Skepticism

What the $%&@# Do We Know?

So, what the $%#& do we know? For starters, we know the movie by (approximately) that name is pure unadulterated crap. There’s a new one out, from the same people: What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole. In case you missed these films, let me give you a quick overview: they use and abuse quantum physics in order to push their feel-good metaphysical agenda and present it as fact. They even feature Ramtha, the ancient spirit who apparently inhabits a delusional American woman.

Dennis Overbye has written a very good overview of the movies and their tenuous grasp of science, which you can read here.

When it comes to physics, people seem to need to kid themselves. There is a presumption, Dr. Albert said, that if you look deeply enough you will find “some reaffirmation of your own centrality to the world, a reaffirmation of your ability to take control of your own destiny.” We want to know that God loves us, that we are the pinnacle of evolution.

Utter crap.

How sadly true. This overwhelming need for purpose in a random universe has fostered ignorance throughout the centuries, and continues to do so today. Creationists, psychic detectives, and cults all feed on this problem, and it needs to be stopped.

With these movies, the movement toward ignorance gains strength by associating itself with science and knowledge. They are forcing their way into pop culture — let’s not allow them in. If we can show mainstream audiences that reality offers something to wonder at, something to take comfort in, maybe we can be rid of the superstitions that are holding our society back.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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5 Comments

  1. Religion has always mixed with science, especially in the early days. I don't really think it can be stopped. People like to attempt to justify the beliefs that they can't justify by attaching them to something that they can. Its just something that people do. Good luck though.

    Never saw the first movie. I saw that Ramtha was in it and quickly decided that it wasn't for me. She's got a good racket going though. I wish I housed a spirit that made me that kind of money. The ancient spirit that lives inside of me just makes me drink beer.

    -Adrian

    p.s. just a side note. Not quite sure the this is a "random" universe. I don't know what exactly what the culmination of all effects in reality could be described as, but I'm not positive that "random" is the best descriptor. I lean more towards "existance coming from unknown, if any ,origin that exists for an unknown, if any, purpose and follows, or does not follow, specific rules." I figure that is safe. :P

  2. I think I read about this in the NYT online–

    As a former schoolteacher, I think it just goes to show how badly educated our kids are regarding science.

    It is astounding to me how completely these film auteurs have failed to grasp what Quantum Theory is really about– Or the controversies surrounding such a theory that, as yet, cannot be tested!

  3. Adrian,

    I agree about your randomness comment. That's the one thing that jumped out at me and said, "Hmmm…not really." I suspect Rebecca probably meant it as a counterargument to the notions of "meaning" and "purpose" of life and existence, as if some purposeful creator endowed the latter with the former. As such, perhaps it is somewhat fitting.

    Nevertheless, sure, the physical laws of the universe aren't random, and they seem to have been created with the universe itself. Thus, the formation of stars, of heavier elements, of solar systems with planets — at least one where life formed in splendid biodiversity — were all in a sense inevitable. Just as we can use the DNA genomes to trace every living creature on earth back to a single-celled primitive organism, we can trace all the matter/energy and fields in the universe back to the hot, dense, cloud of matter/energy and fields which sprang from the Big Bang, or at least when can look back to a time shortly thereafter.

    We didn't get here by chance, which is how creationists tend to characterize scientists' explanations for cosmology, abiogenesis (I should say speculations about it in particular, as no one knows), and the evolution of life on earth. The laws of physics led to our being here, and the precipitating event for our existence had already put into place everything the would lead to it from the first moment in time.

    Bubba

  4. The thing that amazes me is simply the number of otherwise-intelligent folks who go nuts about Ramtha's movies. It's like they all switch off their B.S. detectors merely because it's in movie form. I do what I can, but sadly that isn't much.

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