Quantum mechanics doesn't seem to make any sense, either.
That's because we are not equipped to intuitively understand it. All the rules change when you shrink down to the world of the sub-atomic particle. The physics guru Richard Feynman once said, "if you think you understand quantum theory, you don't understand quantum theory". That's very important to keep in mind.
That's because, despite Feynman's warning, many people out there truly believe that they can understand it just fine. Not only that - but they believe they understand it well enough to be able to make more general conclusions about spirituality, philosophy, cosmology, and everyday reality. Very few of these conclusions are justified. I am all about the unification of knowledge (recommending E.O Wilson's book, Consilience): but we have to be very careful when we try to apply the lessons learned in one field of inquiry, to another.
People often take scientific findings too far. A good example is provided by Newton's Third Law, usually heavily over-simplified into: "every action has an equal and opposite reaction". This is really catchy, but the law refers only to motion. It is not, as some claim, evidence of karma. If someone beats you up, the only consolation that Newton offers you is the knowledge that your ass exterted the same amount of total force on their foot, as their foot did on your ass.
If we can be thus fooled by the fundamental truths of the people-sized world which we have evolved to intuitively comprehend, it is no surprise that the quantum world has fooled us further still. The 1979 book The Dancing Wu Li Masters, as well as the more recent (but far worse, in fact awful) movie, What the Bleep do We Know? , and other productions, have helped to deceive many people on a few points. To set the record straight:
We currently have Absolutely NO reason to believe that:
- particles, or other non-living objects have a "consciousness", or anything resembling one.
- people's "intentions" have any effect whatsoever on everyday objects (like water for example).
- metaphysical or religious philosophies are in any way scientifically validated by quantum physics.
The double-slit experiment, nicely summed up here, inevitably leads to some wild speculation. But do not hasten to conclude, as so many have, that the particle is "aware" of us. That is altogether too easy an answer, and this phenomenon deserves a better explanation. It chimes nicely with many metaphysical claims that our intentions have a direct impact on our everyday surroundings, but it represents a huge leap of faith for which there is scant supporting evidence.You just cannot necessarily apply these conclusions to everyday life. In large part this is because the quantum world is all about probability. But when you "scale up", all those probabilities add up to create the predictability of the world that we can perceive; the quantum laws are lost. In their rush to justify preexisting or endearing hypothesis, many people forget this.
The temptation to scale up has proven irresistible to the more secularly-minded, also. Apparently, a few fringe scientists are claiming that we may be hastening the end of the universe, simply by attempting to measure dark matter. Thankfully, this view is not widely accepted; aliens would be so pissed off at us! A couple other physicists have some even stranger ideas, which might help explain the problems that have been encountered getting the "Large Hadron Collider" to work.
"Schrodinger's Cat" is a thought experiment that was designed to illustrate the absurdity of of thus scaling up from the sub-atomic level. But it has often been misinterpreted as a serious philosophical issue. There is no reason to believe that the cat is both alive and dead all at once: there is every reason to believe that we just have the foggiest idea of how the quantum mechanics applies to larger scales of space and time. That is it's originally intended take-home point. And it's mine as well.
We can only hope that, like kitty in the picture, the relationship between the very big and the very small will eventually be explained. Until then, let's not assume.