Hello! This is my first post on the site. I've noticed that most of the other movie reviews are pretty short and that mine is, well, long. The reason is that there's just so much to criticize about this movie, so I hope you enjoy!
--Major spoilers are included in this review, if you can “spoil” a “documentary.”--
This movie advocates a new theory supporting the primacy of consciousness, and is thus a movie that, while watching it, I found myself loving to hate. Sometimes bad movies can be as entertaining as good movies because they give us Objectivist-types fuel for our philosophical fires. The movie’s basic premise is that we actually create and control reality with our thoughts and emotions. To clarify, they are not talking about a thought which is the seed of an action, but literally the thought itself, and they attempt to prove it with quantum physics.
I know very little about quantum physics, and I believe the movie was written with people like me in mind for the intended audience. Here’s what I got from the movie:
Quantum physics is the study of subatomic particles. Subatomic particles, including the electrons and the nucleuses (yes, the entire nucleus) of atoms, at apparently random time intervals and for unknown reasons, can disappear, reappear, and exist in separate places at the same time, which is referred to as the particle’s “superposition.” So, at any given time, we are unable to predict the actual location of any of these particles, and every atom in existence is subject to these behaviors.
“A particle, which we think of as a solid thing, really exists in a so-called ‘superposition,’ a spread-out wave of possible locations, and it’s in all of those [locations] at once. The instant you check on it, it snaps into just one of those possible locations.” This means that particles are in many places at once, until you observe them, then they are in only one place.
The Observer is the Creator
Visual images of this concept show a kid with a basketball, and when the observing character turns away from him, the kid is surrounded by many balls representing possible locations of a subatomic particle (because a particle could be in any place at any time, or in all of those places at once), but when the observer turns back, the kid has only one ball (of all the infinite possibilities, the ball ended up in only one). This is supposed to illustrate how matter could be in any place before it is observed, but how it locks into one place when we look. By the way, they do say that objects large enough to be seen with microscopes have been observed existing in two places simultaneously.
So, the scientists in the movie conclude that, since the particles could be anywhere until we look at them, we are actually choosing where they will end up at that exact moment, because until the particles are observed, they are not in fixed positions. Therefore, by observing objects, we force the atoms into fixed positions, so, we create reality. This also means that each individual person creates his own, separate reality, and that that each of us truly lives in our own world, which is totally unique to the worlds inhabited by every other individual being. (I assume each individual animal get its own world too, or do they not have the power to fix the positions of subatomic particles into place like we do?)
How Do We Observe Ourselves?
This denies the law of self-inclusion. Who’s observing the atoms in our brains that allow us to use them? At this point, the movie’s tone changes a bit, almost as if in reaction to that question. They back off and elude that maybe it’s not us as individuals who are observing atoms and fixing them into place, and thereby creating reality, but maybe there’s some sort of Ultimate Observer who’s doing the observing. So, then they talk about God for a while and assign him the task of being this Observer. Then, they recant a bit and sort of elude that it’s really our own subconscious that exists in an immaterial form, free from the shackles of the neural net, free from the need to be observed in order to materialize. I suppose the subconscious could observe the atoms in our bodies so we could exist first, then would go about observing the atoms of all surrounding objects so they can also exist…
Here’s my favorite quote on this subject: “We all have a habit of thinking that everything around us is already a thing, existing without my input, without my choice. You have to banish that kind of thinking. Instead, you really have to recognize that in the material world around us, the chairs, the tables, the rooms, the carpet, camera included, all of these are nothing but possible movements of consciousness. And I’m choosing moment to moment out of those movements to bring my actual experience into manifestation.” Wow. This is saying that the world does not exist independent of our consciousness. Does that also deny the law of self-inclusion? I mean, the world’s here, right? If that guy dies, will the world still be here?
Denial of A Priori Knowledge
Another silly point the movie makes is that we can’t observe things of which we have no knowledge. They said that the Native Americans on the islands first discovered by Columbus couldn’t see the approaching ships because they had never seen anything like them before, and had no knowledge that such objects could exist. Heheh… I don’t think I have to say anything more about that, it’s just too easy…
As further proof that our minds affect the physical materials around us, the movie offers the work of the Japanese “scientist,” Masaru Emoto, and the results of his experiments with water. It was amusing to me that at this point that they refer to water as one of “the four elements.” So arcane… It seems that when Mr. Emoto taped a piece of paper with an emotional word written on it to a bottle of distilled water, then took pictures of the water with a dark field microscope. He did this with several different words and found that the water reacted differently to different words. Words like love and “thank you” caused the water to make pretty snowflake images, while “You make me sick, I will kill you” caused the water to turn yellow and make a shape like a, well, I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t a pretty snowflake. All I really have to say about that is that it’s a good thing that water knows Japanese (that’s what he used to write on the papers), because imaging trying to teach water the subtle difference between their, there, and they’re!
The movie attempts to explain what our emotions are, because if we know what drives us, we’ll be able to better create the world to our advantage. Their explanation is actually plausible, and describes the process by which the hypothalamus gland, when cued by the brain, creates chemicals (different chemicals for each and every emotion) that cause us to experience the sensations of our emotions (e.g. a rush of excitement, euphoria, or paralysis). As far as I could tell, they weren’t inferring that the chemicals were the cause of emotions, only the creators of the sensations we feel. These chemicals are spread to every cell in the body via the bloodstream, and the cells respond to them. Over time, if enough of a certain type of chemical (emotion) is experienced, our cells can become addicted to it.
The Power of Self-Talk
At this point, the movie describes the effect our self-talk has on our selves. It is repeated several times that our bodies are made up almost entirely of water, and if emotional words can have such an effect on bottled water, imagine what our emotions can do to our selves! And, since we are able to create reality, imagine the power our thoughts have on our selves. Granted, self-talk is very powerful, so for stressing that I give the movie one point. For saying that it occurs though some sort of magic ability we possess, but of which we may be unaware, I recall that point.
That concludes this review. I recommend this movie to Objectivists because it’s a philosophy based movie, and I believe you’ll have as much fun picking it apart as I did. And, if you haven’t seen the movie, I left several points un-discussed, so there will still be some surprises for you. Enjoy!