Josephson  and Fotini
Paper published in Foundations of Physics, Vol.
1991, (c) Plenum Press.
The perception of reality by biosystems is
different, and in certain respects more effective principles than those
utilised by the more formal procedures of science. As a result,
appears as random pattern to the scientific method can be meaningful
to a living organism. The existence of this complementary perception of
reality makes possible in principle effective use by organisms of the
interconnections between spatially separated objects shown to exist in
the work of J.S. Bell.
Bell(1,2) has given arguments that appear to
the existence of direct interconnections between spatially separated
But at the same time there are arguments(4-6) that appear to show that
no real physical manifestations of these interconnections actually
exist. The thesis developed in this paper is that it is only from
the point of
view of quantum mechanics that these connections appear to be
and that there is a different, complementary point of view, one
specifically with the activities of living organisms, in terms of which
the interconnections may be very concretely real, and capable of being
put to practical use.
The logic of the complementary point of view to
reference has just been made is that the activities of living organisms
are governed by predominant principles (survival, and optimality of the
conditions of life) different to those of the scientist (conformity to
certain restrictions that are considered necessary for "good" science).
The perceptual processes of organisms (e.g. processes such as vision)
their functions in general very effectively, but in a way that is hard
to delineate in rigorous scientific terms. It will be argued that as a
result of this difference the knowledge
and the knowledge possessed by science are qualitatively different,
to an ability of life to make use of Bell's non-locality in a way that
is not possible in the different situation of a controlled scientific
The discourse that follows begins (Sec. 2) with a
of Bell's theorem, discussing in particular the antithesis between the
way that Bell's argument appears to demonstrate the existence of direct
action at a distance, while at the same time quantum calculations
to the result that any such effects will disappear under statistical
Experiments on certain unusual human abilities(7,8) suggest that the
effects do not invariably disappear under averaging, a result that the
present paper seeks to explain.
The explanation proposed here involves the issue
what kind of randomness is being presupposed when one performs such
averaging. An answer to this question in general terms is provided by
(non-statistical) models of the phenomena of the quantum realm such as
that of Bohm(9). This kind of interpretation assumes the relevance of
probability distributions in an appropriate phase space. The
that one needs in general to deal with coexisting multiple
of reality (complementarity) is then considered, the implication being
that different kinds of probability distributions to those relevant to
quantum mechanical predictions may be appropriate in cases such as
involving biosystems. From the point of view of a biosystem itself,
possibility translates into one that biosystems can have more
knowledge of nature than is obtainable by quantum measurement. As a
of this higher degree of discrimination, the evolutionary and
processes characteristic of biosystems can, given suitable initial
lead to focussed probability distributions that make possible the kind
of human abilities (i.e. psi functioning) to which reference has been
2. BELL'S THEOREM AND NONLOCAL CONNECTIONS
We first review Bell's
theorem. Its domain of relevance
is of a type of system, which we shall refer to here as an EPR-type
first discussed by Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen(10). EPR-type systems
systems wherein a quantum object breaks up into parts which after
are observed by measuring instruments that have no links of a type that
can transmit information by normal means to each other. A typical
of such a system, which has been studied experimentally(11), involves
of the correlated polarisations of the photons emitted in a two-photon
decay sequence. Bell's theorem consists of an inequality applicable to
the correlations observed in a range of different measurements, and
it one can derive the corollary that no local model of physical reality
can exist whose statistical predictions would be in agreement with
of quantum mechanics: in Bell's own words(1), if nature behaves in
with the statistical predictions of quantum mechanics then "there must
be a mechanism whereby the setting of one measuring device can
the reading of another instrument, however remote". Experimental
while not being totally conclusive, are such as to point towards this
The existence of such remote influences or
is suggested more directly by experiments on phenomena such as
(the direct connection of one mind with another) and psychokinesis (the
direct influence of mind on matter), both of which are examples of
psi functioning or psychic phenomena. The reader interested in learning
about these phenomena (which are often disregarded by orthodox science)
is referred to the recent article by Radin and
Nelson(8) which analyses
experiments relating to them, as well as to the references cited
(and especially those relating to the publications of R.G. Jahn and collaborators,
and of H. Schmidt), and to Ref. 7.
3. DO THE INTERCONNECTIONS PERSIST UNDER
Ordinary quantum mechanical calculations, if one
from consideration proposals such as that of Walker(12) that contain
ad hoc modifications to the conventional theory, do not seem to provide
any clear mechanism leading to the occurrence of phenomena where the
of non-local connections are manifested directly. Indeed, conventional
quantum mechanical calculations(4,5) suggest that whatever effects
the setting of a measuring device may have on _individual_ remote
the _statistical distribution_ of such events remains unaltered.
concludes as a result that "The manifestation of this 'action at a
is revealed only through a comparison of the data independently
at A and at B" (the locations of the two measuring instruments). He
the measurements carried out at the remote location as being "entirely
But what is "entirely random"? What appears to
in a given situation depends on the context, on what one knows and on
point of view. Coded messages, the roll of a die, output from a
or the movements of a person operating a piece of machinery may all
random if one does not know the relevant details (the code that is used
in the coded message, the exact manner in which the die is thrown, what
the computer program or piece of machinery is and what it is doing) and
yet if one knows this information many of the details of such phenomena
can be understood. An alternative description of microphysical reality
to that provided by quantum mechanics, if any such exists, may be
with a different kind of statistical average. What seems to be noise
no longer be noise, and the theorem implying no manifestations of
for the statistical average may no longer apply.
But do situations actually exist in nature whose
involve less randomness in particular aspects than quantum mechanics
In the past, it might have been stated unconditionally that von Neumann
had under very general conditions disproved the existence of such a
but it is now recognised(13) that the supposed proofs of these
contained assumptions that are in fact unjustifiable. There exist
that complementary descriptions to those of quantum mechanics can and
all probability do occur. Detailed discussion of this issue will play a
central role in the analysis that follows.
4. CAUSAL INTERPRETATIONS OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
In the context of the present problem it is
think in terms of causal interpretations of quantum mechanics. These
models where the observed indeterminacy is a consequence of uncertainty
of the actual state of a system whose dynamical laws in themselves are
completely deterministic. Bohm's causal model(9) involves an ensemble
particles distributed in phase space with a particular self-consistent
probability distribution function and moving in accordance with certain
deterministic laws. The statistical predictions of quantum mechanics
reproduced exactly in a way that avoids the usual introduction of
and arbitrary assumptions concerning measurement, wave function
or separation of a system into observer and observed. The non-locality
which Bell showed to be implicit in quantum mechanics is _explicit_ in
Bohm's causal model, in that the motion of the particles in the model
governed by an interaction, determined by the quantum wave function of
the system, that is non-local.
In most common situations, averaging over the
positions in the causal model makes the mean direct influence of one
on another at large distances negligibly small. This is not so,
in EPR-type situations where the wave function has a
property which makes this interaction at a distance significantly
from zero even at long range(13). But, even in these situations, once
take an ensemble average, using the special distribution function in
space that assures the statistical equivalence of the causal
and quantum mechanics, we revert to the quantum mechanical prediction
statistically no influence at a distance can be demonstrated. One may
however, why only these special distribution functions should apply. Is
there anything absolute about the ignorance implicit in the use of
particular distribution functions? The argument will be made in the
that other distribution functions, with different statistical
are relevant in other contexts, especially those associated with life.
Situations where a change in context leads to
a new kind
of statistical distribution becoming relevant are indeed commonplace
science: they occur for example whenever a phase transition occurs that
leads to a breaking of symmetry. As a result of symmetry breaking,
distributions that are _asymmetric_ with regard to this symmetry may
into existence in situations where previously only symmetric
were observable or relevant. Analogously, it can be anticipated that
situations will exist whose natural description involves probability
other than the particular ones that arise in the _quantum formalism_.
5. MULTIPLE DESCRIPTIONS OF REALITY
We now discuss in some detail this idea that
a single, universal, description of reality (such as that provided by
mechanics) being appropriate in all circumstances, more than one
or alternative form of knowledge may exist(14-17). This state of
is most simply understood with reference to a special feature of the
domain related to quantum indeterminism, which we shall characterise as
the _loss of universal determinism_. This latter term is intended to
the fact that in this domain quantum indeterminism renders impossible
making of exact predictions on the basis of a _universal formula_
would be possible in principle in classical physics if the relevant
laws such as Maxwell's equations or Newton's laws were known). We
that two alternative strategies are possible for dealing with the loss
of universal determinism. The first, the method of science, is to
conformity with the demands of reproducibility and universality by the
device of replacing the no longer possible strict determinism by
The outcome of this approach is quantum
second, a method that is in general terms favoured by life, involves
the demand for universal knowledge in favour of more specialised and
adaptations to the more limited class of situations that the organism
organisms concerned is liable _naturally_ to encounter in the course of
its life. A human being learns, for example, the language that is
in his or her own particular environment, rather than language in
These two strategies lead in different
strategy of science leads towards the accurate specification of form,
that of life leads in the direction of meaning. These two
and meaning, are the two components of David Bohm's concept relating to
the universal nature of things, _soma-significance_(18). Meaning is an
aspect of reality tied to the achievement of goals and to specific
that is sufficiently subtle and complex as not to be representable by
closed formula. Furthermore, the technique of statistical averaging is
especially irrelevant in the context of meaning, since its influence in
general is to transform the _meaningful_ into the_meaningless_. It is
useful to consider the meaning of a particular word averaged over all
and computing the statistics of word order and frequency in a discourse
tells one very little about the meaning of the discourse.
into meaning(18,19) are investigations in a different direction to that
in which one is led by scientific investigations into reproducible form.
But science is involved with the accurate
of form, and this enforces the kind of _formal_ specification of nature
characteristic of quantum measurement theory. This contrasts with the
informality of classical physics with its naive realism. The perceptual
and interpretative processes of living organisms do not admit of the
specifications demanded by quantum measurement theory. Therefore, as
in Ref. 17, there is no good reason to identify the class of
defined according to the precepts of quantum measurement theory with
category of all investigable phenomena. Indeed, the quantum formalism
not apply in any obvious way to _natural_ situations, situations such
those of the phenomena of life that come into being by chance rather
by scientific design, and the common belief that it should be possible
in some way to apply quantum mechanics to natural situations just as
as to the controlled experiment is one that seems to owe its existence
to an extrapolation that cannot, under close examination, be justified.
6. RANDOMNESS AND FOCUSSING
These arguments lead us to the conclusion that,
of the different kind of perceptual and interpretative processes
of life compared with those of science, living organisms can
that is more detailed in certain aspects than is the knowledge
by the quantum theory. One may talk in terms of higher
selectivity, which improvements can be attributed a different kind of
with nature. By way of analogy, it can be compared to a process that
contact with individual atoms, relative to one that makes contact with
the macroscopic aspects of a system only.
From the point of view of a causal model such as
of Bohm's, alternative kinds of probability distribution in phase space
become relevant. In general terms, these distributions can be
as being highly focussed in relation to the organism's specific goals.
Such focussed behaviour in living organisms is typified by, for
the activities of a tightrope walker, or of a darts player. Efficient
comes into being naturally over the course of time as the consequence
processes of trial and error learning occurring during the
process. Our assumption in relation to psi functioning is that
the relevant probability distributions are highly focussed in relation
to goals, in a way that may become more effective over time as
through learning takes place.
6.1. An Illustration
The kind of focussing process involved can be
with a simple example. This consists of a coil attached by a length of
wire to an ammeter a short distance away. The meter needle can be
to deflect by moving a magnet in the vicinity of the coil. A person who
does not understand the facts of magnetism and attempting to produce a
meter deflection in a particular direction will at first move the
randomly and hence produce deflections in a random direction. But he
in time discover the principle that is involved and utilise the magnet
in a non-random way, and gain thus the ability to produce deflections
a prescribed direction at will. In exemplification of the processes
above, his learning process changes an initially random distribution of
magnet movements into one focussed with regard to the goal, the
referred to above. The proposal being made here is essentially that
of a similar kind may be operative at a _microscopic_ level in
7. SPECULATIVE MODELS
In the biological world, evolution through
tends to give rise to adaptive elaborations of preexisting phenotypes
behaviour). Thus a primitive sensitivity to light becomes elaborated
more discriminating sensitivities and ultimately into fully detailed
In the case of psi one may similarly anticipate the development of
of organisation of the nervous system capable of interacting
with other systems. Such organisation has been discussed by C.N.
who starts with the assumption that in a number of types of situation
in a quantum mechanical context, including EPR-type situations,
objects function as "centres of perception", acting as if sensitive to
non-local information. Villars hypothesises that somewhere within the
system forms of organisation of microphysical objects exist capable of
amplifying, selecting and combining the perceptions through non-local
of individual microphysical objects, in a way analogous to the way in
the ordinary senses function through the working together of many
As a result we can have perceptions of distant objects and events
the non-local connections in the same kind of way as we acquire
of the more local environment through the ordinary senses. The
form of such perceptions at a distance would be a function of the
forms of organisation and activity present in these postulated
processes. Except for the absence of a theoretical mechanism for
the limitations of ordinary quantum descriptions by making use of an
causal model, Villars' proposals are similar to those advocated here.
Further similar proposals have been made by
also, based on his causal interpretation. His conclusion is that while,
in principle, coherent non-local effects of one system upon another are
possible, in practice such connections are "fragile, and easily broken
by almost any disturbance or perturbation", and that they would occur
at very low temperatures or under special conditions such as those
in the EPR situation. But in the picture advocated here, life has the
exemplified by the example of the tightrope walker, to learn under
that are not excessively unfavourable to it to neutralise of compensate
for the effects of external disturbances. Such compensation capacity we
assume to be functionally effective in respect to the "fragility"
to by Bohm also.
A comment by Bohm et al.(9) regarding the
of superconductivity in the causal interpretation provides a clue as to
what kind of overall organisation might be relevant for psi
This situation is described in the following terms:
"In the superconducting state of a many-electron
there is a stable overall organised behaviour, in which the movements
coordinated by the quantum potential so that the individual electrons
not scattered by obstacles. One can say indeed that in such a state,
quantum potential brings about a coordinated movement which can be
of as resembling a 'ballet dance'."
The assumption of a superconducting-like state
an example of a context where different organisms can be highly
Such a state may be relevant to the origin of life, or to the Gaia
of Lovelock and Margulis(22). Perturbations such as an increase in
cause the coordinated organisation to break up, and this would provide
a mechanism by which the amount of linking of an individual organism to
other systems through non-local interconnections could be adjustable.
may imagine that life may exist from the beginning (cf. Ref. 22) as a
whole directly interconnected at a distance by Bell type non-local
following which modifications through the course of evolution cause
to be interconnected directly with each other and with objects to an
that is adapted to circumstances. One can see conceptual
psi skills and ordinary skills, e.g. between the perceptual skills of
and telepathy on the one hand, and between the forms of control of
involved in the control of the body and in psychokinesis on the other.
From this point of view, it is only in regard to the mode of
that the ordinary phenomena and the analogous paranormal ones differ
each other. These analogies will be discussed in more detail
The theories discussed here have the feature, in
to that of quantum mechanics, of being qualitative rather than
This may be an unavoidable correlate of such aspects of nature,
from a fundamental irreproducibility of biology and of the phenomena
with the indeterminism of the quantum domain.
8. SUMMARY AND CONCLUDING REMARKS
The goal of this paper has been that of gaining
understanding, within the framework of conventional science, of
such as telepathy and psychokinesis which (particularly in terms of the
actual experience(23,24)) seem to involve some form of direct contact
a distance. While the non-local correlations found in EPR-type systems
seem at first sight(20) to provide a scientifically valid basis for
direct contact (particularly for the case of telepathy which has many
that parallel those of EPR-type correlations), calculations using the
apparatus of quantum theory suggest that any such connections will be
random and thus unusable. But the self-consistent and completely
multiple-description view of knowledge advocated here, an alternative
the conventional view that all knowledge may be reduced to quantum
knowledge, allows life to have its own potentialities, beyond what the
constraints of "good scientific method" will allow, for knowing and for
acting on the basis of such knowing. Included in these categories of
and knowing are psychic functioning.
The present theory parallels in a number of
the theory of Walker(12) with its postulate that the statistical
of quantum phenomena can be modified by consciousness, and the paper of
Stapp(25), in which creative mind has a similar function. These
approaches may all be representations of slightly different aspects of
the same underlying truth, gained by taking as a starting point a range
of different points of view.
We are grateful to Dr. Dipankar Home for
clarifying concepts connected with the concept of multiple descriptions
of natural phenomena, and to Dr. M.J. Perry for comments on the
1 dedicated to J.S. Bell.
2 Cavendish Laboratory, Madingley Road, Cambridge
3 permanent address, Physics Department,
Athens, 104 Solonos Str., address for 1990-1 as
in footnote 2.
4 all references authored by J.S. Bell are
in Ref. 3.
5 The opinion of the authors regarding such
is that in the long run they will be accepted
by science and
by it. Arguments in support of this belief fall
scope of this paper.
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23. L. LeShan, Clairvoyant Reality (Turnstone,
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