I’ll be the first to admit I am no scientist, although I did spend 20 years with one, amid scintillating breakfast conversations on topics like zinc and copper sediment in the Fraser River estuary. Does that count at all? Far brighter minds than mine, however, tell us what real scientists have often pondered: people believe an awful lot of “science” that isn’t scientific at all. Take the recent Reuters report from Russia that showed:
- 32% of Russians surveyed believed the Earth is the centre of the solar system
- 55% believed that all radioactivity is man-made
- 29% believed that the first humans lived when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth
Study author Dr. Olga Kamenchuk wrote:
“It’s really quite amazing – it speaks of the low levels of education in the country.”
Well, it either speaks of their impoverished education, or it speaks of the universal willingness to believe what other (non-scientist) people tell us.
For example, consider the very brainy and self-described “moderately photogenic” Dr. Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona theoretical physicist and author of many books including The Physics of Star Trek (in which he explores concepts like time travel, light speed, pure energy beings, wormholes, and other concepts of physics that make my head hurt).
Dr. Krauss wrote in Scientific American last year about the way that the strange and utterly misunderstood science of quantum mechanics has been hijacked by those who may not necessarily know what the heck they’re talking about. But millions of us around the world are paying close attention to these people just as if they did. According to Dr. Krauss:
“No one intuitively understands quantum mechanics.”
This statement is really the only part of his explanation that I actually understood.
My own loose, and I do mean loose, grasp on this science is that it’s the branch of physics that interprets physical phenomena occurring on a very small scale (like the motion of electrons). The rest, however, Dr. Krauss reduced to its reader-friendly core by stating that confusion around this science inevitably brings the opportunity for profit. So Dr. Krauss has devised a list of what he calls the Worst Abusers of Quantum Mechanics for Fun and Profit (but Mostly Profit) including:
1. Deepak Chopra: “I have read numerous pieces by him on why quantum mechanics provides rationales for everything from the existence of God to the possibility of changing the past. Nothing I have ever read, however, suggests he has enough understanding of quantum mechanics to pass an undergraduate course I might teach on the subject.”
2. The Secret: “This best-selling book, which spawned a self-help industry, seems to be built in part on the claim that quantum physics implies a ‘law of attraction’ that suggests good thoughts will make good things happen. It doesn’t. Quantum mechanics does not deny the existence of objective reality. Nor does it imply that mere thoughts can change external events. Effects still require causes, so if you want to change the universe, you need to act on it.”
3. Transcendental meditation: “TMers argue that they can fly by achieving a lower ‘quantum-mechanical ground state’ and that the more people who practice TM, the less violent the world will become. This last idea at least is in accord with quantum mechanics, to the extent that if everyone on the planet did nothing but meditate there wouldn’t be time for violence (or acts of kindness, either).” Note: watch the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explain transcendental flying.
Find out more from Dr. Krauss during this lecture called “A Universe from Nothing“.