Scientist Claims the 'Quantum Enigma' May Necessitate Free Will, Make Telepathy Possible

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 - 10:25AM
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 - 10:25AM

Many great minds, from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking have argued that free will does not exist, that it is simply an illusion. The fields of neuroscience, physics, and philosophy are all divided on this question, so is obviously no definitive answer at this time. However, in an email correspondence with Scientific American, theoretical biological and author Stuart Kauffman claimed that as a result of the laws of quantum mechanics, the non-existence of free will is, at the very least, "NOT a necessary forced conclusion."


The standard argument against free will essentially combines neuroscience, philosophy, and physics to come to same conclusion: if every action a person takes is the result of brain activity, and brain activity is determined by the laws of classical physics, then our "choices" are not really choices at all, but actions that have been pre-determined by our biological makeup. In other words, according to many thinkers, if an extremely sophisticated algorithm that analyzed every single one of your neurons (as well as any other relevant biological factors) could theoretically predict your every move, then you don't have free will.


"Free will in our normal sense means that I could have, contrary to fact, decided and done something else, so present moment could have been different," Kauffman wrote. "On causal closure of classical physics, present could not have been different unless god changes initial or boundary conditions acausally. Nuts."


But in recent years, one of the foremost arguments in favor of free will has emerged from increased knowledge of the laws of quantum mechanics. While classical physics is deterministic, quantum mechanics is inherently indeterministic in the sense that outcomes are chosen at random from a slate of possibilities. As a result, if our minds operate according to the laws quantum mechanics, then our actions would be truly unpredictable, and then free will (under that particular definition, anyway) would, in fact, exist.


"If quantum measurement is real and indeterminate, measurement creates electron once measured as spin up or as spin down, so present could have been different," wrote Kauffman. "I can find NO direct evidence for free will, but the quantum enigma requires it and it is possible."


Some have also insisted that quantum mechanics might provide a scientific explanation for psychic phenomena, such as telepathy or telekinesis. This theory has mostly arisen from the quantum property of entanglement, in which particles can have certain "spooky" effects on other particles, even when they're separated by arbitrarily large distances.


Kauffman agrees that the only possible explanation for psychic phenomena lies with quantum rather than classical physics: "We will never get beyond at most epiphenomenal mind with classical physics due to its causal closure. Only quantum mechanics offers a way out at present, that I can see."


He also believes that, as a result of this plausibility, reports of psychic phenomena should be scientifically investigated more often: "If mind is partially quantum, nonlocality is possible so psychokinesis is possible and testable, as is telepathy. We are arrogant not to look at this with open minds, pun intended."

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