“Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”
Attention All Readers: Later this month (or maybe even sometime next) I’m doing a purge of Followers that, as far as I can tell, have never been seen since they followed this blog.
I’m keeping anyone I recognize from recent or past conversations (or repeat Likes), either on this blog or elsewhere. (Obviously I’ll keep my lurking IRL friends; y’all are safe from the Purging Angel.)
Point is, if you’ve been silently lurking, and don’t want to get purged, now would be a good time to make your presence known!
The primary inspiration for this post, which I’ve been meaning to write since I started this blog, is a 1995 webpage titled The Art of Conversation. In fact, as I’ve done with this post, it could be called The Art of Debate, since debate over a topic — a dialectic — is what drives these (in fact ancient) ideas about discourse and rhetoric.
The page’s authors (Dean & Marshall VanDruff) give it other names: Conversational Cheap Shots! (on the site’s main page link) and Conversational Terrorism (on the page itself). The graphic, which I’ve shamelessly recreated here, calls it How Not To Talk.
Regardless, it’s about how to have an honest effective debate that actually goes somewhere. (Be that concordance or disagreement.)
It’s finally a Friday which means there’s a probability of weather occurring as well as lesser probability of another Friday Notes post. A quick roll of my free-will dice, and it turns out today I’ve got both weather and a post. (Because I have notes. There are always notes.)
In this bundle I’ve got a “so this just happened” rant, a scam warning, a funny story about people, a question, and a couple of callbacks to a couple of favorite previous topics. I might toss in a few other items once I get going and if space permits.
Because I have notes. There are always notes.
This is the third part of a series examining the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (the MWI of QM). The popularity of the MWI in books, blogs, and science videos, especially among the science-minded, tends to keep in present in some corner of my mind. Blog posts are a way to shoo it out.
The first part introduced the topic and talked about cats. The second part discussed the Schrödinger equation, wavefunctions, decoherence, and the question of how multiple instances of matter can coincide. That question, to me, is a central issue I have with MWI.
This time I dig into quantum superposition and touch on a few other topics.
Last time I started exploring questions I have about the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (the MWI of QM). Obviously I’m not a fan; quite the opposite. It presents as parsimonious, hung on the single hook of a universal wavefunction, but I think it gets more complicated and cumbersome when examined. I can’t say it’s broken, but I don’t find it very attractive.
I suspect most people, even in physics, don’t care. A few have invested themselves in books or papers, but these interpretations don’t matter to real physics work. The math is the math. But among the philosophical, especially the ontological, it’s food for debate.
Being both philosophical and ontological, I do smell what’s cooking!
Back in January, in a post about unanswered questions in physics, I included the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (the MWI of QM). I wish I hadn’t. Including it, and a few other more metaphysical topics, took space away from the physical topics.
I did it because I’ve had notes for an MWI: Questions post for a long time, but shoehorning it in like that was a mistake. Ever since, I’ve wanted to return and give it the attention of a full post. I’m reminded about it constantly; the concept of “many worlds” has become such a part of our culture that I encounter it frequently in fiction and in fact (and in other blog posts).
Its appeal is based on a simplicity, but to me it doesn’t seem at all that simple.
So, ten years. Over a thousand posts (1,142). Over a million words (1,381,652). Many different topics, from science fiction to science physics — those two representing both a key duality and a crucial commonality in my worldview.
What they have in common is the science — a fundamental aspect of my life almost from day one (My first two words were “star” and “light” — a prescience that both amazes and amuses me.) The duality is between fiction and physics — more generally between art and the aforementioned science. While this aspect goes back only to high school, it has become just as fundamental. The Yin-Yang of physics and humanity.
Throw in a love of books, TV shows, and movies, plus a fascination with mathematics, computers, and human consciousness, and this blog has had a lot of ground to cover. Arguably too much.
I’ve got stuff on my mind!
My post last month about Dr. Gregory Berns and his studies of animal minds ran long because I also discussed Thomas Nagel and his infamous paper. Dr Berns referenced an aspect of that paper many times. It seemed like a bone of contention, and I wanted to explore it, so I needed to include details about Nagel’s paper.
The point is, at the end of the post, there’s a segue from the “Sebald Gap” between humans and animals to the idea we can never really even understand another human (let alone an animal). My notes for the post included more discussion about that, but the post ran long so I only mentioned it.
It’s taken a while to circle back to it, but better late than never?
It’s time for another edition of Friday Notes, my chance to whittle away a bit more at my collection of half-baked notions and blog post ideas. I recently noticed yet another notebook I’d forgotten about, so the pile actually got bigger this week rather than smaller. I’m starting to feel like Sisyphus.
The real problem is that, when you come down to it, it’s hopeless. I’m always going to be coming up with more ideas than I can write about, so the pile is always going to grow. What I need is the AI technology to clone my brain so I could delegate and distribute. Write in parallel!
But for now, all I can do is whittle away.