Does matter exist? Revisited
This is in response to a hub done by Spirit Whisperer: http://hubpages.com/hub/Does-Matter-Exist
He didn’t leave his hub open to comment so in rebuttal I had to write a hub on the subject myself. Not that I mind. I somewhat cover this topic in the first hub I ever posted here: Observer Driven Reality Check.
I have to say at the outset that I agree with a lot of what he has to say on the subject, but I come to rather a different conclusion from the same evidence. I also want to say I respect him and his thoughts.
I will use his outline and titles to make the comparison of opinions clearer.
Opinions are not truth
“It doesn't matter how eloquent or beautiful an opinion like Quantum Mechanics or Relativity might be they are still opinions and ultimately fall short and fail to explain the Universe the Scientists are so keen to understand.
It doesn't matter how many people support an opinion to the degree that it is classed as a justifiable belief, in my books an opinion is still not truth.” - Spirit Whisperer.
I agree completely with the statement that opinion is not truth. However, QM and Relativity are not just opinions; they are models of reality based on experiment and observation. Science does not pretend to have all the answers yet and it knows it falls short of explaining reality. Hence the reason it continues to revisit models it has created and updates them on a regular basis. A model is not reality but it may represent reality if it actually reflects reality. That is to say a model has to be able to make predictions about behaviour and it has to explain it in logical terms.
QM makes exceptionally accurate predictions about the behaviour of the quantum, and we use those predictions in technology which is revolutionizing our way of life. Relativity has been proven true every time it has been tested and it has been tested most vigorously by people who wanted it to, or expected it to fail.
Why the quantum behaves as it does is still a mystery. But we can know how it behaves so we have a way to find the answer to why. Relativity may be shown to have flaws in the future, but that is to be expected. No answer in science is the final answer. Theories are built on as new evidence come to light. For example, the model of Evolution has changed a lot since it was first introduced by Darwin. But it is the details we discover over time while the basic model remains the framework. In other words, Darwin did not have the last word on the subject and he knew he didn’t. Same with Relativity and QM. They are works in progress.
Another thing Spirit Whisperer mentioned was the idea that no matter how many people believe something to be true, they will never make it true by their belief. He phrases it as: “It doesn't matter how many people support an opinion to the degree that it is classed as a justifiable belief, in my books an opinion is still not truth.”
I couldn’t agree more. Reality is not based on consensus or authority. Something either is true or it is not. It does not matter how many people believe it is true. If it is not then no amount of belief on its own will make it become true. But this opinion, which Spirit Whisperer is espousing as most of us do, is a problem for his whole line of thought; and I will show you how.
In general there are two opinions about reality. The one being put forth by Spirit Whisperer is that reality is created by mind. The other is that there is an underlying reality which mind, though unable to fully grasp due its subjective nature, can be observed and discovered. The underlying reality is objective and not directly, or at least very marginally affected by thought alone.
Yet if reality were created by thought as Spirit Whisperer and others who promote this idea of observer driven reality suggest, then it would seem that belief should affect reality directly. Truth would be relative to perspective. There would be no objective truth at all. And this is what Fredrick Nietzsche believed and thus started a philosophical school of thought known as Perspectivism.
Certainly seen in this light it seems that the opinion that consensus does not create reality seems to be a contradiction to the notion that reality is thought based.
Generating Right Brain Activity
“I then explain by means of a metaphor how I view the scientific approach to seeking truth by saying it is like asking a computer to describe its user.
Making a statement like this throws the analytical thinker into turmoil because it requires right brain activity and up to this point they have been tucked in safely behind their logical thinking comfort zone content with their limited knowledge.
I am now asking for both right and left brain to participate in the discussion.” - Spirit Whisperer.
Actually I would say it is more like the computer trying to describe itself. After all, we all not only live in reality we are part of it. But let’s stick with the computer/user analogy. The computer would have a good idea of what the user’s mentality is by observing what it forces the computer to do. What the user writes on the internet. What they buy or look at or the information they look for. In other words, by what they do. .
What is a thing besides what it does? This is our problem. We can never talk about what something is directly. The word Electricity conveys a concept. It tells us about a real phenomenon. We use it every day. But what is it? We can describe it accurately as electrons moving through a wire. But what is an electron? We can tell you what it does in several different ways. But you can always come back to ask: What is it? As deep in the explanation as you want to go you never get to what it is. You only get to what it does, how it behaves, how it behaves in relation to other things and its physical attributes. But never to what it is. Or is what it does what it is? A friend of mine once observed correctly: “We can never talk about something. We can only talk around it.”
Science cannot tell us what something is beyond what it does and what its physical characteristics are. What is a human cannot be come to outside of what its biology is and how it behaves relative to other things. So if the computer was sufficiently advanced it could know more about the user than the user does just by observation and reaching rational and logical conclusions about them, and perhaps eventually predict it’s individual users behaviour accurately through statistical analysis.
But what is Spirit whisperer trying to say by right brain left brain? An internet medical journal says this:
“The right brain hemisphere processes information from the whole to the parts. In other words, it sees the "big picture" before the details. It's the part of the brain that deals with subjective skills and creative abilities. This hemisphere of the brain helps solve problems via hunches, examining patterns and similarities.
The left brain hemisphere processes information from parts to the whole, taking pieces of data in an orderly arrangement before drawing conclusions. It's the side of the brain that functions in rational thinking, rather than intuition. This left side of the brain works with definite and established information, solving problems logically and sequentially.”
Now I posted this so as not to have to write it all out in my own words, and because it conveys exactly my understanding of the situation as it is now thought to be.
So Spirit Whisperer is asking us to use intuition as well as logic. Of course I would argue that any good thinker does that. Intuition and logic actually go hand in hand. What drives us to do research is the intuition that there is something to find. A critical thinker cross references information in both directions. You have to make sure things make sense in both directions; that is to say from parts to the whole and from the whole to its parts. For information to be fact, both parts and whole have to match.
But intuition is a tool like logic is. Intuition is also known as instinct. As spirit Whisperer points out, language is the vocalization of thought. But language is much more than that. What is thought without a way to communicate concepts, even just to yourself? One of the main reasons we are so advanced mentally is because we have a method of creating and standardizing complex concepts through the use of models or symbols. A word can mean one thing or it can be a complex combination of ideas, like the word religion.
So is what meant by instinct? Instinct is raw natural reaction usually associated with ideas like the fight or flight response. But most of us will agree that once we know more about a subject or a danger, we can modify our response and act outside instinct.
But that is not possible. We have to act on instinct in all cases because thought is too slow. If you think about every move you make on a bike you will fall off or crash into a parked car. If a kung fu master had to think while he was fighting he would be paralyzed. So what thought is for, is educating the instinctive response.
Same goes for the hunch or the intuitive. The intuitive is educated through logical deliberation. The more rational and logical the better it works when it is needed.
So yes. We must use both sides of the brain. But it is a common mistake to believe critical thinkers only use the left side of the brain. It is also a mistake to concentrate on the right side as so many mystics and religious people do. We need the instinctive, but we can’t use it raw. It needs to be educated and we do that best through logical thought.
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
“Just as quickly, I return them to their comfort zone and talk about Werner Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle explaining how the act of observation affects the results of all experiments. I bring in Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle here because I want to show how scientists continues to chase after clouds even when the evidence is staring them right in the face telling them that they have reached a cul-de-sac.” - Spirit Whisperer
Here is my problem. The double slit experiment is the root of the idea of Observer driven reality in the modern age. It is likely the most misunderstood and misrepresented idea in all of physics. Again, my Hub called Observer Driven Reality Check goes into great detail about this subject so I won’t repeat it all here. But the main point of the matter is that no one actually observed anything. A sensor is added to the equation and it changes the nature and results of the experiment. That is all that can be concluded. A sensor is not a human observer, so perhaps we should conclude that sensors are sentient and have wills of their own? I don't think so.
The uncertainty principal does not rise or fall by the idea that the observer directly affects all experiments and contrary to popular belief Schrodinger wrote his cat analogy as way of criticizing the idea and showing how absurd it is that it appeared to be true.
There are dozens of alternative explanations as to why the double slit experiments with a sensor show what they show. Included in those is the Feynman theory of “all possible histories”. There is no particle wave duality. A particle takes all possible ways to get to through a double slit and creates interference with itself creating results that look like a wave, Hawking favours this model and it explains the reality we see just as well as Heisenberg did.
But there are dozens of explanations and models now. As Spirit Whisperer would surely agree, they can’t all be truth. And his idea that the Copenhagen interpretation is the right one could be seen as an argument from authority, which is just as much fallacy as the argument from consensus.
It either is true or it is not. Just because many people prefer the idea of observer driven reality doesn’t make it the truth.
Again, all these interpretations are just models of what we observe with QM. But QM does not rely on any one model or indeed any model at all. It is a mathematical tool that does not contain any interpretation in its matrix.
The truth is, we do not know what is going on yet or why. But we can predict the behaviour of the quantum world very well with QM. That is the only truth of the matter at this point in time. Anything else is pure speculation including all known interpretations.
Spirit Whisperer and I agree that all is connected. All fields of science point this out rather dramatically. But we do not agree that there is a universal mind. So far there is no logical reason to assume there is. It is one thing to follow a hunch but it is another to assume your hunch is right before you have concrete evidence for it.
He asks: Is it therefore such a leap in thinking to hold look at yourself in the mirror and appreciate that your physical body is a creation of mind materialised out of the vibration of thought?
To me it is a leap. It is as good as saying we don’t exist. We are a product of mind. This leads inevitably to the extreme idea that there is nothing but mind. The universe is a manifestation of a cosmic mind, existing only in that universal mind and we as individuals are also illusions of or a product of that mind. We have no mind of our own at all, it is part of that one mind.
This is no different than the Hindu belief that all this and of course all of us, exist only in god’s dream. And while Spirit Whisperer may not have meant the idea to go to this extreme, it goes there naturally on its own. It is implied in the idea of observer driven reality.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am under no delusion that what we see is all there is. It is obvious that from the perspective of the quantum world a human does not look like a human. It would likely be hard to tell where a human starts and where the outside ends. And it is not like I am saying we are really solid individuals.
It is obvious that we are a collection of atoms and cells. An ever changing system. And it is likely that the only thing which gives us continuity as individuals is memory. It is likely that the “I” or self is shaped by needs, imperfect senses, and an illusion of complete isolation. But we are truly individuals at the same time.
My problem is with assuming that the subjective is all there is.
Matter is thought materialised
“We are stuck in the illusion because we choose to believe in the illusion that keeps us separate and in conflict. We continue to hold fast to beliefs that no longer serve us and in doing so we imagine that matter really exists because the mind that created the illusion continues to feed us the thoughts that maintain the illusion and protect the ego which is its ultimate goal.
Matter is an illusion created by mind and the stuff of matter is thought. It is the frequency of thought that dictates the appearance of matter. The connection between thought and matter is clearly demonstrated by science which has shown that when we interact with matter through observation we affect it. I also propose that we also create it.”
We do affect matter with thought, but not by thought alone. We think and then we have to reach out and do something in order for our thoughts to become reality. Does our “thought vibration” affect matter all on its own? It is not without possibility. Thought is a quantum process as well as a material process. In fact it is the quantum that makes matter. But the strange quantum effects are filtered out by the process of mergers which turn the micro in to the macro. This was also something predicted by Heisenberg and the uncertainty principal. According to him we should never see quantum strangeness in the macro world.
What we do see are the laws of chaos which are a direct result of the quantum, and a manifestation of those strange non-local events having influence in local events. The Butterfly Effect is one good example. The fact that opposites cancels out is another.
Chaos breeds order. That’s the strange thing we have found about the macro which corresponds exactly to the micro.
But whatever influence thought alone might have on the macro world through the micro, it is mitigated by events not happening due to a mind, and is likely minimal at best.
What I am saying is that there is one reality, but it is a combination of all layers of reality. It is a combination of objective and subjective. The perspective of the mind can either reflect the underlying reality or it can ignore reality and create its own. But its own interpretations of reality can be dead wrong. Spirit Whisperer would no doubt agree.
The problem with saying that there is no objective reality is that people saying it are telling us it is objectively true. That makes no sense. We see truth as objective, so telling us there is no objectivity is saying there is no truth. This negates the possibility that their statements are true by default. You can see the problem with that line of thinking. And again, I address this in the Hub Observer Driven Reality Check.
That’s what we are looking for, the objective truth, Subjectivity is part of that but it isn’t all there is. If it was then nothing would make sense. Science might as well pack up and go home. In fact, Bell asked this very question. Is there a realty to study? His conclusion through experiment was that there is.
So yes. Matter exists outside the mind and its existence is not due to mind. Rather mind is due to matter/energy which is the only substance that exists and which all things are formed from. That at least, is the working model the findings of science imply. If that was not the case we would live in a universe where our wish was its command. We would all be rich and healthy just by believing we are. But it doesn’t work that way. The mind and body have to work together. The subjective and objective are part of all humans. The left and right brain have to be used together in critical thinking. Thought is a tool for educating the instinctive and the intuitive. Without "doing", thought is a prisoner.