Dogs, Doggesses and Collapsing Quantum Waves

Is reality real? Do I have a free will? Do I exist? Does existence exist? What’s the meaning of life?

Do you have problems with these questions? Are they keeping you up at night? Well I have the solution free of charge (but it’ll cost you).

Okay, I don’t have THE solution, but I have what works for me.

Pragmatism (a la William James) says that truth is what works. The Zen part of me likes that because it’s fairly Zen. I find more meaning in feeding my dogs than wondering whether there is one Dog, one Doggess or many dogs and doggesses. There are three doggesses and they are hungry! The One True Dog that I can’t see nor touch will just have to wait its turn.

I read a book called the Physics of Consciousness that talked about making decisicions being “collapsing quantum waves”. I didn’t understand all of it but basically I took it as a metaphor saying that when you apply will to make a decision then any state of doubt, uncertainty and generally “neither this nor that” sort of feelings (quantum wave states) collapse like those quantum waves. And that’s pretty Zen too.

So instead of uselessly chasing my tail in endless speculations about stuff that doesn’t go anywhere and doesn’t do anything, I just go round collapsing quantum waves, saying things like “the gods are imaginary”, “the meaning of life is what I make of it” and “yes, I do exist, even if I turn out to be an illusion”.

If I’m wrong I trust reality will come along and set me straight (hopefully not painfully). In the meanwhile I still can’t make out the difference between an illusory slap in the face and a real slap in the face; they are equally painful as each other, so I’d prefer to believe that any and all slaps in the face are real. Pain works, whether it’s real or not.

Scientific Fantasies

Now, I love to speculate (that’s fantasising but with a lab coat) and consider new ideas and theories and “what ifs”, and there is a part of me that has an insatiable, carnivorous appetite for information but…

… how much of this speculation will put food on my table/clothe me/put a roof over my head/ create world peace/ end famine, drought,  disease, ecological disasters  etc./give me a sense that today has been a good and productive day? How much is a “what if…” worth?

Oh, never mind all of that; just speculate all you want because I’m sure one day, with all that thinking, we’ll eventually figure out time travel, and then all that time we’ve “wasted” speculating we can win back through time travel (tongue in cheek). So there might not be such a thing as a “waste of time”, perhaps, if we just invest enough money in it for the research…

“Best Possible So Far” and Other Provisional Explanations

I’m into a small series of scientific blogs…

Science and art have this in common: they both need an imagination to work. Without imagination science wouldn’t have any new hypotheses or theories to measure, so contrary to popular opinion scientists do have an imagination. Where the artists’ imagination embellishes and transforms reality the scientists’ imagination creates abstract models which they then measure against reality thus testing whether their ideas conform to reality. Next, someone else replicates their methods to double check whether the results are replicable or not. In a way scientists actually look to have their dreams dashed to the ground! They seem to enjoy it…

Now they call this “objective”, but all it does is measure up various people’s subjective imaginary theories to nature, making it an “intersubjective” reflection of objective reality. And it’s just a way to accurately describe and explain nature, not to tell us what is true or not. So also contrary to popular opinion, what science says isn’t true; it’s just the best explanation so far! It’s provisional and subject to change and refinement. It’s falsifiable (i.e. all scientific statements leave room to be disproven). All scientific theories carry the implicit warning: “This is the best way we’ve found of explaining reality until further notice.” That “until further notice” is very important.

Anyway, what that means is we’re under no obligation to take science seriously because it’s as subject to subjective fantasy as art or religions are (although a bit more rigorous in testing its ideas).