Richard FEYNMAN — a Quantum genius who helps drown PSYCHIATRY — you can be neither healthy nor sane in a Clockwork Universe.
Photons give the lie to modern-day psychiatry — if we allow them to “make up their minds” as to what they’re going to do next, why can’t we? Take a really hard look at what Richard Feynman actually said (included below) — and you find that he, and the rest of Quantum Physics allocate more freedom to photons than today’s psychiatry does to you. But to see where he and they went wrong takes an enormous effort of will — in biblical times you had to walk on water to make your point — today, you just have to risk losing your Nobel Prize or your grant money. Subatomic physics proves we live in a Non-Clockwork Universe — so if photons are inexplicable, which they are, why does contemporary psychiatry NOT allow us ‘choice’, the right to make up our minds rather better than photons do — it matters.
What Richard Feynman emphasises throughout, and quite rightly so, is that we have to go by what the experiments tell us, what the experimental data actually is. But then he and his ilk do precisely the opposite — they explicitly ignore the message their brilliant experiments tell them every time, without exception. “It’s bad news — so pay it no heed”. It’s so easy to hide behind the complexity, which is real enough. “The mathematics is hard to master — it takes years to understand”. But however erudite you may become there can never be any excuse for almost deliberately misunderstanding what the experiments always and invariably prove beyond any conceivable doubt. It’s high time scientists were true to their Science. Because if they are not, which most of them aren’t, the impact is greatest where it matters most, IN OUR MINDS. Mental agony is the worst pain you can suffer, and the remedy is always greater realism, not less.
pesky photons 1 — photons deciding for themselves — pesky photons 2 — Richard Feynman’s joke — texts from Quantum Experts — healthier lives with ‘aetiology’ and ‘Q-gaps’ — Q-gaps I have known — where the mind goes wrong, and how to put it right, for all
pesky photons 1
So let’s look at one brilliant experiment that Richard Feynman describes with his exemplary clarity. We all know that if you are looking through (or at) a window, you can see a faint reflection of your face — most photons go through the transparent glass, but some, not many, are reflected back so you can see a dim picture of you. How dim would you say that reflection was? How much of the light coming from around you decides not to pass through the glass, but to turn back, so you can see it again? Would you say that that was a reasonable scientific question? Would you get a PhD grant to count the number of photons which pass through, compared with those that are reflected?
Check it out. Do you see this faint reflection? Is it part of reality? Does it happen every time you look through a piece of glass? There’s so much guff and so much complexity around, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground, and take the next step only when you’re sure (or reasonably sure) of the first.
So, do you now believe that a clear sheet of glass does let most light through, but not all. What if you were to count the precise number of photons that do, and those that don’t? Richard Feynman of course, did precisely this — he used a ‘photon-counter’, which is more numeric that the human eye, but does much the same thing –detects photons.
And so what did he find? Well, first, what would you expect him to find? Would you accept a 4% reflection rate? That’s to say for every 100 photons hitting the glass, 4 turn on their tracks, and do not accompany their fellow light particles through, but return whence they came, or near enough. Write down what your guess would be. Check out a near-by window, perhaps with some illumination around you — and make your very own ‘guesstimate’ of how much light doesn’t go through.
Why is it important that you, personally, do this? What difference does it make if you estimate a 2%, or a 10% return? Why should I press you to get off your butt, and do something ‘scientific’? Well, of course it is entirely up to you — this paragraph poses a direct choice to you — you can continue reading, or you can stir your bones and check out this devastating point for yourself with the nearest piece of glass or window.
This will do two things — first it’ll prove, at least to me, that you can make decisions off your own bat, that you have a mind of your own, and can do either what you want, or what I’ve suggested, or nothing at all — choice matters.
Secondly it brings home to you as a living human being, what scientists are telling you about your reality. It’s your reality that matters, not theirs. If they chunter on about photons and reflections, and if you then just accept what they say as gospel, then when someone comes along with a different line, how likely are you to dismiss it as unscientific hogwash? Or are you going to do that anyway? These scientists are geniuses, especially Einstein and Feynman — so how can an unversed reader, or a non-physicist writer, challenge their enormous, overwhelming authority? Well if you have a mind of your own, which you will need for your sanity, then you’re going to have to decide if the scientists who back today’s version of psychiatry are right or wrong — but you have to do this yourself — if you let someone do it for you — then your mind already becomes less your own. And it matters.
Photons deciding for themselves
So what did Feynman find? Well, devastating news, actually. We now move into inexplicability. If you don’t understand the next bit, then you’re in good company — no one does, and, in point of fact, no one ever will. So what is this unknowable datum? Grasp the bits around it, so that the unkowability becomes that much more obvious — the clearer we don’t understand something, the more valuable become those things we do.
Feynman showed that the quantity of photons reflected is governed by the thickness of the glass. It’s a problem that also puzzled Newton, who couldn’t solve it ether. At a given thickness of glass, the percentage of photons being reflected is fixed — it depends on the wavelength or colour of the light particles, but keep these the same, and out of 100 photons hitting the first surface anywhere between 0 and 8 will be reflected. How close was your guess?
Two things — (1) did you know that reflection from a (transparent) glass surface depended on the thickness of the glass? And (2) why should this vary with the wavelength of the light? Leave aside for the moment that light is regarded at one moment as a particle, the next as a wave. Newton battled all his working life to say it was the former — turns out he was wrong, it’s both — whichever suits a particular scientist at a particular time, a subjective choice if ever there was one. If that isn’t inexplicable enough for you, and it certainly was for Newton and his confrere Leibniz, the next one certainly will be.
So given all the technical factors surrounding this observable event, how can you explain the following. Like I say, we’re moving into inexplicable waters, which is why it was so important for me that you see for yourself that light does reflect, if dimly, from the front surface of an otherwise transparent sheet of glass.
How does a photon arriving, fresh, at a glass surface know how thick that particular piece of glass is? It hasn’t been there before, it’s only touched the front bit, there’s no way it can ‘see’ the back surface of the glass (from which it could also be reflected), apart from going there, which it doesn’t because it’s reflected before it penetrates the first — so how does it know which of the 0% or 8% it must obey? And yet it does. Every time.
Vary the thickness of the glass pane, a factor no incoming photon can even guess at, and you alter the quantity of photons reflected. An incontrovertible, unmovable, invariable incomprehensibility — every experiment exploring this comes to the same conclusion — it’s a scientific fact if ever there was one. The percentage of photons that are reflected depends on something that any given photon simply cannot know — the ‘decision’ to reflect or not, depends on how much further away the second ‘face’ of the glass is from the point of impact. In other words, even before it impacts it has to ‘know’ what lies some distance from that impact — i.e. the second ‘face’ of the glass — because as the glass gets thicker, more or less is reflected, in the range 0–8% — no more, no less, and always the same.
If this isn’t enough, there’s a second incomprehensibility — which photon will do what? There’s simply no way we can any of us tell beforehand which photon will pass through the transparent glass, and which will not. Now you might not worry about our rank failure to predict differences between photons, some of which display what’s needed for transparency, and others that do not — in Quantum Physics, this sort of Uncertainty might be acceptable — between humans, it most certainly is not — that way lies mental insecurity, thence insanity.
Suppose you think — so what? Light particles are a mystery anyway, why bother? Where’s the beef? Well the crucial loss is logic, a word which crops up in the verbatim quotes included below. If we are reasoning our way through a complex, and generally hostile biosphere, we need to reason correctly — A to B to C, or 2 + 2 = 4. If we come across something which says A to Z to Q, or 2 + 2 = ∞, what are we to think? My advice is to hold up your hand, and say, “I don’t understand”. There’s no shame in saying that. There’s a biospheric penalty (and a ‘healthcare’ penalty) in saying, “I don’t care whether I admit my ignorance, or not”. Living organisms which pay no heed to the extent of their ignorance prevent themselves, to that precise degree, from exercising their responding-abilities, their ‘responsibilities’. You might not link this to healthcare, though I do, especially mental healthcare where pretence, denial and dissociation are pathogenic. And you may be even more reluctant to extend it to the very real risk of extinction, or partial extinction, which we run today, for this very reason. Time will tell, and it seems to me that time is running out for a supposedly sapiens type of homo.
pesky photons 2
A second Feynman experiment exposes us to perhaps an even greater quantity of photonic inexplicability. How does the photon know? How does it make up its ‘mind’? A choice is clearly involved — yes or no, but, as above, we have not the faintest idea how it makes this ‘choice’ and, further, we never will. If photons can ‘choose’ and we don’t know how — why can’t we, when we do?
It’s the single/double slit experiment. Fire a beam of light against a wall through a single slit, and you find an oval on that wall. No problem there. Fire it at two narrow slits, and you find a whole series of multiple small ovals — it’s called ‘interference’ and it used to be quite enough to prove that light is a wave, since only then do peaks augment peaks and troughs, troughs.
So far so good, apart from that old chestnut about light being a wave or particle — here is one experiment which not only does not conclude that argument, but opens up a whole chasm of even greater Ignorance.
For if you reduce the photon beam to single photons, one every minute, the full unfathomability stares you in the face. If you start with a single slit, then, over time, an oval of light forms on the target wall, as before. So far, as expected. But, and here you have to hold your breath, offer these one-a-minute photons TWO such slits, and you find, not two ovals, as logic would dictate, but a series of mini-ovals, ‘interference patterns’, just as if the single photons were behaving as a wave.
Nonsense! How does each single photon know that there are now two slits, since it appears to only go through the one? How does it know what earlier photons have done, so it can obediently fall into the same ‘wave’ type pattern?
There is no answer to these questions. There never will be any answer to these questions. This doesn’t mean we cannot wrestle with them, find what does work, move it into our ubiquitous semi-conductors, and thrive. What it does mean is that we MUST acknowledge this Ignorance.
And here we hit a crunch point, and depart ferociously from our Atomic Physicist colleagues. They may be happy to accept Heisenberg’s or Bohr’s assurance that these questions have no place in Quantum Mechanics — that’s up to them. What is not up to them, and indeed is up to you, me and every other sentient being on this small vulnerable planet, is how do WE choose where to go next? Do we have a mind of our own? Can we decide a ‘new’ course of action, irregardless of earlier causative conditions — because that is precisely what is currently wrong with modern-day psychiatry. Photons are seen to ‘decide’ on factors which are 100% outside our ken — time we allowed ourselves, and all our compatriots, to do the same. I have choice, I have ‘intent’ — I cannot begin to say how, why or where it comes from — but come it does, and it matters.
Just suppose, as I do, that insanity and all varieties of psychiatric problem arise from the misapplication of ‘intent’. This has two profound consequences — the one supremely tragic, the other supremely optimistic. (1) Since modern-day psychiatry (like Freud) maintains that ‘intent’ does not exists and that even an element of Free Will is an illusion — then all hope it can ever get close to understanding sanity, nor how to promote mental healthcare, evaporates. On the other hand, (2) once you accept that it is perfectly scientific to talk as if we had ‘intent’, that we can make choices, that we have the ability to respond to change — then you have the key to sorting one and all psychiatric disabilities. After all, my working definition of mental disease is your mind not letting you do what you want — which carries its own remedy in that very phrase — find out which bit of your mental furniture gets in the way, and zap it — which I’ve now been exploring for six decades, and loving it too.
Richard Feynman’s joke
Let’s assume that Nobel Prize Winners know what they are talking about. Richard Feynman is exceptional for a number of reasons, not least an endearing sense of humour. He clearly had a zest for life, was interesting to know, and was a fascinating and riveting teacher — his popping an ‘O-ring’ into the glass of iced water on the table to explain why that space mission terminated is pure genius, one in millions, if not unique. “Surely you’re joking Mr Feynman?” is the title of a book only an exceptionally confident man would conceive. It is easy to believe that he had often received this type of question — one envisages a brief, if stilted, conversation between him and say a bejewelled contessa, perhaps many.
No, Mr Feynman was not joking — the Quantum basis for our physical universe is indeed bizarre to the point of ludicrous. But it is also real. Photons do not behave as our logic would entail them to. We follow things in the everyday world, by watching what happens after the event we first observe. We ‘deduce’ that if ‘B’ follows ‘A’ today, that there is a good chance it will do so tomorrow. We apply this logic throughout, especially to our healthcare. If you overindulge in alcohol, you’ll know about it next day — ‘B’ is virtually guaranteed to follow ‘A’. If you walk across Death Valley without water, your walking days will be fewer. This is a medical understanding of reality, our biosphere, and it merits some attention.
Please note, there is nothing wrong with this reasoning. It is the staple of our species, it is the reason we now populate more sections of the globe than any other primate, our numbers seem to grow exponentially. Healthcare problems limit us, but reasoning our way around them can reduce their painful impact materially. Homo sapiens is an apt title, when we look at the increased longevity we have reasoned into existence.
The danger is that we over-extend this reasoning ability. It does not apply to subatomic physics. We cannot therefore claim omniscience, either now or however much later we care to believe. No, the real world is just as mysterious, just as chaotic as it has always been. We may keep hoping for ‘underlying patterns’, but there are none. Wishful thinking here actually reduces the quality of our healthcare, especially mental. So if you want peace of mind, don’t look for it among sub-atomic particles — rather, focus your attention on your fellows, who, in common with all other members of the biosphere, make use of an equally unknowable facility — anti-entropy, antropy, or the ability to organise. I expound on this more explicitly to Einstein in https://medium.com/@BobTrustConsent/how-einstein-hampered-healthcare-both-medical-and-societal-d29cd129be9a
Again, don’t misunderstand this point — Science works, it solves far more problems than we might ever have expected it to, application of pragmatic principles exploits what we do know, to the full — our social media for one, is unprecedented and all but unbelievable. But, at the same time, do not expect to know all — whatever else Quantum Physics teaches us, it tells us that our powers of reasoning have a limit. The notion we can keep experimenting indefinitely, and each time we’ll add to the quantity of Certain Knowledge — this is a lovely idea, a slice of recurrent wishful thinking, which leads us astray, not only in modern-day psychiatry, but also in evaluating living processes. Have a care that your dedication to Science doesn’t diminish the quasi-miraculous facility that all living organisms have, of countering the Uncertainty Principle, every pico-second. As before, living skin heals, where dead skin does not — we’ll never know precisely why — but we can all learn how to help it along. The same applies to all afflictions which ever trouble our oversized minds.
texts from Quantum Experts
My objective in parading these Quantum inexplicabilities is not to mock, but to half-close one avenue, so that another, more vital one can remain open. Our Science-illusion hampers health. Carlo Rovelli puts the point more succinctly than most.
“Facile nineteenth-century certainties about science — in particular the glorification of science understood as definitive knowledge of the world — have collapsed. One of the forces responsible for their dismissal has been the twentieth-century revolution in physics, which led to the discovery that NEWTONIAN PHYSICS, despite its immense effectiveness, IS ACTUALLY WRONG, in a precise sense. Much of the subsequent philosophy of science can be read as an attempt to come to grips with this disillusionment. What is scientific knowledge if it can be wrong even when it is extremely effective?” [in ‘Anaximander, the First Scientist’, 2011, emphases added ]
This would appear to be clear enough. The key is to detach this unknowability from the rest of our reasoning. The catch is to avoid losing our astonishing ability to think, to create patterns of thought that were never there before, akin to healing holes in our skin which would otherwise remain forever, or, to move to another part of the biosphere, to grow flowers where none were before, using something as ‘unknowable’ as a meristem.
Here Richard Feynman first re-states, then retreats from, the same point. His knowledge of David Hume, 1739, is patchier than it could have been.
“Try as we might to invent a reasonable theory that can explain how a photon “makes up its mind” whether to go through glass or bounce back, it is impossible to predict which way a given photon will go. Philosophers have said that if the same circumstances don’t always produce the same results, predictions are impossible and science will collapse. Here is a circumstance — identical photons are always coming down in the same direction to the same piece of glass — that produces different results. We cannot predict whether a given photon will arrive at A or B. All we can predict is that out of 100 photons that come down, an average of 4 will be reflected by the front surface. Does this mean that physics, a science of great exactitude, has been reduced to calculating only the probability of an event, and not predicting exactly what will happen? Yes. That’s a retreat, but that’s the way it is: Nature permits us to calculate only probabilities Yet science has not collapsed . . . . .”
This appears on page 18 of “QED The Strange Theory Of Light And Matter” . Had he been more aware of the current state of modern psychiatry, he might have been more cognisant of how that key medical facility has most assuredly collapsed.
Leon Lederman in his book “The God Particle” (1993) gives an equally robust description, with a similar insouciance regarding those who don’t ‘accept’ his findings. What I recommend, is that he take his direct reasonings more to heart himself, and draw the conclusions about the permanent nature of the inexplicability which so troubled Einstein, though not Bohr, as he succinctly describes.
Page 186 shows Einstein himself fretting about the gaping chasm which he knew Quantums opened up. Sadly, his hopes to close this gap by devising a ‘better theory’ merely compounds a common fallacy, and is doomed. “Bohr’s defence was that the incompleteness that worried Einstein was not a fault of the theory but a quality of the world in which we live.” How clear can you get? How much clearer do you need? It is painful to admit limits to our knowing — we all love to know everything — and indeed ignorance of changings in the biosphere threaten our health and indeed our very survival — but the inflexibility of scientific dogma is even more perilous, especially as it cripples our ‘intent’, our creativity, our freedom to vary what we originally thought, so as to adapt better (evolutionarily speaking).
On page 176 — “ We don’t change the temperature of a lake, say, by dipping a small thermometer into it. But dipping a fat thermometer into a thimble of water would be stupid, since the [heat in the] thermometer would change the temperature of the water. In atomic systems, quantum theory says, we must include the measurement as part of the system.” This is a brutally clear way of demonstrating the inevitable difficulty in measuring things which could hardly be smaller. A photon fired at an item as small as a photon — which we must perforce do, if the light is to hit our retina so we can see — cannot do other than budge the original photon itself. Obvious really, when expressed so clearly.
On page 178 — “However, where the particle lands depends on whether one or two slits are open. So a particle going through slit one, seems to know whether slit two is open or closed, because it appears to change its path depending on that information. … Since particles can’t “know”, a wave-particle ambiguity has created a logical crisis.” This restates the double slit experiment mentioned. He is referring here to electrons, but both behave in this excruciatingly incomprehensible inexplicable way. Time more people who should know better, acknowledged this ‘logical crisis’ — it’s likely we will all continue to suffer from perverse psychiatry until they do.
Page 179 introduces a more disconcerting tone. “For some tortured souls, this quantum unknowability is still too high a price to pay. Our defense: this is the only theory we know now that works.” Tortured souls is another way of describing psychiatric disabilities — not quite what Lederman had in mind.
Page 180 sums the problem up with consummate simplicity — to date, the very goal of all Science had been precisely to find what resulted from the various causes we could see — what sort of ‘B’ might always follow ‘A’ — something Science can never now tell us at this fundamental level, ever again. “In classical science we stress the importance of replicating experiments. In the quantum world, we can replicate everything except the result.” But human knowledge depends precisely on this point. If we can never replicate the result, or if we get a different one every time we do the same experiment — that would surely drive us mad. Indeed it does. The contrary is also true — find a set of circumstances in which we can truly rely on the outcome, and that way lies sanity. In the only biosphere we know, that’s a formula for finding trustworthy emotional support — something we all need, and something that would be more readily available if only we all said so, more consistently, and indeed, more scientifically. Human beings need other human beings if they are to achieve any degree of sanity — without it, woe does indeed betide.
healthier lives with ‘aetiology’ and ‘Q-gaps’
Reality bites. You are free to wander many paths, philosophising (or indeed theologising) what ‘reality’ actually is, or indeed what ‘is’ is — but if your wanderings take you too far afield, you’ll fall ill. Behind this living healthcare fact is a good solid ‘answer’ to all the above Quantum Quandaries. It may not be what you’ve been taught, it might not fit comfortably with your scientific nor religious beliefs — but as a basic characteristic of human beings, of which you are undoubtedly one, it works.
Take the pressing issue of Causality. Cause and Effect underpin all knowledge — what’s the point of knowing ‘A’, if ‘B’ may or may not follow? Quantum physics shouts loudly enough, that this is exactly what happens all the time to reality’s sub-atomic foundations, for those prepared to listen. Why study long and hard, learning ‘the rules’ only to find that in real life they’re Absent Without Leave. Hume told us precisely that they would be, back in 1739, 278 years ago, and look what happened to him. We don’t like to know how much we don’t know. So think of a circumstance, (in which I happen to be abundantly qualified,) where knowledge is of more than passing academic interest — yes, that’s it, in healthcare.
Picture yourself in front of the doctor. “Doctor, I’ve got this pain in my chest — will I live?” Here you have a direct, indeed vital, illustration of Cause and Effect — it is hard to overestimate the significance of the question, at least from the point of view of the questioner, who could be you. The Effect, chest pain, could carry a lethal prognosis — it all turns on the Cause. So how does the doctor gainsay Hume, and indeed Quantum Uncertainty, because I can assure you in the 62 years since I entered medical school, that is precisely what the doctor, all doctors, do — some overtly, others less so, sometimes with success, at others less.
Check out this next point out with your nearest doctor, or of course, the web. You’ll find that ‘Causality’ does not appear in any medical text book — in its place is an odd word ‘aetiology’. Why? Why befuddle the general public with an obscure Greek term, well outside common parlance. The reason is profound. On it, the whole Quantum Quandary turns. The ‘revolution’, the ‘revolving’ I advocate has already taken place, millennia ago, long before Hippocrates. And to lose it, as the current ‘psychiatrist’s bible’ (since 1980) explicitly does, ensures a medical disaster. [See my paper on the DSM, the ‘psychiatrist’s bible’, in https://medium.com/@BobTrustConsent/why-psychiatrists-need-your-help-now-f83a4ca82a68
The crucial difference between aetiology and causality is numeric. Causality hopes to limit every event which comes our way to a single cause, which we can then adapt to, or adjust. Aetiology starts from the polar opposite – there are always multiple causes. The reality is, we live in a multi-threaded universe, there is never any single event with only a single cause — that may have been what we hoped for, that may be what we dream about in our extensive wishful thinkings — but reality doesn’t comply. And where reality is misconstrued, as here, it’ll bite you. Hume told us Effects do not necessarily follow Causes — at least never with 100% reliability. So these are the first two flaws in our knowledge — multithreads and unreliable links — the third flaw is the utter absence of any believable First Cause, by which we could have started all our chains of reasoning — there isn’t one.
It’s vital, especially in healthcare, your own or others, to fix, to stabilise, this Ignorance. Since we none of us can ever know anything 100%, we need a verbal label to say so, so that we know what we’re talking about, and further, how crucial, nay vital, it is that what we do talk about, is as realistic, as responsible, as truthful, as we can make it.
So if medical practice has long taken account of the unhealthier aspects of Causality, who else has been more realistic than most? Well here my own background seeps in. I happen to have been born into a Quaker family, not something I chose at the time, and promptly departed when I came of age. However, in amongst some oddities is a profound grasp of just the point we are discussing here — the Gap between knowledge and reality. You don’t have to be a Quaker to own it — though it made a material difference to me in my student days. It’s a striking enough story. In 1656, a group of Quakers, known as the Balby Elders, wrote a list of 20 strictures by which the ‘Quaker life’ was to be lead. So far, so normal for any nascent religious body. But, in their post script, they departed, radically, from what orthodoxy, whether religious, legal or political, has maintained ever since. They wrote “Dearly beloved Friends, these things we do not lay upon you as a rule or form to walk by” — which would appear to contradict what they’d just said — though in fact, it gave the whole approach a new life.
What those Balby Elders did 361 years ago was to acknowledge a Gap between theory and practice, between exhortation and implementation, between ‘Science’ and what you then do. Uniquely (in my readings) they devolved onto the reader what happened next. This ‘Balby Gap’ applies to everything — the words we use are mostly accurate, but never 100%, however tightly we define them. Quakerism has no written creed — lots of beliefs, nothing defined in print. The Balby Gap leaves room to grow. A central Quaker aphorism is “Learn to know one another in the things which are eternal” — but, very sensibly, very realistically, it is left entirely up to you to decide for yourself what ‘eternal’ might mean exactly.
In a Quaker context, I’d label this the ‘Balby-Gap’. More widely, it could be known as the Q-gap, where Q stands for either Quantum or Quaker, according to taste. What is vital is that it be put up there at the heart of Healthcare, at the heart of Science, at the heart of Religion, at the heart of Politics — because only by learning the lessons of Quantum Uncertainty can we begin to rinse our biosphere of false perfections. This matters at an individual healthcare level — is your doctor telling you the truth, not the whole truth because there isn’t one, only ones with Q-gaps in them. Or is s/he untrustworthy, as too many politicians have now become? Your life may depend on the answer. More widely, all our lives hang by an analogous thread in our home-made thermonuclear age.
Q-gaps I have known
Once you admit that life can go on, even if we concede that we can never know everything that could possibly be known, then a great sense of relief sets in. It’s not easy, because knowing what’s about to happen next, ensures you live longer. If you get it wrong, or deny your Ignorance, then first your healthcare will suffer, and then you die.
But this Iron Law applies to every living organism in the biosphere, ourselves not excluded. Every single live individual continuously senses its surroundings, its environment, and then takes steps to limit the damage. It’s called adaptation — either long term via ‘evolution’, or short term by ‘responding-ability’. In this way, contrary to Quantum Uncertainty, living organisms defeat the Second Law of Thermodynamics — i.e. entropy — else, without exception, they perish. We may be about to demonstrate the reality of this on a global scale. Only by acknowledging the Q-gap, and filling it as responsibly as we can, is there the least chance we might deflect the radioactive pathogens too many of our governments currently plan, at eye-watering cost and with mass approval, to release into our one and only biosphere.
So what other Q-gaps are there? A really striking one is the case of that frog parasite which, having infected the frog, migrates to its brain and alters its behaviour perilously. You might think that frogs and us are so far removed that what happens to the one, doesn’t happen to the other — and of course, you may be right — though bear in mind we do share a common evolutionary ancestor with all other four limbed animals. But the Q-gap says you cannot be 100% sure — you need to exercise discretion, responsibility, without which you cannot deflect pathogens of all varieties, especially man-made ones.
The behaviour which the parasite ‘imposes’ on the frog impels it to climb to the top of a reed. This is contrary to all sensible, survival behaviour, simply because, raised high and visible, it can easily be spotted and promptly consumed by any passing stork. This suits the parasite, which can then complete its life cycle in the bird’s gut, before returning to the water. For uninfected frogs however, this is therefore the last tactic that any ‘normal’ one of them would do. Indeed, for those infected, ‘last’ about sums it up.
This unsettling frog story points to a deeper challenge. Many have sought a similar ‘organic’ or ‘deterministic’ route to human lunacy, of which thermonuclear armaments are the most pressing example. But such expeditions miss two vitally important points. Firstly, even were we to uncover a solid ‘biochemical’ or other cause, we would still be constrained by the Q-gaps, we’d only know a partial truth. And implementing it, as with the Balby Elders, would still be up to our own individual recognisances or responsibilities. Our multi-threaded universe determines that there are likely to be many causes, not just one, and therefore many avenues by which to correct same.
The second lesson to be drawn from this intriguing frog story, is that we are dealing with living organisms, two such in this case, and both are equipped with the facility to deflect entropy, at least to a limited degree. So are we. The confusion arises because we hanker after a Clockwork Universe, in which the Causes we uncover are invariably supposed to implement the Effects we most desire. Well, at the sub-atomic level, they don’t and never will. If you like, this is merely the second footfall from the Second Law of Thermodynamics — entropy infects our knowledge too. [While antropy is the only way to remedy this.]
Once the Q-gap is established, we are released to explore the second lesson to greater depth — which is the reason I introduced this unusual example from our common biosphere. I can’t speak for the frog, but I certainly can for us humans. We do have an ability to respond, to react, to change certain aspects of our surroundings. We can push some things forwards and others back — never 100% as before, but enough to decide whether to press the red button or not, or indeed to dismantle the whole thermonuclear equipment, or not.
And having deployed Quantum Uncertainty to release this ability, scientifically, we can mobilise all our mental resources to undo the anti-social behaviours which abound. We can then, all of us, work towards restoring global health, which, as living organisms, at least so far, we all have an interest in so doing.
where the mind goes wrong, and how to put it right, for all
The mind is the organ of socialising. When socialising goes right, so does the mind. And vice versa. And that’s all. Our grey matter, like dolphins’, is prodigious, but has one central purpose — as with dolphins — be social. So when that goes wrong, we suffer — conversely, when it goes right, we too heal, and that works for all.
It’s an insight thing. When Shakespeare talks so fluently about icicles hanging “by the wall”, he knows only that “blood is nipped” — he cannot know that winter’s cold has stopped it circulating, because Harvey hasn’t told the world yet. The heart beats, but little else. Shazzam, post-Harvey, it also pumps. Suddenly, contrary to conventional wisdom, it all falls into place — all those elaborate valves, the four chambers instead of two, the lungs breathing in and out — it’s all so obvious, once it’s all connected, once all is brought together with magnificent simplicity. But Harvey did not have an easy ride — it didn’t fit with what was commonly ‘known’, so, obviously it was not only a ridiculous idea, it was also dangerous — bordering on stake-burning heresy.
Bipeds cannot run as fast as quadrupeds — our one evolutionary advantage is being social, it’s how we’re born. If we don’t socialise, we’re extinct, as our thermonuclear endeavours might be about to prove.
Of course, as any number of religions will tell you, this isn’t new. The oldest reference I have is in the Hebrew Torah, Leviticus chapter 19, verse 18, something about not ignoring ‘your neighbour’, giving them at least as good a time as you would like for yourself. It’s probably true that most, if not all, religions have a ‘sociability clause’ — besides exhorting their followers to do a variety of other things, their very basis is, or was, be sociable, because that’s what, at heart, human beings are for [from an evolutionary or health-care perspective].
But because knowledge is basically flawed, triply so, this central theological message gets lost. Innumerable additions accrete over the millennia, and the primary lesson is corrupted. It’s the same with Science. Let’s really find out what’s out there, what is really going on. And then apply sensible coherent logic and deduction, preferably mathematical but miraculously independent of subjective beliefs. It’s a beguiling dream — if only it worked, 100%.
Harvey’s main problem was that there was simply nowhere for the blood to go. It obviously leaves the heart, that’s what all the one-way valves show — but how could it possibly get back? Circulation was clearly a nonsense since, as was obvious to all, there was categorically no return pathway back to the heart. Yes, beating is fine, pushing the blood out is obvious — but where’s the feed-back loop, the missing link between arteries and veins — there simply wasn’t one, or at least not one any sensible observer could see. Recall that this was before microscopes — you and I know about capillaries — but there weren’t such things in those days — and to suppose that there were quite enough of these tiny, tiny, invisible ‘pipes’ to cope with so many litres of thick blood a second — well you had to be joking, or if serious, then mad.
So it is today with our minds. The gentle (Quaker) notion that we are intrinsically social and non-violent, that our mental organ has as its sole purpose being sociable is disproved at every turn of the newspapers or other media. Horror and violent films make enormous profits (to say nothing of our war industries), even Disney loved terrifying children — so the notion that we are born lovable and sociable is for the birds, or can I add, for the dolphins.
Let’s review the foregoing. I’ve talked in terms of photons as if they were distinct from electrons — nowadays we have only what is called a photo-electron. It makes no sense to our retinas, since we can see the one but not the other, but that’s the physical world, our biosphere, for you — not amenable to easy understanding.
Further, we know the brain has intriguing electrical wave patterns, our vital processes turn on enzymes which shuffle electrons as if there were no tomorrow — none, but none of these bits is Certain — all obey the Uncertainty Principle — you might not like it, but that’s the way the world is. Einstein didn’t like it either — he too had to lump it.
I can’t resist mentioning that wonder molecule, DHA, or all-cis-DocosaHexaenoic Acid. This has been likened to nature’s semiconductor — it channels electrons to and fro, which powers our cognition. It appeared out of nowhere, 600,000,000 years ago, and without it, we would not be. Wonderful confluence. But, just as the heart thrashing in and out was not even half the story, nor does this get close to what our grey matter is for. [I explore this further in my (free) chapter on consciousness at https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=60019 ]
There is no prospect of any conceivable microscope solving our ‘mind’ problem, such as happily rescued us from our ‘heart’ problem. All you’ve got are half-baked neurologies, together with befuddled theologies, mumbling about past ‘miracles’, invoking the Supernatural to account for the Natural (which for me is quite awesome enough). The basis for any solution is in the mind, which, of course, is also where the problem is. Why settle for half a science, when there are plenty of powerful authorities loudly claiming you can have it all.
So my prescription is the Q-gap — it’s always there between what you think you know and what actually is. It turns out that this is your reality, not that of the academic scientist however much of a genius they are. You are responsible for the size of your Q-gap — the smaller, the healthier — the wider, the more people die, including ourselves. Maladministrations kill.
Try this for size — “I’ll probably be there for you”. That’s all that Scientific Uncertainty can ever offer. You and me, however, we can exert our ‘intent’, provided we allow ourselves to have one, to ensure that we really are there for you, for one another. In this light, all psychiatric disease earns the diagnosis ‘social defeat’. The mind becomes stunted, and needs nurturing back to healthy growth. Whence my aphorism “Changing social defeat to social delight — for all.” It’s a win, win. Do you have the heart for it?
* * * * *
Dr Bob Johnson
Saturday, 24 June 2017
Changing ‘social defeat’ to ‘social delight’ — for all.
disclaimer — the emotions described here are real — it you find them disturbing, you may need to consult your doctor or a person you trust.
health warning: never stop psychiatric drugs abruptly — your brain tissue has got used to them, and needs to be skilfully weaned off them. . . .