What causes wave function collapse in quantum mechanics?

Quora Question: What is wave function collapse in the context of quantum mechanics, and how does (or doesn’t) it relate to consciousness?

My answer: I notice that a lot of physicists and others are still having problems with the ‘Consciousness Causes Collapse’ interpretation because they approach it from the old paradigm.

Old worldview
The universe a large billiard ball machine. Everything is made of particles and life and consciousness are both the result of pure randomness, physical processes and evolution. There is no proof for anything ‘magical’ going on.

From this perspective, consciousness – as merely a brain function – can have no effect on the physical world. The very idea is ludicrous.

However, is this the best worldview we have? I think not.

New worldview
Conscious life and the entire physical universe originate from a non-local mind field and is a unified whole. We are all part of an information matrix. Reality, therefore, is a process that involves your consciousness (which is really not your consciousness, but part of a larger cosmic mind). Therefore, the conscious mind transforms all quantum possibilities into a manifest outcome.

Strange loop: who collapses the conscious observer?

This new worldview, which is beautifully described in Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism, has a number of radical implications for how we view the universe:
– The physical world and conscious observer are intertwined and cannot be separated. There is no outside world that exists independent of mind.
– Non-living matter exists only in probability state when not being observed.
– Space and time are tools of the mind and have no independent, objective existence.
– The brain does not generate consciousness, but acts as reducing valve, keeping experience restricted to our local experience ensuring our fitness for survival.

There are many reasons to believe this worldview is much better suited to explain nature in its totality. Quantum mechanics is one of these reasons, because whatever the observer seems to do, impacts the experimental results. This goes so far that a decision an experimenter makes in the present, can impact the behavior of a particle in the past (delayed choice experiments).

There is still a lot of resistance against this worldview, because it is so radically different than what our current scientific culture dictates. However, there are some physicists reevaluating their thinking. Like Scott M. Tyson. In his book The Unobservable Universe: A Paradox-Free Framework for Understanding the Universe, he writes: “you simply cannot remove the observer from reality. It can’t be done and it is pointless to resist.”

Read more answers about the relation between quantum mechanics and consciousness in my posts on Quora.

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