I just read a New York Times article called Far Out Man, But Is It Quantum Physics? about the movie "What the Bleep", and more broadly about the many books out there that based on a bit of half-baked physics make rash and far-fetched conclusions about the nature of reality. The writer characterizes this tendency as "purporting to argue...that reality is just a mental construct that we can rearrange and improve, if we are enlightened or determined enough." In contrast, he offers real science, i.e., the atomism of Democritus, which if memory serves came down the pike a little before quantum physics, but never mind. The point is that real physicists never indulge in metaphysical speculation (Ken Wilber somehow filled a book full full of these speculations by Einstein, Schroedinger, Born, and others in Quantum Questions). Thank you, New York Times, for once again setting us straight. "I would have the courage to see the world clearly, in all its cruelty and beauty," says the writer: in other words, without the crutch of mysticism that makes us believe there is some free will in the universe and that our consciousness can affect such things as the way the atoms randomly crash into each other and thereby create our world and everything in it.
The mystery of subjectivity, then, is conveniently consigned to being an epiphenomenon of materiality. Consciousness itself is just a product of blind, random physical processes. We never seem to be able to get beyond that level of discussion in the popular media. Reality is blind chance: deal with it, says NYT. Thank you, scions of the real, for illuminating this truth for us, but I prefer my comforting illusion that consciousness is a player. Because if I believed everything you and Judy Miller said, there would actually be weapons of mass destruction and those quantum fluctuations going on in a place called Iraq would actually have a bleeping point.