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Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves: Book Review

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5. No personal attacks

* Healthy debate is encouraged, but participants agree not resort to personal attacks, and do not belittle someone else's argument. Instead of making it personal, participants agree to use rational, persuasive skills to make a point or criticize another’s.

Has the rules been changed on this forum?

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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. You didn'

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 hav

Several quick points.

First, I agree completely with Atlas51184's post above. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Second, all of this meta-talk about who is being rude or guilty of flinging ad hominem or whatever, is really pointless. In regard to altonhare, he is obviously just what I said -- a troll and a crank. The former means that he posts the same meaningless blather and links to the same crackpot sites online, on practically every thread on this site, obviously hoping that someone will engage with him on it. It is perhaps telling that as of this writing, the "last action" in the 4 most-recently-active physics/math threads (leaving aside this one and the one with Thomas) was a post from altonhare. His posts consistently have zero to do with whatever they are allegedly in response to, which is why they tend to terminate threads, i.e., end discussion. Their content is a bunch of completely made-up physics nonsense. It's several steps below Lewis Little, for god's sake. He is, in summary, a troll and a crank. That is not an ad hominem, because I am not even attempting to be engaged in any kind of argument with him -- precisely the opposite in fact. Calling him those things is merely a statement of fact and an invitation to others to stop responding to his inane crap. It only encourages more of it. (By the way, I am *not* the first person here to identify him as a "troll" and I only looked around for about 5 seconds.)

Third, I just want to say that when I volunteered to stick around this site and chat with people for a while about my book review, what I had in mind was primarily that people would be interested in asking some questions about physics -- e.g., making sure they understood the derivation of Bell's theorem I presented in the review. It is profoundly disappointing that so far there has not been even one single question of that type. Maybe it's that my writing is so eloquent and clear that it leaves no possible follow-up questions. But I seriously doubt that. In any case, I still welcome such questions, whether from people who are inclined to agree with me, or from those who think what I've said is wrong or unwarranted. But I have very little respect or tolerance for people who, for example, *don't read* the whole body of my essay, then accuse me of engaging in unscientific ad hominem, and don't take advantage of my offer to answer questions about or elaborate on or defend the *many* physics points I brought up (or alluded to in passing) in the review. Whatever anyone else will say, what this behavior *actually* proves of such people is that they are unserious about ideas, and hence extremely dangerous to this intellectual movement. (Perhaps it's worth mentioning here, as a foil, Dr. Binswanger -- who scrutinized my essay extremely carefully and asked me about a thousand detailed questions, and then about a thousand more follow-up questions, and so on for several rounds, especially about the math-heavy part. I can't speak for him, but my impression is that he recognizes that this is a very important issue, and insisted on investing the time required to achieve rational certainty in a first-handed way. And only *after* doing all this hard work, he endorsed my review on HBL. This is more or less the approach that I thought surely at least some people here -- including especially my critics -- would take, too.)

Fourth, in regard to my alleged "personal attacks", the charge is frankly preposterous for exactly the reasons pointed out by Atlas51184. That Lewis Little is a dishonest crackpot is a conclusion, from massive amounts of data, some of which I went to great lengths to present and explain in the review (and in subsequent posts). If my book review had consisted *exclusively* of saying "This book sucks, don't buy it or read it, because the author is a dishonest crackpot" that would indeed be a personal attack and would be inappropriate and non-objective. That's not at all what I did, people. And I agree with Atlas that anybody who can't see that is themselves not being honest. (Oh my god, another personal attack!!) Everybody agrees that there is such a thing as a dishonest crackpot, right? I mean, such people are really out there. And if one of them claims to be an Objectivist and presents his ideas under an Objectivist banner, that is a really serious and dangerous threat to Objectivism that people who care about the philosophy should take very seriously. The idea that calling someone a dishonest crackpot, no matter how much evidence is presented to defend the assertion, is a "personal attack" and hence ipso facto out of bounds, is frankly just stupid. What matters is whether the assertion is true. What I see in the behavior of those who act offended by my "personal attacks" against Lewis Little, is an acute lack of concern with assessing the truth of my assertion.

Finally, I have to say I wonder if maybe I shouldn't have taken more time to explain the whole decade-long history of TEW and its proponents behavior. If people don't know at least some details about the several failed attempts by Lewis Little to account for this same one experiment, and the way that he and his supporters acted during these episodes, maybe an important part of the case for dishonesty (as opposed to just erroneousness) is missing. I don't really think so, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. So here is just one example.

Here is the announcement (can you hear the trumpets in the background?) that, after at least one failed and retracted attempt (I don't remember the exact sequence), Lewis Little had finally solved this problem and figured out how to explain the results of these experiments with TEW. (The subsequent message on that list, which there's no point linking to now, is from Lewis Little and contains a web link to the new explanation. Of course that link is no longer active.)

Now here and here are two posts from just a few days later pointing out two (different!) fatal flaws in Little's paper. Here is Stephen Speicher's reply to the first criticism, which I already pointed to earlier as a rather obvious and self-contained example dishonesty. Here is Mr. Speicher's response to the mistake I had pointed out. (Way to address the physics and not the person, there, Mr. Speicher!)

And now here's the really fun part. Just a few days later, Mr. Speicher comes out with this. Interesting, right? Well at the time I was certainly interested in understanding the nature of the "discrepancy" that had been discovered in Little's paper -- not to mention ever so slightly dubious about the claim that it had nothing to do with the two (different!) fatal flaws that Al Tino and I had pointed out. So I asked the various people involved to please explain. The response was that I was kicked off the list. The same exact thing happened to Al Tino.

Now would anyone like to explain to me how the actions of Lewis Little and Stephen Speicher (and the ridiculous list moderator) here can be understood as honest? And this is only *one of many* such episodes that occured.

And I actually don't even intend this as proof of the dishonesty I have been claiming (though it is). I just want to share this bit of history so everybody can understand the extent to which Lewis Little has been beating his head against this particular brick wall for roughly a decade. That is, it's not like, in the months or years leading up to the publication of his new book, he didn't realize that these EPR-Bell experiments might be a particularly important thing to straighten out, in order to establish the viability of his theory. The honest thing for him to have done would simply have been to say, in chapter 6 of his book, that even after many years of trying, he couldn't figure out how to understand these experiments from the point of view of TEW, but was still going to try to work on it. That would be really stupid, because it would show that he was still suffering from serious delusions in regard to Bell's theorem. But at least it would have been honest. What did he actually do, though? He wrote a deliberate smear-job against Bell and Bohm and pretty much anything else in sight that he thought might distract the reader's attention away from the fact that his theory cannot account for the results of these experiments and he knows it. *That* is the over-the-top, blatantly unscientific, years-in-the-making kind of dishonesty that, I submit, deserves *precisely* the kind of treatment I gave it in my review.

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What? Rand's response to the "cultist" on donahue is fine, and ttn response to altonhare is not?

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ttn is an expert in his field. He is not obligated to argue with anyone that thinks their opinions might be valuable to ttn (which I find stunningly presumptuous).

I never said he should be obligated to argue with him. In my opinion, if you don't understand this, you are a troll and a crank. (should I provide my reasons for this judgement, btw, or shall I expect others to accept it based on my expert, undetailed opinion?)

I did not speak of any obligation on ttn's part. My only point is that in discussing something with people, if you want to persuade them of anything, you should provide them the means of becoming persuaded by considering the evidence, and not by asking to rely on your non-detailed judgement.

(note: I am not saying he does it all the time. Obviously, he wrote in great length about the shortcomings of the book, and explicitly declared he is interested in convincing others. But not all the time, and those are the cases I was talking about, because to me they stood out).

Furthermore, I see no resemblence between Ayn Rand's response and ttn's. Ayn Rand was insulted as the only thing that was suggested for discussion, ttn was not.

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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.

Are you talking theoretically here, or specifically about Lewis Little? Because there is no way you can know if these things are true for Little, right?

Other than that, I agree with what you say above.

But what about ttn calling a member a "troll and a crank"? Is this acceptable too? (note, I am not asking because I think it is wrong to call someone that. But because I find it to be against forum rules, and I find it interesting that such a thing "passed" so easily, while other members saying something similar would be treated differently).

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.

I agree that you must judge the judge. And second-hand knowledge coming from someone you rely on can be (provided you have good reasons to trust the person) as good as evidence as first-hand knowledge. But that depends on the degree of complexity involved. It is rational to trust a friend who tells you it's raining outside. But not rational to trust a friend that "Capitalism is the best method for proesperity" (assuming you don't have the knowledge yourself to understand that).

And so it is not rational to ask people to act based on your judgement, without providing them any means of coming to the same conclusion. Especially since he is a complete stranger to most people here.

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.

I agree with that.

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.

Well, there is no reason to doubt because I do not disagree here. I think my explanation above explains how I agree with you and with what I said before (about providing people evidence if you want to convince them of something).

Edited by ifatart
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Third, I just want to say that when I volunteered to stick around this site and chat with people for a while about my book review, what I had in mind was primarily that people would be interested in asking some questions about physics -- e.g., making sure they understood the derivation of Bell's theorem I presented in the review. It is profoundly disappointing that so far there has not been even one single question of that type.

Frankly, what I would find beneficial is a very basic description of the double-delayed-choice experiment, including drawings (or pictures) of the equipment used and the results obtained -- in other words, something I can see and evaluate with my own eyes. For example, there are any number of such pictures and drawings available of the famous "double slit experiment" -- and one look at the results makes it clear what is meant by the statement that light appears to posses the properties of both waves and particles. Are there any comparable visual explanations of the double-delayed-choice experiment and its results?

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I never said he should be obligated to argue with him. In my opinion, if you don't understand this, you are a troll and a crank. (should I provide my reasons for this judgement, btw, or shall I expect others to accept it based on my expert, undetailed opinion?)

These two situations are not parallel and yes you should. You do not need an expert opinion to make this assertion, AND you are attempting to continue to reason/argue with me. In tnn's case you certainly do need an expert opinion to asset altonhare's statement, and tnn is not attempting to refute it. He is dismissing it out of hand. He is not engaging in debate or discussion or argument. He is stating that he will not, and exiting the conversation. He need not justify that to anyone.

Ayn Rand was insulted as the only thing that was suggested for discussion, ttn was not.

This is your mistake. The fact is that tnn expressed that insulted-ness, and has a right to be. You simply do not have the technical knowledge to determine if he in fact should be or should not be insulted. You inability to judge whether he has a right to be insulted does not take away his right to be. The Rand case is identical. The difference is your ability to judge and therefore comment at all.

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Third, I just want to say that when I volunteered to stick around this site and chat with people for a while about my book review, what I had in mind was primarily that people would be interested in asking some questions about physics -- e.g., making sure they understood the derivation of Bell's theorem I presented in the review.

I may yet post such a question, but I was in the middle of reading something else when the thread erupted. I have the Bertlmann's Socks paper in hand.

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Frankly, what I would find beneficial is a very basic description of the double-delayed-choice experiment, including drawings (or pictures) of the equipment used and the results obtained -- in other words, something I can see and evaluate with my own eyes. For example, there are any number of such pictures and drawings available of the famous "double slit experiment" -- and one look at the results makes it clear what is meant by the statement that light appears to posses the properties of both waves and particles. Are there any comparable visual explanations of the double-delayed-choice experiment and its results?

Yes. See my post above #43.

The following is a great and simple explanation of a double slit experiment.

http://speicher.com/tew1.html

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Please, no more meta-discussion about tone and polemics... not in this thread. If that issue is important to anyone, either create a new thread that references this one, or report it to moderators. Keep this thread about physics and TEW.

On the physics too, if someone has an alternative hypothesis of their own, quite apart from TEW, please start a separate thread for that. Keep this thread about TEW.

Edited by softwareNerd
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...what I had in mind was primarily that people would be interested in asking some questions about physics -- e.g., making sure they understood the derivation of Bell's theorem I presented in the review.
The reason I don't ask questions about this (in spite of having browsed through a few educational sites, the Wiki, and Tim Maudlin's book out of "informed layperson's curiosity") is that I assume my questions are "too basic". From the descriptions and arguments I've read, I get stuck at points where everyone seems to agree. I could express my dilemma abstractly thus: Expert 1 says: "Since we all agree about X, we can assume Y". Expert 2 says: "Though we all agree on X, Y may not happen because Z". Meanwhile, I'm thinking: "How can we agree about X?" So, I figure any expert would tell me to do the equivalent of an undergrad physics course, if I'm really interested.

If the outcome had important philosophic implications, I might be slightly more interested but I've never seen a shred of evidence to that effect. I don't assume "X" is true just because most experts agree, I just acknowledge that I don't know and it does not seem to matter. So, I've usually shrugged off my confusion about the physics as something that I can live with, and not know the difference (other than the echoed nagging of an unanswered question somewhere in my brain) if I never get an answer as long as I live. In that spirit, feel free to ignore what follows.

The first point I get hung up on is how to visualize plane-polarized light. Quoting Maudlin, if it does "simply oscillate back and forth without rotating" and "has a characteristic direction, the direction of the plane ..." (pg. 9), then I can understand how plane-polarized light would pass completely through one polarizing filter and not at all through another that is 90 degrees different from the first.

However, if I visualize plane-polarized light as really looking like it is coming toward the filter, oscillating in just one plane, why would any of it go through at any angle greater than zero degrees? Why does any go through at 30 degrees? If I relate the image to the macro-world around me, I can explain this by saying that the plane-polarized light is not monolithic. Instead it is composed of something more elementary. Though the light as a whole is plane-polarized, I assume that its constituents are not homogeneous. So, for instance, if many photons aggregate into making the plane-polarized light, then perhaps those different photons (not being homogeneous) will act in different ways when they hit the polarizers. This is the visualization I form, based on the explanations I've read. Maudlin says: "The only possibility is that the light coming out of the polarizer contains fewer photons than the light going in."

So far, good. (I hope.) I think I understand the explanations up to this point. If I've shown I don't, then it's best not to proceed further. Assuming the above, we go on to the next step:

If I visualize plane-polarized light of being a composite of individual, non-homogeneous photons I can understand the varying amounts that get through polarizers between 0 degrees and 90 degrees. However, when it comes to any particular photon, I face my problem. The discussion usually turns to the notion that an individual photon may or may not go through the polarizer, and that it has a certain probability of going through. This is where the visualization breaks down for me: because I do not know how the idea of probability can be applied like this: i.e. to the action of the individual photon. I can understand it in terms of what I can predict about any random photon in the light, but not as something that is relevant to the photon itself.

Take, for instance, Stephen's explanation, which I assume is still a part that is not controversial (my "X"):

Now let us change the alignment of the 'polarizers'. We will rotate 'polarizer' A clockwise through an angle (say 20 degrees)
relative to B. Since each of the 'polarizers' do not have the same alignment anymore, some of the pairs of pencils will not be
recorded the same for each counter. Some pencils getting through A will not get through B, and vice versa. The recorded events might look like this.

A 000010011000001010001010100010...

B 010010010000001010001010000010...

As indicated, the counting record shows there are events that no longer match up between A and B due to the different alignment of the 'polarizers'. In fact, the mismatch is 1 in every 10 events,...[/code]

I don't get this... not with the "matching pencils" visualization. If the pencils really do match exactly, then turning the second polarizer even a little (say 1 degree) should completely stop all the pencils that are oriented along the zero-degree line. So, we should expect zero matches.

Of course, we do get matches... but, I don't understand why all experts find this unsurprising.

[b]Added a little later:[/b]

Or, is it that this is not considered unsurprising, but is indeed considered yet to be explained. Perhaps one explanation that some suggest is that there is some other aspect about the photon that we don't know about, which causes it to act one way or the other (is this the so-called "hidden variable" idea?).

The way I understand Bell's Theorem is that he's saying that no such unknown aspect can explain the experimental results. Even if we assume [i]some[/i] relationship exists between the effect that the unknown aspect has on one photon of the pair and the effect it has on the other photon of a pair, we are still unable to explain the experimental outcomes.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Or, is it that this is not considered unsurprising, but is indeed considered yet to be explained. Perhaps one explanation that some suggest is that there is some other aspect about the photon that we don't know about, which causes it to act one way or the other (is this the so-called "hidden variable" idea?).

That's definitely on the right track. Most physicists wouldn't really consider the issue of whether or not it's "surprising" to be scientifically meaningful. They'd say: quantum mechanics just predicts that, for plane polarized light incident on a polarizer at a certain orientation, there's a certain probability for it to pass and a certain probability for it to get absorbed. What more could one want?

Of course, one can and should want more -- ultimately. But it's also valid to knowingly postpone questions about "what's really going on" or "how to visualize it" until some future date at which there will be some actual evidence on which to base answers to those questions. So, I'm not in favor of "shut up and calculate" as a philosophy or a mantra, the way many physicists seem to be, but it is sometimes the perfectly reasonable thing to do.

I will also mention that in *classical* E&M, we don't have photons (i.e., individual "particles" of light) at all -- just electromagnetic waves. And what that theory says is that a polarized plane wave incident on a polarizer will be *partially* absorbed and *partially* reflected. (More precisely: the component that is parallel to the polarizer's axis will be transmitted, and the component that is perpindicular will be absorbed.) And in a sense this gives the same math that one has at the photon-level in the quantum theory of the same phenomenon: the quantum mechanical *probability* for a single photon to be absorbed, is identical to the *fraction* of the wave's intensity or energy that gets absorbed according to the classical theory. This correspondence between the numbers probably counts as some kind of rough way of "understanding" the QM formulas, and would be cited as such by most physicists. Of course, to really understand what's going on causally, you'd need a consistently causal version of quantum theory. But this is at least something.

For what it's worth, I also find Mr. Speicher's "pencil" analogy to be more confusing than illuminating, for precisely the reason you bring up.

The way I understand Bell's Theorem is that he's saying that no such unknown aspect can explain the experimental results. Even if we assume some relationship exists between the effect that the unknown aspect has on one photon of the pair and the effect it has on the other photon of a pair, we are still unable to explain the experimental outcomes.

That's basically right. I think part of what you had in mind here (but didn't quite say explicitly) is that Bell's theorem is not in any way based on some particular proposed candidate "story" or "theory" about how it works, how it should be visualized, etc. Bell's theorem actually doesn't have any specifically physics-related premises at all, beyond the assumption of relativistic local causality -- which is just the assumption that, *however* this actually works down at the micro-level, the outcome of the experiment over here shouldn't depend on how the experimenter over there chooses to orient her polarizer, and vice versa.

Which means you don't actually have to know "how to visualize" what happens when a photon passes or fails to pass a polarizer, in order to *completely* understand Bell's theorem.

Does that help?

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First, some quickies...

Grames: good for you! It's probably my all-time favorite physics paper. I mean, even just the first sentence is completely brilliant and hilarious. I hope you enjoy it, and I would be delighted to help if there's anything in there you get stuck on, or want a different formulation of, or don't think is right, or whatever.

AisA: There are lots of schematic pictures of this sort of experiment online. I just googled "EPR Bell experiment" and found a wikipedia page with a semi-acceptable (but highly schematic) diagram: see here. I'm sure if you spend just a minute and look at other hits, you'll find something better. You can also check out the actual paper by Gregor Weihs, et al, who did the infamous Innsbruck experiment. (By the way, nobody but people on one side or the other of the TEW debate calls the experiment that. Same with "double delayed choice.") The paper is too technical to follow all the details of unless you are trained in physics, but there's another good schematic diagram, and some pretty careful description of the real details.

softwareNerd: thanks for clarifying the ground-rules about the content of the thread (viz., no meta-discussion and no off-topic discussion of other theories). Hopefully the following quick remarks won't violate the rules. (If they do, you have my blessing to just delete them.) A reader wrote me privately and made a good point: a lot of people here seem to misunderstand the concept of "ad hominem." This is properly understood as a logical fallacy, i.e., as a kind of argument that isn't valid because it substitutes or sneaks in a personal attack where a genuine premise should be. But what I said about "altonhare" was simply not in this category. And neither is anything I have said about Lewis Little. And neither, by the way, is a statement like "Kant was not only wrong, but evil, because..." The point is, it isn't the fallacy of ad hominem merely to criticize someone. If you say "he's wrong because he's a jerk" that's an ad hominem fallacy. But if you say "he's a jerk, because he tripped me and spit on me" that is just a regular old valid argument which has, as its *conclusion*, a statement about someone's character. Maybe that will be helpful to some people in trying to understand and assess all these claims that I'm attacking the person instead of discussing the physics, etc. Let me finally stress something that I probably should have clarified better earlier on. If TEW was merely a wrong theory, it of course wouldn't deserve the things I've said about it or its supporters. Nor would it be any kind of danger or embarrassment to Objectivism. But my whole thesis is that TEW is *worse* than "merely wrong". It is, for someone with the relevant background knowledge, *obviously* wrong, *obviously* unprofessional and unserious, and its supporters have repeatedly engaged in dishonesty and evasion. That's why I described the theory as "dishonest crackpot garbage" as opposed to, say, "false." I am saying all of this now just to further clarify why I introduced terms like "crackpot" and "dishonest" into the discussion from the very beginning (and thereby unwittingly brought about the flood of meta-discussion). It's because these things are an *essential part* of the conclusion I am arguing for -- TEW should be shunned, not because it is false, but because it is dishonest crackpot garbage. Hopefully that clarification isn't out of bounds.

Now finally let me say something about this essay Olex linked to:

The following is a great and simple explanation of a double slit experiment.

http://speicher.com/tew1.html

Actually I think this is, at best, highly misleading. I mean in particular the part around "figure 3" where Mr. Speicher tries to argue that there is strong evidence for the basic TEW "reverse waves" hypothesis in the fact that an interference pattern is still observed even if the detection screen is moved forward or backward. This is actually complete hogwash. Maybe it would be good to pause here and allow interested readers a minute to contemplate what massive tacit premise is smuggled into the argument.

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Seriously, take a minute and think about it.

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Got it yet?

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If this were a class, I would actually wait in silence until you volunteered something. But, OK, fine, I'll just tell you.

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Here's what I have in mind. The whole discussion just assumes that *particles move in straight lines* (except where they don't, e.g., at the slits). But if you drop that assumption, then there is *no grounds at all* for inferring, from the fact that the interference pattern is preserved when you move the screen, that the screen is somehow causally operative in determining the trajectories of the particles. See, for example, the figure about halfway down the page on this article about Bohm's theory. What's plotted are simply a bunch of representative trajectories for the 2-slit experiment, as predicted by Bohm's theory. Note that they aren't straight lines, and so (I think obviously, looking at the picture) you're going to get a nice interference pattern no matter where you put the screen. (According to Bohm's theory, a particle just makes a flash/spot wherever it in fact hits the screen.)

Actually, the situation for this pro-TEW argument is even somewhat worse than merely that there's no evidence supporting the claim that the particles go in straight lines. There's I think a problematic inconsistency in the theory here. For, according to the theory itself, the particle trajectories *do bend* at the slits. That of course would be fine if there was, in the theory, some clear account of why that happens there and not elsewhere. And of course, if TEW were really a serious and clearly-formulated theory, there'd be no question here -- we'd just go look at the paper or book or whatever where the theory is presented and this kind of question would be addressed. But in fact this is the kind of thing that isn't actually addressed, which is why I say TEW isn't a serious and clearly-formulated theory. Anyway, my point is that it seems like there really is an inconsistency here for the theory -- what, after all, is a "slit"? It's a place where there is... nothing. I mean, if the idea was supposed to be that the trajectories bend at the location of some blob of physical stuff, that would be perfectly plausible, because the waves could scatter off of the stuff or whatever. But there's no blob of stuff at a slit. A slit is precisely where the blob of stuff isn't. That is, what's there at the slit (where according to TEW the waves all scatter and the trajectories all bend) is precisely the same as what's there at any other random location behind or in front of the slits -- namely nothing (meaning, you know, stray air molecules, or whatever electromagnetic fields and whatnot are present in the "vacuum", etc.). But if this nothing can so effectively scatter waves and hence bend trajectories at the slits, why can't it do it at other locations in front of or behind the slits?

And if you follow that, you see why it's then inconsistent to have assumed at the beginning that (other than at the slits) the trajectories have to be straight lines. In fact, it's even a little worse than that, because if the waves can scatter off of the "nothing" that's (say) behind (from the point of view of the reverse waves, i.e., in front of vis a vis the motion of the particles) the slits, then the whole claim that the waves emitted by (say) a point right in the middle of the detector will interfere constructively at the particle source, totally falls apart. Because now there won't just be these two constructively interfering paths, there will be infinitely more possible routes from that point on the screen back to the source (e.g., paths made of two straight line segments, but with the "vertex" at some other point in front of or behind the slits, and then also paths made of 3, 4, 5, ... straight line paths) and the net effect will be no particular simple pattern of interference at all. The whole alleged "explanation" of the double slit experiment falls apart.

Or maybe it doesn't fall apart. Who knows. The point is, there's just no way to know because the theory is just a half-baked idea rather than a definite and clearly-formulated proposal. This is the kind of question that, if posed to Little or some pseudo-knowledgeable proponent of TEW, would result in new and ad hoc additions to the theory, which would in turn raise further questions and risk further inconsistency. And since (as I think I indicated in an earlier post in response to something Thomas had said) questions *just like this* proliferate in all directions as soon as you try to figure out how/whether this theory actually works, it's just not worth pursuing any of them. Especially when the EPR-Bell stuff so clearly and unambiguously rules out the relativistic local causality that Little has defined as a fundamental pillar of the theory.

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One thing that makes these physics discussions even with diagrams so difficult to grasp is that they are usually presented as a particle traveling through emptiness, whereas that is not the nature of reality. Reality is a full plenum, there is no nothing anywhere or no emptiness anywhere. By analogy, one can say that a particle going through a slit is like a baseball going through an open window; except for the fact that on the level of a particle, it is not going through emptiness. In the end it doesn't matter what you call the stuff that it is going through, say aether or fields, but the point is that it is going through something and interacting with it, and this disturbance in the something is what gives rise to the waves. So, the analogy of a baseball going through an open window breaks down on the quantum level. A better analogy might be a baseball surrounded by a bubble going through the open window. Depending on how big the bubble is (the disturbance in the something that surrounds the particle) will determine how the baseball in the bubble makes it through the opening. Given the relationship between the baseball and its bubble, something interacting with the bubble will change the trajectory of the baseball (say if one imagines that the bubble must remain in the center of the bubble). So, it is not as if the particle is sailing right through the opening, but rather there is a disturbance around it, and the trajectory of the particle sets the parameters of the disturbance, and it is reciprocal such that if the disturbance is disturbed, so is the trajectory of the particle.

This actually holds for real baseballs, only the effect is so small we don't notice it. In other words, real baseballs sailing through to home plate, likewise sets of a disturbance in the something, but the interactions taking place are so minimal that it doesn't change the trajectory of the baseball by much, and can be ignored in baseball games. On the micro level, however, it can't be ignored because it has real effects on the trajectory of particles.

Travis will probably flag me for this, since all analogies break down at some level, but I think it is a better description of what is going on versus the particle in emptiness.

In other words, De Broglie waves are real -- a real disturbance of something -- and those disturbances are reciprocal to the trajectory of the particles when these particles and their disturbances interact with one another.

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I've just read the Standford article on Bohmian Mechanics and since we are basically comparing Bohm's pilot wave to Lewis Little's TEW, I am curious about something. In all the talk about quantum mechanics, it seems like they all basically use the Schrödinger Wave Equation, but really just differ about where the wave comes from or whether or not it is a real wave effecting real particles. How did Schrödinger think the wave was generated? Is it basically an application of De Broglie waves of moving particles? The Bohmian article referenced the Schrödinger wave equation, but never really mentioned (I don't think) where the wave comes from or how it is generated. Evidently, it's assumption is that the wave is somehow generated at the source or by the particles as they travel and then the particle follows the wave configuration. However, in Bohm, the wave configuration seems to not only be set up by the moving particles, but also by the apparatus -- that is, the wave configuration is due to the whole set up and not just the moving particles. TEW says this as well, in a way, that the wave is generated by the apparatus and the particles traveling. But in my understanding of either Bohm or TEW, it is not as if the waves interacts with the particles in a classical force acting on the particle due to the wave -- it's more as if the wave sets up a path for the particle to follow.

In a way, I see this as similar to Relativity, where space-time does not set up a force on the object, but rather sets up a path in space-time for the object to follow. In other words, the object follows a free-fall path -- or when it follows a free-fall path -- there are no forces acting on it. In other words, space-time does not impart a force on the object. And in a similar way, QM seems to be saying something similar, that the wave acts as a guide to the particle path, but doesn't impart a force to the particle, if I am understanding it correctly.

I mentioned this before, but it seems as if there is no equation for the interaction of the particle and the wave in a classical force equation in either Bohm or TEW (or in Relativity). It's as if the moving objects simply follow a path. Or do I have this completely wrong? Is there a way to go from the Schrödinger Wave Equation to a force on the particle? This equation, I think, would make it all easier to grasp for those of us more used to thinking about things from the classical mechanics perspective, but it seems to be lacking in all discussions about QM -- Bohm, Copenhagen, or TEW.

Am I missing something?

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I've just read the Standford article on Bohmian Mechanics and since we are basically comparing Bohm's pilot wave to Lewis Little's TEW ....

I'll try to answer your questions, Thomas, but for the record: no, that isn't what we're talking about, if what you mean is that a positive assessment of Bohm's theory is somehow part of the argument for the

worse-than-false status of TEW. You can know with absolutely certainty that TEW is wrong and that Lewis Little is a crackpot without knowing *anything* about Bohm's theory. The only relevance of Bohm's theory to this conclusion is that Little's book contains a number of very deceptive polemics against Bohm's theory, so understanding something of the truth on that point adds a little bit of evidence in support of the claim that he is, at best, negligently ignorant of what he's writing about.

OK?

Your main question about Bohm's theory seems to be: where do the waves come from? You are correct that there's not really any answer to this question in the theory. Probably the best way to think about what the theory says on this point is this: the waves have always been there, accompanying the particles. So, for example, a device that emits particles dosn't *produce* a new wave for that particle ex nihilo, nor is the wave "emitted" by the particle as it travels. Rather, that particles has always had some kind of accompanying wave, and what the particle emmitter does is to somehow reconfigure the structure of the wave.

The main point, though, is that your question isn't a *necessary* one in the contemporary context of knowledge. It's just the same as your question about Newton's theory of gravity. There is no need whatever to answer this kind of question before believing in the theory. (I'm not saying anyone *should* necessarily believe in it, just that such belief can be fully justified without having any particular answer to the question of "where the waves came from originally".) A parallel here might be: you can rationally believe that the theory of evolution by natural selection is true, and even have certainty on that point, without having any answer to: "But how did life get started originally?" It's not that it's an invalid question, it's just not one that necessarily arises as part of the answer to: "By what mechanism did man and other species evolve into their current identities?" So maybe in 10 or 100 or 1000 years, once we figure out (say) exactly what's happening in the double slit experiment, then some future generation of theories will address something like your question in some way. Or maybe not. The point is just that, now, that kind of question is no kind of valid objection to the theory, nor even a proper basis for "concern" about it.

You also said there's no equation in Bohm's theory for the "force" exerted on the particle by the wave. The equation you seek is right there in section 4 of the article ("the guidance equation"). This is an equation for how the *velocity* of the particle depends on the structure of the wave. This is the cleanest and most revealing way of defining the theory mathematically. But if, for some reason, you insist on couching the theory in Newtonian terms, you are free to take the time derivative of this equation (to get the *acceleration*) and then multiply by the particle's mass to get the literal *force* exerted on the particle by the wave. Turns out you can write it as minus the gradient of something, which is nice, because then that "something" can be interpreted as an extra, purely quantum contribution to the particle's potential energy field. This is how Bohm himself originally formulated the theory. (See section 5 of the article for more on the "quantum potential".)

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Hi Travis,

I have completed reading the Bertlmann's Socks paper and refamiliarized myself with the Aspect experiment. Didn't TEW at one time incorporate reverse waves from the detectors/polarizers to the photon source? Of course Aspect (setting the polarizers only after the photons are in flight) is not compatible with any reverse wave theory.

The general derivation of Bell's inequality (correlation <= 2) is from the statistical independence of two variables, the measurements A and B. Quantum mechanics predicts a specific correlation value, -2√2. The experiment measures -2√2. The conclusion must be made that the measurements A and B are not independent.

One thing I don't follow is equation 10, where the presence of possible multiple factors lambda in computing both M and N doesn't prevent the claim that M and N incorporate a hypothesis of local causality. Sure M|a,λ is no function of b, but it is of λ whch also appears in N|b,λ. Is the presence of 'a' enough to make M independent from N? (I suppose it is but I wonder why).

I understand the argument that EPR inferred determinism from local causality (page 4). Can determinism still follow from non-local causality? (I would think yes.)

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Grames, thanks, these are all very good questions/points.

Didn't TEW at one time incorporate reverse waves from the detectors/polarizers to the photon source?

That's the whole essence of the theory, so yes -- but not just "at one time". Still.

Of course Aspect (setting the polarizers only after the photons are in flight) is not compatible with any reverse wave theory.

That's right. Actually maybe it's worth amplifying for people who don't know the history. Aspect's experiment was in 1982. In the decade or two prior to that, there had been a number of tests of the correlations that are supposed to be restricted by Bell's "locality inequality". But all of these tests used static polarizers, and so (as everyone recognized all along) it would have been possible to account for the results in a locally causal way by positing some kind of influence propagating (at or slower than the speed of light) from the polarizer on one side, to the particle/polarizer/detector on the far side. That is, if the polarizers are just sitting there in place, then there is no real argument from relativity's prohibition on superluminal causation to the premise of Bell's theorem you describe below (namely, that the outcome on one side shouldn't depend on the setting, the orientation of the apparatus, on the other side).

This maybe clarifies the way in which it is disingenuous for TEW supporters to say things like "well, there's just this one experiment that Little hasn't yet figured out how to account for". The truth is that this experiment -- and then the much cleaner and better version of the same thing that Weihs et al did in 1998 -- was done *precisely* to rule out the possibility of a broad class of theories of which TEW is one example. And the results of these experiments are pretty unambiguous.

The general derivation of Bell's inequality (correlation <= 2) is from the statistical independence of two variables, the measurements A and B. Quantum mechanics predicts a specific correlation value, -2√2. The experiment measures -2√2. The conclusion must be made that the measurements A and B are not independent.

That's right.

One thing I don't follow is equation 10, where the presence of possible multiple factors lambda in computing both M and N doesn't prevent the claim that M and N incorporate a hypothesis of local causality. Sure M|a,λ is no function of b, but it is of λ whch also appears in N|b,λ. Is the presence of 'a' enough to make M independent from N? (I suppose it is but I wonder why).

The lambda (not sure how you managed to produce the symbol here??!!) refers to some kind of "complete state description" for the pair of particles. Let me say that again in a different way because it's important: lambda provides a description of the *pair* of particles, jointly, i.e., the pair treated as a unit. Now, I'm not entirely sure I understand what's bothering you, so correct me if this is wrong, but I *think* your question is: doesn't this allow a certain subtle sort of non-locality and hence weaken the claim that all of this is being derived from the premise of local causality?

If that's right, you're absolutely right. Bell's presentation here actually permits (say) the outcome on one side (M, or more precisely the probabilities for different possible outcomes M, since Bell is here not assuming determinism) to depend on the instantaneous state, not only of the particle that's getting measured there, but also, in principle, on the state of the distant particle. And there's indeed no locally causal way in which such dependence could be explained -- the distant particle being, after all, distant. So if, for example, you have a theory in which the states of the individual particles (say) changes randomly after they leave the source, such that the state of one particle would not necessarily allow you to infer with certainty the state of the other particle, you could sneak some nonlocality into the theory and it would *still* respect the correlation limit expressed in Bell's inequality.

But let's be very clear about what that means. It means that any theory which *fails* to respect that limit, i.e., any theory which predicts violations of Bell's inequality, has to be *really* non-local. That is, this subtle weakening of the premise actually strengthens the overall argument.

Of course, as you raise below, we can already at this stage of the argument assume determinism if we want, because we can already infer that separately, from local causality, using the EPR argument. So this point is really somewhat moot. I think Bell did it this way because the relevant state description *in orthodox quantum theory* is not "separable", i.e., you can't reduce it to "the one particle is in the state such-and-such, and the other particle is in the state so-and-so". Rather, it's irreducibly of the form: "both particles jointly are in the state such-and-such." That's admittedly weird and hard to understand. But, for Bell's purposes, everything is much clearer and better if you simply leave that aside and focus on the more radical sort of non-local causation that violation of his inequality entails. And plus, this way, there is an unambiguous (though not uncontroversial) argument that orthodox quantum theory itself already displays the problematic sort of non-local causation (in addition to the sort I think you are raising a question about here).

I understand the argument that EPR inferred determinism from local causality (page 4). Can determinism still follow from non-local causality? (I would think yes.)

No, definitely not. The argument was that, in the special case where the two experimenters measure along the same axis, it's an experimental fact that the outcomes on the two sides are always perfectly correlated. And, say EPR and also Bell, the *only* way to account for this correlation -- *if* you don't allow the possibility of nonlocal causation -- is that the outcomes were determined all along and somehow encoded into each particle separately at the source. But if you *do* allow the possibility of nonlocal causation, then you could have a model like this: neither particle is determined to produce either particular outcome for any of the possible measurements you could make on it -- but then one of the particles gets measured, is forced to "make an arbitrary, non-pre-determined "decision" about which outcome to produce, and (say) calls the other, distant, not-yet-measured particle on a little tiny faster-than-light cell phone to tell it which outcome it decided to produce. Then, should the other particle be measured along the same axis, it will "know" how to answer so as to guarantee the perfect correlations. The point is, such a model is explicitly nonlocal and explicitly non-deterministic. Yet it produces the right correlations for this special class of experiment. So clearly you're not going to be able to infer determinism from these correlations if you allow nonlocal causality. Make sense?

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I'll try to answer your questions, Thomas, but for the record: no, that isn't what we're talking about, if what you mean is that a positive assessment of Bohm's theory is somehow part of the argument for the worse-than-false status of TEW.

Thank you for your answers.

I agree with you in principle that one doesn't have to know the right answer in order to assess that something is the wrong answer. One basically has to assess whether or not a theory fits the facts of reality, and if they don't then it is wrong even if one doesn't have a theory that does fit the facts. Your assessment of TEW is that it doesn't fit the facts and is somehow arbitrary (less than wrong). Not being familiar enough with the experiments (at this time), I cannot make the same assessment in my context of knowledge.

I have no problem with real waves being involved in QM given, at a minimum, the double slit experiment. Obviously some sort of waves are involved, so I'm not questioning that aspect of the experiments. And maybe it is left to future scientist to figure out what the waves are and where they come from. Wave mechanics seems to give the right answers, but maybe future generations have to figure out what is waving (i.e. what is oscillating and what brings about the oscillation). But, I do think that if you are going to assume real waves -- as opposed to it just being a mathematical convenience -- then you have to, at a minimum, say that something is oscillating. Otherwise, what do you mean by a real wave? So, I agree that it is not an invalid question, though it may well be a question that cannot be answered at this time in the specifics -- i.e. what are the properties of this stuff that is waving? but I think one would have to say given the evidence that there is some real stuff there that is oscillating somehow.

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Thank you for your answers.

I agree with you in principle that one doesn't have to know the right answer in order to assess that something is the wrong answer. One basically has to assess whether or not a theory fits the facts of reality, and if they don't then it is wrong even if one doesn't have a theory that does fit the facts. Your assessment of TEW is that it doesn't fit the facts and is somehow arbitrary (less than wrong). Not being familiar enough with the experiments (at this time), I cannot make the same assessment in my context of knowledge.

I have no problem with real waves being involved in QM given, at a minimum, the double slit experiment. Obviously some sort of waves are involved, so I'm not questioning that aspect of the experiments. And maybe it is left to future scientist to figure out what the waves are and where they come from. Wave mechanics seems to give the right answers, but maybe future generations have to figure out what is waving (i.e. what is oscillating and what brings about the oscillation). But, I do think that if you are going to assume real waves -- as opposed to it just being a mathematical convenience -- then you have to, at a minimum, say that something is oscillating. Otherwise, what do you mean by a real wave? So, I agree that it is not an invalid question, though it may well be a question that cannot be answered at this time in the specifics -- i.e. what are the properties of this stuff that is waving? but I think one would have to say given the evidence that there is some real stuff there that is oscillating somehow.

Thomas I am in complete agreement with this last post of yours.

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I'll add something else. Travis' thesis regarding TEW is not only that it is wrong, but that it is arbitrary; and since Lewis Little calls himself an Objectivist, this arbitrary claim of TEW reflects badly on Objectivism: People in the know will say that if this comes from Objectivism, then I want nothing to do with Objectivism.

But the theory -- any scientific theory -- is not deduced from a philosophy. It is not as if one has a philosophy and therefore one must accept, say, evolution, as an implication of that philosophy. At most Objectivism rejects the supernatural, however that does not imply evolution; and, in fact, Miss Rand didn't have anything to say about evolution. Likewise, she didn't have anything to say about any particular scientific theory. Insofar as economics is a scientific theory, she most definitely endorsed capitalism, but that was more from an individual rights concern than it was for strictly economic concerns.

Aristotle had a lot of kooky scientific theories -- such as the Unmoved Mover and the Cosmological Chrystal Spheres and an Essence inside things making them what they are -- and yet a rational person will not reject Aristotle out of hand just because he had a kooky scientific theory. I do realize that some people do this. When I was taking Philosophy of Science, Aristotle was rejected as having nothing to say about science because of these ideas. This is most certainly a wrong approach, as it was Aristotle's logic that made it possible for later scientists to correct those views via observation and non-contradictory identification implied in Aristotle's philosophy.

In other words, let's say that someone claims to be an Objectivist and he also claims that the moon is made of green cheese. Well, for any honest person, the green cheese claim does not follow from Objectivism. If someone said the moon is made of green cheese and that he was a Catholic, people are honest enough to realize that the green cheese claim doesn't have anything to do with Catholicism, or Liberalism, or Conservatism, or any other known philosophic framework. The guy claiming the moon is made of green cheese is just a kook.

So, while I agree, certainly, that one ought to be on vigil against claims about what Objectivism entails, and reject those who claim that Objectivism implies something that flies in the face of reality and is not directly implied in Miss Rand's philosophy; I don't think someone making an unscientific claim (as you say about TEW) reflects badly on Objectivism at all. If someone has evidence that someone's claim is unscientific, then one can certainly come to a conclusion about how his mind works, and then show that he is not being rational, which implies that he is not using Objectivism appropriately -- i.e. he is not sticking with the facts in a rational manner. But this does not invalidate Objectivism.

Besides, with the recent discussions with the Maverick Philosopher on Ayn Rand, some people obviously think we are all kooks because we have our mind on reality, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with a scientific claim that we may be upholding (except insofar as philosophy is a science). In other words, a great many people think we are kooks because of the philosophy we hold, and TEW, right, wrong, or arbitrary, has nothing to do with that assessment of theirs. So, I think the concern of that part of your thesis is overblown.

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So, while I agree, certainly, that one ought to be on vigil against claims about what Objectivism entails, and reject those who claim that Objectivism implies something that flies in the face of reality and is not directly implied in Miss Rand's philosophy; I don't think someone making an unscientific claim (as you say about TEW) reflects badly on Objectivism at all. If someone has evidence that someone's claim is unscientific, then one can certainly come to a conclusion about how his mind works, and then show that he is not being rational, which implies that he is not using Objectivism appropriately -- i.e. he is not sticking with the facts in a rational manner. But this does not invalidate Objectivism.

Again agreed. The focus seems to me should be on stressing the fact that physics has nothing to do with philosophy in so far as the theories don't violate metaphysics or epistemological soundness. Considering we all agree that physics should not be deduced from metaphysics this seems to be all thats needed to address worries of some thinking Oism "endorses" a particular theory. I think the reverse is true as well some seem to treat other Oist poorly who disagree on matters that have nothing to do with philosophy as such.

Not sure if were veering off topic again though.

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Let's see...

Thomas suggested that I'm calling TEW "aribtrary (less than wrong)". I never said that and don't think that. In terms strictly of its truth/falsity, TEW is false. What makes it worse than false is the evasive and dishonest character of its advocates' advocacy of it. But it is not arbitrary (in the technical Objectivist sense). It is not so much put forward in defiance of the need for evidence (and so ultimately meaningless), it is rather put forward in defiance of the fact that it contradicts known evidence and in massively negligent defiance of the proper methods for generating and attempting to validate scientific theories. (That's the "crackpot" point.)

Thomas, in your other comments, I still detect a confused and invalid desire to ask, about any proposed new existent in physics, "but what's it made of?" or something to that effect. I think you could, with equal legitimacy, ask the same questions you are asking about (e.g.) "real waves being involved in QM" (and that you were asking about gravitational fields on the other thread), about atoms or electric/magnetic fields in the late 19th century, or about electrons around 1900, or about neutrinos and the host of other particles discovered since then, or about dark matter today, etc. For all of these I would ask you: what kind of answer are you looking for? The whole point of proposing new entities in theoretical physics is that they aren't made out of anything like the stuff known about previously -- else they wouldn't be "new". Now, maybe sometimes some future context of knowledge will allow an answer to that kind of question -- as, for example, it turns out atoms are made out of electrons, protons, and neutrons. But there is no basis for thinking that electric fields are "made of" some more elementary objects. So there is simply no answer to that kind of question. But I don't think further discussion of this is going to go anywhere useful, so take the last word if you want it on this.

Regarding "the moon is made of green cheese" and the associated discussion of the relation of physics to philosophy, there is a false dichotomy being presented. It is not true that "physics has nothing to do with philosophy", but nor, as Thomas pointed out, is it true that physics is simply deduced from metaphysics. But there is a third alternative -- which is the truth -- namely, one *uses* (and hence *displays*) a certain epistemological approach in arriving at ideas in physics (just as in any other field). So if one claims to be an Objectivist, and/or is supported by self-proclaimed Objectivists, and/or is listed as a physics "expert" on websites (literally) under the banner of Ayn Rand, etc., reasonable people out in the world would be perfectly justified in assuming that the epistemological approach to ideas one displays are somehow expressive of Objectivism. And so if the "one" in question here is in fact a complete crackpot, including all of the aspects I listed in my book review, it reflects *very poorly* on Objectivism. This doesn't seem like a really tricky point to me.

Thomas wrote that "that part of [my] thesis is overblown" -- meaning the part about my thinking TEW is an embarrassment to and danger to Objectivism. His grounds for this was a reference to the Maverick Philosopher, who thinks Objectivists are kooks on some grounds having nothing to do with scientific claims. I just don't get that argument at all. Yes, there are some dishonest or otherwise hopeless people who think Objectivists are kooks. But there are also lots of honest and sensible people (including, say, your average physics professor) who have no real opinion one way or the other about Objectivism. These are the people that matter, and they are the ones whose opinion may be *rationally* swayed *against taking Objectivism seriously* if they find it to be associated with something like TEW that they are in a position to recognize for the dishonest crackpot garbage that it is. Again, not a really tricky point.

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On a different site, SoftwareNerd wrote:

At the core I understand Norsen to be saying: if you're convinced about TEW, do not misrepresent Objectivism by saying that TEW's"non-locality"-rejecting view of causality is based on the Objectivist view of causality.

SN, you are making a good point on that other site, namely, that the TEW supporters do, in fact, explicitly base their support for TEW on Objectivism. But your claim here about what I am saying "at the core" isn't right. I mean, I certainly agree that anyone who is convinced (favorably) about TEW, shouldn't misrepresent Objectivism by saying that TEW is uniquely consistent with Objectivism metaphysics (which claim is simply preposterous). But *at the core* what I'm saying is this: if you're convinced (favorably) about TEW, you are an ignorant fool who has been swindled by a crackpot. And any perceived affiliation between such people (both the swindler and the swindlees) and Objectivism can only hurt Objectivism.

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But there is a third alternative -- which is the truth -- namely, one *uses* (and hence *displays*) a certain epistemological approach in arriving at ideas in physics (just as in any other field).

I shouldn't have said "nothing to do with" I was referring to the above "approach" when I said "don't violate metaphysics or epistemological soundness." actually. Sorry I was unclear. I definitely agree that the epistemological "method" one applies in science is of paramount import. And certainly one who evades the fact that one is not following an objective epistemological criteria in a given area is to be recognized as inconsistent.

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But neither Objectivism nor Ayn Rand endorses a particular special science conclusion. If you want to get to the epistemological method of TEW and show that this is wrong, and that it could not have come from a rational approach to science, then that is a different (though related) point. I don't think supporters of a particular special science should say that their theory comes from Objectivism. One might say that the thinking methods of Objectivism lead to a greater adherence to the facts and rationality, and that the rational method of Objectivism led to better thinking skills and therefore acknowledge Ayn Rand and Objectivism for those skills; but Objectivism qua philosophy doesn't have anything to say about a special science conclusion, except insofar as one can show that there is a violation of the axioms and of rationality.

For example, Objectivists ought to reject the Copenhagen interpretation of QM on philosophical grounds, since probabilities are not causes and saying that a probability of the particle being here or there does not get to the cause, and in fact they say there is no cause. Reality is not ruled by the Uncertainty Principle either, and they confuse an epistemological status with a metaphysical status. Just because we cannot measure several aspects of a particle at once doesn't mean that it doesn't have those qualities. Likewise, according to that article on Bohm, the particle itself is considered a hidden variable by his detractors in that one doesn't measure where the particle is during it's flight, and so how can you say anything about it's path? All of this is dropping context on a massive scale, and so qua philosophy, Objectivism rejects those approaches to science as being irrational.

So, yes, insofar as a scientists makes a claim that flies in the face of reality, philosophy can veto that conclusion. And if one follows evidence and reason and non-contradictory identification, that theory will be more accurate in its epistemology, but still Objectivism qua philosophy can't say whether the conclusion is right or not. It is not the job of philosophy to do the special sciences, except to outline the general rational approach and epistemological methods. There is a limit as to what philosophy covers, and philosophy per se does not cover whether Bohm or TEW is correct in the particulars.

I don't know enough to reject TEW, since is is a special science problem that I am not that familiar with. I was at one time, but I'm not any longer. So, I can neither agree nor disagree with your assessment of TEW. If you want to talk about philosophy, I am very good at that, but I have to concede that I am no longer good at physics in the details. I could go through the effort to re-learn the physics in the details, but that is what it would require.

But even if Lewis Little is a kook, it bares no status with regard to Objectivism. And if someone is going to reject Objectivism because of one failed scientific theory, then he doesn't know the nature of philosophy and is rejecting Objectivism for the wrong reasons. It would be like rejecting Objectivism because Ayn Rand was doubtful or not fully in support of evolution because she didn't know much about it.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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