Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Wrong Scent

Well done Brian (Cox): You are helping to put people off the scent. You really don't want to follow this one!

This news item on UD by Denise O’Leary is worth mentioning: She quotes a BBC web site article where Brian Cox was quoted:

“That there’s an infinite number of universes sounds more complicated than there being one,” Prof Cox told the programme.
“But actually, it’s a simpler version of quantum mechanics. It’s quantum mechanics without wave function collapse… the idea that by observing something you force a system to make a choice.”*1
Accepting the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics means also having to accept that things can exist in several states at the same time.
But this leads to a another question: Why do we perceive only one world, not many?

I think I probably would go along with the sentiment of Denise’s comments here: If we are allowed to play the game in terms of what theoretical concepts make sense*2, then I have to say that for me the “many worlds” interpretation of quantum theory makes very little sense indeed, and that’s because for me the cosmos is starting to look like a declarative programmer's paradise  (See also: )

The question about why we don’t see those many worlds is very telling: In the many worlds view ancillary devices have to be added to explain why the macro world doesn't manifest quantum ambiguities; after all, chaos will insure that these ambiguities get magnified up to macro level. Moreover, decoherence ideas don’t fit very well with those quantum experiments where there is a null result but where the implication is that the quantum state vector still jumps in a discontinuous way and in a way that implies non-locality.
The article linked to by Denise finishes with this statement:

 Brian Cox supports the many worlds interpretation and, he believes, more and more physicists are now subscribing to this view.

Suits me! That should keep them off the scent and off my heels for a bit! I need some of space. In any case I’m a crank – who’d want to follow a crank, eh? So please don’t follow me, I've probably picked up the scent of a skunk.

*1 Cox's sentiment of "simplification" of choice, if taken to its uttermost, leads to Max Tegmark's  Mathematical Universe where every mathematically coherent alternative has been selected for reification, thus doing away with any hint that there is some enigmatic agency out there actually making a very particular and special selection from platonic space.... although there is one choice left; namely, the choice between everything and nothing; Max doesn't tell us why everything rather than nothing has been choosen! See here:
*2 In the final analysis “making sense of evidence” is all theoretical narratives can do  – this is because evidence is never inductive, but rather abductive .

Once upon a time in the Web 
A story from of Wild Web

Smells like a skunk: Quantum Theory looks a bit mad.

Brian Cox isn't Clint Eastwood so there's no competition in town.

Closing in on our wanted man.

But we haven't nailed him yet!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Waiting for Lisle’s next move: and it's not just me.

Lee Van Cleef waits for the demented Indio to make an appearance. Lisle may not be demented but his rigid presuppositionalist religious culture and cosmology are demented.

I have just got news of this blog post on “Panda’s Thumb”. It’s a strongly and entertainingly worded critique of Jason Lisle’s ASC model cosmogony. The author of the post, “Diogenes”, not only goes into detail but also gives a potted history of the sorry story of YEC attempts to solve their most difficult problem; namely, the sheer size of the cosmos in relation to the snail’s pace of cosmic signaling. Diogenes also focuses on some of the bizarre features of Lisle’s ASC cosmogony and moreover on the gravitational implication of his “ASC model”!

Let me say a few words about Diogenes treatment of the gravitational question. He says this about the coordinate transformation needed to get Lisle idea to work.

[It] is no longer a mere “coordinate transformation” as Lisle claims, but instead a non-linear transformation of space-time. And a non-linear transformation of space-time means space-time is curved. That means gravity.

Given that that statement comes from a big hitting blog like Panda’s thumb I think I ought to give it careful consideration as ought Lisle himself. We really do need Lisle to come out of his fundamentalist bunker and give us his view of things. Perhaps the famous Panda’s Thumb might serve to flush Lisle out. On the gravitational question Lisle has so far said little more substantive than this:

Missing gravitational field: I had already planned to deal with this in detail in a future blog entry. But the short answer is: no, ASC does not require a gravitational field. It is simply a coordinate transformation from the ESC. And coordinate transformations do not introduce any real forces.

In response to that let me say this for the time being: I’m aware that one can do some downright perverse things using with coordinate systems. For example, there’s nothing to stop one mapping the points of a nice easy flat space onto the hide of a living elephant that’s been dressed up in crinkled graph paper. But of course even an eccentric “elephant” coordinate transformation doesn’t change the invariant interval  which represents the true physical distance between points, a quantity which will betray whether or not the space is really flat, elephants apart. The invariance of a the interval exists because the cosmos has natural standards of its own which cannot be gainsaid by weird coordinate systems. So, it is one thing to use an awkward coordinate convention but quite another to claim that a physical standard like the motion of particles somehow exactly mimics and connives with an arbitrary coordinate convention thus keeping that convention "hidden" without showing strain. I will say no more than that for now. Come on Lisle let’s be having you; why don’t you just come out of your comfortable YEC backslapping community and tell us that it’s all down to a coordinate convention?

Talking about perversity, we find plenty of that when it comes to the wider aspects of Lisle’s cosmology where perversity is the name of the game. Lisle, like other Poe’s law fundamentalists, does what he does best; that is, bend reality (and not just space-time)  to fit round a dogmatic and unalterable presuppositionalism. Diogenes does a good job of exposing this perversity. That perversity is made very clear in Diogenes article where he paints a vivid but repugnant picture of the implications of Lisle ASC model: It entails half-made non functioning cosmic objects squirting the cosmic equivalent of blood like sliced human bodies; either that or the presence of unmade slices must be signaled by enormous numbers of bogus “created-in-transit” particles: Diogenes talks about Lisle’s “Deceiver-God creating phony photons and phony particles in relativistic jets like records of make-believe histories that never happened.” But according to fundamentalist John Byl deception is exactly the game God is playing with the scientific community (See here:

It is no surprise that people like Diogenes find Christianity (and fundamentalist Islam which makes similar claims about creationism) utterly repugnant. In fact I have enough trouble with them myself: it was the anti-science doctrines of people like Lisle that at one time could have cost me my faith.

I like reading the Bible but I don’t do it with an anti-learning preset presuppositionalist mind set. Complex adaptive systems like minds are capable of updating themselves - if they are allowed to.

End Notes:

1. Additional relevant links
2. Diogenes says that he owes the “mirror argument” which exposes the bizarre half made asymmetry of Lisle’s model to Quantum Non-linearity. However, unfortunately I can’t claim to have invented it (I wish I could!). I got this very nifty idea from Christian Sam Trenholm. It was Sam who got Lisle to admit to the ugly half functioning lopsided asymmetry of his model See

3. How is it I, as a Christian, find myself very much on the side of atheists here? Firstly, the fundamentalists, fail to do  justice to the contextual nature of language; add to this their concepts of granitic presuppositionalism, mature creation and the bogus distinction between historical and observational science and we have a toxic anti-science and anti-intellectual ethos that I abhor: John Byl whom I name above is a case in point. Secondly I find the conspiracy theorism, holy bad mouthing, holy character assassination, holy maligning, holy remnant paranoia, and holy scandalizing that exists even between fundamentalist sects, in fact especially between fundamentalist sects, very irksome. See:  and

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Keep Feeling Fascination, Keep Moving On.

I like this song. Great lyrics for the restless, imaginative, playful independent pilgrim involved in learning, changing, and ever facing the epistemic risks of over engineering narratives and theories. ("Fantasies"). Above all, the whole caboodle is motivated by an undying fascination. Although to these musicians it all no doubt meant something entirely different, probably something to do with love life, it very much depends how you read it! But the fact is, the words are wonderfully ambiguous and give themselves to semantic recycling!
The general idea is, don't grow up, don't get jaded, although easier said than done!

Incidentally the red-dot was entirely achieved with buckets of red paint and not CGI! (See Wiki on "Keep Feeling Fascination")

If it seems a little time is needed
Decisions to be made
The good advice of friends unheeded
The best of plans mislaid

Just looking for a new direction
In an old familiar way
The forming of a new connection
To study or to play

And so the conversation turned
Until the sun went down
And many fantasies were learned
On that day

Keep feeling fascination
Passion burning
Love so strong
Keep feeling fascination
Looking learning
Moving on

Well the truth may need some
Stories to be told
And plain to see the facts are changing
No meaning left to hold

And so the conversation turned
Until the sun went down
And many fantasies were learned
On that day

And so the conversation turned
Until the sun went down
And many fantasies were learned
On that day

Keep feeling fascination
Passion burning
Love so strong
Keep feeling fascination
Looking learning
Moving on

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Declarative Cognition vs. Procedural Cognition.

Some intriguing material from ID physicist Rob Sheldon has recently appeared on Uncommon Decent (See here.*1). He addresses the question of whether or not a bottom-up universe will generate life and comes to the conclusion it won’t.  By bottom-up I think the idea is that each part of the cosmos only responds to its immediate locality; that is, in terms of my “node” model of the universe, each node only signals its immediate neighbors and responds in a way consistent with certain “localized” physical equations*2. In contrast, in a top-down universe nodes will react to their total environment directly; that is, without need for the kind of signal continuity whereby widely separated nodes can only communicate with one another via a relay system that involves intermediate nodes passing the signals on.

Sheldon’s reasoning in favour of a top down universe goes along these lines:
Random searches obey the diffusion equation of which the Gaussian distribution is a solution. The latter expands with a velocity given by v = x/sqrt(t) which implies an expansion that slows with time. He therefore implies that this kind of search is too slow to be useful. (Incidentally this slow communication associated with the Gaussian is an issue that arose in my theory of gravity – see equation 10.5 on page 73 of Gravity and Quantum Non-linearity)
So, Sheldon goes on to think about non-random searches – in particular of the “Levy flight” kind where the random walk step size has a power law form – that is, the size of the step has a distribution a bit like the distribution of crater sizes on the moon. This kind of search is faster, but it is non-local. This non-locality in Levy flight arises because nodes that are not adjacent must directly signal one another without using the relay system of intermediate nodes.

My criticism of these otherwise worthy ideas is that we need to take into account the quantum mechanical analogy of the diffusion equation, namely the Schrodinger equation; here the signaling is local and yet the wave solutions disperse linearly with time; (i.e. much more rapidly than random walk) this is probably because, as I have pointed out in my Melencolia I series, quantum signaling cancels out huge swathes of randomness. However, this in itself doesn't necessarily rule out non-locality – for if the wave function literally collapses (as a opposed to appears to collapse through decoherence)  then non-locality is still on the agenda. Quantum signalling simply tells us that searches don't need to be non-local to be effectual in seeking significant configurations, but more to the point is the question of how we select what is found by our quantum search; for, I submit, the cosmos has a general “cognitive structure” of seeking, rejecting and selecting. That selections are occurring is, I propose, evidenced by literal discontinuous jumps of the wave function. But the big question is:  What selection criteria do we need to input in order to get the cosmos to do its strong anthropic principle job of generating life? It is this selection procedure that, I’ll hazard, introduces nonlocality.

One of the fallacies of the North American IDists is their attack on a straw man version of the cosmic generation of life. This version doesn't take cognizance of the tripartite cognitive structure of seek, reject and select, but rather thinks in terms of the physical regime as specially chosen in a preordained way to generate life using a procedural (or "imperative") paradigm of computation rather than a declarative paradigm; in the imperative paradigm the problem has effectively been solved in advance - front loading is the term used to describe it, I think.  (See IDist’s VJ Torley’s views here as an example of this fallacy). Declarative computation is not on North American ID agenda, partly, I suspect, because they have unconsciously taken on board a procedural concept of “mindless natural forces”. They simply don’t see the cosmos as a cognitively active search; but then neither do the "procedurally" minded atheists with whom they contrast and  compare themselves.

For standard evolution to work, configuration space must be reducibly complex. This means that the physical regime must be so chosen that the class of self-maintaining structures forms a connected set joined by such thin fibrils (or channels) that ordinary diffusion is able to search it successfully. But presumably in such a case so much computational effort would be required to find the right physical regime in the first place that in effect the problem solution has been solved in advance by "front loading" it into the physical equations *3. Given that many an evangelical atheist bases their anti-theist beliefs on a standard view of evolution this must be the mother of all ironies!

On Quantum Decoherence

*1 Sheldon is a man worth keeping an eye on, but I find his politics far too right wing for me; he used to run a blog on Townhall!

*2 Localized physical equations don’t use “fractional differentials”. An example of "fractional differentials" arises in the kind of procedure seen in the following rather bogus looking method of attempting to derive a relativistic quantum equation using canonical substitutions:

(From Quantum Mechanics II,  Landua 1996)

*3 Actually it is not clear whether or not such reducibly complex sets have a mathematical existence.