1. X.E. Jellico says

    The last caller seems to be assuming that religion needs to be advantageous to people to be explained. This could be true, but also consider the possibility that it only needs to be advantageous to it’s own replication for it to spread. In a world full of meme machines, the ideas that are good at spreading will spread even if they don’t benefit their hosts. It’s the God virus, and it has evolved a few tricks to keep it going, like mechanisms for discouraging doubt and critical thinking.

  2. Monocle Smile says

    Yeah, Charles in Honolulu is either a troll or was busy stabbing himself in the eyeballs while the class was learning about entropy…and everything else. I’m leaning troll, because that voice didn’t sound close to real and while they’ve gotten some callers in the past who are that facedeskingly stupid, they are rare.

    Steve was rather flaccid. I have no idea what he was getting at. “I believe god exists because things are true.” Another call where I desire to inflict harm upon myself. And of course, he doesn’t even pay attention to what anybody says, including himself. Steve seems to think that trees that fall in the forest without any living being around doesn’t make a sound. Lol.

    Adam had a boring experience where he gets fooled by con artists. Cool story, bro. Why should anyone care? Why should YOU care? That “experience” had jack shit to do with gods or anything else relevant to the show. Either these scammers did something to him or he was triggered by his indoctrinated upbringing. Or he’s just making shit up. Either way, that “christian school” didn’t teach him how to think. It’s a shame that he’s wasted a bunch of time chemically altering his brain to “seek god” rather than actually learning anything.

  3. Robert, not Bob says

    While I haven’t heard that specific one, Charles’ arguments sound awfully familiar. Lots of people-probably a large majority-have no idea how chemistry works, and we all know these days how prevalent the “I don’t know nuthin’, but I still know better than the experts” attitude is. I bet his idea sounded really good in his head, before Matt let the air out of it. Calling troll is unnecessary (though that’s obviously always possible).

  4. KK_Me says

    Great episode, great calls!
    Although I was yelling a bit during the ‘unscientific’ guy. Thanks to whoever slipped Matt the information about radioactive decay!

  5. Dawid says

    Nice one… the second callers arguments where hitting quite close to principles behind quantum physiscs (as far as I understand it) meaning that if there is no observer to verify a state of a thing (true or not true) the state is not set – therefore it is bot true and not true at the same time, and then observing the state of a thing makes it settle (collapse) into a certain state.

  6. Krogoth says

    The energy of breathing comes from the energy level of the electron changing energy state around the atom, so the energy state of the atom is lowered, but the atom is never used up. It is just a carrier of the energy, the energy is used not the atom.

  7. julou says

    O2 does get used up, in respiration or combustion for instance, and O2 turns into oxides like CO2. CO2 does then get made back up into oxygen via photosynthesis (that’s why we need to make sure there are still green plants around us…).

  8. Wiggle Puppy says

    Advice for Adam: do a quick Google search for intense experiences experienced by adherents of religions other than your own. Brains do weird things sometimes.

    The last caller sounded like a college sophomore who’s encountered anthropology for the first time and wants to poke a bunch of holes in a bunch of ideas. The thing about these broad models is that you can always find counterexamples and such, because they’re just broad descriptions of large-scale phenomena. Mainstream Protestantism in 21st-century America doesn’t serve the exact same functions as Catholicism in 15th-century Spain, and it certainly doesn’t serve the exact same functions as the worship of Kim Jong-Un in 21st-century North Korea. Yes, De Waal and others have shown that empathy exists in other primate species, but there’s no doubt that, in humans, religion often serves as a powerful force reinforcing an individual’s loyalty to a broader group. The two aren’t mutually exclusive; there’s a bunch of complex forces all intermingling with each other at any given moment, and it’s not as if poking around the edges of some broad model or another renders it entirely invalid.

  9. Michael Ruth says

    If we breathed out the same amount of oxygen as we breathe in, it would be impossible to suffocate in an airtight environment.

  10. dhbirren2 says

    The second caller said something that was the most honest thing I’ve ever heard a theist say, something like, “God is all that is unknown.” I tried to go back to find the timestamp, but some callers are just to painful to listen to a second time. Matt may have been talking over him at the time, so it was hard for me to find to verify his wording.

    In one sentence, he verified the Argument from Ignorance is a real thing and that he believes it. It’s too bad Phil and Matt missed it.

  11. scattershot says

    I hope this green screen thing isn’t going to be the norm. It looks rubbish. I like the studio set you had before.

  12. trijezdci says

    There is also anti-matter. If an oxygen atom meets anti-matter, it will be completely annihilated. In other words, yes, you can “use up” oxygen to the point that it no longer exists.

    When an oxygen atoms react with some other element made of matter, for example carbon, the reaction releases energy and the atoms combines to CO or CO2. If we wanted to separate the oxygen again from the carbon, the same energy that was released when they reacted to form CO or CO2 must be put in for that to happen. In other words, the process is reversible, but it is not free, it costs energy. That energy has to come from somewhere. Ultimately all our energy came from the sun. But even the sun will eventually burn out. And eventually all suns in the universe will burn out. This is also known as the heat death of the universe. Thus, yes indeed, the process that seems to have puzzled the caller from Hawaii does indeed require something to run it, and that something is energy in its various forms. And indeed, eventually it will all stop, when the “fuel” has run out.

    Such annihilation sets free an enormous amount of enery, relative to the chemical endergy released in a chemical reaction when oxygen combines with some other element.

  13. John Phillips, FCD says

    Anybody else having problems downloading it rather than streaming it. For streaming works fine whether from here or YouTube but trying to download it from any of the three locations (here, YT or the Archive page video link) returns the same error in JDownloader, my Youtibe downloader app, only returning a 160KB set of files comprising the jpg, the text description and the .SRT with the M4A and the MP4 displaying as unknown size and finally a file not found error before giving up.

    Strangely, coming to the YT site shortly after the show had finished streaming, I messed up my UK time again, I managed to download a video that ran until the last caller and then it died with about 10 minutes to go. Fortunately streaming worked so I could watch the last ten minutes or so but I do like to cache the better or more interesting shows.

  14. gshelley says

    The first two callers were a little frustrating, but I thought the hosts dealt well overall. The guy who thought truth only existed if something was aware of it seemed to be self refuting (though I’d have to re-listen to get the exact example). It would have been interesting to see if he would have agreed it was still a fact that the cup was on the table, or that the statement “The cup is on the table” would still be consistent with reality
    The third reminded me of my idea that the answer to “is it possible that god did it” can be “possibly”. Given we don’t know if there really is a god, there are two basic possibilities, there is one or there isn’t one. If there is no god, then it is not possible that a god did it. If there is a god, then it is possible that a god did it, but not certain, so we don’t know if it is possible, but it might be.

  15. Frederico Mortein says

    The caller that argued about god being the holder of truth (Steve from Phoenix) reminded me a bit about an article in The Atlantic called The Case Against Reality. In it, Donald D. Hoffman, a professor of cognitive science at the University of California seems to argue that the subjective observation and experience of reality is the ultimate nature of reality.

    I confess I know precious little about cognitive science and it may very well be that I completely misunderstood what prof. Hoffman was talking about. He seems to argue for some sort of relativistic nature of reality, which I found to be rather disturbing.

    One quote from the article: “The experiences of everyday life—my real feeling of a headache, my real taste of chocolate—that really is the ultimate nature of reality.”, left me quite confused. Is he saying that there are as many realities as there are observers of reality? If my taste of chocolate differs from yours, are there 2 realities?

    I would love to hear your opinion on the article. And feel free to point out any mistakes I might have made in my post.

    P.S.: Link to the article:

  16. trijezdci says

    @Julou @Michael Ruth, the caller from Hawaii specifically stated that he meant this at the atomic level. When he said the oxygen atoms do not get used up, he meant that the atoms do not get destroyed in the process. When he mentioned his breathing example, he meant the number of oxygen atoms in the air we breath in are the same number as in the air we breathe out.

    In other words, he meant to say that the oxygen atoms do not get destroyed. That was his presupposition.

    For chemical reactions between matter that presuppostion is correct. Atoms made of matter partaking in chemical reactions do not get destroyed. An atom can be “modified” by gaining or losing electrons such as is the case in nuclear reactions or decay, but the atom doesn’t get destroyed.

    Of course, when we consider matter anti-matter reactions, then the presuppostion is incorrect. When matter atoms react with anti-matter atoms, both get completely destroyed in the reaction.

    However, the problem with his argument was not the presupposition.

    If we paraphrase his argument as “Atoms do not get destroyed in chemical reactions, therefore the universe could not work without something making it work.” we will see that it is the conclusion that is nonsensical, not the presuppostion.

    The fallacy comes from the idea that no energy can be extracted from any reaction unless the fuel gets destroyed in the process. This notion is likely the result of a naive observation of the world. We put wood into a fire and the wood will be destroyed by the fire, the fire will stop when the wood is burnt to ashes. We put petrol into our cars and the petrol will be consumed by the engine, the engine will stop when the petrol is consumed, the result is an empty fuel tank. Without an understanding of chemistry, a naive person will conclude that if the oxygen is part of the fuel, then it must be consumed by burning the fuel and and such consumption results in destruction at the atomic level.

    Anyone with a bit of an education will of course see the fallacy in that. The act of burning something is nothing other than a chemical reaction between the something we burn and oxygen. The energy that is released in form of heat when we burn something does not result from the destruction of matter as would be the case in a matter anti-matter reaction, where matter and anti-matter annihilate into pure energy, but it is the result of an exothermic reaction ( in which the atomic bonding energy is converted into thermal energy (or light).

    Every such exothermic reaction can be reversed by converting thermal energy back into atomic bonding energy, which is called an endothermic reaction. It requires the same amount of energy to reverse an exothermic reaction as the reaction released. Thus there is no free lunch, and the universe is not a perpetual motion engine. At some point the universe will run out of “fuel” and “stop working”.

    The conclusion in the argument is therefore nonsense.

  17. leihm says

    Regarding the conversation with Steve.. I think truth is dependant on an agency. Meaning, truth doesnt exist outside of an intelligence because truth is a concept of a mind. Therefore truth cannot exist on its own. The points Matt was making about the phone on his desk is correct however the truth of the matter wouldnt exist if there were no minds to confirm it. I believe the phone does exists without a mind but the truth of it cant be known.

  18. Mitch Squires says

    hmm. Disagree with Matt that in a universe with no observers, the ‘fact’ of reality is that there is still a phone on a desk and that is therefore true. Refer to Bohr’s response to Einstein on if the moon still exists if no-one observes it. The argument does not therefore comport with accepted scientific theory. So his refutation to caller 2 was wrong.

  19. Murat says

    I think there was a mix-up between the concepts of “truth” and “reality” not only with the caller but also with Matt in some of those statements.

  20. Reckless Monkey says

    Of course the first caller is making the several mistakes the most obvious one is not applying the same logic to his god concept, why not invoke pan-dimensional beings (AKA hitch hikers guide) or some other similar nonsense. How do you get to claim that your invented God makes sense when you understand it even less than people who bother to read books about chemistry understand atoms.

    We can look back at the microwave background radiation an echo of a point in time when there was no oxygen being produced in stars. We can also look at the spectrum of certain sized stars and see the signature of oxygen of oxygen being fused. This is predicted by the scientific theory and confirmed by observation. Oxygen made in only certain sized (certain mass) stars. So we can not only use our knowledge of physics to predict that oxygen can be made in stars but can predict with high precision on basis of that knowledge exactly which stars will fuse lighter elements into oxygen based upon their mass. So it’s not as inexplicable as he thinks, he needs to read more than one book.

  21. Jari van den Berg says

    Hello everyone at the Atheist Experience,

    Recently I came across this film by Ray Comfort called “The Atheist Delusion”. In it, mister Comfort brings up some very old arguments for theism/Christianity and I thought it may be an interesting topic for you to touch upon in one of your episodes. This is the link: . Lastly, I love your show, although I only recently found out about it! Thank you for your work and I would love to hear what you have to say on the film.

    Kind regards,
    Jari van den Berg

  22. Robert, not Bob says

    @Michael Ruth, in an airtight environment you succumb to carbon dioxide buildup long before there’s insufficient oxygen.

  23. misterree8 says

    Seems like Charles from Hawaii is too lazy or didn’t think to look up how the human respiratory system works, before concluding that it just doesn’t make sense that it works naturally.

    I recommend youtube channel “CrashCourse.” This channel does a good job explaining simply what these seeming explainable things work.
    10mins per video that’s 30mins to learn basically how oxygen is breathed in and used by your body and where it goes to “get used up.”

    All explained with out the need for a god/creator to make it work.

    Respirator system pt.1

    Respirator system pt.2

    Circulatory system

  24. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Dawid #7:

    the second callers arguments where hitting quite close to principles behind quantum physiscs (as far as I understand it)

    If there is no observer to verify [interaction to pin down] a state of a thing (true or not true) the state is not set [QM can’t give a singular prediction with certainty].
    Article: Wikipedia – Observer (quantum physics)

    A number of new-age religious or philosophical interpretations of quantum mechanics, notably “consciousness causes collapse”, give the observer a special role, or place constraints on who or what can be an observer.
    However, mainstream physicists downplay any special role of human observers:

    […]it does not matter whether the observer is an apparatus or a human being; but the registration, i.e., the transition from the “possible” to the “actual,” is absolutely necessary here and cannot be omitted from the interpretation of quantum theory.”

    Critics of the special role of the observer also point out that […] it is not clear how much consciousness is required (“Was the wave function waiting to jump for thousands of millions of years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or did it have to wait a little longer for some highly qualified measurer – with a PhD?”)

    Article: Wikipedia – Observer Effect (Physics), Quantum_mechanics

    Once one has measured the system, one knows its current state; and this prevents it from being in one of its other states − it has apparently decohered from them without prospects of future strong quantum interference. This means that the type of measurement one performs on the system affects the end-state of the system.
    When discussing the wave function ψ which describes the state of a system in quantum mechanics, one should be cautious of a common misconception that assumes that the wave function ψ amounts to the same thing as the physical object it describes.
    This flawed concept must then require existence of an external mechanism, such as the mind of a conscious observer, that lies outside the principles governing the time evolution of the wave function ψ, in order to account for the so-called “collapse of the wave function” after a measurement has been performed.
    But the wave function ψ is not a physical object like, for example, an atom, which has an observable mass, charge and spin, as well as internal degrees of freedom. Instead, ψ is an abstract mathematical function that contains all the statistical information that an observer can obtain from measurements of a given system. In this case, there is no real mystery that mathematical form of the wave function ψ must change abruptly after a measurement has been performed.

  25. Monocle Smile says

    Another day, another mind-numbing misunderstanding of the observer effect. Will it ever stop?
    I once asked a guy what would happen if the experiment was done away from human eyes and then someone looked at the results. I asked if the results would magically change upon a human viewing them. His response? “Of course!” Woo monkeys abound.

  26. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    There is a legitimate and long-standing controversy in the physics community on this topic. It’s known as “the measurement problem”, and it’s been there since the beginning of quantum theory, and it’s been considered a huge problem since the beginning of quantum theory.

    Here’s my take on it for the layperson.

    Quantum theory is among the most successful theories of all time. Some of its numerical predictions have been verified accurate and correct to more decimal places than any other prediction of all of science. It’s definitely right, in the sense that Newtonian physics is definitely right, but there may be some slight corrections that can be done to make it even more right, i.e. Relativity is a correction to Newtonian mechanics that makes it more right.

    Quantum mechanics works according to the Schrodinger wave equation. The Schrodinger wave equation describes “particles” as existing in many places at once, and in many states at once, with an associated probability for each location, i.e. superposition.

    Imagine a simple quantum experiment where there is a macroscopic measuring device with a mechanical arm indicator that can point to “0” or “1”. Every time the experiment is run, the indicator arm points to “0” or “1” randomly, with about 50%-50% probability. When one applies the Schrodinger wave equation to the relevant microscopic system of the experiment, it describes a single “particle”, and the wave equation predicts that it will occupy one of two general locations, with about 50%-50% probability, which matches the macroscopic measuring device and the mechanical arm indicator. The problem is that the mechanical arm is itself made of atoms and other things that must also obey Schrodinger’s wave equation, and if you run Schrodinger’s wave equation to completion, it “predicts” that the macroscopic mechanical arm should be in a superposition of states and positions, pointing to “0” and to “1” simultaneously, with equal “weight”. Presumably, we never see the measuring arm in two positions at once, which means that a complete theory of physics needs something else in order to create predictions that do not include “the measuring arm will be two positions at the same time”.

    There is nothing in the Schrodinger wave equation that says “take the (probability) wave, and chose a value”. In order to perform experiments, in effect physicists have to apply the Schrodinger wave equation until it reaches a point of interest, often a macroscopic measuring device, and then they say that the wave function “collapses”, e.g. the macroscopic measuring device will “flip a coin” and “chose” one of the states of the superposition according to the probability weights of the wave equation.

    Since the beginning of quantum theory, this problem has been recognized, and it was front and prominent. It is known as the “measurement problem” of quantum physics. In practice, the solution of physicists today is the same as the founders of quantum theory: when a macroscopic measurement is made, apply an ad-hoc where the universe conspires to choose a value of the wave function, weighted according to the weighting of the wave function.

    For a technical description of the measurement problem, I suggest this link:

    I also strongly suggest this multi-person lecture / discussion:
    The lecture a little hokey at times (I hate the animations), but there is a good discussion aimed at the general lay-person. Except for the Qbism guy – I ignored him. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it seems like a variant of “shut up and measure”, aka the standard method of choosing ad-hoc to collapse the wave function when a macroscopic measurement is made.

    For mostly aesthetic and beauty reasons, e.g. not scientific reasons, I am partial to the belief that the correct answer is a dynamic collapse model. The best part is that dynamic collapse models are testable, because they make slightly different predictions than standard quantum theory, just like Relativity makes slightly different predictions than Newtonian mechanics. The difficulty is creating an experimental apparatus that can tell the two apart, and AFAIK, that hasn’t been done yet due to the practical difficulty of making such an apparatus.

    I really appreciate what the proponent of dynamic collapse models said in the video above, which is that this approach is the most brain-dead, simple, and obvious approach. Arguably, it’s also the approach which has been followed in practice since the start of quantum theory. Arguably, dynamic collapse models are simply an attempt at mathematically formalizing the ad-hoc “collapse” rule that has been in common use since the beginning of quantum theory. It’s for these semi-scientific reasons that I really like dynamic collapse models.

  27. raefn says

    For Adam from Fall River, MA – Derren Brown, the British mentalist, has simulated several religious experiences, and the videos are on youtube. (search ‘derren brown religious experience’ ) He emphasizes the suggestibility of the human brain.

    Darryl Ray has also spoken and written on this topic – google ‘Darryl Ray God Virus’ for more info.

  28. itsmejre says

    The Role of a Conscious Observer
    In 1941, Carl von Weizsäcker described the measurement problem as an interaction between a Subject and an Object, a view shared by the philosopher of science Ernst Cassirer.

    Fritz London and Edmond Bauer made the strongest case for the critical role of a conscious observer in 1939:

    So far we have only coupled one apparatus with one object. But a coupling, even with a measuring device, is not yet a measurement. A measurement is achieved only when the position of the pointer has been observed. It is precisely this increase of knowledge, acquired by observation, that gives the observer the right to choose among the different components of the mixture predicted by theory, to reject those which are not observed, and to attribute thenceforth to the object a new wave function, that of the pure case which he has found.

    We note the essential role played by the consciousness of the observer in this transition from the mixture to the pure case. Without his effective intervention, one would never obtain a new function.
    (The Theory of Observation in Quantum Mechanics, Fritz London and Edmond Bauer, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.251)

    In 1961, Eugene Wigner made quantum physics even more subjective, claiming that a quantum measurement requires a conscious observer, without which nothing ever happens in the universe.

    When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena, through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore again: it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness All that quantum mechanics purports to provide are probability connections between subsequent impressions (also called “apperceptions”) of the consciousness, and even though the dividing line between the observer, whose consciousness is being affected, and the observed physical object can be shifted towards the one or the other to a considerable degree [cf., von Neumann] it cannot be eliminated. It may be premature to believe that the present philosophy of quantum mechanics will remain a permanent feature of future physical theories; it will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the conclusion that the content of the consciousness is an ultimate reality.
    (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169)

    Other physicists were more circumspect. Niels Bohr contrasted Paul Dirac’s view with that of Heisenberg:

    These problems were instructively commented upon from different sides at the Solvay meeting, in the same session where Einstein raised his general objections. On that occasion an interesting discussion arose also about how to speak of the appearance of phenomena for which only predictions of statistical character can be made. The question was whether, as to the occurrence of individual effects, we should adopt a terminology proposed by Dirac, that we were concerned with a choice on the part of “nature,” or, as suggested by Heisenberg, we should say that we have to do with a choice on the part of the “observer” constructing the measuring instruments and reading their recording. Any such terminology would, however, appear dubious since, on the one hand, it is hardly reasonable to endow nature with volition in the ordinary sense, while, on the other hand, it is certainly not possible for the observer to influence the events which may appear under the conditions he has arranged. To my mind, there is no other alternative than to admit that, in this field of experience, we are dealing with individual phenomena and that our possibilities of handling the measuring instruments allow us only to make a choice between the different complementary types of phenomena we want to study.
    (Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge, Niels Bohr, p.51)

    Landau and Lifshitz said clearly that quantum physics was independent of any observer:

    In this connection the “classical object” is usually called apparatus, and its interaction with the electron is spoken of as measurement. However, it must be most decidedly emphasised that we are here not discussing a process of measurement in which the physicist-observer takes part. By measurement, in quantum mechanics, we understand any process of interaction between classical and quantum objects, occurring apart from and independently of any observer.
    (Quantum Mechanics, Lev Landau and Evgeny Lifshitz, p.2)

    David Bohm agreed that what is observed is distinct from the observer:

    If it were necessary to give all parts of the world a completely quantum-mechanical description, a person trying to apply quantum theory to the process of observation would be faced with an insoluble paradox. This would be so because he would then have to regard himself as something connected inseparably with the rest of the world. On the other hand,the very idea of making an observation implies that what is observed is totally distinct from the person observing it.
    (Quantum Theory, David Bohm, p.584)

    And John Bell said:

    It would seem that the [quantum] theory is exclusively concerned about ‘results of measurement’, and has nothing to say about anything else. What exactly qualifies some physical systems to play the role of ‘measurer’? Was the wavefunction of the world waiting to jump for thousands of millions of years until a single-celled living creature appeared? Or did it have to wait a little longer, for some better qualified system…with a Ph.D.? If the theory is to apply to anything but highly idealised laboratory operations, are we not obliged to admit that more or less ‘measurement-like’ processes are going on more or less all the time, more or less everywhere? Do we not have jumping then all the time?
    (Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics, “Against Measurement,” p. 216)

    Three Essential Steps in a “Measurement” and “Observation”
    We can distinguish three required elements in a measurement that can clarify the ongoing debate about the role of a conscious observer.

    In standard quantum theory, the first required element is the collapse of the wave-function. This is the Dirac projection postulate and von Neumann Process 1.

    However, the collapse might not leave a determinate record. If nothing in the environment is macroscopically affected so as to leave an indelible record of the collapse, we can say that no information about the collapse is created. The overwhelming fraction of collapses are of this kind. Moreover, information might actually be destroyed. For example, collisions between atoms or molecules in a gas that erase past information about their paths.

    If the collapse occurs when the quantum system is entangled with a macroscopic measurement apparatus, a well-designed apparatus will also “collapse” into a correlated “pointer” state.

    As we showed above for photons, the detector in the upper half of a Stern-Gerlach apparatus will fire, indicating detection of an electron with spin up. As with photons, if the probability amplitude | ↑ > in the upper half does not collapse as the electron is detected, it can still be recombined with the probability amplitude | ↓ > in the lower half to reconstruct the unseparated beam.

    When the apparatus detects a particle, the second required element is that it produce a determinate record of the event. But this is impossible without an irreversible thermodynamic process that involves: a) the creation of at least one bit of new information (negative entropy) and b) the transfer away from the measuring apparatus of an amount of positive entropy (generally much, much) greater than teh information created.

    Notice that no conscious observer need be involved. We can generalize this second step to an event in the physical world that was not designed as a measurement apparatus by a physical scientist, but nevertheless leaves an indelible record of the collapse of a quantum state. This might be a highly specific single event, or the macroscopic consequence of billions of atomic-molecular level of events.

    Finally, the third required element is an indelible determinate record that can be looked at by an observer (presumably conscious, although the consciousness itself has nothing to do with the measurement).

    When we have all three of these essential elements, we have what we normally mean by a measurement and an observation, both involving a human being.

    When we have only the first two, we can say metaphorically that the “universe is measuring itself,” creating an information record of quantum collapse events. For example, every hydrogen atom formed in the early recombination era is a record of the time period when macroscopic bodies could begin to form. A certain pattern of photons records the explosion of a supernova billions of light years away. When detected by the CCD in a telescope, it becomes a potential observation. Craters on the back side of the moon recorded collisions with solar system debris that could become observations only when the first NASA mission circled the moon

  29. KK_Me says

    To all those talking about Quantum Physics: I don’t think that is the topic here at all. The call was about truth and facts, not about quantum states.
    If you want to stay in the realm of Schrödinger, the experiment you would have to do is this: You put a dead cat in a box. You remove all minds from the cosmos. Is there still a dead cat in a box?
    If you add all minds to the cosmos again, the fact of the cat being dead will not have changed because this isn’t about goddamn quantum physics!

  30. says

    I think Matt D and team should do a new show called ‘ Concede or Retract ‘ based around the formal debate method : ) first topic… the viable fetus is an organ or limb of the host body ? for or against .
    maybe the debate method should be only one point ( claim ) at a time. etc.
    otherwise… great to see the old background and sound quality improvements. Go backroom team : )

  31. Monocle Smile says

    Yet another screed that, while perhaps relevant to EL’s informative tangent, completely undermines all the bullshit you’ve posted before.

    That topic sounds terrible. Does anyone actually make that argument?
    I’m also pretty sure everyone on the show, including Matt, hates the “formal debate method.”

  32. Minus says

    Re the measurement question: I just finished reading physicist Max Tegmark’s new book _Our Mathematical Universe_. Tegmark states that a growing number of physicists now believe that the wave function does not collapse upon measurement, but that the universe splits into two separate universes at that point. I.e. there is one universe where the cat is dead and one where it is still alive. This is happening all the time producing a lot of universes, folks. I highly recommend Tegmark’s book for some real mind bending.

  33. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Minus
    In conclusion, I would contradict your particular language as being highly misleading:

    egmark states that a growing number of physicists now believe that the wave function does not collapse upon measurement, but that the universe splits into two separate universes at that point.

    That language suggests a far larger proportion of physicists than in actuality, AFAICT.

    I did some quick googling for a survey of professional physicists, to see what their opinion is.
    If that link is to be trusted, the answer is that it’s all over the place.

    At least 48% of physicists ignore the measurement problem altogether, according to this poor survey, and arguably it’s 60% according to this poor survey. (60% = 42% Copenhagen + 6% quantum bayesian + 12% no preferred interpretation.) Thus, it seems that a great many physicists ignore the problem, and take the approach: “shut up and calculate (according to this grossly ill-defined ad-hoc rule which distinguishes micro vs macro)”.

    Be very skeptical about my opinions here. I am a mere laymen in the mathematics of the physics. For further reading on the Copenhagen interpretation, and why it has my disdain, I again suggest the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

  34. Muz says

    While the first guy might have been a troll, it seemed like the main problem with/best way to critique his line of reasoning right off the bat was that his assumptions themselves aren’t true. We don;t really need to get into radioactive decay or quantum mechanics.
    We used to think things were ‘used up’ and destroyed by interactions but then we looked closer and found it wasn’t true and way more complicated. They mostly change bonds and states.

    So when he says the world is “unreasonable” because “how can oxygen not get used up?” or whatever, the short answer would seem to be: It’s not unreasonable at all. We had the concept of consumption based on what we could observe in the past (watching wood burn, for instance). Turns out that assumption was wrong. Holding on to the assumption that it should be true is the unreasonable part. Turns out the world doesn’t work the way we thought it did. We don’t have to account for it because it is irrelevant.

    That’s what struck me about it anyway. What do folks think?

  35. Minus says

    To EnlightenmentLiberal:
    I don’t want to lead this thread away from its main purpose so let me just say that we are not in disagreement about anything. I don’t have a dog in this fight and can barely figure out what these physicists are talking about. I was not expressing my opinion but rather trying to express Tegmarks ideas which I find really fascinating and would suggest that anyone who is interested in the current state of discussion on the nature of reality might want to read this book.

  36. ironchops says

    Mitchell says – “religion was invented for social cohesion.” The irony is that religion seems to divide societies and the people within the society. It uses fear to control. It is my opinion that religion does not explain or need a god. It just needs an esoteric, mysterious figment of the imagination to focus on in order to distract people from just doing good for no reason other than its good.

  37. jim60 says

    I wanted to say to Charles the Troll, “Do you know how tons of metal, glass, plastic, and people can fly at hundreds of mph for thousands of miles?” You don’t know yet you get in a 757 without a thought of how this thing works.

  38. Cousin Ricky says

    What was the white balance on this video? Matt’s beard was blue, as were the highlights on his head and on Phil’s forehead.

  39. JacobsShadow says

    Can someone explain why Matt was glad when the caller says a statement is either True OR Not True, instead of True OR False?

  40. RationalismRules says

    @JacobsShadow #42 I’ll have a go at it – it’s because True and False are separate propositions. The position Not True includes ‘not known’ (as does the position Not False). So if something is not True, that does not mean it is necessarily False.
    The good old jar-of-beans is helpful here – the quantity of beans is either odd or even, but if the number is not known, then the statement “the number of beans is odd” cannot be assessed as either True or False. It is unknown.

  41. Monocle Smile says

    I think you’re conflating concepts. Matt is talking about ontology. Bohr was referring to epistemology and he was a bit right and a bit wrong. The belief that a phone is on the table might not exist in the hypothetical, but the phone would still be there.

  42. JacobsShadow says

    @RationalismRules Thanks for the attempt, but the state of True of Not True is already determined independent if it is observed (must thank Matt from a different episode for that) at the outset of the statement.

    From further searching the reason for the proposal is that we expect the Boolean statement to be mathematically correct, the statement itself may be nonsense and therefore cannot be evaluated to be True or False but instead to be Not True. I guess thats similar to violation of the Law of Dimensional Homogeneity.

    False implies Not True, but Not True does not imply False

    Easier than remembering the “If and Only If” criteria.

  43. jennifer62 says

    Adam from Fall River was likely experiencing paresthesia which comes from hyperventilation often caused by anxiety attacks and emotional experiences. I have experienced it a few times, and one case, the tingling started in my feet and worked it’s way up my body. Because I was just sitting in a car at the time I went to the hospital instead of blaming any god.

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