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Dualism, Causal Loops in Time, and the Quantum Observer Theory of Paraphysical Phenomena

Evan Harris Walker

Walker Cancer Research Institute, Inc.


Since this writer first proposed the Quantum Observer Theory (QOT) of paraphysical phenomena, PA philosophers have voiced objections over dualism and the "causal loop" problem. Hoyt Edge in his "Dualism and the Self: A Cross-Cultural Perspective" takes John Beloff to task for his espousal of Dualism. Beloff defends dualism, holds that paranormal phenomena prove the reality of dualism, and attacks the QOT as a physicalistic theory intending to explain away parapsychological evidence for dualism. He argues that causal loops show QOT theory to be wrong. In this, Beloff cites Stephen Braude’s work on the causal loop question as his proof. Braude argues against "observer theory" and exposes flaws in some of these OT presentations that have been offered subsequent to the introduction of the QOT.

This paper reviews the narrow scientific position regarding dualism. It covers the common position on dualism within philosophy, that is, why dualism is philosophically impossible and absurd. However, we note that today all of modern science stands on three pillars of physics: Quantum Mechanics, Relativity Theory, and the Standard Model; with these, science describes everything we see and everything that conventional scientific laboratories can test. All this knowledge makes it now possible to give proof that duality (as a characteristic) is necessary and a scientific fact, namely: 1. Consciousness is something real. 2. Physics defines what constitutes physicality. 3. Measurement is the cornerstone of physics; if something is not physically measurable, it is not a part of physical reality. 4. It is not possible to measure consciousness. 5. Thus, the fact that consciousness exists, but is not physically measurable, means the consciousness is real but nonphysical. Thus, Edge’s and Beloff’s concerns are addressed and Beloff’s apprehension shown to be misplaced.

Next Braude’s arguments on causal loops is considered. We support Braude’s position against causal loops. However, Braude’s arguments are incompatible with the established facts of teleologicality in the least action principles of classical, quantum, and relativity theories. Braude mixes causality arguments with formal logic and deviates from the formalism given for QOT.

Finally, we present the proper interpretation of the QOT. Two variants of this are mentioned, as both are instructive. One holds that the events are "forward constrained teleological" events in which the psi observer constrains the future development of the state vector. The other understanding holds that time elements are quantized, of variable length, and have differing information content as perceived. That is to say, a psi event is teleological over a span of time that includes the observers of the system. Moreover, the part of the observers’ consciousness that is involved is generally extremely small. An observer's present moment, therefore, appears as if limited to the few milliseconds of ordinary observation.


Hoyt Edge in his "Dualism and the Self: A cross-cultural Perspective" (2002) takes John Beloff to task for his espousal of Dualism. Neither Edge nor Beloff espouse classic philosophical arguments regarding Dualism. Each, however, harbors strong feeling about the question and hold these feelings to be relevant to the overall problem of parapsychological phenomena. Both seem to feel that the question of dualism has something to say about the Quantum Observer Theory [QOT, a.k.a. Observer Theory (OT)], and that something is a rejection of the QOT on philosophical grounds. Beloff defers to Braude in his arguments against the QOT. Stephen Braude does not take a position on the basis of dualism, but addresses logical problems he finds in the OT presentations. It is my position that Braude’s position is significant, exposing flaws in OTs that have been offered subsequent to the introduction of the QOT. As regards QOT, these arguments fail.

Scientific Position Regarding Dualism

Science had its beginnings as "natural philosophy." Hoyt Edge (1990) gives a good history of this and of the importance of Descartes in breaking out scientific thinking from the heavy hand of the Church—separating the world of the spiritual and divine from the secular, material world, a world where science might have a free hand to dabble. And in the process he created dualism. Science, therefore, defined itself in terms of this strictly physical reality. Questions of some spiritual reality were left to the Church, later to philosophical argument, and finally, with mounting scientific successes, to the status of irrelevance. Now science has little tolerance for anything but a material reality with physicalistic explanations of all phenomena.


The Interest of Science/Physics Regarding the Nature of Reality

Today, all of modern science stands on three pillars of physics: Quantum Mechanics, Relativity Theory, and the Standard Model. With these three, physics describes all that we see, from the earliest discernable moment of the Big Bang, to the vast structure of the entire universe, from the bodies that hold our mind, down to the smallest quarks and leptons that form every bit of matter that exists. Everything we see! Everything that laboratories can test!

As a consequence, most scientists regard any question of another reality beyond the physical reality as absurd. This makes it difficult to discuss the measurement problem, its significance for dualism and relevance to parapsychology, even with physicists. Matter is everything.

The Classic Philosophical Argument against Dualism

The argument is elementary. Mind-like substance and physical substance must derive from a single substance since what we experience comes from our participation in the world. The mind sees the material world. Our minds are a part of our brains. Mind is embedded in matter. It must therefore be a part of the material world. The one acts on the other and this interaction is reciprocal. Thus while consciousness may be a feature of physical matter (or the physical may derive from the ideal or mental substance) they cannot be distinct. QED, seemingly.

The Arguments for Dualism

I give three arguments. To the extent that physics is accepted as the basis for understanding what physical reality means, any one of these, I feel, constitutes a proof of a duality.

1. Duality is already a part of physics in the form of the equations. The classical idea of space, used in the equations to describe matter yet being nothingness itself, is now known to be both incorrect quantitatively and untenable physically. This duality not identical with mind/body dualism, but does severely limit any possibility of a viable monism.

2. Dualism is already a part of physics a la quantum theory:

(a) The Schrödinger equation, HY=EY, has, for any given problem, many solutions, alternate possibilities. But the Schrödinger equation is linear, and so the sum of the solutions is also a solution.

(b) We can prove that the sum has to be the solution and be present before observation.

(c) But the sum is never seen! Only one of the possible solutions is seen. That is what the observation problem is all about.

(d) We know that the Schrödinger equation cannot be replaced with a mathematics that removes this "dispersion of states." This fact makes quantum theory dualistic. This results in a severe physical/non-physical dualism with observation as a contingency.

3. Physical/Consciousness Dualism is provable in 5 steps.

(a) Consciousness exists. It has, whatever it is, a delimitable phenomenology. (It does not exist in the way "Wednesday" exists. It is not a reference to a referent. Consciousness is not another term for neural activity to which one could reasonably claim it to be identical.)

                    (b) Physics defines what is physical. There is no more successful and complete definition of "physical."

(c) What physics defines as being physical is determined by what is physically measurable. (All physically real things in physics have this property. The experience of 20th century physics taught that the detailed aspects and limitations on measurability defined and constrained the detailed physics of all physical phenomena, relativity, quantum theory, statistical mechanics, and particle physics having been outgrowths of measurement limitations.)

(d) Consciousness cannot be measured. It is impossible by physical measurement techniques to answer the question, "Does an ice cube feel pain when it melts?"1

                    (e) Therefore, consciousness exists and it is not physical.

Thus, reality is dualistic. QED. To sweep consciousness under the rug of materialism or of a naturalism (see Edge, below) ignores that there is no way to accomplish this in the scope of a single logic system (e.g., physics).

To conclude this fact is of fundamental importance in understanding consciousness. As a consequence of this proof, we do not seek an understanding of consciousness by looking for the neural network that gives us consciousness, but we look for the fundamental physical-world correlate of consciousness—the interface between physical processes and conscious being (see also Walker, 2001).

Because we have indicated that consciousness is not measurable, it might seem that we have ended any hope of treating the question scientifically. The trick here lies in the fact that we have used "measurement" in the strict sense as it is used in physics. This does not mean that we cannot obtain quite good numbers that characterize this phenomenology (Walker, 1970).

Beloff’s Dualism

Dualism is Beloff’s defining issue. Dualism is his basis for belief in psi—or vise versa. Dualism is his basis for his rejection of QOT. He states (1990),

However, I have come increasingly to the conclusion that the possibility of a physical explanation of psi phenomena is not just doubtful… but … an absurdity that can be ruled out on a priori considerations. … most scientists who reject the parapsychological evidence do so primarily because they see no way of reconciling it with physical theory. However, my position is, in a sense, the reverse of theirs: they assume that what cannot be explained in physical terms does not exist; I believe that since psi phenomena do exist not everything in nature can be explained in physical terms.

Contrary to Beloff, QOT provides an understanding of psi and it is dualistic. Except for his rejection of QOT, Beloff and I are engaged in the same pursuit. The QOT needs and is built on the existence of a duality, it defines that duality, and it shows that a duality is not only possible as a part of an understanding of physical reality, but is essential to the fulfillment of that understanding.

Beloff not only rejects QOT but any explanatory theory. And it is clear that Beloff considers the QOT to be a physical theory. He says (1990):

Having, I hope, made clear what I understand by a physical explanation I would like next to turn to the attempts that have actually been made to explain some instance of ESP or PK… Fortunately, for our purposes, there is no need to survey each of these proposals since they can conveniently be classified into two main categories. These I shall call respectively "communicational theories" and "observational theories."

Thus on dualistic grounds, Beloff opposes QOT. The final argument against the QOT, however, defers to the causal loop problem. He states (1990):

What worries me much more, however, is whether these theories are logically tenable… They imply the existence of a casual loop in time, since observation and feedback must necessarily come after whatever effects are registered and observed. Hence we seem committed in the end to saying that the cause of my scoring above chance in a given test of PK or ESP is the fact that I subsequently observed that I had scored above chance and, equally, of course, the cause of my observing that I had attained such a score was the fact that these events had already taken place!

This causal loop problem is Beloff’s sole legitimate question regarding the QOT. We deal with the causal loop problem below.


Edge’s position on Dualism

Edge holds to what he terms "a naturalist position." (Edge, 1990) He notes that Western dualism is the product of a tact introduced by Descartes to sidestep the oppressive powers of the Catholic Church during the 17th century. By introducing a dualism dividing mind, soul, and the domain of God from the secular world of the brain, body, and natural philosophy, he contrived and achieved an arena in which science and much of philosophy could develop without hindrance. Edge sees much of the monism/dualism problem as being artificial. Evidence of this comes to him from his dealings with non-western cultures he feels do not have this problem with dualism.

This particular aspect of the dualism problem lies outside the present discussion in that it does not represent any direct obstacle to the QOT. Let me comment, however, that the vestiges of the dualism problem are manifest in most cultures in the guise of the particular religious beliefs. While this division is not usually of great concern to the ordinary practicing Buddhist, Hindu, or most other religious layman, the question is nevertheless of as much concern to the priest or intellectual of these societies as it is to such people in western societies, even though the problem is manifest in widely differing forms. That is to say, many in these cultures, such as Buddhists and Hindus hold that the physical world is an illusion. In this, they agree with Berkeley and Hume, thus participating in the same intellectual conflict (often with their own laity) as to what constitutes reality that Descartes initiated. The argument is not absent in these cultures, but has changed power brokers.

Now, Beloff attaches himself to parapsychology in the belief that it proves dualism, surely for the satisfaction that such a reality would warm the cockles of his heart. To have this satisfaction, he feels he must argue against physicalistic explanations of psi phenomena. He correctly argues against the "communication theories" but falsely thinks that QOT is physicalistic. Edge suggests in his argument that Beloff need not worry, that he can taste the fruits of dualism, without having to choke on physicalism. Neither I not Beloff, I feel, would be comforted by the argument.


Braude’s position on Dualism

Braude’s position on dualism is somewhat more opaque than those of Beloff or Edge. Braude (1998) says:

Popular writings (and some philosophical works) on parapsychology often assert that the existence of paranormal phenomena would be evidence against materialist theories of the mental, and… [favor]… dualism... But that claim is somewhat contentious and in need of clarification.

There are at least two major forms of dualism. The first is Cartesian (or substance) dualism, according to which nature consists of two distinct kinds of stuff: mental… and physical… A somewhat weaker form of dualism is a level-of-description dualism, according to which nature may be described by means of either mentalistic or physicalistic vocabularies that are not entirely inter-translatable… that different aspects of nature can be characterized relative to different vocabularies, or at different levels of description... Proponents of these two sorts of position could be thought of as substance-monists but level-of-description dualists. They illustrate how one can hold that mental phenomena generally are not adequately described or explained in physical terms, without claiming that the mind is a distinct kind of substance or thing. One might even say that ‘the mind’ is merely a general term for the class of mental events…

To me, this is parsing2 philosophical terminology, losing relevance in the bargain. Braude's depiction suggests he holds no compelling conviction that would drive him to take any particular stand on QOT. The arguments against dualism held by the philosophical community and the apparent compelling nature of these arguments, I feel, drive Braude to hold to the weaker form of a dualism, and it is in this that I feel Braude sees a need for something other than what is generally considered to be a physicalistic explanation of psi phenomena.


Quantum Observer Theory—Beloff’s position

Beloff says (1990):

Some philosophers today would deny that physics occupies any privileged position in our understanding of nature, insisting that such a view is no more than a reductionist fallacy. … Psi phenomena are problematic precisely because they involve events in the real world and thus become candidates for a physical explanation, yet at the same time they are critically bound up with certain states of mind. Thus they cross the dividing line between objectivity and subjectivity… Classical physics … took great pains to eliminate the observer … Modern physics, however, taking its stand on quantum theory, contrives to bring the observer into an intimate relationship with the objects of observation. It is this that has led many contemporary parapsychologists to try again to reconcile psi and physics in a way that was not open to those operating within the classical framework
Comment: The success in understanding reality achieved by physics far outstrips the achievements of any philosopher. This observation is not pejorative. The finest carpenter in the world could not build a Boeing 747 alone. The statement merely acknowledges the vast collective accomplishments of the theoretical and experimental scientists who have put together this picture as to what "physical" means. It stands up to an enormous number of objective tests—quite literally millions. To say that it is a "reductionist fallacy" fails to be constructive or to suggest any approach that would add to our present understanding. It is not substantiated by objective, physical evidence, certainly not of the same caliber or extent that supports the scientific claim. Physics has demonstrated an extreme level of persuasiveness in its ability to prove as fact things that would otherwise have been unimaginable. Quantum mechanics is described by some as the philosophy that would never have been dreamed of. No single individual has any hope of dismissing the teachings of physics and concluding a replacement philosophy that will outstrip what physics accomplishes in the form of two short equations and one brief list of particles.
Quantum mechanics did not, as Beloff says, "contrive" to bring the observer into an intimate relationship with the objects of observation. Quantum mechanics was carried kicking and screaming into this position. The "measurement problem" exists because physicists wish to find some way out. This fact attests to the power of physics that this forced inclusion of consciousness/observer is a by-product of Quantum mechanics, whether one likes it or not!

Beloff also says (1990):

… we seem committed in the end to saying that the cause of my scoring above chance in a given test of PK or ESP is the fact that I subsequently observed that I had scored above chance and, equally, of course, the cause of my observing that I had attained such a score was the fact that these events had already taken place! Cause and effect here chase each other in a temporal loop rather like a dog chasing its own tail. Now I have, in the past, defended the idea that there is nothing logically vicious in the idea of backward causation (Beloff 1977), but I am not at all sure that I would be prepared to defend the logical propriety of a causal loop. There must, one feels, be a more convincing answer to the question why a given subject guesses correctly on a given trial than the mere fact that he was subsequently found to have guessed correctly!

Beloff’s prejudice against the QOT derives from his leanings toward dualism and justified by noting the causal loop problem. As to the charge that QOT is "rather like a dog chasing its own tail," the short answer is that this is instead a teleological phenomenology. I remind Beloff that physics is already teleological. A detailed discussion of this is given below.


The Edge on QOT

Edge gives the following statement (Edge, 2003):

Now for the quotable part: I've never been convinced that the notion of observation gives us a robust enough concept of consciousness to get us very far (and certainly not into dualism). My understanding is that measurement by a machine can "collapse the state vector," so "observation" should not contain all of the traditional notions attributed to conscious observation, and hence should not imply conscious activity in any robust sense. "Observation" is too broad in OT to give us a traditional, robust consciousness.

The concept of the observer in OT, indeed, does not give a robust concept of consciousness. This is the reason that it is essential to have the quantum consciousness theory (QCT), the original form of this theory, the one that I proposed. There we have the quantum tie-in to the brain; how much of the brain, what parts, and what mechanisms of the brain are involved; why it is local to the brain, the mechanism of will caused state vector collapse, its tie-in with the brain and consciousness, both phenomenologically and quantitatively, and why it is non-local. This together with the QOT and the machinery of quantum mechanics sets realistic bounds on the mechanism.

Edge’s statement brings up three questions that we restate and answer as follows:

1. Why not just accept that "measurement by a machine can collapse the state vector"? The brief answer is that the machine can also be included in the Schrödinger equation solution. When this is done, the same measurement problem is still present. Something other than physical interactions must be introduced to stop the Schrödinger equation’s propensity for ever expanding the number of states.

2. Therefore, we must introduce something that lies outside of the ordinary physical world. That is the reason that we must have a duality. That is the answer to Hoyt Edge’s second question: "Where does any dualism come in?" The Schrödinger equation, because it is constructed out of mathematically "complex" quantities, quantities consisting of both real and imaginary numbers, is already dualistic in the full sense that philosophers have used that concept. These states of the state vector consist of components that lie outside the "real" plane, outside ordinary physical reality. They have this property not only as mathematical instruments used for calculations, but as representations of an overall reality in which physical reality is but a part.

3. What is the tie-in among: observation, consciousness, and traditional notions of conscious observation?

Without a theory of consciousness that embraces the known characteristics of consciousness and accounts for these characteristics, an answer is impossible. There is no theory of consciousness that has been proposed that even attempts to do this other than the quantum consciousness theory (QCT) that I have proposed (see Walker, 2000).

This quantum consciousness theory associates consciousness with an ongoing continuum of quantum mechanical interactions in the brain that serve as the interface between consciousness and physical phenomenology.3 At any moment of this consciousness, this quantum interaction couples a subset of the brain’s synapses. The specific interaction envisioned takes place by means of quantum mechanical tunneling that produces successive "state vectors" (or wave functions) followed, alternately, by successive individual states describing specific synaptic firing events. The quantum states are the basis for consciousness, the particular configurations of the synaptic firing potentialities provide the content of the consciousness.4

Quantum theory tells us that this quantum coupling is a local process. That is why we are conscious of what is going on in the brain. These states are defined by the conditions of the brain. The number of synapses that are so coupled provides a measure of how much information is carried. This information data rate C≈5´ 108 bits/sec.

Quantum theory is mute as to what causes specific synaptic firings to occur out of these quantum possibilities. The cause cannot be physical in the conventional sense. Quantum theory itself fails to give any mechanism describing what causes a specific state of the state vector to occur. Specific synaptic firings, however, do occur. Quantum mechanics tells us how to compute the probabilities, and it tells us that these probabilities are not classical probabilities that arise from an ignorance of an actual real single state. Quantum theory insists that the state vector before measurement is the complete physical description of the system. The cause of specific synaptic firings, therefore, cannot be physical in any conventional sense.

One state will occur. Because this state selection happens in association with consciousness, has a range of potentialities that could happen, and that one specific "course of mental action"5 does happen as a result of the state vector collapse, this cause (the nonphysical thing that causes the state selection) satisfies the requirements of a philosophical definition of "will."6 Will causes the collapse. Details as to how this state selection can be triggered and as to its structure are given elsewhere by Walker (1988).

Now, we know how to calculate the Shannon information measure involved in the state vector going from the potential for any one of the collection of synapses firing to one specific synapse firing. The amount of information associated with this will is W» 6´ 104 bits/sec as an ongoing process.

Whereas quantum theory is mute as to what causes specific events to occur, it is not silent about what is to be included in this process. Everything is included. State vector collapse is non-local, and for that reason and the requirements of relativity theory, atemporal. That means that the will is non-local and atemporal.

How does it fit in with the Hoyt Edge question? Observation in quantum theory involves state vector collapse in specific system configurations. In the case of the observation, state vector collapse is tied to the will that is one part of the mind, the other being the local consciousness. These two are intertwined.

Now, what of those traditional notions of conscious observation? After we have observed in the quantum mechani-cal sense,7 we then will experience consciously what we have willed quantum mechanically. What we will in the conscious mind, however, is not necessarily the same as what happens quantum mechanically. We may desire something consciously, but it is our quantum will that brings it into being, or fails to. That W » 6´ 104 bits/sec can do a lot. Nevertheless, W is balled up with the consciousness C» 5´ 107 bits/sec (Walker, 2000) part doing the wishing, and it alone cannot deliver.


Braude Lops at Loops

"A motley progeny, the latest of which is really a multiple birth… called the observational theories." That is Braude’s (1979, pg. 349) charge.

I would have to agree. There has been some effort by people to separate quantum theory from QOT. Doing so severs the theory from its scientific foundation and logic. Schmidt offered one version that is just that the observer biases probabilities. In this, he reproduces the "biased probabilities" theory of T. N. Gridgeman (1959). Both Millar and Schmidt attempt to create a causal flow explanation for the OT concept. Braude shows it does not work. Only in the case of the theory founded in quantum theory itself do we find the logic and physical phenomenology we need. Since quantum mechanics has been adequately proved to be correct; parapsychology is not in the position to do anything but accommodate to that reality. It is this approach that carries us to a correct view.

Braude makes this odd statement (1988, pg. 275): "The OTs were developed to analyze the results of a particular set of experimental situations originally conceived by Schmidt." Braude’s statement is entirely fictitious. The experiment carried out by Schmidt was a replication of an experiment originally envisioned and conducted by Bierman and Houtkooper (1975) to test a prediction by this author based on the QOT.8 The QOT was developed to explain the results of the extensive experimental findings originally conducted by J. B. Rhine and his associates (following work of Charles Richet (see 1923)).

Braude (1979, pg. 349) continues with the charge that the theory is "nonsensical and lacking in explanatory power." I love it when philosophers say a working scientific theory does not have explanatory power. It reminds me of the argument between Isaac Newton and his famous detractor Robert Hooke that his theory did not have explanatory power. Newton did not explain how one body produced the gravitational effect on another distant body through the intervening vacuum. How can there be a pull of one body or the other when there is nothing in between? And indeed as Isaac Newton was the first to acknowledge, the theory did not explain this. Newton’s theory described this reality. We have learned that scientific theory is not required to explain its foundation assumptions, only show that they account for the observations.

Braude characterizes his understanding of the theory stating (1979, pg. 351): "According to the OT, subjects can first of all exert a psi influence only on random events, and then only if the subject receives feedback of the result of his effort." Both are incorrect. First, it is not the randomness that is important, but the fact that there exists a quantum state vector, the collection of possible outcomes. Secondly, it is not necessary to have the same observer both initiate the psychic action and observes the outcome. The theory is not one about the individual reading his own mind! This point is fundamental. This comes out of what is known in quantum theory as the "Wigner’s friend paradox."

Now in order to solve this dilemma, I proposed that all observers bring about the collapse into a single final state. This resolves this problem and it predicts that a subject in a psi experiment can achieve extra-chance, paranormal results on targets that he never subsequently observes. I told the story about Puthoff and his experiment with Pat Price at the 2002 Paris meeting of the PA:

I remember Puthoff telling me his psychic had a perfect run. This was right after Pat Price died. "Because he has died," Puthoff said, "he will never get to see the targets."

I thought Puthoff knew that I had predicted that result. It comes right out of the physics! There is no first observer according to relativity theory! I had made the prediction to Bierman at the 1972 PA conference in Edinburg! It is clear also from my papers.

So, I answered, simply, "Right!" I found out later Puthoff thought Observer Theory meant Price had to read his own mind sometime in the future. With his death, there was no future Pat Price to be read! He never saw the targets. I found out later he was telling people he had disproved this Observer Theory! — my theory!

In regard to this statement, Braude says: "Notice that the OT do not simply permit a kind of retrocausation. They actually require it." Braude says: "The subject’s PK effort, for example, is effective only after observing feedback of earlier results. A PK effort made during target generation but before observation of feedback will, on this view, be totally ineffective." Having misunderstood and misinterpreted the QOT, Braude leaps to that false conclusion. The fact is all observers participate in state selection. They all share this occurrence as if it were, as it is, one moment of time. It is one moment of time for the experience of the event selection.

Braude seeks to show a logical inconsistency in the OT by means of the following demonstration (1979, pg 353ff).

                           1. Cba & Cab, that is that the OT requires that a causes b and b causes a

2. The transitive law says: (x)(y)(z)[(Cxy & Cyz) → Cxz] i.e., for events x, y, and z where x causes y and y causes z, we conclude that x causes z.

                           3. (x)(y)Cxyxy.

                           4. (Cba & Cab)→Cbb.

                           5. 1.&4. give us Cbb.

                           6. 3.tells us that Cbbbb.

                           7. 5. and 6. give us bb, which is not tolerable.

This argument fails on 3 grounds:

1. In quantum mechanics there already exists—as one means to handle the strange behavior of quantum systems—what is called the "three valued logic" [see Reichenbach (1944)]. This says that one can have not just the usual 2 choices: a or not-a, but it can be that one has 3 choices: a, not-a, and both a&not-a.

That is to say in different words that some "a" thing exists, or its negation exists, or both that it exists and that it does not exist—at the same time.

2. This use of "Cab" is a misplaced adaptation of true logic. It pretends to be Aristotelian Logic, but it has nothing to do with logic. It is simply an adaptation of classical "cause-effect" inference that has been superceded by the discoveries in classical mechanics, quantum mechanics and relativity theory over a century ago.

That is to say, Braude would have us think he is making a logical statement of the type:

                    x implies y; y implies z; therefore x implies z

This is an example of true logic. However, the statements:

                    x causes y; y causes z; therefore, x causes z

is not a statement of formal logic and it also is not true. Formal logic does not imply the same formality for causality. The application to causality does not follow.

3. This is not a representation of the logic or the physical process represented by the QOT. We do not, in the case of QOT assume Braude’s statement 1: Cba & Cab, that "a causes b" and "b causes a."

The "viscous circle of an event E both causing and being caused by the event E’" is the foundation of all the remaining arguments of Braude’s case.

In further discussing the problem, Braude make other statements at variance with the correct nature of the QOT. He states (1979, pg. 354): "Now since S’s PK effort is on an earlier state of his own brain, and not on the target generator…" Not true. The PK that happens to the state vector can include parts of the brain and/or elements of the target generator—either or both.

But in making this error, Braude gives us the following outline of a PK effort:

                    (i) A target T is generated.

                    (ii) S guesses correctly that T is the target.

                    (iii) S learns after his guess whether he guessed correctly.

(iii) must have been caused by (ii), but for (ii) to have been paranormally correct, (iii) must have caused (ii). We seem forced to relay on a viscous circle:

                (ii) F (iii)

We are then led to other examples of this circularity:

                    (ii) à (iii) à (iv) à (ii)

supposed optional routs OT theorists might propose (or indeed have proposed, in the bodies of Schmidt or Millar) include:

                    (C) (i) à (iii’) à (iv) à (ii)

                    (T) (i) à (ii) à (iii’) à (iv)

                    (T) (ii) à (i) à (iii’) à (iv)

only to return, of course, to the fact that:

                    (ii) à (iii) à (iv) à (ii)

That is that this rout does—as it must—return to just one more circularity—must, indeed, because it is the wrong understanding of the QOT as it is the wrong understanding of quantum mechanics and as it is the wrong understanding of the nature of time itself.

Braude elaborates on his objections to the understanding of OT that has in fact been proffered by others than myself. He points out that in the case of, say, ESP:

"S makes his guess at time t and that at time t’> t he observes feedback of his hit and uses the appropriate retroactive PK… thus at time t’ S has already guessed, and nothing done at that time can change this."

Braude thus makes appeal to the proverb: Even God cannot change the past. Alas, we can change the past! The experiments done by Joop Houtkooper and Dick Bierman (1975), later replicated by Schmidt, confirm this fact, this prediction of the QOT. And indeed QM affirms that we can.

Braude’s difficulty with the QOT is to be found in an understanding of time based on classical ideas, ideas that have been superceded by relativity and quantum theory.


Questions of Logic

First: This "causal loop" fallacy argument, that QOT appears to require a foreknowledge of the consequences of present actions, fails as an acceptable logic even on grounds of classical mechanics.

Our ideas of causality as an absolute necessity in all natural phenomena grew out of the F=ma equations of Isaac Newton. They argue that there must be a cause for each effect. All this was overturned by the work of Hamilton. In the 19th century, Hamilton developed a different approach to the basic equations of classical physics. It is known as the Least Action Principle. This approach shows that any object moves so as to select the path, the total path, that minimizes its action, the quantity Hdt. This is as though the object first looks at the entirety of all possible paths and then chooses to take the one that minimizes this integral. It does this in a time independent fashion. Arnold Sommerfeld (1950) gives an excellent discussion of this teleological nature of classical physics in Volume I, Mechanics, of his well-known college physics textbook series.

When the revolution of quantum mechanics came, it was this Least Action form of physics in the guise of the Hamiltonian that provided the basis for the reformulation of mechanics. If you wish for an easily accessible presentation of quantum electrodynamics, go to Feynman’s book, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (1988); there you will find this same teleological basis used by Feynman to explain this otherwise most difficult subject of modern physics.

Second: The "causal loop" fallacy argument fails even to be an acceptable logic in the face of the already accepted physics of relativity. In relativity theory, there is no absolute space, no absolute space-time. There is in general no first observer. That is what relativity means.

Third: Timeline causality is violated in quantum mechanics by there being no limitation on any causality within the limits of the uncertainty principle. There, the limitation is given by d E d th . Any time element less than that given by this expression has no meaning. Within that causality limit, even impossible things happen—that is at least, in the guise of violating energy conservation, particle number conservation, etc.

Fourth: The argument against QOT is not acceptable logic. Are we to suppose that there would be some additional observer that travels on the back of the actual observer who goes out with me to look at what will be, so that I can pick and choose? This is not what the theory says at all. Are we to suppose that the nature of time cannot be anything but this hackneyed idea of the instantaneous moment that has already fallen before the advance of quantum theory and that has been violated by relativity theory?

But if psi events happened this way—travel forward in time to make and then back to make it so, no one could ever know anyway—memories, records, knowledge of the virtual past, would be gone. It does not happen this way; it is not an acceptable presentation of the theory or acceptable argument against the theory.

Fifth: It is not acceptable science. When we have all the data that we do have now showing that the theory works, when it accounts for these data from within the formalism of physics as it does, it has always been the case that facts, experimental results, take precedence over preconceptions. Armchair philosophy yields to the shiny laboratory bench.


What is the Correct Picture of Quantum Observer Theory?

Now let us go to the correct conception of the QOT that allows us to picture how psi phenomena happen.

I said picture, but there are two pictures I would suggest: a "future constraint picture" and a "variable time-span" picture. I will describe here only the second

The variable span-of-time picture:

There has always been a problem with the concept of the present moment of time. The now of the present has always problematically been imagined to be infinitely brief. We do not exist in the present—it is infinitely narrow. It is a zero present.

While relativity theory is still bridled with this harness, quantum mechanics has managed to slip the yoke just a bit—to carry the imagery too far. In quantum mechanics, the time element has a minimum span. The Heisenberg relation d E d th specifies this minimum time element d t. This relationship makes clear that the length of the present moment varies from one interaction to the next.

However, this conception of time is further complicated. There are two kinds of time: the continuous time-flow in the basic equations of physics, and discrete time in state vector collapse. Von Neumann (1955) called these type-I time and type-II, respectively. To resolve these problems with the fundamental nature of time, one must take into account the machinery that gives rise to state vector collapse.

The necessary machinery is presented by Walker (1988). The paper shows how, given certain unique physical interactions typical of physical measurements and of human and animal observations, the modified Schrödinger equation transforms from an imaginary collection of states into one real state. This process is not instantaneous, but involves a finite interval of time that spans the measurement events in type-I time. Thus the type-II time interval spans a time period in type-I time. It is assumed in this variable span of time picture of QOT that all the associated consciously observed events essential to state vector collapse span this time interval.

Now, most observations span only milliseconds. However, for psi, time intervals are tied to the call-hit state. The state is "selected" in toto by our will and it is experienced as one moment.

The causal loop is broken; there is no loop. The present moment extends from the beginning to the end of the events over which the psi event lasts. But it does not include everything that we experience. For a single Zener card call, the psi event would involve 2.3 bits of information. It is just one millionth of the usual 40 ms present-moment’s consciousness.

Now let us return to Braude’s earlier PK argument mentioned above.

                    1. From classical physics, all three events can be regarded as teleological.

2. In relativity theory, T and S each have their own clocks; the order of the events depends on who observes the events.

3. The target T may have been generated by a quantum event in which the Heisenberg uncertainty places constraints on the temporal uncertainty.

4. S has a mind that observes what happens. Each element of what S experiences and causes to happen by means of observation of the overall state has its own type-II clock that measures out the length of that experience’s moment. Whereas most bits of S’s experience of these events will happen in the 40 ms time-per-event framework, buried in S’s experience will be maybe one or two bits that extend from target T generation, S guessing, to S learning the outcome. All happen as one type-II moment pulled together as if there were no intervening type-I time-flow.



We have surveyed the arguments concerning dualism and shown both the scientific and philosophical basis for dualism. We have shown that the philosophical concerns for rejecting the QOT stems from a misunderstanding as to what the theory says. We have examined the causal loop difficulty and shown that the arguments are not based on concepts that are consistent with modern physics findings as to the nature of time. Finally, we have presented the proper conception of temporal order in QOT, showing that it is consistent with concepts in modern physics.



1. One can measure neural activity, but not the consciousness behind that activity. We must not overlook the present abilities to measure directly all the physical contributors to brain functioning, either in fact now or conceptually at some time in the future. Advances in physics have come from improvements in our ability to measure the things that we already understood as being the elements of physical measurability in Isaac Newton's time—intervals of time, lengths, weights. To say we might someday be able to measure consciousness as a physical thing is like saying we might be able to achieve absolute zero, devise a perpetual motion machine, or measure any of the things that physics has already concluded cannot be measured that serve as the underpinnings of modern physics.

Our knowledge of physics allows us to understand why we cannot make a perpetual motion machine. That knowledge tells us the consequences that would follow if that were possible. Our understanding of physical measurement as such allows us to understand that no such measurements, limited as they are to time, distance, and force, can give us any number that we would recognize as being the direct measure of consciousness itself.

2. Parsing, as in President Bill Clinton's grand jury testimony: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is"

3. Despite the fact that consciousness is associated with the ongoing quantum mechanical process in the brain, any physical measurement on any part of this, i.e., to determine what an electron in a synapse is doing, collapses the state, gives only a single "byte" of information, not the entire state, and does not yield the "other side" of the phenomenology. No physical measurement measures consciousness itself. We can, however, measure physical correlates of consciousness. This is not a trivial difference. It is fundamental in that it shows that these two, consciousness and physical reality, are separate.

4. Generally, these quantum state vectors give a configuration of the possible firings of the synapses and, as a result, imprint onto our consciousness a portion of the information the brain handles at that moment. However, this configuration may itself be a potentiality, as yet uncollapsed, encoding onto our consciousness some potentiality for altering the external world the mind observes.

5. The state vector describes the interaction of a subset of the neuronal/synaptic activity of the brain at any moment. That mental activity can be altered by the particular synapse that does fire. This would then alter the "course of mental action." Depending on the particular synaptic firings that happen from out of a range of possibilities, the consciousness and the brain's behavior is caused to take one course rather than some other course. This is the usual concept of will in philosophy.

6. Webster defines will as: 1. the faculty of conscious and especially of deliberate action; the power of control the mind has over its own actions: the freedom of the will. 2. power of choosing one's own actions: to have a strong or weak will. Stephen Palmquist in his Glossary of Kant's Technical Terms defines will as "the manifestation of reason in its practical form (see practical). The two German words, 'Willkür' and 'Wille' can both be translated in English as 'will'. Willkür refers to the faculty of choice, which for Kant is just one (empirical) function of the more fundamental faculty of practical reason (= Wille). As used in this paper, will is taken to be substantially the same as Kant's Willkür, the will being the 'faculty of deliberate action' associated with consciousness, together constituting mind, with mind being the nonphysical side of the ongoing state-vector/state-vector-collapse involving synaptic brain processes. In quantum mechanics, people such as von Neuman and Wigner have typically separated out the state vector "set-up" from the state vector collapse or state selection. The state vector itself is complex (not exactly something real) sometimes described as being rotated out of the real plane. State vector collapse on "measurement" or observation gives one (1) real physical outcome from the range of possibilities allowed by quantum mechanics.

7. The expression, "observed in the quantum mechanical sense," covers the technical conglomerate of both what the physical brain has to do to instigate state vector collapse (see Walker, 1988), consciousness that experiences the state vector, and the resulting collapse of the state vector brought on by the extraphysical will.

8. Bierman (1996) lists 26 retro-PK experiments in his meta-analysis database with an overall z-score of 5.31.



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