RE: Something Fishy (was: Quantum physics & the mystery thereof

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Fri May 28 2004 - 06:05:45 MDT


> The digression into quantum logic and related bits set off some red
> flags in my mind, and after going back and reading some of the
> literature, it *really* started to set off some flags. The
> mathematical models seem vaguely consistent in isolation, but they do
> not appear to be completely consistent as a body nor with the
> evidence
> available for practical matters.

Quantum logic and quantum probability theory are each consistent in
themselves, and are each consistent with observed experiments in quantum
physics. However, they are competing conceptual explanations for these
quantum experiments. In that sense they are not "consistent with each
other as a body."

> 1.) QM models generally assert non-determinism
> inappropriately. They
> assume literal mathematical non-determinism, but generally make no
> distinction for systems that are not measurably deterministic
> but which
> are nonetheless fundamentally deterministic. Expressions of
> both cases
> will look empirically identical but the mathematical consequences of
> which model you assume are qualitatively different. There is no
> justification for assuming non-determinism over non-measurable
> determinism in practice.

Whether you assume true nondeterminism or not doesn't really affect any
of the issues addressed by quantum logic and quantum probability theory.
They are both compatible with deterministic hidden-variables theories
like Bohm's.

> The basic problem that I see is that no distinction is made
> in the math
> between non-deterministic systems and systems which are not
> measurably
> deterministic in some finite context.
> And that an assumption of
> non-determinism is used for some of the physics appears
> incorrect prima
> facie from an information theoretic standpoint.

As I said, in practice this assumption doesn't seem to make any
difference. If you assume a weird enough underlying deterministic
universe (like Bohm's hidden-variables theory) then you can have QM and
determinism: everyone understands that. But for practical purposes, it
seems most elegant and convenient to make the assumption of
nondeterminism, as that makes the math so much simpler and fits the
observed data conceptually.

An interesting mystery, that making "wrong" assumptions makes things so
much simpler --- and allows one to elegantly derive theories predicting
important aspects of reality to within 21 decimal places (or whatever it
is now).

Yet more evidence that either the universe is very perverse, or our
brains are -- or both!!

-- Ben G

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