Dear Professor Vongehr,
I just visited your column. While I don't mind that you put my comment there, I think it will be inevitable before one of your regular readers googles my name and as a result will find something about me that they will notify you about, and I'd prefer you find out from me.
About 10 years ago, as I was preparing to pursue a master in public health degree, having already graduated from pharmacy school, I had an epiphany about a fundamental aspect of nature. Physics not being my field, I hesitated to do anything about this, but after some time I realized that I had a strong inner urge to find out whether the insight from that epiphany had any merit or not.
I broke off my MPH studies halfway and decided to learn physics. Because some of the initial glimpses of what I was beginning to understand about quantum mechanism seemed to match the insight, I became very enthusiastic. In a fit of overactive enthusiasm, I applied to the JREF Million Dollar challenge, claiming that I had an epiphany which would transform our understanding of quantum mechanics. Because I do not know the "cause" of my epiphany, and frankly do not believe in supernatural phenomena, I framed my claim in accordance with my convictions by saying that it would be less likely for a layperson with no prior training to have such a fundamental insight than for a genuine psychic event to occur. In order to not be disqualified from the challenge, however, I expressed this very subtly.
Given that you appear to hold the JREF in very high esteem, having founded your own quantum version of their challenge (which, BTW I believe is impossible to beat), I think it is fair for me to believe that this new information will strongly color your perception of me and make it more likely for you to discount anything else I say.
However, I request that you hear the rest of the story.
At the time, none of the applications were online, that came later. While I was not happy when they did post my application without my consent or permission and prefaced it by calling me "psychic Einstein", I decided to ignore them and continue with my studies. I continued to take almost all the courses a physics major would take (on a part-time basis) as well as additional philosophy of physics and mathematics courses at the University of Michigan, while working full-time as a pharmacist.
Seriously studying physics can be a humbling experience. However, I was determined to honestly try to find out if what I seemed to have stumbled upon had any merit. In particular, I was ready to admit any mistake I had made, and unfortunately I made lots of them. The upside of making a mistake, however, is that one can learn from it, and as a result, one knows more than before the mistake was made.
Last year, I finally felt ready (after 7 years) to make the details of my idea public. I already had ongoing discussions with a couple of my professors (one in the physics and the other in the philosophy department) and after they understood the details of my idea they gave me permission to deposit the relevant papers in Deep Blue, the University of Michigan's repository.
I have since participated in some conferences, and observed that the JREF's action appears to be seriously hurting my efforts to achieve a meaningful scientific exchange with others. For instance, I participated last year at a conference at Perimeter, giving a poster presentation about my framework, and by the second day, the JREF's post upon googling my name jumped from 13th to 1st position, and I could tell that people were avoiding me. Also, when I sent in my paper for publication, the chief editor, no doubt having googled me after seeing some unorthodox ideas in the paper, felt fit to write me back saying that I did not understand quantum mechanics.
Before you write me off as a crackpot or a delusional person, too, I'd like to ask that you consider the evidence, which you can check for yourself:
-I have never compared myself to Einstein, they did. I only claimed that I had an epiphany, which I truthfully did, and it has changed the course of my life
-My actual claim does not contain a psychic claim but a comparison of the likelihood of what happened to me to an actual psychic event (but of course, after one sees "psychic Einstein" who is going to check?)
-Finally, the content of my idea. Before you make any judgement about its merit, why not examine the evidence? 3 months ago, I gave a talk about my framework at the Vaxjo conference on the foundations of quantum mechanics in which I attempted to give an overview and I believe this is the best way to familiarize someone who knows nothing about it. You will find that the central idea is so simple that a layperson with no knowledge about quantum mechanics could have stumbled on it (although that was not my initial epiphany, however it directly led to that central idea). And if during the talk I said anything that contradicts our current knowledge about quantum mechanics, I will be the first to admit that I was mistaken.
You can find the talk here: http://youtu.be/GurBISsM3
I have throughout the entire time I have been studying physics been eager to be honest with myself and readily admit when I make a mistake. I believe this is what distinguishes what many call a 'crackpot' from somebody who is pursuing an unorthodox idea in a scientific fashion. I believe that even someone in academia can be a crackpot if they refuse to admit that they have made a mistake in their endeavor.
I believe I can say that my professors know me as a hardworking and serious but also very curious student and hope you take the evidence I presented into account before judging me.