Generally, I like Cheshire's far ranging and thoughtful film reviews, but his recent positive one on What the #$!& Do We Know?! (Oct. 20) reveals that he has been suckered by mysticism posturing as science.
Recently, NPR's The State of Things had as guests the filmmaker Mark Vicente along with one of the film's "heavily credentialed scientists" and Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic Magazine. Shermer neatly and knowledgeably demolished the film's claim of conscious subjectivity being related to quantum mechanics as a scientific impossibility. Vincente was glib and disingenuous in defending his film by claiming he "just wanted people to think," and the so-called scientist forcefully supported him with the canard that "the ideas are speculative and anything is possible" (like the film's 36,000-year-old channeled "Goddess," I suppose).
Cheshire goes through the usual obligatory, skeptical disclaimers before embracing the film's "you create your own reality" premise, extolling it as "deeply American" and somehow grounded in Transcendentalism and Pragmatism philosophies (that's as quantum an intellectual leap as anything that takes place in the molecular world). The only transcendent aspect of this film is that it transcends common sense and scientific fact.
Cheshire is unfortunately right in that it seems to be "deeply American" to accept uncritically any slick, entertaining, feel-good film that allows us to create our own reality, i.e., one built on solipsism and self-delusion. Ultimately, the filmmakers are right about one thing: They don't know #$!& about reality.