New research looking at the relationship between human decision-making and mathematics has turned up a surprising finding: our most irrational choices might be explained by the theories of quantum mechanics. The idea is that the choices we face are all co-existing at the same time, until we make a decision – at that point all other possibilities disappear from our minds.
“Our beliefs don’t jump from state to state: instead we experience a feeling of ambiguity about all of the states simultaneously,” one of the researchers, Zheng Joyce Wang from Ohio State University, told The Independent. When we’re faced with a choice, she says, quantum theory enables our minds to shift between each option in a state of indecision until the exact moment that we make a decision.
The leap from sub-atomic particles (the usual domain of quantum theory) to the decisions made by the consciousness of human beings is quite a big one; however, there is evidence that the uncertainty present in quantum physics more naturally fits the uncertainty present in our minds. Some scientists have gone as far as to say our brains are actually quantum computers themselves, though Wang and her team stop short of that.
“We have accumulated so many paradoxical findings in the field of cognition, and especially in decision-making,” explains Wang in a press release. “Whenever something comes up that isn’t consistent with classical theories, we often label it as ‘irrational’. But from the perspective of quantum cognition, some findings aren’t irrational anymore. They’re consistent with quantum theory – and with how people really behave.” Source: Here’s why our most irrational decisions could be a result of quantum theory