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Why no (QM) philosophy section?

  1. Nov 16, 2015 #1
    Since I am still a little philosophically orientated with respect to QM issues (I try to turn that around a bit by studying more math), I was wondering what the reason is that the choice was made not to include a forum where more philosophical issues can be discussed (in particular regarding QM)?:frown: It seems to me that, although it can be argued that philosophical discussions don't contribute anything, discussions of this kind can help layman (like me:wink:) gain some level of insight to step into the math!:wink:
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2015 #2
  4. Nov 16, 2015 #3
    Ok, so now the GD forum can be used for these kind of questions?:smile:
  5. Nov 16, 2015 #4
    Nope - think of Physics Forums as a site to disabuse you of the notion that philosophy is a substitute for mathematical rigour :)
  6. Nov 16, 2015 #5
    Fair enough, although the know-how that can do so best in practice is right here!:biggrin:
  7. Nov 16, 2015 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    The mentors each have their own degree of tolerance for the discussion of the philosophy of QM on PF. Threads that veer into the subject will last an uncertain amount of time, depending on who stumbles on the thread and collapses it.

    Even though I have a personal interest in the subject, I must admit that these discussions only end up with everyone trying to push their own favorite interpretation. It never leads to anything productive, maybe with the exception of understanding the debates about interpretations :smile:
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  8. Nov 16, 2015 #7
    Simple: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quantum_woo

    And a more in-depth discussion of the subject by the good people at Nottingham:

    Basically, it's an argument from ignorance co-opted by New Age and mystic types to try to gain legitimacy for their nonsense. Quantum mechanics is hard to understand even to people with adequate preparation, and impossible for those without, and it hasn't been helped by popular science writers trying to draw in public interest by dramatizing the inherent mysteriousness of the subject. Basically "No one understands quantum mechanics, so no one can prove that it doesn't justify my particular assertions."

    So the unfortunate result is that you get people who confuse the sense of profoundness and understanding with actual profound understanding (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect) and say that, while they just aren't very good at math, you don't really need to be as long as you understand the philosophy of the subject. This can encourage pseudoscientific attitudes to creep into the discussion, which detracts greatly from productive and instructive conversation about the subject.

    It's also because there's a bit of entirely well-earned chauvanism about the subject among physicists. I certainly don't mean that in a bad way, when you spend years of your life in advanced education working tirelessly to even begin to understand the subject, you earn the right to be a bit elitist about it. A person who's put in that much effort and is taking time out of his or her day to help other people accomplish similar things has every right to be irritated when someone shows up on the forum talking about the quantum homeopathy healing crystals that the Big Pharma vaccine lobby doesn't want you to know about and subsequently begins ranting about how anyone who tries to dismiss his nonsense is a paid shill for Big Science.
  9. Nov 17, 2015 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    We're not talking about woo. We are talking about legitimate discussions of the interpretation of QM (Copenhagen vs de Broglie-Bohm vs MWI vs transactional vs ...) as done by respectable physicists and (some) philosophers.
  10. Nov 17, 2015 #9

    Ben Niehoff

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    Gold Member

    If you don't know the math, then what are you interpreting?
  11. Nov 17, 2015 #10
    I like to think I am interpreting the paradoxes... But fair enough, scientists aren't stupid either! :wink: (not at all probably :wink:) It only seems like a 'we are the only ones allowed to talk about it' kind of attitude... :wideeyed: It would be helpful in my eyes if there was a library, put together by scientist, refuting the 'ludicrous' claims of Woo-minded people. It is a challenge in its own!
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
  12. Nov 17, 2015 #11
    Don't you find that people whom are taken by the woo have only maybe pre-algebra level mathematics anyways? It's quite simply impossible for them to form logical and deductive reasoning at any level.
  13. Nov 17, 2015 #12
    With the last sentence I think I don't entirely agree. On the first: wouldn't it be possible to channel my abstract thinking into general ideas about the workings of QM, so that I understand the abstract language of the math better? Maybe I'm just poor in math? I need to have an abstract representation of what a specific formula means... But you are probably right that when I start with the math on the very basic level, I can work my way up, and maybe that's the best way.
  14. Nov 17, 2015 #13
    The real paradox is that it's actually great fun to go back and get to know the maths intimately at the most basic level , for only then you begin to appreciate that there is no way to even start to understand QM without the solid foundations! This is much more powerful than any so-called insight the woo can bring. :wink:

    Luckily there are many great mentors here, great threads about re-learning maths and great book recommendations. ... so it's time for less typing in this thread and more learning. :smile:
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