What the Expletive do we Know?

The other day I watched What the Bleep Do We Know?!.  I was surprised by how bad it was, or at least I was surprised by how much it made me want to write about how bad it was. So now I'm going to rant about it the way that I do sometimes.

I had heard some vague buzz about this movie when it originally came out a few years ago. It was something kind of woo woo and kind of sciency, right? As it turns out it was shot almost entirely in Portland, so I stuck it in my Netflix queue for fun shortly after we moved out here. Sure enough there are scenes immediately from the beginning that were filmed right down the street from my apartment.

What The… Started out promising enough. There were a number of authoritative sounding people being interviewed about quantum physics in the style of a science documentary. Not unlike Brian Green's program, The Elegant Universe (highly recommended and whoa it's available for watching online now!) it was told in very simple, casual style and used interesting and amusing analogies to describe the weird world of how things work at a quantum scale.

Things started to get really weird when they crossed over from physics into talking about consciousness and perception. The talking heads were making leaps of logic and were not making a lot of sense. The sign that things were going to get worse came when one of the talking heads related a story about the arrival of Columbus in the New World. She claimed that European ships appearing on the horizon were so far outside the realm of the Native Americans experience that they were unable to see the ships. Somehow they could see the water being disturbed by the ships but the couldn't see the ships themselves. Uh what?

This makes no sense to me. Why would boats be so strange to people that lived on islands? It seems to me a little bit racist in the same way as when UFO enthusiasts talk about how aliens must have built the pyramids, because clearly no primitive human culture could have made something so huge and awesome. I guess the thing that bothered me the most is that they talked about this event as if it were fact and really, how can you be so sure about something so ridiculous?

Anyway, I continued watching and it just went downhill from there. The same people that were originally talking as experts about quantum physics were now spouting off about emotion and biochemistry and neurotransmitters and mysticism, dipping into homeopathy and other nonsense like that. That's fine and everything I guess, but I can't help but feel that I was tricked into watching a 109 minute long cult recruitment video.

The real punchline was at the end, when all the "experts" were credited and credentials given. The one that I thought through the whole movie was the absolute craziest was credited as "Ramtha as channeled by J. Z. Knight." Turns out that the whole movie was bankrolled by a woman who claims to be a channel for a 35,000 year old Lemurian warrior that conquered Atlantis. Wow, just wow. She lives in Washington state, and apparently has a 'school' with a lot of money and a long history of cult-y behavior.

Well it's done now and I'm not getting those 109 minutes back, but I just feel like maybe there are people out there that might get taken in by this kind of hucksterism. Actually, this movie is quite a few years old at this point and my outrage and disgust is probably a little late now. But damn it I just couldn't let it slide.

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