So everyone and their mom is pooping themselves, saying how great “What the #$*! Do We Know!?” is. I have personally avoided the film knowing they take people like John Hagelin seriously. While he’s held up as a brilliant physicist, which he may be, I’m not really qualified to make that call, it’s clear his scientific principles have been compromised in service to the Maharishi and the Transcendental Meditation movement. He’s a jackass.
I was also extremely skeptical of Masaru Emoto’s photos of ice crystals which form pretty shapes when exposed to things we all consider positive, and nasty shapes when exposed to bad things. I haven’t been able to find any reasonably in-depth examination of the methodology he uses, or any peer reviews of his work. One article was in a peer reviewed journal, but the article was presented as a photo essay and not as a scientific paper. I don’t see how this is any different from me simply choosing some cool looking crystals and some gnarly looking ones and attributing whatever phrases and feelings I want to them. If this was actual science, I might be interested, but it just screams quackery to me.
And when it comes right down to it, the movie is self seems to be little more than a recruiting tool for Ramtha. The directors, the writer and a couple of the experts are unashamed members of the Ramtha school, couching their cultish beliefs in pseudo-science and disney-like films. Awesome.
I’d just like to take a moment to thank people like John Hagelin for opening the door to things like Intelligent Design. When Harvard trained scientists allow their science to be polluted by their own biases and beliefs, it discredits science in general and allows jackass fundamentalists to reduce science to just another belief. It’s not, it’s a discipline, and one that John seems to know little about these days. It’s important to remember that people are fallible, and that often times, even experts in scientific fields for varying reasons will leap off into crazy land. Brilliant people tend to have fragile psyches. Anyone who has seen “A Beautiful Mind” has seen a good example of this. Despite being a brilliant man, few would have considered John Nash’s work while delusional to be worthwhile.
We all idolize really smart people, and we tend to feel that they lie outside the realm of our criticism or critical thinking. What we tend to forget is that smart people almost always have all of the pressures and stresses we do. The same pressures and stresses that compromise our rational thinking also compromise their ability to separate themselves from the outcomes of their work. This is why science insists on peer review. Unfortunately, many scientists will ride out the credibility of their earlier peer-reviewed work to espouse their favorite pet theories backed up with sloppy or non-existent science which most people will accept with little notice.
Why do I care about any of this? Because I believe there are amazing things in the universe that we have yet to discover. I think humans hold a great deal of potential that remains untapped. But research into many of these areas will remain unfunded because of quack scientists who perpetually associate these fields to quackery. Real potential for discovery is obscured by the cloud of fantasy caused by housewives who believe they are channeling 35,000 year old Atlantean warriors. Sigh.
Mr. Emoto doesn’t do double blind tests. He has been offered the one million James Randi Educational Foundation Prize if he conducts his labeling experiments double blind and still finds results significantly different from random. He hasn’t taken them up on it.
Another good article on What the Bleep.