Quantum hocus pocus


Robert J. Sawyer is a Canadian science fiction writer, one of only three science fiction writers ever to win the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Accordingly, when I saw his book, Quantum Night, dealing with consciousness and quantum physics, I took the risk and bought it. The book started well, but its principal virtue – if that is the word – is how it reveals the essential conceits of the leftist mind.

The protagonist is a psychology professor at the University of Manitoba who has, it appears, developed a foolproof technique for discovering psychopaths. He is also a vegetarian, is highly ethically motivated, teaches the greatest good for the greatest number, and worries about world problems. He is earnest, charmless, and bright, and worries about deniers of anthropogenic global warming, among other things. Very conventional NDP attitudes, as the plot reveals.

The science-fictional basis of the plot  is that through quantum science principles it has been determined that the mind is generated out of quantum processes rather than classical physical processes. Okay so far. It is very unlikely that mind could be generated out of meat machines.

A word of explanation more. Have you ever driven to work, navigated the traffic, got out of your car and were climbing the steps into your building and suddenly realized that you drove to work on autopilot? That while you handled the steering braking and signalling, your consciousness – understood as the focus of attention – was elsewhere?

If you can imagine there are people who are like this all the time, then you can envisage the philosophical zombie. The difference between the philosopher’s zombie and my  example is that the zombies do not have thoughts that are elsewhere while they perform the tasks of life. There is no inner dialogue. There is no attention directed elsewhere while they manage to iron a shirt. They do not wake up and marvel that they got to work by driving while their thoughts were working on other problems.

In essence, the McGuffin of the book – the plot driver – is that, through quantum hocus pocus, it has been determined that there is a strict division of the human species into zombies (mindless conformists) , psychopaths (who are conscious but have no conscience) and the awakened, who have both consciousness (inner dialogue) and conscience (they empathize, feel regrets, and take the larger view). The ratio is something like 70/20/10.

The protagonist of the story is the man of conscience, as are most of the the other major characters. They belong to the top 10%, the psychological and moral elite.

The author, Mr. Sawyer, through his protagonist, fights racism, sexism and every bad political and moral tendency, yet he posits the strictest division of the human species into an immutable division more severe than the Hindu caste system.

The zombies obey, and fake their way through life adapting to the rules, like flocking birds. The psychos run businesses, governments and armies and exploit the zombies, and the enlightened try to clean up the mess created by the denizens of the unconscious and less conscious states of mind.

In this world view then, Putin and Trump belong to the 20% who are psychopaths. No question of moral choice arises in this vision. It is all biological. The superior class is more morally aware, perhaps, but the quantum construction of their minds makes them so. It is deeply un-Christian, and it is a kinder and gentler version of Hitler’s biological/racial determinism.

I know it is only science fiction, and that too much weight cannot be placed on it. But I think Sawyer’s work illustrates the Hindu-like caste system at the core of leftist thinking: the led, the exploiters, and the enlightened.

You are never allowed to disagree with people of this sort. Disagreement is merely the evidence for your lower level of spiritual and moral development. One is not allowed to have different views based on different interests, views, or tendencies of mind.

It is ironic – to say the least – that the people who are the most opposed in their ideology to the biological as the basis for explaining differences in historical outcomes between individuals and cultures find it convenient to imagine that the biological is the basis for human moral differences. This is a new caste system indeed, brought to you by an earnest NDPer out to do good in the world. And while Sawyer is a million miles from Hitler in decency and social concern, they both expound a deeply and I would say exclusively biological explanation of human differences.