Monday, September 27, 2004

 

What the Bleep

Well, it is starting to happen. Here is a link to a Salon article (if you don't have a subscription you can watch a brief add to read the premium content) that starts to expose the truth about the movie.

Here is an excerpt:
"At least one scientist prominently interviewed in the film now says his words were taken out of context. And two other key subjects in the film are not fully identified: a theologian who, the film fails to divulge, is a former priest who left the Catholic Church after allegations of sexual abuse; and a mysterious woman identified only as Judy "JZ" Knight, who is actually a sect leader claiming to channel a 35,000-year-old warrior spirit named Ramtha. The film's three co-directors are among those who follow Ramtha and look to Knight's channeled maxims to decipher the mysteries of life. These Ramtha followers reportedly number in the thousands. But critics call the sect a cult. "

Further:

"David Albert, a professor at the Columbia University physics department, has accused the filmmakers of warping his ideas to fit a spiritual agenda. "I don't think it's quite right to say I was 'tricked' into appearing," he said in a statement reposted by a critic on "What the Bleep's" Internet forum, "but it is certainly the case that I was edited in such a way as to completely suppress my actual views about the matters the movie discusses. I am, indeed, profoundly unsympathetic to attempts at linking quantum mechanics with consciousness. Moreover, I explained all that, at great length, on camera, to the producers of the film ... Had I known that I would have been so radically misrepresented in the movie, I would certainly not have agreed to be filmed."

Also:

"Later in the film, a "scientist" explains that, thanks to the strangeness quivering below the subatomic level, meditating monks have lowered the crime rate in Washington, D.C. But not until the end of the film do we learn that the scientist making this claim, John Hagelin -- who once ran for president -- conducted the research while teaching (until 1999) at Maharishi University, the school named for the Beatles' guru. "

More:

"On the other hand, papers from Knight's 1992 divorce case with Jeffrey Knight hint that Ramtha is an ancient homophobe, who allegedly declared that AIDS was Mother Nature's way of "getting rid of" homosexuality and told Jeffrey Knight he should reject modern medicine and overcome the disease using the school's breathing techniques, according to court testimony. Tom Szimhart, a "deprogrammer" who testified on behalf of Knight's husband (who eventually died of the disease) called the Ramtha school a cult with an anti-scientific bent."

Okay...I probably cut and pasted too much here, but the entire thing is making me more and more upset. I'm going to the library someday this week so I can properly address the "scientific" claims and let my loyal readers know if the entire movie is bunk or not.

Comments:
"I'm going to the library someday this week so I can properly address the 'scientific' claims and let my loyal readers know if the entire movie is bunk or not."

Are you sure it's your readers that you're trying to convince?

Matt
 
The loyal readers line was meant jokingly...i know i don't have any loyal readers. Yes, I do want to know if there is any actual validity to what is passed off as science in the film. Increasingly it appears that this movie has very little to do with fact. What is even more disturbing is that it was basically made by a cult. Just because a cult makes a movie doesn't mean that it is necessarily wrong, but if the KKK were to make a movie I wouldn't go see it even if it didn't discuss racism and was just about how we can all feel good about ourselves. So yes, I'm going to research it for me. I would hope that others are as curious about whether or not there is any validity to what was passed off as science in the film. (I would like to add that I was keeping an open mind despite the fact that there are no mainstream scientists in the film, but at some point, especially when one of the physicists is saying that he was misrepresented, you would be insane not to increase your skepticism.
 
The loyal readers line was meant jokingly...i know i don't have any loyal readers. Yes, I do want to know if there is any actual validity to what is passed off as science in the film. Increasingly it appears that this movie has very little to do with fact. What is even more disturbing is that it was basically made by a cult. Just because a cult makes a movie doesn't mean that it is necessarily wrong, but if the KKK were to make a movie I wouldn't go see it even if it didn't discuss racism and was just about how we can all feel good about ourselves. So yes, I'm going to research it for me. I would hope that others are as curious about whether or not there is any validity to what was passed off as science in the film. (I would like to add that I was keeping an open mind despite the fact that there are no mainstream scientists in the film, but at some point, especially when one of the physicists is saying that he was misrepresented, you would be insane not to increase your skepticism.
 
Gee, Josh... poison any wells lately?

I don't think this has anything to do with deseminating truth. The KKK makes propaganda all the time, and you don't spend time in the library trying to disprove it. (And why should you? You have finite resources of time and energy.)

So, ask yourself why you're having such an emotional reaction to this film? Why are YOU (in your individualized self) having such a powerful reaction that you want to spend your free time disproving it? Why not just wave your hand and say, "I don't buy that?"

I don't believe for a second that you are trying to "defend the veracity of American documentary film" (a genre, I may point out, that began with Griffith's Birth of a Nation and has been just about as objective ever since.

But I'm digressing. Let me boil this down. The only question I would really want you to answer is this one: What do you, personally, have invested in this?

And, if you feeling particularly brave, answer this one as well: What would it mean for your life if the claims made in the movie were true?

Matt
 
First of all, it is a pretty big "if" that the claims in the movie would be true. Let's say they were...so be it. It doesn't really mean anything for my life. As people so often argue...what does it matter if there is or isn't a god? Would it change your life any? I doubt it.

Going back to why I'm spending my own time to deal with the claims of the movie. I'm doing it because it doesn't seem like anyone else is. With a few minor exceptions, like the article in Salon, movie reviews are just speaking glowingly of the movie and are behaving as if everything in it is true. I can't really blame movie reviewers for failing to take the filmmakers to task because they are not real journalists (sorry if that statement offends anyone). They are not supposed to do fact checking and what not. They are just supposed to watch the movie and comment. Still, someone has to address what is claimed as fact and say "yes" or "no" and back it up.

The reason I'm not going after the KKK's literature is twofold. 1) There are plenty of people already doing that. 2) Perhaps it is only my perception, but it seems like many more people are taking this movie seriously than are taking seriously the KKK. There is another reason...rightly or wrongly, I feel duped. I was made a fool of because I gave the benefit of the doubt to the filmmakers. I gave serious consideration to things that in retrospect were so absurd that I should have dismissed them summarily (The messages of water for example). That was my own fault I suppose. What I find bizarre is that you aren't upset. To find out that you spent money that basically supports people who claim that you can cure AIDS through proper breathing should infuriate anyone. There are alot of reasons that I'm angry about this.

As to why I'm taking my time to deal with its claims, let's all be perfectly honest, it's not like I have a social life that eats up much of my time. If I weren't doing this I'd just be working anyway.
 
Why am I not upset? I rarely get that upset at movies. It is, afterall, just a movie, intended to produce in others the feeling that they can take charge of their lives and better themselves. And the vehicle used to achieve "enlightenment," be it Zen Buddhism or Quantum Mechanics, is inessential to the destination; it is only essential to the journey. In other words: Let people believe what they want.

And you changed the subject again, because whether or not the facts in the movie are accurate is irrelevant to this question: Why such a strong reaction?

Increasingly, I'm begining to believe that you are either incapable or unwilling to answer that. Which is fine--I'm not going to tell you how to live your life, either.

MattPS: I'm done with this thread. I have other uses for my time, but I keep getting drawn into this debate. So, this will be my final comment. Go ahead and have the last word. Afterall, it's your blog.
 
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