April 13th, 2005

Salt Precaution

Oh, I know [bleep], all right.

greygirlbeast's reactions to a film called What the [Bleep] do We Know?, intrigued me enough that I sought it out and watched it. The movie consists of a series of interviews with physics students, spiritualists, doctors, and, supposedly, the channelled spirit of an Atlantian warrior named Ramtha. At intervals, the movie follows the fictional story of a young woman played by Marlee Matlin. Her life as a divorcee and photographer is used to demonstrate and gloss arguments seemingly made by the interviewees regarding a connexion between quantum mechanics and the idea that we humans are capable of altering physical reality purely by effort of will.

Having read the information Caitlin found showing the film's most important proofs to be false, I knew going in that the film had no real scientific basis for its arguments, despite its pretensions to the contrary. But I was curious, as it seemed a stimulating point of conversation and several very intelligent people seemed to have been taken in by it. What I would have thought of the movie if I'd not known the illegitimacy of its evidences, I can't say. What I did find was a movie that was silly and pathetic.

The first portion is an overwrought justification of the title, What the [Bleep] do We Know?, as it states the old idea that we don't know if our reality is really real, or a sort of dream, or something else. This can be sort of fun to think about, but a surprising lot of people tend to not realise that the concept in itself neither proves nor disproves anything.

Then we segue somehow into quantum mechanics, in which there is a theory that an infinite number of alternate realities exist, one for every alternate possibility. Which is interesting, but hardly is this the first time the concept in art has been explored. I remember it from the seventh season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Parallels", in which Worf was continuously shifting between different quantum realities. Data explained the idea a lot more effectively than What the [Bleep]'s experts ever do.

So from there, the movie reaches its real point, which is to say that somehow we can take control of our lives--have better jobs, relationships, self-esteem--by consciously tapping into alternate realities. "Creating the day", effectively, by visualising what we want and making ourselves believe it until it's true.

What I'd like to know is why it's supposed to be easier to tap into an alternate reality to change things than it is to simply decide to do things differently and doing it. Yeah, we have our habits and they can be hard to break, but is it really harder than shifting to an alternate reality?

You know, these are just the sorts of people that ought to never get their hands on a time machine. "I magicked my ex-wife to death!", "My mental powers got my horse to win!", "I eradicated all pigeons every where, every when!"

But perhaps most heinous of the movie's crimes is that damned wedding scene with those shrill cartoon peptides. Think Son of the Mask, only worse.

And one final, evil thought--did Marlee Matlin ever ask Ramtha to take her to the reality where she's not deaf?
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