Henry Stapp

Henry Stapp’s words quoted by Brian Josephson, were one of the first occasions I was turned on to considering that (eastern) mysticism might have something real to add to science. Both serious physicists, the latter a Nobel prizewinner, both interestingly, present at the 2003 Science of Consciousness event in Tucson. At the time (noted in 2005 paper) it was a real “does not compute” (*) moment for me, that set the tone for a whole decade of open-minded gathering of unlikely sources here on psybertron.

Quantum non-locality & collapse effects were very fashionable, not least with Stuart Hameroff director of the Tucson Centre for Consciousness studies and co-founder of the event, and co-founder with Roger Penrose of the tubules and quantum coherence “Orch-OR” theories of mind. At that point I seem to have left Stapp behind – I found the Penrose-Hameroff stuff too literal, too “physical” a model of the possibility suggested. (For those of us who hold a monism underlying both physical and mental, we need to be careful not to preference one over the other.)

Anyway, long story short, at last month’s Tucson event Sue Blackmore ended up in a debate with Deepak Chopra in the War of the Worldviews. Comments on Sue’s blogs including Ten Zen and the Guardian “Comment is Free” (it never is) almost universally panned Chopra as a charlatan, a con man, a “snake oil salesman” for his mystical agenda – inflamed by his wealth-making activities. One particular commenter on Ten Zen, amidst a string of incoherent rants against Sue – against accepted scientific views – mentioned Stapp. So I looked him up. He has a new 2011 edition of his recent 2007 “Mindful Universe – Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer”.

We have a recurring problem, a Catch-22 I’ve called it before. It’s a language and communication problem. If you have a problem with science, it’s very hard to talk about it without being scientific, and using the common sense science language of subjects and objects – of course if it’s not scientific, your talking pseudoscience. Mysticism is not “paranormal”, it’s just not necessarily science as we know it. All talk becomes mumbo-jumbo. Catch-22.

When I linked to Carlo Rovelli here, it was because we have a scientist who seems to have spotted where the fault lies. With a metaphysics underlying science, that is invisible to science as we know it; as engrained in our common folk-science psyches.

(*) Ironic that I should use this “compute” expression, because I’ve since formed the view that the underlying monism is probably information – significance difference and dynamic processing of relations. Ooh look – quantum computing.

[Post Note : Also ironic that after posting that, I find Stapp correspondence suggesting Rovelli was going in the wrong direction.
http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/RovelliRel.txt ]

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