue light, when as far back as Newton they knew light itself has no color. With such seeming contradictory terms I can't blame the typical layman for getting confused.

This is perfectly all well and good though. Scientists should only be describing what they are seeing. Occam's razor, if your theory doesn't need a certain detail, don't add it in.
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
wuliheron
Posts: 105
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:24:26 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
The statement that "reality ain't real" is just so much meaningless gibberish and is just more of the same crap people have been spouting ever since Bell's Inequality Theorem. What it means is the universe is metaphorical rather than metaphysical and the fact that classically trained physicists can't wrap their tiny little brains around other ways of thinking should surprise no one.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:27:30 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 2:46:30 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.

On the contrary, the simulation debate is especially heated among particle physicists. I recommend if you have facebook or whatever to subscribe to a bunch of science news journals like new scientist or science alert. The debate is substantive due to the fact that the intuitive position on how reality works holds that observation does not affect reality. A state should be the same whether or not there is a detector, as a detector does not output anything that could interfere with the system. However, observation does in fact interfere, so the question is why does it interfere?

Okay, so, two things:

1. First of all, I didn't say there wasn't some debate about external reality, some participants in which are physicists (stylistically, I want to comment it's a little presumptuous to talk to me as if I've never encountered science journalism. Nothing personal, I just don't live under a rock). What I said was, if this particular finding, taken at face value (and, again, I don't have a citation to reference, so I don't know the full extent of the experiment), has sparked debate over realism/anti-realism, the lion's share of its participants are probably not physicists, because, so my argument runs, this isn't particularly philosophically interesting (and, more to the point, I'd argue there's no serious experimental difference between realism and anti-realism. The mechanics are pretty much the same all around, and I think your raising the question is a misinterpretation of observer interference).

2. I believe I explained interference--quantum states don't admit meaning to things like "observer", so we're not actually talking about conscious brains having a unique and mysterious impact on them. We're not even talking about particles in the classical sense of marbles careening into each other. We're talking about evolving distributions of complex amplitudes (so like, an a+bi situation), and any addition can introduce radical change (particularly if the number of particles you represent is really small). So like, you're misinterpreting what "observer" means the moment you assert stuff like "the state should be the same whether or not there is a detector"-->no, everything taken together is by definition a different state than without the detector, because you're now looking at a different system in which the detector (which itself is just a blob of amplitude concentrated at a level where it behaves classically) is now directly entangled with whatever it is that was going on before--the fact it outputs anything means the whole thing's different (and indeed, the detector would be totally useless if it didn't interact).

The point is the presence of human observers doesn't in principle introduce any new phenomena. The same type of thing is happening when you introduce a human as a detector, or as a rock, or a bunch of hydrogen. They're all new systems with amplitudes divergent from what they likely would have been if they'd been left alone. The outcomes are empirically distinct, but that's because you're introducing different amplitude clouds. I think you're trying a little too hard to project "observation" in classical world down to the quantum world of complex amplitudes, where the idea of "observers" is totally meaningless, because everything is literally just those distributions. No rocks, no humans, no detectors--just amplitudes, all obeying the same mechanics.

Obviously there must be a reason, and it must follow a cause-effect relationship. However, if we accept that an observation can be the cause for a change in reality, then we have proven false one of our most dearest assumptions: that reality exists independently of the observer.

The tree in the forest analogy is probably one of the most widely misunderstood analogies. The question isn't asking whether or not a falling tree ripples the air which can be detected by humans, it's positing a hypothetical which does not presume the technicalities that so many people love to mention in response.

Right, but I'm saying the hypothetical is easily answerable and not profound at all. The only way people can argue over the question (except the meta-level where we're arguing about whether it's meaningful) is if they talk past each other on the notion of what "making a sound" means. If you define your terms and realize neither party actually disagrees about the mechanics of what's going on (sound wave propagates, but nobody has an auditory experience), that's not a technicality--it's a literal and accurate description of what happened.
The-Voice-of-Truth
Posts: 6,571
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:32:11 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 1:38:31 AM, Smithereens wrote:
...Not 'real.' In the sense that it exists completely independently of the observer.

This experiment happened a few months ago, but since I was away I didn't get to hear what DDO made of it.

Background Info:

You're familiar with the thought experiment 'does a tree that falls in a forest make any sound if nobody is there to hear it?' Scientists have made a literal quantum replica of this idea using neutrinos. Neutrinos exist in a single state at any given time, and will naturally oscillate between a variety of states in a predictable fashion over time. To simplify, I'll call the states A, B and C. The researchers in this experiment fired off A neutrinos and expected them to be B neutrinos at a certain measuring point.

Findings:
The findings instead showed that the neutrinos remained A all along. This means that the neutrinos didn't actually have a flavour until they were observed. This also ties in with other research suggesting that particles don't really have any properties, unless someone is looking at them.

Implications:
The role of the observer in reality cannot be denied. It would appear that reality is not completely independent of the observer, much to Einsteins dismay. It's stirred up debate as to whether or not reality is actually simulated, or if it's all in our head. Certainly the realist might be feeling a tad uncomfortable with these latest findings.

Thoughts?

This is the same concept as wave functions. It pretty much expands on Schrodinger's Cat.
Suh dude

"Because we all know who the most important snowflake in the wasteland is... It's YOU, champ! You're a special snowflake." -Vaarka, 01:30 in the hangouts

"Screw laying siege to Korea. That usually takes an hour or so." -Vaarka

"Crap, what is my religion again?" -Vaarka

I'm Rick Harrison and this is my pawn shop. I work here with my old man and my son, Big Hoss, and in 23 years I've learned one thing. You never know what is gonna come through that door.
sdavio
Posts: 1,800
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:33:06 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 2:46:30 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.

On the contrary, the simulation debate is especially heated among particle physicists. I recommend if you have facebook or whatever to subscribe to a bunch of science news journals like new scientist or science alert. The debate is substantive due to the fact that the intuitive position on how reality works holds that observation does not affect reality. A state should be the same whether or not there is a detector, as a detector does not output anything that could interfere with the system. However, observation does in fact interfere, so the question is why does it interfere?

Obviously there must be a reason, and it must follow a cause-effect relationship. However, if we accept that an observation can be the cause for a change in reality, then we have proven false one of our most dearest assumptions: that reality exists independently of the observer.

The tree in the forest analogy is probably one of the most widely misunderstood analogies. The question isn't asking whether or not a falling tree ripples the air which can be detected by humans, it's positing a hypothetical which does not presume the technicalities that so many people love to mention in response.

Granted, I'm not very well read in this area, but I don't understand why we can't just suppose that there might be some causal interference which we simply can't detect yet, rather than changing our whole view of reality to fit this one unexplained thing? If something occurs differently when I look at it, why not ask whether specifically in that case, my looking is having some affect which we are unable to isolate? It doesn't seem very compatible with Ockham's razor to jump straight to solipsism. In fact, I'd say it would seem auspicious to exhaust every other possibility before that one, because I'd argue that it is not much better than no explanation at all. It is a very difficult problem, I'm sure, but any problem whatsoever could be responded to simply by saying that it's all a simulation. It's not much different than saying "god did it." I'm sure there are some details I'm missing here, but that is my immediate reaction.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 3:54:15 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 3:27:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Okay, so, two things:

1. First of all, I didn't say there wasn't some debate about external reality, some participants in which are physicists (stylistically, I want to comment it's a little presumptuous to talk to me as if I've never encountered science journalism. Nothing personal, I just don't live under a rock). What I said was, if this particular finding, taken at face value (and, again, I don't have a citation to reference, so I don't know the full extent of the experiment), has sparked debate over realism/anti-realism, the lion's share of its participants are probably not physicists, because, so my argument runs, this isn't particularly philosophically interesting (and, more to the point, I'd argue there's no serious experimental difference between realism and anti-realism. The mechanics are pretty much the same all around, and I think your raising the question is a misinterpretation of observer interference).

This is more accurately stated as being a larger than usual addition to a growing body of research, which has caught the attention of the larger scientific community. The debate is always ongoing and probably ubiquitous across many schools of thought, but that doesn't really address the concerns themselves. By way of mentioning your stance on realism vs anti-realism I see you've taken a more philosophical approach to the findings. Largely however the interest is more on the immediate and practical ramifications. Science presumes realism, and then works from there. This entails making several assumptions about the nature of reality for the purposes of testing it, assumptions that an anti-realist wouldn't make in the first place.

2. I believe I explained interference--quantum states don't admit meaning to things like "observer", so we're not actually talking about conscious brains having a unique and mysterious impact on them. We're not even talking about particles in the classical sense of marbles careening into each other. We're talking about evolving distributions of complex amplitudes (so like, an a+bi situation), and any addition can introduce radical change (particularly if the number of particles you represent is really small). So like, you're misinterpreting what "observer" means the moment you assert stuff like "the state should be the same whether or not there is a detector"-->no, everything taken together is by definition a different state than without the detector, because you're now looking at a different system in which the detector (which itself is just a blob of amplitude concentrated at a level where it behaves classically) is now directly entangled with whatever it is that was going on before--the fact it outputs anything means the whole thing's different (and indeed, the detector would be totally useless if it didn't interact).

This is where I'd have to disagree with you. The experiments are designed to remove the ability for detection to create interference. Take an entangled photon in superposition for example. We can know via inference the polarization of a photon 2 billion light years away instantly, with no devices set up to measure it. That's how many measurements are made indirectly. In this experiment however your criticism really doesn't seem relevant. The researchers measured the state of a neutrino. It should have had electron flavour but instead it was a muon. The conclusion is that the neutrino lacked a flavour for all the time that it was not being observed. Therefore they indirectly tested the behaviour of neutrinos by not measuring them and seeing what happens in such a system.

Quantum mechanics does indeed appear to be fundamentally impacted by the observer. Not in a small, contentious way either. This experiment demonstrated that the rules of physics were only obeyed when the particle was observed. When the particle was not being observed, it was actually breaking the laws of physics, by not oscillating from a muon when it should have.

The point is the presence of human observers doesn't in principle introduce any new phenomena. The same type of thing is happening when you introduce a human as a detector, or as a rock, or a bunch of hydrogen. They're all new systems with amplitudes divergent from what they likely would have been if they'd been left alone. The outcomes are empirically distinct, but that's because you're introducing different amplitude clouds. I think you're trying a little too hard to project "observation" in classical world down to the quantum world of complex amplitudes, where the idea of "observers" is totally meaningless, because everything is literally just those distributions. No rocks, no humans, no detectors--just amplitudes, all obeying the same mechanics.

what are "amplitudes"? what are amplitude clouds? The only thing I can think you mean is wave-particle duality, but I don't understand what you're saying with it.

Right, but I'm saying the hypothetical is easily answerable and not profound at all. The only way people can argue over the question (except the meta-level where we're arguing about whether it's meaningful) is if they talk past each other on the notion of what "making a sound" means. If you define your terms and realize neither party actually disagrees about the mechanics of what's going on (sound wave propagates, but nobody has an auditory experience), that's not a technicality--it's a literal and accurate description of what happened.

The analogy is actually merely giving common words to the following:
If an event in reality occurs with no observer to detect it, does the event still occur in the exact same way?
You are supposed to ignore the verbiage and consider the implied problem.
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,252
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 4:05:09 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 3:33:06 PM, sdavio wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:46:30 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.

On the contrary, the simulation debate is especially heated among particle physicists. I recommend if you have facebook or whatever to subscribe to a bunch of science news journals like new scientist or science alert. The debate is substantive due to the fact that the intuitive position on how reality works holds that observation does not affect reality. A state should be the same whether or not there is a detector, as a detector does not output anything that could interfere with the system. However, observation does in fact interfere, so the question is why does it interfere?

Obviously there must be a reason, and it must follow a cause-effect relationship. However, if we accept that an observation can be the cause for a change in reality, then we have proven false one of our most dearest assumptions: that reality exists independently of the observer.

The tree in the forest analogy is probably one of the most widely misunderstood analogies. The question isn't asking whether or not a falling tree ripples the air which can be detected by humans, it's positing a hypothetical which does not presume the technicalities that so many people love to mention in response.

Granted, I'm not very well read in this area, but I don't understand why we can't just suppose that there might be some causal interference which we simply can't detect yet, rather than changing our whole view of reality to fit this one unexplained thing? If something occurs differently when I look at it, why not ask whether specifically in that case, my looking is having some affect which we are unable to isolate?

I'm not a physicist either, but this is my understanding: it's not that our observations change how certain events occur (I mean, they do, but that's not the interesting part), but rather that such events do not occur at all -- meaning that reality does not know precisely in what manner they occur --- until they are observed i.e., until something within reality "needs to know". In other words, they remain frozen in a state of quantum superposition, potentially for millions of years, until the wave function representing its potential is retroactively collapsed by an observer somewhere later on. In the double-slip experiment, for instance, the interference pattern suggests that as light particles are fired one at a time at a board with two slits, rather than their path being determined in real time, they stack up as waves of potential until they are collapsed i.e, one potential selected for realization, all at once, producing a pattern of light that wouldn't make sense if they were being determined sequentially at the time they were fired. Einstein did not have an existential crisis for no reason.

From what I gather, not everything qualifies as an "observer" according to reality. For instance, the individual light particles themselves are apparently unable to collapse their own wave functions, in addition to atoms that make up the board at which they are fired. Somehow, reality knows that certain arrangements of atoms are "observers" and some are not.
sdavio
Posts: 1,800
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 4:45:00 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 4:05:09 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 9/15/2016 3:33:06 PM, sdavio wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:46:30 PM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 2:26:52 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is, if these results have stirred up debate about whether reality is a simulation or whatever, the participants are probably not trained physicists (I know I'm sure not), and poorly-trained philosophers on a good day.

On the contrary, the simulation debate is especially heated among particle physicists. I recommend if you have facebook or whatever to subscribe to a bunch of science news journals like new scientist or science alert. The debate is substantive due to the fact that the intuitive position on how reality works holds that observation does not affect reality. A state should be the same whether or not there is a detector, as a detector does not output anything that could interfere with the system. However, observation does in fact interfere, so the question is why does it interfere?

Obviously there must be a reason, and it must follow a cause-effect relationship. However, if we accept that an observation can be the cause for a change in reality, then we have proven false one of our most dearest assumptions: that reality exists independently of the observer.

The tree in the forest analogy is probably one of the most widely misunderstood analogies. The question isn't asking whether or not a falling tree ripples the air which can be detected by humans, it's positing a hypothetical which does not presume the technicalities that so many people love to mention in response.

Granted, I'm not very well read in this area, but I don't understand why we can't just suppose that there might be some causal interference which we simply can't detect yet, rather than changing our whole view of reality to fit this one unexplained thing? If something occurs differently when I look at it, why not ask whether specifically in that case, my looking is having some affect which we are unable to isolate?

I'm not a physicist either, but this is my understanding: it's not that our observations change how certain events occur (I mean, they do, but that's not the interesting part), but rather that such events do not occur at all -- meaning that reality does not know precisely in what manner they occur --- until they are observed i.e., until something within reality "needs to know". In other words, they remain frozen in a state of quantum superposition, potentially for millions of years, until the wave function representing its potential is retroactively collapsed by an observer somewhere later on. In the double-slip experiment, for instance, the interference pattern suggests that as light particles are fired one at a time at a board with two slits, rather than their path being determined in real time, they stack up as waves of potential until they are collapsed i.e, one potential selected for realization, all at once, producing a pattern of light that wouldn't make sense if they were being determined sequentially at the time they were fired. Einstein did not have an existential crisis for no reason.

From what I gather, not everything qualifies as an "observer" according to reality. For instance, the individual light particles themselves are apparently unable to collapse their own wave functions, in addition to atoms that make up the board at which they are fired. Somehow, reality knows that certain arrangements of atoms are "observers" and some are not.

This was a good explanation, clearly I need to read more.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 5:02:26 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 3:54:15 PM, Smithereens wrote:

This is more accurately stated as being a larger than usual addition to a growing body of research, which has caught the attention of the larger scientific community. The debate is always ongoing and probably ubiquitous across many schools of thought, but that doesn't really address the concerns themselves. By way of mentioning your stance on realism vs anti-realism I see you've taken a more philosophical approach to the findings. Largely however the interest is more on the immediate and practical ramifications. Science presumes realism, and then works from there. This entails making several assumptions about the nature of reality for the purposes of testing it, assumptions that an anti-realist wouldn't make in the first place.

I totally disagree. There might be scientists who take realism for granted, and there might be speculative metaphysical arguments exchanged between these people and anti-realists, but my contention is there is no significant mechanical or experimental difference in terms of anticipated experience between realism and anti-realism. The metaphysics is effectively irrelevant (if interesting to think about).

This is where I'd have to disagree with you. The experiments are designed to remove the ability for detection to create interference. Take an entangled photon in superposition for example. We can know via inference the polarization of a photon 2 billion light years away instantly, with no devices set up to measure it. That's how many measurements are made indirectly. In this experiment however your criticism really doesn't seem relevant. The researchers measured the state of a neutrino. It should have had electron flavour but instead it was a muon. The conclusion is that the neutrino lacked a flavour for all the time that it was not being observed. Therefore they indirectly tested the behaviour of neutrinos by not measuring them and seeing what happens in such a system.

I'll ask again, do you have a journal citation or something for the experiment so I can read it myself? You commenting on it is nice and all, but I'm pretty much winging it if I don't have the report in front of me.

To the point of your things, though, up here and just below: of course experiments are going to be designed to control for as many genuine confounders as possible (if they're good). So, experiments in a vacuum are conducted to avoid interference with ambient gas. Sure. My argument isn't that researchers aren't methodical about placing controls--my argument is that, to a physicist, "observer" doesn't only mean "human watching the experiment"--the instruments being used to take a measurement, the smallest amount of stray light, a single gas particle in a near-vacuum, and so on, are also included. "Observation" pretty much just means "interaction", and it doesn't matter whether the other thing is a researcher or a rock heap. I think you're confusing the common meaning of the word observer, "someone who watches", with this stricter sense, and are therefore confusing "measurement of any kind will perturb the system you're measuring" with "conscious minds uniquely perturb the system".

Quantum mechanics does indeed appear to be fundamentally impacted by the observer. Not in a small, contentious way either. This experiment demonstrated that the rules of physics were only obeyed when the particle was observed. When the particle was not being observed, it was actually breaking the laws of physics, by not oscillating from a muon when it should have.


what are "amplitudes"? what are amplitude clouds? The only thing I can think you mean is wave-particle duality, but I don't understand what you're saying with it.

Like I said, a complex amplitude is literally just a little pair of values of the form a+bi. a is the real component, a little integer, and b*i is some multiple of i. You can do stuff with those amplitudes, looking at a cascade of configurations between which those amplitudes reliably change, and compute some probabilities about how the whole thing is going to evolve (I mean, it's continuous, but the idea is you square the length of the amplitude (so, for a+bi, you'd do a^2+b^2, or you'd just square the length of an arrow in a diagram), and, with a little tinkering depending on the case, it'll give you the probability for that event [the amplitudes themselves aren't mere probabilities, mind you]--the sum of all the squares will have to add to 1, so whatever fraction of that you get is your probability).

So like, if you imagine a particle going along in space, and you were to represent it graphically, you'd look at the probabilities at each orientation in the path, you'd see the representative amplitude looking something like this at any given point [https://en.wikipedia.org...]

The point is those amplitudes are really sensitive to even the most minor changes--if you're continuously recording a particle's amplitude (which bears directly and reliably on the probability of it, e.g., going a particular way and arriving at a particular place), and a stray photon bullies its way in and very, very, very lightly boops the first particle on the nose, you'll notice changes in the orientation of the arrow--and this counts as observation if you're a physicist, because there was interaction.

My point is, on a practical level, there's a whole bunch of possibility for interference with systems which are already incredibly sensitive to even small and inert distortions (Feynman gives a nice explanation of the sensitive dependence of light reflecting from a mirror [http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu...])--so it seems ludicrous, from my perspective, that you're asserting the credibility of "consciousness must be the determinant thing and it directly affects the quantum world" types of arguments, when it doesn't sound like you're looking for a more parsimonious explanation that fits with the vast edifice of fundamental physics knowledge that already exists.

Right, but I'm saying the hypothetical is easily answerable and not profound at all. The only way people can argue over the question (except the meta-level where we're arguing about whether it's meaningful) is if they talk past each other on the notion of what "making a sound" means. If you define your terms and realize neither party actually disagrees about the mechanics of what's going on (sound wave propagates, but nobody has an auditory experience), that's not a technicality--it's a literal and accurate description of what happened.

The analogy is actually merely giving common words to the following:
If an event in reality occurs with no observer to detect it, does the event still occur in the exact same way?
You are supposed to ignore the verbiage and consider the implied problem.
Lynx_N
Posts: 277
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 7:05:43 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
Did you know, that during night, when nobody's watching, trees gang up to hunt down woodpeckers and kills them.
Then they also hunt bears and rapes them.
Bronto?
Congrats.

poet
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 7:16:27 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 1:38:31 AM, Smithereens wrote:
Thoughts?
This brings to mind two common reactions and then my own estimation.

First off, we have the strict causalists. The scientific revolution of the 17th century brought forth the vision of a grand design in which every little cogwheel was set to function according to a predetermined cause. The cosmos itself was considered an intricate mechanism of causes and effects -- and in the era of big data and AI, this perspective is seeing a renaissance. But whenever a scientist takes a closer look to make sense of it all, it falls apart. There must be a leap of faith or founding principle -- a grand architect or watchmaker god (or supercomputer) -- to make the chains of causation cohere. (And it is from this crowd you're getting the most aggressive rebuke; to them, you're "denying god.")

And then there are the skeptics. Rejecting causal determinism, this group turned to the Matrix series for inspiration. We may think it's pop culture, but it's actually the methodic doubt of Descartes (or Searle) in a simplified form, a brain-in-a-vat scenario. According to this perspective, all occurrences are simply illusions cut off from any actual activity. "Reality" becomes a simulation and no grand architect is needed (although one appears in the movies). But as the proponents of this position can't defend themselves with recourse to either logic or empirical evidence, infinite regress becomes the unavoidable outcome.

Lastly, in presenting my own position, I take a step back and dismiss both strict causalism and skepticism. I also rid myself of the useless notions "reality" and "independent existence." Rather, a perspective/outlook is created through the scope of observation. First, we delimit this observation by demarcating spatial coordinates and temporal intervals (rejecting eternity and timelessness). Second, we add to the observation categories for both the observer (limited perception) and the observed (prejudice, predetermined categories). Last, but not least, we add error in measurement and the insight that there is no conceptual relationship between the observer and observed. What remains, then, are structural and correlative interactions.

In conclusion, the neutrino experiment may prove to be one of those signature moments where the strict causalists and regressive skeptics turn away in shame.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 7:27:30 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 7:16:27 PM, NHN wrote:
Lastly, in presenting my own position, I take a step back and dismiss both strict causalism and skepticism. I also rid myself of the useless notions "reality" and "independent existence." Rather, a perspective/outlook is created through the scope of observation. First, we delimit this observation by demarcating spatial coordinates and temporal intervals (rejecting eternity and timelessness). Second, we add to the observation categories for both the observer (limited perception) and the observed (prejudice, predetermined categories). Last, but not least, we add error in measurement and the insight that there is no conceptual relationship between the observer and observed. What remains, then, are structural and correlative interactions.

In conclusion, the neutrino experiment may prove to be one of those signature moments where the strict causalists and regressive skeptics turn away in shame.

I read this last paragraph three times in a row, and I still don't understand what exactly your position is (or what it means in terms of thinking about possible future observations). A distilled rewrite might do my poor reading comprehension some good.
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 9:50:35 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 7:27:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I read this last paragraph three times in a row, and I still don't understand what exactly your position is (or what it means in terms of thinking about possible future observations). A distilled rewrite might do my poor reading comprehension some good.
You may be overthinking it. Try to imagine the most basic of outlooks.

Then, remove any conceptions such as "world" or "reality" or "causality." Instead, imagine a window into space demarcated by spatial coordinates and a temporal interval. You are now observing raw data within this set. And rather than expecting causal laws and patterns, there are no laws at all. Instead, there are interactions occurring as the window imposes a structure and a set of correlating patterns. Move the window, alternate its settings, and you'll temper with the observable correlative interactions with the raw data.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 10:47:26 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 9:50:35 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/15/2016 7:27:30 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I read this last paragraph three times in a row, and I still don't understand what exactly your position is (or what it means in terms of thinking about possible future observations). A distilled rewrite might do my poor reading comprehension some good.
You may be overthinking it. Try to imagine the most basic of outlooks.

Then, remove any conceptions such as "world" or "reality" or "causality." Instead, imagine a window into space demarcated by spatial coordinates and a temporal interval. You are now observing raw data within this set. And rather than expecting causal laws and patterns, there are no laws at all. Instead, there are interactions occurring as the window imposes a structure and a set of correlating patterns. Move the window, alternate its settings, and you'll temper with the observable correlative interactions with the raw data.

Okay, so I guess I'm again kind of stumped. Reading this in the context of your first post raises some interpretive questions for me:

1. I don't actually know what "the most basic of outlooks" is. I mean, "basic" by what metric? To me, building interrelated stacks of inductive inference is as basic as it gets, but I can't see into your brain. Maybe you think "basic" means some kind of infantile pre-linguistic experience where stuff in the world is just sort of immanent.

2. I don't know what you mean by "imagine a window into space demarcated...-->". I mean, for one, I don't know what a "window into space" is. Like, are the features of the coordinate space important? Is it continuous, do the axes have units (I mean, presumably at least two of them are position and time), is the origin located somewhere important? And what exactly is it that's being plotted? I don't know what you mean by "you are observing raw data within this set"--do you just mean I'm making observations without trying to orient them inside an explanatory structure? If so, I disagree pretty vehemently on whether it's a good idea to think that way (I can't imagine what practical human application it would have other than the joy of contemplation).

So like, with classical configuration space, you can represent stuff about the world as a point defined to an arbitrary number of dimensions--so, at any given moment, you could define a point in the space giving you complete information about every single feature of the world. But I doubt that's the kind of thing you're talking about.

But then, you could also be putting a history-of-science type of turn on it, and trying to push a Kuhn-style argument about epistemic paradigms to the tune that the same raw data takes on new character depending on the mega-structure responsible for interpreting it (in which or similar case I'm not totally clear what the takeaway is supposed to be).

3. My thing is fairly insulated against the metaphysics, I guess--I don't really have to posit an external reality to be able to make predictions about how to exploit observed mechanics and run tests on them. The stuff that reflects on experiences I'm going to have is pretty much invariant whether you posit mind-independent stuff or not, so it's no more use to abstract outside it than it is to boldly assert there must be an external world, so I guess I'm not even sure if a) you're saying there's some unique benefit to "removing conceptions", or b) if so, what benefit that is.
NHN
Posts: 624
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/15/2016 11:50:00 PM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 10:47:26 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
1. [...] Maybe you think "basic" means some kind of infantile pre-linguistic experience where stuff in the world is just sort of immanent.
Not infantile but primordial. And yes, necessarily pre-linguistic. For example, A = A is pre-linguistic. It just borrows the form of the first letter of the alphabet.

2. I don't know what you mean by "imagine a window into space demarcated...-->". I mean, for one, I don't know what a "window into space" is. Like, are the features of the coordinate space important?
The window/outlook/perspective is the observation's spatiotemporal frame. Here, the structural and correlative interactions take place, as exemplified by the neutrino experiment.

If so, I disagree pretty vehemently on whether it's a good idea to think that way (I can't imagine what practical human application it would have other than the joy of contemplation).
You're moving too far by assuming practical use ("a good idea to ..."). This is a means by which to veer away from prejudices such as "reality" or the Aristotelian "laws of nature."

So like, with classical configuration space, you can represent stuff about the world as a point defined to an arbitrary number of dimensions--so, at any given moment, you could define a point in the space giving you complete information about every single feature of the world. But I doubt that's the kind of thing you're talking about.
An "arbitrary number of dimensions" puts us into the territory of string theory, which is as far from where I want to be as one can get. And no, the perspective is not in place to account for "every single feature of the world." Rather, you create the conditions for a certain outcome.

But then, you could also be putting a history-of-science type of turn on it, and trying to push a Kuhn-style argument about epistemic paradigms to the tune that the same raw data takes on new character depending on the mega-structure responsible for interpreting it (in which or similar case I'm not totally clear what the takeaway is supposed to be).
In a way, yes. The aim would be to rid all natural sciences of prejudices such as metaphysics and medieval epistemology.

3. My thing is fairly insulated against the metaphysics, I guess--I don't really have to posit an external reality to be able to make predictions about how to exploit observed mechanics and run tests on them. The stuff that reflects on experiences I'm going to have is pretty much invariant whether you posit mind-independent stuff or not, so it's no more use to abstract outside it than it is to boldly assert there must be an external world, so I guess I'm not even sure if a) you're saying there's some unique benefit to "removing conceptions", or b) if so, what benefit that is.
What you call the "external world" is the sum of all prejudices that fill your senses. What I am proposing is a basic/primordial scientific outlook/perspective which is as liberated from these prejudices as possible.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/16/2016 1:29:26 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 11:50:00 PM, NHN wrote:
At 9/15/2016 10:47:26 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

Not infantile but primordial. And yes, necessarily pre-linguistic. For example, A = A is pre-linguistic. It just borrows the form of the first letter of the alphabet.

Sure. I think this directly ties into my argument below.

The window/outlook/perspective is the observation's spatiotemporal frame. Here, the structural and correlative interactions take place, as exemplified by the neutrino experiment.

So, a) when you say "spatiotemporal frame", do you mean like, the literal place and time where it's occurring, or are you being artful in describing, like, the cultural and historical contingency the observation is wrapped in? I could see you making the latter point (although I'd argue your prose made it a little harder than it needed to be to get the point across), and I'd agree descriptively with that (like, I think cultural/historical perspective can still be plenty wrong/inconsistent about stuff, but it's true that history/culture invariably plays a role in how you interpret data (not necessarily the exclusive or dominant role, but a role).

If so, I disagree pretty vehemently on whether it's a good idea to think that way (I can't imagine what practical human application it would have other than the joy of contemplation).
You're moving too far by assuming practical use ("a good idea to ..."). This is a means by which to veer away from prejudices such as "reality" or the Aristotelian "laws of nature."

Well, my point isn't that you have to "get away from them" in the sense of trying to substitute something else (or nothing at all)--my position is exemplified by "call it whatever you want, but the mechanic contained in the designator 'law of gravitation' guarantees with probability --> 1 that jumping from a tall building will result in death or grievous injury, rather than spontaneous realization you can hover". I think we're in agreement that doesn't require the usual metaphysical baggage.

So like, with classical configuration space, you can represent stuff about the world as a point defined to an arbitrary number of dimensions--so, at any given moment, you could define a point in the space giving you complete information about every single feature of the world. But I doubt that's the kind of thing you're talking about.
An "arbitrary number of dimensions" puts us into the territory of string theory, which is as far from where I want to be as one can get. And no, the perspective is not in place to account for "every single feature of the world." Rather, you create the conditions for a certain outcome.

Okay, I may have misspoken, or you may have misinterpreted me, but we haven't communicated effectively here.

What I'm saying isn't related to string theory--there is nothing in my response suggesting I believe the fundamental substance of reality are one-dimensional strings. It is true there are variants of superstring theory which, for reasons I don't really understand, posit an ungodly number of dimensions, but not everything referencing n- or infinite dimensionality are arguments about string theory. I myself am neither a) a string theorist nor b) qualified to directly arbitrate the theoretical controversy.

I was just telling you what configuration space is in classical mechanics, which is a way of reducing all the information about a particular system of discrete things to a single point (in which case, if you're talking about the entire universe, it would be a point in a configuration space of arbitrarily many, possibly infinite dimensions). Then you could show how the point moves around over time, corresponding to changes in the system, etc. But I understand that's not what you were talking about, so I'll let that go.

But then, you could also be putting a history-of-science type of turn on it, and trying to push a Kuhn-style argument about epistemic paradigms to the tune that the same raw data takes on new character depending on the mega-structure responsible for interpreting it (in which or similar case I'm not totally clear what the takeaway is supposed to be).
In a way, yes. The aim would be to rid all natural sciences of prejudices such as metaphysics and medieval epistemology.

Sure, we don't really need sweeping metaphysical things to do what we need to do. Practically, though, I don't know what you mean by "medieval epistemology"--if you mean it colloquially, in the sense that a lot of people just suck at doing the work, I can agree to that. Even brilliant people often compartmentalize, so you'll end up with physicists and biologists who profess a religious belief, economists who make patently irrational purchasing and investment decisions, and mathematicians who lose money gambling.

But if you mean it literally, I have no idea what you're talking about, because actual medieval-era epistemology, outside theological circles, scarcely sees the light of day.

3. My thing is fairly insulated against the metaphysics, I guess--I don't really have to posit an external reality to be able to make predictions about how to exploit observed mechanics and run tests on them. The stuff that reflects on experiences I'm going to have is pretty much invariant whether you posit mind-independent stuff or not, so it's no more use to abstract outside it than it is to boldly assert there must be an external world, so I guess I'm not even sure if a) you're saying there's some unique benefit to "removing conceptions", or b) if so, what benefit that is.
What you call the "external world" is the sum of all prejudices that fill your senses. What I am proposing is a basic/primordial scientific outlook/perspective which is as liberated from these prejudices as possible.

Okay, well, I don't really know what that looks like, because the "prejudices that fill your senses" (which I'm also not totally sure what you mean, unless you're just trying to say your sensory organs report tricky and kooky stuff to your brain, which seems kind of trivial) are pretty much all you have. I take the senses as being pretty foundational (in the infinitely regressive sense that any critique of sense-dependent epistemology loops around and totally undermines itself), so that's why I try to make it clear I don't really have to do too much worrying about a "world beyond the senses" or about "What is Reality REALLY LIKE" kinds of questions. It's fun speculation on a rainy day, but the answers in any direction don't really divert me from running tests and doing stuff in my experiential world.
Smithereens
Posts: 5,512
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/16/2016 1:45:56 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/15/2016 5:02:26 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I totally disagree. There might be scientists who take realism for granted, and there might be speculative metaphysical arguments exchanged between these people and anti-realists, but my contention is there is no significant mechanical or experimental difference in terms of anticipated experience between realism and anti-realism. The metaphysics is effectively irrelevant (if interesting to think about).

From a purely philosophical viewpoint you are correct, we technically would not expect differences under either system, however that's simply not what the scientific method explicitly assumes. A realist would hold that a testable part of reality must be able to be investigated via models which are falsifiable. An anti realist wouldn't make this assumption, as they reject the second premise -models are falsifiable. According the anti realist, reality is not necessarily the same for everyone. Science on the other hand has laws such as T-Symmetry, which are completely incongruent with a non objective view of reality.

This is where I'd have to disagree with you. The experiments are designed to remove the ability for detection to create interference. Take an entangled photon in superposition for example. We can know via inference the polarization of a photon 2 billion light years away instantly, with no devices set up to measure it. That's how many measurements are made indirectly. In this experiment however your criticism really doesn't seem relevant. The researchers measured the state of a neutrino. It should have had electron flavour but instead it was a muon. The conclusion is that the neutrino lacked a flavour for all the time that it was not being observed. Therefore they indirectly tested the behaviour of neutrinos by not measuring them and seeing what happens in such a system.

I'll ask again, do you have a journal citation or something for the experiment so I can read it myself? You commenting on it is nice and all, but I'm pretty much winging it if I don't have the report in front of me.

Oh crap sorry XD this source is probably preferable to the article itself, it outlines the method in non technical language: http://www.sciencemag.org...

To the point of your things, though, up here and just below: of course experiments are going to be designed to control for as many genuine confounders as possible (if they're good). So, experiments in a vacuum are conducted to avoid interference with ambient gas. Sure. My argument isn't that researchers aren't methodical about placing controls--my argument is that, to a physicist, "observer" doesn't only mean "human watching the experiment"--the instruments being used to take a measurement, the smallest amount of stray light, a single gas particle in a near-vacuum, and so on, are also included. "Observation" pretty much just means "interaction", and it doesn't matter whether the other thing is a researcher or a rock heap. I think you're confusing the common meaning of the word observer, "someone who watches", with this stricter sense, and are therefore confusing "measurement of any kind will perturb the system you're measuring" with "conscious minds uniquely perturb the system".

This is strikingly similar to climate change denial arguments. The models which scientists used show that there is NO causal relationship between the measurement devices and the experiment, therefore we know that it's the fact that the observation is being made in the first place. Trust scientists to be thorough sometimes.

My point is, on a practical level, there's a whole bunch of possibility for interference with systems which are already incredibly sensitive to even small and inert distortions (Feynman gives a nice explanation of the sensitive dependence of light reflecting from a mirror [http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu...])--so it seems ludicrous, from my perspective, that you're asserting the credibility of "consciousness must be the determinant thing and it directly affects the quantum world" types of arguments, when it doesn't sound like you're looking for a more parsimonious explanation that fits with the vast edifice of fundamental physics knowledge that already exists.

Alright, so you were talking about wave-particle duality... Which I can't fathom how it's relevant. There isn't any 'stray particles' being introduce by a receptor. If there were, they can be measured.

The analogy is actually merely giving common words to the following:
If an event in reality occurs with no observer to detect it, does the event still occur in the exact same way?
You are supposed to ignore the verbiage and consider the implied problem.
Music composition contest: http://www.debate.org...
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,484
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
9/16/2016 2:20:23 AM
Posted: 2 months ago
At 9/16/2016 1:45:56 AM, Smithereens wrote:
At 9/15/2016 5:02:26 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

From a purely philosophical viewpoint you are correct, we technically would not expect differences under either system, however that's simply not what the scientific method explicitly assumes. A realist would hold that a testable part of reality must be able to be investigated via models which are falsifiable. An anti realist wouldn't make this assumption, as they reject the second premise -models are falsifiable. According the anti realist, reality is not necessarily the same for everyone. Science on the other hand has laws such as T-Symmetry, which are completely incongruent with a non objective view of reality.

Okay, so I subscribe to something my buddy and I have started calling "syntactic realism" (we called it that so we can talk to each other without having to plumb through all the dumb formalism, so bear with me). The whole idea is that, irrespective of whether you posit a mind-independent external world, your conscious experiences, and ability to predict what experiences you and others are going to have, all operate pretty much mechanically, no matter what you call it. So, while you're not entertaining broader questions about what "the Real World" is like, you also don't have room for relativism, even if you believe in fairly free-reigning subjectivity. You don't have to argue for the existence of gravity in the Real World, but I would be incredibly surprised if 51% of self-proclaimed anti-realists who claim a functional epistemology do so in a way that allows them to jump from buildings and have literally zero expectations about what's going to happen next. I'm not saying the anti-realists are fundamentally wrong as much as that whatever metaphysics they claim is totally irrelevant and doesn't entail the types of conclusions they think it does (like, deny falsifiability if you want to, but you don't need to be a realist to understand why you can never perform that epistemology).


I'll ask again, do you have a journal citation or something for the experiment so I can read it myself? You commenting on it is nice and all, but I'm pretty much winging it if I don't have the report in front of me.

Oh crap sorry XD this source is probably preferable to the article itself, it outlines the method in non technical language: http://www.sciencemag.org...

Okay. To be clear, I'm not a professional physicist, but I'm also not methodologically incompetent. I have abiding respect for the institution of science journalism, but, as with most journalistic enterprises, they have a tendency to oversell the implications of strong research to a degree the researchers themselves would probably add a laundry list of caveats and qualifiers to just for the sake of being fastidious.

I'll read the article, but I would really like to read the full paper if you can source it.


This is strikingly similar to climate change denial arguments. The models which scientists used show that there is NO causal relationship between the measurement devices and the experiment, therefore we know that it's the fact that the observation is being made in the first place. Trust scientists to be thorough sometimes.

I hope that you would have enough respect for me not to compare me to a climate change denier (particularly without even explaining the homology), but think what you like if you don't.

To the point, I clearly express no distrust in science--I'm expressing distrust in the journalism, in their capacity as philosophers, and in your willingness to immediately promote such an extraordinary claim to the forefront instead of trying to be thorough by considering more probable hypotheses. Consciousness having some kind of unique and direct effect on our surroundings is not only not particularly parsimonious, but its prior probability is incredibly low, and I'm expressing skepticism you may be sensationalizing this result to push a particular [and arguably implausible] flight of fancy. Don't get me wrong, I do think the results, on the limited understanding I have given I still haven't read the actual experiment, are pretty cool and interesting. I agree the phenomenon should be repeated and explained. But something's being nifty and difficult doesn't mean it overturns the existing theoretical edifice--it means that, just maybe, we should wait until people who are actually qualified have time to do the interpretive work their specialized training allows instead of trying to substantiate controversial philosophical conjecture. So, I'm not doubting scientists' thoroughness--I'm saying trying to push your pet hypothesis this early gives them zero time to be thorough.

My point is, on a practical level, there's a whole bunch of possibility for interference with systems which are already incredibly sensitive to even small and inert distortions (Feynman gives a nice explanation of the sensitive dependence of light reflecting from a mirror [http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu...])--so it seems ludicrous, from my perspective, that you're asserting the credibility of "consciousness must be the determinant thing and it directly affects the quantum world" types of arguments, when it doesn't sound like you're looking for a more parsimonious explanation that fits with the vast edifice of fundamental physics knowledge that already exists.

Alright, so you were talking about wave-particle duality... Which I can't fathom how it's relevant. There isn't any 'stray particles' being introduce by a receptor. If there were, they can be measured.

No, see, I wasn't talking about that at all. I'm explicitly trying to avoid talking about particles. I'm saying the reason classical objects interfere is because of this stuff involving complex amplitudes happening way down at the quantum level, and that it doesn't make sense to talk about "observer independence" in that sense because the fact we can report anything about these neutrinos means they've interacted with stuff (i.e., they've been "observed", even if it's only by the detector at the very, very end [which it decidedly isn't, but still]). Now, it may be that the interference of these other things weren't significant enough perturbations to really affect the result, but that's not my point--my position is I think you misunderstand what "observer" means, and that you're trying to frame conscious minds as engaging in some kind of unique and mysterious interaction based on looking at the particles or something, and that that's just not true (hence why I contend you're way overselling the results to push an incoherent hypothesis).