Yeah, that was my reaction after watching this movie-documentary-drama-comedy called "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" Now, I'm someone who likes to read popular science books and I like watching movies that set me to think, but I guess this film cum documentary, whatever it is, is a bit too mind-bending for me to actually understand.
The movie opens with a question on reality. What is reality? Is it what we see with our eyes? Is it what our brain makes it to be? To be honest, this part really escapes me. After I graduated from high school I told my dad that I wanted to enroll in a Phylosophy college. My dad was stunned and, of course, disagreed. He used to be a seminarian (yeah, once upon a time he wanted to become a priest) and studied phylosophy for two years. He knew a degree in phylosophy wouldn't fill my wallet later in life, not in Indonesia at least. Luckily I listened to him (no choice, really, I was destitute!) and here I am, a geologist. I said luckily because later I found out phylosophy is something beyond my brain capacity (and why did I want to study it then? I can't remember but I think I felt puppy love for a very smart priest and he studied phylosophy). Anyway, I have a friend who studies phylosophy, goodness me, I can never understands what he writes or what he talks about! If I had studied this subject I'm sure I would've had to drop out in the first semester.
So, it's rather understandable that I cannot explain the first part of the movie, other than it somehow brings to my mind the film Matrix. What you think as reality is not actually reality, you're just tricked by your brain! (And yes, brain can trick us. Like for example in the case of an amputee who can still "feel" pain in her/his non-existent limb!)
What makes the first part of the film more difficult to understand is also because it uses quantum physics interwovenly with the phylosophical exploration. A year ago I tried to read Brian Greene's book The Elegant Universe and managed to get through the 'big' part - big bang, gravity, astronomy etc etc but when it started to talk about muon, gluon, quark, string theory and the like suddenly my mind went blank and nothing came through. I hit a brick wall and I don't think i can ever understand quantum physics. That's why my mind went blank as well when these professors and PhDs in the film were explaining about quantum physics. What the [Bleep] was that!?
But then somehow the film went on to talk about the brain, neurons and how it is capable of influencing our body, our life and our environment, and it began to be easier to understand (but how the film actually connects quantum physics with this escaped me. I must be half asleep or my mind probably wandered somewhere else). Anyway, basically that's what the film wants to say. Use the power of your mind to influence your body! Positive thinking is good!
Albeit a bit too mind-bending, the film itself is quite interesting. It has a story interspersed with interviews with physicists, neurologists, molecular biologist, psychiatric, researchers, book authors and spiritualists. The fiction part is about a very confused lady photographer named Amanda, played well by Marlee Matlin, who seems to have a lot of what my spiritual friends would call in Indonesian as 'luka batin' or 'soul wounds' from her past experience. The end is clear of course - it is her own change of mind about herself that freed her from the antidepressant pills that she had to take before.
When i watched the film I wasn't really sure whether it's a documentary or whether it's one of those films promoting a new theory or a propaganda against something. The film makers seem to be against organised religion and is more into one of those new age spiritual paths or whatever. But the credit title showed that the people interviewed were real scientific professors and PhD's. I can't say whether what those people say are scientifically correct or not. As I said, I'm a bit idiot on quantum physics. The one thing that definitely set me to wonder was the water crystal thingy. The film showed an 'experiment' whereby water forms beautiful crystals when good thoughts are focused on it. Duh. Surely that's not scientifically proven? Why was it shown as if it's a fact? Curious, I did a little research on the internet. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, the film is based on "ideas, theories and beliefs of of JZ Knight, a medium who claims to channel a Lemurian warrior Ramtha who raised an army and fought against the Atlantians over 35,000 years ago." Duh! As I had suspected - it's one of those new age mumbo jumbo.
Apparently too, according to Wikipedia, critics (mostly scientists) think that "the film grossly misrepresents the meaning of various principles of quantum mechanics, and is in fact pseudoscience." In an article in Popular Science magazine one of the experts, whose 'views' where quoted throughout the film as if he condones the theory, said that he actually had done a very long interview explaining about how quantum mechanics are unrelated to consciousness or spirituality. This interview was then edited and incorporated in the film, in a way that he claims misrepresented his views.
The conclusion is, if you want to learn about quantum physics, better go to the Discovery Channel or the National Geographic Channel, don't go watch this film, it's not a scientific documentary and the science is rubbish. But if you want something interesting to look at and think a little bit, or maybe get an inspiration on how you can actually feel better if you think better about yourself, or if you want to watch the beautiful Marlee Matlin, go watch this film.
Singapore, 26 November 2006