Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another quackbuster

This post features Victor Stenger, particle physicist, atheist, and deconstructionist extraordinaire of healthquack and "alt med" ideas about "quantum physics" and "quantum energy". Here is a link to his webpage.

1. Here is his paper, Is the Brain a Quantum Device?
The answer is no. In the paper he explains the relationship between Penrose and Hammeroff (among the subjects interviewed in that gaggy film, What the Bleep), and discusses how their microtubule notion is off by at least two orders of magnitude. His conclusion:
"The brain is simply too large and too hot to be a quantum device, coherent or not."

2. He has written a number of books, including God: The failed Hypothesis (most recent), and many more.

3. This is an article written for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Quantum Quackery, from way back in 1997. It debunks attempts by Goswami and Chopra to insinuate quantum physics into a frame of reality that supports dualism:
"Quantum physics is claimed to support the mystical notion that the mind creates reality. However, an objective reality, with no special role for consciousness, human or cosmic, is consistent with all observations."

4. This paper called The Anthropic Coincidences: A Natural Explanation, systematically lays out arguments against the idea of "supernatural purpose."
"Anthropic Design: Does the Cosmos Show Evidence of Purpose?
Claims that scientists have uncovered supernatural purpose to the universe have been widely reported recently in the media. The so-called anthropic coincidences, in which the constants of nature seem to be extraordinarily fine-tuned for the production of life, are taken as evidence. However, no such interpretation can be found in scientific literature. All we currently know from fundamental physics and cosmology remains consistent with a universe that evolved by purely natural processes."

5. A list of quotations. My fave so far:
"People are entitled to their opinions, but when the opinion is in disagreement with the data -- with the facts -- when that opinion does not stand up under critical or rational scrutiny, I think we have a right to point that out. We shouldn't be stepping on anybody's toes when we do that. If they're going to be spouting off nonsense, then we should say that -- not as a matter of opinion, but as a matter of scientific fact. When someone says science says something, and science doesn't say something ("It doesn't say that! That's a misrepresentation of what science says."), then I think we can state that. And if it ruffles some feathers, so what?"

6. An interview with Victor Stenger from 1999, on atheism.

Go Victor.

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