Ignunt Fool of the Week (Quantum Edition)

This week’s ignunt fool of the week is…


Well, actually since lonelygirl15 is a fictional YouTube user can she really be an ignunt fool?

Anyway, here is the ignunt video titled “Proving Science Wrong“:

Description: Does science really have the answer to EVERYTHING? I don’t think so, and here’s PROOF! Enjoy 🙂

“The uncertainty principle states that no one can truly observe the universe in its present state because as soon as you look at it it changes.”


What? Fictional characters can’t look up the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? I mean, I know that they don’t exist but the show’s writers could at least pick up a physics textbook or check Wikipedia, right?

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that the more you find out about the location of a quantum particle (like an electron) the less you can know about its momentum, and the more you find out about the momentum of the particle the less you can know about its location. Hence, uncertainty.

Weird stuff, I know, but then… what about quantum mechanics isn’t weird?

For the record… This does not apply to things on the much larger scale of the universe we are currently existing at. It applies at a really really small level.

I would scream “straw man” but the show’s writers probably got their screwed up interpretation of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle because of all the popular New Age stuff that uses the word “quantum”. “What the Bleep Do We Know?” similarly misinterpreted it to say that our consciousness is the only thing shaping the universe around us or something. But again, a lot of the principles of quantum mechanics don’t apply to interactions between big things like you, and me. Both the New Agers and this fictional character are making the mistake of testing quantum mechanical principles on the macro level.

It really, really, really annoys me when people say they’re using science even though they’re full of nonsense. It causes videos like this where people misunderstand what science really says. I mean, I haven’t even had high school physics yet and I know enough to bang my head into the desk when people define stuff like that.

A commenter on the video suggested that maybe she was talking about Schrodinger’s cat and confused it with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle…

I doubt it but I just wanted an excuse to put in my most favourite LOLcat EVER!!!

I commend lonelygirl15 on having disproven the premise of The Secret (quantum mechanics says wanting makes it so), and What the Bleep Do We Know? (positive thinking makes water crystals look prettier) which she had misinterpreted as a science. However, because lonelygirl15 is a fictional character her results in this experiment can’t be published in a peer-reviewed journal so somebody will need to do the experiment again in the real world.

4 responses to this post.

  1. I always think it’s incredibly stupid when people take the Heisenburg uncertainty principle and generalize it to apply to their own life. I have had to correct people, I usually start by telling them that Werner Heisenburg was not like Anthony Robbins, he wasn’t claiming to be a guru bestowing practical wisdom upon mankind. He was a physicist, talking about particles and how there are mutually exclusive measurable properties, leaving us with an inherent uncertainty about certain aspects of systems of particles.

    I almost thought about writing a book about this, but I thought that it would hit a wider audience if we made it into a movie, and we could call it “What the bleep do You Know?” with a subtitle that says, “apparently nothing about physics”

  2. Posted by Richard Froggatt on August 18, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    The whole video was staged; they used mirrors!

  3. Posted by ibyea on August 22, 2008 at 3:40 am

    You know, in this video lecture of mit by Walter Lewin, he does a really cool experiment to show the uncertainty principle. Basically, he passes light through a slit. As the slit gets smaller, the light gets smaller. At one point, though, you pay a price for knowing the position too much, and the light spreads out. After that point, the smaller the slit becomes, the larger the light becomes (more spread out). It is weird, but cool at the same time. It has been derived that it is Δp*Δx≥ћ/2. It is cool that such a statement can be described mathematically.

  4. […] Lonelygirl15 was an actress on YouTube, though her videos were of less substance. […]

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