In the late 1970s, after putting a homemade pyramid on her head, Judy Zebra Knight (neé Judith Darlene Hampton) says Ramtha—a 35,000-year-old warrior who supposedly led an army against the inhabitants of the mythical kingdom of Atlantis—appeared before her and said that he had returned to spread his wisdom using Knight as his human vessel.
Such bouts of wisdom, imparted to Knight’s followers as she “channeled” the warrior spirit—for a substantial fee, of course—included a recommendation to invest in Knight’s fail-proof, Ramtha-backed, Arabian horse-breeding venture (which failed). Knight’s spiritual and publishing business ventures, however, including Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment and the sale of all things Ramtha under the umbrella of JZK Inc., have been glamorous financial successes.
Quack, snake-oil saleswoman, or profiteering prophet—you can call Knight many things, but what you can’t call her is an expert on the science of human consciousness or a medical expert in the field of addiction.
So it was shocking that Larry King and his producers decided to have Knight on as a guest for the August 2 airing of Larry King Live on CNN, on the subject of the science of consciousness, the brain, and addiction. What followed ranged from scientifically suspect to outright dangerous. Here’s an example of an early exchange between host and guest:
KING: Isn’t depression, though—if we can overcome that, of the mind, isn’t it a disease?
KNIGHT: Well, all disease is from an attitude that pushes the button genetically that begins to create those proteins inside of ourselves that are mutated. Depression really, at the root of it, is that if our brain is hardwired like this and we have no neuroplasticity—and that neuroplasticity means that thought can travel to other regions of our brain to where we analyze it and we get greater insight. A person that has depression does not allow the—their brain does not allow the thought to go any further. So it’s in a cycle of thinking emotion, thinking emotion, thinking emotion.
This is a gobbledygook of scientific terms like neuroplasticity (used improperly), and nonsense. The suggestion that all disease is a result of psychological triggers goes beyond negligent. It falls into the same category of thinking that posits people get sick because they are psychologically or intellectually feebleminded.
If that were the extent of the missteps in King’s show, perhaps we could grumble a bit and move on. But things got worse as King’s other guests arrived.
One, Will Arntz, a co-producer of the pseudoscience film What The Bleep Do We Know, is, as it turns out, also a student of Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment.
Dr. Candace Pert, a celebrated neuroscientist, could have helped anchor the show in reality—until you realize that she’s been pushing the new-age line recently, and also appeared in What The Bleep Do We Know, saying she believes that Native Americans were unable to see Columbus’s ships because the ships were so different from anything the Native Americans had ever experienced before.
And then there was Dr. Fred Alan Wolf—another What The Bleep Do We Know talking head—a.k.a. “Dr. Quantum,” the UCLA-trained physicist with a penchant for taking basic quantum physics concepts, merging them with a blurry dose of metaphysics, and presenting this quantum mysticism as science.
Here’s King and Dr. Wolf confusing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, the collapse of quantum wave states and observation, clinical psychology, and metaphysics:
WOLF: The question really is, what do you think you are? Who do you think you are? And can you change who the observer is that you think you are? And the whole idea is—quantum physics says that the observer affects reality. Therefore, if you can change how you go about observing what you call life, you can change the reality that you’re living in, and that is where it comes from.
KING: All right. Give me a simple example. Give me a situation.
WOLF: Let’s say that right now you’re sitting and you’re saying, “Oh, I’m so depressed. I feel so bad. I feel terrible.”
I tell people, just do one simple thing. It’s very simple. Ask yourself this question: “Who is feeling depressed?” But don’t answer the question. Just posing the question without answering it changes the chemistry inside the body, and just by asking, you can begin to lift yourself from that depression.
You’ve got to keep doing it for a while because it isn’t like automatic pilot. It’s not like, throw a switch. You’ve got to keep doing it, and after a while you begin to realize that the person who is saying “I am depressed” is not you.