Quantum Physics Debate on Facebook

I have posted this video in a Facebook group called "Thinking Rationally (INSIDERS)" which is predominantly filled with atheist audience. One, David Babushkin, had replied to me. Please find below a copy of our exchange.

The exchange:

Boris >

My latest video in which I explain that there's no mistery to the experiment that supposedly proves "quantum entanglement". That conclusion would follow only if the double-slit experiment is interpreted to postulate the uncertainty principle. But, there can be other explanations of the double slit experiment, that actually make logical sense.

David >

OK, a couple of things here which I'm guessing you've fundamentally misunderstood about quantum physics. Let me start by saying that you've clearly done a lot of reading on the subject, but please do not underestimate the value of studying the physics and mathematics of quantum entanglement; which you are doing by proposing that entanglement is a silly idea based on your (false) interpretation of it. In science in general we don't make such grand assumptions without having very good reason to. Now with that in mind, let's break down what you've said:

1) Your point is, basically, that quantum superposition (where systems can have numerous properties at the same time) can't exist because it's unintuitive, and 'makes no sense'. This, of course, is ridiculous because the scientific method serves to present us with objective information about the universe, independent of whether it makes 'common sense' or not. Indeed what QM has shown us is that common sense is pretty useless at explaining natural phenomena.. probably because human beings never had to evolve a 'common sense' understanding of quantum laws, since we live in the macroscopic (classical physics) world. So.. what's our evidence for superposition? For my masters thesis I simulated an experiment containing two fully quantum particles and showed that as we measure their properties (by shooting individual photos of light at the system) that they start acting more 'classically'. In other words, the more information we obtain about a quantum systems exact properties, the more it starts acting like a classical system. Bare in mind here that 'measurement' isn't a yes/no operation, but rather a gradual process/spectrum. Therefore a system can be fully quantum (fully delocalized), fully classical(clearly defined properties) and anywhere in between!!! Moreover we can use Bayesian analysis to show that the system really was developing these defined properties as a result of the measurement - it's not that we simply didn't know the exact properties.. they were not there!!

2) You should read about Bell's inequality experiment, which refuted many of the reservations prominent physicists had against quantum mechanics. Many, including Einstein, (and yourself!) haver argued that underneath the probabilities and the weirdness of QM there *must* be an intuitive universe, with predictable and deterministic laws. What Bell's experiment showed is that there are definitely *no* "hidden variables" - that quantum weirdness and uncertainty is an inherent property of the universe, rather than stemming from our ignorance, or lack of understanding.

3) Now, there are also countless issues with how you set about 'disproving' entanglement. Besides the fact that you mixed up the definitions of entanglement, uncertainty, and superposition you have also not offered a counter- theory. If mainstream quantum physics is wrong (which we've just concluded is a silly assumption to make) then you have to present a theory which explains all current measurements and experimental results as well as QM does. Not only have you not done that, you've not even explained how the double-slit experiment is supposed to work without superposition. All you've said is "I can't imagine quantum weirdness to be true.. therefore all those people who studied it, and actually learned this stuff must be wrong!!". Not only is that wrong, but quite frankly it's quite an arrogant position to take.

I hope you don't take this as an insult, but rather take some constructive criticism from this comment. If you have any questions, or abjections to what I've said, please do get in touch. All the best, Boris!

Boris >

Hi, thanks for watching my video, and your thought out response. First, my video mentions a scientist who does give a logical explanation to the double-slit experiment. He also gives a logical explanation to the Aspect experiment. The links can be found under the video (you probably have to open YouTube to see the links).

Second, note that what Heisenberg and others have tried, is to prove that reality is not what it is, after making the experiment. However, note that "proof", the method, itself is not a primary: it a result of philosophical view. Proof itself requires validation, using a more basic philosophical foundation. This foundation are the philosophical axioms, that lead, through a chain of reasoning, to the method of proof. One of these philosophical axioms is the principle of identity, that Aristotle stated as: "the same thing can't belong and not belong to an object it the same way and in the same respect". This means, that a particle can't be both "A" and "not A" at the same time. It must be something particular, and in the case of the electron and photon, it is what it is, before even we try to observe it. And, it is not possible to use proof to deny the foundation on which the principle of proof itself rests.

Third, notice, that in your own argument, you appeal to a philosophical (metaphysical) idea related on the matter of "intuition", "common sense" and so on. You see that, in the end to justify your position, you have to descend to the level of philosophy, not a mere technicalities such as how was the experiment conducted, and how were measurements made. The argument in the end is philosophical, and that is the battle ground. And in this battle-ground the philosophy of Aristotle wins in my understanding, while vague appeals to intuition vs. non-intuition don't.

Fourth, note that Heisenberg approached his science already within the context of philosophy and metaphysics that he accepted apriori. Here's a revelant quote from Whitehead: "Every scientific man in order to preserve his reputation has to say he dislikes metaphysics. What he means is he dislikes having his metaphysics criticized." And the metaphysics with which he started is one from Ernst Mach, Kant, and Hume: denial of cause-and-effect as the basic principle of science. He then came up with a statistical way to explain what is going on, and denied that there is any underlying cause for things.

Finally, I disagree with you that my position is arrogance. No I do not need to offer a theory that explains things in order to disqualify a theory that is obviously wrong. Anymore that I need to explain how life was created, before I could have the "arrogance" to deny the existence of God. Philosophy can't give details of how things work (that's for physicists to do), but it surely can veto a theory that is contradictory, and defies logic. Look-up Ayn Rand's statement on the "veto power of philosophy".

If anything can be called arrogance, is the desire of QM to deny cause and effect, modelling the world on uncertainties and probabilities. As a layman in physics, and a person looking to makes sense of this world, I'll listen to those physicists who give me a logical explanation of how things work, and ignore those physicists who don't. I do not need to study in detail the experiments to make this determination. And, my video is oriented towards layman like me -- the people who have been disillusioned to think that the world is a random incomprehensible chaos -- a license for any "authority" then to give it any structure that is convenient to control, a gateway to theocratic totalitarianism, branded as "scientism". Modern science is the modern non-objective painting, with squiggles and dots, designed to destroy the reasoning mind. It is the logical result of the insane philosophies of David Hume and Emanuel Kant. For more on this, read "The DIM Hypothesis" by Leonard Peikoff.

David >

Boris Re I encourage you to read the 'criticism' section of the wiki page.


It seems like Dr. Mills criticism of QM comes from the fact that it seems to disprove a hypothesis he's clinging on to.

If you're interested in a truly well explained and well researched video on the topic, I can only recommend the following, which touches on a number of points I mentioned.


Boris >

I never appealed to Mills hydro theory. His explanation of double slit and aspect experiments stand on their own, and if you are a scientist you purport to be , you would refrain from ad hominem attack. What philosophical error or methodological error Mills is making in your view? As I am not a physicists I do not need to deal with the arguments among physicists — I only need to accept the most reasonable explanation offered me. And it has nothing to do with how many nobel prize winners agree with it — I don’t go by authority, but my own reasoning given the evidence I have received so far. Nothing you said in your initial post gave me any indication of a good challenge to philosophical foundation on which I base the process of reasoning . Any criticism of common sense and intuition is not a fundamental discussion of metaphysics. I subscribe to Aristotelian view of reality, and no physical experiment will be able to challenge the principle of identity . Therefore I consider it a waste of my precious time to research any further into the direction you have indicated.

David >

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Firstly, let us bear in mind that Aristotle lived long before anyone would have even suspected quantum mechanics, and therefore when he stated "the same thing can't belong and not belong to an object" he was referring to the world he saw around him. In the same respect he could in no way anticipate some of the vital truths about nature which physics was to uncover in the 20th century. Artistotle's reasoning is correct when describing the world he saw around him - however you must understand that just as with any other statement, it should be subject to change in the face of evidence.

Now, it seems you may be underestimating how much philosophical thinking physicists actually do, and seem to be reducing them to people who simply do, but don't think about what they do, for example when you say that Heisenberg & Co. tried to prove that reality is not what it seems - whereas they did no such thing. Science works by collecting data, and finding suitable explanations.. it doesn't start with an assumption which is then proven or disproved - you surely know that, being acquainted with the philosophy of science. Therefore what physicists in the early 20th century did was collect enough data to admit that classical physics and 'intuition' simply can't explain the overwhelming amount of evidence for quantum theory. So where does quantum theory as we know it today come from? Any theory which fits the data is accepted, until evidence discredits it. The conclusions we draw from modern physics today have survived a rigorous selection process - which can not be said for *any* other theory seeking to replace it. Applying that to our discussion: if particles had preexisting properties before measurement, then we would have gathered evidence for this. Instead, what we find is that the evidence points to the fact that uncertainty is an inherent part of nature. You can't argue with the data, simply because you don't like what it presents.

Of course the 'battleground' is a philosophical one; and I doubt anybody would deny this. From my position, though, is seems that you're trying to argue against the entirety of the philosophy of science by saying that the results which the scientific method has produced on the topic of QM are inaccurate, because you can't imagine it being so. You'll be aware that Occam's razor refers to the number of assumptions made, and not to the simplicity of a theory... and the current quantum theory is the result of the fewest assumptions being made about reality, and derived from all available evidence.

Lastly I find your comparison between denying the existence of god and having to offer a counter theory inaccurate, and i'll explain why. In order to challenge the idea of god atheists at the time (and now) would offer an explanation as to why they don't - the fact that the laws of nature don't require a creator etc etc. In order words, even if it's not done in a scientific way, we refute one notion by offering an alternative. You even did this in your video - by claiming that quantum particles have preexisting properties. I've told you that that position has been refuted with evidence and yet you religiously seem to hold on to your preexisting beliefs: "Any criticism of common sense and intuition is not a fundamental discussion of metaphysics. I subscribe to Aristotelian view of reality, and no physical experiment will be able to challenge the principle of identity . Therefore I consider it a waste of my precious time to research any further into the direction you have indicated." - despite the fact that the scientific method is built on a foundation of philosophy and logic. If one is to claim quantum theory to be false, then we still need something to explain the heaps of data we have - you surely must understand this?

It seems to me that you simply don't want to accept uncertainty as an inherent part of nature, and have found Aristotelian arguments to strengthen your position, rather than taking a more objective view and taking into account not just the evidence, but the entire logical foundation upon which the scientific method is built.

- side note, my ad hominem attack on Mr Mills came from the fact that I spend a lot of time debunking false information and have grown inherently suspicious of 'rogue' scientists who make wild claims - I simply wanted to draw your attention to the fact that your source may not be as objective as you think it is, merely because it fits into your world view. If you really want me to go through his arguments about the double slit experiment I can do that (he makes a lot of errors) but you have previously said that you would not budge from your position no matter what - so that wouldn't be worth it, would it? Also, I find it baffling that you don't see the paradox in claiming to use logic and reason to support one's world view and at the same time holding beliefs which you aren't willing to update in light of evidence. Maybe you'll see it someday, maybe not.

All the best

Boris >

Here is a concrete example that will make my point clearer. Let’s say you are looking at a straw in a transparent glass of water. The straw appears bent. That’s the evidence. You take the straw out and it’s straight — that’s the second point of evidence. You then ponder this and conclude that water makes the straw only appear to be bent. The important part to notice here is that evidence is the input to the reasoning faculty, a faculty that already exist as a prerequisite. This reasoning faculty already operates according to certain rules : the rules of logic. The evidence therefore must and will be interpreted in a consistent way with those rules. What are these rules ? For one , all these rules rely on the principle of identity and the principle of non-contradiction. If I get stumped interpreting some evidence I’d rather conclude that I need more evidence rather than conclude that my reasoning faculty is broken.

David >

" If I get stumped interpreting some evidence I’d rather conclude that I need more evidence rather than conclude that my reasoning faculty is broken." - you're clearly in denial about how much evidence exists, but that's ok.

The existence of quantum computers, and other quantum-based technologies which exploit the effects you claim can't exist, doesn't seem to phase you either - at this point you're basically standing in a room with a giant chandelier claiming that light bulbs can't exist because their working principles are illogical.

Thankfully your form of science denialism doesn't actually do any harm to society, so I'm happy to leave our conversation here.

All the best

Boris >

To anyone else who is reading this, while David Babuschkin purports to hold a moral high ground when he is saying that "thankfully your form of science denialism doesn't actually do any harm to society", let me state that actually the shoe is on the other foot. Ideas that deny cause and effect, that deny the principle of identity, the very principle of logic that make human reason the most amazing thing in the world, ideas that deny logic that generated the technological civilization and differentiates us from the primitive people of pre-history, ideas that deny all of the above are abhorrent and evil, and are the ones responsible for doing real harm to people by destroying their minds.

Furthermore, these mystical ideas that hide under the guise of "real science" give the intellectual ammunition to intellectual religionists like Willian Lain Craig, who do not hesitate to capitalize on the inherent inconsistencies in them and win every debate.

Quantum Mechanics is not a scientifically wrong theory, but an idea outside the province of science -- it has the status of a mystic revelation. I do not claim that Randell Mill's theory or Pilot Wave theory is true, I only claim that these are actually theories that deserve the right to be estimated to be either false or true, via the experiment method. QM does not have this right. And, until we find a scientific theory that explains the experiments satisfactorily to take an inductive step in the understanding of reality, the problem is still open. It is ok to say "I don't know yet".

David's criticism is that I don't understand how the scientific method works. Let me answer again that the shoe is on the other foot. The scientific method is not the foundation of all knowledge, but rests on a more fundamental prerequisite philosophical foundation. When David thinks that he can analyze an experiment to prove the absence cause and effect and deny the principle of identity, he is trying to pull himself out of the water by pulling on his ears.

I give the benefit of the doubt to David Babuschkin and his professors, for making an honest error in understanding, and will not call these people evil despite the fact that the ideas that they advocate are evil indeed. But be sure, these people don't have the moral high ground.

The only kind of criticism of Objectivism philosophy -- the philosophy to which I subscribe, and which gives me the confidence to be certain in my views regarding foundation of reason -- that such contemporary intellectuals as David have been able to make so far, is the argument from authority (such as 99% of scientists believe...).

Howark Roark, Ayn Rand's hero in the novel "The Fountainhead", and Ayn Rand herself in real life, hurled a challenge to the intellectual community and to the people who follow those intellectuals (most of the population of the world). Other examples from history abound in the persons of Galileo and Newton, who stoodfast against the intellectual establishment in their time. No argument from authority will ever intimidate people who rely on their own mind.

Because the issue raised by David in his closing remark is not a mere discussion of opinions in interpretation of some technical details of experiments, but was yet another ad-hominem attack, this time on me, an attack regarding an issue of morality regarding principles of pursuit of knowledge, I had to make this statement, rather taking the easy way out by leaving this debate on "amicable terms".

For anyone who wants to learn more about my view of metaphysics and epistemology, and consequently ethics, pick up the book "Objectivism, the Philosophy of Ayn Rand" by Leonard Peikoff. Those who want a shorter read, and to focus on science only, pick up the book "The Logical Leap" by David Harriman. I hope that David and those who liked his posts, like Peter Ó Coileáin, will have the integrity and enough respect for reason to look into above sources, and consider them seriously.

David >

TL;DR -- Boris thinks Quantum Mechanics doesn't exist because it's "illogical" - completely ignoring the fact that we actually have working quantum technologies which exploit the effects he claims can't exist.

Therefore instead of considering the fact that he *may* have misunderstood the philosophy of science, or how the scientific method works he prefers to put videos on youtube claiming that quantum mechanics can't exist because he doesn't understand it. Classic case of "I don't get it, therefore it must be wrong!"

At this point, I have stopped answering, because given the "TL;DR" declaration--which stands for "too long, didn't read"--it became obvious that David no longer values this discussion. But I do have a comment: yes, indeed, if I don't "get it", then for me it is wrong. I must rely on my own understanding, because denying this basic principle opens the door to faith. Ayn Rand stated that it is better to make one's own error, than to accept a truth on faith. Here is the full quote from Galt's speech (in her novel Atlas Shrugged):

"Do not say that you’re afraid to trust your mind because you know so little. Are you safer in surrendering to mystics and discarding the little that you know? Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life. Redeem your mind from the hockshops of authority. Accept the fact that you are not omniscient, but playing a zombie will not give you omniscience—that your mind is fallible, but becoming mindless will not make you infallible—that an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error." -- Ayn Rand