Physicists learned accidentally in the 1920's, through the famous double slit experiment, that the behavior of electrons changed based on whether an observer was present or not.

Here's a brief description of the double slit experiment from Popular Mechanics:

Article: "The Logic-Defying Double-Slit Experiment Is Even Weirder Than You Thought,"

"Do you remember the double-slit experiment? It's one of the weirder experiments in modern physics, and cuts to the heart of the weirdness of quantum mechanics. Basically, waves that pass through two narrow, parallel slits will form an interference pattern on a screen. This is true for all waves, whether they're light waves, water waves, or sound waves.

"But light isn't just a wave, it's also a particle called a photon. So what happens if you shoot a single photon at the double slits? Turns out, even though there's only one photon, it still forms an interference pattern. It's as if the photon travels through both slits simultaneously. You can read more about the double slit experiment here.

"But wait, because it gets even weirder. As a new episode of PBS's Space Time shows, just by observing the double-slit experiment, the behavior of the photons changes.

"The idea behind the double-slit experiment is that even if the photons are sent through the slits one at a time, there's still a wave present to produce the interference pattern. The wave is a wave of probability, because the experiment is set up so that the scientists don't know which of the two slits any individual photon will pass through.

"But if they try to find out by setting up detectors in front of each slit to determine which slit the photon really goes through, the interference pattern doesn't show up at all. This is true even if they try setting up the detectors behind the slits. No matter what the scientists do, if they try anything to observe the photons, the interference pattern fails to emerge."

This video from PBS also does a fair job of explaining the double slit experiment.

What are the implications of this discovery, especially in light of how we are conditioned by Western culture, which values the material things over people?

This next article interprets the double slit experiment in a philosophical or existential context. Many philosophical arguments fall flat and are only conjecture, but philosophical arguments based on an actual experiment have more weight. It's undeniable the double slit experiment exposes important things the nature of reality. And depending where you run with it, maybe it tells us something about the meaning of life, or at least what it means to be alive.


"'It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.'
– Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician

The notion that “consciousness creates reality” raises so many questions. Does this mean we as individuals (and on a collective level, as one human race) can shape and create whatever reality we’d like for ourselves? Does it mean we can manifest a certain lifestyle, and attract certain experiences? Does it happen instantly? Does it take time? How do we do it?

We know so little still. Although we might not be able to answer these questions with scientific certainty, we do know that yes, a correlation between consciousness and our physical material world does indeed exist in some way. The extent of that correlation is still poorly understood, but we know it’s there, and we know it must have some sort of significance.

According to RC Henry, a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, in a 2005 essay:

A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction.

Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual."

I've heard people use the movie, The Matrix, as an analogy for what quantum physicists are discovering about life and consciousness. The idea is that life is more like a computer simulation, a virtual reality game. Objects don't actually exist in their own right, they're immaterial, they're an illusion.

In light of the double slit experiment, how can anyone argue that our culture, which is madly obsessed with material possession, to the point of ruining the environment, exploiting workers. and having bloody wars over resources, is logical? It can seem logical if you believe human beings are just matter, that consciousness is an illusion created by our material brain, and that matter is all there is.

Our culture insists owning things is the highest aspiration humanity can ascend to. Yet our cultural beliefs are defined by outdated Newtonian physics, which says that reality exists independent of the observer. Worse, we have this incorrect scientific idea directing our beliefs, along with old strange religious ideas. The Puritans, who first settled here, were Calvinists. Calvinism was a religious belief system that said that select few who were chosen by God to go to heaven, would be blessed in real life by God with good luck, and good fortune.

Therefore, the "elect" in a Calvinist's view would have ample material wealth. This was reconstituted into the belief we still hold today, that people who own lots of things, are better and holier than other people. This also is the root of the contempt we have for the poor in our culture.

What we believe in 2017 is a hybrid of Newtonian physics and Calvinism. Calvinism dates back to the 1600's, Newtonian physics dates to the 1700's. Quantum physics dates back to the first part of the 1900's. And yet still, we haven't yet as a culture modified the way we think. What we practice, believe and live in America today in our Capitalist culture has nothing to do with any reality. I find that comforting.

Does this say Progressives have always been on the right track, questioning this Capitalistic madness? I think the answer is, "yes."