Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cargo cult Quantum Theory

Nobody does it better than this guy:


I love the use of quantum physics and photos and electrons in that video.  The sad thing is that I know people who actually listen to this nonsense, and think it is of great significance.

This reminded me of a wonderful article called Cargo Cult Science by Richard Feynman.  During the second World War, a couple of Pacific Islands had been hastily colonized and militarized by the Asian and Western powers.  The people on these islands had been living a primitive life: with little or no contact with Western science.  So when they saw aircrafts, guns, bombs, they were amazed.  To these people, it appeared to be magical how some airstrips would get periodic food drops.  In an attempt to copy Western advancements, these people built airstrips out of bamboo, with fake control towers made of wood.  Of course, the aircrafts with supplies never landed at these fake airstrips.  This phenomenon is called a Cargo Cult, where a person copies the external appearance of something without any real understanding.

Deepak Chopra reminds me of these Pacific Islanders.  They see the benefit of technology, and want to imitate it, but they completely miss the point.  Using fancy language and words from Quantum Theory without understanding the issues is exactly like the Pacific Islanders who build fake airstrips out of bamboo, and wonder why real aircrafts carry supplies never land.