Overbye on Backward Causality
    By Tommaso Dorigo | October 12th 2009 04:49 PM | 12 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Tommaso

    I am an experimental particle physicist working with the CMS experiment at CERN. In my spare time I play chess, abuse the piano, and aim my dobson...

    View Tommaso's Profile
    Many thanks to Dennis for linking, from the NYT site, an article I wrote one year ago to comment a crackpotty paper by an otherwise esteemed scientist.
    The essay just appeared on the New York Times site is excellent, as always with Overbye, but it is also way more balanced than my rather vitriolic attack on the theory of backward causation and, in particular, the idea that one should use the Large Hadron Collider to test it by deciding to run or not to run based on the turn of a card.
    I do not have much to say one year after the fact, but since I honestly believe my early piece is worth a read, I invite you there directly (or you may reach the piece from the NYT one). Happy reading.

    Update: Peter Woit discusses the issue here, and he criticizes (not without reason, in hindsight) the possibilistic stand that Overbye has taken on the matter.


    Personally, I find your previous post on this subject much more correctly balanced than Overbye's essay.

    Hey, if you believe in Many Worlds and Quantum Immortality, and assuming the proper use of LHC would result in the destruction of the Earth, then the LHC will continue to experience accidents etc. and never function properly.

     I had not seen such a pile of unmitigated BS in the ArXiV since I don’t know when.
    Science in general, and physics in specific, needs more plain speaking like that.
    Hi Hank,
    well, in a sense, yes. But dealing with controversies requires you to keep your cool, because nobody wants to make enemies in the Academia unless it's strictly necessary -it is counterproductive and wasteful. But there's a limit. In Italy (and more specifically, in Rome and surroundings) they say "quanno cce vvo', cce vo'!" -> "quando ci vuole, ci vuole" -> "when it's called for, it's called for".
    Wow, that series of articles has to be some sort of spoof or joke. Those are tenured professors! Usually if a respected guy goes off the deep end and publishes some pure crackpottery he or she is solo, but this comes in a pair.

    Easily the most absurd paper that I have ever read and an embarrasment to the proffession.

    I agree with Haelfix,
    Emotion in science? The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We shall see what we shall see.

    Professor W. Pauli, (Nobel laureate) had many years of conversations with Dr. Carl Jung, and
    their conclusions relate to the idea that "acausal connections" exist in the space-time continuum.
    Jung called these connections a, "synchronicity principle.:
    The letters between them were published under title, "atom and archetype" 1932-1958....
    My blog shown offers an example, with appropriate comments from senior researchers at
    Princeton University, School of Applied Science....

    Hi Tommaso,

    since you are a respected member of the hep community, why don't you do the experiment? You can set up a team with some of your colleagues and declare that you won't partecipate to LHC if a predetermined very low probability event will occur, maybe a specific result in an online random number generator like
    It will show to the public how real science works , how real scientists deal with statistics (betting your career against very low probability events), NN will be falsified and we'll have a lot of fun :)

    I do not think you got it Anon: I think the whole idea is a stinking pile of bullshit. I can think of better ways to invest my time, even answering this comment :)
    I'm the anonymous author of the comment before. I got the idea, and I'd probably agree if I read the papers ( I didn't). The point of my suggestion wasnt on taking seriously the NN argument, quite the opposite. I thought it as an amusing idea and its cost is more or less 50% of your already invested effort (answer to my comment included) ;) . Anyway thank you for your blog, I enjoy it a lot.

    Ok unit. To know what is in the paper you do not need to read it, just follow the link to my original blog posting of July 2007. It's both in the NYT article and in the post above.