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The Unconscious Quantum Hardcover – November 1, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
The problems arising around quantum mechanics can be analyzed using the famous Bell equation, which Stenger develops extremely nicely (although it helps to be able to read the simple algebra in the optional 'boxes'). The violation of Bell's inequality, he argues (drawing on many technical papers and books) violates either Determinism + Locality or Separability + Locality, or Completeness + Locality (all terms well defined in the book). He argues strongly that quantum mechanics does not violate Locality itself,which Stenger takes as very important to maintain.
Stenger presents the classical Copenhagen interpretation of the collapse of the wave function, as well as Bohm's hidden variable interpretation, the many-worlds interpretation, and the most recent (and to my mind satisfying) decoherence approach.
The Unconscious Quantum's main message is that modern physics provides absolutely no support for New Age and more traditionally religious notions of supernaturalism. Stenger is refreshing in not denying the existence of spirituality, but holding that the world of spirituality does not, as far as we know, intersect the natural world described in the natural sciences. "While I cannot bring myself to worship a hypothesis," he notes, "I have no wish to disparage those who do. I simply ask that they not assume that science, in its current state, provides any buttress for their belief...Read more ›
Stenger repeatedly belittles alternate interpretations of QM and points out that functionally all serious interpretations are the same. This means that the interpretations he favors have no more going for them technically than the ones he derides.Read more ›
The book could be better. It would be nice if he spent a bit more time discussing some of the confusion regarding 'mind', but I think he has done a good job of laying out the basic issues for the well-educated lay person, and of urging skepticism before seizing upon strange phenomena as a justification for one's metaphysics.
Stenger acknowledges that the microworld of quanta cannot be viewed in the same way as the macroworld of concrete objects that make up our everyday experience. However, if people are willing to suspend their everyday intuition and accept some very logical but unintuitive concepts, like time symmetry and decoherence, then the quantum world makes perfect sense without mastering Zen or contemplating your navel.
Stenger also shoots down the ideas of consciousness directly affecting the physical world, and faster-than-light communication between quantum particles. He explains the EPR "paradox" and other experiments which spawned these interpretations, and how they can easily be resolved using the simple but unintuitive concepts already mentioned.
The text is written for the science amateur, and requires little background knowledge, but some persistence with technical concepts (you may have to read a few parts twice to get the idea). Supporting equations are included in boxes, separate from the text. The text stands alone, but mathaholics are welcome to indulge themselves in the formulae. The first six chapters are the most technical, but it gets much easier after that, and it's definitely worth it for anbody who wants a genuine understanding of quantum physics, sans the mystical rhetoric that pervades most pop literature on the subject.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It can be very dense to read at times, but the content is phenomenal. Anyone interested in a mix of psychology, neurology, quantum mechanics, and philosophy should consider reading... Read morePublished on April 25, 2013 by Collin J
Way over my head and excessably wordy. I didn't finish the book. I will buy other books by Victor Stenger however, as I have enjoyed several other books by him.Published on April 8, 2013 by Donald E. Gould
I didn't necessarily agree with some of Stenger's arguments, but thought he explained a number of things in Quantum theory that I couldn't grasp from other authors. Read morePublished on August 16, 2011 by U Dream
Stenger sets himself up against almost all of the major figures of 20th century quantum mechanics in denying the existence of nonlocality (action at a distance). Read morePublished on October 3, 2001 by Christopher Carter
Stenger is quite right that there is a lot of sloppy thought and unjustified claims in the popular New Age, New Paradigm movement. Read morePublished on February 8, 2001 by Thomas J. McFarlane
This is a refreshing alternative to the consciousness nonsense and second-hand explanations by reporters. Read morePublished on October 2, 2000 by Not a Clue
Stenger is a physicist completely at home in contemporary mathematical physics, yet incurably curious about the deeper philosophical issues brought up by quantum mechanics. Read morePublished on August 4, 2000 by Herbert Gintis
Boy you know, just reading one paragraph of Victor Stenger's writing makes it apparent that he's closed minded and filled with tons of a priori assumptions that he doesn't even... Read morePublished on May 19, 2000 by Winston Wu