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I know it may be bad practice to blog about things that you really don’t like but in this case I just couldn’t help myself.  I caught some of this movie recently.  It purports to discuss quantum theory and our limited perceptions of reality.

The fundamental premise is that each individual creates their own personal universe, a view supposedly based on evidence from experiments performed by quantum physicists on subatomic particles which have been found to have uncertain properties that are in some sense ‘determined by the observer’.  The film-makers conclude from these ‘scientific findings’ that the real world is an illusion, constructed by our minds through our intentions, choices and actions.

There is a fly in the ointment though.  If it is ‘true’ that we all construct our own universes then why the bleep would we listen to scientists, especially quantum physicists?  They are just imagining their own results anyway, so how can we use any of their findings as evidence from which to draw conclusions?

If science, like everything else, is an illusion – a set of constructs fabricated from wishful thinking, then no theory can be subject to testing – to proof or disproof – and experiments become meaningless.  Quantum physics can prove nothing, so the film neatly removes its own evidential basis and disappears up its own rabbit hole.  There are no reasonable grounds for accepting or denying any of its premises and there is nowhere to go.

On reflection, I would say that the film is aptly named.  The film makers seem to know bleep-all and it looks like they’d like the rest of us to stay that way too.

This post from Sci-Fi Standpoint. I wonder about gene-modifying out such a fundamental part of human nature, not that I’m happy about these nasty characteristics… it’s a bit like getting rid of competitiveness, stress or aggression. None of them are nice things, but their elimination could have serious unintended consequences. Try the Vonnegut classic ‘Harrison Bergeron‘ for a dystopian projection of the attempt to iron out all human differences and make everyone ‘equal’.

I know Banks isn’t saying this exactly, and I love the idea in principle of getting rid of –isms, I’m just a little skeptical.

Still, anything we can do to bring on The Culture gets my vote.

Dan Simmons has been running a series giving his thoughts on how to write well. I only just discovered it (evidently), and he is on part 9 already, when I finally got around to posting a link to his site. Knowing his work, it should definitely be worth a careful read.

This entry reminded me of Dale S Wright’s book Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism, which is certainly the best book on Zen I’ve read, and maybe the best in philosophy too.

Dan Simmons has been running a series giving his thoughts on how to write well. I only just discovered it (evidently), and he is on part 9 already, when I finally got around to posting a link to his site. Knowing his work, it should definitely be worth a careful read.

This entry reminded me of Dale S Wright’s book Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism, which is certainly the best book on Zen I’ve read, and maybe the best in philosophy too.

This article on Wikipedia makes for a worrying read. Or not.

Karen Armstrong’s latest book is, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece. It is amazing how she manages to summarise and explain such complex religious and cultural movements with clarity. And this is certainly the clearest exposition of the development of Hinduism and classical Greek religion I have read. She sequences motifs and ideas so that you understand them in a new way and things you thought you knew fall into place, a bit like when you realise that areas in a city are closer together when you walk or drive a new route – this happens to me all the time in London. So… read it.

And for a fictional version, Gore Vidal’s Creation is also excellent, though somewhat flippant by comparison.

The Wikipedia article on Armstrong can be found here, but it’s not great.

Wonderful Wikipedia article on memes. I had pretty much dismissed the whole idea for some reason but I recant now!

Paticularly interesting is the memetracker, such that this blog is a tiny molecule in memetic promotion…

Reading Sam Harris‘ ‘The End of Faith’. Can’t say I agree with everything he says but it is a fabulous book, a jolt to the system and, despite the gloom, horror and terror of some of its content, surprisingly liberating and joyful in its effects.

Basically I think he is right.

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