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Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves: Book Review

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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.

I'm currently working through your "J.S. Bell's Concept of Local Causality" paper so that I can get straight the several ideas causality/locality/determinism/non-locality/indeterminism. I haven't found it hard so far, just long. But there is one followup question I would like to ask before moving on to that having to do with your chosen method of demonstrating the falsity of TEW.

I'm pretty sure now that the Aspect experiment is why I personally ruled out TEW back in the day. You could have appealed to Aspect in your original post, but chose not to. I could guess why, but so long as you are here it would better if you could explain why you chose the more general, but harder to understand refutation over the more specific but easier to grasp refutation. (Yes, I am presuming Aspect is easy to understand, in that the idea that the photons can't change after they are produced is easy to understand.)

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?

Right. Thanks for translating my question from a vague suspicion into a specific objection.

And λ is Unicode character 03BB in the Arial font which I copied and pasted from a standard Windows program in Accessories/System Tools called "Character Map". The whole greek alphabet is available in upper and lowercase, as well as several other languages and symbols. If you use a Mac or unix work-alike I have no suggestions. Not all fonts have all the unicode characters.

If that's right, you're absolutely right. ...

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.

... 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 understood that up until the parenthetical "in addition". There multiple types of non-local causation? As mentioned above I'm reading further into this.

No, definitely not. ...... So clearly you're not going to be able to infer determinism from these correlations if you allow nonlocal causality. Make sense?

Got it. Possible followup questions on the way if you choose to stick around.

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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

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.

Let me expand on this a bit. If someone is very familiar with the facts of QM -- the experiments and the results and the method of confirming the results -- then one can definitely conclude that a certain theory is right or wrong, because it either fits the facts or it doesn't. Objectivism would say that if the theory fits the facts and accounts for the facts in a non-contradictory manner, then the theory is right within a certain context of knowledge. However, one would have to be very knowledgeable about those facts to come to that conclusion -- which is why it is a special science. And it makes a big difference if you are familiar with those particular facts or you are not.

We can take another example to make this more clear. There is a theory in evolution that birds are direct decedents of dinosaurs. Now, does Objectivism qua philosophy affirm or deny that claim? Well, Objectivism says to go by the facts in a non-contradictory manner and identify the causes involved in evolution; however, one cannot say that the evolution of birds is implicit in Objectivism. One can say that the application of Objectivism's approach to knowledge -- it's metaphysics and it's epistemology -- leads to better results in long chains of evidence and conclusions. But one has to look at those facts in a non-contradictory manner. And Objectivism doesn't say that birds descended from dinosaurs before those facts are discovered.

Now, let's say that a particular Objectivists says he has evidence that all birds descended from this particular dinosaur, and it turns out that he is wrong. Does this invalidate Objectivism? No, it does not, it just means that he didn't take all of the facts into account or made a mistake somewhere along the way. And if someone where to say that Objectivism has been invalidated because this particular evolution scientists was wrong in his conclusions, then he is implicitly saying that Objectivism entails omniscience and infallibility, which it doesn't endorse anyhow.

So, if it turns out that Lewis Little is wrong about the facts, it doesn't invalidate Objectivism or the method of non-contradictory identification or the method of identifying causes. It just means that he was wrong in a particular application of knowledge.

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And λ is Unicode character 03BB in the Arial font which I copied and pasted from a standard Windows program in Accessories/System Tools called "Character Map". The whole greek alphabet is available in upper and lowercase, as well as several other languages and symbols. If you use a Mac or unix work-alike I have no suggestions. Not all fonts have all the unicode characters.

An additional note for windows users:

If you can translate '03BB" into decimal, you can hold down the Alt key and type that number on the keypad (not the numbers at the top of the keyboard.) Character map should supply this, BTW, but you can use the calculator (Open calculator, view in scientific mode, toggle the Hex radio button, type in 3BB, then toggle the decimal button, and the number will convert). Alt+955 in this example. Of course you have to be in the appropriate font for this to work, and it doesn't seem to work in this reply window but I believe it would work in Chat. It works in wordpad but not notepad.

If there is some symbol you use a *lot* it's worth writing down or memorizing the number.

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An additional note for windows users:

If you can translate '03BB" into decimal, you can hold down the Alt key and type that number on the keypad (not the numbers at the top of the keyboard.) Character map should supply this, BTW, but you can use the calculator (Open calculator, view in scientific mode, toggle the Hex radio button, type in 3BB, then toggle the decimal button, and the number will convert). Alt+955 in this example. Of course you have to be in the appropriate font for this to work, and it doesn't seem to work in this reply window but I believe it would work in Chat. It works in wordpad but not notepad.

If there is some symbol you use a *lot* it's worth writing down or memorizing the number.

I'm no dummy, but that's all way too complicated for me! Much easier to just type out l-a-m-b-d-a. I will also say: thank god for latex!

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Thomas, we're going in circles, so after this post I won't discuss it any further. Your point seems to be that it's a logical fallacy to infer from "Mr. X is an Objectivist" and "Mr. X believes special-scientific theory Y" to "Y is part of or endorsed by Objectivism." That's of course true. But don't you agree that it's nevertheless reasonable for some honest person to form a negative judgment of Objectivism if he sees someone (who loudly proclaims himself an Objectivist) endorsing and proselytizing for a bunch of dishonest crackpot garbage (and worse, doing so at least in part on nominally Objectivist grounds, e.g., by citing Ayn Rand's statements about causality)? People do, and should do, this kind of thing all the time. It comes down to what I said before: it is not unreasonable to assume that a person's actual cognitive functioning reflects his explicitly endorsed epistemological beliefs. So if a person claims to be an Objectivist, but can't tell the difference between good science and pseudo-science (e.g., say, they are into astrology and the magical healing power of crystals), rational observers will be inclined to infer, validly if wrongly, that Objectivism itself is pseudo-scientific.

You keep mentioning Rand's alleged agnosticism about the theory of evolution. (I'm not really sure where this claim comes from, hence "alleged.") But there's an important difference between *not* taking a position on some scientific issue because one doesn't have the expertise to take such a position (which is what AR supposedly did), and *taking* a position *despite not having* the relevant expertise. I think I have made it clear from the very beginning that the people I mean to criticize are those who are ignorant of physics, but nevertheless respond to the superficially-Objectivish-sounding sloganry in Lewis Little's writings by forming a favorable judgment of TEW as a scientific theory. People who are ignorant of physics and know it and so refrain from forming a favorable judgment of TEW (or Bohm's theory or any other theory) will catch no flack from me.

You wrote: "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." That is precisely what I have been showing.

You wrote:

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'm sorry, but this is just the same old false dichotomy. Yes, physics is not deduced from philosophy. We all get that. Neither is, say, the question of whether the alignment of the stars and planets has a causal influence on human activities. But does that mean that if some crackpot astrologer gains a following among some self-described Objectivists, we should all just turn the other cheek and say "well, if anyone forms a negative judgment of Objectivism based on this, it's their problem, not ours, since astrology isn't part of philosophy and they should know that." Clearly not. The right response is to repudiate the crackpot and his followers and ask them to please take their crazy pseudo-scientific nonsense as far away from Objectivism as possible.

You wrote: "I don't know enough to reject TEW". Don't confuse "rejection" with "lack of endorsement." Actually, this is an example of an important point in Objectivism, namely, that there isn't a symmetry between the positive and negative. (Knowledge is not the same as a lack of ignorance, you don't build by refraining from demolishing, etc.) If you don't know enough about physics or TEW to have a positive position one way or the other on any of the relevant options, it is OK to simply not have a positive position. Don't endorse TEW, don't endorse Bohm's theory, don't endorse my/Bell's interpretation of Bell's theorem, etc. That, ultimately, is all I'm asking of anyone. I'm *not* asking anyone to take my negative judgment of TEW (involving, as it does, certain advanced technical things like Bell's theorem) on faith. (Though I have to also say that there is plenty of evidence, available to any honest non-expert, that Little is a dishonest crank, so you don't actually need to understand fully how to prove that TEW is false, to know that it and its author and supporters are embarrassments to and dangers to Objectivism.) All I'm asking is that people who don't know enough physics to (say) answer the many objections I've raised, be honest with themselves, and refrain from endorsing and proselytizing for TEW, especially under the banner of Objectivism.

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I'm pretty sure now that the Aspect experiment is why I personally ruled out TEW back in the day. You could have appealed to Aspect in your original post, but chose not to. I could guess why, but so long as you are here it would better if you could explain why you chose the more general, but harder to understand refutation over the more specific but easier to grasp refutation. (Yes, I am presuming Aspect is easy to understand, in that the idea that the photons can't change after they are produced is easy to understand.)

I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. Are you asking why I didn't appeal to Aspect, but instead appealed to the more recent Aspect-like experiment done by Weihs et al in Innsbruck in 1998? If that's it, there's no real reason or answer. The later experiment is just better, though in ways that probably don't matter for the level of the discussion here. Appealing to Aspect instead would have been equivalent. Or did you mean: why didn't I appeal to experiments (like Aspect's) at all? If that's it, I think the answer is: I thought I did. It's certainly a crucial piece of the puzzle. The way we know that faster-than-light causation exists is precisely from the Aspect (and other similar) experiment(s), interpreted using Bell's theorem.

I understood that up until the parenthetical "in addition". There multiple types of non-local causation? As mentioned above I'm reading further into this.

Well, multiple types of non-locality maybe. The two that were in play in this discussion were the following. The first type was the sort of "nonlocal state description" that one has explicitly in QM, in which (for example) two spatially-separated entities (like the two photons in an EPR-Bell experiment) fail to have individual distinct polarization states, but are instead part of a sort of holistic, joint 2-particle polarization state. Then the second type of non-locality is the non-local *causation* shown to exist by Bell's theorem and the associated experiments. Note that there isn't really any *causation* involved in the first type of non-locality. So the point I was making was that one directly practical reason Bell probably formulated the theorem the way he did (and this is in addition to the fact that it makes the theorem *stronger*, which other things equal is obviously a good thing) was to be able to show clearly that the nonlocality proved by the theorem is *not* the (familiar, subtle) sort that is manifest in QM (and not in any *obvious* way in conflict with relativity theory), but is instead a more blatant non-local *causation* which *is* obviously in conflict with relativity theory -- or at least with what everybody took to be an implication of relativity theory all those decades.

Hope that clarifies. If not, it's probably not worth pursuing. It was really only a pointless speculation about why Bell presented something one way rather than a slightly weaker, but maybe more physically transparent, other possible way.

Got it. Possible followup questions on the way if you choose to stick around.

Sure. I won't be reading and posting as much as last week, but I'd be happy to answer any of your follow-ups about this stuff.

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Travis , it seems obvious to me ,but there seems to be some confusion as to what you mean by "non-local". Some think you are asserting the following :

[1]. "instantaneous action" of any kind [as opposed to simply "supraluminal"]

[2]. "super positions" as in two locations at the same time.

[3]. That a particle is "everywhere and nowhere at once"

[4]. That a partical can travel from [a]. to . without crossing the space in between.

I think this will clear up a whole lot of confusion for others.

Edited by Plasmatic
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I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. Are you asking why I didn't appeal to Aspect, but instead appealed to the more recent Aspect-like experiment done by Weihs et al in Innsbruck in 1998? If that's it, there's no real reason or answer. The later experiment is just better, though in ways that probably don't matter for the level of the discussion here. Appealing to Aspect instead would have been equivalent. Or did you mean: why didn't I appeal to experiments (like Aspect's) at all? If that's it, I think the answer is: I thought I did. It's certainly a crucial piece of the puzzle. The way we know that faster-than-light causation exists is precisely from the Aspect (and other similar) experiment(s), interpreted using Bell's theorem.

In your original post you didn't appeal to the novel feature of Aspect-like experiments at all, only the results of EPR-Bell type experiments. What I was getting at was that your original post makes the strong point that:

That is, what Bell’s theorem and the associated experiments prove is the real existence of “nonlocality.”

That this is a fundamental fact of reality and therefore important, is the most significant content of your original book review not merely the "negation of the negative" of refuting TEW in the eyes of that book's intended audience (laypersons). The positive value of your original post is primarily that it teaches an unfamiliar truth, only secondarily that a particular falsehood is pointed out. You could have followed the path of pointing out that reverse wave theories are ruled out by Aspect, but that would not teach anything about locality. I'm glad you composed the argument as you did, otherwise I for one would not have learned anything new.

Well, multiple types of non-locality maybe. ...

That does clarify, thanks.

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Travis , it seems obvious to me ,but there seems to be some confusion as to what you mean by "non-local". Some think you are asserting the following :

[1]. "instantaneous action" of any kind [as opposed to simply "supraluminal"]

[2]. "super positions" as in two locations at the same time.

[3]. That a particle is "everywhere and nowhere at once"

[4]. That a partical can travel from [a]. to . without crossing the space in between.

I think this will clear up a whole lot of confusion for others.

Don't confuse confusion with the desire not to know.

But, since it's so simple, here you go.

By "non-locality" I mean (unless the context specifically indicates otherwise): faster-than-light causation, of the sort ordinarily thought to be prohibited by relativity.

Perhapsa further comment I made on HBL last night would be worth adding: "the whole idea of instantaneous action-at-a-distance is a complete red herring -- it should *never* have been in play in these discussions at all. That it has been (and [...] continues to be) is only a result of obfuscation and misinformation on the part of TEW's supporters. Whether the misinformation campaign is deliberate, or merely based on ignorance, is irrelevant. If one is ignorant enough of the technical details to be able to innocently proffer that kind of misinformation, one shouldn't proffer it. And of course nor should one do so if one knows better. Given that there is such misinformation in play, people watching from the sidelines and trying to decide whom to believe need to be extremely cautious. There is such a thing as a sensible-sounding argument whose (perhaps tacit) premises are total fabrications and distortions of the truth."

I hope that clarifies. Though I can guarantee you that certain dishonest individuals will, no matter how many times this is explained to them, continue to insist that what I really mean by "non-locality" is ... something other than what I do mean. Such people are not interested in the truth and, after a point, can no longer be dealt with rationally.

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In your original post you didn't appeal to the novel feature of Aspect-like experiments at all, only the results of EPR-Bell type experiments.

By "EPR-Bell type experiments" I just mean the experiments of Aspect, Weihs, and the other similar ones that are specifically designed to test Bell's inequality. So there must be some sort of confusion here (perhaps my fault) if you thought I was referring to something *other* than Aspect's experiment here. Hopefully all is clear now.

That this is a fundamental fact of reality and therefore important, is the most significant content of your original book review not merely the "negation of the negative" of refuting TEW in the eyes of that book's intended audience (laypersons). The positive value of your original post is primarily that it teaches an unfamiliar truth, only secondarily that a particular falsehood is pointed out. You could have followed the path of pointing out that reverse wave theories are ruled out by Aspect, but that would not teach anything about locality. I'm glad you composed the argument as you did, otherwise I for one would not have learned anything new.

It's certainly true that the fact that relativistic local causality (i.e., "locality") is refuted by these experiments is an important and surprising discovery. Most physicists are still in denial about it, which I guess puts the TEW crowd (for once) in good company.

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Having just come back from the Austin Atlas Shrugged Symposium, I feel revived. I'll write a review of it in another thread, but I have been thinking about the QM conundrum and I think I owe Travis a bit of an apology. I'm not very familiar with Bohm or TEW aside from some papers I read years ago. What set both Bohm and TEW apart from other views of QM is that both are causative, whereas the Copenhagen interpretation does not attempt to get to the cause and even says it isn't necessary to identify a cause. I think what attracts people to TEW is that it claims to be causative on all levels and therefore the whole "spookiness" of QM disappears. But Travis has indicated that Bohm does the same thing, only he doesn't try to get beneath the level he is able to understand and claims that superluminal effects must be present. In effect, Travis is saying that TEW does not properly identify the cause of QM effects because it can't account for certain experiments. If one is very familiar with the experiments and with QM in general, and TEW does not get to the cause of certain experiments, then one can say, at a minimum that it isn't correct for those experiments -- i.e. TEW does not actually identify the cause. I'm not in a position to say TEW does or does not identify the cause because I am not familiar enough with the experiments. I guess in a way, I, too, was caught up in the causative nature of TEW without realizing that Bohm also had a causative approach; and that insofar as the exact cause may not have been identified yet, it doesn't mean that someone claiming to identify the cause must be correct.

So, thanks Travis, for helping me to understand that. Perhaps the cause may not be fully known for quite a number of years, but that doesn't mean that someone claiming to have found the cause is necessarily correct.

*Edited to take out double statement. I have problems with this computer staying connected to the Internet, and it does that sometimes.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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Sometimes I am reminded of how much I love physics, even though I didn't stick with it. There is an excellent show call "The Death Star" about gamma ray bursts and how scientists searched for the cause of those gamma ray bursts for decades after discovering them. There were even times when certain scientists were considered to be kooks because their claim as to where the bursts were happening seemed inconceivably far away for the amount of power contained in them. After checking numerous premises and going back to the drawing board many times, the solution was finally discovered. I've never really seen a TV show like that about QM, since they mostly focus on how QM contradicts everything else we know about the universe, and no one is no longer looking for the cause of QM events. Hopefully, if only behind the scenes, someone will put it all together into one comprehensive package.

By the way, has anyone ever thought about creating a QM wave guide?

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
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By the way, has anyone ever thought about creating a QM wave guide?

If a photon is a quantum particle, and it is, then a graded index optical fiber is a quantum waveguide. For that matter, a radio wave is a photon and all EM waveguides are quantum waveguides. But I suspect you want to point out something about manipulating ψ the 'quantum wavefunction' itself. The interpretation of the quantum wavefunction as a probability amplitude does not lend itself to direct physical manipulation.

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If a photon is a quantum particle, and it is, then a graded index optical fiber is a quantum waveguide. For that matter, a radio wave is a photon and all EM waveguides are quantum waveguides. But I suspect you want to point out something about manipulating ψ the 'quantum wavefunction' itself. The interpretation of the quantum wavefunction as a probability amplitude does not lend itself to direct physical manipulation.

But isn't that the whole issue of this thread, whether psi is a real wave or not? It is the Copenhagen interpretation of psi as a probability amplitude that is being rejected by both Bohm and TEW. If psi is a real wave description, then it should be possible to create some sort of QM wave guide -- for any particle that has a wave associated with it. In other words, it should be possible to have a wave guide for traveling electrons or protons insofar as they are guided by real waves under either Bohm or TEW.

I don't think I've ever seen the derivation of psi; I just know that Schrödinger came up with it, but I'm not sure how. And he didn't think of it as a probability function. So, how did he come up with it?

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Let's see... catching up...

Thomas, there is no need for you to apologize to me. If anything, Lewis Little should apologize to you and others who got, from his writings, a very wrong impression about the state of contemporary thinking in the foundations of physics. Little works very hard to make it sound like he is the first person in the history of the universe to think that orthodox QM is a bad theory, that physicists' positivist and operationalist and anti-realist and anti-causal tendencies are unscientific and wrong, etc. Actually this kind of misinformation is a crucial part of his sales pitch. If people understood, for example, that Bohm (and to a much more significant degree, Bell) shared these sorts of reasonable motivations, they would first-handedly explore those other thinkers and find there the kind of serious scientific work that, well, makes TEW look like embarrassing crackpot nonsense by comparison. So, Thomas, I'm glad I helped you get unswindled. That's precisely the sort of thing I wanted to achieve by investing this time writing publicly about TEW. I hope others get a similar benefit from this thread.

Then there's this historical question:

I don't think I've ever seen the derivation of psi; I just know that Schrödinger came up with it, but I'm not sure how. And he didn't think of it as a probability function. So, how did he come up with it?

It was Louis de Broglie who really first came up with the physical idea of waves somehow guiding the motion of associated particles. Actually, de Broglie came up with pretty much the whole "pilot wave" theory (i.e., what is sometimes today called Bohm's theory or Bohmian Mechanics) before the eventually-orthodox "quantum mechanics" was created by Heisenberg et al. For anyone really interested in the history here, probably the best source is "Quantum Theory at the Crossroads" by Valentini and Bacciogallupi, which I think is still forthcoming, but an earlier draft of the whole book is available for free on arxiv.org. Anyway, Schroedinger's contribution was "merely" to cook up a mathematical equation to describe the time-evolution of the waves de Broglie had already postulated. His physical interpretation was that |psi|^2 represented a mass or charge *density* for the electron. This is more or less still the picture that is taught to chemists... remember those pictures of fuzzed-out electron "clouds" surrounding atoms from your high school chem textbook? That was Schroedinger's theory. Of course, it is false, or at least very misleading. It was Max Born who introduced the now-standard "probability interpretation" of |psi|^2. I haven't studied the history here *really* carefully, but Born's writings have always struck me as seeming to presume a very good, de Broglie-ish understanding of the *meaning* of the probabilities -- that is, Born tends to speak of the probability of *finding* an electron at a certain place (with the implication that this is a mere passive revealing of a state of affairs that obtained prior to one's looking), as opposed to the eventual Copenhagen view that the looking itself causes the particle to (for the first time) acquire a definite location. That is, Born's own views don't seem to be as stupid as the views that are usually attributed to him in (e.g.) quantum physics textbooks.

By the way, and just because someone made a remark that suggested some confusion about this, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with interpreting |psi|^2 as the probability for finding a particle. This is true according to both Copenhagen and Bohm. The rightness or wrongness is to be found in the underlying physical theory and the role that this probability plays in the theory. For example, in Copenhagen, psi is taken as a complete description of the physical state of the system, but it really is never clear if that means there is a real physical wave, or if psi is merely some kind of "complete description" of the *knowledge* a person can have about the system, or what. And probability enters by magic, i.e., as a special (actually contradictory) postulate about what happens when a "measurement" occurs. So the problem with Copenhagen is not the probability interpretation of psi, it's the ontological unclarity and the "unprofessional vagueness and ambiguity" created by the tension between the two different sorts of laws pertaining to "measurement" and "non-measurement" situations (whatever those are supposed to mean exactly). By contrast, in Bohm's theory, psi is a real physical wave, which guides the trajectory of real physical particles according to a clean and clear mathematical law which applies all the time no matter if someone is "measuring" something or not. And it turns out that the probability of finding a particle in a particular spot is proportional to the intensity |psi|^2 of the wave at that spot. What possible basis could there be for complaining about that? Maybe that clarifies something for someone.

Let's see. I also wanted to respond to another bit of ridiculousness I saw on the speichers' site. PhilO there recommended Joy Christian's recent papers purporting to have refuted Bell's theorem. This just proves that PhilO is merely an ignorant partisan in this debate. His recommendation is equivalent, say, to some unthinking person hostile to Objectivism (and who has never seriously studied any philosophy) casually recommending the recent "refutations" of Rand on the Maverick Philosopher website. I suppose I should actually say something about what's wrong with Joy Christian's "refutation" of Bell, else I will be accused of flinging empty ad hominem. OK, fine. His whole paper is based on the *stupid* idea of making the A's and B's (from my derivation of Bell's theorem in the book review which began this thread) into non-commuting numbers. Thus, he contemplates theories which predict that, for a given physical state of the particle pair and given orientations of the two polarizers, Alice's photon will yield outcome "A" and Bob's photon will yield outcome "B" -- but where "A times B" is not necessarily equal to "B times A". Now if you for one second take your head out of Plato's heaven and remember what these symbols A and B are supposed to mean, you realize that this is completely stupid. The whole thing is a brilliant example of what's wrong with so much of theoretical physics today. It's impeccable and sophisticated mathematics that makes perfect sense so long as you completely and totally forget that you are supposed to be doing *physics*, which requires that you remember *what you are talking about*. Anyway, in the paper Joy Christian does a nice little algebraic dance with these non-commuting numbers, and shows that the correlations (which remember are calculated precisely by multiplying the A's by the B's and then averaging over various things) can exceed the limit expressed by Bell's inequality, and in particular can agree with the experiments. So it is supposed to be a counterexample to Bell -- a locally causal theory which nevertheless makes predictions consistent with the experiments. It is no such thing, because the theory's *actual* predictions for the experiments are not even wrong -- which I actually mean here in its literal, as opposed to rhetorical, sense. A wrong prediction would be one that says a given particle goes up when in fact it goes down, i.e., that says A = +1 when actually A = -1. That's a wrong prediction. What kind of prediction do you have if your theory says that the value of A (which remember denotes whether a certain particle goes up or down) isn't *either* of +1 or -1, but is instead some kind of mathematical operator which fails to commute with other similar operators? Such a "prediction" does not rise to the level of achieving a wrong prediction.

The lesson here is that if you want to actually make a useful contribution to discussions on these issues, you have to do a little more than spend 5 seconds googling for "Bell theorem refutation" (or however PhilO found this paper) and then posing like you understand the issues and have read the relevant literature. There's a name for people who do only that: frauds. To save PhilO some of his valuable time in future rounds of the debate, here are some other completely stupid things he could google up and cite to his fellow ignorant crackpot-supporting friends as bolstering their position: the infamous Hess/Phillipp "refutation" of Bell's theorem, Ghose's various (proposed) experimental "refutations" of Bohmian Mechanics, Bohr's "refutation" of the EPR argument, etc.

Since this thread seems to be dying down (which I do not consider a bad thing), let me also underscore some of the high points of the discussion so far.

1. Three or four times in the past, Little has put forth detailed attempts to predict, using TEW, the correct predictions for the EPR-Bell type experiments. Each of these specific proposals has been retracted (sometimes amid great rhetorical displays of dishonesty). In his new book, Little simply dodges the whole issue, presenting a bunch of misguided polemics against Bell and Bohm, and *not* presenting any actual demonstration or calculation to back up his (empty and false) claim that TEW can correctly account for the results of these experiments. It can't. If it really could, Little would have shown us how. This is not the case of a theory which "has yet to address" a certain point. It is a case of outright fraud and evasion. Think I'm wrong? Then you can win a thousand of my dollars.

2. We can be certain, even without knowing anything about TEW other than that relativistic local causality is one of its foundation stones, that TEW is false. Bell's theorem and the results of the relevant experiments prove that no such locally causal theory can make the right predictions for these experiments. Any proponent of TEW who wants to be taken seriously by serious people must first acquire and then display a genuine understanding of Bell's work. Lewis Little should lead by example here. Of course, anybody who did acquire that understanding would then necessarily cease to be a proponent of TEW.

3. In probably my most important post in this thread, I explained in some detail how TEW in fact cannot even account for the results of the two-slit experiment (which TEW's advocates, including Little, universally take as the most clear-cut and most dramatic evidence in favor of the theory). This deserves a serious response from anyone who wants to maintain that TEW deserves even a moment's further consideration. One of the innocent young things who posts to the speichers' site should raise this question there and see what kind of response follows from the theory's last-remaining supporters.

4. People need to understand that, even leaving aside for the moment the question of TEW's truth, Lewis Little as a "commentator" on foundational issues in physics, simply cannot be trusted. He badly misunderstands (really, just fails to even approach proper understanding) and/or deliberately distorts Bell's work. Same for Bohm's theory. And same for the orthodox/Copenhagen views. If you think Lewis Little is some kind of original or important thinker because he had the courage and intelligence ("north of 200"!!) to stand up to the corrupt physics establishment, you simply need to grow up and get out more. Every crackpot in the history of the universe has tried to create precisely this same impression, and typically succeeds in fooling a few foolish people. Don't be foolish, people, and don't get fooled. Especially when you are wearing your Objectivist hat.

5. Being ignorant about a given field is OK. But being ignorant *and nevertheless supporting embarrassing crackpot garbage from a field of which you are ignorant, and doing so qua Objectivist* is not OK. If a self-proclaimed Objectivist got interested in astrology, or the magical healing power of crystals, or intelligent design, and started talking about their wonderful "alternative to scientific orthodoxy" on Objectivist websites, listing the crackpot originators of such theories as "experts" on forums for ayn rand fans, linking to stupid refutations of darwin, etc., the appropriate response of sensible Objectivists would *clearly* be to SHUN and REPUDIATE these people. This is what should happen to TEW supporters.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Someone want to tell Lewis' publisher that there is no >Vecton< Theory of Magnetism, ch 10.3 or 10.4? (amazon preview) These things leap out at me: I write patents for a living, so sue me. And no I don't want to register to the prodos & lewis show just to correct a spelling error.

stay focused,

aj

Since 25 March 2009, Dr. Little is available daily to participate in discussions and answer questions regarding the elementary wave theory, including topics in physics or the philosophy of science.

at the TEWLIP forum (http://www.tewlip.com)

Alex

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Greetings.

The following questions are based only on Travis Norsen’s post @

http://forum.ObjectivismOnline.com/index.p...st&p=208158

But after eventually reading Little’s 1996 paper (in the fringe journal “Physics Essays”) ...

Could Travis clarify: In what sense does he mean and/or not mean that Physics Essays is a “fringe journal”?

For instance does he mean that:

  • It is not taken seriously by reputable, knowledgeable, trained physicists? Or ...
  • It is a serious and reputable journal but highly specialized or esoteric? Or ...
  • That it specializes – perhaps as a matter of policy - in highly non-mainstream, even controversial physics theories and/or research? Or ...
  • Something else?

... and as I observed the behavior of Little and his supporters in public debates ...

I understand Travis’s reference to “the behavior of Little and his supporters” to mean that he felt the conduct of Lewis Little and his supporters (those who were to some extent sympathetic or favorable towards the value or validity of TEW) was problematic in some way.

Is that the meaning intended?

If so, am I included in this criticism?

i.e. Does Travis believe that my behavior was, in his view, problematic or unacceptable in some way?

Does he feel, for instance, that I was unfair or disrespectful towards him or biased or prejudicial against him?

If so, could he please elaborate?

Could Travis indicate which public debates he is referring to?

Is he referring entirely to online debates, discussions, forums, lists?

Is he referring entirely to public debates at online forums to which he was registered (and could therefore submit posts and replies)?

Of the online forums which have discussed and debated TEW, the one I know well is the YahooGroups TEWLIP forum/list which I set up in March 2000 and for which I was moderator between March 2000 and February 2004

Is that forum included in Travis's statement?

Did he feel that he was treated badly or unfairly in some way when he was on that forum?

For instance, that he was misrepresented or subjected to ad hominem attacks or publicly accused of behavior and/or motivations for which there was no evidence? Was his character, credibility, or reputation impugned publicly?

Did he feel that the tone of discussion was "anti-intellectual"? Or intellectually sloppy? Emotionalistic?

The other online “venues” of which I am aware and which discussed or debated TEW to some degree were the Harry Binswanger List (HBL) and a forum or list connected with the (now defunct) ObjectiveScience.com site.

“... Little has described himself as an Objectivist ...”

Could Travis elaborate further on this please?

In particular, is he saying that Lewis Little has mentioned or described himself as an Objectivist on those occasions when presenting his theory or discussing physics or science? Has he at any time, to Travis’s knowledge, suggested that his theory is an “Objectivist theory of physics” of some sort?

If so, was this done on an online forum or list? If so, could Travis indicate to the best of his knowledge on which?

I know that Lewis Little did not ever mentioned whether or not he is an Objectivist on my YahooGroups TEWLIP list.

Indeed my policy as moderator of that list was that, unless there was some very clear reason to do so, the terms “Ayn Rand”, “Objectivism”, and “Objectivist” could not be mentioned.

Furthermore I stated on TEWLIP: “TEWLIP is not an Objectivist list and does not present TEW as an

‘Objectivist Physics’ “. I am happy to provide further details on any of this.

The only occasion when a post was allowed through which did mention and seek to promote Ayn Rand and Objectivism was a post submitted by David Harriman on the occasion of his resignation from TEWLIP. In that post David Harriman stated that “we must fight for Objectivism as the foundation of physics” – which I subsequently criticized as being an improper goal.

Thanks.

Best Wishes,

PRODOS

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Has he at any time, to Travis’s knowledge, suggested that his theory is an “Objectivist theory of physics” of some sort?
This was one question I too had, at one point. From reading TTN's posts above, I read him as objecting to TEW the way one might object to (say) flat-earth theory. Imagine if a flat-earther convinced a few Objectivists that he just might have some shade of proof that the earth is flat, and they discussed this briefly on a few Objectivist lists and then set up a separate Flat-Earth list where most of the members were Objectivists. That is the kind of thing that might get an Objectivist geographer to ask fellow Objectivists not to push that flat-earther's theory unless they really understand it.
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Good afternoon.

This was one question I too had, at one point. From reading TTN's posts above, I read him as objecting to TEW the way one might object to (say) flat-earth theory [ ... ]

Interesting analogy.

Without in any way suggesting that Travis would necessarily agree with softwareNerd’s analogy, let me think this through a bit . . .

I’m an Objectivist. I believe the earth is flat.

But actually the earth is not flat, is it? Nevertheless, I really, really believe it is.

I talk to you – a fellow Objectivist - about my theory, and convince you that it has some merit. Perhaps you are enthused about my theory, perhaps you are intrigued or curious, perhaps you are not quite convinced but you like my approach for some reason.

Perhaps the appeal of my theory is that it claims to demolish views widely held by “Modern Geologists”, many of whom advocate The Profound Pickled Onion Theory of the Earth. That the earth is in fact a friggin pickled onion.

But actually the earth is not a pickled onion, is it? Nevertheless “they” really believe it is.

Or maybe they believe it might as well be a pickled onion, since so much can be delineated, mapped out, calculated accurately using this theory.

“Hey! It ‘works’ man! So get off our case!”

(By the way, don’t get me wrong now, because I really like pickled onions. Furthermore let’s keep in mind there may be many different versions of the Profound Pickled Onion Theory which develop over time. Such a theory would surely be rich with possibilities! The flavors, the sizes, the colors, and what have you. I can even imagine an extra weird development evolving over time which becomes knows as ... the Boisterous Baked Bean Theory of the Earth which seeks to rectify some of the deficiencies which are gradually becoming apparent in Standard Pickled Onion Theories. “You have chosen the wrong vegetable, you fools!” ... but beans aren’t vegetables, are they? Not sure. Anyway ...)

Perhaps my Fabulous Flat Earth Theory (that’s what I’ve decided to call it) mounts a strong offense against the patent absurdities of the prevailing PickledHead Orthodoxy.

I set up the PRODOS Fabulous Flat Earth forum (FabFlat – not to be confused with FlabFat).

You join. We talk.

Other Objectivists also join, talk, and have a merry ol’ time.

Meanwhile, non-Objectivists, potential Objectivists, and those HOSTILE to Objectivism see us engaging with great gusto, treating this patently absurd idea seriously.

We FabFlatters – although misguided and astoundingly silly in the realm of Geology – understand that there is no such thing as an Objectivist Theory of Geology. Some of us do happen to be Geologists, but that really doesn’t help much. Let’s face it, only stupid and/or dishonest Geologists would ever support a Flat Earth Theory, right? Haha, right!

Anyway, we make it clear that we are in no way presenting this as an Objectivist Theory of Geology.

(Aside: Oddly, a prominent Objectivist who becomes utterly appalled at our rampant silliness resigns one day, taking us all quite by surprise when he declares “We must all fight for Objectivism as the basis of Geology, but this is not the way to go about it you silly, silly people!!”)

Despite our disclaimers, it is an inescapable fact that many of us over here at FabFlat are indeed, yes, Objectivists.

What proportion? Who knows? The point is, there are enough of us there to make this issue statistically significant!

It is a bad day for Objectivism!

How will anyone ever take the greatest philosophy ever created seriously while the likes of those FabFlatters are making a mockery of Geological Truth!

What Objectivism needs – if humanity is to have any hope of surviving – is lots of non-silly people. Fewer sillies and more non-sillies. There’s nothing too difficult about grasping that, surely!

(I need to stop talking about Pickled Onions and Baked Beans very soon, because it’s making me hungry and dinner is two hours away.)

So what have we ended up with?

We have a large number of Establishment Geologists who believe in some version of the Profound Pickled Onion Theory.

We have a smaller but significant number who support a Boisterous Baked Bean Theory.

We have some Objectivists who advocate or are interested in exploring the Fabulous Flat Earth Theory.

Has anyone been left out?

Well, what about those Objectivists who are Geologists AND who support the CORRECT theory?

The correct theory being what? That the earth is sort of spherical? Right? Wrong.

When we step away from the above fanciful excursion we find that there is no such theory.

The shape of the earth as an overall mass is no longer in the realm of speculation or theorizing.

It is no longer an unknown phenomenon seeking description.

Once upon a time it was. But now we can reliably map out, measure, photograph, and traverse this splendid planet. We can check its shape moment by moment.

I will also add that by way of poetic license I’ve referred to Flat Earth and Pickled Onion, etc. as “theories”. I don't believe this is a correct use of the scientific term, "theory".

On a historical note, I’d like to mention that the belief that people believed in the myth of a flat earth is itself a myth.

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/history/1997Russell.html

… with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat. A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters … the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans … Nor did this situation change with the advent of Christianity.

For those concerned about the reputation of Objectivism, I have over the last few years been studying the writings of those who are hostile to Ayn Rand, Objectivism, and Objectivists and have also spoken with many of these hostiles.

One of the most common complaints they have – and it does have some merit – concerns excessive resort to what I call “The Shun”.

Just the other day a good and valued friend of mine, an Objectivist, informed me he was going to Shun someone for some reason which made sense to him.

It’s not a good way to go my friends.

A few months ago, prior to the American 2008 election, I came across a most tragic and extreme example of The Shun. Perhaps you did too.

It was when Dr Peikoff, from whom I have learned so much - as I’m sure all serious students of Objectivism have – referred in one of his podcasts to the four candidates as “sub-huimans”.

But getting back to Flat/Pickled/Baked earth "theories".

It's okay to study and discuss a variety of theories in Physics. You don't have to be a Physicist to do that.

As Objectivists we are especially well equipped to enter new frontiers, new areas of knowledge.

When I prepare for interviews for my podcast shows I ALWAYS talk with people who are SMARTER than me.

People who know mountains more than I do in some particular field.

I'm curious, I contact them, I learn what I can about their work and their ideas, then I plunge in and try to learn a lot more.

It's a wonderful experience. I have a great advantage as an Objectivist because my philosophy constantly reminds me to never take on beliefs that I can't verify. And to never act as if I know more than I do. To never proceed on a course of action with greater enthusiasm than is warranted. (That's a particularly difficult one for me however.)

It's not that unusual for highly knowledgeable individuals to be very cautious and skeptical about amateurs and dilettante.

There is no doubt that Travis, for instance, is extremely knowledgeable in his field, and passionate about it too!

I see that he often mentions Bohm's work and ideas. Great! We non-physicists should definitely get acquainted with Bohm. I was reading some of his writings this morning in fact, and was most impressed by much of what I read.

Should you also study Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves? It doesn't matter. There is a more important issue here.

Study everything. Plunge in. Learn, ask, listen, look, reflect, challenge, invent.

You're an Objectivist! Give us a big smile now luv. :)

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Prodos, Your post sets up a false dichotomy between dogmatism and skepticism and campaigns for the former.

Secondly, it is fine to take all concrete instances of X shunning Y and classify them as a single concept of "shun". However, it is wrong to assume that all concretes under such a concept are good or bad. That would be like saying: that dog is dangerous, therefore all dogs are dangerous.

The other mistake you make in your post is an argument that goes like this: since TTN and others made some arguments that are invalid (your claim), that somehow weakens their argument that one ought not associate with crack-pot theories.

As for amateurs and niche theories, they are fine. How can any Objectivist claim otherwise without obvious contradiction? However, any layman who wants to get deeper into economics would do well to read Keynes or something sympathetic to Keynes.

Regardless of those, to me, the bottom-line is this: if TEW and his supporters claim that his theory has nothing to do with Objectivism, well and good. This thread, and ones like it in other forums, won't dissuade a really curious person who wishes to pursue the field in more depth. It simply makes explicit to the newcomer that Objectivists -- as such -- do not agree with TEW... and that's something you agree with.

Edited by softwareNerd
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...

Should you also study Lewis Little's Theory of Elementary Waves? It doesn't matter. There is a more important issue here.

Study everything. Plunge in. Learn, ask, listen, look, reflect, challenge, invent.

You're an Objectivist! Give us a big smile now luv. :D

I did study it, up until the point I grasped that any reverse wave theory contradicted the results of the Aspect experiment. It doesn't take a PhD to make it that far, so I have my doubts about what the PhD's that can't even reach that conclusion are really up to.

Objectivism comes into this in the following fashion: once one understands a particular idea is false, it is immoral to continue to act as though it were true. It becomes difficult to continue to associate with those who do not yet grasp their mistake, even if they are not immoral.

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Study everything.
Up to a point. It does not take much study to understand why communism is false and not deserving of further study. A prima facie case for TEW must first be made: Objectivism does not grant credibility to arbitrary claims. The correct principle is "Study everything for which there is evidence of truth". The burden then is on a proponent of TEW to re-establish factual credibility.
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I did study it, up until the point I grasped that any reverse wave theory contradicted the results of the Aspect experiment. It doesn't take a PhD to make it that far, so I have my doubts about what the PhD's that can't even reach that conclusion are really up to.

Objectivism comes into this in the following fashion: once one understands a particular idea is false, it is immoral to continue to act as though it were true. It becomes difficult to continue to associate with those who do not yet grasp their mistake, even if they are not immoral.

Well said.

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