What the Bleep Do We Know?![1]

Well for starters – the difference between science and pseudoscience…

 June 19, 2010 

“If you get to mellow first you ripen, then you rot.” – Woody Allen 

A friend that is aware of my atheism suggested that I watch 2004’s “What the Bleep Do We Know?!” a strange little film that tried desperately to be a cute self-discovery movie and at the same time an intellectually serious documentary. Kudos to the movie part – Marlee Maitlin is as good as ever and she conveys a wide range of human emotion and her character develops and grows over the length of the film. The major issues I have with the film are the attempts to convey an element of scientific proof to its new age mysticism. 

The transformation story of Maitlin’s character is done well enough, but it is completely used to push the agenda of the filmmakers, William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente – all of who are interestingly enough are students of J.Z. Knight – an American huckster  with a charming fake accent who claims to channel a 35,000 year old spirit named Ramtha.[2] Knight’s schools offer programs all over the world in such clever, subjects as Consciousness and Energy, Create Your Day and Analogical Archery. The school charges upwards of $800 for its weekend programs. How spiritual – how profitable.[3] 

Maitlin is Amanda who is at a difficult time in her life – she is bored, having trouble with her photography work, in need of anti-anxiety medications and self-loathing. As she travels thru a few days she learns that not everything is at it appears – which is often true in real life. However, the film makers try so foist the theories of quantum mechanics into all of this in such a ludicrous manner as to make us believe our minds can crystallize water.[4]  Later in the film she is photographing a wedding and sees a couple through blurry glass having sex – she is so sure that it is the groom that she goes ballistic as she recently ended her marriage to a philandering husband. A new friend at the wedding soon shows her that the couple were in fact having sex, but it was not the groom, but a similarly dressed groomsman. There is no connection to this type of “everything is not as it appears” situation to the suggestion that one of the talking heads makes that we could all walk on water if we could only get over our negative thoughts that it is impossible. If this was truly possible wouldn’t the filmmakers have shown this on film to bolster their case? Utter nonsense. 

All of these fallacies aside the infuriating part of this movie is its intellectual dishonesty and its misuse of one of the physicists that agreed to be interviewed for the movie. Columbia physicist David Albert was right to be upset when he learned that the producers edited his answers to their interview questions where he told them there was no connection between quantum physics and spirituality only to find the filmmakers edited his answers to fit their agenda.[5] Other scientists have chimed in to criticize the intellectual inaccuracies and fallacies of this film[6] – I have little problem with the New Agers and their cute little film – but to so utterly distort the answers received in their interviews and to portray this psychic nonsense as real science is a lie and needs to be called out.

If you liked this post, you may want to read this prior article – thanks – Mike


[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399877/

[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/may/16/g2.science

[3] http://events.ramtha.com/events/2010/

[4] I love this part of the movie – the so-called “Chi Experiment” – they show beautiful images of crystallized water that was made possible from an “open mind.” The film makers must have forgot to mention that the water was in fact ice, and ice form crystals naturally thru the laws of physics – there is not mind-crystal connection.

[5] http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2004-10/cult-science

[6] http://scitation.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_59/iss_11/14_1.shtml?bypassSSO=1http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/may/16/g2.sciencehttp://pubs.acs.org/cen/reelscience/reviews/whatthe_bleep/


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9 Responses to “What the Bleep Do We Know?![1]”

  1. levelsofillusion Says:

    Consider this if you will….


  2. gabrielle agachiko Says:

    REALLY??? hahahaha.

  3. sapblatt Says:

    Hey Gabrielle – thanks for reading – no idea how to take your remark – either you are very new agey/spiritual or you are not at all! Enjoy the soccer!
    Take care

    levelsofillusion – thanks for sharing – nice post – I like it and shared it in a few spots on Facebook.

  4. Kate Says:

    Well written review, I did not see the movie… I am a non theis, but not sure of what is “all of this is: the more I read quatum mech, or some of the geological facts of our planet, or the new discoveries of astronomy… the more I feel like I do not know anything… and I wish I had the capacity to understand at least something… so when you talk about the ” have little problem with the New Agers and their cute little film – but to so utterly distort the answers received in their interviews and to portray this psychic nonsense as real science is a lie and needs to be called out.” well… .. what the blip do we know???? ( I am opose to religion and the manipulation that comes with it… but I am open to understand other realities… which might not include a “super being” the way our Santa Claus is … always watching us… arg!!) Thank you for the review… I might or not watch this one.

  5. Monika Says:

    I never saw this movie…nor have I seen “The Secret.” From your description, however; it seems that the movie does a great disservice to both sides. I’m a spirituality buff and have taken many workshops, read many books and have had many incredible experiences. I love this stuff. That said, whenever I’ve heard quantum physics applied to anything New Age, it’s always been the simple quote of “Like energy attracts like energy.” E.g. if you are thinking about something negative you are likely to manifest it; if you are thinking about something positive you are likely to manifest that. It’s similar to the “self fulfilling prophecy” adage that we’ve all pontificated about for decades, really.

    As for walking on water…heh, that would be fun, but I can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone do it. I do wish Elizabeth Foley was still doing her spoon bending workshop, because I’d send you =) It’s wild and you’d never forget it. I’m amazed at what you can do with energy.

    I’m not religious. I never have been, never will be. In general, save for some of the Eastern philosophies, most organized religion makes me batty. I find it many manipulative and some wildly hypocritical. I have little tolerance for that sort of thing. Sprituality, on the other hand, I love. I’ve had incredible experiences. But I also know that if you are open, you seek out the workshops, gatherings, energy healings, etc. Some go for shows like those that John Holland gives…others go to learn tools that people like Ronna Herman teach…and still others go to both of those things and think it’s all bunk. That’s part of what makes the world go round I suppose.

    David Albert…what can I say, he should know better than to talk to media! I’m being facetious saying that. But as someone who has had my words twisted by television shows, People Magazine, and been mislead by MTV (yeah, I know that one is a no brainer) I’ve come to find out that pretty much only NPR and WGBH are trustworthy.

    Thanks for this review. I’ve always felt a little guilty that I never watched it. You’ve saved me time: I’m not going to bother. It’s too bad, though. There are some cool things out there and it doesn’t sound like this movie comes close to showing people even a glimpse of it.

  6. Dan Holway Says:

    I guess I wouldn’t believe in anything anymore if it weren’t for my lucky astrology mood watch.

  7. Clint Burky Says:

    Great write up of the movie.

    …years ago, I was several minutes into this movie while alarm bells were sounding violently in my head.

    The movie pretty much does nothing but take scientific facts of the quantum world, then takes meaningless spiritual ‘jargon’ and with the usual intellectual dishonesty you get from psychics, energy readers, etc, the makers then proceed to irrationally connect the dots without any reasonable justification on doing so. It’s ludicrous. And its NOT how science works!

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