Last week a good friend visited and gave a movie with the title “What the bleep do we really know.” At first I thought, as my friend suggested this was the latest of the latest. Upon seeing it the first time, late at night, I thought hey this is a nice prelude or explanation of “The Secret”.The day after, my partner asked me about the movie and I decided to look at it again. This time I paid some more attention.
Big Steps Home Quickly“: Cutting Corners
There is a saying in the Netherlands: “Grote stappen, snel thuis” which would translate as “Big Steps Home Quickly” or as they say in the English language: “cutting corners.” “What the Bleep” is a blend of a documentary and a fictional story and well as some animations to present a perspective on the universe and human life within that universe. Connections are made to quantum physics and neurosciences. The central theme of the movie: “We create our own reality.”
Some of the ideas discussed in relation to this theme are that:
- the universe is to be seen as contructed from thought rather than from substance/matter;
- “empty space” is not empty
- matter is not solid as nuclei go in and out of existence an it is unknown where they end up;
- peptides, chemically maufactured in the brain can cause certain bodily reactions to an emotion;
- beliefs about who you are and what is real, form oneself and one’s realities.
All not too shocking as such and ideas and themes that are discussed throughout a wide array of literature and discussion forums.
I cannot help but thinking that this is yet another production appealing to the large number of people seeking some sort of spiritual connection in an ever growing body of teachings to choose from. This film complements this array I could imagine, jumping from quantum physics to cognition to spirituality in a few easy to follow steps. Most off all the movie seemed to be a one and a half hour promotional movie for Ramtha and her School of Enlightenment.
As far as the scientists in the movie speaking out, it cannot be denied that at first their claims as represented in the movie were challenging to say the least” due to the nature of quantum physics at a sub-atomic level, what we call reality is actually a construct of our minds. The latter part of this concept is well known and discussed and underlies to some extent the concepts similar to those presented in “The Secret.” It was the first part of this equation that was new to me and it all went so quick. Was it really all that simple? Or… doubter/cynic as I may be at times was there more to all this that was not told in the movie.
A few minutes on Google and my worries were confirmed. The producers and directors of the movie are themselves members of the Ramtha School of Enlightenment: a cult or sect whose followers look for guidance and wisdom in the words of Ramtha, who is said to have conquered the continent adjoining Atlantis. Ramtha has a ‘channeler’: JZ Knight, the husky voiced, bleeche and seemingly lip botoxed old
woman in Michael Jackson like uniform, who is called J Z Knight. She operates her Ramtha School of Enlightenment from Yelm, a village in Washington state, coincidently the same village where the movie opened.
Quantum physics, has this inherent beauty and attraction in that its uncertainties or vagueness can be brought in to explain virtually anything out of the ordinary: consciousness, meditation, the paranormal, time travel, ESP, and well, the list goes on. It is regarded as a most powerful theory that studies how matter behaves at the atomic and subatomic levels. Get that deep into the structure of things and it starts to behave very strangely. It almost seems like there is a counter, non-common-sense universe operating right under our noses. Subatomic particles are able to be in two places at the same time! They can exist in two times and places simultaneously but still remain highly connected and could even be at different ends of the universe (the concept of ‘non-locality’). They can an do go in and out of existence at random. They can travel effortlessly from the future to the present. This would suggest that matter is influenced by future and past and could make you think about whether we could influence the past even. Since matter is so inconsistent and unpredictable, quantum finds it hard to view the world as real. When an observation isn’t made; a thing technically doesn’t exist: “it’s just a wave, or a possibility.”
What does this mean for us? It implies that we as human make things exist. It suggests that at some level, you can see what you want and observation can influence matter. This is initially illustrated by referring to the work of Masaru Emoto whose challenged research allegedly showed that water molecules can be influenced by thought. Similarly questioned is the meditation experiement referred to in the movie.
In the movie this all leads to a rationalization of God, which I think will most likely not be entertained by a lot of scientists.
A prominent role in the movie is reserved for Dr Alan Wolf. One could almost not have a better guy to present the concepts: a big grey Einsteinesque head of grey hair and an impressive CV, one of the more respected advocates of quantum theory and a presenter at Discovery Channel and I must say a great producer of easy to grasp scientific one liners:
- ‘The ultimate secret is not to be in the know, but in the mystery.”
- “We’re mostly made not of atoms, but of mind.”
- “Whatever you think you are isn’t you.”
- “It’s all true. There are just different levels of truth.”
(Hearing this one, strangely enough I could but think that this could have been one coming from Helen Clark and here string of puppets in the years before the last election.)
- “There is no out there independent of what’s going on in here.” (the brain).
And then there was most notably the critique of one of the prominent presenters: David Albert Ph. D, who ended up being very disgruntled about being made to look as if he was endorsing the movie’s underlying thesis. Here’s what he said about the movie:
“I was edited in such a way as to completely suppress my actual views about the matters the movie discusses. I am, indeed, profoundly unsympathetic to attempts at linking quantum mechanics with consciousness. Moreover, I explained all that, at great length, on camera, to the producers of the film … Had I known that I would have been so radically misrepresented in the movie, I would certainly not have agreed to be filmed.”
The Science Media Centre asked a group of scientists for their comments on the film. I will rest but saying that these scientists were, well, to say it friendly, far from positive with classifications such as: “gross misstatements of recent scientific findings”, “grossing documentary”, “it would be easy for someone to pick up the wrong ideas”, “dangerous”, “some is newpage clap trap.”
I can but say I enjoyed the movie, and it gave me some food for further research. At the same time I need to say that in my view a healthy dose of skepticism may be required before you jump on to all to drastic conclusions and actions. I have had the emails of those that were disappointed with “The Secret” and wondered whether it could classify as a consumer fraud. I am curious whether some may consider similar claims about this movie which could also serve as the story behind “The Secret”. An initial search after writing most of this post on Google, gave me over 3800 hits, which is way less than would have expected. So, there may be more value in this movie than I got out of it. For now I would like to close of saying: before you start using your consciousness to control matter and your reality, may I recommend some additional sources to read:
- What the bleep
- Bleep of Faith at Salon.com
- What the Bleep is Wrong With Everyone? by Evan Todras-Whitehill in the Huffington Post
- Beyond the Bleep by Alexandra Bruce, available at Google Books
- David Albert: ‘What the BLEEP’ is Wildly and Irresponsibly Wrong, by Annie Wagner
- What the Bleep Do We Know!? wikipedia
- What the Bleep do we Know? at Einstein Year
- Quantum World
- A discussion at Yelp
- Fred Alan Wolf’s website
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