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Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves: Book Review

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I, too, became aware of Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves shortly after he introduced the theory. The virtue of his approach is that he is talking about real waves interacting with real particles. I've also read up on Bohm's theory. I have a background in physics, a B.A., and I do know that the currently accepted quantum theory with no real waves cannot be true. The mathematics work, but I think the devil is in the details of the explanation of why the mathematics work -- similar to Einstein's equations.

While I think the backwards direction of the real waves interacting with real particles in TEW seems promising in many experiments that he discusses, I've never been able to figure out why there is a wave interference pattern on the detector side if the waves are coming from the detector and going to the source for something like the double slit experiment. If the waves are going from the source through the double slits to the detector, an interfering waves pattern is easy to understand. But if the waves are going in the opposite direction, then wouldn't there be a wave interference pattern at the source rather than at the detector or the screen? And it is things like this that I am unable to think through that make me hesitant to say that TEW is correct.

So, at this point in time, I don't think anybody, including Bohm, has the correct interpretation of what is actually happening on the quantum level. Lewis Little seems to be able to explain some things, but not all, according to my understanding of physics.

I think the real problem to identify in quantum mechanics are what are the waves and how do they interact with particles? Throwing out the waves as they do in the Copenhagen interpretation I think ignores the evidence, but I don't know that anyone has gathered the evidence and has presented a good overall theory at this time.

I do plan on getting Lewis Little's book and reading it through, because he does seem to be able to explain some real experiments, but perhaps not all, as I explained above.

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OK, here are some thoughts on Little's rather strange addendum to his book.

To begin with, it was interesting to me that the name of the file that contained this document was "Bohmian non-explanation of Insbruck." (Too bad he misspelled "Innsbruck" here and in the document -- probably an unintended "fix" by the automatic spell-checker.) This (and also the title supplied inside the document itself) suggest that, in his mind, the main purpose of this document is to attack the claim that the explicitly-nonlocal Bohmian theory can explain the data from this experiment. Leaving aside (for now) the fact that all of Little's criticism are completely stupid, it is very curious that Little feels the need to attack Bohm's theory on this point. First, it's not like he hasn't already made it abundantly clear in the book that he rejects Bohm's theory and equates superluminal causation with "magic." And second, why bother? Since 1905, all physicists have regarded superluminal causation as anathema -- as something to be avoided practically at all costs. So, if Little really thought his own theory could account for the data in these experiments in a local way, why would he waste his time "piling on" against non-locality? Why not, instead, just explain (in explicit mathematical detail) how the local explanation works? That he still doesn't do the latter is therefore telling.

On this same point, it is perhaps worth highlighting Little's statement that "TEW might not be the correct explanation of the Insbruck experiment." Little claims, both in the book and here in this "addendum", that the TEW *can* account for the results of these experiments. (Of course, he conspicuously fails to back that claim up with any demonstrative calculation, and it's certain from Bell's theorem that no such calculation could possibly exist, but nevertheless the *claim* is there.) I think everybody understands that a theory which makes the correct prediction for a given experiment could nevertheless be wrong. For example, orthodox QM makes the correct predictions for the Innsbruck experiment, but everybody involved here, at least, agrees that orthodox QM is not true. So if all he means here ( in this confession that "TEW might not be the correct explanation") is that, despite being able to make the right predictions for this and other experiments, it might in principle turn out that TEW is wrong, why bother saying so? It goes without saying. So there must be something else on his mind. What could that be? Perhaps -- and this is admittedly just speculation -- this is his way of appeasing that little voice of honesty in the back of his head -- the part that knows that (even after many years of trying) he is unable to lay out a demonstrative calculation, and instead has to just emptily (and dishonestly) assert that TEW does make the right predictions. That is, maybe -- I would actually say, probably -- what Little actually means when he writes that "TEW might not be the correct explanation of the Insbruck experiment" is this: "Maybe it will turn out that the results of these experiments can never be understood from within the TEW framework."

If that speculation is correct, then that little part in the back of Little's head is right. The results will never be able to be understood from within the TEW framework, because one of the pillars of that framework is the insistence on relativistic local causation, and that is *precisely* what Bell's theorem tells us *must* be given up in order to understand this experimental data.

Which brings us to Little's comments about Bell's theorem in this addendum. I said in my original "book review" that Little obviously doesn't understand (and/or is evasive about) Bell's theorem. That same ignorance/evasion is on further display in the addendum. What his discussion here comes down to is the claim that, in TEW, the physics that determines the eventual outcomes of the two measurements occurs at the source, as opposed to being somehow "carried" by the individual particles as they fly away from the source. (It is interesting that, in the course of this discussion, he appears to be retracting something he said on page 71 of his book -- though the exact identity or scope of the retraction is unclear.) Anyway, why does Little care about this distinction? Because he believes the following:

Bell’s theorem ... maintains that any such explanation necessarily involves a dependence of the state of one photon on that of the other photon. According to quantum mechanics, the state of each photon is created at its polarizer. Any dependence of the state of one photon on that of the other thus necessitates some means by which the states of the photons “communicate” with one another, which communication would have to be nonlocal, as proved by the delayed choice feature of the experiment. But in TEW the state of each photon is created at the source upon emission of the pair. Any relationship between the states of the two photons is thus established locally—at the source.

But this is in fact not what Bell's theorem shows at all. Indeed, far from proving that the state of one photon (just prior to its measurement) must depend on the state of the other photon (at that same instant), the theorem actually *allows* for this kind of non-locality -- and *still* manages to establish that such theories are in conflict with experiment. That is, even the sort of non-locality Little is alluding to here (namely, the individual particles just prior to measurement fail to have their own individual well-defined states, but the state of each one somehow depends on the state of the other, distant one) is *insufficient* to account for what is observed in the experiments. Theories, in short, have to be *really* non-local in order to make the right predictions. That's what Bell's theorem proves. (If you want to understand that in detail, go back and look at the derivation of Bell's theorem I presented in the book review, and notice in particular that the symbol "L" refers to the joint state of the photon pair. Giving each photon its own distinct state is of course an allowed special case of this, and is therefore "covered" by the theorem. But the theorem actually only assumes something weaker, i.e., it allows that maybe you can only -- as in orthodox QM -- give some kind of nonlocal joint state assignment for the pair as a whole.)

If you can follow that, it should then be obvious why Little's rhetoric is so ridiculous. If *even* the sort of theory he describes (by mentioning QM, namely, the sort of theory in which there is some strange sort of nonlocal dependence of the state of one photon on that of the other) is *insufficiently nonlocal* to account for the experimental results, then obviously his own theory (which is supposed to be *fully* local) isn't going to be able to account for them either.

Let me put this another way. Let's make up some terminology for two different sorts of nonlocality -- call them "kinematical nonlocality" (by which I mean the sort of nonlocality in which spatially separated objects sometimes fail to have their own distinct/separate states, but instead must be described by some sort of nonlocal joint state for the multi-object and spatially-extended "whole") and "dynamical nonlocality" (by which I mean some kind of causal influence that propagates from near the measurement interactions on one side, to the measurement interactions on the far side). Bell's theorem proves that, in order to be empirically viable, a theory *must include dynamical nonlocality* -- and this is true whether or not it includes kinematical nonlocality.

Now along comes Little. He says (wrongly) that Bell assumes as a premise that there is kinematical nonlocality. Then he confuses that (falsely alleged) premise with the conclusion of Bell's argument, and infers that what Bell's theorem *proves* is that you have to have kinematical nonlocality. Then he claims that TEW contains no kinematical nonlocality and so is immune to Bell's theorem. It's quite ridiculous. I admit that, for someone without any background in physics, Bell's theorem (and this whole constellation of issues) is tricky and confusing. But it's really not rocket science. It's just a matter of getting clear on the assumptions, understanding how they are motivated by and related to relativity's prohibition on (dynamical!) nonlocality, following a bit of relatively trivial algebra, and then understanding how to relate the theoretical derivation to experimental results. This is all standard stuff for physicists. I cannot believe that Lewis Little (who does, after all, have a PhD in physics) is unable to follow this. But if he is, i.e., if he's really just thoroughly confused about Bell's argument, then, as I said in the essay, he has no business writing on this subject, let alone claiming to have discovered a new gaping loophole in Bell's arguments. And if, as I strongly suspect, he *isn't* that stupid, all of this meandering word salad, designed to obfuscate and distort the truth, is quite vicious.

But let me drop that and just summarize the physics. Consider the version of Bell's theorem I laid out in my essay. Here we assume that there are functions like A(a,L) which describe how a given polarization measurement will come out (H or V, or +1 or -1, or whatever terminology you want to use) depending on the orientation of the polarizer and the physical state of the object being measured (which, remember, is not even just the one impinging photon, but the whole *pair* -- and even including, if you want and think it's relevant, other physical facts which are, say, stored back at the particle source). Just to flesh this out a little, what is being *excluded* here is that the outcome of Alice's measurement (that is: A) should depend on how Bob (remember, at the last possible second!) freely chooses to orient *his* polarizer (that is: b). We also exclude the possibility that A should depend on the *outcome* of Bob's measurement, B, though that is not even really an additional assumption since we are here (for convenience, because it is another axiom of TEW) assuming determinism.

So... does Little want to *deny* that such functions as A(a,L) exist for his theory? This would seem to require rejecting one of the following: (a) determinism, (B) local causality (which manifests itself here precisely in the assumption that Alice's outcome A cannot depend on Bob's last-minute freely-chosen *setting*, b), or © the idea that Alice's outcome depends on facts pertaining to her measuring apparatus (which are covered by a) and facts pertaining to the photon pair and source (which are covered by L). If he wants to deny (a), then we'll just switch to one of the other versions of Bell's theorem that doesn't assume determinism. Given his repeated insistence that a violation of local causality is tantamount to "magic", he can't want to deny (B). So maybe he wants to deny © -- but then, whatever else he wants to say the outcomes depend on, we can just include that in "L" and return to the original argument. (Unless, that is, he wants to say the outcomes depend on something that is so situated spatio-temporally that its inclusion would violate local causality, in which case we're back to denying (B).) There's really just no "out" here. Which I guess is why he resorts to rhetorical obfuscation.

But I'm happy to leave the matter open as a challenge. Somebody who agrees with Little or thinks they understand what he's trying to say here (and so presumably thinks I'm misrepresenting or misinterpreting him) -- please come here and explain it to me. Don't tell me why Bell's theorem doesn't apply. We can worry about that later. Just *demonstrate* that TEW can make the correct predictions for this experiment. And, under the conditions I mentioned earlier (e.g., you can't smuggle in nonlocal causation!), I'll write you a check for a thousand dollars and stand corrected.

Let me now change topics slightly and say something about Little's comments about Bohm's theory and "active information" in particular. The phrase "active information" is something Bohm himself introduced several decades after his original 1952 papers, as a way of talking or thinking about the way that particles are, according to his theory, guided by the associated "pilot wave." The basis for this was the (rather technical) fact that the "force" which the associated wave-field exerts on a particle is independent of the *strength* of the field, but depends only on the *structure* of the field. Bohm analogized this to a ship at sea on auto-pilot, receiving "instructions" on how to move from signals encoded in the surrounding electromagnetic field, which signals had been broadcast (say) by some distant naval station. The idea was that, if the signal is weak (say because there is some fog between the station and the ship), but still strong enough that the ship's equipment can "pick up the station", the ship will still move exactly the same way. That is, the "instructions" are independent of the overall *strength* of the signal, but dependent on the *structure* of the field (i.e., what we humans would describe as the information encoded in it). As opposed to what? Well as opposed to something like the Earth sitting in the gravitational field of the Sun -- the force on the Earth just being proportional to (i.e., exclusively dependent on) the *strength* of the field at its location.

My point in explaining what Bohm meant is just to underscore that this terminology -- "active information" -- was merely a sort of analogy to highlight one interesting aspect of his theory. So it's extremely misleading and unfair for Little to latch onto this terminology as if it was somehow essential to or even constitutive of the theory, and criticize it. And it's even more misleading and unfair to then launch off on a rationalistic tirade about how "information" is a term which cannot be used literally and properly to describe purely physics interactions, and so (Little concludes) Bohm's theory is all bound up with subjectivism and anti-realism and "magic". It's just completely dishonest rhetoric.

And anyway, the whole "active information" terminology/analogy isn't even something that any of Bohm's proponents use or endorse. It came from a period in Bohm's life that even the staunchest supporters of Bohmian Mechanics recognize as one where Bohm-the-person was a little kooky and into all kinds of crazy mystical nonsense. To get a little technical, ever since Bell raised people's awareness of and appreciation for Bohm's theory back in the 60s and 70s, people have generally conceived of Bohm's theory in "first-order" terms (meaning that the basic dynamical law for particles is an expression for their *velocities*) rather than the "second-order" terms (meaning that the basic dynamical law for particles is an expression for their *accelerations*) in which Bohm himself formulated the theory. The two are mathematically equivalent, so it really is the same theory either way, but how you think about it is a little different depending on which formulation you endorse as fundamental. And the point is, Bohm's idea of "active information" was tied to his "second-order" formulation of the theory, so this really just isn't any part of what people today who support and endorse Bohmian Mechanics mean or use.

So in every possible way, Little's criticisms of Bohm's theory are misguided, straw man obfuscations that only serve to display his ignorance and dishonesty.

Finally, what is there to say about Little's further polemics trying to equate superluminal causation with "magic"? Nothing that I haven't already said in the original essay. Superluminal causation is only "magic" if you arbitrarily include relativity theory as part of what you define as the acceptable, non-magical alternative to "magic." But relativity is hardly in the same category as "A is A" or whatever basic metaphysics ought to be taken absolutely for granted here. Relativity is a theory in physics. Its turning out to be wrong wouldn't violate any principle of metaphysics. And there is powerful evidence to suggest that it might in fact be wrong -- namely, the Innsbruck (and other related) experiment(s) as interpreted via Bell's theorem. And if that's right, i.e., if relativity does turn out to be wrong, it *obviously* and *in no way* proves that there's no reality, or that the world is governed by magic, or anything else like that that we're supposed to be able to rule out a priori on purely philosophic grounds.

Phew. Any questions?

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While I think the backwards direction of the real waves interacting with real particles in TEW seems promising in many experiments that he discusses, I've never been able to figure out why there is a wave interference pattern on the detector side if the waves are coming from the detector and going to the source for something like the double slit experiment. If the waves are going from the source through the double slits to the detector, an interfering waves pattern is easy to understand. But if the waves are going in the opposite direction, then wouldn't there be a wave interference pattern at the source rather than at the detector or the screen? And it is things like this that I am unable to think through that make me hesitant to say that TEW is correct.

I think I can explain what Little wants to say here. There is, as you suggest, supposed to be something like an interference pattern *at the source*, produced by the interference of all those reverse waves coming from the screen. I can see why you are puzzled about this, because it's not clear where that interference pattern is *exactly* or how it's supposed to help. It would seem to have to be located practically at a point, namely, the source. But I think Little has a sensible answer here. Basically, it is that, yes, the interference pattern is right there at the source, crammed into a point. But thinking that's some kind of problem for the theory is based on losing sight of how the theory is supposed to work. Remember the idea is that each point on the screen is supposed to be sending out waves in all directions, and that the waves from a given point on the screen are somehow "tagged" so that they are coherent with other bits of wave sent out by that same point on the screen, but *in*coherent with (and so unable to interfere with) waves from *other* points on the screen. So let's just think about some one point on the screen, and if we can get straight on that we'll have the whole thing, because each point on the screen acts similarly (but independently).

So there's some point on the screen sending out these waves, some parts of which make it through the slits and arrive at the source. Depending on the relative path length between the parts that went through the two slits, the parts might be in phase or out of phase (or something intermediate) at the source. The idea is that this wave interference occurs, and it is the overall/net amplitude of the wave -- right there at the source -- which determines the probability that the wave will "tickle" the source just the right way and thereby trigger a photon particle to be released. If there is constructive interference, the wave amplitude will be large, the tickling will be intense, and so lots of photon particles will be released by the source "into" that wave. On the other hand, if there is destructive interference, the wave amplitude will be zero, there will be no tickling, and hence no photon emission. And if the interference results in an in-between amplitude, a proportionately in-between number of photons will be emitted. And of course the idea is supposed to be that once the source emits a photon particle "into" a given wave, the particle just follows the wave back to its source, i.e., to the particular spot on the detection screen that emitted that wave. And so you can see how different points on the screen will end up receiving different numbers of particles, and so how the observed interference pattern develops.

I think there are some questions about this that ought to be answered in a really serious theory (as opposed to a half-baked idea). For example, what determines which of the two possible paths a given particle follows back through the apparatus? What is the nature of the "tagging" that is required to prevent the waves from different points on the screen from interfering with each other, and how is this "tagging" preserved when the waves scatter into new directions at the slits?

And there are lots more questions like that one could ask. My attitude is that, if there weren't these other clearly (to me) fatal problems with the theory (pertaining to the EPR-Bell type experiments) I might be interested in thinking more carefully of what other such questions should be asked, and demanding answers to them. But since I already know with certainty that the theory is wrong, and worse, that the whole idea of and motivation for constructing a relativistically local theory is unviable and corrupt, there's no point wasting time worrying about such details.

Thomas, you said you have a background in physics and have looked into Bohm's theory, but that you don't think Bohm (or anybody) has the correct interpretation. What specifically are your objections to Bohm's theory?

You also said something I didn't understand at all: "Throwing out the waves as they do in the Copenhagen interpretation I think ignores the evidence, but I don't know that anyone has gathered the evidence and has presented a good overall theory at this time." In what sense do they "throw out the waves" in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen interpretation of course uses a wave function.

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Finally, what is there to say about Little's further polemics trying to equate superluminal causation with "magic"? Nothing that I haven't already said in the original essay. Superluminal causation is only "magic" if you arbitrarily include relativity theory as part of what you define as the acceptable, non-magical alternative to "magic." But relativity is hardly in the same category as "A is A" or whatever basic metaphysics ought to be taken absolutely for granted here. Relativity is a theory in physics. Its turning out to be wrong wouldn't violate any principle of metaphysics. And there is powerful evidence to suggest that it might in fact be wrong -- namely, the Innsbruck (and other related) experiment(s) as interpreted via Bell's theorem. And if that's right, i.e., if relativity does turn out to be wrong, it *obviously* and *in no way* proves that there's no reality, or that the world is governed by magic, or anything else like that that we're supposed to be able to rule out a priori on purely philosophic grounds.

Absolutely! The "magic" lies only in assuming relativity is inviolable as your premise. Littles theory can be excluded simply by virtue of the fact that is not "non-local". Not to mention that a "wave" is not what a thing is but what a thing does! [of course one would need to look into Bohms use of "wave" even prior to his interludes with Jiddu Krishnamurti]

I recomend to others reading Travis' paper on Bells concept of local causality.

http://arxiv.org/abs/0707.0401

As well as browsing the book by Maudlin he recommended :

http://books.google.com/books?id=dBkRiBzq4...=result#PPP1,M1

Edited by Plasmatic

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I recomend to others reading Travis' paper on Bells concept of local causality.

http://arxiv.org/abs/0707.0401

Thanks for the recommendation. That paper, though, was really a rough draft which on hindsight was too sprawling. I've sort of broken it in half. The half containing the polemic against Jarrett is forthcoming in Foundations of Physics -- an earlier (but still pretty tight) draft is freely available here

Local Causality and Completeness: Bell vs. Jarrett

That paper includes a much briefer, but still I think illuminating, discussion of Bell's concept of local causality. But I am working (slowly) on a new shorter paper which focuses on that specifically. For now, though, I'd probably recommend the "Bell vs. Jarrett" paper (perhaps even skipping the sections about Jarrett) as a first thing to read if you want to understand Bell's concept of local causality and its role in his theorem. Then maybe read the older sprawling draft that Plasmatic recommended only if you really want to pursue it further.

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Thomas, you said you have a background in physics and have looked into Bohm's theory, but that you don't think Bohm (or anybody) has the correct interpretation. What specifically are your objections to Bohm's theory?

You also said something I didn't understand at all: "Throwing out the waves as they do in the Copenhagen interpretation I think ignores the evidence, but I don't know that anyone has gathered the evidence and has presented a good overall theory at this time." In what sense do they "throw out the waves" in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen interpretation of course uses a wave function.

This is just a brief reply, but it has been at least 10-15 years since I seriously looked into physics. I am familiar with most of the QM theories, but until I get back into the details, they may be floating abstractions.

One thing about Bohm that is puzzling is the nature of the interaction of the wave and the particle. If the source sends out a wave and emits a particle, it is difficult for me to imagine how that works, since the particle will be moving at less than the speed of light whereas the wave (presumably) moves at the speed of light. So, I'm unsure how they stay in sync as the particle travels. The alternative is that the wave is produced as the particle travels (a disturbance in the aether, for lack of a better way of putting it), and yet this has the same problem -- i.e. the wave traveling faster than the particle. My understanding is that these interference patterns occur even if the particles are not traveling at the speed of light (i.e. De Broglie waves for all matter moving).

Regarding my comment about the Copenhagen interpretation, my understanding is that they do not consider real waves to be involved at all, but interpret the wave equation as simply the probability of the particle being here or there.

I think we both agree that real waves and real particles are involved. The real question is how. One thing I do like about TEW is that he claims all of space is filled with waves, which matches my understanding of the nature of existence -- i.e. there is no nothing, and whatever surrounds us is highly active. I don't have that theory fully worked out, but I think that would account for all fields and even the De Broglie waves.

So, being very rusty on the details, I'm hesitant to say why I am against Bohm and every other theory about QM mechanics. I studied it intensely many years ago after getting my degree, but worked on a novel for about 11 years and put the physics aside. I still think about it, in the abstract, but the devil is in the details of the experiments and I'd have to re-think them through.

Pilot waves sound all good and well, but if they are traveling faster than the particle, then I don't see how they interact together; and if the wave moves at the front of the particle (as the aether re-configures), wouldn't that mean more energy needs to be added into the system to account for both the wave creation and the particle trajectory?

Anyhow, Like I said, I'm rusty :huh:

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One thing about Bohm that is puzzling is the nature of the interaction of the wave and the particle. If the source sends out a wave and emits a particle, it is difficult for me to imagine how that works, since the particle will be moving at less than the speed of light whereas the wave (presumably) moves at the speed of light. So, I'm unsure how they stay in sync as the particle travels.

In Bohmian Mechanics, the particle moves with a velocity that is basically the group velocity for the wave that's guiding it. (I say "basically" because that way of talking really only makes sense if the guiding wave has the structure of a wave packet, like a little lump, which is only a special case.) What that means is that the "waveform" and the particle move together. So there's no worry about the wave outrunning the particle or vice versa. Also, the waves do not just automatically propagate at the speed of light. Where did you get that idea?

I also just want to say, in general, that this whole way of coming at these questions is rationalistic and superficial. I don't mean that as any criticism of *you*, Thomas, because I understand that it's been a long time since you've thought seriously about any of this, so you're just going by rusty memories, and I did kind of put you on the spot to say *something*. So, sorry for pushing you into a corner like that.

But still, the idea that one can just sort of "contemplate" the "overall reasonableness" of these different theories (based on a kind of superficial understanding of what they say and how they work) and get anywhere useful that way, is really rationalistic. It amounts to the idea that you can ascertain (or at least approximate) the truth of a theory by looking at its internal consistency and how it squares with metaphysics and/or common sense. Which, granted, maybe you can do for certain really obvious cases of crazy/wrong theories. For example, anybody who learns about the Many Worlds Interpretation and doesn't feel a little queasy (and form some judgment like: this just sound a little too crazy and extravagent to be taken seriously) is probably off. But I don't think TEW, or Bohm, or (say) GRW is in that category at all, where you can just look at them roughly and "intuit" that they do or don't "make sense". All these theories say (or purport to say) that there's one world, there's some waves and also some other stuff, and there are some equations (or in the case of TEW, words) that are supposed to describe how those things act and interact, and they all claim to be able to correctly predict the outcomes of experiments. So there's really nothing in any of them that could possibly be vetoed by either metaphysics or common sense. And so if that's all you've got in your toolkit to assess them with, you're kind of stuck -- which is *fine*!!! It just means you shouldn't have an opinion one way or the other on these things, and so probably shouldn't be proselytizing in public for any side of any of them. [end rant]

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So there's really nothing in any of them that could possibly be vetoed by either metaphysics or common sense. And so if that's all you've got in your toolkit to assess them with, you're kind of stuck -- which is *fine*!!! It just means you shouldn't have an opinion one way or the other on these things, and so probably shouldn't be proselytizing in public for any side of any of them. [end rant]

There is absolutely no reason for you to rant at me, since I agree with you that physics cannot be done nationalistically (added on edit: I meant rationalistically!). You asked me a question, I answered it, and then you came back with your reply. I don't really know what speeds De Broglie or QM waves move at. If there is evidence that they move at the speed of the particle, well, OK, that solves that problem. But you posted your review on a non-physics forum and basically invited inquiry into what you were saying; so I posted my views. I'm not a PhD physicist and it has been a while since I've studied physics, but those are some of my concerns.

The real issue is what are the waves and how do they interact with particles? I would say many of the views of physicists is that there are no real waves, at least as it was presented to me in college more than 20 years ago. Most physicists think that there is such a thing as an absolute vacuum, and so, to them, the whole idea of a real wave seems nonsensical. But most use the equations and never try to tie them to reality in any meaningful manner -- i.e. they are being rationalistic. So, I understand your frustration in dealing with people who may not be up on the latest theory regarding QM, and haven't thought it through rigorously.

I'm glad you are trying to do that, and I hope you understand it well enough to defend your position, which it sounds like you are. But I also aim at having an integrated view of existence, and there are some things about QM interpretations that puzzle me, including Bohm. And frankly, I think physics needs to be re-integrated starting with Newton's presentation of gravity and those following him regarding the electric and magnetic fields. Until that is done, I think there will be a lot of weirdness in understanding the QM experiments.

I've brought this up with Harry Binswanger a while back when I was on HBL, and I think Newton "made a mistake" in formulating gravity in that he didn't come up with an active agent giving rise to gravity; and others took that approach for electric and magnetic fields. It's like something was left out at the beginning, and now it is hitting physicists over the head that there is something there. But Harry cautioned me in calling it a mistake, because Newton didn't have the evidence we have today.

Anyhow, totally re-integrating physics is not something I can do at this time. Maybe when I become wealthy and can work on it for the next twenty years of my life :huh:

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.

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Thomas, I'm sorry, the "rant" was not directed at you. I thought that was clear, but I guess it wasn't. It was directed at people who support and proselytize for TEW without having the kind of knowledge required to justify their support.

That said, the "rant" was... let's say... triggered by what you wrote. Let me explain why. You said you had a background in physics and had looked into Bohm's theory and found it problematic, so I asked you what you thought the problems were. Now, when I asked that, I didn't understand that your background in physics was a long time ago and that you maybe didn't remember much about Bohm's theory. I took what you said at face value, and inadvertantly backed you into a bit of a corner by doing so. For that I'm sorry. But there is some culpability here on both sides. Whatever the reasons or justification, your answer to my question about what you thought the problems with Bohm's theory were, amounted to you claiming something that isn't even true of Bohm's theory. It's a bit as if I had asked someone why they didn't like Objectivism and they said "because Rand advocated eating babies" or something. That's a little melodramatic, but I think legitimately parallel. The point is, if someone said that, you'd be entirely right to be a little annoyed and maybe censure them a little bit for having an avowedly anti-Rand stance on obviously insufficient grounds. (For example, nobody who had read even a single one of AR's books could honestly believe that she advocated that.) So that is a bit how I felt when you claimed to have some physics expertise and to have looked into Bohm's theory, but then, when asked, came out with "the particles couldn't keep up with the waves, so the theory can't be right." That is simply not even remotely true of the theory, which tells me you don't actually have the knowledge you would need to have an opinion pro or con on Bohm.

That said, you strike me as a very nice, intelligent, and honest person. So let's just forget this and move on, OK?

You brought up another interesting point that maybe would be good for a different thread so we don't get too distracted from TEW here:

I've brought this up with Harry Binswanger a while back when I was on HBL, and I think Newton "made a mistake" in formulating gravity in that he didn't come up with an active agent giving rise to gravity; and others took that approach for electric and magnetic fields. It's like something was left out at the beginning, and now it is hitting physicists over the head that there is something there. But Harry cautioned me in calling it a mistake, because Newton didn't have the evidence we have today.

I address just this issue about Newton in the opening section of my "Bell's concept of local causality" paper that was linked to before. Maybe you'd like to read that and then we could discuss it. From what you said here, I am inclined to think I'd agree with Harry that what you're criticizing Newton for not having done is (a) something he couldn't possibly have done given the context of knowledge available at the time and (:) something that is certainly not required as any part of the proof of what Newton *did* (I think properly) assert. But I'd like to discuss it further if you're interested.

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No problem, Travis. I realize that some of these discussions can get very frustrating, and I misunderstood something about Bohm, which doesn't help. As to what I mentioned about Newton's "mistake", I'll have to think about how to present it. In the past, I have always had trouble presenting it to physicists, but here's the simple reasoning.

If I take an apple and drop it from my outstretched hand, the apple goes from being stationary to moving faster and faster. Insofar as Newton was talking about observables -- i.e. the apple and the earth -- there is nothing wrong with his equations (omitting relativity for the moment). However, there has to be something surrounding the apple that is active and imparting that activity to the apple such that the apple moves. In other words, to use David Harriman's terminology, there cannot be any disembodied force; and yet, Newton never gave an equation for that which is acting on the apple.

For gravity, Fg=Gm1m2/d^2 and that covers the relationship between the apple and the earth, but it doesn't cover what is going on around the apple such that it begins to move faster and faster.

In other words, for the picture to be complete, and taking into account non-observables, then one could say:

(the change in something) = Fg = Gm1m2/d^2

and it is that change in something that Newton et al never tried to integrate into physics. Hence, by the time we get to particle theory and De Broglie introduces waves into particles, everyone is like "Say What?!" Whereas, if they had realized from the get-go that there had to be something there acting on the apple, they could have worked out that this stuff is highly active and may at times take the form of waves.

Anyhow, that's the sketch.

Now, maybe with modern physics, this is an unnecessary step, in that gravity is explained in terms of gravitons, which, in my understanding, would be the discrete version of what I am trying to get across.

I do think this is germane to the overall discussion, as this stuff would not be a hidden variable, because adding another variable to the equations would make them wrong, but it is something that has been consistently overlooked by physicists since Newton's equations of gravity.

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I'm the same JeffT who posted on The Forum for Ayn Rand Fans.

I wouldn't have felt compelled to post there except for the presence of the second-to-last paragraph in the essay.

But there's an even more basic point here. If somebody doesn't have the physics background to form an appropriately grounded judgment of TEW (or Bohm's theory or Bell's theorem or whatever), then why should they have any opinion one way or the other? And in particular, why should they *endorse* and then *publicly proselytize* for something they do not understand and are not in a position to rationally judge? I submit that doing that is irrational and wrong. So think again about what I'm asking for in the final paragraphs of my essay. I'm not actually asking for agreement (blind or otherwise) with my views. I'm just asking that people, recognizing that there are at least some purported "experts" who think TEW is an embarrassment to Objectivism, stop proselytizing for TEW (something they, ex hypothesi here, are not in a position to judge firsthand) under an Objectivist banner.

You didn't just ask people not to "endorse" and "publicly proselytize" TEW. That would indeed be unjustified in most cases, if one was not convinced thoroughly of the theory's at least probable correctness, or at least of the probability of a major, true contribution of part of the theory. You asked people not to "even mention" TEW. Two of your examples of who not to mention it to were "your friends" and "your professors"--generally not what I would consider to be "publicly proselytizing" (or even publicly mentioning).

If somebody doesn't have the physics background to form an appropriately grounded judgment of TEW (or Bohm's theory or Bell's theorem or whatever), then why should they have any opinion one way or the other?

I have been aware of TEW for years from seeing Objectivists talk about it on the Internet, and I've never assumed it was true. But I have been interested in the theory because Objectivists I've highly respected in a large number of different contexts support it, and think it may be worthy of others' interest. Asking readers not to mention the theory unless they understood the physics in-depth, was, in my opinion, a pretty clear impugning of the character and honesty of these prominent Objectivist supporters. Your argument that they are dishonest requires an in-depth physics study to understand, yet contradicts the great intelligence and rationality I have observed in Objectivist communities (in non-TEW contexts) by some of its supporters, so you would be asking me to suspend my consideration of all that I already know until and unless I have such time to consider an in-depth physics argument.

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JeffT,

You question my suggestion that people not talk up TEW with their friends or professors. I don't see what you think the problem is. If someone is known to be an Objectivist, and starts talking to his physics professor about this wonderful revolutionary new theory, and the physics professor subsequently looks into it and realizes it's crackpot garbage allegedly inspired by or based on Objectivism, that is one presumably intelligent and well-educated person who will never again take Objectivism seriously. Same goes for any friends who happen to be well-enough educated to subsequently form the correct judgment of the theory. This kind of thing (done by many people many times each) does real damage.

You also suggest that I am asking people to ignore what they know of the character and intelligence of "highly respected" "prominent Objectivist supporters." Let's not beat around the bush here. There is only one person who possibly qualified under this description: Stephen Speicher. (Other vocal supporters, like Betsy Speicher and Prodos, do not have anything like the required context of knowledge to be proponents of TEW or any other physics theory.) I have no interest in getting into a discussion of the late Mr. Speicher's overall character, but I will point you -- as just one example of his behavior in support of TEW -- to the following post from the old TEWLIP archive

TEWLIP message 876

in which Mr. Speicher defends a (later retracted) TEW "explanation" of the Innsbruck experimental data -- which involved assigning to certain events *negative probabilities* -- by making up the most convoluted bit of gobbledygook obfuscation I've ever heard. This was, for whatever it is worth, the precise moment when I became absolutely convinced that his advocacy of TEW was dishonest (and I restrict this claim *only* to that advocacy, because outside of this realm I simply have no idea). But there is simply no other possible explanation for what he wrote in this post. Someone who has his technical background (and who is hence even able to *come up* with such a plausible-sounding pseudo-technical bit of total nonsense) simply cannot have produced such a thing honestly. (And this was not atypical of Mr. Speicher's defenses of TEW against rational criticisms.) I don't think you need much physics expertise to see and understand that. If you think or thought this sort of answer to a rather fatal objection to (that particular now-retracted version of) TEW was sound and convincing and scientifically respectable, it is because you got swindled. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Or perhaps you had some other "prominent Objectivist supporter" in mind?

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I do think this is germane to the overall discussion, as this stuff would not be a hidden variable, because adding another variable to the equations would make them wrong, but it is something that has been consistently overlooked by physicists since Newton's equations of gravity.

Here is another angle on what I am getting at. Newton originally defined mass as a quantity of inertia, which he defined as resistance to change of motion. That is, if something is at rest and one wants to get it to move, then one must push on it with a certain force. The question is: Where does that resistance to change of motion come from? What is resisting that change of motion? There has to be something there that requires an energy input in order to change so that the object can be set in motion. Now Newton did not have access to deep space, so maybe he couldn't conceptualize this change of something, so maybe saying he made a mistake is incorrect. Like I said, I'm trying to find a way to express it. But if Newton didn't do it, later physicists should have said something like: Well, where does this resistance to change of motion come from? What is there and how can we characterize that something mathematically?

In order for me to conceptualize (inertial) mass and later De Broglie waves, there must be something there that not only resists changes of motion of objects (i.e.. it must reconfigure and this takes an energy input) but as something is moving, it must continuously change configuration, leading to De Broglie waves of this change of something.

So, to me and my re-integration of physics after realizing there is no nothing (i.e. no absolute vacuum or emptiness anywhere in reality), there is something there, the activity of which, that accounts for all fields and even inertial mass. And it is that stuff and it's activity that has been overlooked by physicists because it was never put in by Newton.

I'm not here decrying Newton. He did a great job, and one cannot expect one man to solve all problems in physics. He got us off to a great start in physics. But I think it is past time to reconsider the nature of that stuff and what it can account for in physics.

Here is another way of putting it that Newton didn't have access to. We are all familiar with the equation E = mc^2 and if that equation is re-written and solved for m we get:

m = E/c^2 In other words, this is the amount of energy necessary to re-configure that stuff in order to get and object to move. And also, the fact that mass increases as an object approaches the speed of light shows that there is something there resisting it going any faster.

That is, this stuff and its nature would account for many observations, but it was never fully integrated back into physics once more evidence arose showing that there is something there.

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It amounts to the idea that you can ascertain (or at least approximate) the truth of a theory by looking at its internal consistency and how it squares with metaphysics and/or common sense.

We can surely evaluate the validity of a statement, series of statements, or a theory by analyzing its internal consistency. It doesn't necessarily have to match up with my personal common sense or everyday experience, but it can't be inconsistent or contradictory. Posing 'a' wave as a fundamental "entity" is a false start. First one has to point at an entity, then illustrate what the entity does (such as waving). The wave theories I've read about either do not pose an entity or pose 'an' infinite entity (aether). Infinite entity is a contradiction, entities are finite, although one may travel incessantly along one without getting to an "end" (such as a mobius strip or a sphere).

And frankly, I think physics needs to be re-integrated starting with Newton's presentation of gravity and those following him regarding the electric and magnetic fields.

I agree with your points about Newton not positing a causal primary entity. Unfortunately his equations were so successful that the general trend in science from then on was the hunt for equations/relationships rather than a physical explanation. However Newton himself is an excellent example of why this is a bad path. His equation came from correlating observations, not from posing a physical mechanism. It was practically inevitable, then, that the equation would be overthrown by a new equation. Without a physical mechanism we are just throwing darts and hoping to get lucky enough to hit the right one, hoping our current set of observations are truly representative.

Discovering equations and relationships in this way is good for technology and invention. In these areas you are primarily concerned with describing what happened (the apple fell this fast). You're not going to build any new gadgets by hypothesizing about what entity pulled the apple to the earth. Sure, *eventually* what you're hypothesizing *might* make it's way into a good mathematical model that leads to an invention, but someone will have already invented it by simply discovering the relationship itself by trial/error and mechanical tinkering.

Imho the reification of space and time pulled physics away from, well, physics i.e. what is physical. Another step in the wrong direction, I think, was the rejection of de Broglie's hypothesis of a "kinked string" electron in favor of Born's "probability cloud". The latter is qualitatively no different than the planetary model. Whether the electron has a probability of being here or there is irrelevant, at one single instant we are staring at the planetary model. Ultimately the mathematics were no different, just as the mathematics were no different in relativity when space and time were reified. Physics just took another step away from the physical and another step toward the purely mathematical.

In this sense I support the de Broglie/Bohm standpoint that Travis describes, but I can't help but think there is a way to do without the particles. Travis has more physics training than I, so perhaps he can explain the necessity of the particle. In the slit experiment, for example, if there is a continuous entity connecting the source atoms to every other atom on the screen, then an excitation of the source (a single photon) will excite all the connecting intermediaries. Each connection carries a signal a different distance depending on the angle. When the distance-traveled by two signals along this intermediary is equal to half the wavelength of the signal, the target atom is essentially both excited and unexcited. This gives us the observed diffraction lines. The particle is mainly used to justify quantization, but there's no reason to assume a structure for the intermediary that justifies quantization is impossible. Certainly the old "continuous luminiferous fluid aether" cannot physically justify quantization, however.

For gravity, Fg=Gm1m2/d^2 and that covers the relationship between the apple and the earth, but it doesn't cover what is going on around the apple such that it begins to move faster and faster.

Agreed, the issues you're raising echo my own thoughts. The physical mechanism by which I imagine gravity functioning is the physical connection between the atoms of the apple and the atoms of the earth. Each atom is connected to each other atom. When the apple is far away these connections all essentially superimpose and act like one connection (behaves like a boson). As the apple approaches earth the connections fan out, each one making an angle with each other, and they "un superimpose". In the former case we have a few number of effective connections and in the latter case we have a large number of effective connections. So when you said this:

(the change in something) = Fg = Gm1m2/d^2

I would posit: The # of effective connections (at distance D) * G = Gravitational Potential ~ G*(m1*m2/d^2)

And: The change in the # of effective connections * m = Force = m*a

Inertia is dynamic, i.e. a change in the number of connections, and equals acceleration. The measured acceleration of the body is used to determine the empirical parameter "mass", the relationship between connections and acceleration. Gravity is specific to a location and is equal to the # of effective (non superimposed) connections at a given distance. Empirically it is approximately equal to the inverse square of the distance times the inertial masses times some universal constant G.

We now have to determine the physical significance of "Big G". Consider the simplest gravitational system we can imagine in which we are confident gravity plays a role, 2 H atoms (the only atoms in our hypothetical universe). Since there is no change in the # of effective connections there is no acceleration. The force is 0, but the gravitational potential is 1 connection x G = G. By considering this simple system we've isolated the constant G away from inertial mass (Force = 0). So there is no acceleration.

It's reasonable to assume that this complex constant G may be a composite of other universal constants which are characteristic of the fundamental nature of the connection. One of these constants is c, signals propagate torsionally/helically at this velocity along this connection. Another constant is the mass of the H atom. Let's factor c^2 out of G, where c^2 physically means that the signal travels diametrically between two specific atoms. We should expect it to have a proportionality to gravitational potential because a torsional signal above c (in a hypothetical universe) would demand that the atoms compensate by pulling harder. This is analogous to if you put a few twists in a rubber band and pull it apart to its untwisted length. Then twist it as many times as you can, you will have to pull much harder to stretch it back to its original (untwisted) length. C represents the stiffness of the connecting entity.

G ~ 6.67E-11 kg-m^3/kg^2-sec^2 = 0.74E-27 kg-m/kg^2 * c^2

If c^2 is a constant we can factor out, so should be the calculated "rest mass" of the H atom:

G = 0.44 m/kg^2 * c^2 * 1.67E-27 kg

= 0.44 m/kg^2 * c^2 * H

The result, free of astronomical exponents, tempts one to conclude this is not a coincidence.

If we consider that the two H atoms are rotating about each other. If neither atom actually moves toward or away from the other, neither "feels" inertia. In everyday life if we rotate a ball we feel it pull on us. But this is because we are acting contrary to the pull between the ball and i.e. the earth. If the length of the connection between these two H atoms doesn't change they should feel nothing different than if the two atoms were at rest. Nothing is acting on either one that is contrary to their mutual tug. There is no reason to feel the resistance "inertia" unless, as Mach surmised, you are actually pulled by every other atom in the U. If every atom in the U is interconnected and possesses a detectable property known as mass, the source of this empirical parameter should be the aggregate pull of matter *outside* our two-atom system, which is contrary to their mutual tug. As soon as we connect our two atom system to the rest of the U and one moves it necessarily feels the tug of every connection.

If the mass of the H atom represents the linear/outward pull component associated with a single connection, the radial component (left/right and up/down) should be present as a squared quantity (two directions). This is the physical interpretation of Mach's principle, when you move your pinky every atom in the universe pulls radially. This is contrary to the linear tug between the two H atoms, which is why it's in the denominator. This is intuitive. Now we have:

0.44 m * c^2 * H/M = 0.44 * c^2 * Mach's Principle

The meter factor could represent the amplitude of this helical/torsional entity. Essentially it is a weighted average of the amplitude of every connection between the atom under study and every other atom in the U. Amplitude should have proportionality to force because a greater pull is needed to counteract a wider or taller wavy entity at a given frequency. The meter factor could ultimately be a variable based on the current distribution of matter in the universe, but for a given short period in universal history considered constant.

So in physics we draw the distinction between gravitational potential and inertia:

F = Mach's Principle * change in # of effective connections

GP = Mach's Principle * # of effective connections at a location

Energy is simply the aggregate of torsional signals traveling outward along each connection to every atom in the U. The mass of one atom times the aggregate of these signals = m*c^2.

Under this model a "gravity shield" will never be produced because it will necessarily be connected to whatever it's shielding

Edited by altonhare

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altonhare: you are a troll and a crank. Please stop polluting every physics thread with your meaningless, rationalistic, numerological mumbo jumbo.

Leaving this post aside, I am never going to respond to anything you post here (and I would strongly encourage others to adopt the same policy).

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altonhare: you are a troll and a crank. Please stop polluting every physics thread with your meaningless, rationalistic, numerological mumbo jumbo.

Leaving this post aside, I am never going to respond to anything you post here (and I would strongly encourage others to adopt the same policy).

Meaningless ad hom, insult, and dismissal.

Although my posts have veered off the topic of TEW, I thought Thomas would appreciate another's thoughts on his comments.

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OK, here are some thoughts on Little's rather strange addendum to his book.

I find these thoughts completely bewildering. Here's why.

To begin with, it was interesting to me that the name of the file that contained this document was "Bohmian non-explanation of Insbruck." (Too bad he misspelled "Innsbruck" here and in the document -- probably an unintended "fix" by the automatic spell-checker.)

Let's remind ourselves that this is what supposed to be comments on a physical theory. But yet the first 3 sentences that we see is a random detour that "ttn" talks about various possibilities as to why the author misspelled "Innsbruck." Excuse me? The topic is physics not an analysis of an individual and his spelling ability. How would it look like if you were replying to Einstein's theory and your first few sentences were discussing that he misspelled some word? It would look ridiculous.

In a scientific debate one ought to challenge the argument not the author.

This (and also the title supplied inside the document itself) suggest that, in his mind, the main purpose of this document is to attack the claim that the explicitly-nonlocal Bohmian theory can explain the data from this experiment. Leaving aside (for now) the fact that all of Little's criticism are completely stupid, ...
Yet another name calling. If one wishes to leave a comment aside, one should leave it aside, instead of saying an equivalent of: "Oh, yeah, I have an irrelevant comment that my scientific opponent's comments are stupid. However, I would like to leave that aside for now." Huh? :thumbsup:

... it is very curious that Little feels the need to attack Bohm's theory on this point. First, it's not like he hasn't already made it abundantly clear in the book that he rejects Bohm's theory and equates superluminal causation with "magic." And second, why bother? Since 1905, all physicists have regarded superluminal causation as anathema -- as something to be avoided practically at all costs. So, if Little really thought his own theory could account for the data in these experiments in a local way, why would he waste his time "piling on" against non-locality? Why not, instead, just explain (in explicit mathematical detail) how the local explanation works? That he still doesn't do the latter is therefore telling.

Excuse me? What is the point of asking questions, which have to do with the personal intention of the author instead of his arguments? Furthermore, these questions are arbitrary. They cannot be answered without having a very close friendship with the author where you can get at least get some insights into this actions and intentions.

Otherwise, what is going on here is "psychologizing:" "It is very curious to me," "Little feels," etc. You cannot know what Dr. Little feels or doesn't feel on this subject, so it's arbitrary to bring it into this discussion, AND to do so in the first few paragraphs before even beginning to discuss his arguments.

On this same point, it is perhaps worth highlighting Little's statement that "TEW might not be the correct explanation of the Insbruck experiment." Little claims, both in the book and here in this "addendum", that the TEW *can* account for the results of these experiments.
This is one of the lowest point of ttn's post. The quote above by Dr. Little is taken completely out of context. "ttn" drops the context and then proceeds to show the (non-existent) internal contradiction that Dr. Little makes. Here's the actual full relevant context of the quote that "ttn" shows here:

(The underline below is mine.)

What the interpretation of the Insbruck experiment comes down to is not a debate between local and nonlocal interactions, but instead to a debate between real interactions and magic. And real interactions, as argued in my book, are necessarily local or are transmitted by a real means, traveling at a velocity less than or equal to the velocity of light.

TEW might not be the correct explanation of the Insbruck experiment. But if not, this will not be because the photon attachments cannot be made in the universal manner described above. If it were mathematically impossible to make such attachments, the experiment would confirm quantum magic. Either TEW works or magic prevails.

And now consider how "ttn" twists that into:

On this same point, it is perhaps worth highlighting Little's statement that "TEW might not be the correct explanation of the Insbruck experiment." Little claims, both in the book and here in this "addendum", that the TEW *can* account for the results of these experiments.

The twist of context-dropping boggles my mind.

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For those who wish to find a simple layman explanation of Dr. Lewis Little's theory, I highly suggest taking a look at the following 3-part article here:

http://speicher.com/tew.html

This is the first of three parts explaining, in non-technical

terms, the brilliant "Theory of Elementary Waves" of Lewis

Little. If you normally shy away from discussions on physics,

please give this a chance - it was especially written for you.

Although I love and revere mathematics, I firmly believe if you

cannot explain a principle of physics in common language and

terms, then you probably do not fully grasp the principle in the

first place. Little's theory is extremely broad-ranging and if I

can successfully communicate the highlights of his achievement I

would consider that to satisfy my goal.

http://speicher.com/tew1.html

http://speicher.com/tew2.html

http://speicher.com/tew3.html

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Several people have jumped on Travis for insulting Little. This is a gross evasion of everything Travis has written. Sure, he STARTED his post by calling Little a crackpot. But then he went on AT LENGTH explaining WHY he has this evaluation. To conclude that someone is a crackpot is a legitimate conclusion, provided one justifies it. JUST AS TRAVIS DID in his original post, in many subsequent posts, and even with a generous promise to stick around and answer questions. To focus on Travis's dismissal of Little as a crackpot, while wholey ignoring his given reasons, is dishonest.

Edited by Atlas51184

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What I'm saying here is that, even for people with (say) zero background in physics who (therefore) aren't in a position to form a first-hand judgment on (say) whether or not Bell's theorem magically fails to apply to TEW, can nevertheless form a first-hand judgment about *me* as an alleged authority on these matters. And I would certainly encourage such people to be trying simultaneously to form a parallel judgment about Lewis Little and his followers. The point is, even for these people who are in the position of having to rely on expert opinion one way or the other (and btw there's nothing whatsoever wrong with that), I am not asking to be acquiesced with *on faith*. I'm just not.

Well, on one hand this is what you say, but on the other you make a post like this:

altonhare: you are a troll and a crank. Please stop polluting every physics thread with your meaningless, rationalistic, numerological mumbo jumbo.

Leaving this post aside, I am never going to respond to anything you post here (and I would strongly encourage others to adopt the same policy).

You encourage members to adopt the same policy - but on what basis? On the basis of your expert opinion that this guy is a crank? This is appealing to people's trust in you rather to their acting on their first-hand judgement.

The only way this "encouragement" would make sense to me, as a rational thing to ask from people, is if it was solely directed to people who can judge and understand for themselves, first-hand, that this guy really is a troll and a crank, and yet still have hesitations whether or not to interact with him.

Another example, is what you said to Grames:

The point, really, is that if you do read them, you shouldn't go into with the attitude "What's wrong with physicists that they don't see the brilliance of this?" but rather "What's wrong with this?"

I don't see it proper to prescribe to someone what attitude they should have (or what conclusions they should reach). People should come to such a conclusion by themselves. Telling someone what conclusion he should reach or how to examine something, is (for lack of better metaphor) trying to "shove an idea into their head", rather than relying on them to make a judgement for themselves.

But there's an even more basic point here. If somebody doesn't have the physics background to form an appropriately grounded judgment of TEW (or Bohm's theory or Bell's theorem or whatever), then why should they have any opinion one way or the other? And in particular, why should they *endorse* and then *publicly proselytize* for something they do not understand and are not in a position to rationally judge? I submit that doing that is irrational and wrong.

Sure, I agree. But equally wrong would be to say the book is worthless just because they read your opinion on it (without having enough knowledge to judge the book or your criticism) and this is important to emphasize.

I don't want anyone to (blindly) "take my side" -- if that means, say, endorsing and publicly proselytizing for Bohm's theory. I really don't want that at all.

What about saying that the book is rubbish, and "thanks for sparing me the time of reading it"? Would you encourage someone who took this position? This is what I meant by "taking your side".

Indeed, such open dialogues between the two sides used to exist, and some of them can still be seen online (see the old yahoogroup "TEWLIP"). I certainly encourage anyone interested to explore those archives -- and also to consider the implications of the fact that, subsequent to its becoming clear that the original version of TEW was a failure vis a vis the EPR-Bell experiments, the TEW supporters have systematically excluded anyone critical of the theory from such discussions and have increasingly hidden themselves away in dark private corners.

I don't think it's fair to give such an assessment on someone without providing any evidence at all. If you cannot give people evidence to come to this conclusion first-hand, better not say it at all.

Having said all that, I withdraw from the thread. The topic is not interesting enough, I just wanted to raise the points I did above, and I have.

I find one thing interesting about this thread - and that is, that this thread is just like Night of January 16th, in which the evidence was completely balanced, and the jury's verdict had to come down to a matter of a sense-of life.

In this case, lack of knowledge in physics makes the evidence balanced, and one can make an evaluation here based on who they trust more, which becomes a matter of evaluating characters.

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What? Rand's response to the "cultist" on donahue is fine, and ttn response to altonhare is not? Take your arguments against ttn, ifat, and put them in the donahue thread, and you'd be arguing against yourself. Someone should do that for you.

ttn is an expert in his field. He is not obligated to argue with anyone that thinks their opininons might be valuable to ttn (which I find stunningly presumptuous). How his dismissal appears to anyone who hasn't seen the context is irrelevant, just as Rand's is in the Donahue clip. He has used his own judgment to determine altonhare is an unworthy "opponent" and chosen to dismiss him outright.

Niether ttn or Rand is bound to explain his reasons for dismissal to the public at large, if they choose not to, since that takes up time as well, and the value obtained is minimal. He doesn't owe you or anyone else an explanation. One could argue that such a choice become offputting, but so what. IF the damage of such is irrelevant to ttn in general. Who are you that he should care if he annoys you? Rand's response on donahue was definitely offputting. IT does not confer an obligation. If you argue that ttn has an obligation to do so, you shoudl argue that Rand does as well.

Edited by KendallJ

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There have been comments regarding the propriety of Professor Norsen's strong wording and the fact that he includes not just a judgment of the merits of the theory, but a judgment of the author. I have no position on the scientific merits of either side, but I do have a position on the propriety of passing moral judgment when someone betrays fundamental intellectual principles.

In a scientific debate one ought to challenge the argument and not just the author; and the argument has been challenged. An author can be chastised but forgiven for not rigorously thinking through their assumptions, evidence and logic, but there are basic standards of intellectual integrity which must be met in scholarly research. Betrayal of those standards demands moral condemnation, especially when such betrayal threatens something of great value, namely the credibility of Objectivism in the academic context. Crackpot ideas aren't just quaint, they -- and their promulgaters -- are deserving of moral condemnation, because at best they depend on evasion, if not deliberate and knowing dishonesty. An author must take responsibility for their words, especially when they are published as a book (the fact that the book was not published by a reputable scientific publishing house does not relieve the author of his responsibilities). The words do not just magically appear on the page, the author must knowingly put them there. The act of putting particular words on the page says something about the author himself.

In academic scientific writing, it is typically not necessary to express moral outrage at errors in a book since, thanks to the process of peer review, egregious errors have been caught and what remains is the realization that such-and-such assumption may not be well supported, a or particular method of reasoning does not actually produce what it is thought to produce. But we are dealing here with unvetted samizdat, the dissemination of arguments which would not, according to the review, have survived the rigors of critical scrutiny. Read through Professor Norsen's comments again and ask "Does TEW meet at least the minimum standards for publishing in theoretical physics". My understanding of what he is saying is that the book is well below that threshold, that TEW betrays basic intellectual standards.

That is the context where condemnation of the author along with condemnation of the author's words is warranted.

Ifat, would you please provide your expert first-hand judgment of altonhare's comments. Alternatively, will you please find someone who is a credible research scientist in theoretical physics to defend his statements here? Because physics is a science which I don't know, I must rely on the judgments of others who know the science. Yes, you must trust that the reviewer is himself credible -- you must judge the judge. Then if the judge is found credible, you should not evade the conclusion that he reaches simply because you yourself did not reach that conclusion. Doing that is the subjective approach to science. I seriously doubt that you refuse to believe any experimental results in neuroscience until you have personally replicated the experiment. Trust is essential to scientific progress, which is why a betrayal of trust is such a serious matter.

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Ifat, would you please provide your expert first-hand judgment of altonhare's comments. Alternatively, will you please find someone who is a credible research scientist in theoretical physics to defend his statements here? Because physics is a science which I don't know, I must rely on the judgments of others who know the science. Yes, you must trust that the reviewer is himself credible -- you must judge the judge. Then if the judge is found credible, you should not evade the conclusion that he reaches simply because you yourself did not reach that conclusion. Doing that is the subjective approach to science.

I have to respectfully disagree entirely with this statement. Indeed one should not have an opinion at all, if the subject is beyond ones level of understanding one has no ability to judge the "credibility" of one on the subject. This forum is not a peer review setting and should not be left to only "credible", "scientist". So while trust from experience with a person does matter ,it should never be the basis for accepting something as true.Besides altonhare has given his own reasons out right. If one doesn't know what they mean then they shouldn't judge them. Likewise since no specific reason for dismissing his comments have been given for others to evaluate one shouldn't judge at all.

Indeed one cannot "judge the judges" comment because there where no reasons given at all. So one should simply dismiss the invitation to do so unless they are given reasons to consider for themselves. Now Im not saying Travis has any obligation to do so. If he finds it not worth his time and doesn't mind how it might appear ,then he can do what he wants. I simply do not make decisions on that basis myself.

Edited by Plasmatic

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I made a mistake in my post when I said:

Each connection carries a signal a different distance depending on the angle. When the distance-traveled by two signals along this intermediary is equal to half the wavelength of the signal, the target atom is essentially both excited and unexcited.

"Half" should not be there.

I don't see a reason for ad homs, personal stories, etc. They add nothing to a criticism. Even to someone who knows no physics at all Travis' opinion of the TEW is very clear from his critique alone. The introductory material can only serve to throw weight behind his criticism. One can decide if they will A) Read Little's book and decide for themselves, :) Believe what Travis says because of their own perception of his competence, or C) Refrain from taking a stance purely based on Travis' evaluation of the book and its contents.

Additionally Travis urges everyone else to adopt the same stance. Again this only serves to throw weight behind his argument. In particular in this case he is throwing the weight of his own authority behind it. This is entirely unnecessary and uncalled for since individuals will decide for themselves how much they trust Travis' judgment based on his past actions. They may also choose to trust particular qualifications such as a Ph.D if they have decided that accredited Ph.D programs warrant such a stance. A declaration from Travis that he is to be trusted, or is competent, etc. is in question until the individual has decided for him/her self to accept Travis' judgment. Once they have decided this Travis' urging is redundant. It can only throw artificial weight behind his argument.

With me, for whatever reason, Travis has decided I'm so incompetent as not to even warrant particular criticism. I don't know if he identified specifics in my posts or if my general language and style simply put him off. Again, simply stating his opinion,"altonhare I do not consider your thoughts worth my time and would appreciate you keeping them out of my threads" is fine. But he also throws his weight behind it in urging everyone else to adopt the same attitude. There is no reason for this other than to artificially push other people to adopt his stance. Other individuals can read my posts themselves and come to their own conclusions. If they do not consider themselves qualified enough, then Travis' opinion is clear without urging everyone else to adopt the same opinion. One can decide for themselves if they will defer to Travis' judgement or remain undecided, trusting neither their own judgement of what I write nor Travis' evaluation.

He calls me a troll and crank, which basically expresses his opinion that what I write is unworthy of consideration. He then says it's meaningless, which adds nothing new. He calls me rationalistic for reasons I can't imagine since I have based much of what I wrote on observation. Finally, I didn't even know what numerology was until I looked it up after Travis' post. I have tried to integrate some basic empirical constants in a meaningful way. Wikipedia tries to sum it up:

Today, numerology is often not associated with numbers, but with the occult, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts.

Perhaps he disagrees that it's meaningful, but occult? Astrology and divinatory? Unjustified and arguably dead wrong, Travis is using a term associated with mysticism to discredit me amongst an audience that stands against everything mysticism stands for.

Edited for typos.

Edited by altonhare

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Indeed one should not have an opinion at all, if the subject is beyond ones level of understanding one has no ability to judge the "credibility" of one on the subject.
You have an evaluation of the scientific merits of a particular individual's position. Either that conclusion was arrived at rationally, or it was irrational. You must judge whether the person in question is rational, or irrational -- if the latter, you should reject the judgment. If the former, then you should not accept altonhare's claims. If you're claiming that it's not even possible to assess Professor Norsen's scientific credentials in this area (for you, or anyone, as you like, but I imagine you actually can form a reasoned judgment), then perhaps having no opinion is the correct course since you would literally have no evidence. If there were a credible counterargument, an informed opposition to the science implied by the review, then we would of course have to integrate that knowledge. As it stands, to ignore the judgment is to ignore reality. It implies that the judgment was arrived at irrationally -- what would make you think that the judgment was irrational?
This forum is not a peer review setting and should not be left to only "credible", "scientist". So while trust from experience with a person does matter ,it should never be the basis for accepting something as true.
When you have evidence to support a conclusion and no evidence to support the alternative conclusion, how can you rationally claim that the alternative is "possible". What else is required besides "all of the evidence"?

I understand that it would be more satisfying for you as a consumer to have a concise statement as to why such-and-such is complete crackpottery not deserving a moment's attention, so that you could actually see the underlying reasoning. But therein lies the problem: real scientists should not spend their lives hunting down every crazy claim. They should only spend their time combatting credible-appearing and dangerous crackpot claims, and primarily should be doing productive research.

I want to be clear that I have no personal problem with altonhare; I simply object to the implication that an uncontradicted professional judgment is useless. If Professor Norsen decides that his evaluation was hasty and not based on reasoning, then so be it; if Ifat persuades Sheldon Glashow to post a defense of altonhare, that would be the kind of contradicted judgment I'm speaking of. And really, my point is about Ifat's "why should we trust you" theme first raised in post #23.

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