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Why Quantum Theory Is Misunderstood

When popular culture appropriates complex scientific theories, such as quantum mechanics, Joe Schmoe opines all over the Internet. Is it worth bringing science to the mainstream?

What’s the Latest Development?

When Brian Cox, a particle physicist at Manchester University, recently gave a lecture on quantum mechanics to a popular audience, he uttered the phrase, ‘everything is connected to everything else’. It means the subatomic constituents of your body are constantly changing in response to changes occurring at points at some arbitrary distance, say at the far end of the Universe. While Cox’s statement is correct, it does not imply that we are part of a universal consciousness or any other loose metaphor to complex quantum mathematics.

What’s the Big Idea?

Given the abuse which inevitably occurs when complex scientific theories are brought down to popular culture, think vaccines and climate change, is it worth it for scientists to explain ideas that most of us simply do not have the training to fully comprehend? Yes, it is, says Cox. “Recognizing the innate human desire to be dazzled is the key to understanding why some people are drawn to pseudo-scientific drivel; it delivers wonder, albeit chimeric. But herein lies a clue as to where the cure for irrationality lies, because reality is strange and beautiful enough to satisfy the most veracious imagination.”

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