Sunday, October 4, 2015

Quantum Weirdness and Nonsense

The strange world of quantum mechanics seems to have a natural appeal to irrational and foolish people like Postmodernists and others who deny objective empirical truth or the laws of thought.

In arguments with such people when you defend the reality of real objective empirical truths, you will frequently find such people immediately appealing to various weird phenomena in quantum mechanics to defend themselves. “Doesn’t quantum mechanics prove that there is no objective truth?,” they might say.

The use (or, rather, abuse) of quantum theory in this manner is deeply mistaken and fallacious, however, for the simple reason that what is true for, and actually does happen in, the infinitesimally small world of quantum mechanics need not be true at all for large objects in the macroscopic world in which human beings live. Let us take one example: abuse of quantum mechanics in attempts to dismiss the laws of logic.

For example, in the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment, a cat is imagined as being both alive and dead simultaneously, because it is imagined as being in a state of quantum superposition.

Now, if it were true that a cat could naturally be in such a state, wouldn’t this disprove the Law of Noncontradiction, the law of logic that one cannot assert as true at the same time (1) a proposition p and (2) its negation (¬p) (or, that is to say, one cannot assert p ∧ ¬p without fatal self-contradiction)?

The answer to this lies in asking: how realistic is the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment? Actually, there is no rational reason to think large macroscopic objects like cats could ever naturally be in a state of quantum superposition at all: the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment is abstract, unrealistic and not possible in nature (Newton 2000: 166).

To cite some recent research here, some physicists have found evidence that time dilation effects caused by gravity cause the natural collapse of quantum superpositions in objects the size of molecules and larger objects, and that on a system like the Earth (with a given gravity), even with current technology, the size limit for an object in a state of quantum superposition is about a millimetre (which actually seems to be surprisingly large!). Of course, scientists might use better technology to overcome this natural limit in experiments and so create larger objects in a state of quantum superposition, but this is obviously a highly artificial activity that does not – as far as we know – happen in nature.

So the point is: whatever weirdness that happens at quantum scales in nature stays there and does not naturally intrude into our macroscopic world, so that it does not invalidate or refute the laws of logic as applied to the natural macroscopic world. Nor does it refute the arguments for real objective truth or the laws of logic when the latter are carefully restricted to the correct domain in which they operate: the natural macroscopic world of human life and large objects in it.

Gerry, Christopher C. and Kimberley M. Bruno. 2013. The Quantum Divide: Why Schrödinger’s Cat is either Dead or Alive. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Newton, Roger G. 2000. Thinking about Physics. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.

Pikovski, Igor, Zych, Magdalena, Costa, Fabio and Časlav Brukner . 2015. “Universal Decoherence due to Gravitational Time Dilation,” Nature Physics

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Posts on 19th Century Economic History (Updated)

Below are updated links to various posts on 19th century economic history, in the US, the UK, Australia and Japan, as well posts analysing the deflation of 1873 to 1896.

(1) General
“The Gold Standard did not Prevent Price Inflation,” October 26, 2012.

“The Classical Gold Standard Era was a Myth,” March 18, 2013.

“The Profit Deflation of the 1890s,” June 13, 2013.

“Alfred Marshall’s Judgement on the ‘Depression’ of 1873–1896,” June 13, 2013.

“S. B. Saul on the Profit Deflation of the 1873–1896 Period,” June 14, 2013.

“The Original Economic Use of the Word ‘Inflation’?,” August 4, 2014.

(2) The US
“Woods on ‘Sound Money’ and Deflation: A Critique,” March 17, 2013.

“19th Century Deflation and Recession in the US,” February 9, 2013.

“US GNP Estimates in the Recession of the 1890s,” January 18, 2011.

“Government Intervention, James J. Hill and the Great Northern Railway,” July 26, 2011.

“US Real GNP Estimates 1869–1879,” December 4, 2011.

“The US Recessions of the 1890s in Balke and Gordon,” December 5, 2011.

“Why was US Unemployment so High in the 1890s?,” December 6, 2011.

“US Real GNP Growth in the 1880s,” December 6, 2011.

“Real US GNP Growth Rates 1870–1900 in Balke and Gordon,” December 6, 2011.

“Real US GNP Growth Rates 1870–1900 in Romer,” December 6, 2011.

“Real GDP and GDP per capita, 1870–1913, Selected Nations,” December 7, 2011.

“Real US GNP Growth Rates 1870–1913 in Balke and Gordon,” December 8, 2011.

“Real US GNP Growth Rates 1870–1913 in Romer,” December 9, 2011.

“US Unemployment in the 1890s,” January 24, 2012.

“US Unemployment, 1869–1899,” January 26, 2012.

“Real US GNP Growth Rates, 1873–1896,” February 26, 2012.

“Thomas E. Woods on Keynesian Predictions vs. American History: A Critique,” May 29, 2012.

“Davis on US Recessions in the 19th Century,” August 25, 2012.

“Reply to ‘Unemployment, Deflation and Growth During the Period of 1873–1896,’” September 6, 2012.

“Per Capita GDP Growth Rates During the Gold Standard Era,” September 11, 2012.

“US Real Per Capita GDP from 1870–2001,” September 24, 2012.

“Rothbard on the US Economy in the 1870s: A Critique,” September 24, 2012.

“US Unemployment Graph, 1869–1899,” February 27, 2013.

“US Unemployment in the 1890s Again,” February 20, 2014.

“US Unemployment in the 1890s: Who is Right?,” December 30, 2013.

“US Industrial Production in the 1890s,” January 2, 2014.

“Were Nominal Wages Flexible in 1890s and Early 1900s America?,” January 31, 2014.

“Weir on Historical Estimates of US Unemployment,” February 9, 2014.

“A US Wholesale Price Index 1860–1914,” June 3, 2014.

“Protectionism and US Economic History,” June 8, 2014.

“US Industrial Production Index 1800–1914,” June 9, 2014.

“US Bank Suspensions 1864–1970,” January 8, 2015.

“Real US GDP 1870–2001,” January 13, 2015.

“Huerta de Soto gets it Wrong on the Gold Standard,” December 20, 2014.

(3) The Deflation of 1873 to 1896
“Libertarian Gold Standard Myths Never Die,” January 13, 2015.

“Neoclassical and Quantity Theory Explanations of the 1873–1896 Deflation,” January 7, 2015.

“More Evidence on the Profit Squeeze of 1873–1896,” January 5, 2015.

“UK Gross Domestic Fixed Capital Formation in the 1873 to 1896 Deflation,” December 18, 2014.

“Nominal Wage Rigidity in the US and the UK 1865/1880–1913,” December 16, 2014.

“Armitage-Smith on the Profit Deflation of the 1873–1896 Era,” December 15, 2014.

“UK Average Money Earnings 1880–1913,” December 14, 2014.

“UK Real Per Capita GDP 1830–1913,” December 13, 2014.

“British Money Wages in the 1873–1896 Deflation,” December 10, 2014.

“Saul’s The Myth of the Great Depression, 1873–1896,” December 8, 2014

“Alfred Marshall on the Deflation of 1873–1896,” October 14, 2014.

“UK Real GDP 1830–1918,” October 8, 2012.

“Robert Giffen on the Deflation of 1873–1896,” December 7, 2014.

“Alfred Marshall on Business Confidence,” December 3, 2014.

“Alfred Marshall on Wage Stickiness and Debt Deflation,” November 30, 2014.

“The Profit Deflation of the 1890s,” June 13, 2013.

“Alfred Marshall’s Judgement on the ‘Depression’ of 1873–1896,” June 13, 2013.

“S. B. Saul on the Profit Deflation of the 1873–1896 Period,” June 14, 2013.

(4) The UK
“The Early British Industrial Revolution and Infant Industry Protectionism: The Case of Cotton Textiles,” June 22, 2010.

“UK Real GDP 1830–1918,” October 8, 2012.

“UK Unemployment, 1870–1999,” February 25, 2013.

(5) Australia
“The Australian Business Cycle in the 19th Century,” June 1, 2011.

“Free Banking in Australia,” May 16, 2012.

“A Tale of Two Depressions: 1930s and 1890s Australia,” May 18, 2012.

(6) Japan
“Industrial Policy in Meiji Japan,” April 14, 2012.