31 December 2004

What the #$*!, indeed

So I finally caught What the (Bleep) Do We Know!?, the film about the mystical implications of modern science that's sweeping the nation.

What a #$*!ing load of #$*!. Let me count the ways ...

Not only does it misrepresent modern physics, not only does it offer a hokey half-baked version of mysticism, not only does it jumble together real science and pseudoscience, not only is it rhetorically sloppy and irresponsible — it's also bad filmmaking.

Set aside the fact that they've chopped up many of the talking heads' comments into quotes so short that they cannot say anything subtle, and you suspect they've been excerpted out of context — the comments are assembled into such a chaotic mess that it's hard to follow what argument the film is even trying to present.

Set aside the silliness of blobby computer animated anthroporphized cells as a way of conveying the idea that the mind and body are linked by hormone action at the cellular level --- this stuff is supposed to be cute, funny, and witty, when it's in fact mawkish and boring.

Set aside that half of the talking heads are obviously crazy --- they even look crazy. Which cannot have been the intention. I hope.

Set aside that the fable of Marlee Matalin as a depressed, delusional, drug-addicted photographer who stumbles through a few messages about enlightenment is just plain dumb --- it's also boring.

Maybe I missed the point, since I finally couldn't take it any more and and left about fifteen minutes before the picture ended. I doubt that it pulled itself together in the last few minutes.

Afterward, I took a look at the list of commentators in the movie from the official website. Apparently their identities are revealed at the end of the film; during the picture they just talk. Which, if you think about it, is a cheap and irresponsible trick. When someone is telling me how quantum mechanics works, in order to evaluate what they're saying, I should know whether they are a physicist from Columbia University or a woman who trance channels a 35,000 year old warrior mystic from Atlantis. After a few minutes with Google, I'm a little wiser about who we have.

JZ Knight gets a lot of screen time, and she trance channels the aforementioned ancient Atlantean, Ramtha. I didn't make that up.

David Albert is the physicist from Columbia University. He talks in little snippets about quantum mechanics in the film. Here's what he has to say 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.

John Hagelin also talks quite a bit. It turns out that he is a leader in the Natural Law Party, which is a front for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which is so loopy that even Pat Buchanan's fans are spooked by his attempted involvement in the Reform Party.

Jeffrey Satinover, a doctor who also talks quite a bit, turns out to be involved in "curing" homosexuals, and according to an essay on his website believes

What it comes down to is that liberalism causes brain damage. Liberals are not just unwilling to engage in rational thought, they are, after just so long, incapable of it.

Michael Ledwith resigned his position as a monsignor in the Catholic Church, either because he started ranting about Jesus' twin brother or because he was caught sexually abusing children, it's hard to know which.

... and at that point I start to lose interest. Though it was nice to see the delightfully loopy Fred Alan Wolf, whose writing I've stumbled across before and who says the closest thing to interesting stuff in the movie.

But if that's not enough kvetching for you, Salon has an exposé on how the whole thing is an advertisement for Ramtha, and Not Even Wrong has another vigorous critique with some interesting stuff in the comment thread, The Skeptic's Dictionary has a review of the film on their entertaining page on Ramtha, and even cartoonists are making fun.

15 comments:

Richard said...

When I saw the Bleep movie last night I knew that there was something about it that seemed to suggest "Cult". I was right! I tend to stay away from garbage movies regardless of the graphics! Anyway, thank you for doing the work! I meant a lot! Sincerely Rich Holler

Anonymous said...

Hi Miniver, What have you studied? Physics? How reliable is your review? I watched the extended version "Down the rabbit hole". It is obvious that the movie is trying to convince you to get into ramtha's cult but at the same time there are some interesting talking heads that you haven't mention, I do not know why? because if you are making a review about a movie where there are important names you should review them too not only the ones you find more helpful to your reviews opinion. I mean names as:
William Tiller, Ph.D.
Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
Dean Radin, Ph.D.
Stuart Hameroff M.D.
Dr. Daniel Monti
Dr. Joseph Dispenza
Please if you have something to say about them let us know. I am reading Dr. Joseph Dispenzas book "Evolve your brain" I am finding it interesting but I am not an academic so my judgment on the subject wont be fair. Do you know any academic who have read it? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

For an academic review read: http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/bleep/

Jonathan Korman said...

I studied physics as an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz. Undergraduate instruction in quantum mechanics is limited ... but more than enough for me to say that the description of it presented in the film is hokum.

The fundamental point of my review is that the film is nonsensical and rhetorically irresponsible. Five untrustworthy talking heads are enough to make this point; I don't have the patience to research the others.

Tom said...

always the same ... my truth is more true than yours, don´t believe what you found - believe what i found come one guys this is so childish !

Anonymous said...

I myself believe in facts, but when it comes to the mysteries of the human mind you are doubt allot. The movie is not always right but it wants to inform you of a single fact. The human consciousness has abilities that surpass the physical. I myself as well as many other I have met in my life have these abilities and are do not expose does facts to the general public because they are miss understood. They are considered crazy or just weird. That you can’t understand it can’t explain it does not make it absolute lies. Yes you can say Ramtha is a pretty crazy cult. But the message they deliver is not. The day science can understand how a man can we can do things beyond our physical boundaries. You will not get a clear answer. In absolute science there is no god, there is no spirit, there is no right and wrong. There is just action and reaction. Think beyond because I bet you just look at the facts and that’s that. Please use your mind, maybe you might become something greater than you expected. Learn from all forms of knowledge you never know what you might learn from them.

Anonymous said...

I myself believe in facts, but when it comes to the mysteries of the human mind you are doubt allot. The movie is not always right but it wants to inform you of a single fact. The human consciousness has abilities that surpass the physical. I myself as well as many other I have met in my life have these abilities and are do not expose does facts to the general public because they are miss understood. They are considered crazy or just weird. That you can’t understand it can’t explain it does not make it absolute lies. Yes you can say Ramtha is a pretty crazy cult. But the message they deliver is not. The day science can understand how a man can we can do things beyond our physical boundaries. You will not get a clear answer. In absolute science there is no god, there is no spirit, there is no right and wrong. There is just action and reaction. Think beyond because I bet you just look at the facts and that’s that. Please use your mind, maybe you might become something greater than you expected. Learn from all forms of knowledge you never know what you might learn from them.

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy, attempt a spell check next time before posting or else everyone will think that your only power that surpasses the physical is your ability to speak in short, gramatically incorrect sentences

Anonymous said...

thank you very much for clearing up that rathma is a "put-on" .

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Tell it to a paraplegic.

Anonymous said...

So about some of the other talking heads...the man who introduced me to this film was one of the most intelligent minds I have ever been around...I consider myself smart and have met true prodigy/genius folks...He ranks at the top...He had a library of complicated physics(was a professor)that even when Very intoxicated he could still sit and do equations/definitions...could Recite and explain to me in simple terms, that kind of smart. He could talk theory all night...He was taught by a couple of the talking heads. He said they were so much smarter than him, which I had trouble imagining but would love to meet them. Its the idea of expanding your consciousness and not letting your emotions/story own who you are...And how do you explain even a fraction of the idea of quantum mechanics and the way the world relates mathematically at so many levels without it being so dead...Propaganda of course...Is it totally credible, no...but does it get you thinking and investigating yes I think so...I love this division of science because they are okay with receiving questions from experiments and not just the direct answer...Some of the findings are interesting and time will tell what theories are closest to what we will ever understand about ourselves and the cosmos.

Anonymous said...

and sorry about the bad grammar, stumbled upon the thread for the first time and gotta go to bed so being lazy and informal...also never posted here before but staying anonymous because ill never be back probably. yay internet :)
be well carpe diem/nocturne
ciao

Shep said...

@Anonymous 08 July, 2007 11:12

Using the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem does not an argument make. Why, exactly, are the names of the "heads" buried under the credit's "Special Thanks" ... wait, was that DR. GORDON J GROBELNY – INTER-STELLER WARRIOR?

He's a chiropractic. Why I had to wait until the credits to roll to learn this is both disingenuous & deceptive.

This "film" is nothing more than half truths wrapped in pseudo-psychological/spiritual BS. How can it not target the weak minded so they can feel all cozy & safe rather than invest the time, effort in this discipline? It's an insult to the rational man.

@Anonymous 25 April, 2011 22:08

Then ask him where QM is hijacked for this cult's propaganda.

@Korman

I'd like to note "Marlee Matalin as a depressed, delusional, drug-addicted photographer" is not the same as stating the character has a mental issue & taking prescription medication.

Patrick said...

Well... Great work... Writing a review about a movie and criticizing it for not sticking to the facts- and then "not having the patience" to find out something about all the other people speaking?!? Pffffft... I bet you did, but YOU did exactly the same: You had a message to give here, that the movie is sh.. So you only highlighted what YOU wanted to make people think....
And just because someone is "only a chiropractic" he can't be right?! How poor is that point of view, haha?!
I know I'm a bit late here, but I just found out about all the questionable "facts" and people appearing in "What the bleep" and seriously it annoys me big time as well! But the thing is, if someone is soooo intelligent to see the "fake" in this movie, HOW can you not take the fact at the same time, that you just CAN'T tell... maybe your ego? Just asking... Do meditation, just TRY before judging it first... You might find some real TRUTHS, ones that you can't explain, but also can't deny... But I guess it's much easier to point at stupid chiropractics or in general people who can't prove things with the kind of science you feel comfy with... Don't get me wrong, I don't like the fact either that the whole thing gets that kind of dirty cult touch, but I totally agree with the opinion that this movie gives messages (and also FACTS) that are not weird, conspiratorial or brainwashing at all, if you don't filter it through your own super-smart glasses... Are we really that intelligent that we can prove everything?? Sad that some quotes were abused and cut falsely for the movie, but not a little bit better that there's so many "specialists" who KNOW that everything's wrong straight away. Doesn't matter what you stand for, man, if you think you have the answer, you're dumber than anyone else... Sorry for the long message and for not checking it with a spelling program...
Love to everyone out there anyway! Hope you learn OBSERVING NEUTRALLY before JUDGING...

Hubertus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.