Deepak Chopra: Who Is This Idiot?

After reading Deepak Chopra’s discussion of Dawkin’s The God Delusion all I can conclude is that he’s an idiot who knows jack shit about science. OR, he’s a liar who is purposefully twisting the facts.

On some level, I sometimes feel like the biggest war going on right now is one that has been going on, constantly, for ages: between reason and superstition. Don’t get me wrong: I can respect and care about religious people. But it comes back to me, from the television program “Root of All Evil”, that some religionists are so quick to say to atheists, “Don’t be arrogant!” This strikes me as the height of arrogance, because, of all people, shouldn’t the theists who purport to know the demands and expectations of an invisible deity, who claim to know secrets of an afterlife that none have seen, who claim to know the truth of the world — shouldn’t the mystical conspiracy leaders be the ones accused of arrogance?

For example, Chopra writes of Dawkins that he “represents an old paradigm that is reductionist in its insistence on limiting science to materialism, a model that is quickly crumbling.” If that is the case, why is modern medicine succeeding in ways that nobody could ever have imagined one or two hundred years ago? Take, for example, the EKG tests I’ve had in the last few days. Three hundred years ago, doctors would simply have had to say, “Uh, we don’t know. Let’s see what happens next.” A thousand years ago, I would have been taken off to the church to pray and hope. Ten thousand years ago, I’d probably be dead of other causes. A millions years ago, I would never have lived to my current age. So how is that not progress? Now, we can look at peoples’ genes and see whether they’re predisposed to all kinds of things. We understand medical histories and heredity. This is the backwards materialist heresy that Dawkins espouses? Gee, doesn’t seem to be crumbling to me.

Chopra also mischaracterizes the assertion that God isn’t necessary for a full appreciation of the universe. When commenters argue that one needn’t rely on a deity in order to be wowed by the universe, Chopra replies:

I find it confusing that Smith and Dawkins are so quick to praise science and to condemn other qualities of the human mind. The same person can be rational and yet love art, music, truth, beauty, etc. If we see this as a whole, we don’t have to resort to ad hominem attacks on the weak who “need” God and the strong who don’t. But the real point is that human intelligence and creativity have to have a source. Dawkins cannot locate one; therefore the question of a higher intelligence hasn’t been resolved.

But wait, they do have a source, for Dawkins. Their source is evolution. Why does Chopra assert that Dawkins cannot locate one? Ah, because Chopra wants to assert that it must be a supernatural, invisible, magical, divine source. He’s relying on a fallacy that all this wonderful stuff must come from a God. And the interesting thing is, this is where Dawkins’ own theory bears out: people who had never encountered the idea of a god would not naturally assume that all things had to come from one. It’s another piece of evidence in Dawkins’ favor that religious beliefs are, in fact, the product of youthful encounters with infectious ideas. In other words, Chopra’s hidden assumption is that there is a deity, and his claim that all this wonderful stuff around us must have come from it is post-facto.

Oh, and then there’s the question of identity: Chopra seems to think that the idea that consciousness is a process of the brain is hogwash, and that rather the brain is just some kind of trace receptacle or something that captures traces of thought.

Currently most neurologists and philosophers contend that the brain produces consciousness. For them, wanting to eat a banana is a subjective impulse that is responding to brain activity. This defies common sense, of course. To say that my brain is making me eat a banana seems absurd. I want to eat a banana, and once I do, my brain carries out the necessary action (buying a banana, peeling it, putting it in my mouth, etc.) Mundane as this example may be, it’s actually an astonishing feat of mind over matter. How in the world do our thoughts manage to move the molecules in our brain?

The idiocy here is simply astonishing. No, the brain is not making you want something: the brain contains the whole function of I, including the desire to eat a banana. Chopra misrepresents Penfield, who surely would have acknowledged that. After all, Penfield was the guy who did all those tests poking bits of brain and noting the sensory effect, like the experience in the patient of the scent of smoke, or the taste of cherry ice cream. Penfield probably could have touched some spot in the brain that makes one crave bananas, too, for all we know. Even worse, silly old Chopra seems to miss the point that cravings for bananas, and any other food, necessarily are biological in nature, since they’re food, related to the energy used to run our bodies. Yes, they also taste good, and this makes us want to eat bananas more. But why do they taste good? Why do we experience the sugars in bananas as “tasting good”? Certain insects eat dung and, we can assume, experience some limited pleasure in doing so. Why the difference? Ah, it’s Dawkins’ heresy: evolution by natural selection.

This might be a good place to argue that current breakthroughs in imaging techniques are limited in showing us what the mind is doing. Finding the location in Michelangelo’s brain that lights up when he is inspired to paint may be impressive, but it says nothing about art. By analogy, I may be able to follow how electricity gets to the Museum of Modern Art, but just because the building lights up doesn’t mean I’ve discovered the secret of art.

Someone please hit this man. In the teeth, please.

Yes, neuroscience is limited. Neuroscience admits its limitations, unlike most mystical supernatural mumbo-jumbo which ignores the idea of limitations of human knowledge and posits totalizing theories about reality. Acknowledging limits in science is in science’s favour, as it makes it harder to present bullshit as truth than among mystics and other charlatans of Chopra’s ilk. Such charlatans are without exception clever, and one of their favorite tools is the false analogy, which often mixes up people who haven’t studied logic or learned to pull apart arguments critically, a skill which unfortunately is not much taught in schools these days.

So let’s look at this:

Finding the location in Michaelangelo’s brain that lights up when he is inspired to paint may be impressive, but it says nothing about art.

Really? That’s an interesting — though stupid — assertion, because of the number of assumptions underlying it.

  1. Brain acitivity in itself is meaningless. This discounts the fact we know the brain is a highly modular system, with different areas focused on different task and skill-sets. It ignores that we can correlate activity with different parts of the brain that partake of some activity. If a painter painting a human subject displays activity in one part of the brain, we can see how the brain’s geometry and color modules are being used. If the mirror neurons are firing, we can also know the painter is emoting with some model of a person, whether the subject of the painting or an imaging viewer. Sorry, Deepak, but brain activity can tell us a lot about painters and how they do their work.
  2. Art in general is transcendant somehow. Finding a blinking light will not tell us about the greater system of art. Of course, if we do brain scans on people appreciating art, as well as people producing it, we’ll notice which bits of the brain are working in each, and learn about whether the viewer and the creator have fundamentally similar, different, or comparable experiences. We’ll learn about how art is experienced on a neurological level, and in what ways we perceive landscapes differently from paintings of landscapes. We’ll learn about how people process different kinds of communication, since art can involve such things as homage, or emulation of style. If someone works in the style of Michaelangelo, and we recognize that, how are we doing it? A brain scan can tell us a whole hell of a lot more than some airy-fairy ignorantist blather that Chopra has on offer.

Right, let’s move on:

By analogy, I may be able to follow how electricity gets to the Museum of Modern Art, but just because the building lights up doesn’t mean I’ve discovered the secret of art.

Except of course that this analogy is utter crap. For one thing, the electrical circuitry that involves lighting up a museum isn’t actually involved in the production of art, the way that the circuitry in the brain is. He’s thrown in the notion that the electricity is lighting up a museum just to throw us off the weakness of the analogy. (Or he’s failed to perceive it himself, perhaps.) If the electricity that lit up the Museum of Modern Art somehow also caused the museum of modern art to spontaneously create modern art… and if similar electrical structures had, for millions of years, caused the spontaneous production of art in places all over the world… and if we also found relatively simpler (though still profoundly complex) electrical systems lighting buildings with lower ceilings producing art as well — the way some primates and elephants produce art — then this would be a workable analogy. But it’s not. The brain is an electrical system like the lighting system of a museum, but it’s also utterly unlike the lighting system in a building in that its relationship to art is wholly different. It’s like claiming that the interaction of human “plumbing systems” cannot explain life, because after all, the pipes bringing water to one’s house don’t cause pregnancy. It’s literally an idiocy of that level.

As for the last bit, where Chopra offers Ervin Laszlo as a “progressive” scientist, that’s a laugh.

I spent relatively little time scolding Dawkins for his unfairness toward religion, but it’s a serious flaw.

Try being an atheist, Deepak. That’s where people are profoundly unfair. Even worse than the demonizations of one anothers’ religions, it seems, all religionists are quite comfortable mischaracterizing atheists. The kind of crap that people spout about atheism, and the assumptions and claims about how morality comes from religion — utter hogwash to anyone who’s looked at the study of altruism in primates and humans, or the exploitative, bloody, and violent history of the world’s religions — is enough to make an atheist want to fight back. I don’t much blame Dawkins, even if I think his methods are likely to garner more hostility. But the thing is, with atheists, no matter what you do or say, there’s hostility directed towards you if atheism comes up. It’s a bigotry that an overt atheist could never become a major political leader in North America or Britain, for example.

Religion is always demanding atheists be fair towards it. I think the fact is, they’re just stinging from unfettered criticism. Atheists are the only people in the world who are universally fair towards all religions, and in this definition of “fair”, I include fairly criticising all of them. When Chopra talks of “fairness” what he means is niceness and an accepting attitude, instead of harsh, blunt criticism and honesty. In this era, where politicians are manipulating religion to justify wars, atheists are noting how similar things look on both sides of thre divide, at least in terms of manipulation and propaganda. They’re noting how irrational some religious beliefs around the world are. They’re warning us that there is no good reason to believe a lot of notions that are present in the world, and reminding us that some of those notions in fact are contradicted by the same scientific knowledge that lets us transfer information around the world in an eyeblink, transplant hearts, and launch ourselves into the air and even into space.

Anyway, after this analysis, I am sure of one thing: Deepak Chopra is either woefully ignorant of science (and deserving of being ignored on the subject, because unfortunately he’s failed to heed Socrates’ injunction that a thinker be aware of his own ignorance), or an opportunistic charlatan who makes his living foisting false analogies and mischaracterizations upon those who unfortunately don’t know enough to catch him out.

32 thoughts on “Deepak Chopra: Who Is This Idiot?

  1. Excellent post! However, just after you quote Chopra about lights in the museum not producing art, your margins change and I cannot read the first two or three letters of each line after…And even typing this, I cannot see the first few letters of each line -any spelling errors are to be blamed on that!

  2. Thanks, mtpollack. I agree completely. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Chaucer’s Pardoner.

    I responded to Joshua (The Western Confucian)’s comment in brief, since I was traveling in currently-net deprived China. (Recent earthquake, underwater cable cut, whole national net is messed up.)

    Of course, my response in comment #5 is my view in a nutshell, but I’d like to add one thing: it’s the theoretical restraint of science to deal with the physical universe that makes it so powerful. This is obvious. Science and technologies made possible by it have transformed our way of living. But of course, it’s done so quickly, and people like Chopra are profiteering off the laggards and others who haven’t quite brought themselves up to speed with what we know about the universe… in other words, he’s probably somewhat future-shocked himself, but he’s able to afford an education, so that’s willful… and that means he’s a lazy predator feeding on those even more future-shocked than himself.

  3. Deepak Chopra is a jerk Posted on Feb 3 2008 at 11:10am by jslevine2002
    I have a very good friend working at Deepak’s spa in New York , she is a masseuse there, and gets NO health insurance and a 15 minute break. Whenever one of Deepak’s kids come in everyone has to stop and move their schedules do cater to them. The masseuse’s have tried to band together and change the work conditioners but are told they will just be fired.
    Deepak is a hypocrite and a jerk and everyone should know it.

    RE: Deepak Chopra is a jerk Posted on Jun 9 2008 at 11:34am by solitude
    Yes, DEEPAK CHOPRA IS A HYPOCRITE. This is classified information–this is why I am posting it on the INTERNET! Every time a friend of mine mentions him, I have to tell them the truth about Deepak Chopra. I used to work in a law firm and he used our services to try to fight someone in a case. When he knew he was losing the case, he came into our building and brandished a gun, threatening to murder the attorney working on his case. The security guards had to protect the attorney, until things settled down with Deepak. Until this day, it still makes everyone in the workplace CRINGE to hear his name! Just because he has a “foreign name” and rips off of Buddha (or tries to) doesn’t mean he’s an Englightened Being. He’s far from it.

  4. Wow this is enlightening indeed, prior to reading this I had no idea that Chopra was such a hypocrite but let’s put his likewise personal life aside and focus on the issue here. I am neither an atheist nor a believer I would like to say I am still seeking my own path to enlightenment, however I do find it perplexing within these article there are answers to certain issues and most profoundly even more questions. Art is defines as a form of creation yes? Then if the human brain in all its complexity would also be called art, as it was created and designed is such a way that it does bring us conscious thought. In all this selective evolution we talk about, how is it possible that the human brain can come to its current state with its course of evolution? I mean the dinosaurs have been around longer haven’t they? Why dint we seem them progress to a natural selective state where they can perceive and create art as well? Therefore science has some answers to that but what about spirituality? Is there some kind of creator out there? Perhaps God, someone or something else that jumped started or course of evolution?

  5. Genex,

    Art is defines as a form of creation yes?

    Well, if you define it that way, can’t we also define mass graves after a genocide as art, since they’re “creations” too? It’s absurd.

    Logically, here’s what you’re doing:

    Created things are art.
    Human brains are art.
    Human brains are created things.

    Which is a faulty syllogism. You see how, yes, some created things are art, but some created things are weapons, or piles of dung, or trash, or Spice Girls CDs. This is not only logically untenable, it’s also philosophically lazy. Indeed, all kinds of things in nature have arise from very complex but wholly naturalistic processes.

    For example, look at the solar system. We don’t need gods to explain any of it — the grandeur, the immense gravitational forces, all of it can be accounted for using physical science. A proper syllogism would be:

    Art is a created thing.
    The world looks like art.
    Thus the world looks like a created thing.

    [Thus, there “must” be a creator.]

    Now, this we can argue about. But only because it does the intellectually honest thing and admits that the world “looks like art,” instead of claiming it “is” art, which leaves the “must” in the conclusion open to broader debate, as to what science has to say about the origin of life. And let me tell you, science has a lot more behind it than pile of scripture you care to choose. No, we don’t have all the answers in science — something scientists readily admit and something I’ve only rarely heard a theologian or preacher admit: “I dunno,” or “We have no idea,” is usually substituted with some aphorism about God or the gods — but we can have a workable answer with unknowns without having to plug deities in to fill those unknowns. Moreover, the track record for using gods to explain the unknown is pretty poor; as science makes new discoveries, those theories necessarily get discarded.

    The reason dinosaurs didn’t evolve the way we did is because there’s no reason to do so. You’re mistakenly thinking of evolution as an arrow — from amino acids all the way up to the wonderful perfect final state of human beings. This is called “teleology, and it’s not a very credible understanding of evolution.

    Evolution isn’t an arrow — its more like a tree, with all kinds of boughs, branches, stems, twigs, leaves, and flowers.

    Sharks are a good example. They’re not smart, they’re not tool users, but they’re relentlessly efficient at staying alive and well-fed. They exploit one large marine predator niche like nobody’s business. They fact that they’re SO effective is probably overkill: overkill is common in nature, in cases where there’s no punishment for being too effective. Likewise, there’s no good reason to evolve language, as a shark, since they’re not all that social in areas that require coordination.

    Humans evolved in a totally different niche: we’re gregarious, we’re hominids, we’re tool users, and we’re omnivorous. Gregariousness — as well as how we mate, and what we eat — caused us to need to have a sophisticated ability to read one anothers’ motivations and loyalty, and affected how we hunted. Hunting rewards coordination, especially when you’re hunting with rocks and sticks. Gestural or other nonverbal communication, which is widely seen in nature, simply developed over millions of years into rudimentary language, and the delicate, relentless system of natural selection had millions of years to improve on it. Then literacy exploded, not very long ago, and turned language into the most complex system(s) on the planet. And this helped us occupy a rather different niche in the world.

    But we’re not in a final state. Natural selection is still acting on every living thing, though we’ve buffered it a lot, and though we’re starting to find hacks, workarounds, and circumvention systems.

    As for your argument: I submit that you only argue that God (“or something else” is always just God in sheep’s clothing, in these arguments, unless you’re a raving Dänikenite) must have jumpstarted evolution because you have accepted the assumption of a god before the discussion even began.

    If I ask you to set aside the assumption, and ask yourself whether it’s necessary to have anything supernatural — ie. not part of a wholly naturalistic universe, ie. not a deity or spirit — to “jumpstart” evolution, you might see what I mean.

    The fallcy here is straight out of Aquinas, by the way. He asserts that the universe seems like a made thing, and that made things have makers, so there must be a God. It’s fallacious because the universe doesn’t look like a made thing if you observe it with eyes attuned to geological time. It looks like a rock in space precariously circling a sun, subjected to all kinds of natural processes, and also subject to all kinds of risks.

    (Any sane God would not have perched His most prized creations on a rock so vulnerable to be extincted the moment a couple of neutron stars collide in the neighborhood.)

    The world, and the universe, indeed, look exactly like a place where things like us happen by wonderful chance, and if the dice seem loaded, that is probably the result of evolution-like processes on universes themselves. (The concept of baby universes may help you here.)

  6. Guys, you gotta give that chopra fella some sort of cred. I mean he was an actual cardiologist and a chief of staff in medicine. His brother is a professor of medicine at harvard or something. Now i dont entirely agree on what he says most of the time, but he does have the credentials. “all I can conclude is that he’s an idiot who knows jack shit about science”

    I do not know your credentials in the science department, but deepaks is pretty heavy. Thats why when dawkins was interviewing him in his documentary about quantum mechanics I was a bit putt off coz dawkins is an expert in biological sciences like evolution and darwin stuff.

    I saw a lot of idiots on the dawkins website calling deepak (Mr. Chopra) and even calling richard (Mr. Dawkins) I reckon, Chopra probably had higher academic credentials than anyone in that forum

  7. dunno,

    Try reading the rest of that sentence:

    all I can conclude is that he’s an idiot who knows jack shit about science. OR, he’s a liar who is purposefully twisting the facts.

    As for the scientific street cred won by bein a doctor, I’d say it’s probably slightly more than that won by being a science fiction writer (which is what I am) but not overwhelmingly so. Doctors mostly know about bodies and how they work in the here and now, including fetal development. There’s no penalty to a doctor’s professional abilities for having a thoroughly unscientific (ie. religious, New Age, or other) view of personality, the nature of human life, and more. In fact, in terms of dealing with religionist patients, there may be a slight benefit to believing patently unprovable things.

    However, that doesn’t bundle Chopra’s beliefs about the New Age or souls into the realm of scientific objectivity any more than it does his fashion sense. A cardiologist can afford to be wrong about many, many things, as long as he’s right about your heart and circulatory system most of the time.

    The fact that he’s been roundly criticized by scientists and even awarded an Ig Nobel award for contributing to mass confusion about quantum mechanics is good enough for me to leave some room for doubt: maybe he IS a lying, leech-like charlatan who is exploiting the fundamental science-ignorance of the contemporary Western world to turn a quick buck; or maybe he actually is just as science-ignorant as the people from whose book purchases he makes his living.

    (Just as with that horrendously crap film What the Bleep Do We Know!?, it may be that Chopra actually doesn’t have a good handle on what we know. Or it may be that it’s more profitable to serve up misguiding mystical mumbo-jumbo as that sells more.)

  8. gordsellar….

    Yes i am under the presumpption that there is a Creator. ( GoD ) watever you want to call it…

    and i do agree with your point.

    so as yet to date… why did the dinosaurs die? asteroid? natural selection? why did we survive not them? where did we really come from?

    NOW, just to share my theory, as crazy as it may sound…

    We may be the past of some ancient civilization, brought here from a dying adult and aged universe….

    I dont thing the primortial soup theory is intircated enough to just create.

    As you said.. Creation is art.. not a random accident. It must be intentional.

  9. genex5,

    Er, missed this last comment till now, but, er…

    Panspermia theory I can find compelling possible. Tuned baby universe designed to give rise to complex life? Maaaybe. Neat idea, anyway.

    Humans coming from another planet? Pbbbbbbbt.

    From what we know, yes, the dinosaurs likely died as a result of the effects of asteroid collision. More may be discovered someday, and there seem to be a few other theories suggesting other causes for their extinction, but anyway, their dependence on evolutionary adaptation without intelligence to carry out technological adaptations to faster-changing conditions seems to have been crucial to their downfall.

    By the way, you can’t call whatever random thing you think up a “theory” in a discussion of science. Scientific theories demand at least some modicum of evidence, you know. Extraterrestrial origins of humans doesn’t fit at all, given the overwhelming evidence that we arose on the same planet as all other life on Earth, let alone the lag between the beginnings of life on Earth and our appearance.

    Primordial soup being our origins certainly seems less incredible than that we were brought here on ancient ships,m in the light of that — and in the absence of any evidence of ancient ships, or life out there that would bring us, or anything of the kind.

    Drop me a comment here when we find an ancient spaceship parked on Europa, or a Clarkean monolith or something. Till then, your “theory” is merely a wacky idea.

  10. Hi, This is not the first time Deepak Chopra makes false statements to suit his arguments. I read “How to know God” and it has more than 250 completely flawed arguments that shows him to be utterly lacking common sense. Let me know if you would like to post those. I stopped counting after 250.

  11. Sanju,

    Well, if you’re reading a book about “How to know God” I don’t know how you can expect anything but fabrications: no human author can really demonstrate authority on that subject — let alone the existence of said subject — so you kind of asked for it!

    I think we can do without the 250 false statements, but thanks!

  12. i saw on tv he got sellers to sell a kind of juice of antioxydant. A pyramid system like. And he also makes video game. no doubt for me this guy is all about the money and he wants it all.

  13. 1 Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
    1 Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

    Jeremiah 8:9 The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?

    yes we can do great things with technology today. Things that 100 years ago would have been thought impossible. Just remember in the pride of all of your words, lives the great liar, and in all that you know you cannot possibly deny that in 100 years it will be shown that you simply know nothing important but the simplcity of school yard banter. God has a different plan for you, I suggest you listen, and if you can’t hear him, you arn’t holding your mouth right. He has addressed you specifically and your nature is an old one with your heart hardned, striving to be your own god with a little g.

    1. Roy,

      Wait, you’re quoting the Bible to defend the charlatanry of Deepak Chopra? Hahahahahahahaahaaaaaaaaaa!

      Oh, you’re probably just peeing your pants over that last comment. Well, I suggest you go read your Bible a little more, and find out about this god of yours. He hates interest rates. He hates blended fabrics. He approves of slavery and gang-rape of women as long as they’re from another tribe — in fact, he prescribes the latter as a regular, normal war measure.

      Pride is a funny thing: there was a documentary in which Richard Dawkins talked to Ted Haggard, and Haggard started lecturing Dawkins on his pride. Which is an amazing irony: who is the one claiming to speak for the almighty, omnipotent deity that created all things? Huh? I mean, if this god wanted us to hear a message, wouldn’t it be able to deliver it itself, through some vessel better than a lying, hateful, profit-driven sack of shit like Haggard?

      I assert that you’re the prideful one, Roy Bandle, presuming that your particular supernatural belief about the universe is so correct that you can go about telling others their understanding of the universe is all wrong, that you know anything of my nature, that you can issue me warnings on the basis of your idiosyncratic interpretation of one book written in a desert in the orient a few thousand years ago.

      Meanwhile, I suggest you get a little humble and thank science and medicine for making your life as pleasant as it is today. It’s doctors and scientists — not theologians — who made it possible for you live long enough to get set in your ways as you seem to be, and to memorize the Bible, who spread education about hygiene and built the bridges that allow you not to be sick all the time or scrabbling in the dirt for food; it’s engineers and dentists, not theologians, that made humanity capable of the kind of humanitarianism and kindness we see in some places today.

      The thing you don’t know about science and science-minded people is that they don’t strive to be their own god with a little g; we have no need of such things, because we have a way of looking at, figuring out, and engaging with the world free from the trammels of supernatural thinking. I would not even want to be a god with a little g: I don’t need or want a god. And any almighty deity who has a problem with that is too puerile to deserve worship. And surely your god looks comical portrayed as he is: more like a self-centered old CEO in a dysnfunctional company, and less like an almighty, loving deity.

      (To be flatly honest, I like to imagine any gods that did exist as not being particularly interested in how people talked about or prayed to it, but rather interested in ethical use of one’s time on earth… with time spent lecturing non-religious and time spent singing in church considered a waste of good time where someone could have been doing unto others as one would have one do unto them.)

      And if you think my nature has been addressed in the Bible — amusingly, since I don’t think the book was actually written in a world where someone much like me existed — I would tender that your nature is much more widely addressed. Look up the word “Pharisee.” I guarantee it’s an eye-opener… unless your heart is so hard that you fail to see the log in your own eye, so busy you are pointing out the splinter you think you see in mine.

  14. Dear Gordsellar,

    First of all, great post. I agreed with the article almost in its entirety.
    I know this was written over four years ago, but to me it remains relevant to this day. What I mean by this is, that this blog should be attributed not just to Deepak Chopra but to a significant proportion of the residents in my home town.

    I live in the far East Coast of Australia, where alternative medicine, metaphysics and the seven rings of Chakra has been and still are at its height of popularity. The town is full of angst-ridden pseudo-intellectual hippies, in which many speaks highly of people like Chopra, and things like the Hare-Krishnan theory of evolution, to name a few of many examples. It disgusts me to think that these so-called faith healers and homeopaths are deceiving not just the public but themselves into believing in such fraudulence, under purely egotistic basis. It shouldn’t take the words of people like Dawkins, Dennet or Harris for people to realize the insubstantiality and the danger of pseudo-science. When I say danger, my sister(she was only 10 back then) was close to being tested as a guinea pig from her then-friend’s nutcase homeo(psycho?)path mother!

    You couldn’t have articulated my feelings any better gordsellar. Thank you so much for the article.


    p.s. On an unrelated note, you’ve got great taste in music too! Gogol Bordello played in my town, they were amazing.

    1. Hi Sparkle,

      I’m glad the post helped articulate your feelings. My disgust with Chopra and his ilk has not lessened with time, and in fact, I’m at the point now where I think people like him, and even people who follow him and mouth his praises, need to get called out.

      By the way, it may well be that I was subject to “alternative medicine” experiments as a kid that makes me so outspoken about it.

      As for Gogol Bordello… ahhhh, good stuff. :) I wish they would do a gig in Seoul! :)

  15. Thanks Scott. I was posting a lot more then, and somehow people seem to want a place to rant about Derrick Jensen more than about Chopra. More people are debunking Chopra out there, I suppose.

    I wonder what I was drinking when I wrote this, to write a sentence that starts, “A millions (sic) years ago…” and doesn’t end with, “I wouldn’t have existed, but whatever we evolved out of would have been long dead at my age.”

  16. gordsellar, ok, I’ll concede Chopra can at times come off like an idiot and I regularly refer to what he shills as “McSpirituality”. (Yes, this is too harsh especially when we consider that he is doing a service by making many people consider these issues in a tangible way.)

    However, I take serious issue with your claim that materialism is required for science. Absolutely not true. I am a theoretical scientist/mathematician. What mathematicians and theoretical scientists work with is quite real to us, but does not require materialism (unless you consider the physical bodies we use to do our work, but that’s not really fair and not what I think you meant). Our abstractions and thought experiments actually can give deep insight into the nature of the universe and I do not believe that true nature of the universe is limited by materialism. (Quantum mechanics is a good place to think about this.) just my humble opinion though.

    1. Ha, I don’t think “McSpirituality” is too harsh at all; whatever service he’s doing is unintentional, a bit like saving the world because he was too lazy to do the math correctly so his homemade nuke failed to launch.

      I get your point about theoretical science and mathematics, but then, you don’t see your work as the whole of science, right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but that would be a bit like saying a music theorist “does music” when, really, you need instruments and compositions to do music. Music is one of those collective endeavours that involves performers, composers (well, in certain kinds of music) and theoreticians, as well as stage managers, producers, audio technicians, and so on.

      Isn’t science like that, too? You need the theorists and the experimentalists (as well as the techies, software engineers, equipment manufacturers, etc) to do science, otherwise you end up with a lot of interesting theoretical material that may or may not relate to our universe? I don’t deny that abstractions and thought experiments are a crucial and useful part of science, but we don’t rely on them alone, right?

      It’s my impression that this is why everyone was so excited at the apparent discovery of the Higgs Boson: theoretically, we’d been convinced of its existence for a long time, but without some kind of testable evidence, we could never be sure. Quantum mechanics, too, relies on testability, and there are all kinds of experiments that verify QM in all its perplexing glory.

      I’m not a scientist myself, so I could be really wrong about this stuff. Or perhaps I’m misusing the word materialism, I’m not sure. But my understanding is that testability and verifiability of physical phenomena is an important part of how science works: otherwise, how would you know that your abstractions and thought experiments actually relate to our universe?

  17. This is great! TED needs to weed out the quacks. We need more places that we can trust for fact. At the very least reliable attempts at finding good hypothesis! Deepak is money motivated with zero shown effort. So funny how the quack makes the most sound. ツ

    1. Thanks Rusty. I’m sad to see that Chopra appeared on any videos, and agree that Chopra is at best deluded, but much more likely is just in it for the money. Which is sad, because he surely was making a fine living as a physician, wasn’t he?

      But what’s more embarrassing–and is also an effective indictment of our education systems in the modern, industrialized world–is that quacks like these are able to get themselves audiences at all…

  18. DC is no idiot. He is something far worse. He is a very clever man, who has managed to put aside basic morality, logical thought and any respect for the truth to make a fortune by telling the gullible things that they would like to be true. Let is be grateful that he is just a scam merchant, and has not gone into politics where he could have done much greater damage.

    1. Let is be grateful that he is just a scam merchant, and has not gone into politics…



      Well, I’d argue he is an idiot, but you’re right, it’s more of a moral idiocy than an intellectual one. He promotes idiocy in the world, but cleverly. He’s stupid for thinking so selfishly and short-term, but… yeah. Sigh.

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