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poster Some movies are so bad, they’re funny. “What the Bleep Do We Know,” a pseudoscientific docudrama that purports to link quantum mechanics and consciousness, would be a riot if people didn’t take it so seriously.

Since its release in April 2004, this independent film has become a cult hit, playing to packed houses and grossing over $7.5 million. It’s a cocktail party sensation that has generated a powerful intellectual buzz. Unfortunately, the movie's popularity makes a frightening statement about a modern public’s fundamental disconnect with real science.

“What the Bleep” alternates between interviews with ersatz scientific experts and a dramatization of the coming-to-consciousness of a divorced photographer named Amanda. According to the movie, quantum physics dictates that reality is merely a creation of our thoughts. Extrapolating the particle/wave duality of matter to absurd extremes, it tells us that people and even basketballs only settle on their reality when they’re “observed.” Among the more outlandish assertions are that people can travel backward in time, and that matter is actually thought.

The movie hammers home the notion that addictions and other human miseries are merely the product of negative thinking. Despite the film’s sexy premise of malleable reality, its underlying note of puritan righteousness is deeply conservative.

The movie’s ‘experts’ spout nonsensitudes like “The trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery” and “At the deepest subnuclear level, you and I are one.” The experts’ identities are finally revealed at the end of the movie. Despite their sometimes impressive pedigrees (many have Ph.D.s or M.D.s of some sort), most are affiliated with new-age institutions such as the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the Maharishi University of Management.

Many of them, like the movie’s producers and directors, are devotees of Ramtha, a 35,000-year-old warrior channeled through a woman named TZ Knight. Ramtha, ‘speaking’ through Knight, also appears in the movie, smugly exhorting people (in an accent that fades in and out) to think for themselves.

“What the Bleep” trots out scientific studies to bolster its thesis, including a flawed 1993 experiment in which mass meditation by thousands of people in Washington, D.C., allegedly lowered the city’s sky-high murder rate. Also featured is alternative-medicine guru Masaru Emoto’s notorious experiments claiming to show that water crystals influenced by thoughts such as “I love you” are beautiful, while those influenced by “You make me sick; I will kill you” are distorted and ugly.

The normally engaging Armin Shimerman, who played Ferengi bartender Quark on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and Principal Snyder on the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” makes a disappointing appearance, intoning, “If thoughts can do that to water, just think what they can do to you.”

All this is interspersed with the story of Amanda, played by deaf actress Marlee Matlin. After her divorce, Amanda is having an existential crisis. She plays mystical basketball with a charismatic tot, relives her loutish ex-husband’s infidelities, and endures a dysfunctional wedding, eventually coming to realize that she makes her own reality.

After tackling quantum physics, “What the Bleep” lurches on to the brain and its chemistry, a segment clearly designed to appeal to young folk. The new-age soundtrack gives way to peppy rock music, while the movie devolves into a moralistic lecture on how addictions can be overcome by positive thinking and the experts invoke generalities about peptides and receptors. Helping us grapple with this is a surreal gaggle of computer-animated, Jell-O-like blobs that flirt, eat too much, and yell at each other.

What’s most odious about “What the Bleep,” though, is its message of profound self-absorption: The universe is all about you, and everything in your life is a product of your mind. Try selling that idea to tsunami survivors in Southeast Asia.

As the movie draws to a close, a long-winded chiropractor informs us that he “takes the time to create his day, infecting the quantum field.” I left the theater in need of a good quantum disinfectant.