While I’m thrilled to see How to Teach Physics to Your Dog listed on Amazon, I am distressed to see it offered as a pair with something called The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart. I’m not linking to the Amazon page for that book, because it’s a giant pile of crap, and I wouldn’t want anyone to accidentally one-click-order it after following a link from my page.
If you should choose to look it up, you can read bits and pieces of it via the “Look Inside” feature, and it’s true that the opening chapter or so is a reasonable-sounding description of the physics of quantum entanglement, provided you don’t actually know much of anything about the subject. You really don’t even need to reach double-digit pages to know that the book is full of crap, though, because on page 9, we find this:
Most quantum experiments incorporate some test of Bell’s inequality. This famous experiment in quantum physics was carried out by John Bell, who developed a practical means to test how quantum particles really behaved.
Sounds good, right? Here’s the thing: Bell never did the experiment. Bell’s work on quantum foundations was entirely theoretical– he proved the theorem that bears his name, and is the basis for a number of very impressive experiments. The first tests of the inequality were done in the 1970′s by John Clauser and colleagues, and are described in Louisa Gilder’s The Age of Entanglement. The experiments that are generally regarded as definitive were done by Alain Aspect in the early 1980′s (Aspect is correctly cited in the previous paragraph by McTaggart).
“Oh, that’s just a minor error,” you might say. No, it’s not. It’s a very fundamental error, indicating that while the author may have read some books on quantum foundations, she hasn’t understood them. Aristotle was not Belgian, and John Bell was not an experimentalist.
The reasonable-sounding material is riddled with these sorts of errors, and many of them occur in a way that slants the material toward the preposterous woo-woo material that follows. Erwin Schrödinger is cited as saying that quantum non-locality “represented no less than quantum theory’s defining moment,” without bothering to not that he found the whole idea so distasteful that he abandoned work on quantum mechanics for the last couple of decades of his career. The experiments done on diffraction of fullerenes in Anton Zeilinger’s group– which are also mentioned in the first chapter of my own book, which you can read here– are used as the basis of a claim that entanglement is possible with macroscopic objects, without bothering to note that the experiments in question were tremendously difficult, and that subsequent experiments have yet to see entanglement in anything larger than C60F48.
McTaggart’s book, like the similar works by Deepak Chopra and others that I spend the last chapter of my book debunking, starts with a very superficial discussion of real physics, then leaps directly to fantastical woo-woo crap about the how all things are inherently interconnected through quantum entanglement with the Zero Point Field (eccentric capitalization is a fairly reliable marker of kookdom, though it leads to some false positives when confronted with Germans). Thus, merely thinking positive thoughts can bring you health and wealth, etc.
There’s a simple, one-line proof of the fact that quantum physics does not transform desire into reality through simple thinking: Quantum physicists still write research grants. If McTaggart’s claims were really true, Dave Wineland wouldn’t need money from the NSA, it would just fall from the sky in quantities sufficient to fund his lab ten times over.
The sad fact is, the only way positive thoughts and quantum mechanics can work to bring you effortless wealth is if you put those thoughts in a book full of hokum that you peddle to the credulous.
So, to recap: My book being on Amazon: Good. My book paired with Lynne McTaggart’s fetid pile of dingo kidneys: Bad. Shame on Amazon for doing this. I’ll talk to my publisher and see what can be done to fix this, but in the meantime, don’t buy anything McTaggart is selling.