(The first email)
I am struggling with how to respond to this [email recommending “The Quantum Activist”], noticing that i want to respond and yet am scared to. Bear with me as i am trying some scary honesty. When i read references about quantum physics and consciousness, i feel irritable because i value honesty and transparency [addendum: It took me a while to understand the need for transparency: I would have no problem if the ideas in “What the Bleep” were presented as spiritual musings. Rather they are presented as scientifically valid.]. I also feel scared because i value our connections and fear fumbling with my response. I don’t know how i can respond without reference to inconsistencies, without calling the scientific validity of the claims into question – and that does not seem very NVC… There is a temptation to hide, to just let it go as “not that important.” It goes back, though, to the terrifying honesty i shared during one of the morning circles: In order for me to honor my own integrity, i choose to write & send this email.
The honesty part that’s missing in the claims about quantum physics and consciousness:
The interpretations of quantum physics presented in movies like “What the Bleep,” which i have watched, and (presumably) “The Quantum Activist,” which i haven’t watched, are not supported by (almost all) quantum physicists or philosophers studying quantum mechanics. This includes at least one of the scientists featured in “What the Bleep,” David Albert (see here). I realize that Amit Goswami was trained as a physicist, yet his approach is
more philosophical than physics. It is critiqued by a fellow physicist, Victor Stenger, in “Quantum Gods” and in this essay. Also, the experiments in quantum mechanics are done at the scale of atoms or atom particles. Extending these experimental results to anything larger than an atom might not be valid (in the sense of external validity – the generalizability of study results).
Research in psychology points toward the importance of unconscious decisioning (see work by John Bargh, Timothy Wilson, and George Lakoff). There’s also considerable evidence for implicit biases that impact our judgments (stereotypes & system justification tendency) (work by John Jost and stuff around the Implicit Association Test). I have been trying to understand what needs are behind the wish that quantum physics somehow proofs certain spiritual beliefs. There seems to be something particularly “sexy” about it – maybe because it’s shrouded in mystery and some experimental results are mind-boggling. If we want a scientific grounding of the idea of connection, why not simply look at the theory of evolution? Evolutionary, we are all related to every living thing on this Earth. I wonder if the needs are hope and credibility, something that the theory of evolution might not hold despite its scientific grounding (see this Nova series). (I remember how inspired and hopeful i felt after “What the Bleep” until i started checking into JZ Knight and the credibility of the movie started to unravel).
I would enjoy hearing reactions, especially if you can share what needs are met for you when you watch movies like “The Quantum Activist.” Also, i would welcome feedback on how i presented this, as i realize that i am using a lot of words…
(The second email)
Thank you for taking the time to respond! What is alive in me right now? Well, let me start with sensations: My hands are shaking and my eyes are tearing up. I am feeling rather lonely. I so long for the ability to relax into a belief of a God, of a benevolent universe. I can’t. I am also afraid that this inability will be dismissed as “the Ego loves the old.” I would love to trust what you are saying! Yet, it contradicts everything i know about science – including quantum mechanics – and about reality. Yeah, actually, what is most alive in me is pain and hurt. I feel hurt for not being heard, for being dismissed as closed minded – the reaction i feared the most. Reading the word “credibility” directed toward me contributed to that pain and hurt because i would like to be acknowledged for the time and care i took to write the email. For example, I spent about an hour researching before sending the email, including looking at the movie’s website.
The other thing that is alive in me: Fatigue. I didn’t sleep well. Often waking up scared what reaction my email would garner. I realize now that i am so longing to be heard and accepted as i am even if i chose not to watch the movie because there is enough evidence for me that contradicts the claims made in the movie (based on the summaries i read on their website).
I am also sad because of my inability to get my point across in a way that it could be heard. I was wondering this morning why i feel so strongly about this. Yes, there is shared reality – as Michael Shermer puts it: If Amit Goswami’s claims are correct, he could jump off a building without getting hurt. And that is where i realized why i feel so strongly: Compassion. If i get hurt jumping off a building in Goswami’s interpretation that is because i must have fallen into “conditioned choice,” which leaves me feeling dismayed because i value compassion, which to me includes looking at the whole picture and acknowledging that there are things – like physical reality – that limit our choices. If we claim that there are unlimited choices, i fear that we end up blaming the victim because they were stuck in “conditioned choice.”
What did you “hear” me “saying”? What did you read me writing?
(Third email sent after receiving lots of empathy. I added this 4 hours after the original post…)
Although i am noticing some reluctance to send yet another email wanting to respect people’s time & space, i am choosing to send another one to celebrate with you the shift that occurred in me. I am deeply grateful to the three people who reached out to me for helping me feel reconnected to this group, for hearing me, and for helping me see that deep down what we most long for is unconditional love.
I know that there is still some mourning i want to do – mourning that i cannot lean into the unconditional love of a God/spirit/consciousness and the pain that has created in me. However, i also know that i can lean into the beauty of the need for unconditional love itself! How beautiful is that :-).
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!