Saturday, March 31, 2012

Quantum claptrap

There are certain words that whenever you hear them you should expect to be exposed to nonsense. They include “lifestyle”, “authentic” and “opportunity”. Whenever you see or hear these words you can rest assured that very soon someone is likely to ask you to separate yourself from your hard-earned money.

However the word that irritates me the most, because it’s almost ALWAYS used to talk rubbish is “quantum”. About half the time it’ll be news stories in the papers or on TV about a new discovery in the science of quantum mechanics, the study of sub-atomic particles. Almost always these news stories are rubbish. Some miniscule finding from a laboratory will be misinterpreted by reporters with no understanding of science and before you know it the papers will be full of stories of time travel, human invisibility and creating black holes in Switzerland. I’m not making any of these up by the way, all of these have been mentioned in recent news stories. Not one of them is a true representation of what really happened and is likely to happen.

That’s partially because quantum mechanics is difficult to understand. It’s counter-intuitive. Much of it seems to contradict our common sense. It relies on assumptions that are difficult for us to understand. You need to accept that light, for instance, is simultaneously a wave and a particle. It relies on us imagining staggeringly low or high temperatures, speeds and pressures. Like much of advanced mathematics it relies on us trying to imagine the unimaginable. But that doesn’t make it untrue.

This is usually the time that religious people start making comparisons between advanced physics and religious faith. Both, they will say, rely on belief in things that can’t be seen. This is a distortion and a rather desperate attempt to steal legitimacy for fictitious beliefs. The difference is simple. Even though quantum physics relies on imagining unimaginable things there is concrete evidence that they are true. The satellite navigation device in your car, your cellphone, the computer you use at work and the devices in hospitals that diagnose and treat cancer all rely on quantum physics. All of these things came from our understanding, and the FACTS of physics. Although we can’t see quantum events ourselves we can see their effects. It’s like a police officer investigating a car accident. He wasn’t there at the time of the collision but he can see the skid marks on the road, the trail of broken glass and where the broken vehicles ended up. He can work out what must have happened. In exactly the same way scientists can see the real-life effects of sub-atomic particle collisions.

Unfortunately that’s not the only time you see the word “quantum” being abused. The other time is when quacks, charlatans and frauds try and use the word to describe their bogus devices, treatments and cures.

At various places around Botswana there are bogus “therapists” offering their health-related services using a device often called the QXCI. This is no more than a box of simple electronics that makes some remarkable claims. The initials stand for “Quantum Xrroid Consciousness Interface”. There’s that word. You can tell this is going to be claptrap, can’t you?

A South African web site that markets this device claims that it:
“is an incredibly acurate (sic) biofeedback stress reduction system, combining the best of biofeedback, stress reduction, Rife machines, homeopathic medicine, bioresonance, electro-acupuncture, computer technology and quantum physics”
The web site explains how this device works. Its “multi-layer faclity enables dysfunction unravelling” which, they claim, is “equivalent to radonic operation”. Best of all it explains that “Most computers are binary: 1 or 0. Quantum software is trinary - basis for artificial intelligence”.

This is all monumental claptrap, rubbish and nonsense and the purveyors of this hogwash must know this.

They’re not the only ones. The importation of these devices is banned by US authorities because of the dangerous claims the producers make. A spokesman for the FDA said “This is pure, blatant fraud. The claims are baloney. These people prey in many cases on consumers who are desperate in seeking cures for very serious diseases.”

As I’ve mentioned before, the inventor of this machine is the self-styled “Professor” Bill Nelson, an American with an impressive range of fake qualifications. Hilariously (you couldn’t make this up) Nelson also performs as a tranvestite singer under the name Desiré Dubounet and lives in Hungary, a fugitive from US justice, on the run from fraud charges.

This is a good example of the dangerous and fraudulent use the word “quantum”. It’s dangerous because of the chance someone with a real disease will use it instead of seeing a real doctor. It’s fraudulent because the purveyors of this silliness want your money in return for lying about their claim to be able to cure disease.


Anonymous said...

hey i am following you, i have just read this article on weekend post.

ok, my comment is that your using words like rubbish to discredit views you don't agree with is a bit intolerant. nothing in this world is absolutely certain including even our precious science. wisdom whispers: "when you feel most certain, you should doubt yourself more". pride leads leads to a rapid fall, lucifer can testify to that.

Richard Harriman said...

See the main blog page for my response to this rubbish.