Mindset in context: (from 1986, hence part of my thinking in that era)
“A Schizophrenic View
Do physicists therefore believe that in the last analysis, nothing is real?
”Most physicists,” said Dr. Fritz Rohrlich of Syracuse University, ”develop a somewhat schizophrenic view. On one hand they accept the standard interpretation of quantum theory, including the epistemological irreducibility of system and observer. On the other they insist on the reality of quantum systems even when these are not observed.”
In Dr. Mermin’s view, however, physicists fall into three categories. The first, a minority, is troubled by the philosophical implications of the E.P.R. paper and Dr. Bell’s theorem. The second group is not troubled by such issues, Dr. Mermin says, because its members have devised explanations ”that tend either to miss the point entirely or to contain physical assertions that can be shown to be false.” The last group is not troubled by the philosophical problems of quantum theory, but members refuse to say why they are not troubled. ”Their position is unassailable,” Dr. Mermin adds.
”I suppose,” said another participant at the meeting, ”that our discussions sometimes seem like those old-time theological arguments over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But we’re trying to decipher the very basis of existence. We’ll probably never succeed completely, but posing the biggest question there is seems worthwhile in itself.”