Physicists in glass houses.

Science is always quick to critique and subdue experiences and theories from the margins of parapsychology, pseudo-science, philosophy, and non-mainstream healing practices.

Moreover, they are often particularly sensitive to have their own theories on Quantum Mechanics (QM) co-opted by these ‘other’ non-scientific tribes in speculations as to what exactly the heck is going on in our universe.

Physicists often state that these proponents of woo-woo simply do not understand QM. That they are misappropriating the empiric science to give a false legitimacy to the woo.

The philosopher Bernardo Kastrup offers this defence:

“…wild and often ungrounded speculation isn’t a privilege of non-physicists.
Today, physics itself is indulging in the most farfetched feast of speculations ever concocted by the human mind: multiple different types of parallel universes, each type potentially comprising a multi-dimensional infinity of such universes; 10 spatial dimensions, many of which are supposedly curled up into tight little knots of extraordinary topological complexity; widely conflicting views about the nature of time, such as that time does not actually exist, that time is precisely the only thing that in fact exists (space being illusory), and that time exists but isn’t fundamental, emerging instead from microscopic quantum processes; the accommodation of complete unknowns by mere labeling, such as the notions of dark matter and dark energy; widely differing views regarding the origin and early evolution of the universe; and the list goes on.

Given all these seriously discussed hypotheses, it is difficult for physicists to take the moral high ground and criticize non-physicists based merely on the fact that the latter are engaging in physical speculation. Compared to the conjectures of many professional physicists, allusions to quantum phenomena in health care and parapsychological literature sound rather moderate and conservative.”
Bernardo Kastrup

I cannot help but feel that the deeper our sciences penetrate the meaning-nature of our universe, the more we begin to realise that many of the answers have been somehow encoded in our psyches, myths and cultures all along.


Featured photo by Karim Ghantous.

Ian Miller

3 thoughts on “Physicists in glass houses.

  1. When I was at the ANU pretending to study physics, several books circulated among students. Two that come to mind, and which are somewhat pertinent to this blog, are ‘The Tao of Physics’ by Fritjof Capra – himself a physicist. Another was ‘Gödel, Escher, Bach’ by Douglas Hofstadter. Both of these books grappled with the paradox: The more we uncover the mystery of realty, the more mysterious it becomes.

    One of my early flatmates, whose last name was ironically Bark as in Bach, was a research nuclear physicist at the ANU and, over beers, said many nuclear physicists find themselves in an existential crisis and often seek a meta-meaning. He recalled a lecture given by a world renown physicist who started his lecture with a transcendental meditation slide of people ‘levitating’ off cushions.

    Reality is real rabbit hole, and rationalism is the means by which one may go down it. Ultimately, once get to Boltzmann Brains or something like that, you have to take a step back, a dram of single malt, and go for a walk or un on a sunny day. Nothing brings a person out of the reality/illusion/phenomenological mindset quicker than actually living… save, perhaps, stubbing your toe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Stuart.
      Thanks for the reply. Super interesting…..and as if to confirm the mystery of it all (and in a moment of synchronisity) this just happened. And I swear it is true.
      I was walking the dog and listening to a podcast in which the book by Douglas Hofstadter that you just mentioned was being discussed. Hmm, I thought I have not heard of this. So I was standing there looking it up on Booktopia when my phone notification went off.
      It was your comment talking about that very book.
      Weird.
      PS we must absolutely catch up for a coffee as soon as lockdown is lifted (im pretty busy woking at the immunisation clinic right now).

      Liked by 2 people

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