Wigner's Friend, the existence of the immaterial soul and death of materialism


Pevaquark said:"Because actual experiments show nothing about the soul or consciousness. It’s only in thought experiments and the interpretation of QM that any of this appears. "

Not true Pevaquark. I pointed you to Proietti et al. They specifically cite F and R’s paper as one that influenced the design of their experiment and their experiment supports the problem.

I will go over F and R again, then I gotta go eat and go to a small group of our Church.

F&R’s title says it all. Quantum theory cannot consistently describe the use of itself.

Who uses quantum? quantum physicists are the only ones who do it and they do it mostly by mental effort. My cat certainly has never shown an interest in quantum calculations, so I feel safe saying that those who use quantum are humans and they are using their minds to calculate the result. F&R show that different observers in their theory will NOT see the same results of the same experiment. They will contradict each other. Proietti et al’s experiment says the same thing–they experimentally saw the contradictions F&R predicted.

Now, F&R want to know where the problem is. They say the problems lie in the assumptions that went into their calculations. And this is a normal place to look for where the issue is. The listed 3 assumption that need to be examined. I won’t do them in the same order they did.

1 Assumption S. If they give up the idea that different people can only see the same results from the same experiment, then the problem is solved because their people saw different results while observing the same things. But the problem with giving that up, is that our experience NEVER has me see spin up and you see spin down for the same electron. Thus, giving up this assumption so they can be consistent with their predicted contradictions, means that they don’t match reality–cause we don’t live in that kind of universe.

Assumption 2 consistency. This is logical consistency. It means we don’t believe 1 equals 2. or dogs are cats, or fish are elephants. If we give this up, then mathematics fails and since again, we know mathematics works, giving up this assumption means that they would again NOT match reality. Proietti et al give up consistency so they can keep assumption 3 below, but in doing so, to make it match reality Proietti et al assume there is a privileged observer sitting above the multiverse straightening out all the inconsistencies. That is theology!

Assumption 3 universal validity of quantum theory. This means that quantum theory applies to everything in this universe–no exceptions. and that would mean consciousness can’t be excepted and it must obey the laws of quantum. The conundrum for F and R is that this is the only easy assumption they can dump. F&R state:

" Here, we have shown that Assumptions (Q) and (S) are already problematic by themselves, in the sense that agents who use these assumptions to reason about each other as in Fig. [3] will arrive at inconsistent conclusions "

According to this you can believe that everyone in the world sees multiple quantum events–that is they see the mixed state (yet experience tells us that is false), or you can say quantum is not universally applicable and doesn’t apply to consciousness. Take your pick. In my mind the first choice would make me sound delusional. The second choice is the one I have defended here.

and if quantum is not universal and isn’t applicable to consciousness, then, well, consciousness can’t arise from the quantum mechanical operations in the brain.

If that doesn’t suffice, I don’t know anything that will help. Im off to eat and go to small group tonight. Might be on briefly tomorrow morning.

Edited to add: let me say it this way. Quantum will model a person using quantum IF and only if you are will to say that when people look at the same experiment they see different results almost every time. Since that doesn’t happen, it seems to me that the only logical/rational option is to say consciousness isn’t subject to quantum laws.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #62

What? No, these thought experiments are related to interpretations of QM, not the actual experiments involving photons and electrons or calculations of QED or QFT. We do use our brains though when solving the Schrodinger equation or its various numerical counterparts.

Please don’t. You’ve quoted large chunks of one particular paper quite a lot and I can read it myself thank you. Basically you’ve read a paper that you think demonstrates all the points you already believed to be true and keep using it to support your own Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Anything that contradicts this you easily dismiss and have your mind made up you’ve found a remarkable overlooked apologetic for the soul. Your interpretation might not be in contradiction with certain others interpretations of QM, but there is no experiment in QM that demonstrates anything about the soul or consciousness. There are no ‘soul’ terms in the Schrodinger equation. It’s just that people who already believe in souls - if they must find evidence for them somewhere in known science - always flock to QM. The problem with this approach is it limits the soul to an undetectable or maybe a hidden variable in the Schrodinger equation at best which then follows specific mechanical laws. And it’s something that is only important in very simple systems and completely irrelevant to the macro scale world.

(GJDS) #63

Hi @gbob,

Language and meaning communicated amongst us is a fascinating topic, especially when we consider revelation of God and how we as humans may understand the meaning of what is revealed.

However, to make a hasty response to the back and forth on QM and consciousness - I am a chemist and I use QM for molecular modelling, so I do not have exposure to the area that you are discussing, but from your exchange with Mitchell, I have formed the impression that your difficulty stems from the fact that you may not add a term in the wave equation that stand for consciousness - you and your papers are arguing for what amounts to a thought experiment - just what would result if an equation were formed that included an observer, with a second observer somehow monitoring the first observer and her experiments? I cannot fathom how this may be tested.

I am almost twisted (consciousness :blush:) when I try to say this, and please point out where I may be mistaken.


Hi GJDS, No we are not arguing for adding a term for consciousness. Don’t quite know how you arrived at that conclusion. I certainly haven’t said anything about adding a term. I have said that the act of observation and collapse of the wavelet requires consciousness, which until I got here was discussed so freely on the pages of physics journals that I figured everyone would know of that widely held position–about 42% of physicists according to the few polls taken. .

The observer is NOT a term added to Schrodinger’s equation. I don’t know what they teach over in the chemistry department but in my physics department it was an attitude of shut up and calculate. What the equations meant was not addressed very much and because of that in many physics departments, many physicists didn’t get much info on the various interpretations of quantum.

One other clarification, our paper is arguing the various historical interpretations of quantum and arguing in favor of the necessity of consciousness. All of the positions we discuss in the paper are quite well known interpretations of quantum.

Wigner’s friend is exactly the case of a second observer monitoring the first and the experiments the first observer is engaged in. You might read up on it at Wiki because they have a good account of it or get Wigner’s article.

Other than this, I am a bit confused by your note. Sorry.



Surely one is allowed to draw logical conclusions from what a paper says, like what I just did. It shows my line of reasoning. If the act of reading a scientific paper consists only of absorbing the sentences as stated, and not comparing them with other knowledge, or other sentences in the paper, then science would truly become a religion where prophets tell us all what exact sentences we must believe.

Example, If a paper says that all crows are black, and later says that they found a crow, I think it would be logical to deduce that the found crow is black, even if they don’t say it. And that is what I did when I went over the F and R paper. It is what I do with everything I read. It is what everyone SHOULD do.

When you say: “You’ve quoted large chunks of one particular paper quite a lot and I can read it myself thank you.” I would beg to differ. I have quoted small chunks of LOTS of different papers here. Hint: I put the reference at the bottom of each quote. I have not in any way limited myself to quoting one paper. And I don’t think I have quoted very much from the F and R paper. Again, I don’t know how you came up with that.

(GJDS) #66

I have indicated that I find arguments for and against difficult to comprehend, so I am not advocating a term for consciousness, but rather how can your position be expressed within the equation that I am familiar, and how tests may be done. I do not know :sunglasses:

It is obvious to me that an observer is performing an experiment, so consciousness is part of the picture.

This to me is the gist of your argument.

(Matt Connally) #67

Interesting discussion, gentlemen. Granted, as Pevarnik said somewhere, the observer problem has been hijacked by a slew of worldviews (perhaps not unlike how the Bible has been hijacked by a slew of worldviews). But we should also acknowledge that science has been hijacked by materialism, which is itself a 100% pure presupposition. For it is quite possible to do science without materialism, and to insist upon materialism requires the addition of a massive vocabulary of abstract, esoteric philosophical terms in order to deal with all the (immaterial) mysteries in the universe–mysteries like mathematics, information, or, to the topic at hand, mind-induced collapse.

But if we let go of materialism, we might suddenly not need all of that philosophy. Instead, we could simply acknowledge the existence of immaterial phenomena. Thus mind-induced collapse (physicists in the laboratory) demands a philosophical explanation? No! Mind-induced collapse could simply lead us to conclude that the mind is a non-physical entity that does not obey the Schrodinger equation. The one and only problem with this conclusion is not that it is unscientific (after all, it is observable, testable, and falsifiable) but that it defies materialism–which is an entirely artificial, unnecessary, and profoundly wrong presupposition.

Of course, some will go further. As Henry Stapp put it (yes, I must quote a world-class physicist!), "This situation [mind-induced collapse followed by entanglement and action-at-a-distance] is concordant with the idea of a powerful God that creates the universe and its laws to get things started, but then bequeaths part of this power to beings created in his own image, at least with regard to their power to make physically efficacious decisions on the basis of reasons and evaluations. I see no way for contemporary science to disprove, or even render highly unlikely, this religious interpretation of quantum theory, or to provide strong evidence in support of an alternative picture of the nature of these ‘free choices’.” (“Minds and Values in the Quantum Universe.” Henry Stapp. (p. 117). Information and the Nature of Reality. Paul Davies. Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition. 2010.)

(Mark D.) #68

Best of luck with your guinea pig work, Gbob.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #69

I’d agree with that statement though with the reservation that such are not positive evidence for the religious interpretation, but the religious interpretation is not in contradiction with QM.

(Mitchell W McKain) #70

More clarifications…

  1. The idea that the wave collapse (or equivalently the divergence of worlds in the Everrett interpretation) happens in the conscious observer rather than the measuring device or that it requires a conscious observer at all is unsupportable. From Wikipedia on “observer effect”…

Physicists have found that even passive observation of quantum phenomena (by changing the test apparatus and passively ‘ruling out’ all but one possibility), can actually change the measured result. A particularly famous example is the 1998 Weizmann experiment. Despite the “observer” in this experiment being an electronic detector—possibly due to the assumption that the word “observer” implies a person—its results have led to the popular belief that a conscious mind can directly affect reality. The need for the “observer” to be conscious has been rejected by mainstream science as a misconception…

  1. Quantum physics does not provide a shred of objective evidence for anything nonphysical in consciousness or anything else. Arguments like those of gbob are no different than the apologetics that theists have been using for thousands of years to “prove” the existence of God. But however adamant and enthusiastic the proponents, these arguments manifestly do not convince skeptics and even believers like myself consider them to be objectively flawed and thus subjective at best.

  2. However, many have found it rather significant that quantum physics via the experimental violation of Bell’s inequality has ruled out the possibility of unknown variables determining the result of various quantum measurements. This lack of closure of causality in the accepted scientific worldview opens the door for a number of things like free will and the interaction of a non-physical (not measurable) existence having limited interactions with the physical. This then leads to speculations about what role these may have in such phenomenon as life and consciousness.
    For example… The time-energy uncertainly principle means that the conservation of energy has limits and within very small intervals of time an inversely proportional quantity of energy can simply appear borrowed from nothing measurable and alter the course of events in the physical universe. It very much looks like a back door into the laws of nature. To be sure, this doesn’t prove anything and skeptics can insist that such “incursions” are purely random – indeed any over all patterns would clash with the findings of physics. But this doesn’t change the fact that the back door is still hanging somewhat ajar because of this.



Ok, now I understand. You wrote:

Your last sentence actually captures the point I am making and others far better in physics than I have made. Remember the von Neuman chain mentioned above? Anything that is subject to the laws of quantum that interacts with a quantum system goes into superposition with the quantum system. In Bryce Dewitt’s terminology, it becomes schizophrenic.

So, consider an electron prior to observation. It has spin but we don’t know what direction it is. So we run it through a Stern-Gerlach device and the electron hits one of the sensors, either the up or down sensor and it registers.

Now the scientist has not looked at anything and is asked to give the quantum mechanical description of the system. He has to write it as (and I will simplify the notation further for lurkers out there):

superposition of (the reality of electron, Stern-Gerlach device, and sensor in up state) + (the reality of electron, Stern-Gerlach device, sensor in down state)

Why does he write it this way? Because he hasn’t looked at any of the apparatus yet. In Rudolf Peierls view of quantum, which says it is about our knowledge, thus requiring a conscious knower, the scientist doesn’t KNOW what happened yet.

This is the same thing with the cat in a box with a radioactive atom that trips a hammer that breaks a jar of cyanide (Schrodinger’s original set up). As long as the door remains unopened, the system is described as:

superposition of(the reality of a living cat, undecayed atom, untripped hammer, cyanide jar unbroken,cyanide gas contained)


(the reality of a dead cat, decayed atom, tripped hammer, cyanide jar broken,cyanide gas dispersed)

The cat is both alive and dead, prior to someone actually looking. Peierls would say the scientist has to know and that collapses the wavelet when knowledge enters his brain. And that when he knows, the wavelet collapses to
either the state of:
(the reality of a living cat, undecayed atom, untripped hammer, cyanide jar unbroken,cyanide gas contained)


(the reality of a dead cat, decayed atom, tripped hammer, cyanide jar broken,cyanide gas dispersed)

the system is no longer in a mixed state but is one or the other–the observer sees ONE reality, not all possible realities. This is the observer problem. Quantum predicts we should see multiple realities but we never do, and one of the most widely held views is that it is the observer that collapses the wavelet.

Zvi Schreiber in a quote I used yesterday described this view of collapse like this:

“… that wave function collapse occurs at the last possible moment, in the mind itself. This, of course, assumes a non-physical mind” Schreiber, The Nine LIves of Schroedinger’s Cat, MS Thesis University of London 1994, p. 46

So, the involvement of the observer is Precisely the agent of collapse. And I showed the math yesterday in a post that shows that if a human is put into superposition with these other objects, the equation falsely predicts that the observer will see the mixed state. and falsely predicts the mental state of the observer.

hope this helps


thank you Mr. Connally for what you said. I haven’t read that article of Stapp, but he is absolutely correct, and that quote is a keeper when I find that article and read it.

And you are absolutely correct about science being hijacked by materialism. Indeed, I find it sad that so few Christians in science hold to the existence of any spiritual objects that might embarrass us in front of our materialist/atheistic friends. As I have noted, I struggled for about 10-12 years with whether to become an atheist. My dad was an atheist as was my grandfather. It was the fact that we all live by faith that opened my eyes–atheist and Christian, we live by faith–it is just a matter of what we have faith in that is the important decision

It is odd, we look for evidence of other life forms, aliens out there. We spend millions on SETI and think nothing of it. We as a society yearn for some other beings out there, yet when evidence that there is another venue of life, found in the form of quantum theory ,we want to reject it because it doesn’t come to us on radiowaves. That seems to be the materialistic bias you speak of.

Even more amazing is the fact that 96% (something like that) of the mass in the universe is dark matter about which we know absolutely NOTHING and the particles have never detected. But we are certain of its existence. But when it comes to souls and the evidence MERELY for the existence of something immaterial, we are sure that that is pure nuttery. People don’t realize how inconsistent that is. They believe in dark matter which has never been detected, whose existence is determined by stellar motion but could be explained possibly by alternative theories, but don’t want to believe a soul exists even if there is evidence of its existence, i.e. it has been detected.

There is a whole host of particles physicist believe in for which not a shred of evidence has been found–supersymmetry particles (called sparticles go look it up on Wiki under Superpartners before saying Im making this up.) they should have been detected by now but they haven’t been. They are crucial to modern supersymmetric theories. But we can’t believe consciousness exists apart from matter, even though there is observational evidence for that because, well, maybe if an immaterial soul exists, so does an immaterial God, and we would have to change our world view from the materialistic/atheistic view and that would raise further questions about what does this God if he exists, want from me?

Anyway, thank you Mr. Connally. gotta go pack for my trip see yall in a couple of days.


Thanks, they give me these little tiny brown pellets for me to eat and a bottle with a tube stoppered by a ball to drink out of, and let me lay on a bed of sawdust. Kinda nice I must admit. lol

(Matt Connally) #74

The wave function itself–that sentence whose main verb is equal–that very sentence is itself immaterial. It cannot be directly or indirectly seen, heard, felt, tasted, or smelled; it can only be translated. Although those equations are as useful and as objective as a block of granite, they are intangible. Regardless of what this fact might or might not prove (here is a non-question: how does the brain perceive something intangible?), it is a self-evident truth.

As for where the collapse takes place, I’d agree it doesn’t need to be in the mind of the observer. But the point is that the scientist does not have to obey the Schrodinger equation, but is instead–apart from any physical laws–free to cause the collapse. And just as that single collapse can have larger consequences–such as the death of cats–it shows how our free decisions can precede material actions.

(Matt Connally) #75

God’s speed. I pray the doctors do excellent work and that the immunotherapy is effective.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)


can’t help myself. Im bored. While I don’t have my files with me I have been thinking about what is below, and something profound that Matthew Connolly said that seemed to be totally unnoticed. I will attend to that maybe tomorrow night, but now this

This is for Mitch:
Early on, you wrote something that, frankly I couldn’t believe anyone with knowledge of the various positions of quantum could ever write: You wrote in your second post:

"And most important of all, NONE of the formulations of quantum physics has consciousness represented anywhere in any of them.’

Now Mr. Connolly and I have shown many physicists who incorporate consciousness into their views of quantum. I am curious if you still stand by this statement of non-existence of such views in light of all we have shown.

And we have quoted people like Zvi Scheiber describing von Neumann’s interpretation of quantum as collapsing the wavelet in the Mind at the last second. Mr. Connolly used the other day, the one that said that there was a religious interpretation of quantum that couldn’t ignored by science. Below is what Paul Davies says of Henry Stapp:

“For many years Henry Stapp has championed the case for understanding the Mind and its observer status in a quantum context and in Chapter 6 he sets out a well-argued case for both taking consciousness seriously (that is, not defining it away as an epiphenomenon) and for accommodating it within a quantum description of nature.” Paul Davies, Introduction: Does information matter, in P. Davies and N. H. Gregerson ed., Information and the Nature of Reality, Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 5

and I presented math using quantum rules, taken from Physicist Euan Squires book, Conscious Mind in the Physical World, showing the where quantum has a problem with consciousness, where it predicts the wrong state of mind for the observer and that was totally ignored.

As I said at the time it was claimed that no interpretations incorporate consciousness, one can say they are wrong, but to say they are non-existent seems to me to be like young earth creationist, who when you show them a seismic line with an overthrust on it, they still say it doesn’t exist, they will say it is out of order deposition, even though geometrically it is clear that it can’t be that. Or when you show them ancient river channels in seismic data that is now at 16,000 feet deep in the middle of the geologic column, they still won’t believe in slow deposition. One can stick one’s fingers in one’s ears and cover one’s eyes, and say things don’t exist, but that doesn’t make it true. Do you still hold that

"… NONE of the formulations of quantum physics has consciousness represented anywhere in any of them.’?

Just checking to see where you stand? Before we continue this discussion.

(Mitchell W McKain) #77

It goes without saying that the discoveries of science consist of that which is accepted by the consensus of the scientific community because it consists of procedures which anyone can follow to get the same result. This include both the wave mechanics and matrix mechanics formulations of quantum mechanics because the both accurately calculate things which anyone can measure.

What you have described is more in the category of playing around with symbols as part of a work in philosophy. Frankly consciousness cannot be included in quantum mechanics formulations for multiple reasons: 1) we do not understand consciousness well enough to do so in a meaningful way, and 2) It has already been demonstrated that it plays no functional role in the result of any quantum process.

So… no! None of the SCIENTIFIC (i.e. accepted by the scientific community as being anything more than philosophical rhetoric) formulations (which are not views but mathematical equations) of quantum mechanics has consciousness represented anywhere in them!

Recognizing this fact does not mean I do not take consciousness seriously – not as a nonphysical entity because I don’t think it is any such thing. AND taking consciousness seriously doesn’t mean that we have to agree with YOUR ideas about consciousness. Nor does it mean that we don’t see any relevance of the quantum physics for the phenomenon of life and consciousness… because I do.

Frankly, I feel like I have been in dialogue with someone behaving more like a religious convert than a scientist – someone with their own special language and dogmas. I am not saying that is unacceptable as long as this is acknowledged. And I am not equating this with being wrong. But I am do think the line between science and religion has be acknowledge because it means that lacking objective evidence you cannot reasonably expect everyone to accept your religious beliefs as true (even if they are true).

(Gordon Simons) #78

The observer problem was noted by the early formulators of the theory of QM and generated a lot of debate. This is still an unsettled issue. Likewise, superposition is at the heart of our understanding of decoherence. And our understanding of superposition at a theoretical level goes back to von Neumann. So the pieces are in place for concluding that the observer in a double-split experiment must be conscious. Decoherence might mask this, but it does not make its reality go away.

(Mitchell W McKain) #79

“Decoherence” is not the issue. At present I only accept this as another name for wave collapse. Yes the measurement problem is an unsettled issue. But the location of where it is happening is NOT an unsettled issue because it can experimentally be isolated in the measuring device and demonstrated that conscious observation has no effect on that measuring device, as I have explained repeatedly. All that matters is that the measurement be observable not that it actually be observed. This supports the conclusion that what matters is the involvement and entanglement of trillions of trillions of particles NOT the involvement of conscious observation.

(Gordon Simons) #80

Wave collapse of what?