you can hear heisenberg’s ghost weeping
You know how I often say that a good scientific education is a must? Well, here’s a caveat to that concept. An education does not make you immune from falling for something ridiculous and completely unfounded when you have a midlife crisis or decide that you want to find a deeper meaning in life in some sort of post-modern treatise. And here is a wonderful example of this caveat in action in the form of Dr. Robert Lanza, who we met before when he was blathering about something afterlife related on HuffPo, and doing a disservice to both his readers by boring them with some confusing parable from his childhood, and his education by ignoring it when it came to some rather basic concepts studied in freshman year physics. And how he’s back with more of his favored flavor of post-modernist woo known as biocentrism, arguing that afterlife is a proven thing due to the Futurama/Deepak Chopra laws of quantum physics, i.e. that anything can happen for any reason and at any time to insert a deus ex machina into whatever explanation you want. And as with all of post-modernism, it’s a concept that’s garbage in, garbage out, along with an extra dollop of New Age mind-too-wide-open fluff.
Really, there’s nothing new about Lanza’s meanderings. They’re the same repackaged tripe being sold in the long and meaningless tomes of Deep Chopra and constantly recycled on HuffPo, sadistically subjecting what the average post-modernist crank thinks is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to verbal abuse that makes a whole lot of physicists weep when they read the results. Basically, say the biocentrism promoters, if observers affect a system that’s being observed, that must mean that the entire universe is a figment of your imagination and you can just make the afterlife whatever you want because quantum physics says so. That’s all there is to it on a macro scale, though if you want to subject yourself to more detail, just take a look at the previous link to get a more thorough debunking. What really irks me about this biocentrism fad though is the sheer arrogance displayed by its promoters and their focus on themselves as the center of the universe. Can you imagine a cosmos stretching for hundreds of billions of light years and housing countless stars arranged in seemingly innumerable galaxies obeying your whims because some doctor who started spending an awful lot of time in his own navel read somewhere that quantum particles can behave as both particles and waves and this dual behavior makes it impossible to know their exact location and their exact momentum at the same time?
Sure, time is not a straight arrow of predetermined events and our choices influence what will happen to us or to those who will be affected by the cascade events triggered by our choices. It’s a more complex and intricate phenomenon than we usually consider. But it does follow certain rules, rules that influence the physics of an elaborate concept like time travel, and the basic laws of causality across the universe. You can’t speed it up, you can’t slow it down without using a relativistic rocket and even then only locally, you can’t reboot it or change history, and you can’t suddenly decide what your afterlife will be like or if you’ll have one. Lanza might think that he’s some sort of profound genius and his post-modernist friends might agree, but to me, his column sounds an awful lot like the Family Guy episode in which Stewie and Brian traveling across Europe get a contact high in an Amsterdam coffee shop and have a seemingly deep and existential conversation during which an utterly baked Stewie tells Brian that “the only reason, I’m being serious here, the only reason we die… is because we accept it!” while Brian tears up in agreement. Likewise, Lanza’s column seems profound only on the surface, and only if you don’t stop to consider that the person who wrote it doesn’t understand what he’s talking about, ejecting the first thing that comes into his mind onto the screen. Which is actually how post-modernists write a lot of their books and papers, peppering them with trendy buzzwords to ensure their publication…