The Big Bell Bet

Poet and McGill University emeritus professor of chemistry Bryan Sanctuary (Google scholar:; personal blog: is betting me 5000 Euro that he can resolve the EPR-Bell paradox to the satisfaction of the majority of our peers. Moreover, he will do it by a publication (or at least, a pre-publication) within the year. That’s this calendar year, 2022. Naturally, he expects public (scientific) acclaim to follow “in no time”. I don’t expect that. We will settle the bet by consultation with our peers, and this consultation will be concluded by the end of the following year. So that’s by the end of the succeeding calendar year, 2023.

John S. Bell inspects the Christmas present which his friends the Bertlmanns have just given him

I, therefore, expect his gracious admission of defeat and a nice check for 5000 Euro, two years from now.

He expects the opposite. (Poor Bryan! It’s like taking candy from a baby…)

(He presumably thinks the same)

The small print

Small print item 1: Who are our peers? Like a jury, they will be determined by having our mutual approval. To begin with, we will invite the members of a couple of Google groups/internet seminars in which one or both of us already participate. Here are links to two of them: Jarek Duda’s (Krakow) “QM foundations & nature of time seminar”: and; and Alexandre de Castro’s Google group “Bell inequalities and quantum foundations”:

Small print item 2: What does Bryan think he’s going to achieve? Restoration of locality and realism, and banning of weirdness and spookiness from quantum mechanics.

Small print item 3: What do I think about his putative theory? Personally, but it is not up to me to decide, I would accept that he has won if his theory (which he has not yet revealed to the world) would allow me to win my Bell game challenge “against myself”. i.e., it would allow me to write computer programs to simulate a successful loophole-free Bell experiment – thus satisfying the usual spatiotemporal constraints on inputs and outputs while preventing conspiracy, and reliably violating a suitable Bell inequality by an amount that is both statistically and physically significant. This means that, in my opinion, he should only win if he can convince the majority of our peers that those constraints are somehow unphysical. I mention that if experimenters voluntarily impose those constraints (to the best of their ability) in real experiments, then there cannot be a metaphysical reason to forbid them. However, the bet will be settled by a democratic vote of our peers! Clearly, this does constitute a loophole for me: a majority of our peers might still fall for superdeterminism or any other craziness.

I suspect that Bryan believes he can now resurrect his previous attempt I think it is very brave of him but doomed to failure, because I don’t think he will come up with a theory that will catch on. (I even believe that such a theory is not even possible, but that’s my personal belief).

To reiterate: our peers will determine who has won our bet. Bryan is betting that a year from now he will have revolutionised quantum mechanics, restoring locality and realism and that his then appearing paper will rapidly force Zeilinger, Gisin, me, and a host of others, to retract our papers on quantum teleportation, quantum non-locality, and all that. I am betting that the world will not be impressed. Our peers will vote whether or not they believe that Bryan has achieved his goal.

171 thoughts on “The Big Bell Bet”

  1. Richard, thanks for the link.

    However it is that simple and none of what I said is classical.

    Terms like |x,x’> that I refer to above are not probabilities but prob amplitudes.
    (I know you know this and am saying this for others)

    So when computing probabilities, these terms interfere.

    This is the intrinsic quantum property of quantum.

    Interference has nothing to do with infinitely fast communication. And this nonsense has to stop.

    Indeed, no one speaks of faster than light communication when talking about fringe patterns of a diffraction limited spot in microscopy. Why? Because crackpots always seek to answer “profound” all-encompassing questions. Never, nitty-gritty issues like mirror alignments or adaptive optics to improve the quality of experimental output.

    Non-locality is only a “hot topic” in quantum because its clarity has been undermined by philosophers operating outside the realm of science.

  2. If you believe in quantum mechanics, all you can say is “I told you so”. This is what Bohr would have said (according to Bell); and what Feynman did say. Non-locality is a hot topic in quantum because at last it is becoming clear that Feynman was right: you can’t understand it, you can only become used to the maths. The crackpot here is our friend Bryan, who will not accept that there is no local hidden variables explanation for a wealth of experimental data.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: