Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Sorta, Woulda, Coulda Be an Interesting Book

In May 2009, physicist Victor Stenger released a book called Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness.

Another author, Geoff Gilpin, wrote a glowing review on

“The public understanding of modern physics is seriously out of whack, thanks largely to pop junk like The Secret and What the BLEEP Do We Know?

These books and movies promote a bogus version of quantum mechanics--the belief that 'you create your own reality' by controlling the laws of physics with your mind. They offer instant wealth and happiness, but they deliver medieval superstition.”

“In Quantum Gods, Stenger confronts mainstream theologians and New Age gurus--anyone who tries to link physics to mysticism. He takes their theories seriously enough to examine them in detail and he finds that, so far, none of them live up to the standards of scientific truth.”

Another reviewer, Logan Narcomey, offered an equally positive assessment.

Stenger has “the chutzpah to challenge the ‘wavicle’ nature of photons, saying that in reality, photons are particles, not waves, and the wave-like properties they seem to have under some circumstances are the result of predictable statistical patterns of streams of particles.

"Given everything I read in this book, I still find an educated layman's logical argument against quantum idealism more effective and direct: if it is true that ‘the mind creates reality,’ than the scientific method would have been fruitless from the beginning. It is part of Chopra and Goswami's narrative that deterministic science became arrogant and was overthrown by quantum mechanics, a la Kuhn's ‘paradigm shift.’ Yet the scientific method rests on replicability and peer review. If the mind creates reality, then scientific rivals would always get different results testing the same phenomenon, no matter how well their controls are. Quantum mechanics itself has been extremely well-verified from competing groups of physicists worldwide, so ironically, if quantum idealism were true, quantum mechanics could not be.”

I think this book could be quite valuable in light of my concerns about The Secret and the popular New Age concept that a person can use positive thinking alone to manipulate Reality to his advantage. Clearly, I disagree. And if Stenger has written 292 pages on those disagreements, his book could be quite valuable and informative.

However, the final sentence in Mr. Narcomey’s review troubles me.

“Stenger's book is a needed defense of reductionism, determinism, materialism, and the piercing insight of the scientific frame of mind.”

Yikes!! Personally, I consider myself to be a strong opponent of “reductionism” and “materialism,” so any book which defends those “-isms” will NOT be appealing to me.

And it certainly doesn’t help that Victor Stenger also wrote a best-selling book called God: The Failed Hypothesis.

I will monitor this situation closely. Apparently, so will Denyse O’Leary.


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