The September program will be Saturday the 19th at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak Street in Dallas. Proceedings will get underway at 2 p.m. The format will be a general discussion of the topic.
This item is also posted on the Skeptical Analysis blog.
Here’s a story from a few years back. I wrote this term paper for an undergraduate physics class. I got an A in the course, and when Scott Chase, at the time moderator for the sci.physics discussion list, asked me to submit an item on the EPR paradox, I dressed up my term paper a bit and sent it in. The discussion has since been revised and improved by Scott and others, and you can find it here:
Does Bell’s Inequality rule out local theories of quantum mechanics?
In 1935 Albert Einstein and two colleagues, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) developed a thought experiment to demonstrate what they felt was a lack of completeness in quantum mechanics. This so-called “EPR Paradox” has led to much subsequent, and still ongoing, research. This article is an introduction to EPR, Bell’s Inequality, and the real experiments that have attempted to address the interesting issues raised by this discussion.
One of the principal features of quantum mechanics is that not all the classical physical observables of a system can be simultaneously well defined with unlimited precision, even in principle. Instead, there may be several sets of observables that give qualitatively different, but nonetheless complete (maximal possible), descriptions of a quantum mechanical system. These sets are sets of “good quantum numbers,” and are also known as “maximal sets of commuting observables.” Observables from different sets are “noncommuting observables”.
The heart of the matter is the measurement of quantum mechanical properties of sub atomic particles. To make it short, measuring such a property, measuring anything, involves interacting with the property so that additional parts of the Universe are irreversibly affected. For sub atomic particles it is claimed the measured property does not have the measured value until the measurement is taken. A classic example is the thought experiment involving Schrödinger’s cat.
For decades the argument raged back and forth over whether the studied particle had a built-in property that was measured. The ultimate conclusion was it did not. In my mind I sought to demonstrate the opposite. I supposed that, in my example, a radioactive nucleus has built in a specific time when decay will occur. When the time comes, the decay event happens.
Then I thought about it, and I realized that this could not be. The proof is in the decay statistics, and I will get into that in a different post. It’s going to be a Quiz Question.
The conclusion is, amazingly, that things happen in the Universe without having a cause. This contradicts most conventional wisdom. The batter hits a home run because he swung the bat. Swinging the bat was a principal cause for the home run. On another level this is not always the case. An atomic particle decays, and nothing has caused it.
This and a number of other counterintuitive aspects of quantum physics have caught the attention of certain fringe elements. People seeking to rationalize claims of the paranormal have turned at times to spooky elements of quantum mechanics. For the North Texas Skeptics an early encounter was health quack Charlotte Gerson, whom we reviewed 23 years ago:
The lady (she is not quoted in the Gerson flier, and I didn’t get her name) found that with a family it was difficult to stick to the Gerson diet unless the whole family participated, which meant everyone ate nothing at home but fresh vegetables (organically grown, I assumed). Her grocery bill, as a consequence, was $200 per week. This is amazing when you realize that previously in this century unprocessed food was the cheapest way to eat. It is a statement of how we have come to depend on the food processing industry.
Another man was also questioning the Lady X, and he seemed to be asking some very intelligent questions. He was wearing a medical pager, and I asked him if he was a doctor. He said he was, but he declined to be identified. He considered it professionally unwise to acknowledge interest in alternative medicine. His wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and he was seeking anything that promised hope. For some reason the conversation turned to other quack medical practices, and the subject of homeopathy came up. I was surprised when he stated complete confidence in homeopathy. Not only that, but the two others in our little conversation knot expressed the same convictions. Of course I shouldn’t have been surprised. Where did I think I was anyhow?
How could homeopathy work, I asked? What could possibly be the mechanism for the effectiveness of a remedy that mathematically could be demonstrated to consist of pure water after all of the active ingredient had been diluted out? One man (who also claimed to be a practicing alchemist) suggested quantum mechanics (Q-M). When I stated that I had some slight knowledge of Q-M he retreated slightly and stated, “But it produces results,” meaning that even if we don’t know the mechanism, we still have the empirical results to prove the effectiveness. (I wondered to myself that if he were willing to abandon Q-M and to fall back on results, then why had he bothered to mention a plausible mechanism in the first place.) My companions pointed out the famous work of Jacques Benveniste and the futile attempts by the “Amazing” Randi to debunk him. My own recollection of the whole affair was somewhat different. Skeptical Inquirer readers will recall Martin Gardner’s account of the “experiment effect” in the winter 1989 issue.
Gerson did not invoke quantum mechanics, but her audience that day encompassed this mentality. Which brings us to the curious case of homeopathic quack Jacques Benveniste.
After the Nature controversy, Benveniste gained the public support of Brian Josephson, a Nobel laureate physicist with a reputation for openness to paranormal claims. Experiments continued along the same basic lines, culminating with a 1997 paper claiming the effect could be transmitted over phone lines. This was followed by two additional papers in 1999 and another on remote-transmission in 2000 by which time it was claimed that it could also be sent over the Internet.
The principle behind homeopathic remedies is that a small amount of the substance known to produce a symptom will remedy the cause behind the symptom. My example: poison ivy causes a rash, a small amount of the substance from the plant will alleviate the symptoms. But the small amount needs to be really small. Surprisingly, the more dilute the active ingredient the more potent. Homeopathic pharmacology identifies dilutions using the letters X and C. Something that is diluted 10 to 1 is said to be 1X. 1000 to 1 is 3X, and so on. For higher dilutions C, representing dilutions in factors of 100, is used. 20C is a dilution of one part in 10020. That’s one part in 1040. The Avagadro Constant is 6.022×1023 per gram molecular weight. For a kilogram of a 20C homeopathic compound we would expect to find not a single molecule of the active ingredient, this to an astronomical degree of certainty.
So, how does this work? Quantum mechanics explains it. The previous existence of the ingredient in the solution has left its memory, despite being diluted to zero. It’s a remarkable claim, with no basis in quantum mechanics to back it up.
In 2004 we encountered a Mr. Greg Nichols, who promised to amaze us:
More recently we received the following e-mail (it always seems to start with an e-mail out of the blue):
To: <email@example.com>I have an interesting test for your group. Please call or e-mail for details.
We were naturally interested, and we invited Mr. Nichols to drop by. He came to our February meeting, even though we were snowed out of our meeting place, and we all had to huddle together inside a fast food place on Live Oak Street.
What Mr. Nichols had to show us was a substance that, when applied to the outside of a beverage container, would improve the taste of the beverage inside.
Even we skeptics had to agree that this was, indeed, a paranormal claim. We eagerly looked forward to the opportunity to see this miracle performed under controlled conditions.
Oops! That was the sticker. We wanted, as we always do, to completely control the test in a manner that would eliminate testing bias or even, gasp, trickery.
For example, I have the opinion that if somebody sees a magical substance applied to the outside of his drink container, that person might, just might, perceive a difference in taste. I would naturally insist that the test involve tasters who were required to sip identical drinks from identical containers without knowing which container had been so treated.
We are sorry to report that our insistence on these minor details eventually led to a complete breakdown in the negotiations between us and Mr. Nichols (and his partner, Mr. Willis). To make a long story short, Nichols and Willis told us in no uncertain terms what we could do with our challenge. More specifically, we received a final e-mail:
Dear John,I guess I have to talk to you like you’re a moron. Either you and your buddies can’t read, won’t read, are stupid, ignorant, or all of the above.
When you get the information we want to us, we can talk. When you are ready to comply with our demands, requests and concerns about the fairness of your so-called “Challenge”, we can talk.
I won’t print the rest of their dispatch here, because they became rather rude a few sentences later. However, you can read all the e-mail exchange on the NTS Web site. Here is the URL:
Mr. Nichols and Mr. Willis never did explain to us how their product was supposed to work. It’s possible they didn’t understand, themselves, because they had never studied quantum mechanics.
There is more odd stuff. There is structured water:
At first glance my mind played a trick on me. I thought they were selling mercury. You know, the liquid metal at room temperature, mercury? It goes by the symbol hg from Hydrargyrum, an archaic term for it. But I was glad to realize that this isn’t the symbol for that poisonous metal at all but stands for a molecule, which all my lost years learning chemistry were informing me wasn’t simply possible. Nine hydrogen atoms forming a molecular bond. This “water” is supposed to super-hydrate us and provide us energy. The thinking may be something like this: “More hydrogen, more will be the hydration.”
Creationist Carl Baugh was not beyond invoking spooky aspects of sub atomic physics. We ran an account of his explanation back in 2000:
Dr. Baugh went on to explain how all of this ties together. The famous German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss originally studied the Earth’s magnetic field about 200 years ago and found that it was decreasing. Actually it is not only decreasing, but it is varying up and down. It is pulsing. It pulses about eight cycles per second, and this action is what energizes water naturally.
The structure of water accounts for this effect. As shown in the diagram, a water molecule is two atoms of hydrogen bound to an atom of oxygen. The three atoms are not in line-the hydrogen atoms are separated by about 104.5 degrees (see Fig. 2). This angle can stretch and rebound, and this motion is what puts energy into the water.
In clouds the molecules are spiraling downward. When a water molecule passes through a thermal barrier this angle is flexed, and the water picks up energy from its environment. This is why clouds darken. Clouds get darker because the water is picking up energy.
One NASA engineer has told Baugh that they are producing mechanisms to energize water following Baugh’s principles. They have learned that today we are depleting ourselves of energy by constricting the spiraling of the molecules. Pipes, conduits, and channels constrict the natural flow of water and de-energize it. Water that has so been mistreated takes energy out of our bodies rather than adding it.
An engineer added energized water to his regular organic fertilizer and was able to produce corn eighteen feet tall with three ears per stalk. On another occasion at a university they added a few gallons of energized water to a sour well, and by the next morning the anaerobic bacteria in the well had been wiped out.
A rancher in West Texas once told Baugh that he now realizes why his cattle will drink rain water in muddy puddles rather than well water. The cattle feel more energy from drinking the energized rain water than from drinking the de-energized well water. Van Liew agreed, citing the fact that dogs drink out of puddles rather than their water dish. The rain water still contains all the information that God put in it.
Baugh explained that living systems today use only 3% of the information stored in their DNA. The other 97% is what geneticists call “junk” DNA. In reality, that 97% tells the active 3% how to respond. Energized water corrects this problem (presumably making more of the 97% active). By conducting experiments in gene splicing and recombination geneticists today are playing God, and they need to stop that and get back on track.
Toward the end of the program van Liew and Baugh took calls from listeners. Nancy posed the question of whether life on Earth would be more viable today had Adam and Eve never sinned.
I would like to answer that last (Nancy’s) question. Life on Earth would be more viable today if students weren’t forced to study quantum mechanics.
Regarding structured water, the acknowledged expert is Dr. Gerald Pollack:
You may have heard about “structured water” before. Many are quite skeptical, and some don’t even believe it exists, let alone that it has any value. But it’s important when trying to find high quality water. Water filtration processes used to clean our water supply frequently de-structures the water, so the question is whether or not this matters. Dr. Pollack explains this challenging concept in the following lecture:
“In terms of the water that we drink, it’s really a complicated issue,” Dr. Pollack admits.
But “the water inside your cells is absolutely critical for your health. If you have a pathology of an organ, it’s not only the proteins inside that organ that are not working, but also the water inside that organ. That near-protein water is not ordered in the way it should be.
So what you want to do is reestablish a kind of “ordering.”
What this means is that if you don’t have properly structured water in your cells, it can impact the functioning of the much larger protein molecules (and others) that are interfacing with it.
In fact, the protein molecule in your cells cannot be viewed as just a molecule by itself. It’s actually the molecule PLUS the water. These two factors together form the “entity” of the molecule in question.
“If you need that entity to function properly–take a muscle for example—if the muscle is not functioning, it’s the protein and the water that are not functioning,”Dr. Pollack explains. “You need plenty of this ordered/structured water and proteins in their right form in order to make the muscle function properly. So if you have a muscle injury then both are not functioning.”
So, how do you restore it?
Restructuring Water in Your Cells Creates Tissue Healing
Classically, one way of doing it is to use infrared radiation (heat). By applying heat to the muscle, you increase blood supply, which is helpful. But you’re also building water structure! Dr. Pollack’s research shows that infrared heat is very effective for ordering cellular water. In terms of the source of the infrared heat, as long as it emits the right wavelength of radiation, it will be effective. According to Dr. Pollack, the wavelength of 3 micrometers (microns) is ideal and very effective.
The sun also emits this wavelength, which may be yet another reason why sun exposure has such profound health benefits and just feels good through and through. Interestingly, the human body also emits radiation within the ideal range, which may explain why simple physical contact, including ‘hands-on healing,’ can contribute to improved health!
“I know there is a lot of skepticism about that,” Dr. Pollack says, “but from a physical point of view, it’s entirely possible.”
Another way to structure water is to use light.
The visible light spectrum, ultraviolet (UV) and near infrared also builds ordered water zones. Again, light therapy has been used for years to remedy various maladies, such as depression and jaundice, for example. But it’s only now that scientists are beginning to understand why such therapies work.
Clearly, one of the primary health benefits of sun exposure and UVB’s is that it makes your body create vitamin D, which we now realize is absolutely crucial for optimal health. But the fact that it also helps structure the water within your cells may be yet another contributing factor. After all, your body is a conglomerate of symbiotic relationships.
Dr. Pollack goes further addressing the question of whether we should drink structured water. He tells us the issue is still open to debate. Healing waters from the Ganges and from Lourdes have been studied. They have the same structure as water found in cells. It’s important for readers to remember:
In 1858 in the grotto of Massabielle, near Lourdes, France, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 18 times to Bernadette Soubirous, a 14 year old peasant girl. She identified herself as The Immaculate Conception. She gave Bernadette a message for all: “Pray and do penance for the conversion of the world.” The Church investigated Bernadette’s claims for four years before approving devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. Lourdes has since become one of the most famous shrines, attracting more than a million pilgrims each year. There have been thousands of miraculous cures at this shrine.
Structured water is something not to be sneezed at. But what would happen if you swallowed structured water. Regrettably, this question has not been answered. But, one thing is known: “structured water tends to stay together.” It’s wonderful we have people like Dr. Pollack to conduct critical research into these questions.
The Global Healing Health site has additional information on structured water:
One of the fundamental perceptual changes that we need to make is to acknowledge that water is a living substance, not the inert “wet stuff” that we’ve dismissed as unimportant and treated it as. I know this may be hard for some, but I can assure you that life will be harder for those who do not accept water’s living, intelligent nature as truth, than for those who do. This is not because water will get pissed off or angry at us, but because we — meaning those who can’t get themselves to form a healthy relationship with water based on mutual respect — will have cut ourselves off from its most sublime gifts. And here’s a clue. If you are unwilling to establish a healthy relationship with water, you can’t establish one with anyone else, including yourself.
We can continue drinking water that has been forced to go through various “short cut” processes in order to “protect” us from harm, but what we’ve been getting is sicker, earlier in life, and therefore, for longer periods of time. Because we often continue to function day-to-day for quite some time in spite of chlorine and fluoride baths, which combine with countless chemicals that are in the processed foods that we eat and the simulated dairy products that we drink (“milk” as it is presently known, is definitely not milk), we believe that we’re putting our best nutritional foot forward. But this is not so.
The site also cautions us about GMO foods. They look natural and taste natural and have the appearance of being natural, but they can’t be metabolized by the body. This is because they lack the vibrational signatures. They don’t have the specific frequencies of light that would allow our cells, our protein, and our enzymes to respond.
Structured water is closely related to energized water. The American Monk’s Blog has a link to a report from Silva International. “Imagine the possibilities if you make a conscious effort to manipulate theenergies around you.” The report cites the work of Dr. Masura Emoto:
Research by Dr. Masaru Emoto done on crystals of various types of frozen water seems to show that besides environmental factors, thought; prayer, sound and words impress an effect on water.
Dr. Emoto used a device called a Magnetic Resonance Analyzer (MRA) and found that all substances have their own unique magnetic resonance field and must be understood functionally at the atomic or even sub-atomic level in order to achieve the complete cure of all diseases. Water being the essential component to all life became one focus of attention. Using the MRA he was able to measure objects of interest in micro levels smaller than molecules and believes he has discovered why diseases occur.
According to Dr. Emoto, the specific vibrating wave generated by the electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom, and believed to be the source of energy behind the creation of all things emits a magnetic resonance. The magnetic resonance is influenced both positively and negatively by our thoughts. Negative thoughts influence micro-elements and microorganisms in our body, in such a way that illness results. His belief is that water is alive and has memory. Other research even suggests that the information recorded in water can be transferred to
other water molecules. Dr. Emoto suggests that the most effective cure for disease is an awareness that we are living in cooperation with microorganisms at moment of our lives and that they respond to thought.
Readers not familiar with magnetic resonance analyzers can obtain additional information on theDiscover Magazine site:
This is my fourth post on ‘quantum resonance spectrometry’ (QRS), a strange medical technology that seems to be becoming increasingly popular in China. Proponents claim that QRS can quickly and painlessly diagnose almost any disease. However, as I discussed last time,the technology has a dubious history.
But we shouldn’t focus on the past. The important question is: how well do today’s QRS devices work? In this post I’ll look at some examples of the technology in action.
First some terminology. I believe that QRS is essentially the same product as “Quantum Resonance Magnetic Analysis” (QRMA) and “Quantum Resonance Analysis” (QRA). As far as I can tell, these are all variants of Ronald Weinstock’s original invention, “Magnetic Resonance Analysis” (MRA). For more details, see the previous post. Note that none of these technologies is related to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Searching for some evidence on how QRS works, I discovered this TV segment broadcast onCCTV-1, the Chinese state TV channel. According to the show, QRS measures the magnetic field surrounding a sample of the patient’s hair. The hair’s field is, we’re told, a copy of the body’s own magnetic field. This field supposedly contains information about the health of all of the organs in the body. Water molecules which “remember” magnetic states are mentioned, which sounds like a reference to the strange “water memory” theories of Japanese author Masaru Emoto, which I discussed last time.
In addition to this, quantum physics accounts for psychic phenomena. Blogger Craig Weiler explains it:
This is not an easy topic, as you can imagine. Yet many fundamental underpinnings of the arguments against the existence of psi are based on a belief that it is incompatible with physics. This is simply not true. Most of the people who make this argument have no idea what the real situation is in the world of physics. Much thanks here goes to Chris Carter and his book “Parapsychology and the Skeptics.” He gives the clearest explanation I have read so far and I’m borrowing heavily from his take on this. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.
Observer Created Reality
Most people believe in an observer independent universe. This is a notion of classical physics that is no longer valid and is the first thing that must be addressed in any discussion about psychic ability and physics. Quantum physics has totally re-made this view of the world. An observer independent universe is one where an observer exhibits no effect on the universe. The universe operates of its own accord and the observer is unimportant in the process. That’s not what actually happens. We not only don’t live in this universe, we don’t live in an observer dependent universe either. We live in an observer created universe.
We have to listen to people like Craig Weiler, because they have studied this to great depth. He goes on to remind us of a few facts regarding our perceptions and reality:
Reality is not there when it is not being observed. We know this to be true at the quantum level but we don’t notice it because of a phenomenon called decoherence. Basically, because the bazillions of quantum level phase relationships interfere with each other, they appear on the macroscopic level to even out, or decohere, much like the curvature of the earth appears to disappear in a limited area of its surface. This decoherence effect allows us to get away with ignoring quantum effects on macroscopic objects and why classical physics works so well in the ordinary world.
We now know that something does not happen unless somebody observes it happening. Craig uses a technical term, bazillions, to accurately account for the total number of phase relationships that interfere with each other.
Russell Targ is another serious researcher in this frontier of science:
Targ originally became known for early work in lasers and laser applications. He joinedStanford Research Institute (SRI) in 1972 where he and Harold Puthoff coined the term “remote viewing” for the practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target using parapsychological means. Targ’s work on remote viewing has been characterized aspseudoscience and has also been criticized for lack of rigor.
Disregarding for a moment the allegations of pseudoscience, a review of Targ’s insight is beneficial:
In this article I will present what I consider to be the very best evidence for psychic abilities. These abilities—which we all possess—offer a spacious mind that can change your life and your view of reality. Buddhists and Hindus have known this since before the time of Christ. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming, and modern physics has the means and tools to embrace it. Such abilities have many names; ESP (extrasensory perception) is presently the most familiar. Others include clairvoyance and psi. The latter is derived from psi ?, the twenty-third letter of the Greek alphabet, referring to the Greekpsych?, meaning “psyche” or “soul.”
As we all know, Russell Targ, along with physicist Harold Puthoff, opened up the science of remote viewing over 40 years ago. Targ explains:
Remote Viewing. At Princeton University, Professor Robert Jahn and his associate Brenda Dunn oversaw two decades of remote viewing experiments with Princeton students as subjects. They asked students in the laboratory to describe their mental impressions of what it looked like where someone else was hiding at a randomly chosen distant location. These students had to fill out a thirty-item checklist to quantify their perceptions in this game of psychic hide-and-seek. Their findings — spanning several years and comprising a series of 411 trials — showed that it is no harder to look hundreds of miles in the distance than it to describe a person around the corner. Furthermore, it is no harder to describe a randomly chosen hiding place to be selected in the next hour, day, or week than it to describe a hidden contemporaneous event under way at the moment. Jahn’s highly significant results were published in Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1982 as a replication of our original SRI remote viewing experiments, which had been published in the same journal six years earlier.
Modern physics would describe these phenomena as nonlocal in that they are experimentally found to be independent of space and time. Nonlocality and entanglement, which were first described by Erwin Schrodinger in the late 1920s, are now among the hottest research topics in modern physics. This intriguing phenomenon is explained very clearly by Anton Zeilinger, one of the world’s leading experimentalists in quantum optics, in his 2010 book Dance of the Photons: From Einstein to Teleportation: “Entanglement describes the phenomenon that two particles may be so intimately connected to each other that the measurement of one instantly changes the quantum state of the other, no matter how far away it may be. This nonlocality is exactly what Albert Einstein called ‘spooky’; it seems eerie that the act of measuring one particle could instantly influence the other one.”
Robert Jahn also oversaw the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab, which attempted to demonstrate psychic control of random event generators. Jahn is now retired, and the lab was closed in 2007.
Targ and Puthoff’s work on remote viewing at Stanford Research Institute has been roundly criticized, particularly by writer Martin Gardner:
My review of Mind-Reach, by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff—a book on the testing of clairvoyance—appeared in The New York Review of March 17. Shortly thereafter theNYRreceived an interesting letter from Aaron Goldman, Sherman Stein, and Howard Weiner, three top mathematicians at the University of California, at Davis. Although their letter does not deal with P and T (as Puthoff and Targ are called), it concerns the closely related work of Charles Tart, a colleague of the three mathematicians at Davis.
Tart’s reputation as a parapsychologist is even higher than that of P and T. When his latest book, Learning to Use Extrasensory Perception, was published last year under the imprimatur of the University of Chicago Press, it was widely hailed as a major breakthrough. (See The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town,” December 13, 1976.) Tart shares with P and T the conviction that ESP powers can be markedly strengthened by electronic teaching machines. The major work of P and T in this field, made possible by an $80,000 grant from NASA, was with a four-choice machine designed by Targ. I discussed this test, considered a failure by almost everybody except P and T, in my Scientific American column, October 1975.
Two oddities from modern physics give aid and comfort to claims of the paranormal.
- Absence of causation
- Non local action
If something can happen (a decay event), and there is no cause, then a basic feature of traditional science has been violated. This provides an opening to be exploited by anybody claiming to provide the absent cause. The supposed cause, available to be inserted, can be something like a mental power or a disembodied spirit.
Non local action can be invoked to back up claims for remote viewing and mental telepathy. Also prognostication.
Invoking odd physics to bolster claims will only purchase the claimant so much. At a certain point claims of the paranormal need to be demonstrated, and here is where they fall down. You can maintain that the human mind has the ability to influence a random event generator, but the lack of any measurable success will ultimately prevail. History has borne out that experimental failure will deter neither these claimants nor their supporters.