Interview with Professor Mark Alford – Quantum Physics and the Paranormal

On Sunday 6/5/11 I was privileged to speak with Professor Mark Alford about quantum physics and the paranormal. If you’re like us, you’ve heard weird, spooky sounding connections between ghosts, psychic powers, and even consciousness itself all tied to the behavior of subatomic particles. Not only is the evidence for any of the perceived paranormal phenomenon lacking, but the supposed relation to quantum realities is irresponsible.  Mark Alford, professor of physics at Washington University at St. Louis whose main research topic is in high density quark matter. You can find out more information by checking out:

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“Am I Dead? – Prove I am Not” are you kidding me?

There are certain things I discuss with people that seriously make me stop and go “what the f**k am I doing?”  For instance, I am currently in a discussion called “Am I Dead? – Prove I am Not.” 

The person who started this conversation states “After reading some threads I came to the conclusion it’s impossible to prove if someone is dead or alive. Our normal tests of inanimate, starts to smell, mostly dirt and bones work for a level of dead.”

Ok first I have to say, we have biological proofs and characteristics to tell if someone or something is alive or not.  These fundamental characteristics are things such as cellular organization or made up of cells, the ability to obtain/use nutrition and energy from its environment, living organisms respond to stimuli, living things develop or grow and living organisms must be able to reproduce.

While I was explaining this to the person who I was having the conversation with, someone decided to try and pull a fast one over on me.  “What about hybrids?  They are alive but they can’t reproduce.”

Well first of all a hybrid isn’t a species and these characteristics have to be looked at when dealing with a species as a whole not individually.  Like I said before, when it comes to hybrids, they are not a species they are a mixture of 2 species. Species can reproduce within their own species, because each individual within the species has the same number of chromosomes. Hybrids can’t reproduce; if they could they would be a species.  I mean just because a human becomes infertile doesn’t mean he/she is suddenly nonliving. However if the whole human species were suddenly infertile, humans would cease to exist within a 125 years.  

However there are some hybrids that are fertile, certain plants and fertile canid hybrids occur between coyotes, wolves, dingoes, jackals and domestic dogs.

After I gave this explanation I was told: “The whole premise of your argument is that you have a correct perception of everything. That’s quite a high position to try and defend. There has been many great minds that have been mentioned already in this thread that questioned these same very premises and never found a satisfactory answer.

As for the point to the discussion, can there truly be something that we can “know” versus the esoteric repeatable and demonstrable evidence standard of strict science. Pondering these type of questions and stretching your mind will only lead to answers, not asking will only lead to ignorance.

The edges of science right now are finding all types of unusual rules such as quarks, squarks, selectrons, and more however philosophers spoke of these before Plato. It takes imagination, creativity, and intelligence to come up with ideas outside group consensus science. Science has problems describing some of the most innate things to humans beings like smell, feeling, and emotions. How can this be something we need to base all our logic on? I think talking about an idea that has been tested repeatedly is the worse intellectual suicide one can indulge in.”

This response made me laugh a little bit, mostly because I don’t really need to argue something that is fact. Death is the termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Termination means end in time or existence. To be dead would mean I can’t type this blog. Just because great minds thought of this question doesn’t somehow make it true, this is what is called an argument from authority. Also this person states that he has have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to tell whether or not someone is alive or dead. He is coming from the same stance on the opposite side of the fence. So could I not argue that he must know everything, not me?  I provided the biological ways to tell if something is living, he is still making the claim we don’t know, but has provided no sound reasoning except a thought.  So why is it ok for him to make such a certain claim?

As far as this individual claiming that “science has problems describing some of the most innate things to humans beings like smell, feeling, and emotions.”  This statement couldn’t be further from the truth, actually science has a very good understanding on how the body smells, feels and why we have emotions. 

And what would a conversation in the paranormal be without the appeal to quantum mechanics?  “The edges of science right now are finding all types of unusual rules such as quarks, squarks, selectrons, and more however philosophers spoke of these before Plato.”  First of all this is false, philosophers like Plato and before never spoke of sub atomic particles.  Also this response is 100% completely irrelevant to the conversation at hand.  Please stop talking about sciences you don’t understand, especially quantum physics.  

“Unlike you, I’m asking a question not stating a fact. I’m not acting an expert. The topic “Am I Dead?”. You are stating for a fact you know that death means the cease of biological function. If that’s the case I have a dead uncle right now yet his biological function is running great after having his heart stopped. People cease biological function all the time, some have even done it for up to an hour when chilled. So…. But really that’s beside the point that is trying to be made.

How can you prove your perception is the “correct” one? Do you understand what I mean by perception? This was more a question such as the Allegory of the Cave. Is there one way or another you can prove it? As others mentioned Simulation and Simulacrum pose similar questions and don’t try and tout that they “know” but rather what can be known”

No, this person did not ask a question he said and I quote “I came to the conclusion it’s impossible to prove if someone is dead or alive.” The word conclusion means you have come to a decision. This person is playing the same game Harold Camping plays, “I called the book 1994?”  Well sorry, but this doesn’t matter, he still made the prediction that the world would end in 1994 “?” be damned.  And yes you can prove whether or not something is alive or dead, the experiment is very simple. All you have to do is just kill something living and compare it with something that is still alive. Repeat it over and over again; I bet you will get the same exact results.

Anyway that is my rant, thanks for reading.