Have underground radiation measurements refuted the Orch OR theory?

Physics of Life Reviews (forthcoming)
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In [1] it is claimed that, based on radiation emission measurements described in [2], a certain “variant” of the Orch OR theory has been refuted. I agree with this claim. However, the significance of this result for Orch OR per se is unclear. After all, the refuted “variant” was never advocated by anyone, and it contradicts the views of Hameroff and Penrose (hereafter: HP) who invented Orch OR [3]. My aim is to get clear on this situation. I argue that it is indeed reasonable to speak of “variants” here. Orch OR is not a complete model of reality but a work in progress. At its core, it claims that wavefunction collapse is a real physical event that has something to do with gravity (“OR”) and that consciousness depends on orchestrated collapses in microtubules (“Orch”). There are many ways one could make these base ideas precise hence many “variants”. Furthermore, the ways that HP aim to make these ideas precise are radical and incomplete. If they don’t work out, Orch OR will need to fall back on another variant. Thus, I believe the significance of [1-2] for Orch OR is that it cuts out a small class of possible variants and leaves behind questions and challenges for the rest, including the variant preferred by HP.

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Kelvin J. McQueen
Chapman University


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