Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby yuttadhammo » Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:21 am

I found a few threads in the search mentioning quantum mechanics, though it seems mostly there is a consensus that it is something different from what the Buddha taught. Irregardless, I believe I have found an explanation of Quantum Physics that does jive well with both the Buddha's teaching and, surprisingly, verifiable meditative experience. I don't claim to understand it all, but what I do understand is quite enlightening, and surely useful in explaining the meditative process to the modern world as well as deciphering the workings of one's own mind. Anyway, here's the book I'm reading, it's by Henry Stapp, a prominent quantum physicist - I'm sure some of you physicists out there are familiar with him:

Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer

Worth a read, found it at the local library. Here's one of the best passages in it, IMO:
The proposition, foisted upon us by a materialism based on classical physics - that we human beings are essentially mechanical automata, with every least action and thought fixed from the birth of the universe by microscopic clockwork-like mechanisms – has created enormous difficulties for ethical theory. These difficulties lie like the plague on Western culture, robbing its citizens of any rational basis for self-esteem or self-respect, or esteem or respect for others. Quantum physics, joined to a natural embedding ontology, brings our human minds squarely into the dynamical workings of nature. With our physically efficacious minds now integrated into the unfolding of uncharted and yet-to-be-plumbed potentialities of an intricately interconnected whole, the responsibility that accompanies the power to decide things on the basis of one’s own thoughts, ideas, and judgments is laid upon us. This leads naturally and correctly to a concomitant elevation in the dignity of our persons and the meaningfulness of our lives. Ethical theory is thereby supplied with a rationally coherent foundation that an automaton account cannot match.

But beyond supplying a rational foundation for Western culture, the rooting of ethics in science, with its universal character and appeal, shifts values toward the ecumenical, and away from those aspects of religions that are hostile to, and preach violence against, followers of other faiths. Such a shift is sorely needed today.


In Stapp's explanation, the microscopic (where the mind would work on a quantum level) is able to affect the macroscopic (where brain functioning occurs) through something called the Quantum Zeno Effect. I only mention this because it seems most physicists have the idea that the microscopic quantum interventions of the mind cannot influence the macroscopic workings of the brain, which is essentially saying that the mind plays no part in reality. This is what is really refreshing about Stapp's work; not only does it make sense, it accords far better with what we perceive in our daily lives (and more so in meditation) than either free-will or deterministic models of reality.

Anyway, read it yourself... I highly recommend it.
User avatar
yuttadhammo
 
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:03 pm
Location: Sri Lanka

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:28 am

Hi Bhante,
yuttadhammo wrote:This is what is really refreshing about Stapp's work; not only does it make sense, it accords far better with what we perceive in our daily lives (and more so in meditation) than either free-will or deterministic models of reality.


Yes, but is it good science?
with metta

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16046
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:43 am

Ben wrote:... but is it good science?

The first bit of the quote is right enough: a deterministic universe has no room for free will, and if we have no free will then there can be no merit of any kind in the ethical decisions we erroneously think we are making.
I'm not at all sure about the validity of the rest, though. If I had to bet, I would say there's very little - but (a) I haven't read the book and (b) I only have a spectator's knowledge of recent physics. My son, who's a participant, read it over my shoulder and was unimpressed, but I would really like one of our own hard-science people to comment - Mikenz, are you listening :tongue: ?
:namaste:
Kim
User avatar
Kim OHara
 
Posts: 3042
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Ytrog » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:45 am

Ben wrote:Hi Bhante,
yuttadhammo wrote:This is what is really refreshing about Stapp's work; not only does it make sense, it accords far better with what we perceive in our daily lives (and more so in meditation) than either free-will or deterministic models of reality.


Yes, but is it good science?
with metta

Ben


Exactly what I was thinking. It seems that a physicist is trying to thread on the field of psychology and is making a huge extrapolation in the proces.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
User avatar
Ytrog
 
Posts: 693
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: The Netherlands, near Arnhem

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:20 pm

The reason observer and observed affect each other is that they are fundamentally not separate things. Either that or its the midichlorians :tongue: I still dont understand why its so important to force buddhist teaching into congruence with quantum physics or vice versa. It either works or it doesnt and if it does, who cares what physics thinks?



yuttadhammo wrote: I only mention this because it seems most physicists have the idea that the microscopic quantum interventions of the mind cannot influence the macroscopic workings of the brain, which is essentially saying that the mind plays no part in reality.


Does anyone really still beleive this? Even after all the recent data showing that the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain? Amazing.
Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
User avatar
m0rl0ck
 
Posts: 1009
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Sep 25, 2010 2:07 pm

For anyone interested in Stapp's ideas but who might not have time to read his book (I haven't), here's a link to a paper he wrote:

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/37163new.txt

He starts out by detailing the problems presented by quantum theory and ends by discussing various "philosophy of mind" approaches to interpreting these problems.

Not being either a scientist or a philosopher of mind, I'm not in a position to assess his argument, but he's no flake.
User avatar
Lazy_eye
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby yuttadhammo » Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:39 pm

Ben wrote:Yes, but is it good science?

I suppose that depends what you mean by science. Is it good materialism? No. Is it good quantum physics? He's listed on Wikipedia as an expert in the field.

As to the book, there are a couple of book reviews on the net:

http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/ ... ausal.html

http://sciconrev.org/2007/06/a-review-o ... -observer/

As to the word science, here's another quote from his book:

For the word 'science' comes from the Latin word 'scire', 'to know', and what the founders of the new [orthodox quantum] theory claimed, basically, is that the proper subject matter of science is not what may or may not be 'out there', unobserved and unknown to human beings. It is rather what we human beings can know, and can do in order to know more. [...] The focus of the theory was shifted from one that basically ignored our knowledge to one that is about our knowledge, and about the effects of the actions that we take to acquire more knowledge upon what we are able to know.


I don't know, it sounds like quite an important topic from a Buddhist point of view...

The book is mainly for lay people, that's why I chose it; I'm not really interested in the equations so much as the framework. Here's a list of several of his papers, one mentioned by lazy_eye:

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/stappfiles.html

Another that looks interesting from a Buddhist point of view is his paper on "Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory with Personality Survival":

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/Compatibility.doc

In this paper he mentions the book Irreducible Mind by Edward Kelly et al., the people who have continued Ian Stevenson's work. That book, some 800 pages in length (and sitting on my desk half-read) is another interesting look at the problem of materialistic reductionism:

The irrational incredulity that remains characteristic of mainstream scientific opinion in this area seems to us a remarkable anomaly that will provide abundant and challenging grist for the mills of future historians and sociologists of science. Sufficient high-quality evidence has long since been available, we believe, to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt the existence of the basic "paranormal" phenomena, at least for those willing to study that evidence with an open mind.

p. xxvi, Irreducible Mind


m0rl0ck wrote:I still dont understand why its so important to force buddhist teaching into congruence with quantum physics or vice versa. It either works or it doesnt and if it does, who cares what physics thinks?


Most of the modern world cares what physics thinks, no? I've found this sort of thing immensely helpful to bring Buddhism into the modern world; old wine in new bottles, as they say, just as when we use modern addiction theory as a framework for explaining tanha. The framework is incredibly important for proper transmission of the dhamma - the medium is the message, and all that.

m0rl0ck wrote:Does anyone really still beleive this? Even after all the recent data showing that the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain? Amazing.


Oh, yes, indeed. Is it really surprising that people should hold on to their views even when the truth is staring them in the face? Even Einstein called the observer-caused collapse of the quantum wave "mystical and anti-scientific". These are the same adjectives modern scientists use to describe Buddhist meditation.
User avatar
yuttadhammo
 
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:03 pm
Location: Sri Lanka

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby m0rl0ck » Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:06 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:I still dont understand why its so important to force buddhist teaching into congruence with quantum physics or vice versa. It either works or it doesnt and if it does, who cares what physics thinks?


Most of the modern world cares what physics thinks, no? I've found this sort of thing immensely helpful to bring Buddhism into the modern world; old wine in new bottles, as they say, just as when we use modern addiction theory as a framework for explaining tanha. The framework is incredibly important for proper transmission of the dhamma - the medium is the message, and all that.



Yes i guess you are right, i tend to look at it from a practitioners viewpoint. I dont know if i really believe tho that someone who wanted an explaination in terms of physics is likely to be serious about the dharma. I usually see the appeal to physics from buddhists who are looking to (i suppose) support their viewpoint.

m0rl0ck wrote:Does anyone really still beleive this? Even after all the recent data showing that the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain? Amazing.

Oh, yes, indeed. Is it really surprising that people should hold on to their views even when the truth is staring them in the face? Even Einstein called the observer-caused collapse of the quantum wave "mystical and anti-scientific". These are the same adjectives modern scientists use to describe Buddhist meditation.


Well hopefully that attitude is being eroded by current research, even without an appeal to physics, you cant ignore that mere intention is capable of altering physical reality, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 215950.htm
Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
User avatar
m0rl0ck
 
Posts: 1009
Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:51 am

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Viscid » Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:16 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:I usually see the appeal to physics from buddhists who are looking to (i suppose) support their viewpoint.


And perhaps, (if they aren't clinging to tradition) to better understand their viewpoint.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
User avatar
Viscid
 
Posts: 893
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:55 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby yuttadhammo » Sat Sep 25, 2010 7:07 pm

m0rl0ck wrote:Well hopefully that attitude is being eroded by current research, even without an appeal to physics, you cant ignore that mere intention is capable of altering physical reality, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 215950.htm

I think the problem is that without quantum physics, the assertion that the mind is actually affecting the body is ostensibly unfalsifiable - you can't come to an empirically-based conclusion whether it is actually the mind altering the physical reality, or a physical reality prompting both the alteration as well as an "illusion of conscious effort" (a la Stapp). QP seems to provide proof in ways that studies on the effects of meditation cannot.

Obviously, the better answer from a Buddhist point of view would be a version of Descartes, "je pense, donc je suis". Since it is readily apparent that the mind does exist, and readily apparent that it is affecting the physical realm, as Stapp says, "why should causally inert consciousness exist at all, and massively deceive us about its nature and function?" (MU, p. 50) Unfortunately, i think that answer is only acceptable to those who, like Descartes, have done some meditation. I would think it somewhat useful to present Buddhism to a broader audience, including those people who currently think of meditation as simply a means of relaxation, or worse a sort of "newage (rhymes, as I am told, with sewage) pseudoscience." This seems somewhat akin to what the Buddha himself did in Hindu society, by explaining his realizations in terms of Brahmanic theory.

Anyway, I'm no expert, I just thought to offer a resource that seems useful in bringing Theravada to the modern world; if it is found preferable to stick solely to Abhidhammic, or even Suttanta-based theories and explanations that seem clearly directed towards Brahmanic society, then so be it.
User avatar
yuttadhammo
 
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:03 pm
Location: Sri Lanka

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Ben » Sat Sep 25, 2010 8:20 pm

yuttadhammo wrote:
Ben wrote:Yes, but is it good science?

I suppose that depends what you mean by science.

I beg your pardon?
Bhante, I think its a good idea to remain skeptical of anything, however well written, if it appeals to our sensibilities. Just because the book seems to support Buddhist notions, doesn't make it a good book.
Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the natural world.[1][2][3][4]
--www.wikipedia.org

Its a bit of a mistake to confuse science with materialism.

yuttadhammo wrote:As to the book, there are a couple of book reviews on the net:

All well and good, but the only review that's of any value that will help determine the reliability of the science is a peer review.
Scholarly peer review (also known as refereeing) is the process of subjecting an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field, before a paper describing this work is published in a journal. Peer review requires a community of experts in a given (and often narrowly defined) field, who are qualified and able to perform impartial review.
--www.wikipedia.org


yuttadhammo wrote:As to the word science, here's another quote from his book:
For the word 'science' comes from the Latin word 'scire', 'to know', and what the founders of the new [orthodox quantum] theory claimed, basically, is that the proper subject matter of science is not what may or may not be 'out there', unobserved and unknown to human beings. It is rather what we human beings can know, and can do in order to know more. [...] The focus of the theory was shifted from one that basically ignored our knowledge to one that is about our knowledge, and about the effects of the actions that we take to acquire more knowledge upon what we are able to know.

From my very uneducated pov, this looks more like new-ageism than science.

yuttadhammo wrote:I don't know, it sounds like quite an important topic from a Buddhist point of view...
I think its far more important, as a Buddhist, to treat anything - especially if it appeals to your Buddhist sensibilities with analytical objectivity. Follow the evidence!


yuttadhammo wrote:The book is mainly for lay people, that's why I chose it; I'm not really interested in the equations so much as the framework.

i'm not agains't books for lay-people.


yuttadhammo wrote:Another that looks interesting from a Buddhist point of view is his paper on "Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory with Personality Survival":

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/Compatibility.doc

In this paper he mentions the book Irreducible Mind by Edward Kelly et al., the people who have continued Ian Stevenson's work. That book, some 800 pages in length (and sitting on my desk half-read) is another interesting look at the problem of materialistic reductionism:

Stevenson has been discredited.
yuttadhammo wrote:
The irrational incredulity that remains characteristic of mainstream scientific opinion in this area seems to us a remarkable anomaly that will provide abundant and challenging grist for the mills of future historians and sociologists of science. Sufficient high-quality evidence has long since been available, we believe, to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt the existence of the basic "paranormal" phenomena, at least for those willing to study that evidence with an open mind.
p. xxvi, Irreducible Mind

An interesting quote, Bhante. The man should,in the words of Eddie McGuire "Show me the money". If he has sufficient high-quality evidence then he should submit his work for peer review. If he doesn't, or if his work is discredited by his peers, then its a pretty good indication that something is wrong with it.

yuttadhammo wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:I still dont understand why its so important to force buddhist teaching into congruence with quantum physics or vice versa. It either works or it doesnt and if it does, who cares what physics thinks?


Most of the modern world cares what physics thinks, no? I've found this sort of thing immensely helpful to bring Buddhism into the modern world; old wine in new bottles, as they say, just as when we use modern addiction theory as a framework for explaining tanha. The framework is incredibly important for proper transmission of the dhamma - the medium is the message, and all that.

Its more like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

yuttadhammo wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:Does anyone really still beleive this? Even after all the recent data showing that the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain? Amazing.


Oh, yes, indeed. Is it really surprising that people should hold on to their views even when the truth is staring them in the face?

And how exactly, Bhante, are you determining what is truth?

yuttadhammo wrote:Even Einstein called the observer-caused collapse of the quantum wave "mystical and anti-scientific". These are the same adjectives modern scientists use to describe Buddhist meditation.
Sorry, but this is just an appeal to authority and is patently wrong. The fact is that Buddhist meditation has entered the mainstream as mindfulness meditation and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Its no longer seen by the scientific community, particularly the health sciences, as "mystical and anti-scientific".
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16046
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:59 pm

m0rl0ck wrote: I usually see the appeal to physics from buddhists who are looking to (i suppose) support their viewpoint.


Personally I don't think it's a bad thing to challenge what has become a sort of default view, namely that science has solved consciousness and the solution is materialism. To me, the critique is more interesting when it comes from people who have some professional credibility, either in philosophy or science -- as opposed to the various new-agey popularizers out there.

But yeah, I agree that if someone is looking to physics because they want to be able to say "science supports Buddhism, bwah hah hah!", they're not going to find themselves on very firm ground. The theory which "supports Buddhism" will be supplanted a few years down the road; what then?
User avatar
Lazy_eye
 
Posts: 808
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:23 pm
Location: Laurel, MD

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby yuttadhammo » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:07 am

Ben wrote:Bhante, I think its a good idea to remain skeptical of anything, however well written, if it appeals to our sensibilities. Just because the book seems to support Buddhist notions, doesn't make it a good book.
Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is an enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the natural world.[1][2][3][4]
--www.wikipedia.org


When did I say it's a good book just because it supports Buddhist notions? It's a good book because Stapp is an accomplished quantum physicist whose work accords with what is verifiable in experiental reality. To me, as a Buddhist, that is important. What's wrong with that?
Its a bit of a mistake to confuse science with materialism.

Indeed. But that is what most people do. I was referring to the kind of "methodolatry" that has dominated science for much of the past century, where if it cannot be proven in material-based laboratory experiments, then it is not scientific. Actually, it looks like Stapp's theories even stand up to such a test. Again, not being an expert, I'm in a poor position to judge. I'm not trying to argue with you, and I think you're missing the point that the great thing about this book is it offers a way to explain Buddhism to scientists. Stapp's explanations provide a valid description of physics that accords with the experientially realizable truth found in Buddhist meditation. To me that is a great thing.
yuttadhammo wrote:As to the book, there are a couple of book reviews on the net:

All well and good, but the only review that's of any value that will help determine the reliability of the science is a peer review.
Scholarly peer review (also known as refereeing) is the process of subjecting an author's scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field, before a paper describing this work is published in a journal. Peer review requires a community of experts in a given (and often narrowly defined) field, who are qualified and able to perform impartial review.
--www.wikipedia.org


Okay, so when you find a peer review that discredits his work, let me know. I apologize for offering what reviews there are available for basic information about the book. Why are we arguing about this? You make it sound like I have just claimed that the work of Henry Stapp is the correct and only correct interpretation of QP. I didn't do anything of the sort. I'm just pointing out a resource that might be useful to the Buddhist community in terms of getting a sense of how the teachings of the Buddha can be found to fit in nicely with modern scientific theory. But since you're using Wikipedia,

After receiving his PhD in particle physics at the University of California, Berkeley, under the supervision of Nobel Laureates Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain, Stapp moved to ETH Zurich to do post-doctoral work under Wolfgang Pauli. During this period he composed an article called 'Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics', which he never sent for publication, but would become the title of his 1993 book. When Pauli died in 1958, Stapp transferred to Munich, now in the company of Werner Heisenberg. While making important contributions to, inter alia, the analysis of proton-proton scattering and the development of analytic S-matrix theory, Stapp is perhaps most well known for his ongoing work in the foundations of quantum mechanics, with particular focus on explicating the role and nature of consciousness. He is also an expert on Bell's Theorem, having solved problems related to non-locality presented by John Bell and Albert Einstein.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Stapp


yuttadhammo wrote:As to the word science, here's another quote from his book:
For the word 'science' comes from the Latin word 'scire', 'to know', and what the founders of the new [orthodox quantum] theory claimed, basically, is that the proper subject matter of science is not what may or may not be 'out there', unobserved and unknown to human beings. It is rather what we human beings can know, and can do in order to know more. [...] The focus of the theory was shifted from one that basically ignored our knowledge to one that is about our knowledge, and about the effects of the actions that we take to acquire more knowledge upon what we are able to know.

From my very uneducated pov, this looks more like new-ageism than science.

Then I recommend you educate yourself by reading this book, since the "founders" he is talking about, and whom he quotes as saying these things, are people like Bohr, Pauli and Heisenberg, who certainly have had their work peer reviewed.

"The conception of objective reality of the elementary particles has thus evaporated not into the cloud of some obscure new reality concept but into the transparent clarity of a mathematics that represents no longer the behavior of particles but rather our knowledge of this behavior." -- Heisenberg

Incidentally, you have just provided support for my point below, that most people still look at this sort of wisdom as "new-ageism".

yuttadhammo wrote:I don't know, it sounds like quite an important topic from a Buddhist point of view...
I think its far more important, as a Buddhist, to treat anything - especially if it appeals to your Buddhist sensibilities with analytical objectivity. Follow the evidence!

Then we are talking past each other. I have been saying again and again how from my understanding of reality, the evidence is clearly in support of Stapp's (and Heisenberg's and Bohr's) words. If you are accusing me of subjectivity, I fear you have little to go on from my words.
yuttadhammo wrote:The book is mainly for lay people, that's why I chose it; I'm not really interested in the equations so much as the framework.

i'm not agains't books for lay-people.

By this I mean non-scientists, and again, I wasn't trying to start an argument, just point out its usefulness to people like me (and you?).


yuttadhammo wrote:Another that looks interesting from a Buddhist point of view is his paper on "Compatibility of Contemporary Physical Theory with Personality Survival":

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/Compatibility.doc

In this paper he mentions the book Irreducible Mind by Edward Kelly et al., the people who have continued Ian Stevenson's work. That book, some 800 pages in length (and sitting on my desk half-read) is another interesting look at the problem of materialistic reductionism:

Stevenson has been discredited.

lol. Yes, your four words make it so. His work was far from perfect, and many flaws were to be found, but the problem is not his methods, it is that his work wasn't performed in a laboratory and thus is unacceptable to the methodolatrists. Read Life Before Life; it explains in great detail how difficult it would be to actually discredit the work done by Stevenson and those who followed.

And regardless, the book doesn't have much at all to do with Stevenson's own work. It draws mostly from the work of Fredrick Myers and William James, showing how Myers' description of the mind is far more valid than later materialist explanations. I assume you don't intend to discredit the entire Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia? These are the people who wrote this book:

http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinic ... /home-page

yuttadhammo wrote:
The irrational incredulity that remains characteristic of mainstream scientific opinion in this area seems to us a remarkable anomaly that will provide abundant and challenging grist for the mills of future historians and sociologists of science. Sufficient high-quality evidence has long since been available, we believe, to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt the existence of the basic "paranormal" phenomena, at least for those willing to study that evidence with an open mind.
p. xxvi, Irreducible Mind

An interesting quote, Bhante. The man should,in the words of Eddie McGuire "Show me the money". If he has sufficient high-quality evidence then he should submit his work for peer review. If he doesn't, or if his work is discredited by his peers, then its a pretty good indication that something is wrong with it.

I don't understand... if you have some knowledge of his being discredited or refusing to submit his papers for peer review, I'm really keen to hear about it, but it doesn't change the fact that what he says is in line with both meditative experience and the founders of quantum physics. Until then, you can look at the list of papers I mentioned in an earlier post and tell me if they are sufficient:

http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/stappfiles.html

He has written over 300 technical and mathematical published papers on quantum physics.
yuttadhammo wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:I still dont understand why its so important to force buddhist teaching into congruence with quantum physics or vice versa. It either works or it doesnt and if it does, who cares what physics thinks?


Most of the modern world cares what physics thinks, no? I've found this sort of thing immensely helpful to bring Buddhism into the modern world; old wine in new bottles, as they say, just as when we use modern addiction theory as a framework for explaining tanha. The framework is incredibly important for proper transmission of the dhamma - the medium is the message, and all that.

Its more like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole.

Sounds something akin to the non-overlapping majesteria argument presented by theists:

Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) is the view advocated by Stephen Jay Gould that "science and religion do not glower at each other...[but] interdigitate in patterns of complex fingering, and at every fractal scale of self-similarity."[1] He suggests, with examples, that "NOMA enjoys strong and fully explicit support, even from the primary cultural stereotypes of hard-line traditionalism" and that it is "a sound position of general consensus, established by long struggle among people of goodwill in both magisteria."[1]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-overlapping_magisteria


I am sorry you feel it necessary to compartmentalize these two important subjects, refusing to see the overlap. Or maybe you just like to argue?
yuttadhammo wrote:
m0rl0ck wrote:Does anyone really still beleive this? Even after all the recent data showing that the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain? Amazing.


Oh, yes, indeed. Is it really surprising that people should hold on to their views even when the truth is staring them in the face?

And how exactly, Bhante, are you determining what is truth?

Ha. I feel like I'm on trial... I am clearly expressing my agreement that, as Morlock says, "the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain" and as you say, "Buddhist meditation has entered the mainstream as mindfulness meditation and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy", and yet you still feel the need to attack me, as though I am proposing some special truth... I'm sorry for that.
yuttadhammo wrote:Even Einstein called the observer-caused collapse of the quantum wave "mystical and anti-scientific". These are the same adjectives modern scientists use to describe Buddhist meditation.
Sorry, but this is just an appeal to authority and is patently wrong. The fact is that Buddhist meditation has entered the mainstream as mindfulness meditation and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Its no longer seen by the scientific community, particularly the health sciences, as "mystical and anti-scientific".

No, it is perfectly true... Einstein couldn't accepted orthodox quantum theory, calling it "positivistic" and indeed "mystical and anti-scientific". He did finally admit that "statistical quantum theory [...] is the only theory at present which permits a unitary grasp of experiences concerning the quantum character of micro-mechanical events." And it was not an appeal to authority, just an example of how even brilliant minds have a hard time accepting new ideas.

And it is also perfectly true and verifiable that the scientific community in general is still at odds with Buddhist meditation; the fact that health scientists are able to verify its stress reduction potential is a far stretch from showing that the scientific community as a whole (or even a modest majority) accepts meditation as an objective examination of reality, which of course they still do not.

I'm sorry you weren't able to catch the gist of what I was saying. I think next time I'll just keep my discoveries to myself :)
User avatar
yuttadhammo
 
Posts: 143
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:03 pm
Location: Sri Lanka

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby chownah » Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:32 pm

Seems like Stapp is doing alot of theorizing built upon theorizing built upon theorizing......like a house of cards...card upon card upon card. I haven't been able to get to the bottom to see what actual experience has lead him in this direction and if there have been discoveries along the way which have added to its basis.

Here is someone who has opinions on the Stapp's ideas and some related ideas...seems to me that his ideas seem to be more closely relaed to actual experience....I think....
On the Work of Henry P. Stapp. *
Matthew J. Donald
The Cavendish Laboratory, JJ Thomson Avenue,
Cambridge CB3 0HE, Great Britain.
e-mail: mjd1014@cam.ac.uk
web site: http://www.bss.phy.cam.ac.uk/˜mjd1014

Here's a link to the article:

http://www.bss.phy.cam.ac.uk/~mjd1014/stapp.pdf


chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2624
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:18 pm

For those who feel lost in a discussion of this quantum type stuff and would like a beginners explanation of what this kind of topic is about I have posted below a link to a youtube animation called "Dr Quantum - Double Slit Experiment ".....it explains in a fairly understandable way how an experiment that was actually carried out in the physical world has lead to the idea that perhaps it is an observer which creates the structure of the physical world. I have ideas about a different interpretation of this experiment but will not present it here unless there is renewed interest in this topic.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc

chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2624
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:00 pm

I, for one, find the interplay of science and Buddhism, a fascinating subject. While most of the modern attempts may well be open to a lot of criticism, people like Stapp are pioneers and I have faith that a new paradigm will eventually emerge that will encompass the facts of science as well as of the world of the mind known since ancient times.

It is easy to shoot down new ideas seeing as they are only just hatched and not quite able to walk let alone fly, but one should perhaps try to see the potential inherent in some of them. Criticism can be constructive, not just destructive.
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2626
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Individual » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:29 pm

I haven't found anything yet in QM to convince me of a "participating observer".

We can't directly observe superpositions because (as the theory goes) as soon as any system is measured, the wave-function collapses into a single result. Some people speculate that this collapse results from a participating observer, but without being able to go back and do the same experiment again, there is no way to scientifically verify whether it is the experimenter causing the collapse or the nature of the system itself. You could, for the sake of further research, assume it's one or the other, but without a way to prove it nobody will take your interpretation seriously. We don't even know, for instance, whether calculating superpositions is just an abstract tool used to get results or whether superpositions actually show the world is fundamentally indeterministic. There are a variety of ways to interpret it and in my opinion, the safest interpretation is the one that involves the least assumptions.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Dan74 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:13 pm

Well there are also those French coupled photons experiments - quantum entangling, or as Einstein derisively called it "spooky action at a distance".
_/|\_
User avatar
Dan74
 
Posts: 2626
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby chownah » Wed Sep 29, 2010 2:02 pm

For those wondering what the heck "quantum entanglement" is.....here's a video again featuring Dr. Quantum....


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh8uZUzu ... re=related

chownah
chownah
 
Posts: 2624
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics & Participating Observer

Postby Euclid » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:31 pm

First off, allow me to preface my post by saying that I am training to be a physicist (second year undergrad BSc). There's quite a bit I'd like to say here (mainly because I enjoy talking about physics), but I'm not sure where to start.

chownah wrote:For those wondering what the heck "quantum entanglement" is.....here's a video again featuring Dr. Quantum....


This video is correct(-ish) up until about 45 seconds into it. Quantum entanglement definitely exists, but it is totally wrong to say everything was created in the big bang. The majority of matter we encounter (all matter which isn't hydrogen, which admittedly is the most abundant element in the universe) was created via stellar nucleosynthesis, so no, not everything in the universe is entangled (not even close to it).

Individual wrote:I haven't found anything yet in QM to convince me of a "participating observer".


I personally feel that the double-slit experiment is fairly convincing. If you interact with the photons, then they act as particles; leave them alone and they act as waves. There's also lots of evidence for the Shroedinger wave equation, too; this famous picture is great evidence for the wave equation (the vertical displacement, the y axis, is essentially the number of electrons found per unit measurement. The wave-like ripple within the atomic cage is exactly what the equation predicts)

Image

m0rl0ck wrote:Does anyone really still beleive this? Even after all the recent data showing that the mind can alter the function and physical structure of the brain? Amazing.


This is the kind of language which makes things very difficult. What is 'the mind'? It is gestalt brain activity. So when we talk of saying how 'the mind' can change the physical structure of the brain, what actually is it specifically that we are talking about?

The whole understanding of QM and how it relates to the mind is, in my eyes, fundamentally misguided. QM demonstrates that we do not live in a deterministic world, but nothing much aside from this. Quantum interactions occur on the quantum level - ie, not on a macroscopic scale. The interactions which occur are truly random - you cannot 'will' the interactions to have any greater outcome. The same quantum interactions which occur between 'the mind' and 'the outside world' are just the same interactions that occur between a piece of toast and the plate it's sitting on.
Euclid
 
Posts: 200
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:33 am
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Next

Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests