Quote of the Day: David Albert, philosopher of science at Columbia. He was interviewed for, and appeared in, What the Bleep Do We Know?, the movie that tried to convince people that quantum mechanics teaches us that we can change physical reality just by adjusting our mental state. After seeing the travesty that was the actual movie, he complained loudly and in public that his views had been grossly distorted; this quote is from one such interview.
It seems to me that what’s at issue (at the end of the day) between serious investigators of the foundations of quantum mechanics and the producers of the “what the bleep” movies is very much of a piece with what was at issue between Galileo and the Vatican, and very much of a piece with what was at issue between Darwin and the Victorians. There is a deep and perennial and profoundly human impulse to approach the world with a DEMAND, to approach the world with a PRECONDITION, that what has got to turn out to lie at THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE, that what has got to turn out to lie at THE FOUNDATION OF ALL BEING, is some powerful and reassuring and accessible image of OURSELVES. That’s the impulse that the What the Bleep films seem to me to flatter and to endorse and (finally) to exploit – and that, more than any of their particular factual inaccuracies – is what bothers me about them. It is precisely the business of resisting that demand, it is precisely the business of approaching the world with open and authentic wonder, and with a sharp, cold eye, and singularly intent upon the truth, that’s called science.
The only really misleading part of the above quote is choosing “the Victorians” as Darwin’s foil; things haven’t changed all that much, sadly.