Quantum Physics in the Real World
I have google alerts set for topics I find interesting. Quantum Mechanics or Quantum Physics is one of those topics. I was alerted to a press release yesterday:
“New Kind of Therapy Combines Quantum Mechanics with Psychology. For those disappointed with the results of lengthy, expensive, traditional therapies, quantum psychology offers a different path.”
The article linked to a book called “The Great Escape: Travel the Quantum Path to Personal Freedom.”
In reading through, a thought struck me. At the base of so many of these ideas is a theory of a life force, or energy field, or simply – as a friend once put it – that everything is connected because we are all energy. When I prompted this friend, she suggested quantum mechanics (QM) was at the very heart of this idea. It was not the first time I had heard such a statement. Deepak Chopra and Rhonda Byrne, to name just two recent authors, have written best selling books which use QM to explain their particular brands of supposed reality.
There are lengthy explanations of both QM and QM’s connection, or lack of connection, to the macro world. Many are sited below. But I am after a simple look at things here – avoiding techno-speak and jargon.
Quantum mechanics is weird. Countless precise experiments have shown results that defy our everyday experience. Applying QM to the real world essentially says if I were to throw a rock at you, there is a chance it will hit you. There is also a chance it will pass right through you unaltered, and there is a chance it will land on the moon. It also suggests that another rock somewhere could be “entangled” with the one I have and will do the same thing instantaneously. These oddball phenomena lend themselves very well to the suggestion that, since everything is made of atomic material, instantaneous action at a distance works. How does it work? Via an invisible life force that flows through us and connects us all. QM itself does not draw any boundary line between the level of scale where it’s strangeness is revealed, and the level of scale of the world we live in.
Here is the thing though. Nothing requires that quantum mechanics plays a central role in human consciousness or provides instantaneous, energy connections in order to explain our world. These people are appealing to QM often to explain something that they have yet to demonstrate exists. On the other hand, they also use it to explain something that does in fact exist, but for which there is a simpler explanation. For example, they sometimes talk about picking up on a person’s ‘bad vibes’ as soon as they enter the room. This is more simply explained by you subconsciously picking up on body language or non verbal cues rather than some energy-psychic connection. Indeed, your brain is an extraordinary machine that does billions of calculation without the need for you to acknowledge them on a conscience level. That is intuition.
No test using our highly advanced medical equipment has ever detected any life force, chakra, or chi. Modern physics at the macro scale is completely consistent with all observations and scientific tests in that realm. We do not understand why things behave differently in the small world from those things which we observe in the large. But they do. You have to ask yourself whether there is any compelling reason to think that QM it is applicable to the large, physical world. I remain highly skeptical. If my aim is true, that rock will hit you every time we try the experiment.
Note: For most people the two terms “quantum physics” and “quantum mechanics” are interchangeable however certain authors refer to “quantum mechanics” in a more restricted sense.
- Press Release: A New Kind of Theorapy
- Wikipedia: Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Entanglement, Quantum Mysticism
- Committee for Skeptical Inquiry: The Enegy Fields of Life
- Victor J. Stenger, Unversity of Hawaii: Quantum Metaphysics
- Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking: Human Energy Fields?
- The New England Skeptical Society: The Touch of Life
- Skeptical Enquirer: Quantum Quackery
- Robert Price: Top Secret – The Truth Behind Today’s Pop Mysticisms
- Scientific American: Using Causality to Solve the Puzzle of Quantum Spacetime