Scientific theories and prescriptive vs descriptive instrumentalism

Those of you who've known me a while may remember that I dislike accepting philosophical labels. For example, although the labels "materialist" or "physicalist" are more or less accurate descriptions of what I think, they often seem to imply an ideological rigidity I'm not comfortable with. My attitude toward these labels somewhat resonates with Neil … Continue reading Scientific theories and prescriptive vs descriptive instrumentalism

Mea culpa on quantum decoherence

Lately, I've been trying to gain a better understanding of quantum decoherence. This is the process of a quantum system in superposition interacting with the environment and, as a result, appearing to lose its quantum nature, notably by having interference between the elements of its superposition become undetectable. Decoherence is often used synonymously with the … Continue reading Mea culpa on quantum decoherence

A basic question on the black hole information paradox

Image of black hole

The black hole information paradox has been receiving some attention lately. This is the fact that information, that is any pattern of matter, that falls into a black hole is completely crushed as it approaches the singularity, losing whatever differentiation it might have had before. This has long been recognized as a problem, because in … Continue reading A basic question on the black hole information paradox

The iron rule of science?

I'm always interested in new takes on the demarcation between science and non-science, so after seeing the New Yorker write up on Michael Strevens' new book, The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science, it seemed like something I needed to read. Strevens begins by examining the two leading theories of science: Karl Popper's falsifiability … Continue reading The iron rule of science?

David Deutsch’s version of many worlds

Schrodinger's cat in many worlds

I've written about the bizarre nature of quantum physics many times, providing a lightning primer back in May on three major interpretations: Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many worlds.  The many worlds interpretation (MWI) is often summarily dismissed by people, often along with visceral shudders or high doses of outrage.  I understand the discomfort.  When I first … Continue reading David Deutsch’s version of many worlds

The mechanical philosophy and mysterianism

Noam Chomsky published an essay on his web site a few years ago: Science, Mind, and Limits of Understanding.  Chomsky's thesis is that there are areas of reality that science is simply incapable of understanding.  He uses as his principle example, the case of Isaac Newton's understanding of gravity. Chomsky acknowledges that this is a … Continue reading The mechanical philosophy and mysterianism