At my request, Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll gave me his take on Robert Lanza’s theory of biocentrism that I discussed this morning. Here’s what Sean emailed me (quoted with permission):
Like Chopra, Lanza mixes (1) completely legitimate (but strange sounding) statements about quantum mechanics, (2) tendentious interpretations of what quantum mechanics says that are defensible only because they are so vague, and (3) outright craziness. Quantum effects aren’t usually perceptible on the macro level, but of course they can be; that was the upshot of the blog post I wrote (which I think you linked to on your blog [JAC: he means “website”]. So that part is legitimate.
Things like “these waves of probability are not waves of material” are somewhat reminiscent of the truth—but sufficiently nebulous that they allow him to say things like “outside of that idea, the wave is not there” and “nothing is real unless it’s perceived,” which are just nonsense. The real problem with the Chopra/Lanza attempt to put “life” at the center of how we understand quantum mechanics is that no definition of “life” is ever offered. In physics, our theories map formal mathematical structures onto observable reality. The quantum state is a vector in Hilbert space, a well-defined mathematical object. It evolves according to the Schrödinger equation, a well-defined differential equation. What is “life,” or “consciousness,” from this perspective? What mathematical space is it an element of? What equations tell us how it evolves? These “theories” are hard to attack because there’s no there there, all you have are some fuzzy words and fast talk.
I stand corrected on the possibility of quantum effects on the macro level. But that still doesn’t tell us that the breadbox disappears when we leave the room.