**Because it’s important** that physicists discuss the problems of quantum foundations, I was delighted to see David Mermin’s commentary on “fixing the shifty split.” But I must disagree with my friend’s view.

There are multiple ways of interpreting probabilities.^{1} In quantum physics, the Bayesian “degree of belief” interpretation can be appropriate for mixed states, but only the frequentist or “ensemble” interpretation applies to the pure states that Mermin discusses.

A recent paper by Matthew Pusey and coauthors^{2} concludes that if two different pure quantum states are assigned to a single physical situation, one of the states is objectively wrong. The proof’s main assumption is that any quantum system has some set of real physical properties, labeled λ. Pusey and coauthors show that two different pure states cannot represent the same λ. So, although their paper implies but does not assume that quantum states are physically real, it does assume that each specific physical situation has behind it some kind of physical reality. Chris Fuchs, quoted favorably by Mermin, might dispute the notion that some kind of physical reality actually exists, but most physicists are probably sufficiently realist to grant that notion. Without such a notion, science lies somewhere between solipsism and superstition.

Whenever I hear subjective interpretations of quantum physics, I wonder about such questions as the one Mermin quotes from Albert Einstein: Can a mouse collapse a wavefunction? Mermin’s Bayesian response, that a mouse cannot but a physics student can, doesn’t reassure me. Were wavefunctions not collapsing before there were physicists?

The “Wigner’s friend” paradox, as described in Mermin’s commentary, doesn’t need a subjective interpretation to find a solution. In fact, Eugene Wigner abandoned his interpretation around 1970 once he became aware of the ideas underlying quantum decoherence.^{3} Suppose Wigner’s friend makes a measurement, the outcome of which is known to the friend but not to Wigner. Regardless of whether the outcome is known, and in fact regardless of the presence of the friend, the measurement device must decohere the quantum system that’s being measured, putting the system into a mixed state of the either/or form, with no interferences, just like a coin that’s been flipped. A definite outcome has thus occurred, and Wigner and his friend will both agree on this. Neither the friend nor Wigner affects the outcome. She has simply “looked” and now knows the outcome, while Wigner doesn’t know. That is not paradoxical and does not require a revision of our understanding of pure quantum states.

There’s no reason to give up on a realist interpretation of quantum physics, much less a realist interpretation of nature itself.