We don’t usually expect science writers to be as straightforward as Michael Hanlon (1964–2016) was in 2014. The temptation to chase after the latest buzz is probably hard to resist when you know that that’s what the Big Ideas crowd really wants anyway. But Hanlon resisted:
“Consciousness is in fact so weird, and so poorly understood, that we may permit ourselves the sort of wild speculation that would be risible in other fields. We can ask, for instance, if our increasingly puzzling failure to detect intelligent alien life might have any bearing on the matter. We can speculate that it is consciousness that gives rise to the physical world rather than the other way round. The 20th-century British physicist James Hopwood Jeans speculated that the universe might be ‘more like a great thought than like a great machine.’ Idealist notions keep creeping into modern physics, linking the idea that the mind of the observer is somehow fundamental in quantum measurements and the strange, seemingly subjective nature of time itself, as pondered by the British physicist Julian Barbour. – Michael Hanlon, “The mental block” at Aeon (October 9, 2013)”News, “Science journalist: No hype. Consciousness is a HARD problem!” at Mind Matters News
But now, what about idealism?
Idealism is simply the mirror image of materialism. All mind instead of all matter. As philosopher of science Bruce Gordon has pointed out recently, it is a defensible position, in the light of what we now know from quantum physics. See, for example, In quantum physics, reality is what “we choose to observe. Idealism may be wrong, just as materialism may be wrong — but not in principle. Rather, on the evidence.News, “Science journalist: No hype. Consciousness is a HARD problem!” at Mind Matters News
Takehome: Perhaps accepting the fact that the mind is immaterial may convert the problem from intractable to difficult but solvable in principle.
You may also wish to read: Mystery: Our brains divide up events but we experience them whole. That’s one of the conundrums of consciousness.