FOM: Reply to Pratt on Einstein

Thu Mar 5 12:07:40 EST 1998

Despite Einstein's famous quote about not believing that God plays dice, his
fundamental objection to quantum mechanics as developed by the Copenhagen
school was *not* its indeterminism, but rather its anti-realism.  John Bell
(the physicist who in 1964 showed Einstein's stance to be not only
philosophically but substantively incompatible with QM, leading the way for
experiments by Aspect et al in the 80's that supported QM against Einstein,
Podolsky, and Rosen) makes this very clear in his excellent book "Speakable and
Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics".  To be more precise, Einstein demanded that
a physical theory be "local" and "realistic", Bell showed that QM could not be
both, and Aspect showed that the real universe was not both.  Bell himself
believed that locality rather than realism should be abandoned, and I would
agree (this also means QM as currently formulated is still unsatisfactory).  (I
showed in my thesis that an attempted rescue of local realism by Pitowsky and
Gudder required mathematical axioms beyond ZFC--see the 10/90 AMS Transactions.)
-- Joe Shipman

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