Adventures in Quantum Concealment

By Sean Carroll | July 26, 2008 7:28 pm

I find it extremely amusing that when Radovan Karadzic, Serbian war criminal and fugitive from justice, wanted to disguise himself with an assumed identity in a suburb of Belgrade, he chose such an interesting occupation for his alter ego — purveyor of New-Age quantum nonsense.

No one knew quite how to react when it emerged that he had been selling “human quantum energy” diviners on the internet from a flat in surburban Belgrade, speaking at conferences for alternative health and maintaining an intimate friendship with a rather good-looking younger woman.

And this wasn’t just some cover story to fall back on when strangers inquired about what he did for a living; apparently, Karadzic really went all-out. (Including a website. Every international fugitive needs a website!)

He threw himself into the role. His articles in Healthy Life, a Serbian alternative medicine magazine, show a man who was fluent in new age thinking. “It is widely believed our senses and mind can recognise only 1% of whatever exists around us. Three per cent we understand with our hearts. All that remains is shrouded in secrecy, out of the reach of our five senses; however, it is within our reach in the extra-sensory manner,” he wrote in one article.

I love the quantification. Three percent we understand with our hearts! Hopefully, improved experimental precision will enable us to pin the correct figure down to the nearest tenth of a percent.

But he was devout, you have to had him that.

He was also interested in healing through the optimal use of ‘vital energy’, a quasi-mystical, non-physical dimension of the body, similar to the Chinese notion of ‘Qi’ and the Indian concept of the ‘chakra’ centres of energy in the body. “He was very religious,” said a woman who works at the magazine and knew him. “He had his hair in a plait in order to be able to receive different energies. He was a very nice man.”

At least, when he wasn’t ordering the Srebrenica massacre. That wasn’t really very nice.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science and Society, World

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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