While ‘The Interview’ may have been in the forefront when it comes to controversy lately, another film has been drawing its own uproar in the scientific community. That film is ‘The Principle.’ While it has only been out in limited theaters, ‘The Principle’ has managed to stir up quite a bit of buzz not only because of the topic the film covers, but also due to comments made by those who were interviewed for the documentary. ScienceFiction.com had the unique opportunity to talk to Rick Delano, the producer of the film, who addresses the backlash as well as explain what the film really examines. As Delano states, ‘The Principle’ is “pretty heavy stuff but it really boils down to something very simple.”
ScienceFiction.com (SF): What is ‘The Principle’ really about?
Rick Delano (RD): ‘The Principle’ is about the Copernican Principle and the Copernican Principle is very simple and very powerful idea. So powerful that it is the idea that in fact brings the modern scientific world into existence. It simply states that the earth is not in any special, privileged or central location with respect to large scale structures of the cosmos. It’s as simple as that.
SF: Your film brings in a lot of controversial theories. Is it safe to say that your film, in the simplest terms, is trying to prove that something other than the Copernican Principle is at work here in the universe?
RD: Well, yeah, I would say that is a fair characterization. To be perfectly honest, the film doesn’t try and prove anything in particular position. We do present the standard mainstream opinion that the Copernicus Principle is true but we also allow the dissidents and the mavericks and even the mainstream theorists, who are beginning to recognize there are serious problems, observationally, with that principle. We are now in possession of the largest observation of the cosmos that we’ve ever had. And what we are seeing in our telescopes simply doesn’t fit the predictions, the assumptions that we are not in a special place in the universe. The evidence is getting very compelling. In fact, we are!
SF: It seems you’ve had this thought for a very long time.
RD: Oh, yeah, I’ve been researching this way back since 2005. This has been cooking in the highest level circles of cosmology and astrophysics for at least a decade now. It been 10 years since the first real solid evidence of what they call this “Axis of Evil.” That is what the term is in the community. It’s evil because it’s not supposed to be there. Under our present theory [of] general relativity, there’s not supposed to be an up, a down, a left, or a right and certainly not a center of the universe. The so-called “Axis of Evil” was discovered back around 2000 and confirmed very dramatically around 2004 and was so shocking that essentially most theorists just couldn’t believe it. They just said “there has to be something wrong with the telescope. There has to be some dust contamination or some foreground contamination. There’s no way this could really be there.”
When we starting doing the film in 2011, they had actually sent a third mission since they literally couldn’t believe their eyes. The Axis was so completely contrary to expectation that they decided to send a third mission op to check the first two.
What makes the film very controversial is that we happen to be the only guys out there who are really looking at this and interviewing the top cosmologists about this before that third mission report.
Now in January 1 of 2013, the issue was settled. The Axis is real. It’s there. There’s no doubt. Now, reasonable people can still disagree about what it means, but there is no doubt whatsoever that it’s completely contrary to all of the expectations of the Big Bang Theory. This special direction of the universe.
But wait, there’s more. It’s not just any special direction. It is a special direction that is absolutely astonishingly aligned with us! With our place in the universe. This is absolutely stunning. It is potentially world changing, and there is a lot of people very upset with us for having brought this out before the scientific community was able to come up an explanation that fit the existing models.
SF: Why do you think this is so threatening to scientists?
RD: That’s a great question. It’s really amazing. You would think we could sit down and have a discussion about our place in the cosmos. Maybe I think we are at the center of the universe and maybe you think we are at an insignificant place in the universe. And we could sit down and we can discuss this, and we can go and have some tea and crumpets and have a nice day.
And the reason is this is for all the marbles. This question is so powerful that when you see the film, you are going to see that this simple question, “What is our place in the cosmos?” collapsed the entire medieval civilization of the Catholic Church. The entire civilization was intellectually defeated by Copernicus.
See, 500 years ago if I told you, that I thought the Earth was going around the sun, you not only would think I am crazy but you might have me burnt at the stake. That’s how powerful and important it was. Today, thank God, we don’t burn people at the stake anymore.
The question has lost none of its power because if you think about it, if it turns out that the Earth is located in an incredibly special privileged and even central location in this vast universe, well, somebody put it there. That is not an accident. It really stretches the credibility to suppose that the one place we know that has telescopes, and people smart enough to point them up to the sky and notice this structure, that that’s somehow in place at the center of the structure? There’s no way that’s an accident.
Let’s take it one step further. Let’s say we do in fact confer that not only is the Axis is real but that the entire structure of the universe is arranged around us. That you can have actually have a coordinate system throughout the entire universe based on our location at its origin. Well, that would be as devastating to the modern world view as Copernicus was to the medieval one.
SF: I noticed that correlation and picture your film as the modern day Copernicus as you are going against the modern day conventional thought.
RD: Exactly. Believe me they don’t like it. They are not happy.
SF: The whole controversy of geocentrism. I understand the film doesn’t center on that as the sole theory of our place in the universe but as another option besides the Copernicus Principle.
RD: You are right. Everything you just said was absolutely correct. We did not feel it was appropriate or possible for us to make the scientific case for geocentrism. The evidence is not there. There is still room for doubt. It would be incorrect to attempt to force this evidence into a solution that says “It’s geocentrism or nothing else.” We are not there yet.
So what we decided to do was to allow the entire range of opinion to be expressed. These are very smart [scientists]. It’s so fascinating because the guys are fascinating. They are amazing guys. And to listen to how they think, how their minds operate on this data is to understand that it all comes down to philosophical assumption. At the end of the day the telescopes tell us objective things, we all see the same data – there is no difference. How we interpret that data is radically different across the spectrum. And what it really boils down to is at the end of the day that is it no different than what it was in the 16th century.
If your world view is formed by the idea that physical creation ought to give us evidence of a creator, then this evidence is profoundly supportive of that world view. If your world view is predicated on the idea that there’s no creator, that there’s no evidence of design, well, there’s still things you can point to that sort of gets you off the hook. Consequently, my decision was to let the audience really walk through this whole story. I like to call this the greatest scientific detective story in history – which it is.
SF: Are you surprised with the amount of backlash you are getting from the people you interviewed for the film?
RD: I am. Not so much the backlash but the form the backlash has taken. I’d like to address this in detail as it’s important. I really enjoyed interviewing these guys. All of them – no matter what their positions were. Guys who were completely opposite to me, I’m fascinated. I really enjoyed the process, preparing, reading their stuff. If I’m interviewing you, I better do my homework. I think it I fair to say, and I can prove it if I have to as I have the raw footage, a great number of these guys as some point in our interviews would look at me and say, “You know, this is the best interviews I’ve ever had. You’ve really done your homework.” If it’s true, I’m like Avis – I try harder. I don’t have the credibility. I don’t have the background. All I can do was to fanatically prepare for these interviews for years – which I did. I think it is safe to say that, I didn’t do all the interviews but I did most, is that the reason the film is so compelling is that we did get into areas and questions that didn’t get asked by anybody. Now it is important to keep in mind that some of these guys were interviewed in 2011. They cashed their checks, they went their way, there was no problem. No controversy. No upset. Why would you go on with your life for 3 years then suddenly stand up and say, “Oh, we were tricked. Oh, we had no idea!” It is ridiculous. It’s an insult to your intelligence.
What really happened is that a very vicious enemy of the executive producer of the film tweeted Lawrence Krause and Michio Kaku and tweeted did you guys know that you’ve been tricked into a film that makes you sound like you believe in geocentrism? That’s all it took. Lawrence Krause took the bait. Poor guy. He didn’t call me. He didn’t check. Neither did anyone in the media attempted to call me or check. The story was just too good. Crackpot tricks physicists into geocentric documentary. That’s a great story! Nobody ever bothered to call me. Nobody ever bothered to check.
And the reason for that is that this question is for all the marbles. There is just something about the idea that science could be wrong for 400 years on something as basic as this.
So, I’m not surprised with the opposition. I am surprised at the opposition full of the absolutely ridiculous…
SF: What do you hope the movie goer will get after seeing your film?
RD: Well, my sincere hope is that anyone who sees this film will begin to seriously reexamine their assumption that we are nothing, their assumption that we are insignificant, that we mean nothing in this universe; that science has proven that all of these ridiculous old fairy tales that put us in the center of it all are stupid, only idiots would buy such things. That’s just not true. It is not true on scientific grounds. We know it’s not true on theological grounds. We know it’s not true on philosophical grounds.
Priesthood today wears white lab coats. Miracles today come out of laboratories. Science is the high priesthood now. Science is the source of our miracles now. Science has been telling us and our children for way too long a lie about the nature of our being. It’s false. It’s time to change. Nobody is going to ask you to go out there and start the fight so I decided, it might as well be me.
If our interview has piqued your interest and you are curious about ‘The Principle,’ check out the film’s website where you can find out where it is currently playing or how you can get the film to play at a theater near you.
Everyone knows that the ancient idea of Earth in the center of the universe is a ridiculous holdover from a superstitious age, right? Modern science has proven that we are nothing special! We inhabit, in Carl Sagan’s words, “….an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. Well….prepare to be shocked! “The Principle”, destined to become one of the most controversial films of our time, brings before the public eye astonishing results from recent large-scale surveys of our universe- surveys which disclose unexpected evidence of a preferred direction in the cosmos, aligned with our supposedly insignificant Earth. “The Principle” features narration by Kate Mulgrew (“Star Trek Voyager”, “Orange Is The New Black”, and “Ryan’s Hope”), stunning animations by BUF Compagnie Paris (“Life of Pi”, “Thor”), and commentary from prominent scientists including George Ellis, Michio Kaku, Julian Barbour, Lawrence Krauss, and Max Tegmark. Tracing the development of cosmology from its inception (Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid at Giza), through the great revolution of Copernicus, to the astonishing new discoveries of Earth-oriented alignments in the largest structures of our visible universe, “The Principle” leads us face-to-face with the question, and the challenge- what does this mean for the future of mankind?