David Mermin tells us that our “bad habit” of reifying the quantum state “induces people to write books and organize conferences about ‘the quantum measurement problem.’ “ However, a quantum measurement problem does not arise only from an unfortunate perspective on quantum theory.

A quantum measurement problem, as close to magic as anything in science, is displayed in quantum-theory-neutral experimental observations that assume only the free choice of the experimenters. In the two-slit experiment, one can choose to demonstrate each object concentrated at a single slit or perform the contradictory demonstration, that each object spread over both slits. Facing this dilemma, George Greenstein and Arthur Zajonc note that “even had quantum theory never been invented, these [two-slit] experiments could have been performed, and we would still find ourselves unable to understand them.” 1  

Quantum weirdness is increasingly misappropriated as a way to buttress pseudoscience. It is a responsibility of physicists to combat such misappropriation. (See our letter in Physics Today, November 2006, page 14.)

Presenting the intriguing strangeness of quantum mechanics honestly and interestingly by the use of books Mermin might seem to deplore can effectively combat the misuse of the quantum mysteries. Dismissing the measurement problem as merely a bad way of viewing quantum theory abandons a fascinating mystery in physics to the purveyors of pseudoscience.

The Quantum Challenge: Modern Research on the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics
, 2nd ed.,
Jones and Bartlett
Sudbury, MA
), p.