About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rationally Speaking podcast: Sean Carroll on philosophical naturalism

Astrophysicist and author Sean Carroll joins this episode of Rationally Speaking, to talk about "naturalism" - the philosophical viewpoint that there are no supernatural phenomena, and the universe runs on scientific laws.

Sean, Julia, and Massimo discuss what distinguishes naturalism from similar philosophies like physicalism and materialism, and what a naturalistic worldview implies about free will, consciousness, and other philosophical dilemmas.

And they return to that long-standing debate: should scientists have more respect for philosophy?

Sean's pick: "The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human."

References: Moving Naturalism Forward workshop.


  1. I was somewhat surprised Massimo didn't blog about that Philosopher survey. It did seem to indicate that philosophers don't converge as often as Massimo sometimes makes out.

  2. I listened to this a couple of days ago and left a comment there (about Feynman paths). I agree mostly with what "Daniel" wrote. It I had to state my own ontology, it would be "Code is all that exists."

    If I got it right, there was an interesting remark on the podcast about there being more non-naturalists among chemists than either physicists or biologists. Maybe it's the drugs.

  3. Philosophically: Naturalism is freedom, and sadly the only laws that confine Nature (us), unnaturally are the laws we ourselves create.
    How many laws are there?
    Can they even be counted?
    And where and how does self-evident freedom, Nature fit in?


  4. Philosophically: Reduction-ism is the process of simplifying a problem or equation to a single simple solution, answer or truth.
    When it comes to the infinite questions or problems of the Universe, problems again that we ourselves create, the mathematical solution for infinitely everything or Nature is = and the empirical answer is also equal, One or the same.

    When All is equal All is truly One.

    Truth is much more simple than thought.


  5. Quantum Mechanics: Einstein was right again, God does not play dice.

    And beyond probability is


  6. The link to Sean's pick seems to be broken.

  7. I like Carroll's book and liked this RS a lot. But I was a little sad to hear how pleased he is to be friends with Chalmers. I think Chalmers is committed to undermining naturalism. Thought experiments that hinge on conceivability implying possibility are silly. If you aren't swayed by the Ontological Argument, you should also not be swayed by pZombies! If existence isn't a predicate, neither is "possible" existence.

    I would have liked to hear Carroll comment on Quantum Beyesianism, too. QBism seems like the correct ontological interpretation of wave functions to me. Rather than having minds play magical roles in the world of stuff, they play a more mundane one, and the wave function simply describes this relationship. This, however, would take some reconciling with Carroll's assertion that the entire universe is a wave function.

    1. Chalmers often swims in vague concepts no less than Carroll, so they have something in common. But Chalmers' key point is that thought & feeling (consciousness) is a subjective experience that is inaccessible to objective enquiry. This leaves the door open for all sorts of speculation. It is a good point that he necessarily pushes in this you tube talk with Kahneman and others http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_MTuVozQzw Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, and build from solid concepts rather than vague over-reaching.

    2. Well, Carroll is a physicist, so his thought experiments need to potentially lead to real experiments. Chalmers has no such concerns.

    3. "I think Chalmers is committed to undermining naturalism."

      Chalmers is a naturalist.

      "Thought experiments that hinge on conceivability implying possibility are silly."

      Conceivability doesn't imply possibility, but it gives evidence of possibility. I can't coherently conceive of a round triangle, which provides at least some evidence that it's impossible.

      "If you aren't swayed by the Ontological Argument, you should also not be swayed by pZombies!"

      Anselm's ontological argument is guilty of a fallacy of equivocation. Chalmers' argument isn't. 'I don't like some philosophical arguments, therefore Chalmers is wrong' is not very persuasive; you need to establish some parity.

      "If existence isn't a predicate, neither is 'possible' existence."

      This is astoundingly confused. Chalmers' arguments trade in modal logics; nowhere does he assert that we can reduce modality to predication. And what's wrong with the ontological argument, for that matter, is not at all that it treats existence as a predicate. (Besides, linguistically, it is a predicate. If you have something special and metaphysical in mind when you say 'predicate', you'll have to clarify what that is.)

    4. "Chalmers often swims in vague concepts no less than Carroll, so they have something in common."

      Chalmers is one of the most catastrophically precise human beings in existence.

    5. I don't see why Chalmers is catastrophic. The division between the subjective experience and the objective account of it is absolute rather than precise. In fact we must try to get as close as possible to an explanation of the subjective using objectivity. Maybe you are referring to zombies and so on (exploiting the lack of penetration of another's subjective experience to compare to our own) - which is more banal than catastrophic.

    6. Phaen,

      I can't defend "existence is not a predicate" any better than Kant did. So you'll have to consult him. But I believe it does establish exactly the parity you want me to establish.

      Chalmers may claim to be a naturalist. But he is willing to truck in a class of thought experiment that I find to be fundamentally non-naturalistic and frankly silly in their overreach and over confidence. Perhaps Chalmers has a convenient definition of naturalism that somehow allows quallia and consciousness to be non describable by natural processes. That's not my idea of naturalism. And let's not get into an argument about whether or not science can explain things like love and poetry. I believe science can explain those things well enough, and consciousness and quallia just as well. Mary's Room is just as annoyingly obtuse. You should be swayed by Mary's Room only if you would expect to find a description of an ice cream cone to be as fun as eating an ice cream cone. And then, after this absurd claim is established, you are moved to find ontological import in the supposedly surprising notion that someone would rather eat one than understand one.

      "Conceivability doesn't imply possibility, but it gives evidence of possibility. I can't coherently conceive of a round triangle, which provides at least some evidence that it's impossible."

      Yes, of course conceivability has some value. I'm not saying that it is of no value. But I would argue that a PZombie is actually as inconceivable as your round triangle. To use your example, can you conceive of a triangle that has a subjective experience of being round? Or can you conceive of a triangle that lacks a subjective sense of being a triangle? If so, then we can conclude, as Chalmers does, that there is a Hard Problem of Triangleness. Wait, you might respond, we know that triangles don't have subjective experience, therefore your triangle argument involves a smoke screen of subjectivity to hide your lack of logical coherence. And I would agree, Chalmers and I are both being silly.

      I listened again. Carroll, while proud to be buddies with Chalmers, does not buy the hard problem of consciousness, much to my relief. Talking about Chalmers and "strong notion of emergence" he says, "I don't believe in that. I think that is just unnecessary to understand the world." 19:25

  8. Carroll is no different from the fantasists if he thinks you can get 'something from nothing' in physics - and I include 'expanding space-time' as something from nothing. The notion that a volume is created from nothing, as an expanding universe with space-time created between particles by stretching, is as way out as it comes.

    No doubt we can measure the space & time capacities of masses, as they are delineated by those capacities. Einstein thought it lacked parsimony to have a void of space & time within which masses exhibit their capacities - leaving only masses and no void around them. That's parsimony taken to a ridiculous level. I would rather have a volume around particles enabling them to move (expand) in the unusual way we all understand on earth. A void is undetectable and immeasurable, but it provides a setting for motion and expanding volumes without a need to literally create volume between particles as they thin out upon expansion.

  9. Massimo broadly defines naturalism as “anything that is not supernatural”. Since he claims the concept of supernaturalism to be “vague and fuzzy”, that would make the concept of naturalism vague and fuzzy as well. What saves the concept (or more precisely, belief) from vagueness is the addition of “and the universe runs on scientific laws”. While well-defined, however, this proposition is philosophically tenuous. If the “scientific laws” are seen to have ontological reality, and especially if they are seen as more basic than time and space, it would seem to imply a strong mathematical-physical Platonism that is almost as sublime as the concept of a divine mover.

    Lee Smolin addresses this problem by proposing time to be more fundamental than the “laws”, which he sees rather as “habits” evolving in time. While the theory obviates the need for an ontology of timeless mathematical laws, it is based on the premise that nature remembers. If Smolin is correct, naturalism would not have to be abandoned, but the definition above would need to be amended from “the universe runs on scientific laws” to “the universe learns”. So even before dealing with the bugbears of consciousness and morality, naturalism is burdened either with uncaused timeless laws or with uncaused eternal time and universal memory.

  10. I noticed in philosophy news another proponent of wave function realism:
    "Jill North, associate professor of philosophy, is a proponent of wave function realism, which posits that quantum mechanics' wave function is real and fundamental, but occupies a space very different from the one we seem to live in ..."

    Maybe this is a trend in philosophy of physics. (An alternative to wave function realism is Feynman paths realism.)

    On mathematical Platonism: There is an actual mathematical theorem that proves infinite entities can be dispensed with:
    "If φ is a sentence in the language of T and φ' is a regular relativization of φ, then φ is a theorem of T if and only if φ' is a theorem of Fin(T)."

  11. If any of you can explain the so-called wave-functions clearly and intelligibly, I would like to read it. A lot of physics today is speculative and inaccessible to general human understanding. You can say 'wow' and acquiesce without understanding, which is what I may be reading here, or you can attempt to understand and explain it.

    What is needed is a new nomenclature in physics, or a new paradigm, that does not dispense with human experience. Reasoning and experience diverge in fantasies like expanding space-time, and mysterious wave-functions. You can read how this might be done in my free book at thehumandesign.net I provide a sensible explanation of existence without reverting to mysteries.

    1. A direct answer is that a quantum wave function is a solution to a Schrödinger equation:

      For what it means to 'ontologize' the wave function, the reference to Jill North I mentioned is a place to start:
      (see "The Structure of a Quantum World" [pdf])

      Now Feynman's brilliant idea was his sum over paths theory, a way of calculating what the wave function produces. I think if one can ontologize the wave function, one can ontologize Feynman paths as an alternative. They are easier to understand for me, anyway.

    2. I had a quick look, but its not in plain language. Perhaps you can state it plainly, as you seem to understand it. Otherwise, I will wait to see if someone pops up who understands it sufficiently to have a try, and to put their interpretation to the test here. It will need to stay in the "what on earth?" basket until that can be done.

    3. I should add that what is interesting about wave functions is how they enable space-time to expand and create volume, rather than thinning out in a void. It's common sense that a compacted state might expand - described by a 'wave function' - using its contained energy potential, but how that becomes a volume from 'nowhere' using General Relativity via Lemaitre is bizarre. Its a pity Q.M. doesn't directly confront the absence of a void in G.R.

    4. Perhaps you could ask exactly what it is you want to know.

      The solution to a Schrödinger equation Ψ(x,y,z, t) is interpreted in the following way:
      the square of the absolute value of Ψ gives you the probability density for finding a particle at position (x,y,z) at time t.

      The video lecture I linked to above on Feynman's sum over paths explanation (Did you watch that?), which is very basic, should be very helpful.

    5. Note also Hawking and Hartle linked the wave function of the universe (via Feynman's paths theory) to the Big Bang:
      "The Hartle–Hawking state is the wave function of the Universe–a notion meant to figure out how the Universe started–that is calculated from Feynman's path integral [sum-over-paths]."


    6. I thought I had, but never mind. Thanks anyway.

  12. This was one of my all-time favorite RS podcasts.

    One thing that really surprised me was that in talking about naturalism vs. physicalism - and in discussing the "wavefunction" view - you seemed to be groping for but not quite finding the word you wanted: "process". The reason why "things" and "relations" don't feel right as a way of grounding definitions of naturalism/physicalism is that the description that we're looking for (whether reductive or not) is the description of a process, not just a description of things with properties or things with relations to other things.

    If the fundamental description is a process description, physicalism becomes a "nothing spooky" position that is really hard to distinguish from naturalism.

    This also plays into what Zal is saying above, because the "time" and "memory" and "runs" that Smolin talks about are the ingredients (roughly speaking) on top of "things" and "relations" that give us processes.

    1. "If the fundamental description is a process description, physicalism becomes a 'nothing spooky' position that is really hard to distinguish from naturalism."

      I disagree. Physicalism is endangered by irreducibly mental 'processes' just as much as it's endangered by irreducibly mental 'objects'. And the process view doesn't seem helpful in the debate over e.g. mathematical platonism.

    2. If "irreducibly mental" means "not explicable in a way that is consistent with (and interleaves consistently as necessary with) our other theories", then sure. Otherwise, it doesn't matter if you call the process "mental" or "funkadelic" -- if it's non-spooky, it's physical. My point is that mereological and object/property descriptions make physicalism and naturalism seem farther apart than they are.

      Mathematical platonism is probably a case-in-point. "Numbers are objects that exist" is a different proposition than "numbers are a process that takes place in brains". Understanding the existence of numbers in terms of processes can help to dissolve some of the weirdness of a platonic view, since the issue of immateriality is not sitting in the road. Getting there is going to take widespread understanding of how brains process information, including how "information" is inseparable from "process". But when we get there, I have a feeling that mathematical platonism will eventually seem quaint.

      I hope you'll forgive the very inexact way I'm speaking above -- a proper discussion of this is probably not possible in the comment thread of a blog.

    3. It sounds (with "numbers are a process that takes place in brains") like this is close to mathematical intentionalism: "Intentionalism says that pure mathematics is a description of finite structures consisting of finitely many imagined objects."

    4. Math is just something we do with language, so as we understand language at the level of brain processing, we'll understand math at that level. It's misguided to look for math in the brain outside the context of language in the brain.

      My view is that many philosophical perplexities about the nature of math arise from naïve views about the nature of existential assertions: it is thought that things are pre-bounded and words just name them; thus we must find out what pre-bounded things number names name. In reality, naming is the bounding of things. While with rabbits there is something material that is bounded, with numbers there is pure bounding. We stipulated that the number zero exists and that it has such-and-such properties. With such immaterial things, stipulating that they exist means that they exist, so long as their existence is consistent with prior stipulations and definitions.

      Numbers are like fictional characters, though they are not fictional, i.e., they are not representations of things that do not exist. They are are like fictional characters qua fictional characters, which exist by stipulation. Sherlock Holmes does not exist, but the fictional character Sherlock Holmes does, and this fictional character as such is not a fictional entity. There cannot be a fictional fictional entity.

      In sum, mathematical entities are like fictional entities except that they do not represent what does not exist. It may be add that they (e.g. numbers) are governed by more minimal and strict language.

    5. Philip - Mycielski's idea is fascinating. It seems like, at least in a sense, domains of quantification do the work of moving from "object" to "process". In the example you provided (Peano axioms[?]) the standard formulation gives you something "existential" -- implying infinite sets, which "exist" in a static sort of way. In Mycielski's formulation, it's something less like an object and more like a "performance" -- the instantiation of whatever finite set is needed.

      Am I understanding it anywhere near correctly?

    6. Paul - This sounds like a conversation I'm always having with someone I call my "inner Wittgenstein".

      I wonder if things like, say, cardinal numbers are the result of a process of abstraction from "things being counted". It's a process in which "property of thing" becomes "thing" and can be manipulated conceptually just as if it were a plain old thing.

      What's interesting (to me) about this is that the abstraction process is intrinsic to the way neural networks behave, and it's a process that's present - in a sort of "proto-" form - in brains that haven't acquired the trick of symbolic cognition.

    7. Asher - Lavine [ Understanding the Infinite: http://books.google.com/books/about/Understanding_the_Infinite.html?id=GvGqRYifGpMC ] imagines this model in his two chapters on Mycielski's theorems: The domain of a quantifier (the set of values a variable could take) is like an indefinitely large bag of beans (where you add or subtract beans as needed). So, doing math is like being a bean counter, I guess!

    8. Asher - I'm glad to have put you in touch with your inner Wittgenstein ;) It's odd that Wittgenstein is regarded by philosophers as one the most important philosophers of the 20th-century - if not the most important - yet contemporary philosophy is still awash in just the sorts of mistakes he so conscientiously warned us about, viz., not taking language as a central issue in philosophical perplexities. Cheers.

  13. Smolin adds the notion of evolving universal “habits” of nature to Whitehead’s process philosophy. Both Whitehead’s and Smolin’s ideas are grounded in quantum mechanics. Whether one prefers to interpret the wave-function as an expression of potential outcomes, or like Jill North, to believe that all possible outcomes of the wave function are real, what is always observed is a reduction of the wave function to a particular outcome, and so the empirical world is best described by “becoming” rather than “being”. Smolin can go farther than Whitehead and propose a teleological universal evolution because the inherent non-locality of an underlying reality, whatever it may turn out to be, is by now firmly established.

    1. Non-local can be replaced with stochastic+contextual.*

      * papers and lectures of Huw Price, e.g. prce.hu/w/teaching/PhilPhys/Lecture6.pdf. As Huw Price says at the end, "Philosophy needed."

    2. Stochastic yes, contextual only, as Price points out, if quantum mechanics is incomplete, and even then the contextuality itself must be non-local. And the stochasm of entangled particles is quite different from that of a single particle. We can prepare a single electron with a known ‘direction’ of spin. If placed in a magnetic field, say, not aligned with the spin, the electron will either emit a photon or not. Whether it does so or not in an individual case is completely undetermined, but there is an exact probability of emission determined by the angle between the direction of the spin and that of the magnetic field. So over many measurements of the spin of an identically prepared electron, we painstakingly arrive at an empirical confirmation of what we knew to begin with.

      With an entangled pair of electrons, the situation is different. Here the direction of spin of either electron is completely undetermined to begin with, and if placed in a magnetic field in any direction will emit a photon exactly half the time. What we can say, with certainty, is that IF the first electron emits a photon in a particularly aligned magnetic field, THEN electron B will not emit in an identically aligned field, instantaneously and no matter how far away, and vice versa. The emissions are stochastic, individually random, but corresponding one to another precisely, non-stochastically. So in the case of a single particle and a single measurement there is absolute knowledge completely lost, whereas with entangled particles, there is absolute knowledge gained by one measurement of the spin of A, i.e.the spin of B, where there was none to begin with. Philosophy needed, indeed.

    3. Am I correct in saying the whole idea about 'something from nothing' springs from the gap in measurement due to being unable to measure position and momentum simultaneously? We can get within a wave length, and an entire universe can pop into existence within that gap - including expanding space & time? If so, that's ridiculous - like camels through eyes of needles.

      I read about how the greats of physics tried to close the gap, including Einstein & Bohr, when the fact is that there are some things that cannot be done simultaneously. Measuring the position and momentum of the same object requires separate measurements - position & momentum (dependent upon motion) are separate frames of measurement (position 1 mile or 1 hour from target; motion 100 miles per hour - separate formalisms). The closest you can get to simultaneity is a wavelength, and they want a universe to pop into existence thanks to that restriction?

      No doubt there are useful things about that gap, and the relationship between position & momentum presents other difficulties consistent with them having separate frames. But its just a matter of accepting the limitations to measurement itself, and not pretending to be omnipresent. Amazing they couldn't work that out -how can you freeze frame a position and measure motion at the same time? You must unify two perspectives that are entirely limited to their own frames and cannot therefore, by definition, be unified (simultaneous).

    4. I have tried to understand your account of entanglement, but there is way you could randomly select two electrons that are not causally connected, and find that they always have oppositely aligned spins.

    5. Creation ex-nihilo due to the uncertainty principle is absurd prima facie. An aspect of uncertainty is that the vacuum is inherently unstable: particles come in and out of existence. But the vacuum is not “nihilum”. It is only space empty of matter.

      As for entanglement, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by coordination between non-causally connected electrons. It would be incorrect to speak of a causal connection between entangled particles, since coordination of measured results is instantaneous and causality implies temporal order. It is best to think of entangled particles as a single system.

    6. I prefer your interpretation of uncertainty applied to empty space rather than 'nothing', but theoretical physics seems to rely on something from nothing, Krauss etc. Anyway, I can't see how its possible to exclude a void of space within which the universe expands.

      That said, I can't pretend to understand how empty space can have activity rapidly appearing and disappearing from that empty space. There is, as I have explained above, an absolute restriction on measuring position & motion simultaneously, and whilst it might be possible for things to happen outside our capacity for observation for that reason (and others), there is no creation and destruction from 'no matter' (empty space). It's no more satisfying than creation & destruction from 'nothing' (no matter or empty space).

      You may need to accept the limitations to physicists capacity to measure, the limits of measurement itself, and a lack of good logic binding observations into a rationally satisfying explanation. Most likely you have not detected where the matter comes from and goes to when it is 'borrowed' and appears in empty space - more work required, rather than non-causal' magic.

      Causality is also the issue with entangled particles. If they can be measured simultaneously, they may be causally connected by that fact alone. Your answer seems to be that entanglement is a special state between some and not all particles, in some circumstances where we can simultaneously measure them. It seems to be another limitation to measurement and possibly an inability to exclude the measurer's affect upon the measurement. More and better measurements required - that's what science does best, rather than coming up with magical explanations for what they have been able to measure so far.

    7. Measurement affects the correlations in entangled pairs only insofar as it creates a particular correlation depending on the particular measurement, but measurement (or uncertainty) does not explain the one-to-one correspondence itself. The correspondence is predicted by the mathematics, and does not depend on whether the second particle is measured; experiments serve only to confirm Bell’s theorem. Nature is non-local whether we measure it or not, and non-locality forces us to abandon our classical intuition of causality whether we like it or not.

      Another example of why measurement itself does not explain the strangeness of quantum mechanics is the two-slit experiment, beginning with the interference pattern created in the absence of measurement at the slits, even when particles are sent through one or the other slit one at a time, and ending with the ‘collapse of the wave function’ when a measuring device can determine which slit the particle passed through. Disturbance by measurement (one of the ‘explanations’ for uncertainty) is insufficient to explain collapse, since collapse happens even if there is a measuring device at only one slit, say A, and the particle goes through B. Though the particle has not been observed to go through B, and so in the classical sense has not been disturbed, it behaves exactly as if it had been observed – and “disturbed” – directly. There are various physical interpretations for this, but none fits our classical notions of physicality, save, perhaps, the many worlds interpretation, which says that you see a particular result classically in a classical universe because there are separate universes, mutually-inaccessible, for all possible results. A less extravagant interpretation is that the particle, the two slits, the measuring device, the screen, and the observer are all in an entangled state, and the system must be seen holistically, i.e. what we think of as a particle is really an element in a larger information space where how we observe the particle to behave depends on how much information is made available to the system. If the particle is known not to go through A, then the entropy (lack of knowledge) of the system is reduced, and the observed behavior of the particle reflects this by the reduction (“collapse”) of the wave of possibilities to one outcome. The word “interpretation” is used advisedly rather than “explanation”. Nobody as yet understands how this can be.

      So entanglement is not just a special case for specially prepared particles, but is at the very heart of quantum mechanics. My advice to anyone interested in the subject is to study it. There are free courses on the internet for non-physicists (though not math-free) where one can get at least a working understanding.

    8. I agree that measurement requires analysis of many factors to eliminate the measurer, but the problem might be deeper than ensuring your instruments perform to expectations that can be reasonably interpreted. I suspect that our expectations are currently too low and our interpretations too incomplete. Unreasonable conclusions such as events with non-causal connections that are somehow connected might require ideas that have not been thought of, due to our observational limitations. It is an interim position that might require more humility in admitting limitations rather than concluding that magic is at work.

      The subject can be dealt with conceptually without math, although advancing current theory might require advanced math. Your explanation is clear enough about what we currently know about photons through slits, but its what we don't know that might be more important to create a reasonable framework - not a task I would welcome.

      However, I have problem with the conceptual framework used by science anyway. As explained in my earlier post, there is an absolute restriction on measuring position and motion simultaneously (the duration and length of a wave function is a close to pinning them together as we can get). The fact that science expects to be able to do so, dents my faith considerably about what science thinks its doing. It can measure, but it can't seem to understand the limitations of measurement itself. Fluctuations involving energy from existing sources might easily arise - indeed all particle interactions would be affected by a lack of simultaneity in measurement - so many causal fluctuations could 'appear' to involve creation ex nihilo.

      I wouldn't be too keen on accepting conclusions such as 'non-causally entangled particles' as currently explained, given that physicists haven't even come to grips with the absolute frame limitation of measuring position & motion at the exact same time (and not as a smear). Then I read about physicists like Krauss taking uncertainty and extending it to a creation ex nihilo in nothing (not even a void) and I wonder at the investment of time involved. I pass, but I will continue to pass on my comments until physics is as sensible as the regular world be see around us.

  14. As I explained, non-locality is not the result of observation or its limits, nor is it “magic”. It is, rather, a fundamental property of nature. If there exists a reality independent of our perception of it, then it is non-local. One may deny the predicate of the previous sentence, and posit instead some variety of idealism or even solipsism. In that case “magic” might indeed be an appropriate description.

    The problem of proving Bell’s theorem because of relativistic frames of reference is known, and much ingenuity is going into finding ways to overcome the problem, with real progress.

    You’re right about humility. Very little is ever final in science. But non-locality is well-established and universally accepted by physicists. There are metaphysical claims made by physicists that go too far, Krauss and Hawking come to mind, but much superb theoretical and empirical work is being done, despite the enormously difficult challenges. Notwithstanding the occasional glitch, physics remains a model of how science should be conducted.


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