Respectful Insolence

Deepak Chopra isn’t very happy right now. In fact, he appears downright pissed off right now, particularly at skeptics, so much so that he’s issued a hilariously fatuous “challenge” to James Randi (a.k.a.) The Amazing Randi on You Tube entitled Deepak Chopra’s One Million Dollar Challenge to Skeptics:

Yes, apparently with The Amazing Meeting (a.k.a. TAM) less than four weeks away, Chopra is looking to stir the pot a little bit with his usual blend of Choprawoo about consciousness and mind-body dualism and how nasty skeptics can’t accept the paranormal and the healing powre of “intent.” It’s at this point that I can’t help reminding my readers (or at least pointing out to the newbies) that I was the one who originally coined that term nearly eight years ago and have been using it regularly since then to the point that long ago I came up with the only response ever needed to Choprawoo. Of course, having come up with that response doesn’t mean that I can’t go above and beyond what is needed when the mood strikes me, and right now the mood strikes me because this is more than just Choprawoo. It’s pissed off Choprawoo, and that’s a spectacle I haven’t seen in a very long time. Somehow, even though Chopra’s broadsides against skeptics and atheists in print are clearly angry, actually seeing Chopra read such a broadside on video takes it to a whole new level of stupid, even beyond that of his infamous two-part Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism. Basically, his pique seems to derive from his self-important belief that skeptics should take his ill-informed speculations seriously. We don’t. For obvious reasons.

The video is over five minutes of pain to anyone with a shred of critical thinking skills. As is usually the case with any criticism Deepak Chopra levels at “skeptics” and, in particular, Richard Dawkins, whom Chopra really appears to despise, it’s chock full of logical fallacies, appeals to other ways of knowing, and major misunderstandings of science that could take textbooks to explain. The first thing, however, that struck me about Chopra’s manner in his “challenge” was just how smug and arrogant Chopra is.

Chopra starts out declaring that he’s issuing a “challenge” to the Amazing Randi and “all his so-called militant atheist friends and professional debunkers.” This alone tells you that he understands little about Randi, because if there’s one thing about Randi it’s that he’s not a “militant atheist.” Indeed, if anything, he’s sometimes criticized by those who are more “militantly” (for lack of a better word) atheist because he has consistently said that he’s more about scientific skepticism than he is about atheism, although he is an atheist. As for Randi’s colleagues, one wonders whom he means besides Richard Dawkins (a man who, although he has appeared at TAM, isn’t exactly closely associated with James Randi or his foundation, JREF). Perhaps he means Jamy Ian Swiss, a good friend of Randi’s who a couple of years ago drew the ire of certain real militant atheists for giving a rabble-rousing speech at TAM in which he downplayed and dismissed atheism as far as the skeptical movement goes and emphasized scientific skepticism. Maybe it’s those colleagues of Randi whom Chopra meant.

If there’s one thing Chopra’s video reminds me of, more than anything else, it’s not Randi’s million dollar challenge, which it’s obviously meant to mirror. Rather, Chopra’s “million dollar challenge to skeptics” reminds me, more than anything else, of Jock Doubleday’s “vaccine challenge.” You remember that oldie moldy antivaccine trope, don’t you? Basically, it’s an obvious publicity ploy in which Doubleday challenges “an M.D. or pharmaceutical company CEO, or any of the 14 relevant members of the ACIP” (the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices)…

…agrees to drink a body-weight calibrated dose of the poisonous vaccine additives that M.D.s routinely inject into children in the name of health. The mixture will include, but will not be limited to, the following ingredients: thimerosal (a mercury derivative), ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant dye), benzethonium chloride (a disinfectant), formaldehyde (a preservative and disinfectant), and aluminum.

It’s the sort of challenge that other antivaccinationists have made in other forms, such as this challenge from antivaccine loon Viera Schiebner (whom we’ve met before when she made the despicable claim that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis of vaccine injury) to Simon Chapman. In other words, it’s a transparently obvious challenge that the person making the challenge knows is incredibly unlikely to be accepted and, if it is accepted, has a bar for being met that is virtually impossible to meet and frequently morphs as anyone tries to accept the challenge.

Chopra’s “challenge” is cut of much the same cloth, but it’s even worse.

Why is it worse? Simple. The “challenge” as stated is impossible to meet, and I’d be willing to bet that Chopra almost certainly knows it’s impossible to meet. Think about it. Chopra starts out by saying:

Dear Randi: Before you go around debunking the so-called “paranormal,” please explain the so-called “normal.” How does the electricity going into the brain become the experience of a three dimensional world in space and time. If you can explain that, then you get a million dollars from me. Explain and solve the hard problem of consciousness in a peer-reviewed journal, offer a theory that is falsifiable, and you get the prize.

Of course, the big problem with this challenge is that Chopra doesn’t lay down concrete conditions, other than an article in a peer-reviewed journal. What does he mean by “explain and solve the hard problem of consciousness”? What sort of “solution” would be adequate for him? He doesn’t provide criteria so that an objective observer could reasonably determine whether Randi has met the challenge or not. This is very different from Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge, in which the person accepting the challenge and skeptics conducting the challenge have to agree before the testing ever occurs on specific criteria that must be met for the challenge to be met. Both sides have to sign off. Here, it’s just Chopra blathering on, as he is wont to do, about a nebulous “challenge” without letting himself be pinned down over the criteria that, if achieved, would indicate a successful meeting of the challenge. It’s disingenuous—hell, it’s dishonest—in the extreme. Chopra’s not a stupid man, although he is arrogant and has apparently forgotten whatever he had learned of the scientific method in his training. He must know this.

Next, to make sure there’s absolutely zero chance of Randi’s meeting the challenge, Chopra makes it virtually impossible to do by setting conditions that eliminate the tools necessary to do it. He begins by telling Randi that he’s “bamboozled” (word choice intentional, I’m sure, in an ill-fated attempt to sound clever by throwing one of Randi’s favorite words back at him) by the “superstition of matter.” (I wonder if that’s anything like the enigma of steel. Maybe it is.) Then he delves into an astoundingly obvious observation that serves, as is so frequently the case, as the basis for Choprawoo:

You don’t realize that everything we experience as the physical world is actually a perception, and that perception is the result of an experience in consciousness. And we have no idea how that happens. If I ask you to imagine a sunset on the ocean right and you have the experience—somewhere—then explain to me where that picture is. And don’t just give me a neural correlate, or NCC, as it’s called. Neural correlates of consciousness are well known, but they’re not enough of an explanation for how we experience the world, how we experience color, taste, sound, form…any perception. You can’t explain it. Texture, solidity, you cannot explain it. You can’t even explain how do we have perception or experience of our own body, or our thoughts, intuition, insight, imagination, creativity, cognition, self reflection. And once again, neural correlates are not causation. So when I ask you to think of that sunset, there was a neural correlate, but it wasn’t there until you had the experience or had them simultaneously or one before the other. Doesn’t matter. You had intention. Explain to me intention.

F*&king magnets, how do they work?

Chopra’s fame and wealth, of course, is largely based on his books, videos, and speaking tours in which he promotes the idea of a “conscious” universe. His woo and medical quackery both assume mind-body dualism and that we can influence the universe with our mind, specifically our “intent” (hence his reference to “explaining intent” directed at Randi). Indeed, he has even attacked the theory of evolution on multiple occasions, because he believes that we can control our own evolution with our consciousness. He bases these concepts on a huge amount of abuse of quantum theory, even beyond that of many woo-meisters coupled with abuse of neuroscience. It’s clear to me that Deepak Chopra does not understand any of it on other than the most superficial level. Indeed, he mangles the hell out of it, as I’ve explained time and time and time again over the last four years or so. He takes quantum physics, abuses it and the findings of scientists like Einstein, Pauli, and Heisenberg, and lumps the result together to claim that there is some sort of “universal consciousness,” claiming that the physical world is an “illusion.” Or, in this case, apparently, our perception is illusion. So the universe can be anything we imagine it to be. At least, that’s the way I’ve interpreted Chopra’s blather over the years.

Yes, it really is that facile and puerile. If you don’t believe me, let me go back to something he wrote eight years ago:

The physical world can’t deliver God, not because God doesn’t exist, but because the solid, physical world is an illusion–as quantum physics proved long ago–and one must look inside consciousness itself to find what God is about. If God is a universal intelligence, that will turn out to be a fact. It won’t be superstition. It won’t be derived from the Bible or the Koran.

Yes, as Steve Novella put it, Chopra is the Magic Man. As Jerry Coyne describes he is a pseudoscientist par excellence, pointing out that, contrary to Chopra’s many pronouncements, photons do not have consciousness, nature does not have a mind, the moon is there whether humans see it or not, and intelligence is not inherent in nature, but a product of naturalistic evolution.

Later in the video, Chopra delivers yet another howler, saying “experience is experience, whether it’s so-called ‘normal’ or whether it’s so-called ‘paranormal,’ and we don’t understand either of them, OK?”

Of course, no one’s claiming that paranormal experiences aren’t “experiences.” What skeptics argue, with good evidence, is that the explanation for paranormal experiences is not in the supernatural but the natural, just as explanations for seemingly “miraculous” healing from alternative medicine like homeopathy or reiki virtually always have a more plausible explanation that does not rely on magic. And I’m talking about magic magic (as in mystical magic), not stage magic, or illusions performed by magicians.

Overall, his video is nothing more than a massive appeal to ignorance, a claim that, because science doesn’t know anything about consciousness then Chopra’s pseudoscientific views must potentially be valid explanations. It’s a perfect example of what Dara Ó Briain described in one of his more famous comic bits in which he said:

Science knows it doesn’t know everything. Otherwise, it’d stop. Just because science doesn’t know everything doesn’t mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.

That’s exactly what Chopra specializes in, filling in the gaps with whatever fairy tale most appeals to him. In his case, the fairy tale is that the universe is conscious, and the tools he uses to try to convince you of the fairy tale include abuse of quantum mechanics and neuroscience, neither of which he understands.

Maybe that’s why Chopra’s been showing up on Twitter since his video was posted with Tweets like this in response to JREF’s characterization of his video.

Not surprisingly, Chopra couldn’t hold his own and retreated ignominiously:

Same as it ever was.

Chopra uses the words of science, demanding from Randi and his “cronies”—tsk, tsk, what happened to all that demand for “civility,” Deepak?— peer-reviewed publication and a falsifiable “theory” (although his using the word “theory” when he really means “hypothesis” is a dead giveaway that he doesn’t understand the scientific method), but it’s clear that it is nothing more than a stunt, and a particularly sad and pathetic one at that. He even descends to calling Randi and skeptics “self-appointed vigilantes for the suppression of curiosity and imagination and legitimate science.”

Again, same as it ever was.

Comments

  1. #1 Narad
    June 16, 2014

    You can’t explain it. Texture, solidity, you cannot explain it.

    I’m pretty sure Huang-po sorted this out quite some time ago.

  2. #2 Sian Williams
    June 16, 2014

    “Texture, solidity, you cannot explain it.”

    Sounds like someone has been reading the same book as Bill O’Reilly.

  3. #3 TBruce
    June 16, 2014

    Julia Sweeney nails it:

    I was so intrigued with this quantum mechanics that Deepak refers to over and over and over again in his books, that I decided to take a class in it.

    And what I found is-Deepak Chopra is full of shit!

  4. #4 Narad
    June 16, 2014

    The real question may be whether Chopra would accept a spiritual challenge. Dharma combat at 108 circlings or something.

  5. #5 julie
    yachats oregon
    June 16, 2014

    Ah….The blathering’s of yet another insecure V.H.S, Oprah made, Deity. (Rod Serling should narrate)…..

  6. #6 Bend
    June 16, 2014

    Just a note. The shirt that Chopra is wearing reads, in latin characters “Az cheta vseki den.” Which is Bulgarian for “I read every day.” A very odd t-shirt. There are only about 10 million Bulgarian speakers in the world, but other Slavic language speakers could figure it out. Nevertheless, I would think that the message has limited appeal. Weird.

  7. #7 herr doktor bimler
    June 16, 2014

    The one thing I learned from that video is not to wave your hands right into the webcam when recording a message on your ‘puter, or wag your finger in anger, because the foreshortening makes them look like huge grotesque flippers.

  8. #8 StrangerInAStrangeLand
    June 16, 2014

    This kind of “challenge” that Chopra and his ilk make to promote their world-views can also backfire as the anti-vaccer and virus-denialist Stefan Lanker currently learns in Germany. Lanker made a challenge where he offered 100000 euros for proof of the existence of the measle virus, which was taken on by the medical doctor David Bardens who showed the existence of the virus by multiple peer-reviewed publications. Lanker, of course, did not pay up, so Bardens sued him for the money. The case went to court and all trials by Lanker to get the case dismissed and add additional requirements for the virus proof to be acceptable were shot down by the judge. So, now the court named an expert witness (a virology professor) to determine if the measle virus exists based on the state-of-art of medical / scientific research. I would say it doesn´t look good for Lanka… :-)

    Having said this, I don´t believe that Lanka will pay the money in the end. He will (hopefully) loose the case, go through several appeals, possibly declare bankruptcy to not pay, but already the case caused a stir and a number of newspaper articles about him and the anti-vaccine movement – none of it positive for them. But if I am wrong and Dr Bardens get the money then he plans to use it for a vaccination campaign in developing countries, made possible by ” a generous donation by the anti-vacination crowd”.

  9. #9 Krebiozen
    June 16, 2014

    Poor Deepak seems bitter and a little twisted to me. If only he realized that he has created this universe full of annoying skeptics through his own thinking. If he tried hard enough, surely we would all disappear, wouldn’t we?

  10. #10 ob1
    June 16, 2014

    Chopra calling someone a ‘Stage Magician’ – pot, meet kettle.

  11. #11 sheepmilker
    June 16, 2014

    It must be some weird quantum thingy that simultaneously allows Deepak Chopra to be the infamous pseudo scientist AND the head of Canada Post.

  12. #12 Nick K
    June 16, 2014

    Deepak Chopra’s cousin is an electronics technician in Harpenden, Herts. He repaired my mother’s television a few years back.

  13. #13 Chris Hickie
    June 16, 2014

    How does the electricity going into the brain become the experience of a three dimensional world in space and time.

    A better question would be how does “electricity” going into Chopra’s brain wind up being converted, with 100% efficiency, wasted heat energy.

  14. #15 Eric Lund
    June 16, 2014

    militant atheist

    To the likes of Deepak Chopra, this is one word, so if he thinks Randi is an atheist (and he is apparently correct to think this), then he will refer to Randi as a militant atheist. In Chopraland, there are no other kinds of atheist.

    LinkedIn has occasionally exhorted me to follow certain thought leaders, Chopra among them. He does manage to simulate being a thought leader to people who don’t know anything about the subjects on which he speaks as if he were an expert, but it doesn’t take much knowledge to see that he is full of bull. (The other thought leaders of which LinkedIn speaks aren’t quite as ridiculous–Richard Branson is also on that list–but still not anybody I’d want to follow.)

    TBruce @3: Do you have a link for that quote? I’d like to steal it with attribution.

  15. #16 Denice Walter
    June 16, 2014

    Deepak is addressing an audience of fans who – for the most part- don’t have an inkling of what philosophers and psychologists have been studying/ writing about consciousness over the past few centuries-
    he seems rather dismissive of NCC – and he has to be- because he desperately wants to posit a transcendental, eternal soul which oversees all perception and experience and plugs into the universal soul ( or suchlike) as a power source..

    As I’ve said previously: whenever a woo-meister gets into hot water trying to explain his system of worldwide woo, he** dredges up soul, spirit or ‘energy’***, which ultimately are un-researchable
    YET that’s his challenge.

    Why didn’t he ask the question about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

    ** it’s usually ‘he’.
    *** not regular energy, we study that, but mystical energy- which tends to go all quantum and timey-wimey on us.

  16. #17 TBruce
    June 16, 2014

    @Eric Lund:

    http://theatheistnextdoor.com/2009/07/18/julia-sweeney-on-deepak-chopra/

    It’s from her monologue Letting Go of God, which is also on youtube.

    BTW, if Master of Quantum Time and Space Deepak Chopra is also head of Canada Post, why aren’t I getting my mail BEFORE it is sent?

  17. #18 Denice Walter
    June 16, 2014

    @ TBruce:

    But he IS a Master of Quantum Time and Space!
    Notice how much younger he looks in the photo @ the Canada Post.

  18. #19 Shay
    June 16, 2014

    anti-vaccer and virus-denialist Stefan Lanker currently learns in Germany.

    I believe it was Napoleon who advised us never to interrupt our enemy when he is making a mistake.

  19. #20 Eric Lund
    June 16, 2014

    not regular energy, we study that, but mystical energy- which tends to go all quantum and timey-wimey on us

    You keep using that word, Mr. Chopra (and Mr. Adams, Mr. Null, and quite a few other woo-pushers). I don’t think it means what you think it means. Whether the word in question is “energy” or “quantum” or any of a half dozen other words which, despite having reasonably precise scientific definitions, are abused in the service of woo.

  20. #21 Narad
    June 16, 2014

    How does the electricity going into the brain become the experience of a three dimensional world in space and time. If you can explain that, then you get a million dollars from me.

    I suppose he wouldn’t settle for the obvious answer that “it doesn’t.” Electricity going into the brain becomes the experience of ECT.

  21. #22 Andrey Pavlov
    United States
    June 16, 2014

    @Bend:

    As one of those few Bulgarian speaker I noticed that as well. I found it rather strange.

    Also, tides go in, tides go out. You can’t explain that

  22. #23 Denice Walter
    June 16, 2014

    @ Eric:

    Interestingly enough, the poseurs I survey often try to convince their enraptured followers that they have studied both physics and psychology in depth ( occasionally philosophy ) which I assume is because they know that their average listener/ reader doesn’t know much about these subjects so it is impress the marks by ‘blinding them with science’ thus words like ‘quantum; and ‘cognition’ are tossed about like confetti.

    If you look at WHAT they actually talk about in these realms, it appears that they have studied precious little themselves.
    Yes, they portray themselves as providing educational services as they scoff at what governmentally sponsored schools offer children and what universities offer young adults.

    I venture that the two aforementioned woo-meisters’ background consists primarily of secondary school, intro courses ( I’m being kind) and pop science magazines.

  23. #24 Darwy
    Røde grøde...you know the drill
    June 16, 2014

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgoB2JMEowc

    That’s what I think of when I hear anything from DC.

  24. #25 Dangerous Bacon
    June 16, 2014

    ” the solid, physical world is an illusion–as quantum physics proved long ago”

    So – if a skeptic bops Chopra on the nose, any pain will be an illusion?

    That scenario has the makings of a really fun challenge.

  25. #26 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    June 16, 2014

    He MAY be a “Master of Quantum Time and Space” but he is NOT The Wizard of Speed and Time! http://www.wizworld.com/

  26. #27 rs
    June 16, 2014

    “…the poseurs I survey often try to convince their enraptured followers that they have studied both physics and psychology in depth ( occasionally philosophy )…”

    Meaning that they read “The Tao of Physics” or “The Dancing Wu Li Masters”. Ugh.

  27. #28 Todd W.
    http://www.harpocratesspeaks.com
    June 16, 2014

    I think I figured it out. All of what we perceive is merely illusion. Therefore, skeptics aren’t actually real, but are instead a manifestation of Chopra’s own self-doubt. Proof that even he doesn’t believe the s**t he’s shoveling.

  28. #29 Roadstergal
    In a universe of infinite possibility, who can know? But probably still CA.
    June 16, 2014

    Chopra calling someone a ‘Stage Magician’ – pot, meet kettle.

    I’ve seen some of Randi’s acts on YouTube. I find him way more entertaining.

    It’s from her monologue Letting Go of God, which is also on youtube.

    What I love most about that one-woman show is that it’s just as much about becoming an appreciator of science and thinking critically as it is about becoming an athiest. I found it very touching and funny, in turn.

  29. #30 Eric Lund
    June 16, 2014

    they know that their average listener/ reader doesn’t know much about these subjects

    Bingo.

    An analogy would be to restaurants like Olive Garden. Olive Garden is the conception people who have never encountered a good Italian restaurant have of what a good Italian restaurant should be. But anyone who has actually been to a good Italian restaurant knows better.

    Likewise with Chopra. I can’t claim to know any more about psychology than he does, let alone what he claims to know, since I have never actually taken a psychology course. But I do know physics, so I know that his blatherings about quantum are incoherent at best. He nevertheless sounds smart on the subject of quantum mechanics when talking to people who don’t know better. Knowing this about him, I would bet, despite my lack of knowledge about psychology, that a professional psychologist would find his grasp of that subject about as tenuous as I find his grasp of physics. I have seen similar things with other charlatans, e.g., Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (a young-earth creationist organization). Ham makes some pretty strong claims about biology and theology, with which people who know something about those subjects (e.g., P. Z. Myers and Fred Clark, respectively) strongly disagree.

  30. #31 Douglas B. Sabo
    http://www.zafada.us
    June 16, 2014

    For the record, James Randi is just as much of a fraud as the people he’s waging war against.

    Any real scientist would laugh at how dynamic his rules are.

    I bet if someone did actually prove some aspect of paranormal junk to this guy, he’d say you failed the test because it took you 21 minutes instead of 20.

  31. #32 Narad
    June 16, 2014

    So – if a skeptic bops Chopra on the nose, any pain will be an illusion?

    This has been a standard-issue Ch’an approach since the eighth century.

  32. #33 Mike
    June 16, 2014

    So, according to Quantum Mechanics, he can be simultaneously Wrong and Full of Shit at the same time?

  33. #34 Denice Walter
    June 16, 2014

    Right, Eric. Exactly.

    We can combat woo from simple, everyday common sense prior to exposing those ensnared to actual science.

    Most psychologists tip their hats to Piaget who believed that children ( and adults) are naive scientists – esp naive physicists – as they learn about various laws through everyday experience. Gravity works. Small children learn this early. Similarly they learn about other people through interaction and develop their own theories as naive psychologists.

    Everyone is a naive scientist ( some more naive than others) as observers of the world and of people: from this, we can approach plausibility and implausibility as it pertains to woo- both its tenets and how its proselytisers behave.

    - If this stuff is true why has NO one else demonstrated it?
    - Aren’t woo-meisters motivated to impress followers in order to get respect, adulation, money?

    Perpetual motion doesn’t work; homeopathy doesn’t work;
    reiki doesn’t work. Thought transmission doesn’t work. If they did, many laws of reality would have to be re-thought.

    Are these people REALLY so brilliant that they can overturn all of medicine, science, reality?
    How likely would that be?

  34. #35 Narad
    June 16, 2014

    I think I figured it out. All of what we perceive is merely illusion. Therefore, skeptics aren’t actually real, but are instead a manifestation of Chopra’s own self-doubt. Proof that even he doesn’t believe the s**t he’s shoveling.

    Except that he plainly doesn’t espouse monist idealism. And he certainly doesn’t chuck ontology overboard, where it belongs. Ergo, he’s a supernaturalist – even more entities than naive realism.

  35. #36 AdamG
    June 16, 2014

    Any real scientist would laugh at how dynamic his rules are.

    Please, don’t hold back. Do tell us why

    people lose me when they say ‘peer-review’ because that’s all, well, bullshit. [...] I’m pretty irritated at how often people pretend to know science and also how they love to overuse the terms empirical, peer-reviewed, and colloquial.

  36. #37 Peter Dugdale
    June 16, 2014

    Douglas B. Sabo #31

    For the record, James Randi is just as much of a fraud as the people he’s waging war against.

    ooo…do please give us an example of Randi’s fraud.

    From the way you phrase it, you seem to acknowledge that nobody has come close to proving any aspect of paranormal junk, so what’s your point?

  37. #38 BA
    Just a stone's throw from MIT @Lord Hobo (try it some time)
    June 16, 2014

    Explain intention! It’s verbal discrimination of action on the part of an observer (or if it is the actor, the observation is made before, during or after said act by the actor).

    Where’s my million bucks?

  38. #39 imr90
    Western Mass.
    June 16, 2014

    Chopra has hated Dawkins ever since Dawkins made him look like a fool in “The Enemies of Reason”. I show that video in my critical thinking seminar class and the students get a big kick out of it. Every time the camera cuts to the expression on Dawkins’ face the class cracks up.

  39. #40 Denice Walter
    June 16, 2014

    Holy crap, Narad, not only does he offer that bollox to which you link BUT he also tried to sell me ashwaganda and guggulu yet!

  40. #41 Rainier
    June 16, 2014

    Well in fairness to Mr. Chopra, I’m not sure I know anybody more smug and arrogant than Richard Dawkins.

  41. #42 Bob J.
    San Jose, CA
    June 16, 2014

    Chopra is also mad at Jerry Coyne, who spoke at last years TAM.
    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/chopras-losing-it/

  42. #43 maurizio armanetti
    Italia
    June 16, 2014

    Chopra is right Richard Dawkins James_Randi ? Defeated !! Italian Authority of the State certifies a Paranormal Phenomenon http://www.rabdomanzia.com/vittoria_rabdo_menu.php

    ”1 MILLION € ” SENSATIONAL CHALLENGE-PRIZE: FOR PIERO ANGELA’S “CICAP” AND THE AMERICAN JAMES RANDI http://www.rabdomanzia.com/clamorosa_sfida.php

  43. #44 Toni Pacini (Virago)
    Las Vegas NV
    June 16, 2014

    Chopra is his own worse enemy. He continues to make a silly spectacle of himself. We need do nothing, he exposes his own narrow minded ignorance. Praise the Lard!!!!

  44. #45 Chris Hickie
    June 16, 2014

    In a related story, Jay Gordon must be channeling the wishy-washy woo of Choprak. In Goron’s latest flog entry (http://drjaygordon.com/vaccinations/do-our-kids-need-whooping-cough-vaccinations-4.html) we witness fawning fence sitting about vaccines with a noncommittal nature rivaling that of astrology authors.

  45. #46 Ken
    June 16, 2014

    @Dangerous Bacon: So – if a skeptic bops Chopra on the nose, any pain will be an illusion?

    Or if he were chained into a box which was dropped into a water tank, he could simply reappear outside it, and would never be in any real danger.

    Hey, Houdini did it, so it’s obviously possible. Maybe not with quantum…

  46. #47 Barnesm
    June 17, 2014

    Even though I have heard Dara o’Brien’s comment about science before it still made me laugh.

  47. #48 Sian Williams
    June 17, 2014

    @Ken
    Maybe we can convince Chopra to give a demonstration of quantum tunneling. It could be very interesting, especially if he got a running start.

  48. #49 Narad
    June 17, 2014

    Chopra is right Richard Dawkins James_Randi ? Defeated !! Italian Authority of the State certifies a Paranormal Phenomenon

    Maurizio, are you sure you’re not looking for this item?

    Just a thought.

  49. #50 Narad
    June 17, 2014

    Oh, man: The “Short Mat” uses “Vibro-homeopathy with several Sacred Oriental Therapies.”

  50. #51 Krebiozen
    June 17, 2014

    Italian Authority of the State certifies a Paranormal Phenomenon

    You’ll be telling us the Vatican believes in miracles next.

    his company is able to guarantee success in finding underground water

    Me too, just dig until you’re below the water table.

  51. #52 akrivis
    USA
    June 17, 2014

    Does the observer actually affect the experiment? If this can regularly be demonstrated on the quantum and subatomic level then isn’t it possible that skepticism may be an attitude of self-fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps Science should evolve a tertiary agnostic approach especially in engineering of mass opinion.

  52. #53 Eric Lund
    June 17, 2014

    Does the observer actually affect the experiment?

    That people see what they want to see is a well-known phenomenon, and it’s precisely the reason why being skeptical is a necessary condition for being a good scientist. Skepticism is the best known defense against self-deception. It’s easier to fool yourself than to fool others. If you haven’t fooled yourself, then those others may see that you don’t really believe the stuff you are trying to sell them, which may alert an otherwise gullible mark.

  53. #54 JGC
    How about a test with actual controls, maurizio?
    June 17, 2014

    I’d suggest the following instead of 33 natural locations:

    Bury ten 20 foot long sections of 10 inch diameter PVC pipe 5 meters below ground, parallel to each other spaced 3 meters apart. During each trial water at ambient temperature would be run through n pipes and water at 180 degrees run through 10 – n pipes, with both the number of pipes carring hot or cold water and which pipes carried hot or cold water assigned randomly prior to each new trial.

    Neither the person attempting “thermal detection” nor the observers recording his selections would be aware of how many or which pipes carried hot or ambient water.

    For each trial the detector would be given 30 minutes to identify which pipes were carrying hot and ambient water. Between trials the pipes would all be flushed with ambient water for 30 minutes.

    Perform 10 sequential trials.

    Across all trials, if the detector correctly identifies which pipes carried hot and cold water more often would be expected by chance the test would be counted a success.

  54. #55 Krebiozen
    June 17, 2014

    akrivis,

    Does the observer actually affect the experiment? If this can regularly be demonstrated on the quantum and subatomic macro level then isn’t it possible that skepticism may be an attitude of self-fulfilling prophecy?

    I think that makes more sense.

    Even in the macro world the observer affects the experiment by making the observation. Observation isn’t passive, to measure something you have to interact with it in some way, whether by bouncing photons or electrons off it or whatever. Any physicists here please correct me if I’m wrong, but the common idea that the observer effect is some sort of telekinesis is incorrect, sadly, especially when you consider that even a non-conscious sensor can make an observation; consciousness is not required.

    That said, I do find the idea that skeptics powerfully inhibit any sort of paranormal phenomena, from dowsing to therapeutic touch, through some sort of weird variant of the observer effect, quite amusing. It isn’t a new idea, decades ago I’m sure I read about some experiment where skeptics got lower scores than expected on a test of psychic abilities, through sheer paranormal pigheadedness.

  55. #56 Krebiozen
    June 17, 2014

    ^To clarify, “lower scores than chance predicted”.

  56. #57 Mrs Grimble
    June 17, 2014

    Bend @6:

    Just a note. The shirt that Chopra is wearing reads, in latin characters “Az cheta vseki den.” Which is Bulgarian for “I read every day.” A very odd t-shirt. There are only about 10 million Bulgarian speakers in the world, but other Slavic language speakers could figure it out. Nevertheless, I would think that the message has limited appeal. Weird.

    Maybe he doesn’t read Slavic and thinks it’s something deep and meaningful?
    A bit like that guy who’s walking around with a tattoo in Chinese characters that tells everybody who can read it “I am menstruating”. (True story apparently.)

  57. #58 Chadwick
    June 17, 2014

    Deepak needs the attention, otherwise he’ll just wither up and die. A sad, slow, Twitter-ridden death.

  58. #59 drxym
    June 17, 2014

    And I’ll give a million dollars for anyone who can disprove there is invisible rabbit called Gerald who whispers thoughts into people’s minds.

    I won’t be too specific on the claim, or the level of proof I require and I’ll change both as I see fit. Oh and it’ll be my subjectivity that decides if you win or not.

    I expect my prize money will lay unclaimed right next to Chopra’s.

  59. #60 Ren
    June 17, 2014

    What is it with all this “if you believe it, it will come true” nonsense? Joel Osteen is the one that comes to mind as the most deluded in that thinking about thinking. Chopra is very much the same. I just have to envision something and that’s it?

    (Ten seconds later…)

    Still no million dollars in my bank account.

    It’s one thing to have a vision and carry it out as part of a plan, but it’s another thing to promise health and wellbeing by just thinking that my mind will magically pop it up. It’s unethical and downright dangerous to try and convince people that this is something that can be done.

    @Mrs. Grimble: Someone had a tattoo in Chinese that read: “Of two men who love each other, I am the woman.” True story. I think.

  60. #61 Skeptimus Prime
    Canada
    June 17, 2014

    Douglas B. Sabo http://www.zafada.us on June 16, 2014 blathered:
    For the record, James Randi is just as much of a fraud as the people he’s waging war against.

    Any real scientist would laugh at how dynamic his rules are.

    I bet if someone did actually prove some aspect of paranormal junk to this guy, he’d say you failed the test because it took you 21 minutes instead of 20.
    —–
    Do you have anything other than your entirely unsupported assertions? FYI, at the adult table, “I bet” is not a form of evidence. Any real scientist would know this.

  61. #62 JGC
    June 17, 2014

    If the whole “If you simply want/believe it enough it will come true” premise were true, there would be no such thing as unrequited love.

    Also, pretty much every female teen I knew in the late 60′s/early 70′s would have been dating a British rock star.

  62. #63 Shay
    In the pollen-laden Midwest
    June 17, 2014

    I’m having some allergy-related trouble with my eyes which is why for one brief shining moment I read Narad’s post @50 as ““Vibrator-homeopathy.”

  63. #64 Narad
    June 17, 2014

    One might suppose that an appropriate proving would employ a Magic Fingers bed, but that’s supposed to provide “tingling relaxation and ease.”

  64. #65 BobM
    June 17, 2014

    “all about scientific skepticism than he is about atheism”

    You might want to make that ‘more’ rather than ‘all’ about…… – before he goes online challenging you to a grammar contest :-).

  65. #66 Pareidolius
    June 18, 2014

    Oh, Ren,
    You don’t have a million dollars in your bank account because gaia hates skeptics. She knows you don’t really believe.

  66. #67 Pareidolius
    Down the rabbit hole . . .
    June 18, 2014

    Goddamn you Narad. I spent an hour on that *$&%)(*ing site! A box of blinky lights and knobs for $12,950. I am so in the wrong business . . .

  67. #68 Siany K
    June 18, 2014

    So I have a testable scenario of consciousness and perception and I’m offering to conduct it in front of Deepak Chopra, God and everyone. I intentionally take a brick and drop it on Creepy Deepy’s head and perceivably alter his (un)consciousness.

  68. #69 Lurker
    June 18, 2014

    Siany K: That kind of violent BS does our side no good, and only feeds DC and his buddies’ ‘victim’ narrative. Forget bricks to heads, you just shot yourself in both feet.

    Randi does have a nasty situation in his background. Apparently his husband was arrested by the FBI for identity theft, and the victim was a school teacher in Bronx New York. Keyword search the names and you’ll find the stories in regular newspapers’ archives. How this was ultimately resolved isn’t clear, but I would have to guess Randi and the victim ‘settled out of court for an undisclosed sum,’ probably in the mid six-figure range (USD). Ordinarily, an immigrant who overstayed his visa and got busted for a significant crime, would also be deported, unless someone worked some ‘magic’ on their behalf.

    That said, you can always count on woomeisters to crap up what might otherwise have been an interesting exercise.

    The ‘hard problem’ of consciousness is a real ‘thing’ in science and philosophy, and thus far has eluded a fully viable solution. Offering a million dollar prize for published papers with supported hypotheses, is a good way to encourage interest in the field. if some university offered the prize, with rules clearly spelled out, it would be a wonderful thing. The fact that DC did it first, only succeeds in stinking up the room and driving others away.

    I wasn’t about to subject myself to his video, but this quote was quite a sufficient whiff, unto itself:

    ‘…everything we experience as the physical world is actually a perception, and that perception is the result of an experience in consciousness.’ To which I can only say, AAARRGH! Perception is _not_ the _result_ of an experience in consciousness. Perception is the _cause_ of various experiences of which people are conscious. I see a silly man in a video, and I feel queasy as a result. The perception produces the conscious experience, not the other way ’round.

    He would be rather more harmless had he stuck to religion as such, where assertions of animism (which, ultimately, is what he’s promoting) can take their place alongside other untestable propositions. For that matter, Carlos Castaneda should have called his own famous books fiction, and thereby been acclaimed as a good writer of fiction rather than disgraced as an academic fraud.

  69. #70 The Grouchybeast
    June 18, 2014

    If anyone out there had a comprehensive model of how consciousness arises in the brain, and the experimental evidence to back it up, I think they’d be much too busy looking at job offers and polishing up their Nobel Prize acceptance speech to give a crap what Deepak Chopra thought about it.

  70. #71 Orac
    June 18, 2014

    Grouchybeast FTW!

  71. #72 Mcbart
    June 18, 2014

    Idealism doesn’t entail a mind/body dualism. That would be dualism (and materialism to a certain degree). Anyhow, Chopra explicitly rejects dualism. Not defending Chopra, I just think we should have our ontologies in order and be honest about philosophical issues.

  72. #73 Narad
    June 18, 2014

    Anyhow, Chopra explicitly rejects dualism.

    He’s a cosmic-minder. This is dualism and then some.

    “Building on the quantum view of the cosmos, which accepts a non-local, entangled reality that includes observers as fundamental, we suggest the next natural step, a new science rooted in consciousness, one that strives to interpret the entire universe, with all its observers, all modes of observation, and all objects observed as nothing other than consciousness and it’s manifestations! … We feel a holistic science that does not separate observer from that which is observed would lead to the unraveling of the mysteries of the universe which at presently seem beyond reach, leading to an understanding of a conscious universe in which all are differentiated activities of a single field that is an undivided wholeness and in some sense bridges external reality with inner being.”

  73. #74 Narad
    June 18, 2014

    ^ Note also multiple minds.

  74. #75 Lurker
    June 19, 2014

    Narad @73: The ‘and then some’ is animism: the view that all objects have attributes of mind.

    DC’s method appears to be: Say something that’s almost OK but slightly off from consensus science, and then use it as the premise for something that follows that’s basically untestable theology.

    To wit:

    “Building on the quantum view of the cosmos, which accepts a non-local, entangled reality that includes [observers as fundamental] [correction: includes the fact that measurements made by observers affect the objects of observation], we suggest the next natural step [that's the "and then a non-sequitur follows" part], a new science rooted in consciousness [which would be a good thing if it was objective and rooted in scientific method], one that strives to interpret [uh-oh, theory before observation] the entire universe, with all its observers, all modes of observation, and all objects observed as [here comes the animist part] nothing other than consciousness and it’s manifestations! … We feel a holistic science that does not separate observer from that which is observed would lead to the unraveling of the mysteries of the universe [that part is opinion] which at presently seem beyond reach [more opinion], leading to an understanding of a conscious universe [more animism!] in which all are differentiated activities of a single field [quantum woo] that is an undivided wholeness [more q-woo] and in some sense bridges external reality with inner being ["being" is more woo].”

    Ouch, teh crazy, it burns. The worst part of this is, it stinks up the room so badly that every other room in the hall ends up getting evacuated, whether or not they have anything to do with the actual stench or have merely had it waft in their general direction.

    He really should stick to religion. He could start his own church. That would be an improvement.

  75. #76 herr doktor bimler
    June 19, 2014

    a new science rooted in consciousness[...] a holistic science that does not separate observer from that which is observed

    Does this New Science go as far as make testable predictions? Or would that be too reductionist?

  76. #77 josh yuh
    June 19, 2014

    Lucky you! You already have millions of dollars and another measly mil would just slow you down, eh? If i could just ask one favor though: Please take your destruction of Deepak’s challenge to him anyway, claim the mil and then give it to me. Go get the million. You are able to answer his question so go get it. I need it. Please go now to Deepak and tell him your solution to his challenge and he wil be forced to give you a milllion bucks. Then bring the money to me. THANKS!

  77. #78 Antaeus Feldspar
    June 19, 2014

    Nice strawman, Josh. Too bad for you that no one said “Oh, yeah, Chopra’s challenge, sure, that’s so easy to meet!” In fact, the article says the opposite, that Chopra’s challenge is meaningless because it is IMPOSSIBLE to meet.

    PROTIP: You cannot mock your enemies for making a foolish statement when in fact YOURS is the foolish mind from which the foolish statement originated.

  78. […] Deepak Chopra issues a hilarious “challenge” to James Randi over consciousness […]

  79. #80 Paul
    Los Angeles
    June 20, 2014

    Wow someone must have really scared Chopra–the bitterness is palpable, especially at the end.

    I was on the fence as to whether Chopra believed in his own nonsense or not, but this clip fully convinces me that he is a 100% a conscience charlatan.

    It’s the bitterness in his voice that gives it away, the ire and spite you hear is that of someone whose financial well-being is being threatened. Amazing.

  80. #81 D G
    June 22, 2014

    It’s sad to see that he has lost now on both fronts. He always failed intelectually as his woo has always been easily challenged and fails even the most trivial of testing. However at least he was cheerful in public being the embodiment of his philosophy of love through the universal conciousness in mind and body. Now he is a cranky and extremely defensive woo artist. This is where things get very dark, scary and sometimes even dangerous. Yikes!

  81. #82 Narad
    June 23, 2014

    Skies of bloooo… skies of bloooo….

  82. #83 Matt Faw
    Los Angeles
    June 23, 2014

    Dear Dr. Chopra, I accept your challenge. My explanation for how and why conscious experience arises in the brain is summarized in the following 6-minute video that I created, and I have a full researched paper to back it up. https://vimeo.com/98785998

  83. #84 James Randi
    USA
    June 29, 2014

    At the forthcoming TAM (The Amazing Meeting) I will formally address Mr. Chopra’s rant… Stay tuned.

    TAM: http://www.amazingmeeting.com/tam2013/schedule/

    July 10th – 13th

    James Randi.

  84. #85 Orac
    June 29, 2014

    This is awesome…

  85. #86 Krebiozen
    June 29, 2014

    Blimey.

  86. […] Deepak Chopra issues a hilarious “challenge” to James Randi over consciousness […]

  87. #88 squirrelelite
    July 9, 2014
  88. […] Deepak Chopra issues a hilarious “challenge” to James Randi over consciousness [Respectf… […]

  89. #90 Narad
    July 10, 2014

    Here is Brian Cox’s reply to the same challenge.
    The twitter exchange is fun.

    Cox’s invocation of eternal inflation seems to be very wide of the mark.

  90. #91 Krebiozen
    July 10, 2014

    Cox’s invocation of eternal inflation seems to be very wide of the mark.

    Why? It’s still a viable model, isn’t it? I would be very surprised if Cox blundered in this area.

  91. #92 Narad
    July 10, 2014

    Inflation itself is doing just fine. The “eternal” part is speculative.

  92. #93 Narad
    July 10, 2014

    (And inflation per se doesn’t answer the question at all.)

  93. #94 James Peters
    July 10, 2014

    Stop worrying. Nobody gets out of here alive and you won’t know or remember anything as you will be dead

  94. […] soort reacties kwam natuurlijk meteen uit vele kanten op Chopra’s videootjes, maar blijkens een stuk van hem in de San Fransisco Chronicle […]