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    How Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics II
    By Sascha Vongehr | January 15th 2012 10:56 PM | 54 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    As discussed in Part 1, analyzing “precognition” discredits everything but the in the eyes of pseudo-skeptic scientism worst: The influence of belief on the quantum probability of finding oneself inside a future world. Pseudo-skeptics warn that the mere mentioning of such lends support to all kinds of nonsense like prayer healing. Well, if you want to ensure that nobody can misquote you in support of nonsense, have fun never saying anything anymore ever. I hold that we should not leave some issues entirely to the kooks.

     

    2) Belief and Experimenter Effect

    In psi studies as well as in all other parts of science, researchers mostly find what they are looking for. Enthusiasts find positive effects; doubters find null results. This is probably pure confirmation bias, however subtle (as was discussed at length in “The Science of Precognition: Cosmic Habituation versus Decline Effect”). The general, interdisciplinary decline effect for example in drug efficacy studies is mostly due to confirmation and publication bias. The proper decline effect however may conceivably be due to blunted emotions and occurs usually in psi studies (this has all been discussed at length before).

     

    Is there a fundamental influence of the researchers’ inclination on the outcome of experiments? There may be contributions from the conceivable scenario that belief is more involved in the construction of reality than we allow us to consider, and maybe this is what the British psychologist Richard Wiseman and the psi researcher Marilyn Schlitz call the “Experimenter Effect”. In 1997, both did experiments with the same pool of subjects. Wiseman, a psi-doubter, found no effects while Schlitz clearly obtained the records that show an effect in two out of the three experiments [1]. Two studies showed this experimenter effect, the last one did not [2], which is however consistent with the decline effect.

     

    Also the other way around?

     

    Obviously, any experimenter effect is a problem for the scientific community at large if as I wrote in the first sentence last time: “Precognition is under scientific investigation, often with the aim to show null-results in order to discredit such ideas.”

     

    If the world is just a directly real box in which stuff happens to happen, there is of course no such influence of belief (none in the physical sense discussed previously – this is not about your belief motivating you for example). That there is no effect is obvious anyway you think about it. What on earth could the actual mechanical motions of particles possibly be that make an experiment move differently according to what the brain of the experimenter wishes? Such is nonsense for the simple reason alone that a different belief, say being convinced a Higgs boson cannot be found, is not even in any way fundamentally differently put down in the brain. Experiment and belief are classically decoupled.


    However, modern science has firmly established that we are not living “inside” of some naïve realism that just exists ‘out there’. Quantum mechanics has experimentally proven that quantum modal realism is required to explain our world consistently. Most scientists knowledgeable about the debate talk about structural realism. Anyway you see it, we do not live inside a directly real space where stuff just happens, where the probability of outcomes measures the ways real things can depart after bumping into each other. Scientific significance is always based on statistical measures, experimental outcomes are always empirical records, and with naive reality gone, probability has become a highly complex issue that actually nobody understands.



    In the Classical interpretation, probability is the ratio of favorable outcomes to possible outcomes. This is circular, because it must assume that the different possibilities are equiprobable (or if not, at least have some probability assigned already by symmetry arguments like that one side of a coin is almost the same as the other when tossing it, at least as far as the mechanics of the falling and landing of the coin is concerned).

    In the Frequentist approach, probability is strictly counting the favorite outcomes of many trials. If you did not practically count yet, you assume the system in question, say a coin, to be similar to one that you experimented with before.

    The Bayesian approach (pronounced BAYZ-ee-un) is a mixture of both. Classical probability enters in the beginning and is often expressed in terms of subjective degree of belief in some proposition. Actual counting then feeds into the “Bayesian updating”.


    ‘The probability of finding myself in a certain future’ has been rendered suspect. Every possible future self finds itself in its world. If including all future you’s, “you” will find heads and tails both with 100%. This makes probability somewhat frequentist. At least in certain many worlds (MW) models, and they are after all applicable and valuable at times, the number of parallel worlds is deciding. But careful – classically there may be only two, namely heads or tails. A MW model however may have a billion worlds where you find heads and three billion where you find tails.



    In this way one can talk about the ‘probability of finding myself in a certain future’. Probability is in the end always a frequency in a record, like what you remember, and thus it is Bayesian! The question is then “in how many worlds do you find yourself with a certain type of record?” This makes sense in certain toy models, and that is the best we have for now. The number of parallel worlds influences the empirical probability. We do not yet know what exactly influences that number and such knowledge wouldn’t be very useful anyway because the branch counting concept will ultimately fail (we just don't have nothing better yet). But we do know two things for sure:


    1) Extra branching is what allows quantum probabilities in the first place! Inside a MW model of the Einstein Podolsky Rosen setup for example, there is no way to get quantum probabilities without extra world branching. (“Extra branching” is especially disliked by e.g. David Wallace, but his objections make only sense after having already thrown out branch counting! Here I stay with MW models in order to be able to have an intuitive picture to communicate with.)


    2) The number of branches ensures that the quantum probability (say photon polarization being 50/50 up or down) is consistent with the physics of the classical world observed (polarized light absorption at a polarizer being proportional to a square of the sine of the relative angle of vectors.) This may seem like an upside down interpretation (deriving quantum from the classical), but it is nevertheless so that the sine dependence of classical light absorption is precisely what implies the violation of the Bell inequality in the Einstein Podolsky Rosen setup! In other words: The consistency of our classical world phenomena that we are conscious of in our records/memory/consciousness is what ultimately demands quantum probabilities. How else but with cosines could a vector project?


    Thus, in the above sense, all fundamentally underlying is the consistency of records – our records. It is more fundamental than just physics: There is no non-consistent physics. Quantum mechanics is all about self-consistency, for example via constructive interference of self-consistent histories. Inconsistent ones simply destructively interfere with themselves. The more consistent a story is, the “more it exists” (in terms of MW frequency or, in David Deutsch’s opinion, in terms of a rational agent expecting it more).



    In fear of repeating too much, let me nevertheless stress once more: The consistency is that of our classical phenomena. As any theoretical physicist knows, down in the rabbit holes of mathematical quantum theory, you can make all kinds of theories self-consistent. If this were not the case, finding correct theories applicable to reality would not be such a huge problem. Which one gives a self-consistent observed world is the all important question.


    Silly example (very silly – but memorable): If I did not previously believe in an unforgiving god who demands to be believed in, finding myself in his heaven is inconsistent. The probability to quantum tunnel into that situation is zero, because it is an inconsistent situation. The worrying aspect here: In this silly example at least, my sheer belief affects probability. What is the mechanism? How does my belief do it? Well, it doesn’t do anything at all; there is no mechanistic mechanism whatsoever. Nevertheless, in all futures where I am with an unforgiving god full of vanity, one that does not resurrect non-believers, I remember having believed in him! My future records are consistent with my belief. (Ok – I know this is a silly example – but developing the whole issue about Boltzmann freak brains and what I call “terrible states”, which are possible microstates of brains observing macroscopically contradictory scenarios, goes way beyond the scope of this post.)


    The general suggestion is thus: In terms of MW models, the “belief” of the experimenter, meaning in how far the result fits in with the rest of his own, always partially self-constructed world, may conceivably influence how many parallel worlds with certain records there are, dependent on how consistent the records are with the belief.

    This is highly speculative and can of course be criticized: Should such not mean that the experimenter that believes in precognition finds herself inside worlds where also the doubters found evidence for precognition? The latter would be inconsistent for the doubters. Belief influence must therefore be a rather “local” effect, extending through the believing experimenter’s world (Not lab) for as long as he does not communicate with the doubter. When they compare records, the worlds mix (as they did for Richard Wiseman and Marilyn Schlitz). As long as all who communicate believe, Kuhn’s paradigms stabilize themselves.


    The effect of emotions would be falling right out of these speculations. Belief is emotional and emotional belief is strong. Belief is what we hold against all reason, based on emotions.

    --------------------------------------------

    [1] Wiseman, R.,&Schlitz, M.: “Experimenter effects and the remotedetection of staring.” Journal of Parapsychology, 61, 197–207 (1997)

    [2] Schlitz, M., Wiseman, R., Watt, C., Radin, D.: “Of two minds: Skeptic-proponent collaboration within parapsychology.” British Journal of Psychology 97, 313–322 (2006)

    --------------------------------------------

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    Comments

    "The general suggestion is thus: In terms of MW models, the “belief” of the experimenter, meaning in how far the result fits in with the rest of his own, always partially self-constructed world, may conceivably influence how many parallel worlds with certain records there are, dependent on how consistent the records are with the belief."

    Thank you for putting this into words. It's the best thing I've read in some time. Your perspective from there has enhanced my view from here. I'll bet you've experienced some evidence of this in your world many times. I have.

    "I hold that we should not leave some issues entirely to the kooks."

    Thanks again, this needs to be said and I'm glad it was you.

    vongehr
    Your perspective from there has enhanced my view from here. I'll bet you've experienced some evidence of this in your world many times. I have.
    Not sure where your "here" is, but honestly, from here I have more often experienced that what I more or less believed in turning out otherwise. But that may be influenced by my doubting my own beliefs. I believe that there is no influence of my belief, and that sure turned out to be supported by the evidence in my memory in this very parallel world. So I ain't believin' most nothin' no more.
    "I believe that there is no influence of my belief, and that sure turned out to be supported by the evidence in my memory in this very parallel world."

    So you have experienced the evidence after all, namely the evidence of your belief that "there is no influence of my belief" is supported in your world.

    I believe "...if you want to ensure that nobody can misquote you in support of nonsense, have fun never saying anything anymore ever." might be safe for you in your world, but not much fun. I say enjoy yourself, I hate the idea of not hearing from you "anymore ever" in this matter.

    vongehr
    So you have experienced the evidence after all, namely the evidence of your belief that "there is no influence of my belief" is supported in your world.
    Precisely my point.
    Gerhard Adam
    I guess that one problem that jumps out at me, is the gambler's "syndrome".  Here we have a group of people that "believe" [just about as strongly as possible] that their luck is about to turn and yet, we find no instances of where this occurs. 

    After all, since there is little ability to avoid "communicating" with others regarding such views, doesn't this particular interpretation ultimately result in the classical representation that we're familiar with?  More importantly, if communicating with others could be strictly controlled and avoided, how do we differentiate this as an MW interpretation versus simply self-delusion?
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    The gambler which finds herself inside a world where she lost and people tell her that she has a gambling problem finds herself in a consistent situation also with her remembering being all hyped up about winning.

    Communicating with others and all that must result in a world that looks overwhelmingly classical, because that indeed is what a world appears like to be a world at all. In a classical description of an effective reality where people are described as just living inside, (self-) delusion is the way to inter-subjectively describe most of what is going on, just as it is in my description of our world at present.

    I hold it conceivable and likely that there are parallel alternatives (A1) where in the future all our most trustworthy records collected via a more or less uncorrupted scientific method will show that there is no evidence of any apparent presentiment.

    However, even finding myself inside that very branch A1, I hold it still conceivable (it may even be consensus at that point in time, namely via fundamental theory) that there are parallel alternative worlds A2 where an influence of belief and emotion related presentiment has shown up in the scientific records, is well described, and fits in with the whole rest of science and how the world is fundamentally consistent.

    Both alternatives are conceivably self-consistent and perhaps know about the possibility (modal "existence") of each other.

    Both worlds may still have facilities called "insane asylums" where those who are a danger to others are kept. In those asylums you will find people who live in very different worlds (B) as far as reported by them. The best way to describe them from the outside is "delusional". That description does not change their world, their memories, their records of having seen the present already in the past, ... . The classical and quantum probabilities (in whatever way probability will be understood of course!) of finding yourself all of a sudden in such a world may be known. The worlds B0 and B1 are conceivably fundamentally indistinguishable and moreover on a rather continuous spectrum that contains A0 and A1 in different directions.

    That description which can account self-consistently for all these descriptions (if they turn out to be possible) will be labeled as "truth" by me, regardless of whether I find myself in or outside of an institution that is labeled "university" or "insane asylum".
    Gerhard Adam
    The gambler which finds herself inside a world where she lost and people tell her that she has a gambling problem finds herself in a consistent situation also with her remembering being all hyped up about winning.
    Yes, but if we eliminate the communication, then aren't we inevitably faced with having to posit a world where self-consistency requires a gambler that believes in winning that has also actually won?  In short, doesn't this also lead us to a world that is shaped by the various individuals beliefs?

    I understand that the communication causes those worlds to merge, but that simply produces a result no different than arguing that they never split to begin with.  It would seem that a MW interpretation would require at least one world that is implausible because it so clearly follows a particular set of beliefs [to someone that doesn't share those beliefs].

    Once again, this creates a problem because a split would be indistinguishable from no-split because the net result would always be the same because of the merging due to interaction and communication with other's [and their beliefs].  The only exception to this, would be in creating an implausible world.
    Mundus vult decipi
    vongehr
    aren't we inevitably faced with having to posit a world where self-consistency requires a gambler that believes in winning that has also actually won?
    That parallel world is possible ("exists") regardless of communication. It has a relatively high probability, too.
    I understand that the communication causes those worlds to merge, but that simply produces a result no different than arguing that they never split to begin with.
    You need some sort of splitting if you want to count branches. Whether they "really" split is beside the point. They are "split" at least in the sense of representations of them having been drawn on a piece of paper and been given different labels.
    Hfarmer
    I like this series of yours Sacha. I like to think of this problem as the "before I was born" effect.  How can I know anything about before I was born?  I can read about it or hear about it but how is any of it real to me? 

    The answer is our brains make it real.  Our brains construct the reality of the past we are all told about...as if they were memories.  Likewise our brains take the information from our senses and construct reality in the forward time direction.  We make reality what it is.    This is why a person can be a broke pauper but live in a nicer reality than a rich billionaire.    In short being conscious is what makes reality.  
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    vongehr
    We agree here, but be careful. Hank may not like progressive science bloggers in left wing academia, but with these kinds of "next level" positions, he will have no problem helping to hit you with the "postmodernist" label from one side while the usual naive scientism progressive hammers you with the "fucking holocaust denier" sign from the other. History is holy to those who support their opinions with it, much like the bible, no matter that you can interpret it much any way you like, much like the bible, or that it fundamentally splits in alternatives just like the future.
    SynapticNulship
    Belief influence must therefore be a rather “local” effect, extending through the believing experimenter’s world (Not lab) for as long as he does not communicate with the doubter. When they compare records, the worlds mix (as they did for Richard Wiseman and Marilyn Schlitz). As long as all who communicate believe, Kuhn’s paradigms stabilize themselves.

    I apologize if this is a stupid question, but how do you define "local" here? That seems to indicate some arbitrary boundary of what is a believer. Is it the believer's skull? Some informational structure in their mind? Where is the specific interface that decouples them from the doubter?


    vongehr
    Yes, the "local" here has very big ' " " ' thingies and really means the perceived world much in the sense of my reply to Gerhard's comment above. It does not mean the lab or skull or anything space-time like at all.
    The general suggestion is thus: In terms of MW models, the “belief” of the experimenter, meaning in how far the result fits in with the rest of his own, always partially self-constructed world, may conceivably influence how many parallel worlds with certain records there are, dependent on how consistent the records are with the belief.
    As I pointed out before, this is a simple modality error, confusing a physical state of your brain with the thing you believe. You are counting "consistent" brain states twice. Once for the fact they are physically consistent with the records, another because you label some of them "true belief".
    To put it another way, a god that reads your mind and acts on it is the mechanism by which your "silly" scenario works. Likewise if quantum mechanics gives a crap about what you believe then of course you can have all manner of psychic phenomena. If it sticks to physical states then you have already played it fully by seeing whether your brain state is consistent with your history and records.

    vongehr
    I am not following you at all here and I have no idea why you insist on talking about my own brain states as if I can ever know them. You cannot know (on principle) your own micro state. If you tried to find out, your brain would be destroyed.
    you have already played it fully by seeing whether your brain state is consistent with your history and records.
    But the brain states of me observing at least classically impossible things and incoherent records are consistent with physics. The macrostate being a "terrible state" can be perfectly fine microscopically. If tomorrow all the trees are upside down, there may be nothing wrong with my brain microstate or that of the trees. Nevertheless, it is inconsistent (I guess - maybe not - that is the question).
    Come up a level or two, Sascha!

    I'm not talking about knowing your own microstate. Neither am I talking about freak tunnelling cases. I'm just interested in cases which arise all too often: a belief with no apparent justification. You appear to be saying that because this belief is consistent with a situation in which it turns out to be true that the probability (or branch count or whatever) of that outcome is increased by the consistency itself (because of some sort of quantum constructive interference or whatever).

    Never mind the physical basis, this is a fundamental error in modal ontology. 

    In simple terms, a belief is merely a story-line, an abstraction with no physical existence. Whereas a believing state for a brain is physical. Clearly the story-line is a result of the physical state of the brain but a random belief is, by definition, not causally dependent on the event in question. Hence the brain's physical state is perfectly consistent with the event, whatever way it happens to turn out, but the story-line is fully decoupled from it. That is pretty well a definition of a random belief.
     
    I call this "modal" because a story-line is not a physical thing at all. It is a proposition about a physical thing.  In an argument, you can replace a proposition which asserts another proposition by the target proposition; saying "It is true that you are Sascha" is the same thing as saying "You are Sascha". However when we are talking about brains that believe, we are not considering the belief as a proposition, we are using it to classify brains into those that believe and those that don't. That's a physical property of the brain, observable by what its owner says. However when you say "belief adds consistency" you are considering the belief as a proposition: the proposition is true or false, but either way is an abstraction and cannot take part in a quantum or other physical process no matter how "consistent" it may be.
     

    vongehr
    a belief is merely a story-line, an abstraction with no physical existence ... the story-line is a result of the physical state of the brain ... the story-line is fully decoupled from it ... a story-line is not a physical thing at all
    I see your argument is basically saying the usual, namely that the physical world is just out there and everything else is an epiphenomenon, a classical point of view. However, the physical world is a description based on our empirical records much like our beliefs.
    I'm just interested in cases which arise all too often: a belief with no apparent justification.
    I am not interested in those, as they are plainly about who accepts what kind of "justification". I am interested in whether the description of presentiment for example does find justification from the scientifically gotten empirical record or whether such is impossible in all conceivable worlds.
    I see your argument is basically saying the usual, namely that the physical world is just out there and everything else is an epiphenomenon, a classical point of view.
    My argument isn't saying anything of the sort. It isn't even about a theory of reality, neither does it depend on one. I am saying your logic is fatally flawed.
     However, the physical world is a description based on our empirical records
    Whether that is what the physical world *is*is beside the point. However, nothing much hangs on your gratuitous metaphysics in this instance so I shall ignore it. For the purpose of discussing presentiment, I am somewhat in agreement with you: that when we talk about consistency we can only talk about consistency with empirical records. (Which is precisely why I said "you have already played it [consistency] fully by seeing whether your brain state is consistent with your history and records." You came back with a silly quibble about not being able to examine your own microstate, but it's not a question of whether I examine my own brain, it's whether a belief entails any physical consistency (in some world) for QM to work on.
    much like our beliefs.
    No, not all beliefs are based on records. Those that are not are liable to be irrational. No doubt the existence of the belief is consistent with the records, but the content of the belief may not be. As I said, you exhaust the physical consistency by comparing the brain state with the records. What's left is the abstract proposition and you simply cannot make a physical comparison between a proposition and a physical record. They are modally distinct. If you think otherwise please post your quantum mechanical model for the constructive interference between the statements "I am a cat" and "I am a black cat" which are perfectly consistent with each other but not with the fact that the records show I am not a cat.
    I'm just interested in cases which arise all too often: a belief with no apparent justification.
    I'm not interested in those, as they are plainly about who accepts what kind of "justification".
    Only if you want to play toy philosophy.

    We know that there are fossils that are 400 million years old. Yeccies believe the earth is a few thousand years old. Their belief is not justified. It is inconsistent with the records. However the fact that they believe what they do is perfectly consistent with the fossil record, there is no contradiction in the physics if someone's brain is misfiring.
    I am interested in whether the description of presentiment for example does find justification from the scientifically gotten empirical record or whether such is impossible in all conceivable worlds.
    QUOTE   "How Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics"
     
    So this exciting teaser has morphed into "looking into the scientific evidence" or "proving it to be impossible in principle", has it? :)
     
    Sascha, I do not want to get embroiled in a long drawn-out argument about words, but you are misrepresenting what I say and dismissing the resultant strawman - not for the first time I have to say. I implore you - please re-read what I said carefully and reply to what I actually said. Don't jump straight to your comfort zone where everyone who disagrees with you is automatically dismissed as being stuck in a classical rut, their minds closed to anything else.  You are simply wrong - totally and disastrously wrong - on a point of logic.  Or so it seems to me - I would be delighted if you showed me that you are not.  But I'm not promising to eat my boxer shorts if you do.
    vongehr
    My argument isn't saying anything of the sort. It isn't even about a theory of reality, .... "you have already played it [consistency] fully by seeing whether your brain state is consistent with your history and records."
    I give up.
    Only if you want to play toy philosophy.
    I guess I want to play toy philosophy then. If you prefer academic philosophy, have fun talking nonsense that is 50 years behind the science.
    We know that there are fossils that are 400 million years old. Yeccies believe the earth is a few thousand years old. Their belief is not justified.
    Yes it is. Those fossils have been put there by the spaghetti monster to test your faith.
    "How Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics"
     So this exciting teaser has morphed into "looking into the scientific evidence" or "proving it to be impossible in principle", has it? :)
    What is it you do not understand? Only QM can give you presentiment, only a full theory that satisfactorily unifies QM and consciously observed worlds (full QM based phenomenology), I would call such "scientific evidence" by the way, can give you the proof of that there is no presentiment and all such records are simply due to chance in a parallel world setup.
    please re-read what I said carefully and reply to what I actually said. ... You are simply wrong - totally and disastrously wrong - on a point of logic.
    I think my re-reading will not help. My logic may well be wrong (as I already stated, the proof against presentiment through QM is of course a logical one and not based on (in this context) always suspect empirical records). I think you may need to somehow reformulate your argument coherently in a MW model perhaps in order to get through my thick skull. Just screaming "modal logic error" is not going to do it.
      I give up.
    You can concatonate out-of context phrases as much as you like, the fact remains that all I'm saying is that you have committed a logical mistake. I have then attempted to explain it to you without introducing any theory of reality other than the minimum required to make the term "consistent" meaningful.
    If you prefer academic philosophy
    I would prefer you didn't play philosophy at all. There is an obvious difference between a belief which is consistent with records and thus may be justifiable and a belief that is neither. Quibbling about the criteria is toy philosophy. 
    Those fossils have been put there by the spaghetti monster to test your faith.  
    Precisely my point. Pity you don't follow the logic through: you can concoct a specious "consistency" which has nothing to do with physical records. 

    I still haven't turned into a cat. Meow.
    What is it you do not understand? Only QM can give you presentiment, only a full theory that satisfactorily unifies QM and consciously observed worlds (full QM based phenomenology), I would call such "scientific evidence" by the way, can give you the proof of that there is no presentiment and all such records are simply due to chance in a parallel world setup.
    Correct. However you said that belief adds consistency and that consistency alters the classical probabilities. I am not arguing with the physics. I am saying that you haven't arrived at physics at all. Your premise - of belief adding consistency - is a logical mistake and no amount of quantum mechanics is going to correct the nonsensical start.
    I think my re-reading will not help. My logic may well be wrong (as I already stated, the proof against presentiment through QM is of course a logical one and not based on (in this context) always suspect empirical records). I think you may need to somehow reformulate your argument coherently in a MW model perhaps in order to get through my thick skull. Just screaming "modal logic error" is not going to do it.
    I was hoping to avoid that as it's not dependent on MW or any other physics or even a theory of reality. Oh well, you hastily backed off from characterizing "terrible states" according to how terrible they are to the observers "in" them, claiming that you just gave unpleasant examples as a hook for, well,  lesser minds to get hold of.  I am surprised that you should want me to formulate a simple logical point in MW so that the alpha meme can assimilate it! :)

    Just for fun I'll have a go at it this weekend - after sorting out my tax, which I am sure is going to be somewhat harder, records being, as you say, always suspect :)





    vongehr
    Your premise - of belief adding consistency - is a logical mistake and no amount of quantum mechanics is going to correct the nonsensical start.
    I see - then maybe our discussion here is hung up on how narrowly we define "belief".

    Belief that is inconsistent with the records (observations) usually (practically and socially for sure) alters/"interprets" the records. You somehow define in such a way that logic makes this impossible as a more fundamental constructivism in the foundation of physics. Your view is apparently self-evidently true in today's predominant paradigm. I strongly suspect that the unification of QM with phenomenology is going to be the next big paradigm shift. As usual, what we will find is going to be magical nonsense to those who strongly hold on to what came before (just like with relativity of time and non-locality in QM). The "magic" will be even closer to the observer; not just how she moves (relativity) or her observation impacting the observed (QM), but indeed a form of constructivism. I suspect that we will see this in forms of belief/expectations having an impact onto the empirical probabilities, perhaps even bringing in corrections to the QM probabilities, nixing "terrible states". Your logic may be correct in the way you define "belief" for example, but if say we find something like that Bem study turning out correct (empirical evidence), what would your answer be in that case?




    I see - then maybe our discussion here is hung up on how narrowly we define "belief".
    That I doubt very much as I have simply followed your lead in assuming that there is a way we can quantify consistency and apply it to belief.
    Belief that is inconsistent with the records (observations) usually (practically and socially for sure) alters/"interprets" the records.
    We call it "review bias", "crackpottery" or "fraud"  depending on the ratio of alteration to interpretation! In order to proceed we have to assume that there exist records that the social system cannot get its corrupt little hands on. You can always go and dig up a fossil and radio-date it even in a fundamentalist state where it's not legal to interpret the record scientifically.  
    You somehow define in such a way that logic makes this impossible as a more fundamental constructivism in the foundation of physics. Your view is apparently self-evidently true in today's predominant paradigm.
    You are reading far too much into what I'm saying. I am taking some care to follow your lead and to accept, for the sake of the discussion, what you say about MW as well as your theory that reality is the interpretation of records. We could argue the metaphysics of that and whether you are saying anything different from the pomos for whom everything is interpretation, even their own semantic games... Nevertheless I'm NOT discussing any of that and I don't think I'm imposing my own 18th century or 22nd century paradigm.  However when you depart from logic, I protest! Of course if you are denigrating logic itself as " today's predominant paradigm" then we may as well pack up right now. Logic has to be a given if one is to argue, well, logically.
    I strongly suspect that the unification of QM with phenomenology is going to be the next big paradigm shift. As usual, what we will find is going to be magical nonsense to those who strongly hold on to what came before (just like with relativity of time and non-locality in QM). The "magic" will be even closer to the observer; not just how she moves (relativity) or her observation impacting the observed (QM), but indeed a form of constructivism. I suspect that we will see this in forms of belief/expectations having an impact onto the empirical probabilities, perhaps even bringing in corrections to the QM probabilities, nixing "terrible states".
    I suspect that the relationship between observations and the observer will indeed be crucial. Clearly Schrodinger himself saw it and we have all been dragging our feet ever since - shackled it must be said, by an academia that took the "shut up and calculate" approach and rammed the nonsensical aspects of the Copenhagen interpretation in our faces if we dared query it. Such cowards we were! A paradigm shift is obviously entailed if we are ever to derive the "equal probability" assumption or the equivalent frequentist Born rule from the symmetries of QM. However I see no reason to make it as subjective as you seem to think. The "perhaps" in your last sentence is indeed "perhaps" - unless you can create a logical mechanism for belief to affect frequencies which is NOT already accounted for in standard QM.
    Your logic may be correct in the way you define "belief" for example, but if say we find something like that Bem study turning out correct (empirical evidence), what would your answer be in that case?
    Oh I'd do my best to estimate how likely it is to be correct using Baysian arguments and see whether perhaps the prior probability was incorrectly estimated. I don't mean just updating the confidence level but questioning whether the prior prejudice against the outcome was justified. Same as the super-luminal neutrinos. 

    I can't see how this has any bearing on your modality error. :P
     
    vongehr
    we have to assume that there exist records that the social system cannot get its corrupt little hands on. ...  I don't think I'm imposing my own 18th century or 22nd century paradigm.
    You seem so stuck in that paradigm that you do not understand the fall of naive realism in the social sciences. How is society going to look at anything at all without getting its hands on it? Relativity is known basically since Marx/Weber, and it was subsequently found in physics.  Social impossibility of non-invasive observation on principle has been found in physics via QM, as you seem to say yourself. The same is going to happen with constructivism.
    Social impossibility of non-invasive observation on principle has been found in physics via QM, as you seem to say yourself. The same is going to happen with constructivism.
    And your explanation of "How Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics" was, according to you, going to depend on "consistency with records". Now if you insist that the "story" told by the records is incorrigibly corrupted by the prevailing social paradigm then the predictions of your theory/analysis/blog/brainfart are going to depend on how you quantify the social paradigm and incorporate it into QM to get the promised interference terms.
     
    No doubt your new formulation will launch a new mathematical object on an astonished world to go with spinors and twistors. I suggest you call it a POMOR. 

    I look forward to reading Part III where all is revealed.
    vongehr
    you insist that the "story" told by the records is incorrigibly corrupted by the prevailing social paradigm
    Sorry, but it is you who clearly brainfarts now. If you still do not understand the difference between constructed records and 'corruption of the real truth', there is nothing I can add. I just like to end this here by making clear that what you claim is supposedly according to me has nothing whatsoever to do with what I wrote.
    Of course I understand the difference. I have an IQ of 186 but an average child of ten would understand the difference. I'm not sure about my cat. I suspect she hasn't given it much thought.

    What I don't understand is why you keep fly-swatting at philosophical or social matters which I have not raised and which have precisely nothing to do with your modality error. It all wastes my time and delays me from answering your request for an MW picture to get the point through to you.

    You said:
    The general suggestion is thus: In terms of MW models, the “belief” of the experimenter, meaning in how far the result fits in with the rest of his own, always partially self-constructed world, may conceivably influence how many parallel worlds with certain records there are, dependent on how consistent the records are with the belief.
    I don't see how you can complain that I'm misconstruing what you wrote.  Your model is going to have to explain how it determines whether a record is consistent with a belief. I originally assumed you were talking about consensus science and that one could reasonably assume that social bias could be allowed for. If not, well, good luck. Just the statistics of "social paradigm space" should be good for several papers - I gather Social Text are a little short on material these days.

    No, I don't seriously think your model will include social factors explicitly, by the way, but it's you who keep turning a simple argument into an unbounded wasteland of postmodern sophistry. 

    You can clear this up very simply by saying what your model means by "consistent". Then I shall return to point out how your model depends critically on a modality error. Deal?



    vongehr
    Your model is going to have to explain how it determines whether a record is consistent with a belief. ... You can clear this up very simply by saying what your model means by "consistent".
    If I knew a good answer to that. In usual QM, it is the consistency (e.g. "consistent histories approach") between alternatives that interfere which can be "blamed" for the observed outcome's high probability. Moreover, one can at times clearly hold the consistency of the classical world "responsible", like the light polarization to cosine squared dependence of the Bell violation I mentioned. This consistency is the same that I hold suspect in the "terribly inconsistent state". Any closer definition of this would possibly include the solution to the problem of how to handle probability in QM - I do not know. I would not be surprised if pre-sentiment is at most empirical records in parallel worlds that had bad luck, "terrible states" being possible, period. However, I suspect something important is missing. Nothing observes the time-reverse of a black hole Hawking radiating away for millions of years, although it is a perfectly possible microstate as far as QM is known. A conscious observer would interfere in such a way that the observed is clearly not equal to the time reverse of a BH radiating (even not considering an observer outside who "lives backwards through time".) If not every QM-possible microstate is macroscopically consistent, there is something missing about the influence of consistency onto QM probabilities. As long as we have such suspicions, it would be unscientific to brush away certain topics like future influence as pseudo-science without having had a closer look.
    Well, I'm not out to prove future influence one way or another - my concern is that "consistency" arguments, which work where states are coherent, should be applied where they are not. And this can arise if you abuse the word "consistency" modally :)  I'm certainly not going to go diving into black holes. 
    Thor Russell
    Does a universe in which quasi-periodic crystal growth is affected by future influence imply belief being physically effective and vice versa?
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    I read somewhere that the growth mechanism of the quasi periodic crystals is figured out by now somehow in more benign ways than quantum interference but I did not have the time yet to research whether that is true.

    Even if those crystals grew via some sort of "future influence", the jump to belief is of course not exactly a small one.

    All I am insisting on is that the vastness of the jump here is not a valid argument for dismissing the whole concept as pseudoscience. The jump from molecules showing auto-catalysis to claiming that humans have evolved is just as huge, nevertheless, evolution has slowly done it.
    Thor Russell
    So does this mean then if the Bem study is widely replicated etc then there are guaranteed to be simpler experiments (not involving conscious beings etc) that also show future influence?
    Thor Russell
    vongehr
    That is a good question. Again, just to make sure for readers who did not follow everything, I personally doubt that the Bem study is valid. However, if any such thing should stand, it is likely that evolution has selected and strengthened the effect for a very long time already, so it will be found elsewhere. It would be usual that a weird effect that nobody at first believed in is subsequently found to pop up everywhere one looks. Perhaps electromagnetism is the best example for that. At first some magic nonsense, now we know nerves (brain), light, atoms, the whole damn world basically rests on it.
    At first some magic nonsense, now we know nerves (brain), light, atoms, the whole damn world basically rests on it.
    Except that "know" is subject to the prevailing social paradigm.
     

    I said I would have one more go at explaining you modality error using an MW wrapper.

    However, as my criticism is of your modal logic, it doesn't need MW. Of course I don't believe for a moment that MW or any other quantum stuff can explain presentience, I think it is baloney for the simple reason that quantum effects require coherence and we are dealing with a macroscopic system that is decohering constantly. Quantum interference wouldn't get a chance.
     
    However, that's not the point I was making. 

    If someone believes that a tossed coin will come up heads, they may believe it for good, or more likely bad, reasons. They may have been brought up to think of themselves as psychic for example. These reasons - the records - are consistent with the person having that belief. They also are consistent with the belief being whatever it is. This can be all be handled by classical physics. 
     
    Your hypothesis is that in a world where the belief is fulfilled, the consistency ensures more branches. This, however is a modality error. The consistency lies in the records that account for the fact the person believed. The records do not relate to the way the coin was going to fall, only to the person's belief about it. Thus there is no added physical consistency.
     
    Put it another way. You cannot have "a brain state that the coin will fall heads". It doesn't make the slightest sense to say something like that. Saying that belief adds consistency is exactly the same modality error. 

    That's all I was saying. It has nothing to do with theories of reality, just simple logic.
     
    If you still don't see it, forget it. 
     

    Thor Russell
    OK I will have a go, after all I can't exactly make things worse. There are probably obvious errors here but this is the kind of thing I have in mind.
    Lets start by supposing that some magic retro-causality thing (MRC) exists and there is some natural process that exhibits it, around when life itself developed. For arguments sake, say its a crystal-like thing that grows in the right environment. 


    1. 
    Now in a normal situation where environment A aids growth and B does not, and you show the growth vs time you would get:
    T =              0  1 2 3 4 5
    Environment A A A A B B
    Size             1 2 3  4 4 4
    However for the MRC case you may get:


    T =              0 1 2  3   4     5
    Environment A A A A    B    B
    Size             1 2 3 3.5  3.5 3.5
    In this case the thing has grown less at T=3 because the environment in the next time step is not right.
    Now instead of making this growth absolute, make it statistical so in the second situation the MRC can sometimes grow more than in the first, and make it MW with this meaning there are more branches with the MRC growing more in the first situation (I don't really understand MW that well however)


    2. 
    Now say some organism comes along that likes environment A and has the choice of two possible resting places, favoring the one that stays with environmental condition A more. It could observe the growth of the MRC's and choose the place where the MRC grew more even if the environment was the same in both situations.  It would be likely that the chosen environment would stay favorable in more MW branches than the other one because RC has stunted the growth in the one where the environment turns bad later. (Not sure if this is hopelessly contradictory, as I said I don't really understand this)
    So whats the next step?


    3. 
    Given the usefullness of these MRC's the organism grows them itself, perhaps as whiskers going in two different directions pointing out of the cell. It then observes the growth and goes in the direction of greater growth. i.e. like a normal sensory apparatus, but with some MRC built in. (Even without MRC the whiskers would be useful) The sensors would point towards both a present and future more satisfactory environment, combined in a statistical way. Now if this was classical/deterministic it would be hopelessly contradictory because the movement itself would make the growth in both whiskers the same, but if its a statistical MW situation then perhaps not, perhaps it can settle on an above average chance of being correct, that is not self-contradictory? If not, then the organism could preserve consistency by shedding the whiskers before it moved, but that wouldn't be so biologically useful. 


    4. 
    Is there some way that the MRC's can become inside the cell? 
    What if it now grows one each side of the cell, inside rather than outside and chooses the direction of maximum growth. If the environment is now less satisfactory than average it destroys the MRC's in the direction it travelled.  (It assumes it has made the "wrong" choice) This would be the same as a bad external environment itself destroying the MRC's (if it was as fully automatic) and perhaps could allow the effect to stay. After all there would appear to be more MW branches where the organism would find itself in where it had actually made the right choice because of the RC effect of it destroying the MRC on one side when it makes the wrong one.


    5. 
    Now if the organism gets more complex and is "happy" when it makes the right choice then it will find itself happy more than sad. Being happy and having made the right choice is more consistent and there will be more branches with this happening. Now if you just attach the brain pattern that we call "belief" to "happy" then belief is more consistent not because of anything to do with belief/logic at all, but just because belief is attached to emotion, follows emotion and reflects it. If an organism can us RC to make a better choice statistically and be "happy" more than "sad" statistically as a result, then belief can APPEAR to be more consistent as a result.

    You can have a brain state that is "I expect to make the right choice and be happy", you can have a brain state that is "I expect I will get a feeling about the coin shortly before it lands that will more likely than not be correct" This belief would then be consistent with reality not because of the effect of that belief but because that feeling was caused some RC effect/device inside your brain, and the belief is just a reflection of it.
    Thor Russell
    I hope I am not going to do your hard work an injustice by sweeping it aside but I fully agree that IF there is retro-causality then there is no problem at all in evolution picking it up. 
     
    That brings us to your section #4

    I am not sure that I'm following you but it seems you are confusing a simple anthropic argument (from the evolving creature's point of view) with many worlds. The former says that in those worlds where the creature survives there is a higher chance of it having utilised retrocausality successfully. That is true, but still has nothing to do with quantum mechanics providing a tweak to the statistics. It is, in fact, still perfectly classical. The only time you could call a scenario "quantum" - as required by Sascha's claim - is if there is interference.  "Many worlds with presentience" would simply assert that the probabilities as measured after the event are not the same as those calculated before hand.

    The crux of your argument is in section #5.
    Being happy and having made the right choice is more consistent and there will be more branches with this happening.
    Your argument in #4 shows that there will be more branches due to purely classical considerations if there is retro-causality. Everyone can agree on that. Given retro-causality, the  
    branch-count, the frequentist probability, is biased towards happy creatures who make the right choice. But this probability is the same as the one calculated from survival rates as you have done. What Sascha has claimed its that there is further enhancement to the odds - enhancement that would be there even without the retro-causality - due to this mysterious thing he calls consistency.

    From the rest of the section you skirt around the modality trap but avoid it by sticking with classical reasoning. 
    Being happy and having made the right choice is more consistent and there will be more branches with this happening. Now if you just attach the brain pattern that we call "belief" to "happy" then belief is more consistent not because of anything to do with belief/logic at all, but just because belief is attached to emotion, follows emotion and reflects it. If an organism can us RC to make a better choice statistically and be "happy" more than "sad" statistically as a result, then belief can APPEAR to be more consistent as a result.
    I would not disagree with you but unfortunately this is not what Sascha is saying. Let's go with your scenario the Sascha way!
     
    Now if you just attach the brain pattern that we call "belief" to "happy" then belief is more consistent not because of anything to do with belief/logic at all, but just because belief is attached to emotion, follows emotion and reflects it. If an organism can us RC to make a better choice statistically and be "happy" more than "sad" statistically as a result, then belief can APPEAR to be more consistent as a result.

    "Ah no", says SV - in another world :) - "forget using a real RC phenomenon. In fact QM statistics are affected directly by consistency. A consistent belief adds branches - affects the measured frequencies. There's no real RC involved but consistency (ta-dah!) breaks the identity between calculated probabilities and measured frequencies." 
     
    Your happy feelings when the animal is about to be proved right obviously cannot arise unless there is actual RC. Random feelings that are sometimes right could easily occur but then you have a modality problem. The aspect of the brain pattern that you call belief is no more consistent with a better environment for the animal than the alternatives. It is only the abstract content/meaning of that belief state that can be said to be consistent or otherwise with the outcome and abstract propositions are not physical in any way whatsoever. Sure, they refer to physical things. Sure, belief in them is a physical state. But they themselves are abstract. Unfortunately the content/meaning is what Sascha is saying is consistent or otherwise with the outcomes. Everything else - the brain state etc - is accounted for in the classical calculation: with or without actual RC. Only the consistency of the belief itself is left to tweak the frequencies and it is a non-physical abstraction. 

    There again I don't believe in propositions as physical objects.
     
    vongehr
    baloney for the simple reason that quantum effects require coherence and we are dealing with a macroscopic system that is decohering constantly. Quantum interference wouldn't get a chance.
    That is the same way recently discovered long-duration/distance biological quantum coherence was dismissed and it is not only premature but also fundamentally wrong because decoherence only exists For All Practical Purposes (FAPP), while in fact (without speculative gravity non-linearity) everything stays completely entangled.
    Your hypothesis is that in a world where the belief is fulfilled, the consistency ensures more branches.
    Certainly not in the coin toss example.
    The records do not relate to the way the coin was going to fall
    THIS is the point you did not understand and where you are stuck in classical thinking. For you, the coin fall is some classical physical reality nothing to do with the records. In fact, all physical laws are determined from the statistics seen in records.
    No, that is the point which you do not understand and where you are stuck in your modality error.

    Your logical mistake is nothing to do with how we arrive at probabilities. It's about whether there is anything in belief that could affect them via consistency even in principle.

    I was referring to the records before the coin was tossed.
    Certainly not in the coin toss example.
    Why not? What is the difference between having a feeling about a coin toss and having a feeling about the lottery? Or tomorrow's weather. I do hope you're not going to beg the question and assume presentience and then say sit will only have been picked up by evolution where it confers adaptive advantage. That would be pathetic. Waiting!

    I agree with your first point. Which is why I was careful to say that although I believe the idea to be baloney, that is merely my own opinion, and has nothing to do with my criticism of your modal logic.

    Cheers
    vongehr
    assume presentience and then say sit will only have been picked up by evolution where it confers adaptive advantage. That would be pathetic. Waiting!
    Firstly this (no evolution with coins over the last million years - sorry for being pathetic, that's just me, at least you can stop waiting), secondly because there is no inconsistency in my having been sure about that tails comes up and now being disappointed because heads came up instead. It should be "more inconsistent" than that, like inconsistent with the whole belief system, before effects on probabilities are not totally negligible.
    I was referring to the records before the coin was tossed.
    ? What difference does it make? You establish quantum probability after tossing many times and according to the frequency in the records that you got then - that is all there is to it. There is no other reality of records available. You can take a coin and investigate its symmetry closely and compare that with your records, thus perhaps concluding to have found yourself in a freak branch (~ "terribly inconsistent state"), but no more reality is available.
    It's about whether there is anything in belief that could affect them via consistency even in principle.
    Well sorry if I am too stupid to get it, but as you have just charged me with in another comment, maybe it is bad explaining rather than the fault of the one who does not get it, you know, holds for you the same perhaps? If you are so sure, why don't you write a blog post about it, explaining very carefully, see who agrees. However, I would like to encourage you to think about whether you do not plainly misinterpret my usage of "belief" too narrowly. I just took the 'belief-into-vain-god' crap as a admittedly silly example (I said so!) to help get across what I mean (perhaps it was more misleading than helpful), but really I am after "consistency" in the sense of QM consistent histories for example, in the sense of constructive versus destructive interference of possibilities, where consistency influences the probabilities, which it does of course, but perhaps slightly differently from what we have discovered so far.
    You establish quantum probability after tossing many times and according to the frequency in the records that you got then - that is all there is to it.
    What I said was "The records do not relate to the way the coin was going to fall, only to the person's belief about it."

    That means, the records of what the person expected/felt etc do not refer to the way the coin fell, they refer to the person's expectation/feeling etc. Records of how the coin fell are a different set of records. Although you don't accept coin tossing as an example, in whatever scenario you do accept as plausible you are still faced with establishing physical consistency when the records of your expectation do not say anything that relates physically to the records of the outcome.
    Well sorry if I am too stupid to get it, but as you have just charged me with in another comment, maybe it is bad explaining rather than the fault of the one who does not get it, you know, holds for you the same perhaps? If you are so sure, why don't you write a blog post about it, explaining very carefully, see who agrees.
    Yes I have considered writing a blog about it, but the point is so simple that it isn't worth a blog. When I say simple, I mean simple as opposed to complicated. I don't mean easy to grasp. There are people who cannot see that consciousness poses a hard problem and there are those who still think that time flows. I'm quite certain that if something is as elusive as this appears to be then it is not going to be settled by a show of hands.
    I am after "consistency" in the sense of QM consistent histories for example, in the sense of constructive versus destructive interference of possibilities, where consistency influences the probabilities, which it does of course
    Not in a modality error it doesn't.
    vongehr
    physical consistency when the records of your expectation do not say anything that relates physically to the records of the outcome.
    AAArrrgggg - Duuuude - this is the very thing where your mind is stuck in a classically real interpretation, I keep telling you. There is no physical ("physical consistency ... relates physically") apart from what we deduce from records!

    Once we have via pure logic established all the possible phenomenal worlds, you may be correct in the sense that the best description has "beliefs inside records" entirely "epiphenomenal" to the "probabilities" (whatever they are) derived from these records. However, as far as we know QM today, we have nothing else but approximate laws of nature derived from empirical records with no good understanding about how these records are phenomenal at all! You say it yourself: "
    that consciousness poses a hard problem"

    If consciousness is still hard, how do you know how phenomenal consciousness relates to "terribly 'inconsistent' states" whose QM probability is almost zero? If those are not conscious, how does it fit together with QM probability of these states being not exactly equal to zero? If you have figured it out, please tell the world, because it is basically the biggest question left in all of philosophy and science.
    What I described was precisely and tediously cast in terms of records and what we deduce from them. It has nothing to do with classical reality. From the records we deduce that someone believes. From the records we deduce that something happened. Your thesis is that if they believed correctly (according to our deductions from the records) then that is more consistent than if they believed incorrectly. Well that incorrect. It is a modality error. It has occurred to me there is one more possible way I may get this across and then I'm going to give up. When you have made your deductions from the records, you could list them and pair them off into consistent pairs. Unfortunately, "consistency" is not clear-cut. Even the terrible states are not ABSOLUTELY inconsistent: my remembering being an orange last week would simply require a different deduction from normal. If my deductive powers were functioning I would not deduce that I was an orange I would deduce that I had been hallucinating. So in that sense everything that one can deduce about someone's belief is consistent with every outcome. I expected the aeroplane to crash. It did not. There's nothing inconsistent about that but I would surmise that the classical probabilities are FAPP unmodified by any coherence between the aeroplane and my brain. Your thesis thus depends on a greater than normal consistency not mere absence of contradiction. You claim that correct anticipation provides that extra consistency. So let's examine what the extra-consistent deductions would be, case by case: Derek believed the plane would not crash The plane crashed CONSISTENT! Derek believed the plane would crash The plane did not crash CONSISTENT! Derek believed the plane would crash The plane crashed CONSISTENT! Derek believed the plane would not crash The plane did not crash CONSISTENT! Note that these are the common-or-garden measures of consistency, all equivalent as far as comparing "Derek believed" with what happened. BUT you say that the second cases where my premonition is confirmed is more consistent (or however you like to describe it) because I got it right. That is your modal error. You have already exhausted all the consistencies that you can deduce directly from the records. You now try to play the same card again by taking the content of the belief as it if were something that you have deduced from the records. We've already accounted for any consistency between my having a belief and the outcome. Now you want to draw a consistency out of the belief itself, not merely the fact that I believed it. So we have The plane will crash The plane did crash. EXTRA CONSISTENCY! Do you really not see the error in that?
    Thor Russell
    What if the situation where the plane didn't crash and you expected it not to crash somehow causes your physical brain to generate more identical branches, causing you and outside observers to find this scenario then more likely? Is there something that always makes a physical object create the "same" number of branches in any given interval of time? Is this similar to the quantum dice idea?
    Thor Russell
    The "what if" is precisely the point. What if fairy-winged qualia wave quantum magic wands over the wavefunction and we all wake up in Lala land?
     
    No offence intended, just a bit cranky tonight :)
     
    And where the hell did all my paragraphs go? !!!!

     
    vongehr
    From the records we deduce that someone believes.
    Yes, but that is an observation of another experiment (a third person who does something, e.g.  believe) rather than our own world view and its justification being both consistent in the one "record" you have.
    Your thesis is that if they believed correctly (according to our deductions from the records) then that is more consistent than if they believed incorrectly.
    No - that is your caricature of it, almost a straw-man you created. Not even in the silly vain god example is the correctness of the belief important (the vanity of the god clashes with there being a non-believer in his heaven).
    "consistency" is not clear-cut ...
    Precisely - probability amplitude increasing with constructive interference that can be reformulated in a consistent histories approach to QM isn't the logical consistency that you want to reduce it to. Ultimately of course all is pure logic once we understand everything, and that will eventually explain Born probabilities, but I do not see why there cannot be still surprises in store that will embarrass certain know-it-all pseudo-skeptics like Mister Randi.
    I do not see why there cannot be still surprises in store that will embarrass certain know-it-all pseudo-skeptics like Mister Randi.
    Well that is hardly "How Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics" is it?
    Ultimately of course all is pure logic once we understand everything 
    Well, pure logic plus a few rather important things that just are, I would surmise. St Anselm no doubt thought he was doing God and the world a favour but his ontological argument is balderdash, even if it does make some nice points. I don't think God Himself can explain His own existence and nature in terms of pure logic - not as we think of logic these days anyway. Back in the days when self-evident truths existed, maybe logic included "necessary existence" too, but now that everything is algorithms... Can an algorithm create its own substrate? Does an algorithm even need a substrate? How does the universe decide what algorithm it's going to be today? I feel a blog coming on. Watch out Alpha Meme, the Omega Undead is after you. :)
    and that will eventually explain Born probabilities
    Well, the Born rule is a simple bit of maths extracting the amplitude of a particular component from a composite wavefunction. It needs to be done with a basis of orthogonal eigenfunctions in exactly the same way as resolving Lady Gaga's songs into pure notes entails using an orthogonal set of sinusoids. But the transform does yield a meaningful amplitude - it will excite a resonant chamber or the relevant sections of the cochlea for instance.  However I do agree that actually deciding on one state rather than them all does not seem to arise even with the help of decoherence - somewhere there's branch counting. Observer-dependency seems to me to be a makeshift idea as it nicely explains why on average (in the absence of presentience woo) we see records confirming the rule. But it doesn't tell us why we are entitled to say "on average". It comes close when we repeat an experiment but not quite close enough. Or maybe it does?  Better than conscious-observers being required to help the universe make up its mind anyway.
    that is an observation of another experiment 
    I don't think so. Several times you have pleaded "consistency in the records". Consistency must mean consistency of one thing with another. Consistency of just one thing is definitely the sound of one hand clapping. This is why I suggested pulling out statements from two sets of records - propositions that you deduce from the records. Certainly you can do it with the one record you have access to - because that is actually a set of records. But to establish consistency - self-consistency in this case you still need to divide the records of what I believe from the records of the outcome. Or, if you prefer, the deductions.
    Your thesis is that if they believed correctly (according to our deductions from the records) then that is more consistent than if they believed incorrectly.
    No - that is your caricature of it, almost a straw-man you created. Not even in the silly vain god example is the correctness of the belief important (the vanity of the god clashes with there being a non-believer in his heaven).
    Which is why it wouldn't happen. Well, you gave it as an example of inconsistency so you will understand that not only is the example silly it is more than slightly misleading. 
     
    If the correctness of the belief - on a branch-by-branch basis after the event - is irrelevent then obviously you can avoid the modality error but then what possible consistency were you talking about about when you said belief adds consistency? Consistency of what with what?

    And before you come up with some other property of the content of the belief - other than its being correct according to the records - such as "usefulness", "elegance", "significance", or "Sacha's favourite colour", please understand that even if you concoct a theory of consistency, if it relates to the content of the belief not the mere fact that the person believes, it is a modality error! Stay clear of what the person believes, stick with the fact they believe it.  Then find me some consistency and I'll unleash the fairy-winged qualia to do their quantum tweaking :)
     
    Gotta go now, real work is calling but I'm sure you'll have fun nit-picking that lot: just try not to loose track of the modality issue.

    vongehr
    Well that is hardly "How Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics" is it?
    It is as much as ghostly nonlocality and maximal violation of the Bell inequality (practically useful now for encryption) is a huge surprise to those ancient classical physicists who thought they had it all figured out. I stay with the title, because the only way it could be effective is via the extra branching, and that is what the article is about.
    Well, the Born rule is a simple bit of maths extracting the amplitude of a particular component from a composite wavefunction.
    Well, "Born rule" refers here of course to the whole lot, which would not be the way it is if the Born rule were not valid.
    Consistency of just one thing is definitely the sound of one hand clapping.
    The silent thunderous sound of totality's self-consistency.
    Certainly you can do it with the one record you have access to - because that is actually a set of records.
    We always need large numbers to start deducing statistical laws, so there are always many sub-records.
    Well, you gave it as an example of inconsistency so you will understand that not only is the example silly it is more than slightly misleading.
    Yes, I agree, pictures are always also misleading, perhaps my picture there especially so, that is why I wrote so many "silly" disclaimers around it already in the original.
    what possible consistency were you talking about when you said belief adds consistency? Consistency of what with what?
    Again, this "consistency" is the one of for example "consistent histories approach" and "constructive interference". Nobody knows how this works even without mentioning "belief". We do not know how the EPR setup "gets its extra branches", but the empirical records show Bell's inequality being violated and we do know that this assures consistency between the classical world (polarized light, wave vectors) and the QM properties of photons (angular momentum conservation but still 50/50 randomness and Einstein locality).
     
    Again, this "consistency" is the one of for example "consistent histories approach" and "constructive interference". Nobody knows how this works even without mentioning "belief". but the empirical records show Bell's inequality being violated and we do know that this assures consistency between the classical world (polarized light, wave vectors) and the QM properties of photons (angular momentum conservation but still 50/50 randomness and Einstein locality).

    Really? Well, as I understand it, which is probably not very much, the consistent in "consistent histories" refers to using a extended version (whose name I forget) of the usual basis consistently. In other words, talking about individual polarizations in an Aspect set up is consistent - a single angle for each. Talking about polarization pairs is consistent - a pair of angles. Talking about both (in the same history is inconsistent). There's no magic about that. One quantum mechanical calculation: < pulls out the amplitude-squared of "A" (or "B") just as classical physics expects. The other quantum mechanical calculation (<AB|AB> !!! ) yields a different result because you are not pulling out a amplitude-squared of |A> but of |ABj>. Pardon the scruffy brakets.  It is not surprising that classical physics grew up assuming that |A> was consistent with |AB> but it is not - the difference is called entanglement but that's just a fanciful name.

    Now if you really mean what you have just said - that we do not know how the EPR setup "gets its extra branches", I submit that you are just plain wrong: there are no extra branches: the probabilities depend on the measurement basis, you cannot use the <A| numbers and get the <AB| numbers - that is the point of Bell's inequality. Talking about "getting extra branches" when you change the basis is as silly as talking about a coin getting extra faces when it's a die. Or the old joke that 1 + 1 = 3  but only for large values of 1.

    Again, I know there will be some notational blunders in the above - all that matters is that having settled what "consistent histories" actually is, I can't for the life of me see how the idea that belief could be physically effective through consistency is even meaningful in this context let alone plausible - especially as you have said that consistency of the (deduced) outcome with the belief is not what you are talking about.
    vongehr
    I am getting tired with this. I am not going to explain other people's work here and I have explained too many times why EPR has extra branching. It seems you want to keep an argument going. I don't suppose anybody is following anymore and I am not learning anything anymore either. So, I am out, you can have the last word and be happy to have won.
    We are both tired of it. However I have not won anything. This is not "Last-Man-Left-Standing".  I would have been happy if you had seen what I was saying and either agreed with it or refuted it. As it is, the communication blockage is highly frustrating. I failed to make my point and I don't know why.
    So - Is there going to be a Part Three where you finally explain

    HOW Belief Could Be Physically Effective Through Quantum Physics

    or is this left as an exercise for the reader?
    vongehr
    Reading the article is always left as exercise for the reader. But let me help you yet one more time: By acting on the extra branching when described in MW models.
    UPDATE: Derek, I deleted your comments down there. Please, this is a science column. If you have interesting input that adds value for my readers, fine, but I do not like people to get notified of new comments on my articles and then all they get is pure nonsense most of the time. Hope you understand. If you do not like my "How" not being already 100% worked out to your satisfaction, guess what, if it were, I would not first publish it here. I am the only one who has analyzed and isolated the how (if there is one at all) this far. If you do not appreciate the effort, maybe read something else.
    MikeCrow
    I'd like your thoughts:
    All of this you're described(here and terrible states), would seem to be a scientific basis for other 'places' that have been talked about for most of human existence to actually exist.
    Places like hell, heaven, purgatory, now I must say, I've not given them any consideration for being real before, but you make a hell of a case (how ironic) for there being something more there.

    I know you're not religious, but what if things like the gates of hell actually describes a passage into another dimension, in that case one of terrible states.

    Have you considered that what you describe as possibilities of QM, match places described through out history?
    Never is a long time.
    vongehr
    Yes, with such theories present, we gona have the biggest heap of religious crap hitting the fan ever! The religious have not yet fully discovered it, but they are at it as we speak. That is why I find this issue important. But why you need there to be actual "places" and why this has to be to do with death? Many substances bring you to states of mind that are indistinguishable from having tunneled into crazy land, and while there, crazy land is mostly as self-consistent as you could wish for.
    MikeCrow
    I'm not sure death has anything really to do with it, just that those places are associated with death.

    I've been to crazy land, as well as one that glimmers, but I don't imagine that I tunneled some place elsewhere.

    Is there really an elsewhere? It's as they say "above my pay grade".
    Never is a long time.