In such a jungle, then, the winners of popularity are likely to be those who make the most fun-looking stuff, adapted to the level and topics of interest of a majority of not so intelligent people. Dictatorship of the intellectual proletariat (underclass), once again. To repeat what I explained in my video and elsewhere such as the need of teachers paradox: you cannot run after 2 rabbits at the same time. To altogether produce serious stuff and attract viewers, are hardly compatible requirements. Some people specialize in informing, others in knowing. But people who inform may fail to know, because people who know may fail to inform.
So, his list of videos... is kind of messy. Some of these touch to the foundations of science (math and physics), yet others are more anecdotal, I mean not as much as what is the 100th decimal of pi but...with not as much sense of unifying architecture of knowledge as I see needed and possible. Of course such a relatively discontinuous approach, with not so much connections between topics, and some topics made of brief surveys over big works skipping crucial details, leads to relatively less sense or purpose for a needed lengthy improvement. Skeptics and popularizers (quite correlated activities, as skepticism is itself a kind of "science popularization" enterprise) are themselves promoting in guise of science a similar (and often much worse) kind of mess of disconnected anecdotes from which these same skeptics are champions in doubting the possibility to draw any significant conclusions, thus ultimately feeding their relatively pointless, inconclusive version of "science". By this I do not mean that it is worse than official teaching curricula. These suffer a similar lack of rework towards some unifying perspective. It is actually very hard in the current world to reach the appropriate unifying perspectives. Many scientists could essentially reach them, but only as an end result of a much longer path and experience dealing with existing theories, than could have sufficed if the needed clarifications of these theories had been done.
Now 20th century science brought crucial clues to metaphysics, especially with quantum physics and the problem of its interpretations which is very uncomfortable for naturalism. There are great debates among experts trying to compare the different naturalistic options, all facing great difficulties which is why none of them could "win" against others, letting several ones persist with respective supporters. But to understand this debate requires a certain level of expertise, namely a proper understanding of some core concepts of quantum theory, followed by a review of the main interpretations. But quite few people reached that needed level to become able to say something scientifically decent on the topic.
Yet much more people are feeling confident that this problem with quantum theory is not indicative of a problem with naturalism. But how can they know that ? Actually just rumors as we shall explain below. As commented in another page, the usual flow (e.g. in Quora) of people's expressions of confidence that quantum theory does not challenge naturalism is very negatively correlated with competence in this field. Precisely, most of such expressions either come as bare denials of such a challenge without any explanation, or "explanations" are made of claims which are known to be either inaccurate or flatly untrue by specialists. A frequent example of such claim is the claim that any interaction between systems, or interaction with the environment, suffices to collapse the wavefunction ; while all what quantum mechanics in itself actually says is that it only makes decoherence (more comments below)
How could that happen ? Usually, experts just avoid the topic by lack of precise arguments (except when focused on wrong targets), letting non-experts fill the flow of replies with their own guesses about that state of the debate which they do not actually know. Such guesses are naturally formed according to the natural expectations of what the laws of physics should look like if naturalism was correct, expectations which are assumed reliable based on the rumor of compatibility, just like skeptics are comfortable in explaining NDE testimonies which they did not really study, based on their own guess that these testimonies they need to explain are looking like the way they would naturally be expected to look like under naturalistic assumptions. Of course. But then systematically they only successfully "explain" versions of stuff completely offset from the reality of these things. But skeptics never see anything wrong with this behavior since it is there to support the right conclusion, and they cannot expect any need to study things to discover that these things are not actually fitting their expectations.
Now in one of his videos, this skeptic presented his own tentative interpretation of quantum physics. This description is very vague, and so vaguely succeeds to vaguely account for diverse aspects of modern physics as they may look like from a popularized viewpoint. Unfortunately this kind of behavior is just the same as that of so many authors of crackpot physics, such as those trying to explain how Relativity is a mistake from Einstein uncritically followed by physicists, or inventors of perpetual motion machines, or inventors of new theories of everything who feel sure (uh not exactly sure, details of what I mean below) they can explain all known physics with no need to study it or as they already know it because the high school physics teaching said it all, and found it necessary to directly inform the large public bypassing the review of experts because the latter appeared too dogmatic and closed-minded in lack of "rational arguments" against their ideas.
Now of course not the same motivations pushed him to publish his ideas in his YouTube channel. Nevertheless it reflects a similar lack of awareness to the distinction between scientific research and popularization : a similar way of insinuating that amateurish viewpoints and inspirations on issues of top physics research might be as legitimate as views of experts. I had a very long and fruitless dispute with him, where I tried to explain the need to first actually learn and understand quantum physics as a requirement to make sense of a debate on interpretations, including the opportunity of popularizing one's own suggestion of a fresh new one beyond the list of the main ones which experts are currently considering. In particular I asked him if he had grasped the concept (which I regard as crucial for this debate) that the Hilbert space of a composite system is the tensor product of the Hilbert spaces of its sub-systems. He didn't. So it is on the basis of such an ignorance that this skeptic is so proud of sharing to the large public his confidence in the scientific plausibility of materialistic expectations... (the day when all such bullshit will be removed from scientific popularization spaces, what will remain of this rumor of scientific plausibility of naturalism ? I am curious to see...). Anyway, he stays proud of his method of essentially praising ignorance in physics as a wiser and higher basis than knowledge and intelligence for developing and directly popularizing new ideas on the field of interpretations, bypassing any expert review.
At the beginning of the discussion, his line of defense on this question (the question of the opportunity of making that video, not the debate on the depth of ideas given there) was of 2 main ideas. Here is the quote of his first idea.
— I do not know anyone who altogether opposes the existing and is aware of doing so. They cannot be aware of opposing what they have never learned. They only object to what they believe to be unjustified presuppositions.
— Well if you prefer I rephrase "if ever an element in what I do is opposed to the existing I would change it" I mean that it is not the point.
Let us compare his justifications to popularize his speculations, with his view on the behavior of Didier Raoult popularizing the success of his treatment against the virus:
Long later we had the last (much shorter) dispute on the issue as follows (his replies in italic):
Looking through all the comments which
were posted by viewers of that video, well, most of these were expressions of the highest
enthusiasm towards this intellectual rubbish which they love so much. I do not remember seeing
there any trace of a negative feedback. Visibly none of the participants in this comments thread
have any clue about modern physics either, yet an unanimity is formed and unchallenged in
praise of this which is openly claimed to be rubbish.
And guess how he reacted to this tsunami of praise ? Well.... he thanked those people for their encouragements. As if a Jesus-Christ neither known for, nor claiming to have, any special wisdom, and not feeling sure that claiming to be the Son of God was the right thing to do, was thanking his crowd of followers for their encouragements in doing so, taking their praise as a confirmation of that claim, ignoring the famous verse (Matthew 15:14) "...If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit". So I think he was the one not understanding his own disclaimer, and how his disclaimer is doomed to stay ineffective anyway, due to the role he took by his channel, as a popularizer of science. (On this topic of the understanding of disclaimers, there is a video in French of a skeptic visibly too dumb to understand a similar disclaimer by a non-skeptic, as well as the sense of freedom of thought).
One big problem I see that was overlooked there is, his attitude does not significantly differ with the flow of thousands of pseudo-physics theories out there. It looks like, he fancies to crucially differ from them by his way of claiming loud that his ideas are personal ones, not validated by other physicists, and that he remains open to criticism. Of course, this attitude seems to justify him at first sight. And of course there is no way to figure out what there may still be wrong in such conditions... from the viewpoint of any good newborn thinker trying to guess how the processes of scientific research and rational debate should be working.
Yet it turns out unfortunately (I already explained things there, I repeat
them here) that the real state of affairs in the way science works crucially differs
from this so honest and plausible newborns guess about it, in the fact that most of these thousands
of pseudo-physicists out there have (more or less) that same attitude of warning that their theories
are neither ready nor confirmed yet but need more work, and thus are welcoming high-level
physicists to come help checking, completing and developing their new theory for them. And
of course, to bring critical review. Yet there is an obvious condition : the criticism they are
inviting professionals to bring of course needs to be a rational one and hopefully
"constructive" in order to deserve consideration. That is, well-explained and logically
articulated arguments, which make sense. And they are very disappointed in their experience
with official scientists from "the establishment", that none of them ever behaved in such a
rational way, but all reacted by either mockery or "dogma", for those who replied at all.
In a sense however, they cannot be surprised in this "disappointment", since the rules of the "rational" debate they are offering to play, are rules where they give themselves the position of judge for what it should mean for an argument to be objectively "rational". These rules are relative to the data of their own precise personal background in physics, which is their only acceptable source of references for "rational arguments". In a sense, these rules already determine the conclusion : as they somehow implicitly know in advance, relatively to this background their position is invincible anyway : no "rational" argument against it is possible. So they are, so to speak, absolutely and irrefutably sure, not that their theory is valid (of course such arrogance would be indefensible and they know it), but that it is absolutely possible anyway (relatively to their background), an attitude by which they are essentially winning the debate in their own eyes by putting the hat of arrogance on the heads of their opponents.
But the certainty of the maybe, however relatively absolute, can still remain absolutely relative.
Now here is the deep misunderstanding of how science works (which unfortunately, is almost impossible even for the best of newborn thinkers to expect) : there is actually no logical possibility for a genuine, deeply scientifically informed review to ever seem "rational" in the eyes of these people who don't understand the current state of science and how things look from this perspective. As from this perspective, the ideas put forward are really completely ridiculous and worth absolutely nothing, not worth any reply. And this cannot be explained in any way which the authors of these ideas can understand. Because the only way to understand "the reason" is to just forget (un-learn) that misleading fuss, then go and study high-level physics as it now stands. And there is no other possible way to explain why. In other words, there are 2 kinds of people : those who know physics, and those who don't. To those who know, the reasons to dismiss this stuff are obvious and don't need to be explained. But those who "need" explanations, only do so because they have not the required background, but their case is hopeless and no amount of explanation can suffice either. So nobody can exist for whom any work of "rational criticism" can be useful. Being "open to rational criticism", no matter how sincerely, is not a scientific attitude since that "expected" criticism can never come no matter the need anyway, but only a vain posture whose only actual result is to (involuntarily) give oneself an illusion of rationality in naive eyes.
Now of course, he would rather believe such a state of affairs about how science works
(in both physics and the epistemology of debates about physics) that does not fit his
expectations, if he could find clear and strong experimental evidence for this. So he did the
social experiment of making that video to see what feedback he would get, then I warned
him about the lack of expectable scientific feedback from there. Aside that warning, I also
gave him my own feedback as an exception, and we had long discussions about it ; but,
as usually happens, despite
this and also, again, how he knows my competence in theoretical physics for which I gave
my kind assistance for another purpose, he did not appear to give to my feedback much
value (details below).
So, the last conversation above went on as follows:
Imagine a world very similar to the one in which we live, except that people would behave
a bit differently.
There would also be traditional religions, where the pastors would preach "God created the universe 6 millennia ago !" and the attendees would say "Amen !" (I write it caricaturally to simplify). Then in quest for God and further understanding His creation, some people would be sent in mission of scientific investigation of the world, developing the sciences of geology, paleontology and astrophysics. These scientists would do their job rigorously and successfully, progressively retracing the history of the planet and the evolution of life there. As the progress goes, the discrepancy of their findings with their traditional religious creed would start raising some issues. Some of these scientists would find no more sense in attending those religious ceremonies, and thus just stopped going there, without further comment. Others would keep attending the ceremonies, still saying "Amen" to the creed, not trying to contradict it, because... it would be way too complicated to explain what difficulties could be found about it; that is their religion anyway, which cannot be easily dropped. The pastors would be proud of this, and say: "See ! We have some of the best scientists of the world among our faithful members ! This confirms the scientific plausibility of our creed."
These scientists would keep practicing their investigation work without worrying too much of the discrepancy. Some would do so like a treasure hunt, a sort of big fictional game to play. Others would feel it as something more serious and truthful. However this diversity of feelings between scientists towards the status of their discoveries would hardly have any practical consequence in the process of their research. From time to time during coffee breaks, one of them would ask the others : "How strange it is to see all our calculations appearing to converge to give our planet an age of about 5 billion years when we know from our Bible that God created it all 6 millennia ago, don't you think so ?". To such often heard idle talks, their peer scientists would regularly reply : "Shut up and calculate !"
Sometimes, someone with an acute sense of religious values would try to look through the works
of these scientists, and express his dissatisfaction in these terms : "Your work does not appear to
make any sense ! as it still does not explain how all this was created by God 6 millennia ago".
Then in an attempt to make things clearer, he would try to examine some of the known fossils.
He would object to the calls to learn about the long evolutionary accounts which were
developed, arguing that what really matters is to check and account for the facts which are
clear (fossils), not the theory which is fictional and subject to revision (evolutionary history).
He would care to figure out and propose his own candidate explanations for the fossils
which were presented to him, in a more religiously coherent manner. Yet scientists would
know that his explanation fails to account for the rest of fossils they know which he does not
know yet, but could not explain this to him in a simple manner. He would challenge any
scientist to show him "the fossil which proves to be millions of years old.
I just ask for one !", to which no scientist would reply.
Now in an intermediate position in this debate, religious scientists are much more aware than lay religious people about the huge difficulty to offer any such young-age "explanation" able to successfully fit the real, much wider range of data they know, so most of them just would not try. Yet it could happen for some of them to dare starting attempts of this daunting task.
The above skipped second idea was
’T HOOFT : I do not believe that we have to live with the many-worlds interpretation.
Indeed, it would be a stupendous number of parallel worlds, which are only there because
physicists couldn’t decide which of them is real.(...) What is the reality described by quantum
theories? I claim that we can attribute the fact that our predictions come with probability
distributions to the fact that not all relevant data for the predictions are known to us.(...)
The response has been very mixed. Many other researchers are clearly very skeptical. They should be, because there are important unanswered questions. Others have expressed their interest and support. What concerns me is that I haven’t yet found colleagues who completely understand my approach.
More references on the topic:
"Gerard ’t Hooft in recent years has been pursuing some idiosyncratic ideas about quantum mechanics (...) Personally I find it difficult to get at all interested in this (...) One of ’t Hooft’s motivations is a very common one, discomfort with the non-determinism of the conventional interpretation of quantum mechanics. The world is full of crackpots with similar feelings who produce reams of utter nonsense. ’t Hooft is a scientist though of the highest caliber, and as with some other people who have tried to do this sort of thing, I don’t think what he is producing is nonsense. It is, however, extremely speculative, and, to my taste, starting with a very unpromising starting point.
Looking at the results he has, there’s very little of modern physics there, including pretty much none of the standard model (which ’t Hooft himself had a crucial role in developing). If you’re going to claim to solve open problems in modern physics with some radical new ideas, you need to first show that these ideas reproduce the successes of the established older ones. From what I can tell, ‘t Hooft may be optimistic he can get there, but he’s a very long way from such a goal. (...) the central mathematical structures of quantum mechanics fit so well with central, deep and powerful insights into modern mathematics (through symmetries and representation theory) that any claim these should be abandoned in favor of something very different has a big hurdle to overcome. Basing everything on cellular automata seems to me extremely unpromising: you’re throwing out deep and powerful structures for something very simple and easy to understand, but with little inherent explanatory power."
— The QFT model describes much more than what is observed experimentally.
To consider it as a truth on the entirety of its domain is an error of approach.
Like to consider Newtonian theory as absolute before relativity.
I don't judge knowledge I judge a method, these are unrelated.
— But you judge what you can know, and speculate what you think should be compatible with knowledge you don't have. How can you know that?
— Uh no there is a misunderstanding
— If you have ideas which you do not see how they could be incompatible with established physics it may be only because you ignore established physics while who knows it would know why it is incompatible. You thus expose yourself to the risk of having no chance that your speculations will work, that the physicists will know why but cannot explain it to you because their reasons rest on a knowledge that you do not have. And these reasons cannot be summed up by the question of whether space-time can be emerging or not.
— So if the only available model of the planet movement was geocentric, do you consider that not mastering it would prevent any discovery? The existing model does not have to be known to progress but the observations yes. We have to bring ourselves back to what was once observed and not only to the way we explain it. But it won't prevent me from learning about the existing model
— You compare what is not comparable. First you need to learn that established physics is a success. That means it is hugely simpler to learn about "the model" (the theory that has been verified) than about the observations that support it. This makes your "The existing model does not have to be known to progress but the observations yes" completely ridiculous. It is impossible to learn about observations otherwise than in the form of the known theory which accounts for them. In addition, the theory is precisely formulated to almost contain only the data of what is observable. The idea of uselessness to learn a theory, namely that it would involve complications compared to simple observables, would be precisely applicable only to hidden variables theories. In fact, hidden variables theories make things very complicated despite their attractive appearance for beginners ! They only give an illusion of comprehensibility which is totally demagogic and has nothing to do with any real learning of physics data...
I commented [in French long ago, then in English] on those who believe they can reinvent science as amateurs. So I'm very familiar with the problem: there are thousands of people who get caught up in their fantasy to think that in their ignorance they are smarter than those who know. They think they are valiant adventurers with a critical mind, "questioning" "dogmas".
There is actually no consensus whether modern physics as it now already stands, is compatible or not with naturalistic expectations. The above quotes illustrate the behavior of those who found them incompatible (with such high sincerity, both in their view of incompatibility and their attachment to naturalism, that they are ready to pay the price of throwing overboard the most spectacular success of all science in the name of these). Other physicists seem just happy accepting both naturalism and current modern physics, seeing them compatible: this is the way of the Many-worlds interpretation (while all other naturalistic "interpretations" are not accepting current physics but trying to modify it, without any clear success), as notably advocated by Sean Carroll. Or, whether they really see it good I cannot tell. At least they so combine a recognition of the success of science good enough to refuse breaking it for any reason, with their attachment to naturalism, that they go on condoning any philosophical issues that may result from this combination (which are unacceptable to others).
But let us see how Sean Carroll, one of the most vocal proponents of this acceptance of compatibility of naturalism with the achievements of science through the many-worlds interpretation, presents the case for naturalism (his blog post about it):
So his reasons for naturalism did not seem very clear there. However he actually has another "reason" which he stated in the older video of his debate on the interpretations of quantum mechanics (same link as given above - time from 50:50):
Now some people may be tempted to take this requirement seriously, and in hope to fulfill it,
dream of possibilities to explain consciousness as made of mathematical systems, from
which they hope that the laws of physics might emerge. So did Donald Hoffman (unfortunately
neither a mathematician nor a physicist but only a cognitive scientist) with his mathematical
theory of "conscious agents" (articles Objects of consciousness and The origin of
time in conscious agents, 2014). Similarly (more loosely), some
spiritual people in quest for "scientific credibility" but without a solid scientific background, may
give in to the temptation to get interested in diverse speculative ideas offered by scientists on the
nature of reality (such as the ideas of Penrose with his "Orch Or", or the "Integrated Information
Theory") which superficially seem closer to spiritualistic metaphysics than usual, as possible
models or sources of inspirations by which they may hope to exchange politeness and mutual
recognition with what superficially looks like credible science.
Actually such tries to fit with inspirations or requirements presented by these scientists are traps, in the following ways :
Depending on the reference or even the particular statement inside a given reference, the principles of Naturalism may suffer ambiguities, between
This actually contains 2 quite different ideas.
One idea is the requirement of causal connection with us : to be part of Nature and thus exist, something must be potentially able to causally affect us. This is indeed, roughly speaking, the condition for our possibility to start investigation about it.
Adding to this the assumption of physicalism (with its causal closure), this excludes from Nature and thus from "existence":
The second idea is that of "regularity".
Let me first re-phrase what I see valid there: in order for science to be possible, we need to reject the idea of Last Thursdayism despite the lack of empirical grounds to do so. Then, if we want to investigate anything through indirect evidence, we need to assume that the intermediate processes in the causality chains separating our perceptions from the target of investigation, are reliable: that their behavior conforms to known laws, to a sufficient extent for us to be confident about our deductions by these laws, from the available data to the state of the target. Actually, there is no strict need to take this regularity as an assumption, as it can be verified with some more efforts, by finding a plurality of indirect means of diverse kinds to investigate the same target, and observing that these all agree with the same hypothesis on the target : this validates the regularity hypothesis, as its negation would require not just a breach in the known regularity but a conspiracy (thus another regularity) of such breaches in the specific way which could produce this result.
All these issues can be analyzed in terms of entropy measures and the file compression
problem, with concepts I wrote in the bottom half of first page of this text: scientific investigation
can be understood as an exercise of file compression, aiming to put information in its
most compressed form split in 2 parts: "the law" i.e. the executable file of the most
efficient known compression algorithm, and the "deciphered data" containing in clear
form the information on target objects, obtained by so compressing the longer file of the
brute (undeciphered) data of direct measurement outcomes.
In such terms, then of course, the need of scientists (which reality has no duty to fulfill) is that the once found law would be regular, as, to compress a lot of stuff, we need to re-use some known efficient compression algorithm to compress many other files instead of having to repeatedly add copies of this algorithm to all compressed files (which would make the compression worthless, heavier than the brute files).
Empirical sciences (i.e. sciences other than math) can be roughly split in the following parts (though this division is not always clear in practice):
Theoretical physics has a unique feature among all sciences: it is the only science which is not open-ended, since its goal is to establish THE equation, mathematical expression of the law which is perfectly uniform throughout this universe. Once done, the investigation ends, research institutes can close and there is no job for theoretical physicists anymore.
Now comes the field of the supernatural, with the question of its position with respect to this picture. It has observable effects, so it fits the first condition of naturalism : investigation about it can start. If there was an equation for it, this would mean that the investigation of its foundations could end by completion. Quite a different requirement, which no science fulfills except theoretical physics. Now why do some theoretical physicists want this requirement ? Of course one main explanation is by the famous saying "If you are a hammer, everything is a nail".
It is the very point of supernaturalism as I see it to dismiss the claim of universal determination
of everything by any single equation (even in terms of probabilistic laws), to recognize instead the
existence of free will with a crucial role of some mathematically undefinable qualia. Some
people did not expect this, as they expected something absolutely regular (mathematically
expressible) to be the ultimate foundation of everything. More precisely, empirical sciences
are about phenomena assumed by many to result (emerge) from physics, where the
equation is the most fundamental stuff. Now supernaturalism does no way deny this
well-known regularity of the laws of physics as they were found, and thus the possibility
and validity of all other sciences which rely on it. It only denies the role of absolute foundation
of everything, to this physics in particular, or to any so absolutely regular causality law in general.
Well, so what ? In so many cases, this is completely irrelevant, while the lesson of indeterminism from quantum physics is already well-accepted. For example, biological evolution describes how the most advantageous genetic features win the way things go, but it does not matter whether this condition of how things go is behaviors obeying the quantum probabilities, or the completely different behaviors from the free will of conscious individuals : this leads to quite different kinds of winning species, and yet, in itself, the theory of evolution still holds.
Other possible factors which may contribute to the naturalism of many physicists, come from misunderstandings. I will describe the situation by symbolizing the mind-matter interaction problem with the metaphor of the key-locker connection. Consciousness will be symbolized by a man with a key; the locker symbolizes the laws of physics. The key represents the few aspects of consciousness which are relevant to understand the general form of its possible interaction with matter. The key is much simpler than the locker, itself much simpler than the man. Before this universe was created, there was no locker, only the man with the key. It could be a very hard problem to invent and make a locker with the right mechanisms for the key to fit in. This problem was finally solved, so the locker could be created, in which the key could fit.
Then come philosophers and physicists trying to figure out whether and how such a key-locker interaction is possible. Philosophers hardly know anything about either the key or the locker, so they have no chance to understand anything of the key-locker connection either. Physicists, on the other hand, spent their life studying the locker, yet may still fail to figure out the possibility to open it because most of them have no clue about what the key looks like. The locker is made of mathematics; the key isn't. Some physicists spend the rest of their life searching for a mathematical key to fit into this mathematical locker, and cannot find any. Others, aware of the vanity of this quest, decide to end it by concluding with the many-worlds interpretation, according to which this locker is not a locker and it is there to remain forever locked, since no key exists that can ever fit in.
Finally some physicists considered the possibility for the key to be given by consciousness, and yet could fail to see it fit, due to some misunderstanding ; or some thought that it fitted but mistook the precise way in which it did, and for this reason failed to convince more than a few others. Now let us review such possible misunderstandings. Beyond the mistake of expecting a mathematical key, I noticed 3 more main mistakes that could be committed.
Two are about the shape of the key, i.e. the relevant features of the metaphysics of consciousness. These are kinds of naturalistic mistakes, assuming consciousness to fit materialistic models or assumptions more than it really does : so we actually need more boldness in the rejection of naturalism in order to escape inconsistency failures. In other words it is circular reasoning : assuming physicalism to argue for physicalism.
One, I may call Wheeler's mistake (I saw it vaguely from J Wheeler, who, by the way, opposed parapsychology; also from Richard Conn Henry), is the idea that brains are needed for conscious observations to take place, so that the universe remained in large quantum superpositions as described by the many-worlds interpretation until biological structures were sufficiently developed to proceed the big quantum collapse. Of course, such a view would be very awkward, but it can be easily dismissed : since consciousness creates physical reality rather than the other way round, it does not need any brain structure to proceed either. There was no problem for observers to be already present as ghosts since the big bang. To imagine that a brain is needed for thinking, is a physicalistic assumption.
The other, I would call Wigner's mistake, of expecting the different conscious individuals, who intervene as observers of quantum measurements, to be fundamentally distinct (separable) entities. They are not : for the purpose of properly interpreting quantum physics, they need to be regarded as all faces (appearances) of a single universal consciousness. In short, consciousness creating physical reality, seems to raise the issue how can different conscious individuals agree to create the same physical reality; this requires solipsism, but indeed solipsism is true as there is only one consciousness, namely the universal one.
A related mistake by some people trying to interpret parapsychological phenomena, is to present telepathy as a case of quantum entanglement. Of course, entanglement cannot explain telepathy : it is the other way round. Namely, telepathy, i.e. the usually uncommon manifestations of the root unity of all consciousness, is what explains the consistent possibility to create a material universe able to manifest quantum entanglement smoothly in all cases (while those cases when it is really involved, ideal implementations of what is basically described in theory by the EPR paradox, were never actually experimented yet, since the measurement processes in relevant time intervals were purely physical). In telepathy experiments, the "communication process" itself occurs in totally nonphysical ways, thus does not involve any quantum-entangled physical particles either.
This leads to the last mistake, about how the locker works, namely a misunderstanding of
the role of decoherence.
This mistake also started with Wigner, who accidentally took too seriously the first ever article on
decoherence, which was badly written and misleading (a now outdated misinterpretation
which may also explain the previously
mentioned foolish rumor even though
it still looks different). Namely as quoted in the same paper,
"The argument which convinced me that quantum mechanics’ validity has narrower limitations,
that it is not applicable to the description of the detailed behaviour of macroscopic bodies, is due
to D. Zeh’ ".
This so-called argument, so worded, is now obsolete since long, as the nature of decoherence became
better understood (by those who actually understand it, which is unfortunately still not reflected by
so many presentations by clueless popularizers and some teachers who didn't pay attention).
Such a claim is as absurd as the one that Special Relativity cannot describe
what happens for accelerated observers (yes this similar nonsense can be found in some authors).
Indeed, since decoherence is a wonderfully, accurately well-described mathematical consequence
of quantum mechanics, how can it be said that it implies a failure of quantum mechanics to describe stuff ?
This is ridiculous. It can be traced to the misunderstanding by physicists of the meaning of the word
"theory" in mathematics, which they confuse with a specific choice of expression of the theory
with given variables. Indeed when a theory leads to the consequence of dismissing the use of
specific variables as irrelevant, a change of variables is needed, but it still does not make
another theory. Namely, here we need to dismiss the use of elements of the Hilbert space in the
role of "states of a system", to be replaced by the use of density operators. Now this ridiculous
historical accident keeps being over-interpreted by lazy-minded people as if it reflected any
genuine evidence of something. It doesn't.
This mistake continued with Henry Stapp (and also Penrose), of expecting a suspension of quantum decoherence to explain for the action of mind on matter. Such an expectation is indeed unfortunate (falling in the temptation to think "the action of free will must be strange, so we need something strange, quantum behavior with entanglement before decoherence looks strange, so they must be connected". No they aren't in this precise way). This led some materialist physicists to imagine refuting the role of consciousness in quantum physics just by pointing out the ineluctable high speed of quantum decoherence in natural conditions, while the proponents desperately persist searching for ways to escape this. That is actually the wrong target, which needs to be discarded.
I explained in other documents about quantum physics (shape of the locker) and the Von-Neumann Wigner interpretation (shape of the key), needed to make it clear how well they fit.
Beyond specific mistakes and this precise historical accident, some socio-psychological phenomena contribute to the bias of specialists of quantum foundations for naturalism. Namely, personal prejudice towards naturalism is essentially needed to work in this field culturally dominated by such prejudiced people who mistake naturalism with reason, not ready to take any supernaturalistic view seriously. Beyond the basic oddity of defending a minority radical opposition to mainstream, it is simply impossible for the right interpretation by the role of consciousness to "take much space" there just because it is much too clear, simple and unproblematic to give anyone a job in that space so full of lengthy endless research programs. To work there, people do need to feel the hopeless troubles with materialistic interpretations as something great and worth spending one's life on, motivated by a belief that somewhere in this mess a resolution must exist and be worth searching for.