The Grand Unified Bunk (GUB) of Ervin Laszlo

I recently became a fan of Eureka, that quirky TV-series that aired on the SyFy Channel between 2006 and 2012. Being a long-time science-fiction fan, and all-around technophile, I could not help but enjoy the series. What sci-fi fan can resist fantastic gadgets and discussions about the latest in particle physics and cosmology—even when they challenge what is known and possible? On the whole the show took a balanced approach to science, in that no matter what happened everyone accepted that there was a scientific and empirically-provable explanation for every phenomenon.

However, Ervin Laszlo and his “Grand Unified Bunk,” GUB for short, had already made an early appearance and continued to influence episodes of the show through the end of the second season. In the pilot episode of Eureka one of the characters is reading in bed. As the camera pans down from above one can see the title: Science and the Akashic Field, An Integral Theory of Everything. Having never heard of this I was intrigued, after all it had the words “science,” “field,” and “theory” in the title. Surely, this was a book on the cutting edge, like Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces, Richard Dawkins’s The Selfish Gene, or Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. Sadly, I was mistaken.

After reading the first half of Ervin Laszlo’s book I was convinced the man was a crank. Oh, the book starts out promising enough, especially when Laszlo starts talking about some of the funky aspects of quantum mechanics, things like quantum entanglement, or nonlocality. This is the idea that two particles can appear connected to each other, even at great distances. However, it is here that Mr. Laszlo leaves the reservation, as they say. This becomes apparent as he begins to give credence—under the guise of science—to things like “telesomatic healing,” “dowsing,” “after death communication,” “twin telepathy,” “remote viewing,” “near death experience,” “out of body experience,” “the efficacy of prayer,” and what he calls in general the “transpersonal” experience.

I had to force myself to read the second half of the book. I am fair and objective, if nothing else. However, the second half of the book is just a flight into fantasy land, where Laszlo says things like the Akashic Field is “the self-realized mind of God.” He makes much of the word “coherence” throughout the book, arguing that coherence is proof of what he calls a “metaverse,” a parent universe to the one in which we live. This is a mega-universe that determines our own existence, much as your parents’ genes determined in large measure what you are today. He goes on at length about how our universe could not exist unless it was finely tuned, something that could not happen without design, or a pattern.

It should be pointed out that Laszlo admits as early as page 11 that what he is about to propose cannot be mathematically or empirically proven, because he is concerned with “life, mind, culture, and consciousness,” all of which are non-quantifiable and not physical phenomena. I will leave to others the debate about whether these four things are unquantifiable or non-physical phenomena, and only point out the following: if it cannot be measured and quantified it is not science.

Laszlo appears to think that the existence of questions with no ready answers justifies nonsense. He proves as much when he holds up the most credulous members of the scientific community as examples of those who are “leading scientists,” “avant-garde investigators,” and “maverick scientists.” These hardy scientific intellectuals like the Creationist/Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe struggle against the “mainstream scientists.” However, Laszlo does not stop there. He even believes that the well-known charlatan John Edward, whom Laszlo believes has successfully communicated with the dead, also struggles against the “mainstream” scientific community.

In the end Laszlo has turned some of the most promising and tangled questions of science against science itself. Laszlo’s “Integral Theory of Everything” is nothing more than a secularized version of the “God-of-the-gaps theory,” dressed up to appear more scientific than it is—just like Intelligent Design. Instead of a Supreme Being, Laszlo has the “quantum vacuum,” or what he calls the “plenum,” something similar to “the force” in Star Wars, which should not surprise since Laszlo’s Akashic Field derives from Asian philosophy and religion.

There are many questions that science has not yet answered, questions about dark matter and energy, coherence, the horizon problem, the cosmological constant, the acceleration of the universe, etc., but if you want to read about these things from the perspective of real scientists then pick up a copy of Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe From Nothing or David Deutsch’s The Beginning of Infinity. These books will not only blow your mind they are honest assessments of where science is today, and they do not resort to any unnecessary, or extraneous, theories to explain our wonderful universe.

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