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September 05, 2006


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I guess I may have been the closest thing you had to a follower. Now I've got a blog that is de facto mine, and you're just one of the many friends out there.

(Where are you, Ryan? Just like you to make one good post before vanishing again, raisng my hopes and dashing them quite expertly.)

This guy reminds me of the people who stop by the Millenium Project and accuse Peter Bowditch of being anonymous, despite his name being up there since 1999.

Wow! Henrik must be the archetype of the pseudo-intellectual. He has it all: the blanket statements, the nonspecific accusations, the misspellings, and the supercilious air of one in high dudgeon.

A pie in the face would add dignity to the proceedings.

I'm still waiting for a single Wooster to show the faintest knowledge of QM other than twisted, vague magazine-type concepts of quantum entanglement and the Copenhagen interpretation.

With regard to these, the general level of comprehension seems to be on a par with many people's understanding of the 'chaos butterfly' - "Hmm... if I could only find that butterfly, I could control the weather!"

Still, when in doubt, slag off your opponent. Henrik seems happy enough with that, at any rate, even if his understanding of QCD, state superposition, QED, etc. would seem to be somewhere hovering around zero.

Although, thanks to Mr. Heisenberg, I can't be absolutely sure how close to zero...

...But you do know how fast he's going in that direction.

Why did the chicken cross the road, Henrik?

A: You should think before you ask. I bet 100% of the chicken, 13% of the road, and 53.4% of an unknown singularity of some type that you don't understand the physics of chicken road crossing. Go on, I dare you to answer this question on the blog of your web page using your real name. HA!

Er, I don't comment much, but I visit this blog every day -- does that make me your follower? Does that mean I have found (at last) some sort of meaning in my pitiful, shredded-by-critical-thinking existence?

Does that mean I'm ignorant too?


Henrik just replied by email with the following:

yes well clearly you dont have the guts to post things the way they are, you have to distort it... nothing else is to be expected.....

I was referring to YOUR knowledge.... not the QUOTE of someone elses knowledge..... thats the easy way.... YOUR WAY... LOOSER...

If you are so smart what the hell are you doing witring BLOGS instead of being in a VIP somewhere....

I decided I would try one more time. I replied to Henrik by email with this:

What are you talking about? I posted your email in full - where is the "distortion"? You are the one without the "guts" to post a comment on my blog - something you were "100%" certain I wouldn't do, remember? Loser.

Tez reviewed what I had written about QM and OKed it, so my knowledge of QM can't be that bad. You are the one who claimed I don't understand QM and yet you haven't shown one thing I got wrong, all you did was assert and posture - talk about taking the "easy way". I suggest you tell me something I got wrong about QM - and show your work - or do the honest thing and admit you were wrong. Well, which is it going to be?

That is a rhetorical question, isn't it, Skep? I don't know how many times you've demanded a "believer" to produce evidence, proof, logic or anything other than abuse, poor analogies and anecdotes.

I do, however, know that none ever has, and I doubt Henrik will be any different. But here goes:

Henrix, leaving invective behind, can you, using conventional terminology, explain what you understand about quantum mechanics that makes Skeptico to wrong and a "looser" (which, BTW, is spelt "loser"?)

You accused him of lacking guts; do you have the guts to post on this blog, in the full view of people, some of whom know a fair bit about QM, and tell us all what we've been missing for all this time?

No, I didn't think so...

This is regarding the What the (Bleep) Were Thinking post, I assume? Well, I've read that post myelf, and speaking from my own knowledge of QM, there's nothing wrong with it. It doesn't actually cover too much of QM, but Skeptico gets right what he does cover.

Which makes this moron all the more ridiculous. If he thinks that this is not only bad QM, but deep QM (as implied by his letter), he's completely ignorant of it himself.

There are a few things in life I know as fact. One of them is that I don't know much about QM other than in a literary, conceptual way. I'm guessing that most of that limited knowledge is either pure fiction, purely theoretical, or perhaps outdated.

I also know that I don't agree with everything Skeptico says, but I appreciate the intelligence and wit with which he says it. I rarely comment but when I do I try to be reasonable, rational, and, just maybe, a little bit funny. I at least don't insult the guy for stating his mind.

Another thing I know is that "being in a VIP somewhere" sounds kind of dirty there Henrik. I mean, where would you like to hypothesize that Skep is in said VIP? Can you describe the VIP? Why would being in a VIP be a better use for one's intellect than writing a blog about critical thinking? I'm just saying.

And finally, I know that being a grammar nazi is sometimes very entertaining. I guess that means I'm also a "looser." Which, may I say, also sounds kind of dirty. Or perhaps I meant fun. Or both. I plead the fifth. Heh.

Keep up the good work Skep. I am, as always, highly amused. Sometimes the comments section is better than your actual articles. No offense. ;)


Yes, it was regarding What The Bleep. Oops! – I forgot to say that. Thanks. Now corrected.


Sometimes the comments are more interesting, I agree. Glad you like it anyway.

Oooh ooh you missed another mistake:

"...you really are than (sic) fine by me..."

JREF Forum vocabulary moment: A Looser is a 9/11 conspiracy nut.

Origin: Fondness for the "documentary," "Loose Change."

What I love about the woos who use the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM to imply we can change the world just by deciding to.

As I said before, this is like the people who've heard that a butterfly flapping its wings in Bolivia can cause thunderstorms in Burkina Faso - therefore, one can control the weather in theory. (In fact, the analogy is probably wrong - the effects of the wing-flap would likely be damped very soon.)

The one thing both these ideas have in common is that YOU CAN'T PREDICT WHICH OUTCOME WILL OCCUR!

So, yes, you may in theory influence a quantum even by observing it; that's a consequence of only being able to observe a quantum event by means of "illumination" by particles which are large in relation to quanta (e.g. a beam of electrons).

Take a car speedometer weighing a couple of pounds. That's a tiny fraction of a car's weight and hardly impedes it at all. Hook up the speedo to a clockwork toy car, and it'll struggle to move.

Flick a marble at a bowling ball and it won't move. Flick it at a ping-pong ball and watch it go!

Quanta are like the toy car or the ping-pong ball in the above examples; anything you can use to illuminate them has got to be at LEAST of a similar size, and so will have a definite effect - this is a cornerstone of the uncertainty principle. If you measure a quantum's speed with a stream of particles, you move it from where it would have been if you hadn't. If you use another stream of particles to pin down its position, you change the quantum's velocity. The more accurately you know the velocity, the less certain the position, and so on.

The point about an observation changing quantum events is nothing to do with consciousness, desire, willpower or intent - just that fact that you need a source of illumination with which to observe.

The Copenhagen Interpretation says that a quantum may exist in a superposition of states, neither one thing nor the other. By the act of observation, the observer "collapses the waveform" into one definite state or another. He/she does NOT have any say as to which state that is.

Although you force the event into a given state by observing, a) you don't know what state it would have taken if you hadn't observed it b) the outcomes at each test will essentially be random.

This is still nursery-slope stuff, but it is fairly standard QM... unless you know better, Henrik?

Great summation Big Al. I know too many neopagans who have appropriated QM (especially the Copenhagan Interpretation) as proof of how magic works. You can't tell them that QM is essentially random -- they believe they can affect the universe by invoking the elements via QM.

In the trivial sense you can affect the universe by invoking elements of QM. The universe will have changed to the tune of one rather dim person saying something rather than staying silent.

Not very interesting though.

And if one is desperate to bang on about the mysteries of QM it isn't as if there aren't plenty of quite real mysteries to talk about. I fail to see why people need to invent them

Looks like someone owes you 100%. Any idea how you're going to collect that?

How would you rate the rotten.com librarian on his understanding of QM? Quantum Physics.

As a matter of fact, Aerik, I found nothing particularly exceptionable about the actual QM segment - pretty standard stuff and relatively unadorned.

What did make my jaw drop was the complete and utter mental disconnect of "therefore we can teleport, do telepathy, etc."

"As the probability wave suggests, you can get from Point A to Point C without necessarily passing through Point B." That made me laugh - as if an photon or anything else travels along a probability wave!

Although the conclusions are, the author was only putting them forward as "what ifs", not "this is the way the world works, so there!"

I think the problem is that he knew a little about QM and the admittedly brain-mangling outcome of the two-slits experiment, but he didn't really understand the upshot of the data.

I have no idea what he's saying about quantum phones - I suspect he's heard something about quantum computers and has mixed it up a bit.

However, although muddleheaded, I really don't think that site is a wilful distortion of the truth.

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