Quantum Physics And The Limitations Of The Scientific Method

Science is an interesting human development. It works like this: I make some educated guesses about how the world works, draw a theory on top of them, by connecting some dots, then run a series of experiments to verify, or invalidate, the above theory.

What’s interesting is that even my theory is invalidated, the method – science, that is – is still useful. It just means my theory is wrong, so I can move on to the next approach, and run experiments until that approach is validate or invalidated. It’s kinda cool, if you think about it. Because we win either way. If experiments confirm our theory, then we gained some serious predictability. If they don’t confirm it, we learned that it doesn’t work, and we shouldn’t try it anymore. It’s a lower level of predictability, but still something that sheds some light. We still learn something.

In this science thing, the experiments are fundamental, and up until last century, they were considered an unquestionable part of the process. Observations are observations. As long as you take all the measures to foolproof your environment, to repeat experiments in identical conditions, you should get valid results all the time.

Well, quantum physics changed this. In quantum physics, the same event changes based on the observer. A ray of light behaves in a way if you’re looking at it, and in a different way if you’re not. It’s way more complex than that, but this is how it broadly works.

So, if observations are unreliable, it means a significant part of the scientific method is broken. If we can’t rely on observations anymore, then proving our theories is suddenly becoming very problematic.

It’s like the extent of the scientific method stops at the quantum level. Beyond that, the scientific method, in which we rely on observations to validate or invalidate theories, is not working anymore. We live in some sort of sphere, which ends at quantum level. Our predictability goes only as far as this sphere, what’s beyond that, well, it surely doesn’t obey the scientific method.

Caught Between Reality Models

It’s not the first time in human history when we have to part ways with how we define and manage reality. For millennia, at the root of what we call reality was something called the “divine”. Some unexplainable force or principle, which we lack the ability to understand. We, humans, lived every day in a world which was the creation of something above was, and that was all we needed in order to move around.

Part of us still believe in this principle, but, broadly, the degree of predictability we get from the scientific method is way more reassuring, it makes our lives better. Even more, it allowed us to push the limits of our manifestation in the real world to near-magic levels. We are able to communicate instantly with each other all over the globe, we send probes to the outer space, we extended our lifespan incredibly and we do many, many other things which are a consequence of the scientific method.

But every method to describe and understand reality was eventually superseded by the next one. For the Roman empire, the gods were a part of the daily activity and a fundamental one. For us, technology is a part of daily activity and a fundamental one. For humans who will live two thousands years from now (assuming no mass extinction event takes place, which I’m not completely ruling out) there will be something else, something very difficult for us to understand and integrate now. If you want to read more about the cognitive burden we will have to overcome in order to adapt, try reading about how a chevalier in a supermarket will feel like.

Intent Might Be Stronger Than Science

Every once in a while I’m thinking what’s beyond the current sphere, what lies beyond the thin walls of the scientific method. And the more I think about it, the more I believe intent has something to do with it. If events around us are actually altered by the way we look at them, it must mean there is some force in our intent that changes them.

We still lack the theoretical apparatus to understand how this works out. And we probably need to change our expectations around predictability, expectations which the last few hundreds years were constantly fed and validated. We are accustomed to the world to respond to a certain model, but this model just reached its limits. What we may deem as “fundamentally true” may be just some partial manifestation of reality.

After all, the ancient ones were able to predict star movements, and they created incredibly accurate planetary calendars, with ephemeris which are still correct until today. Because those calculations were so exact, they also believed the model is correct. But it was also incomplete. They lacked the understanding of gravity, black holes, fusion and the entire mechanic that lies behind the celestial bodies. They were thinking stars were gods.

Most likely, we are in a similar place. We have a certain level of predictability about the world, but we lack a deeper understanding. We understand how atoms are moving around, but we have a very limited understanding of what atoms really are, the same way the ancient ones were able to describe star movements, but they believed they were some kind of gods.

I’m thinking more and more that our intentions do alter the world way more than we believe now, way beyond the sphere of the scientific method, we just don’t know how.

Photo by Daniels Joffe on Unsplash

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