Sciam goes beast mode

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Sciam goes beast mode

Postby hyksos on December 26th, 2016, 2:31 pm 

The most recent issue of Scientific American is the January 2017 issue, and is available on news stands.


Sciam always has a section at the front for letters to the editor. In almost all cases the letter is short, and never longer than 3 paragraphs. This month, a letter appeared which took up a good 60% of the page. It was some directionless ramble related to consciousness and specifically mentioned the existence of "paranormal phenomena". Near the end, the letter quoted Heisenberg. The Heisenberg that was quoted in the letter appears here:

"The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts."

At the bottom of this long letter, the author is revealed to be none other than Deepak Chopra -- infamous quantum consciousness advocate and physics mystic.

A specific writer replied to the Chopra letter, in a scathing retort. It was contributing writer Michael Shermer.

Shermer's reply was equal parts aggressive and hostile. He even ended the reply with ".. you need only thrust your fist into a brick wall to refute Chopra's assertions."

Although subtle, what Shermer was referring to with the fist-into-brick wall was the misinterpretation and embellishment of the Heisenberg quote. There is likely something that Heisenberg meant about "particles are not real" . But Chopra (as he is) hijacked the quote for his own nefarious ends. Chopra clearly intended to imply something along the line of "material reality is not real and Heisenberg said so."

Coming away from this exchange, one gets the feeling that Shermer and Chopra somehow know each other already and probably hate each other. This raises questions about whether Scientific American's editors should have included this letter in their January issue. They did choose to do so. I am assuming this decision was made because Shermer was outraged by Deepak Chopra's antics. They went ahead and let the LTTE section be a sounding board for this exchange between these two men.

I can sympathize with Shermer's frustration. There is a sense that when these quantum mystics start quoting actual scientists and nobel prize winners as evidence supporting their woo, that they have stepped over a line. It would have felt wrong to not directly address Chopra's hijacking.
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Re: Sciam goes beast mode

Postby TheVat on December 26th, 2016, 2:47 pm 

I had set aside the new issue to read this week, so am glad to have that called to my attention. I find the reasoning behind quantum consciousness to invariably fall into the mystery trap. This is the trap of "QT and consciousness are both mysterious and full of epistemological difficulties. Therefore, they must be connected to each other!"
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