Saturday, 2 May 2015

Why consciousness doesn't create reality

Recently, New Scientist asked if our conscious minds create reality.  This role for consciousness has a long history in physics, and had been considered by some of the greatest experts in quantum mechanics. But it's wrong, and it's easy to see why it's wrong. It's wrong because of baseball bats and whisky.

One day sometime in the early 70s I was outside with the rest of my class trying to play baseball (or at least something like baseball).  We weren't very good.  One batter lost his grip and the bat went flying and hit me in the neck.  It hurt, but I was ok.  It could have been a lot worse.  Baseball bats are a convenient weapon.
If applied to the head with enough force they can cause unconsciousness.  Consciousness can be disrupted by physical events.  

If you want to experience effects of the physical on consciousness in a more subtle way, have a sip or two of a strong drink. Whisky will do.  The alcohol molecules interact with brain cells to produce changes in mood and perception.  Enough alcohol molecules and conscious switches off.

Even if we don't accept that consciousness is the physical activity of certain brain cells, it's clear that consciousness is the result of such physical activity.  Consciousness can't create reality because without physical reality there is no consciousness.  Consciousness doesn't create baseball bats and bottles of whisky; they can destroy consciousness.  

Consciousness that we know of either is, or is the result of, physics in action.  It's the wrong type of thing to have the role of creator. 

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