On Feb 23, 6:08 pm, "rmiller" <rmil...@legis.com> wrote:

>> Huw Price suggests that our view of causality is strongly influenced
>> by the way we're embedded / oriented in space-time. He points out in
>> "Time's Arrow and Archimedes' Point" that the laws of physics are
>> almost entirely time-symmetric, with the result that (for example) you
>> can't tell which way up a Feynman diagram is - either time-orientation
>> is equally valid.
> Perhaps, but it seems to me that thermodynamics and entropy are the critical
> factors.

Needless to say, Price devotes a lot of space to these topics. The
crucial point about the 2nd law (2L) is that it is based on time-
symmetric molecular collisions (these were considered time symmetric
at the time the 2L was forumated, using Newtonian mechanics, but can
be equally well seen as time-symmetric if you map the paths of the
quarks etc with, for example, Feynman diagrams). There was quite a bit
of argument at the time about how Boltzmann obtained a time-asymmetric
result using time-symmetric laws, and the place this was "smuggled in"
was eventually found to be the assumption that the velocities of
molecules were uncorrelated prior to collision, but were correlated
afterwards. But if we are assuming that collision are time symmetric,
this is a false assumption - there is no more a priori reason to
assume the velocities were correlated after a collision than that they
were before it. Hence, the 2L assumes the very time assymmetyr that it
purports to show, and in reality only pushes the problem back to why
molecular velocities are correlated in one time direction, but not the
other one - and that can be traced back, through the intervening
processes, to the Big Bang, or at least very close to it.

> If we accept what the laws of physics appear to say,
> that nature is for the most part indifferent to the direction of time,
> this implies that quite a few things are a lot less strange than we
> think. Delayed-choice and ERP experiments become trivial to explain,
> for example, once we stop thinking of the particles involved as
> similar to macroscopic objects with a clear arrow of time, and assume
> their state is equally constrained by past and future boundary
> conditions (e.g. the emitter and detector). This view is similar to
> Cramer's Transactional Interpretation and Wheeler-Feynman Absorber
> Theory, but makes them both look unnecessarily complicated, since it
> doesn't require any new physics, it merely suggests we take the
> existing physics at face value (as Hugh Everett III once did, with
> similarly interesting results).
> Agree in part. It seems as though the same processes that result in the
> "laws" of thermodynamics/entropy may operate similarly across MW.

Time-symmetry does appear to make a lot of "quantum weirdness" as less
weird. To take the ERP experiment, there is no need to assume any
action at a distance or FTL effects if we allow the state of the
measuring apparatus to contribute to the state of the emitter. (Also,
if we aren't going to accept time symmetry, there is an explanatory
burden as to why the apparent time-symmetry isn't real.)

> Price's view allows us to focus on the real mystery of time, which is
> not why it appears to "flow" in one "direction", but why the region of
> space-time near the Big Bang was in a state of very low entropy. I
> have a suspicion that the answer is something to do with the shape of
> space-time (but I haven't yet been able to get my head around how this
> connects with breaking eggs and melting ice...) Admittedly that only
> pushes the "why" back a step but that is still progress: rather than
> attempting to explain a non-existent preference for one time direction
> that we thought was embedded somehow in the laws of physics, we now
> need to explain why the universe has a particular boundary condition.
> (Possibly Tegmark's MUH comes in here?)
> Max Tegmark is one of the big names in this--for good reason. But the guys
> who may have first opened the hatch were Univ. of Ariz astronomer Bill Tifft
> <<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_G._Tifft>> who discovered evidence
> for redshift quantization, and Helsinki physicist Ari Lehto who first
> proposed the concept of 3D time. I think we'll look back on their work as
> seminal and as far-reaching as the Hunter College guy who (in 1972) first
> proposed that Big Bang started from a vacuum fluctuation zero event.

Thanks, that sounds like some fascinating stuff which I will look into
as soon as I have time!

> Helmut Schmidt's experiments appear to (purportedly) involve
> psychokinesis; I have a feeling that I've read various attempts to
> debunk these claims in the "Skeptical Enquirer" but unfortunately my
> subscription lapsed some years ago, and I can't recall the details.
> Schmidt took a lot of heat for his tendency to frame the experiment in the
> worst possible terms. But unlike many others, his experiments can--and
> have-- been replicated. Problem is, no one is sure what it means to
> influence the outcome of an experiment after the fact.

In some cases, certainly (as mentioned, in ERP it probably means we
aren't taking full account of the time-symmetry of the laws of

>  It does sound like an extraordinary claim that requires extraordinary
> evidence to back it up. The website I looked at was a mass of
> statistics that I didn't really follow, unfortunately.
> My own rules of thumb:
> 1. Follow Fischer: if it's p<0.05 (chance of random is 1 in 20) then it's
> good. And.
> 2. Avoid meta-analysis.    
> > As for the role of consciousness in all of this, I believe some answers
> have
> > already been found-back in 1978 when Stanford Clinical Psychologist Ernest
> > R. Hilgard discovered the Hidden Observer phenomenon.  Seems there's an
> > "executive function" in each of us that comes to the fore only under
> > extremely deep (60+) hypnosis.  His book on the subject, "Divided
> > Consciousness" is fascinating reading.  Someone familiar with Many Worlds
> > theory will come away with the impression that there evolved as a
> mechanism
> > to keep track of the local many-world space we inhabit.
> This is a facinating idea, although Hidden Observer theory is still
> contraversial (since the experiments involved deep hypnosis,
> presumably the results may have been the result of suggestion by the
> experimenters?).
> There's always that possibility, but much of this apparently has been
> double-blinded.

Ah, good.

> If you can find a Finnish translator, I suggest you look into the work by
> the (rather obscure) psychologist Reima Kamppman. He pursued the Hidden
> Observer with a vengeance, and came up with some weird and impressive
> results.  Unfortunately, it's in only in Finnish.
>  Apparently the Stoic philosopher Epictetus believed
> that the hidden observer (or "Daemon") had foreknowledge of the
> person's fate, an idea which if true would fit in well with
> retrocausality (but tend to discredit the MWI, since the latter states
> that the person has many fates!)
> Good point, but among the many fates there is always the optimal path.
> Perhaps evolution resulted in a mechanism able to visualize all of the
> possible (MW) paths and choose the most advantageous one? There's certainly
> enough evidence to suggest that in moments of crisis, some of us are
> afforded advice from an "elevated" perspective. Maybe what some describe as
> "guardian angels" are merely our hidden observers, directing us in a path
> through the multiworlds?  Unfortunately, given the walls between physics,
> philosophy and psychology--it's unlikely that we're going to see any
> unifying theories any time soon.

This is something I'd really like to believe! (I'm trying to write a
story which is based on this sort of premise, as it happens :-) A
colleague of mine in a previous job believed he'd had experiences that
illustrated this principle, and he certainly sounded convincing,
although only anecdotal of course. I certainly think we still have a
lot to learn about the mind and consciousness (always assuming it's
possible to do so).


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