The debate between scientific realism and anti-realism seems like it’s about theory scope

Black swans

I've been thinking again about the realism vs anti-realism debate, about what scientific theories actually tell us about the world. Historically in the philosophy of science, the debate is between realists, who see scientific theories being at least an approximate representation of reality, and instrumentalists or anti-realists, who see those theories as mere prediction frameworks … Continue reading The debate between scientific realism and anti-realism seems like it’s about theory scope

It’s not looking good for objective collapse theories

As noted in the previous post, quantum mechanics is weird. If we try to have a realist understanding of what's happening, it forces bizarre choices about which aspects of common sense reality we throw under the buss. The central mystery is the wave function collapse. Quantum particles move like waves, mathematically described by the wave … Continue reading It’s not looking good for objective collapse theories

It pays to remember that reality is absurd

Last week the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser, and Aton Zeilinger, for their work in testing quantum entanglement, essentially validating that quantum mechanics is correct about the phenomenon, and eliminating, or at least profoundly minimizing, any possible loopholes. https://twitter.com/NobelPrize/status/1577234271546200064 Of course this set off a lot of physicists … Continue reading It pays to remember that reality is absurd

Don’t throw out Occam’s razor just yet

Occam's razor

Jim Al-Khalili has an article at OpenMind attacking Occam's razor, at least in the form it's typically articulated, that the simplest explanation should be preferred. Al-Khalili correctly points out that there are a lot of problems with that version of the principle. Simply preferring the explanation we think is the simplest is often just favoring … Continue reading Don’t throw out Occam’s razor just yet

Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought

Image of the sun

Quanta has a pretty interesting article up today: A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life. Our understanding of the physics of the sun indicate that it should have been only 70% as bright as it is today. But if so, early Earth should have been a snowball not really capable … Continue reading Complex life may be more rare in the universe than we thought

The entanglements and many worlds of Schrödinger’s cat

I recently had a conversation with someone, spurred by the last post, that led to yet another description of the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which I think is worth putting in a post. It approaches the interpretation from a different angle than I've used before. As mentioned last time, the central mystery of … Continue reading The entanglements and many worlds of Schrödinger’s cat

Superdeterminism and the quandaries of quantum mechanics

Last week, Sabine Hossenfelder did a video and post which was interesting (if a bit of a rant at times at strawmen) in which she argued for a little considered possibility in quantum mechanics: superdeterminism. In 1935, Einstein and collaborators published the famous EPR paradox paper, in which they pointed out that particles that were … Continue reading Superdeterminism and the quandaries of quantum mechanics

Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness

I recently completed Anil Seth's new book, Being You: A New Science of Consciousness. Seth starts out discussing David Chalmers' hard problem of consciousness, as well as views like physicalism, idealism, panpsychism, and functionalism. Seth is a physicalist, but is suspicious of functionalism. Seth makes a distinction between the hard problem, which he characterizes as … Continue reading Anil Seth’s theory of consciousness