Saturday, September 17, 2005

Can you say Crackpot?

I got an interesting email the other day announcing an event:
From: somedude (
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 11:06:01 -0400
Subject: David Lynch Event

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:

As part of NYU's Next Reel Student Film Festival and the Directors Series, this is an interesting event that will be talked about for a long time to come and David Lynch will be on hand for both presentations. Admission is on a first-come basis. If you cannot get into the 7 PM show, the 9 PM show is a repeat of the first. If you have any questions, please email me. Best, Some Dude
The attached poster has a picture of David Lynch with the following headline "Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain". Below that is a picture of three smiling guys: "John Hagelin, PH.D, Quantum Physicist" and "Fred Travis, PH.D". As a former physicist, I know that a physicist doesn't go around calling him/herself a "Quantum Physicist".

As Meg and Jack White would say, I think I smell a rat.

I did a quick search on Hagelin, and found his webpage. His credentials seem legit: Ph.D from Harvard, post-docs at SLAC and CERN. Then it seems he lost his mind (and soul) and got involved with the crackpots, and his current title is (are you ready, it's pretty long): Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management, and Minister of Science and Technology of the Global Country of World Peace.

It gets better, his bio says he's a "world-renowned quantum physicist, educator, author, and public policy expert...and is responsible for the development of a highly successful grand unified field theory based on the Superstring." Funny, I've never heard of him. A quick search on SPIRES and arXiv for Hagelin, comes up with nothing. He's also one of the 'experts' in What the Bleep Do We Know. Wikipedia has a great entry on this film and the controversy surrounding it.

What bothers me most about this whole thing is when people (like David Lynch) use their pull to get into NYU's film school, just to push an agenda. More depressing, is when people use their credentials to give their wacky ideas respectability to a bunch of non-science people that are impressed with words like 'quantum'.

UPDATE: I did an APS search, and actually came up with a handful of hits. A few of them are from his legit days at Harvard. The others are in collaboration with other Maharishi U people. No one has cited their work.


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Blogger Roy said...

You forgot to mention the way I first heard about John Hagelin: he ran for president as the Natural Law Party Candidate, and actually got a few votes (considering 3rd party status). He got 0.08% of the popular vote in 2000.

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