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Customer Review

16 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudo-science masquerades as the real deal, April 21, 2011
This review is from: Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness (Paperback)
From the beginning of the book and throughout, the authors keep insisting that their treatment of quantum mechanics is "undisputed" while only the "implications" of the theory of quantum mechanics is-- this is simply untrue. From what i've been able to read of the book here on amazon, the authors utterly neglect to mention Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle when mentioning physic's "skeleton in the closet". The authors shamelessly promote the notion that observing reality "creates reality" and try to pass it off as if this is what quantum mechanics itself says if taken to its logical conclusion. One can clearly see the conclusion of the book just from looking at the title of the last chapter. Of course the authors have also failed to account for the most widely held explanation of what consciousness actually is, which is simply that it is an emergent property of matter in much the same way the certain states of matter e.g. solids, liquids, and gases are simply emergent properties of matter (atoms are not themselves liquid, but taken together enough of them can produce a property we call liquid, and sometimes "consciousness", again, despite the atoms themselves not sharing this particular property), and instead chalk it up being an "enigma" just like the measurement problem is an "enigma" and therefore concluding that these two enigmas must somehow be related.
This simple piece of fallacious reasoning is really, truly, very astonding to see in a book claiming to be academically and scientifically sound. The "measurement problem" is not a problem because physicists are still stuggling to understand what it implies, but it's a problem in the sense that it serves as a barrier or impossibility (at least for now, since science is always tentative) of allowing everything about a quantum system to be measured. In other words, the "problem" in the popularly (mis)used term The Measurement Problem is a problem insofar as it's impossible to measure the precise position and velocity of a quantum system simultaneously. In other words... The Uncertainty Principle. It's a problem if you want to know everything about the state of a quantum system. For those unaware, the Uncertainty Principle was first formulated by Werner Heisenberg and is usually expressed as "The more one knows about a particles position, the less one knows about its velocity, and vise versa". It more general terms, it insisted that it is impossible to measure all parts of a quantum mechanical system simultaneously; that measuring one part of a quantum system forces you to give up being able to measure another part of the system. In effect, the Uncertainty principle a.k.a. the measurement problem, has NOTHING to do with "creating reality" whatsoever.
I saw no mention of Wolfgang Pauli and his Exclusion Principle either which is just as crucial and important in explainging many of the fundamental features of the quantum world as forumlated by quantum mechanics.
This book appears to be nothing more than another pseudo-scientific, pseudo-religious attempt to contrive and hijack quantum mechanics (a REAL science based on verifiable, demonstrable, empirical experimentation and observation) for their own (spiritual?) purposes. Even the writing of the book itself shows---displays---the fact that the authors not only uneducated and ill-informed (in other words: ignorant) about the subject of quantum mechanics and science in general, but have a third-rate analysis and even worse philosophical method for creating a sound argument as to what the "implications" of quantum mechanics ultimately say about the nature of reality. One of the worst lines I read in the book said something about how physicists (the one who actually KNOW the theory and use it) aren't necessarily qualified to make conclusions about the "implications" of quantum mechanics... as if they are best left to people like the authors.
I would say just the opposite.
Do NOT buy this book. Have fun Mystery Science Theater-ing it here on amazon, but don't, sweet Niels Bohr, DON'T buy this book. It's a crack pot.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 15 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 24, 2011 2:00:29 PM PDT
<From what i've been able to read of the book here on amazon ... the authors utterly neglect to mention Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle when mentioning physic's "skeleton in the closet". >

Clearly, you never the book.

1. Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle is given 7 pages and reused dozens of times in context.
2. <The "measurement problem" is not a problem because physicists are still stuggling to understand> ... that would be the definition of a problem.

A 1 star review of an unread book is an intellectual crime. You need to revisit Wittgenstein before using his name.

Posted on Apr 29, 2011 3:02:31 AM PDT
"From what i've been able to read of the book here on amazon..."

Bob Johnston is right: this review is shameful: you should have the grace to remove it yourself, rather than force people to complain about it as abuse.

I am a Ph.D. physicist interested in the foundations of QM. Based on the summary from the publisher, I do have some concerns about this book.

Maybe it is nonsense. Maybe not. For me (or you) to know, we would have to get hold of a copy of the book!

I will say that you very clearly misunderstand what the "measurement problem" is. But since you have not read the book, it really does not matter.

You ought to be ashamed.

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2011 10:19:31 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on May 4, 2011 10:20:16 PM PDT
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Posted on May 6, 2011 7:16:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 6, 2011 7:21:35 PM PDT
D. Girma says:
Absolutely awful review

In reply to an earlier post on May 8, 2011 1:53:17 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 8, 2011 1:56:06 AM PDT
Wittgensteinian wrote to me:
> I post a review, you can choose to agree with it, like it, or not. And I'm certainly not ashamed of defending science, or this book's obvious mistreatment of it.

But you reviewed a book that *you have not read.*

That is the problem.

Maybe if I read the book, I'll post a review as negative as yours. But, *first*, I'd read the book.

It's one thing to post in the comments section, as I did, that I see some things about the book that worry me in the summary.

But, reviews are supposed to be of books you have *actually* read. It is a discourtesy to others to post a review when you did not read the book!

Do you get that? Are you really, really, really young, so young that you have not yet grasped elementary rules of courtesy????

As to the "measurement problem": in the literature this has to do with issues such as "the reduction of the wave function," not the Heisenberg principle. The discussion on this issue goes back to the early twentieth century.

Okay, you don't know this; you are evidently not very knowledgeable about physics. Fine.

But, then, you are the last person who should be criticizing the authors for not having properly discussed the subject.

Especially since you *did not read the book*.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2011 8:49:26 PM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 1:01:09 PM PST
TaoPiet says:
..."We have to choose one or the other"...You are very right. Thank you very much. So there must be a 'We' who makes the choice. And that's exactly the point. What is the 'We' and how can 'He'/'She' be important...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 4:19:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 14, 2012 4:52:25 PM PST
W wrote to me:
>And if you knew anything about the Uncertainty Principle, you'd know that it has everything to do with Measuring a system.

Oh, boy!

Look, witless one: I have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford; my doctoral work involved quantum field theory. I have been following the philosophical issues involved in quantum mechanics for well over four decades.

None of this, obviously, is true of you.

For *you* of all people on this planet to tell *me* that I do not understand issues involving quantum mechanics is... well, words fail me. Let us just say that your claim is not credible.

*Especially since you did not actually read the book.*

I know all about the Uncertainty Principle, far, far more than you do. I also know that "the measurement problem" is a phrase that, to physicists and philosophers, refers to *something else* -- i.e., how the superposition is "reduced" to a single eigenstate.

It is not your fault that you do not know this: not everyone can be smart; not everyone can be a physicist. But it *is* your fault that you have so much trouble realizing that you know very, very little about this subject, certainly far less than someone who got his Ph.D. doing quantum physics.

Tell you what: you go and get a Ph.D. in quantum physics from a top-ranked university, as I did, and then come back here and see if you can write something intelligent.

It always amazes me how the most self-confident people on these online forums are usually the people who know the least about the subject under discussion. I suppose that is why America is collapsing.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 13, 2013 1:20:50 PM PDT
I did read the book, and it's clear to me that when he skimmed it, he got the essence of it quite correctly. What's interesting to me is how many of the commenters have removed his responses by checking "No" for "adds to the discussion." This is what true believers do when they don't like the answer. And I have to also agree with the reviewer that people who think this book is science do not know what science is. And today, in a world where so much is going wrong because people don't understand science, that's serious.
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