There are few ways in this world that are as good at spreading a message from obscurity into fame (or infamy as the case may be) than Youtube; everyone's favourite google-owned medium of entertainment and home to Nerdfighteria and Mike Adams alike. Inspiration for a Youtube channel comes in many forms, often subtle, but in this particular case inspiration came from the facepalm-inducingly patronising and ignorant world that spawned 'The Secret'; a book that has sold millions of copies claiming essentially that if you want something enough, you get it.
Apparently there wasn't enough outcry about how little the universe conforms to this philosophy however, because the 'Spirit Science' series of videos concludes that this is fact in its very first video, sweeping under the rug the germ theory of disease in the process. Unfortunately for all of us who would love to be able to wish ourselves better, the germ theory of disease isn't something you just forget about because your new idea's nicer, you need evidence to call something science, something that 'Spirit Science' doesn't have.
Let's a take a leaf out of Leonardo DiCaprio's book and go deeper shall we?
Let's use Spirit Science's fourteenth video to see how they explain how this unsupported theory (of a universe that acts like playdough to our thoughts) works, and see if we can catch untruths red handed. Once we've taken a look through these, we'll take a trip to their first video and see if these 'insights' can explain the extreme implications of the series.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… INSIGHTS OF ASCENSION!
It would seem that this video's sole reference is a book by James Redfield (no relation to my second favourite zombie slayer) called 'The Celestine Prophecy'; a book that amazon reviewers are apparently forgiving enough about its apparently poor literary style to both call the book life-changing and wonder whether the book is fictional. Well I took a look at the first few pages myself, and to be honest I haven't read anything this boring since I attempted reading through the entirety of the itunes user licence agreement. So, we're off to a good start.
Insight 1: There are no coincidences, following these 'coincidences' will start you on your path to spiritual truth.
To me this statement, although it definitely rings a bell with the new age worldview this video series is constantly pushing, displays a profound lack of interest in finding out what's really going on in the world. Strange coincidences can be a persuasive tool in arguing that there is a deeper interaction between human beings and the universe than what science claims. In fact, if we apply the 'law of truly large numbers' this effect insted demonstrates the power of probability, and how we as humans constantly underestimate its reaches.
A great example of this is, as explained on www.skepdic.com is dreaming of a plane crash, only for a plane to crash the next day.
Could this be an example of precognition?
Well, if we consider the seven billion people who will be dreaming every night, then the chances of at least one of them dreaming about a plane crash grows far stronger than we imagine in our often self-obsessed realities, then when we consider how many dreams each person will have the probability increases significantly. When we take into account the chances of a plane crashing, due to the fact that there are so many people having so many dreams every night, it would actually be stranger if no-one saw a plane crash in their dreams.
So, since there are indeed coincidences, this myth is busted.
Insight 2: We all construct the world we live in.
The explanation for this was something along the lines with humanity having lost touch of the meaning of life and our need to get it back. What is this meaning of life you ask? We'll get to that good citizen, and you will be glad to know it makes no scientific sense.
Insight 3: The universe is made entirely of an energy that responds to how we think. Beauty is on the same wavelength as this energy and by perceiving the beauty in nature we can see auras… some people see them in different colours… some people see them in different shapes… some people can't see them at all but can only touch them… some people can't sense them at all but are pretty sure they're there… (special pleading)
Well, apparently this makes sense because 'everything is frequency and only a certain part of the electromagnetic spectrum is the aura described.'
I would note here that the infra-red part of the EM spectrum is circled in red at this point, just in case you were wondering what the universe is, because apparently it's infra-red light?
This entire 'insight' is essentially one huge misunderstanding of the way that electromagnetism presents itself in our universe.
First of all, to say that we know everything that makes up the universe is egrigious. What about dark matter and dark energy, Two problems that we currently have no solution for? Dark energy alone consitutes over 70% of everything in the universe, and if the people who made this video know what it's made of in reality, well there are a lot of physicists who would love to talk to them.
But even ignoring that we are faced with a logical flaw in this explanation of the universe.
According to this 'insight' the entire universe is energy on one wavelength, therefore nothing that comes after that idea makes any sense. If the entire universe was indeed, energy of one wavelength, then there would be no variation in the universe, just an endless sea of uniform waveforms of photons.
Without going from the macroscopic to the microscopic to argue just how wrong this statement is, we can see different wavelenths all around us. For every different colour we see in the world there is a different collection of wavelengths of light being reflected back off those coloured objects and into our eyes. To argue that the universe is separate from these coloured objects is to misunderstand what the universe is.
We are part of the universe, that alone detracts from this 'insight'.
I shouldn't need to explain this to anyone, but the amount of comments on these videos hailing this as the new truth are forcing me to. Beauty does not have a wavelength. Beauty is a subjective measure of how aesthetically pleasing the world around us is. If there's anything less likely to manifest in a specific wavelength I can only assume its something as undefined as whether Lady Gaga's music is good or bad.
Or whether the word 'flip' contains within its definition an action someone would partake in 'because [they’re] worth it'.
Insight 4: Humans compete for this energy.
Insight 5: You can get energy from an infinite universe. We can share energy through love, which is the energy of God.
This explains a lot, the people who made these videos must be living in an infinite universe. I'm glad these guys are smart enough to have conclusively proven that the universe is infinite, they must be super-geniuses.
Also the fact that the video makers seem to have conveniently forgotten about their 'religion doesn't work' comments in earlier videos, it's a shame that this otherwise flawless demonstration of mind-blowing scientific advances is otherwise dampened by this milligram of hypocrisy ain't it?
Insight 6: Asking questions and analysing answers takes away your love energy.
Did that insight just tell everyone that people who ask questions have no love to give? Wow, that's so true and totally not a way of trying to shame away any skepticism!
Insight 7: We can transform by gathering energy. Gather energy by writing down your dreams, intuition and coincidences which will answer the big questions in life.
Now, I've always seen science as the pursuit of those big questions. Have theories such as evolution and the big bang not gone a long way to answer the the ultimate questions of 'where did we come from?', 'Who are we?' and as disheartening as the answer might seem to some people; 'What is the meaning of life?'
Why then is it so easy for these people to ignore the power of real science and declare their contradictory ideas a science in themselves?
Insight 8: We should help people.
Well there's something I can't disagree with. Although at one point a cartoon is drawn showing a stick figure telling another stick figure: 'We are the universe!' Which says to me: 'I am a decoherent photon and therefore the very fact that I'm talking is a paradox.' At which point the other stick figure responds: 'Your essence is my purity!' Which translates roughly as: 'You smell so nice I don't feel so smelly anymore!'
I won't even begin to try and debunk their explanation for falling in love.
Insight 9: By relying on intuition (basically by not thinking over our actions before we do them) we can increase our bodily vibrations to a level beyond this current plane, consciously moving into a higher frequency or dimension of our universe, literally disappearing from visual perception of people who don't, just like Jesus did. Eventually we'll vibrate highly enough to go to heaven in the fourth dimension by looking at lots of beautiful things.
I wish I was making this up.
Seriously, I'm only paraphrasing a little bit there.
This is the new age mantra combined with some Christianity for good measure, although the turning invisible to non-believers thing is new to me I've heard this explanation before, and it demonstrates ignorance of: frequency, wavelength, the universe, dimensions, Christianity, sanity, beauty, eyesight, consciousness, intuitition and a whole heap of other things that are simply ignored because the idea of this elaborate new religion is so comforting to so many people.
So can we really call any of this a science?
The simple answer is no, there is no evidence behind these claims and the threads that make up this tapestry happily break the laws of physics and deny basic scientific skepticism, therefore placing itself out of the arena of science and stealing its terms to try and make their claims look more valid than they actually are.
But I want to get back to the beginning for a second here, to the idea that we are in charge of our own reality, that we mold the universe in a way that suits us.
Again, if you can't see this video, the URL is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDMzvJOu9vQ
The idea suggested here, the idea that sick people are only sick because they don't have the will to be better, or that the bullied are only bullied because they don't try hard enough to fit in is an insult to thousands of suffering people throughout the world.
And if I'm being honest here, I don't think insult is a strong enough word.
Someone who has multiple sclerosis for example, who is confined to a wheelchair and will spend their remaining years slowly losing physical ability and the power to live without a carer… is it through their own will that they slowly and painfully lose their life to a disease they didn't ask for? Is that the reality they molded with their 'vibrational energy'?
Someone who has been bullied to the point of considering suicide… did they not want to be accepted enough? Did they not work hard enough to not be driven into a situation where death seems like a nicer option than facing another day in front of people who are supposed to be their friends?
Suffering is not something you can just wish away, as much as we humans often wish it could be. Suffering is difficult and sometimes suffering only increases until we leave this earth. But I would be willing to bet that every man, woman and child with cancer, every sufferer of cystic fibrosis, every child whose life has been made into a living hell by people who are someone's 'little angels', would do anything to not have to carry those harships, would break free from their predicaments if they could, and would damn sure have enough love to give to convince the universe that they were worth saving was any of this true.
Sometimes it's fun to laugh at pseudoscience but there comes a point where some perspective is needed, and this worldview only allows those who are lucky enough to escape suffering to gloat at the belief that they're the centre of the universe and despite its 'insight' of helping others, assumes that they aren't trying hard enough to struggle towards the life that the gloater has so casually walked through.
Don't let 'Spirit Science' skulk around Youtube dressed in a lab coat and holding plastic test tubes.
[image credits: www.reactionface.info, www.chemicalrecovery.org, uncyclopedia commons]