Reply To: God knows where all the particles are!


I just wanted to highlight two ironies that I found in catching up with this thread.

1. Re: the “surreal trajectories”, I find it somewhat amusing that people who basically think it’s impossible to say anything coherent about what’s really going on physically at the microscale, are nevertheless quite certain that (in certain cases) what BM says is going on is clearly wrong. By what standard, exactly, is it being decided that what BM says in these cases can’t be right? I’m happy to agree with Dustin and others that the story is somewhat surprising or unexpected based on some naive classical intuition or whatever. But isn’t it completely obvious to everybody that there are more options open to us than just (1) our naive classical intuition turns out to be exactly right in every detail, and (2) we have to completely give up and say nothing about physical reality at the microscale? BM provides a clear picture/story of what happens, which is occasionally surprising or counter-intuitive in its details, but which nevertheless gives exactly the right statistical predictions for things that are directly observable. I don’t claim to know whether BM is right or not, but I think it’s a near-certainty that whatever turns out to be right will have this exact character (rather than (1) or (2) above).

2. Re: Reinhard’s criticism of Bohmian mechanics and/or Bohmians for using assumptions / approximations / hand-waving, when analyzing measurement and the emergence of macroscopic behavior, I guess (as Dustin already said) there is some truth there and maybe the Bohmians should accept it as a good challenge that our position would be stronger if we could make these sorts of analyses more rigorous. OK. But still, come on. However hand-wavy and approximate and unrigorous one thinks the (extant) Bohmian analysis of measurement is, isn’t it 100% crystal clear that the orthodox/operationalist treatment favored (e.g.) by Reinhard — in which literally new ad hoc rules are just made up out of whole cloth and postulated on no grounds whatever except that they seem to be needed because the basic micro-dynamical axioms started to output nonsense — is far far worse? The truth is that Bohm’s theory provides a theory in which it seems possible in principle to give a rigorous *analysis* of measurement. That is, compared to orthodox/operationalist perspectives, an incredible advance and achievement, and I think it is quite hypocritical for anybody who endorses the orthodox/operationalist perspective (which is just obviously much much worse in *exactly* this same respect) to criticize BM for the allegedly approximate/hand-wavy character of its analysis.

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