My attention was called to a Letter to the Editor (Inquirer, July 14) written by Dr. Mary Jacquiline T. Romero of the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Glasgow, United Kingdom. In that letter, Romero stated that my article about quantum physics, Eastern mysticism and ESP was “terribly misleading.”
What I think Romero found misleading in my article (Inquirer, June 3) was my statement that quantum physics somehow provides an explanation for certain ESP phenomena such as telekinesis.
Declared Romero, “I agree quantum physics does overturn the notion of reality (and space too!) but to say that quantum physics provides an explanation for ESP is taking it too far.”
She concluded her diatribe: “I am writing this piece from Vienna where a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Bell’s theorem, attended by leading physicists in the field (Zeilinger, Aspect, Clauser), has just been concluded. Did we discuss anything about ESP or Eastern mysticism? Certainly no, we didn’t.”
I forwarded Romero’s letter to Dr. George Weissman, an American physicist who, together with me, conducted the one-day seminar on “Quantum Physics, Eastern Mysticism and ESP” in Makati City on June 22. And he replied to Dr. Romero’s comment.
Weissman holds a Ph.D degree in Theoretical Physics from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked closely with leading quantum physicists in the West, as well as with such researchers and writers as Gary Zukav and physicist Fritjof Capra in writing their pioneering books on quantum physics for the layman.
Below is Weissman’s reply dated July 14:
Dear Dr. Romero,
In your comment on the “terribly misleading” article on quantum physics, ESP and Eastern mysticism by Jaime Licauco, you mention a few of the many ways in which quantum theory has revolutionized our worldview. Everything you write is pretty uncontroversial in the quantum foundations research community, and I personally agree with it, except for the last few sentences and the implication therein that there is no connection between quantum physics and psi phenomena (nonlocal phenomena like ESP, psychokinesis, often also called paranormal).
That part, and the misqualification on the article as “terribly misleading,” comes as a non sequitur, based on nothing that you wrote up to there.
It is technically true that the phenomenon of entanglement does not in itself provide an explanation for psi, although various physicists and other scientists have speculated that it might.
But quantum theory does lead us to a quantum paradigm, a worldview that finally provides us with the proper context quantum theory. The critical lesson we had to learn to achieve this is to give up the assumption of “objectivity,” that there is a real world out there, made up of real physical objects, regardless of the fact that they are being observed by “someone.”
That is incompatible with quantum behavior. This in turn leads to the insight that quantum theory is operating in information space: the entities quantum theory operates with are bits of information (gathered by measurement, or more generally by observation, i.e. by experience), as well as the elementary acts of observation themselves. I am sure that was discussed at your recent conference, as Zeilinger was one of the originators of this information approach to quantum theory. The next step from information is to consciousness, wherein information actually operates.
The consequences of this are compelling and far-reaching, and they have a direct bearing on the issues that Jaime Licauco mentioned in his article. Operating in the quantum paradigm, one can, in fact, accommodate psi phenomena, consciousness, synchronicity (meaningful coincidence), the possibility of consciousness without a physical brain (which implies the possibility of survival of consciousness after death), and much more.
So is this “quantum theory?” In the narrower, conventional sense: no. It is the quantum paradigm, gained by radically applying the principles of quantum theory all the way through.
So while I see why the article you criticize might have irritated you as a professional quantum physicist, given that the author as a non-physicist does not master the specialist lingo, his article does convey a larger truth that you apparently miss entirely. I am sorry that you missed our seminar, as that would have explained a lot to you.