PZ Myers on the Quantum Mind

This one is worth repeating:

Quantum effects in microtubules are going to be inconsequential relative to ion fluxes and chemical changes in membrane properties and channels, and there is no explained mechanism to regulate quantum effects. It’s like trying to explain the tides by speculating about the dabbling of gnats in estuaries.

The people who talk about this stuff usually seem to have absolutely no knowledge of neuroscience.

For sheer disdain, this might be second only to Patricia S. Churchland‘s remark, “The want of directly relevant data is frustrating enough, but the explanatory vacuum is catastrophic. Pixie dust in the synapses is about as explanatorily powerful as quantum coherence in the microtubules.”

My most extensive essay on this subject can be found here, and a good paper with many references into the literature is A. Litt et al.,Is the Brain a Quantum Computer?” (Cognitive Science, 2006).

Friday Quantum Mechanics

“So, Blake,” I sez to myself. “You’ve been selected for multiple editions of the Skeptic’s Circle. You’ve been linked, twice, from Pharyngula. Clearly, you’re rising to astonishing heights of science-blogebrity. What worlds are left to conquer?”

“Well,” I replied. “There’s going out for a milkshake with Rebecca Watson.”

I shook my head. “Not gonna happen — she’s just too picky counting tentacles. Anything else?”

“Well, you could do what Revere warned you not to do.”

“Ah, yes, write a sixteen-part series on mathematical modeling! But the modeling of antiviral resistance isn’t really my field.”

“True, but didn’t you spend your spring break in Amsterdam a few years ago, writing that paper which was the first article Prof. Rajagopal ever graded with an A-double-plus?”

“Hey, yeah, on supersymmetric quantum mechanics and the Dirac Equation!”

“So,” I suggested to me, “why don’t you break that paper down into several blag posts, interleave it with some Bill Hicks videos so not all your readers wander away, and have yourself a continuing physics series?”

“Could work, I suppose. But that paper was written for third-term quantum mechanics students, so I’d probably have to build up to it, even just a little.”

“Bah,” I said. “At least you’ll have a purpose in life. And you can start by expounding on the canonical commutation relation for position and momentum. That’ll be your warm-up, after which you can do angular momentum and central potentials —”

“Which I do have written up somewhere,” I interposed, “since I discovered I could type LaTeX as fast as my professors could lecture.”

“Weirdo,” I said.
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All ur hogs R belong 2 us

(Because the memes of yesteryear are ever so sweet, even ‘pon the jaded palates of today.)

I was distressed to see Cecilia fall for the giant hog story. The pictures, supposedly of an 11-year-old boy posing with the carcass of a giant pig he killed near Delta, Alabama, are almost certainly fakes. They bear all the earmarks of forced perspective illusions, and in some cases suggest Photoshop trickery as well.

Why can’t the Boston Globe, Yahoo News or CNN look at the lousy focus and say the pictures are clumsy forgeries? Are news organizations now obligated to run uncritical coverage of every tall tale that gets a little attention? (I once caught a fish this big. . .) Facts matter, people!

I am quite frustrated at my inability to find words spiteful enough to capture the distaste I feel for this bunkum. Fortunately, the idioms of the Internet are there to rescue me:
Continue reading All ur hogs R belong 2 us