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A Quantum of Hubris

how know-it-all materialists block scientific progress

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

November 25, 2023

n a recent tweet, I made what I took to be an obvious claim: namely that the disdain for human consciousness that is implicit in the myopic materialist approach to mind has its correlate in sciences other than neurology and psychiatry. Physicists like Stephen Hawking, for instance, have gone to great lengths to explain the non-intuitive outcome of the double-slit experiment without reference to consciousness. Hawking viewed the inclusion of consciousness in physics as such a non-starter that he has proposed the existence of endless universes to render such consciousness superfluous.

This grasping for materialist straws takes place in life science as well, resulting in equally extravagant hypotheses, like the doctrine of Panspermia by Francis Crick, according to which the extreme improbability of life being created by random accident on Earth is explained by an appeal to the interposition of extraterrestrials. We're told that highly advanced aliens seeded the Earth with the necessary chemicals to begin the cascade of "endless forms most beautiful" that we see about us today. No conscious creation was called for - at least not on Terra Firma. (Presumably, the aliens lived on a planet wherein biochemical conditions were "just right" for the transformist doctrine of Lamarck to hold sway without violating any laws of staggering improbability in so doing.)

Theories like these may sound like long shots. (You might even say that they make a mockery of the principle of Occam's Razor.) But not to worry. If they turn out to be false, then Neil De Grasse Tyson has a theory that will settle all questions once and for all in favor of consciousness-scorning materialists. For the Harvard-trained astrophysicist assures us that we could very well be living in a Matrix-like simulation, in which case all our concerns about consciousness and aliens is absolutely meaningless. Only our eternally unknowable overlords can have access to the true state of affairs - provided, of course, that those overlords are not themselves being duped into thinking that they are calling the shots by a yet higher (and yet smugger) intelligence.

Surely these viewpoints would be considered laughable by scientists did they not help account for the seeming anthropic nature of the universe, which in the absence of such speculation, might have to be referred to purpose and meaning.

But materialists tell me there's no problem here: materialism is proven, they say -- even if this proof has been accomplished with the help of a variety of totally incompatible theories!

So I should not have been surprised when an indignant materialist shot me a prompt reply to the above-mentioned tweet about quantum physics. He begged to assure me that there was no disagreement about the interpretation of quantum physics whatsoever, thank me very much, and that science has, indeed, conquered all - or at least was on track to do so.

I replied as follows: "We will have to agree to disagree because I am not going to even attempt to debate the niceties of quantum physics on Twitter." In retrospect, however, I consider that response to have been "too diplomatic by half" (as the Brits might say). Is not Richard Feynman himself on record as saying: "Anyone who claims to understand quantum theory is either lying or crazy"?

Of course, I am not a physicist and I claim no special knowledge on this subject. However, the extravagant claims of consciousness-scorning materialists do not depend on scientific evidence but rather on philosophical assumptions.

Take for instance this 2023 comment by physicist Martin Rees in "The Conversation":

Our universe is suspiciously unlikely to exist—unless it is one of many.

That's obviously true, right?

Wrong. This statement is true only if we assume the philosophy of naturalism, which tells us that all explanations must be physical explanations, that we can never talk about purpose or meaning in nature if we want to be scientific.

So let's not mince words. Here is what Rees is really saying, given modern scientific assumptions:

Our universe is suspiciously improbable, given that (as we all know, wink-wink) things just happen in life randomly and without purpose, although according to causal laws.

To which I respond:

Hey, Martin: the existence of our universe would not be half so suspicious if, in some sense, our universe was actually meant to be. But then talking about meaning in life is a good way to get yourself slandered as a flat-earther in today's scientific community.

The same naturalist scorn for consciousness that informs physics is also at work in the fields of pharmacology, psychiatry and neuroscience. This is why drug researchers are deaf to anecdotal accounts of positive drug experiences, whether in the past or present. Consciousness is not a reliable scientific subject, after all. Researchers want feedback that can be added to Power Point presentations and Excel Sheets. When I tell them that laughing gas would help me as a chronic depressive, both because it makes me laugh and it gives me the anticipation of laughter which naturally boosts my mood, they will shrug uncomprehendingly. Like Sergeant Friday of Dragnet, they want just the facts, ma'am, which in science these days means "the measurements." It's as if researchers believe that they must channel Dr. Spock from Star Trek in order to be a REAL scientist.

My point here is that the reigning scientific ideology of materialism informs all the sciences these days, and in so doing renders scientists blind to the obvious. In terms of the Drug War, it deafens them to reports about godsend medicines. In terms of the life sciences, it blinds them to all signs of teleology, i.e. purposeful causation.

It was in response to that latter blindness that American philosopher Thomas Nagel wrote "Mind and Cosmos: why the materialist neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false." In that 2012 challenge to reductive materialists, Nagel chided the latter for their intolerance toward proponents of purpose in nature, referring to their scornful treatment of two Intelligent Design theorists (Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer) as "manifestly unfair."

This is another reason why I did not want to argue online with the naysaying Twitter critic mentioned above. I have learned (to my cost) that most materialists have nothing but scorn and ad hominem attacks for those who believe that there may be purpose in life. The discovery for me came close to ruining a family gathering in 2020.

Such self-avowed "objective scientists" fail to see that the non-materialist is not challenging the science of the materialist, but rather their interpretation of that science

For materialism has its own very specific dreary beliefs about the meaning of life, namely that there is no meaning whatsoever.

As molecular biologist Francis Crick puts it in his 1994 book "The Astonishing Hypothesis"

"You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."

To which I respond:

"Why should I take your word for this, Francis, given that you yourself are just a vast assembly of nerve cells and molecules?"

If this essay seems a trifle disjointed, it's probably because I've never been challenged before on the topic of scientific limitations (that plus the fact that I'm not exactly Hieronymus P. Shakespeare, of course ). But I think it's always hard to write about something that one feels is obvious to any sane mind. If you point at a cat and say, "That's a cat," what do you say if a seemingly intelligent person disagrees with you? You could attempt to describe the generic appearance of cats, talk about the Platonic form of cats, the absence of canine characteristics, etc. But you'd be scouring the word closet for second-best declarations after your usual go-to statement had failed to establish the intended identity.

It all comes down to belief. I freely admit that I believe there is a purpose in life.

If they were honest and fair, materialists would counter that they believe in meaninglessness.

Then we could both agree to disagree.

The problem is, materialists are blind to the philosophical assumptions that underlie their theories, and so they do not merely say that they believe in meaninglessness, which would be honest and admirable. Instead they say that the world is meaningless and that science has proven this to be the case.

It's ironic therefore that such materialists tend to badmouth philosophy, for their theories about the world only make sense in light of their own commitment to an unspoken philosophy, namely that of reductive materialism.

Author's Follow-up: November 27, 2023

If you want to understand the materialist myopia of modern science in the west, read Alfred North Whitehead. He exposes the western world's schizophrenia on the subject of reality. We see the world of invisible electrons as the real world and consider sense perception to be mere secondary qualities -- whereas the lived life sees the world the other way around. This is the fundamental origin of the psychiatric trope that you have to treat the "real" problem, and not just make the "patient" feel good. According to this theory, who cares if the depressed laugh their a-- off while using nitrous oxide -- that's just a "crutch." No, the real problem can only be solved with microscopes and MRI scans. This is ultimately why, in the west, we would rather see a depressed person commit suicide than to allow them to use drugs that "merely" make them want to live.

Next essay: Treating the REAL problem
Previous essay: Prohibitionists Never Learn

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

A pharmacologically savvy drug dealer would have no problem getting someone off one drug because they would use the common sense practice of fighting drugs with drugs. But materialist doctors would rather that the patient suffer than to use such psychologically obvious methods.
The problem for alcoholics is that alcohol decreases rationality in proportion as it provides the desired self-transcendence. Outlawed drugs can provide self-transcendence with INCREASED rationality and be far more likely to keep the problem drinker off booze than abstinence.
When folks die in horse-related accidents, we need to be asking: who sold the victim the horse? We've got to crack down on folks who peddle this junk -- and ban books like Black Beauty that glamorize horse use.
If any master's candidates are looking for a thesis topic, consider the following: "The Drug War versus Religion: how the policy of substance prohibition outlaws the attainment of spiritual states described by William James in 'The Varieties of Religious Experience.'"
I never said that getting off SSRIs should be done without supervision. If you're on Twitter for medical advice, you're in the wrong place.
For those who want to understand what's going on with the drug war from a philosophical point of view, I recommend chapter six of "Eugenics and Other Evils" by GK Chesterton.
Cop and detective shows are loaded with subtle drug war propaganda, including lines like, "She had a history of drug use, so..." The implication being that anyone who uses substances that politicians hate cannot be trusted.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
Drug warriors have harnessed the perfect storm. Prohibition caters to the interests of law enforcement, psychotherapy, Big Pharma, demagogues, puritans, and materialist scientists, who believe that consciousness is no big "whoop" and that spiritual states are just flukes.
And where did politicians get the idea that irresponsible white American young people are the only stakeholders when it comes to the question of re-legalizing drugs??? There are hundreds of millions of other stakeholders: philosophers, pain patients, the depressed.
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You have been reading an article entitled, A Quantum of Hubris: how know-it-all materialists block scientific progress, published on November 25, 2023 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)