Interpretations of
Quantum Mechanics
Implications of
Quantum Mechanics

20. The Particle Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.

The particle interpretation of quantum mechanics is not valid because there is no evidence for particles, because there is no valid theory of particles underlying quantum mechanics, and because it cannot properly account for perception of a particular version.

The particle interpretation of quantum mechanics, with no collapse, says that particles ride along on one version of the wave function and that is the perceived version of reality. We have shown in No Evidence for Particles that there is no experimental evidence for particles and that in itself is enough to discredit the particle interpretation.

Particles cannot account for conscious perception. However, there is another problem with the particle interpretation; it does not seem to accomplish its intended goal of singling out one version for (conscious) perception. To see this, suppose we examine a Stern-Gerlach experiment on a single silver atom in some detail. There are detectors on both branches of the wave function which read 0 if no particle is detected and 1 if a particle is detected. We will label the spin states by plus and minus 1. After the two parts of the silver atom wave function separate and the atom is detected, the state is
Now suppose we assume there are particles and ‘the particle’ rides along on the +1 version. We designate the particled states by a subscript pa so the state is
That is, the particled version of the brain is conscious but the non-particled version is not conscious.

Now the two versions of the brain have wave functions that are independent of whether or not they are associated with particles. (Saying particles affect low-energy situations is experimentally untenable.) So in (20-2), the conscious and the not conscious versions of the brain are equally valid quantum states. The question, then, is: How does one justify the statement that the non-particled version of the brain is not conscious?

There is certainly nothing in the theory (the mathematics) about conscious or not conscious. And one cannot simply say “Well, that’s just the way Nature works” because, in this ‘being-less’ particle scheme, there is no arbiter, no outside intelligence that could make the choice between particled and not-particled quantum versions. Further there is nothing that is aware of only particles or their state (and the particles themselves are not assumed to be aware; see Panpsychism). And in fact there is not even a current understanding of what conscious awareness is to base one’s argument on.

So my conclusion is that even if we assume (without justification) that particles exist, that still doesn’t say why only the particled version is conscious. The same argument is relevant to the discussion of Hidden Variable theories. We make this into a principle:
[P20]* It appears to be very difficult, and probably impossible, to explain in any non-collapse hidden variable model why the quantum versions of the brain not associated with the hidden variables cannot be consciously aware.
with this principle being slightly less certain than the others, hence the asterisk.

understanding quantum mechanics
understanding quantum mechanics by casey blood
understanding quantum mechanics by casey blood