Pharyngula

Oh, no…not more Chopra!

Deepak Chopra continues his weird riff on Dawkins The God Delusion with an eruption of New Age babble. This time he says he’s going to do a “thought experiment” to disprove materialism. It doesn’t.

Think of a yellow flower. Can you see it? Are you sure of the color and the fact that it’s a flower and not a fish that you can see? If so, then the experiment has been successful. You have made a major strike at the root of materialism. When you see a flower in your mind, there is no flower inside your brain. That seems simple enough. But where is the flower? There’s no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain’s gray matter? Obviously not.

Yet you assume–as do all who fall for the superstition of materialism–that flowers and the color yellow exist ‘out there’ in the world and are photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue. In fact, existence of flowers shifts mysteriously once it is closely examined. The experience of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell is created in consciousness. Molecules don’t assemble in your head to make the sound of a trumpet blaring in a brass band, for example. The brain is silent. So where does the world of sights and sounds come from?

Uh, we don’t assume the brain is a camera that files away a set of snapshots. What a stimulus, such as the sight of a flower, does is to trigger a response in the pattern of electrical and chemical activity in the brain: associations are made between stored memories, sensations are remembered. What is generated when you visualize a flower is not the flower itself inside your head, or even an image of a flower: the pattern of electrochemical activity is recreated. It’s rather bizarre that Chopra thinks a memory of a trumpet requires brass and acoustic vibrations inside your cranium, but he’s clearly very naive.

The brain is not inert, although it is silent. I’ve sunk electrodes into brains and recorded cellular responses to visual stimuli; I’ve washed them in calcium sensitive dyes and watched the flow of ions; I’ve measured fluctuations in changes in blood flow through the tissue as it handles processing tasks. I’ve recorded from the frog tectum as we show it a cricket (a much more interesting sight to a frog than a flower) and watched impulses flicker across it. We can see the external world transduced into complex signal processing phenomena in the brain.

What is Chopra’s explanation for the phenomenon? You knew he’d eventually have to start chattering about quantum physics and vibrations, didn’t you?

When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world. When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the field, which quantum physics continues to explore. Crude skeptics like Dawkins lag far behind.

Fortunately, as the two worlds of inner and outer begin to merge, we won’t be plagued by either the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism. New concepts will explain how the color yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.

That’s little more than babbling New Age buzzwords. Nothing in his explanation has any meaning: “collapsed quantum wave” sounds so scientificological, but it doesn’t explain anything.

That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument.

What?

I’m still trying to figure this one out. Because I can imagine a flower, I have disproven atheism?

I’m utterly unconvinced of anything other than that Deepak Chopra is an ignorant fraud.

Comments

  1. #1 SyntheticGenius
    November 27, 2006

    Why can’t he just stop it?! And now he had to go and trot out someone with respectable credentials! I, too, graduated from Bryn Mawr. I am so deeply ashamed of her right now. No Mawrtyr in my graduating class thought that way, that’s for darn sure! The sciences at Bryn Mawr are pretty hardcore and serious. The only thing I can think of is that she was in the Psychology Department. They can be a little into the woo at times…

  2. #2 quork
    November 27, 2006

    That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument.

    Now you’ve gotta admit, you don’t find any other refutation of the anti-God argument to be more convincing than this one, do you? More coherent perhaps, more sane certainly, but not more convincing.

  3. #3 Orac
    November 27, 2006

    You know, that idiot “ChopraFan” who keeps posting links to the latest installments of Chopra’s drivel in unrelated posts on my blog must be doing the same thing to you.

    I’m beginning to suspect he’s a closet anti-Choprawoo type, because every time he draws your or my attention to the latest installment of Chopra’s woo, all he’s doing is asking that we administer a serious logical beatdown to Chopra’s New Age nonsense.

    Or, he’s just hoping for a link.

  4. #4 V
    November 27, 2006

    Guru’s Logic Fails, a poem
    THE GURU DELUSION, Canto 5, No Proof of God
    .
    Consciousness is
    everywhere in nature.
    Nonsense.
    Where’s the consciousness
    in a lump of clod,
    a dead holy cow,
    a stone, air, fire, water?

    Nature has intention,
    purpose and divine intelligence.
    Nonsense.
    Nature operates as its
    laws dictate.

    Thought experiment:
    Yellowness of a yellow
    flower is consciousness.
    All nonsense.
    It’s stored memory in brain.

    A flower is not a fish,
    a fish is not a pig,
    a pig is not a holy cow.
    So is it consciousness
    and proves God exists?
    All nonsense.

    Experiment fails.
    Guru’s logic fails.
    His brain fails.
    No proof of God.
    Case closed.

    Believers, meditate.
    Non-believers, celebrate.

    ~white wings
    http://whitewings.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/the-guru-delusion-canto-5-no-proof-of-god.htm

    V

  5. #5 Joshua
    November 27, 2006

    If Deepak Chopra’s quantum wave vibrates in the woods, and nobody is there to see him, is he actually a yellow flower?

    Dammit. That was my best shot, and I still make more sense than he does!

  6. #6 Kevin Dorner
    November 27, 2006

    This is an excellent addition to the TGE Project: http://myweb.cableone.net/silentdave/tge.htm

    So to summarize:

    Chopra’s Argument:

    1) Imagine a flower.
    2) Because you can, and there is no flower inside your head, materialism is disproved.

    I think I will submit that one to the list, if someone else doesn’t beat me to it.
    3) Therefore, God exists.

  7. #7 Steve Watson
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra lacks a certain necesary component to perform “thought experiments”.

  8. #8 Glen Davidson
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra is guilty of naive realism, though with a twist. That is, he seems to realize that we can’t simply “see a yellow flower as it is”, so the mistake he makes is to think that there is a “yellow flower” out in a field which is exactly like our experience of a “yellow flower” in the brain. Which is absurd, since I can drop some acid (won’t) and see a “yellow flower” without it having to exist at all.

    He’s an idiot, or anyway, has found a way to pass as an idiot. “Yellow” is only in the brain, while “yellow light” is something that is utterly known “in itself” to us. We know plenty about “yellow light” through abstractions, observations, and modeling, but we have never once experience “yellow light as it is” with our brains. Instead the brain has to interpret what are only neural codes as “yellow”, apparently in order to more finely interpret the world than a cat or dog does. Evolution gave us “red cones” which the cat and dog do not have, which apparently called for an quale intermediate between green and red for interpretive reasons (this is somewhat speculative (we don’t know for sure that cats and dogs don’t see yellow), but it is a reasonable interpretation given the facts we presently have).

    Regardless of the above, a better way to see how shallow and ignorant is his argument is to consider that he used an essentially freshman philosophy argument against naive realism as “proof of God”. He isn’t even at the first stage of learning how to deal with the mind, he simply eludes all such questions by resorting to God to vouchsafe the naive realism to which he in essence clings (close to the old scholastic “solution” to mind/reality).

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/b8ykm

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    November 27, 2006

    Glen Davidson wrote:

    Which is absurd, since I can drop some acid (won’t) and see a “yellow flower” without it having to exist at all.

    Or, without having to deal with artificial chemical aids, you could simply dream of a yellow flower.

  10. #10 Ron Chusid
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra’s posts have not said anything meaningful as to the existence of God, but if I read much more from him I’ll begin to doubt the existence of yellow flowers.

    I just can’t see his cult gaining many supporters. At least old time religion has the threat of damnation as a selling point. What would motivate people to both read thru and adopt the type of nonsense Chopra comes up with?

  11. #11 Sastra
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra wrote:

    Einstein came up with the theory of relativity through a thought experiment, so it’s completely valid as science to do experiments in your head.

    So what is this experiment? “Think of a yellow flower?” If you can, then materialism is disproven, because the flower is not really in your head. And what sort of result would confirm materialism? “I can’t think of a flower?” Opening up someone’s head and finding an actual yellow flower? This is completely valid as *science*?

    I would think even Deepok Chopra would realise that the Theory of Relativity was not tested and confirmed by Einstein’s being able to think of it and imagine it in his head. Though, given his view of reality as somehow constructed by consciousness, I guess he wouldn’t assume anything of the sort.

    I wish Einstein was still alive, so he could email people like Chopra. Here’s a thought experiment — what would he say, and how would he say it?

  12. #12 Pascals's bookie
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra
    Imagine a building painted in a colour that you have never seen before.

    What’s that?
    Can’t do it?
    So much for your stupid woo.

  13. #13 Matthew Heaney
    November 27, 2006

    Deepok said:

    When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world.

    Oh, I get it now. It’s The Force, Luke! Use The Force!

  14. #14 Sastra
    November 27, 2006

    Ron Chusid wrote:

    What would motivate people to both read thru and adopt the type of nonsense Chopra comes up with?

    I think one huge motivation is the same one I pointed out in the post on Sweder — the sense that truth is likely to be in the middle, and that moderation is the goal of all intelligent, enlightened people. Avoid extremes.

    Note how Chopra cleverly couches his view as neither “the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism.” He’s not like those rabid religionists who thump on a book, reject science, and believe God is some petty tyrant up in the sky. Religion is bad. But so is the opposite extreme — materialism and scientism. Why, you have to deny that we can imagine flowers in our heads if you go that route.

    So find the Golden Mean in the middle — keep science, and keep God, and go for “spirituality.” There’s a powerful motive to adopt a viewpoint which seems more sophisticated than the primitive religion of the local yokels, but still allows you a special place in the universe — and even lets you sneer at mainstream scientists for not being as modern, informed, and “forward-looking” as you are.

  15. #15 Ron Chusid
    November 27, 2006

    Sastra,

    “Note how Chopra cleverly couches his view as neither “the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism.””

    Yes, he is being rhetorically clever in this. However such cleverness should not be confused for making a valid point. He manages to attack science, often using the exact same arguments used by the religious right, and then concludes this series claiming he does not “degrade science.”

    Still, despite the irrationality of Chopra’s posts, you do make a point that there is a mind set that would find Chopra’s views of interest as a perceived compromise.

  16. #16 Gerard Harbison
    November 27, 2006

    Think of a yellow flower. Can you see it? Are you sure of the color and the fact that it’s a flower and not a fish that you can see? If so, then the experiment has been successful. You have made a major strike at the root of materialism. When you see a flower in your mind, there is no flower inside your brain. That seems simple enough. But where is the flower? There’s no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain’s gray matter? Obviously not.

    Store a jpg depicting a yellow flower on your computer. When you do so, there is no flower on your hard drive. But where is the flower? There’s no picture of it on your drive, because the drive is only little domains of iron oxide. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your hard drive. Obviously not.

  17. #17 quork
    November 27, 2006

    Religion is bad. But so is the opposite extreme — materialism and scientism.

    I’ve got to go with Dawkins on this one – one side can be wrong.

    I understand that you were attempting to explain a view you do not hold. (Or at least that’s what I hope.)

  18. #18 Wetherby Pond
    November 27, 2006

    Heads up – the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman is interviewing a loony creationist on Newsnight right now, along with the far saner Lewis Wolpert.

    Note which of those two actually has any expertise in biology.

    It’s probably too early to watch it online yet, but it should be viewable here before too long.

  19. #19 quork
    November 27, 2006

    Store a jpg depicting a yellow flower on your computer. …

    You’ve convinced me: computers have souls!

  20. #20 Ginger Yellow
    November 27, 2006

    The funniest thing about this latest woo is that the archmaterialist when it comes to consciousness, Daniel Dennett, wrote an entire book arguing against the idea that images are “photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue”. It was historically the dualists, as exemplified by Descartes, that assumed they were. You’d think that if the HuffPost is going to pay this charlatan to attack “materialism”, they would expect him to actually read up on what it is.

  21. #21 Efogoto
    November 27, 2006

    Deepak says:

    There’s no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain’s gray matter? Obviously not.

    This is true whether you are looking at a flower or imagining one. So not only are eyes irreducibly complex, but they translate light into woo.

  22. #22 Sastra
    November 27, 2006

    quork

    I understand that you were attempting to explain a view you do not hold. (Or at least that’s what I hope.)

    Right. I was restating Chopra’s argument (and this method of finding a way to position oneself smugly in the middle between “extremes” seems to be a frustratingly popular way to frame the science-religion debate.)

  23. #23 Great White Wonder
    November 27, 2006

    DEEPPACK CRAPRA : This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. [[takes huge bong hit]] If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world.[[takes another huge bong hit]] When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the field, which quantum physics continues to explore. Crude skeptics like Dawkins lag far behind.[[snorts two lines of coke and takes a third huge bong hit]]

    It makes more sense this way.

  24. #24 DragonScholar
    November 27, 2006

    You know, I’m extremely open minded about things that may be at odds with established science. I’m sure twenty years from now some scientific ideas we hold now will seem niave, limited, or wrong.

    However, it’s not people like Chopra that are going to bring about the changes. This is honestly one of the dumbest things I’ve read in awhile, and trust me, that says a lot. It’s random flailing with Quantumn Physics (the woo equivalent of a plot device) thrown in.

    I also wonder what’s this Materialism-as-superstition nonsense. Is that like how Darwinian evolution is a religion to the IDists?

  25. #25 Warren
    November 27, 2006

    A patch of yellow in the brain?

    Chopra’s about as sophisticated as a ten-year-old. And I refute him thus.

    No holy tree exists as Bodhi known/
    No mirror shining bright is standing here/
    Since there is nothing from the very first/
    Where can the dust itself accumulate?

    Had DeepSigh bothered to look back in time some 1300 years he might have understood that his understanding is infantile.

  26. #26 JR
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra’s “the solid, physical world is an illusion” statement reminds me somewhat of 1st year Philosophy and Xeno’s Paradox.

    Nice blog by the way. I’m a college grad but no scientist myself and find Pharyngula to be a worthy daily read. And the Friday Cephlapod is always cool…

  27. #27 gg
    November 27, 2006

    Sastra wrote:

    “I wish Einstein was still alive, so he could email people like Chopra. Here’s a thought experiment — what would he say, and how would he say it?”

    We don’t need a Deepak-esque thought experiment to know what Einstein would have thought – we just need to quote him:

    “The theory finds the justification for its existence in the fact that it correlates a large number of single observations, and it is just here that the ‘truth’ of the theory lies.” – from Einstein’s “Relativity”.

    He has a nice larger discussion of what makes a theory, but the conclusion is written as above. I feel confident in saying that Einstein would have rhetorically b!#@h slapped Deepak.

  28. #28 jeffw
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra seems(?) to be saying that the flower in the external world is the same as the one in your head. That’s solipsism. If you’re the only one that exists, then I guess you must be God. (strange that he’s trying to communicate that to others, tho).

  29. #29 Great White Wonder
    November 27, 2006

    What is generated when you visualize a flower is not the flower itself inside your head, or even an image of a flower: the pattern of electrochemical activity is recreated.

    I once took a shower with Sharon Stone.

  30. #30 Numad
    November 27, 2006

    “New concepts will explain how the color yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.”

    That’s both his starting assumption and his conclusion, it seems to me. This is what would need to be demonstrated.

    “I once took a shower with Sharon Stone.”

    You and Sharon Stone once took a shower in your brain. Or is that in Sharon Stone’s brain?

  31. #31 Interrobang
    November 27, 2006

    Suddenly I’m thinking of that passage from Dickens’ Hard Times where Mr. Gradgrind gets all up in arms about carpets with flowers on them, because no one actually walks on flowers. Chopra’s making the exact same facile strawman comparison (and Transcendentalism is still bullshit, whether you call it that or you call it “spirituality”).

  32. #32 Aaron KinneyAaron Kinney
    November 27, 2006

    Looks like nobody told Deeprak Chopra about meta data. Think of a word, like “flower”. It is merely, materially, a series of symbols, yet its meaning transmits the concept of a physical flower.

    Meta data is data that describes data. Words, written or typed, have meaning layered within the material data itself. That meta-data is also material, being composed entirely of material data itself.

    The thought of a flower disproves materialism no more than the image of a flower does on a computer screen, or the writings of Chopra’s works stored on his laptop hard drive.

    Funny how, upon the encountering of meta-data, immaterialists and superstitionists freak out and think that they found their killer argument. All they did in actuality was disprove another one of their own arguments: they found MEANING inside something purely MATERIAL.

  33. #33 AJ Milne
    November 27, 2006

    Premise the first: Deepak Chopra says it is superstition to assume anything “exists ‘out there’ in the world”.

    Premise the second: Deepak Chopra pulls down five million dollars annually.

    Conclusion: Deepak Chopra should give me his five million dollars. As it is superstition to assume they are really there, he shouldn’t miss them much.

  34. #34 Phoenician in a time of Romans
    November 27, 2006

    Yet you assume–as do all who fall for the superstition of materialism–that flowers and the color yellow exist ‘out there’ in the world and are photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue.

    Think of the stupidity of Deepak Chopra. Are you wincing? Are you sure of the stupidity and the pain you feel contemplating on reading his crap? If so, then you have made a major strike at the root of materialism! When you feel the pain of reading Chopra in your mind, there is no Chopra inside your brain! That seems simple enough – there’s no room! But where are the writings of Chopra? There’s no copy of them in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no paper. How about the pain? Is there a little hammer pounding you inside your brain’s gray matter? Obviously not.

    Yet you assume–as do all who fall for the superstition of materialism–that Chopra, Chopra’s writings and the pain that comes from reading them exist ‘out there’ in the world and are photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue. In fact, the existence of Chopra’s writings shift mysteriously once they are closely examined. The experience of sight, pain, vomit in the back of the throat, and the moans of the intelligent forced to endure this blather is created in consciousness. Molecules don’t assemble in your head to make the sound of scientists beating their heads against brick walls, for example. The brain is silent. So where does the world of sights and sounds come from?

  35. #35 The Disgruntled Chemist
    November 27, 2006

    If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain.

    I’m sorry, I can’t get past that statement. It just…hurts…so…much!

  36. #36 David Wintheiser
    November 27, 2006

    Gerard nails it above, though I’d have used a photograph instead of a jpeg on a hard drive, because it leads into the obvious next point:

    If a molecule is a quantum wave collapsed by consciousness, how then do you take photographs? Sure, it’s possible that the observer collapses the wavefunction, which then is recorded by the camera, but then how do we account for cameras that aren’t attended by human consciousness? Do they not record photographs? Or do they record uncollapsed wavefunctions that are only then collapsed when a human finally observes them? (What an astonishing thing for photographic film to be able to do! You’d think that someone would be able to use that to prove…oh, but wait, that would be scientific, and against the entire point of Chopra’s argument.)

    *sigh*

  37. #37 E-gal
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra is the world’s most emminent sophist since Rushdooney.
    How do you have the time to humour him so?

  38. #38 E-gal
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra is the world’s most emminent sophist since Rushdooney.
    How do you have the time to humour him so?

  39. #39 Jacobo
    November 27, 2006

    The great thing is that every single comment over at Chopra’s HuffPo article is tagged [abusive]. Nobody is biting…at least not over there.

  40. #40 Great White Wonder
    November 27, 2006

    You and Sharon Stone once took a shower in your brain. Or is that in Sharon Stone’s brain?

    I’m just saying it was a good time.

    DENVER, Colorado (AP) — A homeowners’ association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

    Please join me in hoping that a certain Bob Kearns of Pagosa Springs wakes up tomorrow with 1000 Lyme disease infected ticks sucking on his scrotum.

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/27/peace.wreath.ap/index.html

  41. #41 J Daley
    November 27, 2006

    Somebody should convince Cheepak that midichlorians exist and get him to write an article about them. Wouldn’t be hard.

  42. #42 Taylor Selseth
    November 27, 2006

    Copra is so annoying. I run into a lot of people ranting about his BS here at Minnesota State University Moorhead. I get routinely bashed as “falling for the evils of scientism” or some such nonsense when I state that I’m an Atheist and a Positivist.

  43. #43 Andy Groves
    November 27, 2006

    I think Chopra is fumbling with the concept of qualia, but Dennett has been there and done that already.

  44. #44 anomalous4
    November 27, 2006

    he says he’s going to do a “thought experiment” to disprove materialism

    Quack. Quack. Quack. No, wait – that’s insulting to ducks everywhere.

    A homeowners’ association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.

    Which direction is the wind blowing? Maybe some of the poisonous hot air from Colorado Springs has wafted that way. All research to date indicates that it causes brain damage, after all!

  45. #45 PH
    November 27, 2006

    PZ,
    I am a regular at ur blogs; but posting something for the first time. You called Chopra naive in the course of your post. IMHO, he is not naive, he is just what ur label spells out: a Kook. The guy just capitalizes on the mystical Indian brand, much like the (bad but true) movie Guru. As an Indian, I can assure you his audience is the gullible white yuppie-and he is simply playing to the gallery.
    Thanks,
    PH.

  46. #46 Great White Wonder
    November 27, 2006

    gullible white yuppie

    aka: Guppies.

  47. #47 JS
    November 27, 2006

    I don’t get it. What’s the ‘new’ part of this ‘newage’ BS? To me it looks indistinguishable from bad, old-fashioned Platonic philosophy on LSD.

    – JS

  48. #48 Lindsay
    November 27, 2006

    Your mom is a collapsed quantum wave.

  49. #49 Nes
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra somehow manages to type:

    When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the [universal] field, which quantum physics continues to explore.

    Wasn’t Einstein opposed to quantum mechanics? You know, that whole “God doesn’t play dice with the universe” quote?

    DragonScholar says:

    It’s random flailing with Quantumn Physics (the woo equivalent of a plot device) thrown in.

    And not just any plot device either, it’s often used as a deus ex machina. Whenever a quack is in trouble, here comes quantum mechanics to save the day! It’s becoming rather cliche.

  50. #50 Ray
    November 27, 2006

    Dennett’s stuff is ok. I really enjoyed Antonio Damasio’s books, such as his first, Decartes Error. His is both a scientist and doctor, and examines the relationships among brain structure, brain function and consciousness.

  51. #51 Phoenician in a time of Romans
    November 27, 2006

    I think Chopra is fumbling with the concept of qualia, but Dennett has been there and done that already.

    Chopra probably read the dustjacket insert for one of Dennett’s books, thought “neat”, and filed it away for further blather.

    Dear Deepak – “yellow” and “flower” are both objects or collective qualities found in the real world, and symbols encoded in human brains through experience and/or acculturation. There’s a stage in infant development where they figure this out, noting that when Mummy is out of sight she doesn’t cease to exist; obviously you skipped this stage.

  52. #52 Brett
    November 27, 2006

    Did I take too much sudafed today? Did he really say “Superstition of materialism”?

  53. #53 TheBlackCat
    November 27, 2006

    “I don’t get it. What’s the ‘new’ part of this ‘newage’ BS? To me it looks indistinguishable from bad, old-fashioned Platonic philosophy on LSD.”

    Yeah, that is basically what New Age means, an eclectic combination of misunderstood quantum physics and random pre-Roman superstitions. As James Randi says,

    “The New Age? It’s just the old age stuck in a microwave oven for fifteen seconds.”

  54. #54 llewelly
    November 27, 2006

    Did I take too much sudafed today? Did he really say “Superstition of materialism”?

    Can you see those words? Are you sure of the letters and the fact that they are words and not fish that you see? If so, then the experiment has been successful. You have made a major strike at the root of materialism. When you see words in your mind, there are no words inside your brain!

  55. #55 Mike Doughney
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra has that stench of warmed-over Maharishi Mahesh Yogi-ism, who was, historically – as PH succinctly put it – one of the definers of the “mystical Indian brand” for the American yuppie. Just like his former guru, he’s figured out how to fill up page after page with nonsense like this, and get people to pay him for it. He’s perpetuating the Maheshian obsession with the language of quantum physics to justify one’s inner experience and hallucinations, and not much else.

  56. #56 Blake Stacey
    November 27, 2006

    Choprawoo from the source:

    When you see a flower in your mind, there is no flower inside your brain. That seems simple enough. But where is the flower? There’s no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain’s gray matter?

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Apparently, our boy Deepra is still amazed that grandma doesn’t actually live in the telephone.

  57. #57 Jeff Fecke
    November 27, 2006

    Chopra’s Argument:

    1) Imagine a flower.
    2) Because you can, and there is no flower inside your head, materialism is disproved.

    I think I will submit that one to the list, if someone else doesn’t beat me to it.
    3) Therefore, God exists.

    4) God is nothing without faith.
    5) Proof denies faith.
    6) Chopra has proven the existence of God.
    7) Because this proof denies faith, God is nothing.
    8) Therefore, God does not exist.

    [/douglasadams]

  58. #58 Sastra
    November 27, 2006

    JS wrote:

    I don’t get it. What’s the ‘new’ part of this ‘newage’ BS?

    Although it borrows from older traditions such as Hinduism, Theosophy, and Mind Cure, my understanding is that the term “New Age” was coined to refer to a belief popular in the 60’s that human beings are on the cusp of evolving to a higher spiritual level. New Agers see life and consciousness as progressing through various stages or levels, a rising heirarchy of insight and ability which is the Cosmic Mind expressing itself. Due to the sensitivity of those who are open to what lies beyond ordinary experience, we are all soon to be making a Great Leap Forward to a New Age of enlightenment and awareness.

    Or some crap like that….

  59. #59 Azkyroth
    November 27, 2006

    Kevin: Thanks for the link to the TGE. Tell me; do you know if anyone has actually encountered a literal “Argument from Chewbacca” yet? ^.^

  60. #60 davem
    November 27, 2006

    What a cool life this guy has. Making millions per year, kicking back in his mansion, stoned out of his mind and posting wacky quantum stuff on the net. Does it get any better than that? You guys are just jealous.

  61. #61 Crudely Wrott
    November 27, 2006

    Hoo boy. Where do you start.

    How bout here: Just as I read this post the movie African Queen began. The first scene is within a missionary church deep in the jungle. Katherine Hepburn is playin the organ while the preacher leads the flock in a hymn. The flock, being of native persuasion, percussion, rhythm and lyric, cannot follow the meter or lyrics of the hymn. The best they can do is to sing back after their own fashion, taking their clues, and cues, from those bits of melody and meter that they might recognize. In order to hear themselves singing as one voice raising a song up out of themselves, they sing louder and louder. The missionaries, strong in song and faith are as confounded as the flock musically, so they, taking their clues and cues from one another, sing with increasing gusto and conviction. Hepburn pounds the keys like a carpenter driving nails.

    The result is an exultant, exuberant celebration of identity. On the one hand is celebration of orthodox christian worship; on the other the ululations of the worshipers of game animals and fertile soil. A grand, if atonal, coda to trust. A priceless cut is of two native children, five, six years old: holding a hymnal in the midst of crescendo they look at each other with open incredulous faces and shrug. As the final notes echo form the walls of the sanctuary and the last vibrations fade it is seen that neither side has moved the other beyond song. For they lacked not only common language, they lacked a common sense of the rhythm and flow of the world. The missionaries being so much more sophisticated than the natives, you see. Hmm. Missionaries in country about one to two centuries. Natives in country for one or two hundred generations, give or take. Draw your conclusions and write an essay describing this schism. Show your work.

    When people of various or conflicting views assemble, each with the goal of either winning the contest popularly or persuading the other side logically, all are flinging dung uphill unless basic definitions of words and terminology are commonly agreed upon. The result of any consequent argument or concord will be hollow in terms of mutual benefit without common definitions.

    The first word that comes to mind is “believe.”
    How many permutations of subtlety are hidden, unnoticed, in this word? A word I have come to view as pernicious at best and approaching catastrophic before it obtains its worst.

    For instance, I have more fingers on my hands than I have things I believe in. Far and away more are the things I suspect are true, each to varying degrees of certainty. Vanishingly small are the things I know. While I wish this were not so I see that it is the way of things; the state of being human. Most important is that I certainly not believe in the things that I claim to know. Something could be discovered that would put the lie to what I had heretofore subscribed wholeheartedly. Eh, so what? What the hell do I know about building universes and distributing fertile earths along the firmament? I admit freely that I know (aw shucks, almost) absolutely nothing about how life came to be on this planet. That prevents me from making statements claiming that I do. Or about why. Or to what end. Or what aught to be the way of it or my conduct regarding it. Lessons lost on Chopra and, alas, many others.

    I can understand the sophomoric enthusiasm of someone who, on the way to intellectual maturity but yet a day’s travel from the station, could interpret a novel, just found perspective as something that no one else had ever thought of. Check your own youth. Was there not ever a time when you thought you had the key to something profound and accoladed yourself for having the wherewithall to arrive at such an insightful revelation? Later either the accumulation of experience or other sources of education show you (me, us) that you not only struck out, you weren’t even in the right ballpark.

    What I have gained from my experiences and my education (some state supplied, most self supplied with help along the way by myriad others) is that guys like Depak are to be expected. Dealing with them is not so hard. The tough part is dealing with those who “believe” what he says and run with it in unpredictable directions.

    To enhance and perhaps to make atheism somewhat less threating to the washed masses perhaps a line or two from an old Steely Dan song will help. As an old trout caller I long ago adopted these lines as the Fisherman’s Creed. Without regard or deference to a certain religious icon. This is not how I treat myth, this is how I treat my fellow man:

    Throw back the little ones
    and pan fry the big ones.
    Use tact poise and reason
    and gently squeeze them.

    The operative words in order of efficacy are squeeze, gently, little and big.
    Squeeze first cause we all need a little squeeze now and then, for lots of reasons.
    Gently second cause most good things are coaxed into being, not forced.
    Little next cause they are needful of guidance and in order to grow must be set loose at large equipped with what we have taught them.
    Big last cause they aught to know better. Had they been paying attention.

    Guys like Chopra (Big in his and other’s books but Little in mine and other’s) make my ass tired. Tired. And my brain too. Yet he’s got the right to say his piece. Here I go saying mine. Not much difference in terms of having the right, but very different in terms of taking responsibility for that piece.

    That’s what it’s all about – for every right and privilege there are assorted responsibilities. And humanity is about the same thing. Your life. And mine, dammit.

    And maybe a guy would think about his legacy once in a while. Sheesh.

  62. #62 CCP
    November 27, 2006

    When you see Jerry Garcia wearing a space helmet in your mind, there is no helmet inside your brain. That seems simple enough. But where is the helmet? There’s no picture of it in your cerebrum, because your brain contains no light. Also no photoreceptors, on account of no light and all. Did Jerry really play the entire second set wearing a space helmet? Did they play the second set yet, or was that just in your cerebrum? Surely they have already played the second set (The Wheel, for example, never in the first), but perhaps it is the space helmet that was in your cerebrum? Or cerebellum? How about the color yellow? Is there a patch of yellow inside your brain’s gray matter? Is there a patch of gray inside your yellow marrow? Black bile?

  63. #63 Davis
    November 28, 2006

    As I posted over there in Bizarro-blog, it irritates me to no end when someone who has clearly never even integrated a wave function starts blathering nonsense about how “quantum physics says X.”

  64. #64 Phoenician in a time of Romans
    November 28, 2006

    Hey – wait a minute. Does this mean that me dreaming I’m %^&*ing Angelina Jolie is the same thing as me REALLY %^&*ing Angelina Jolie, on a deep quantuum level?

    My boy Deepak may have something here. Or, then again, perhaps I’m still at home drooling over faked porno downloaded from the Internet.

  65. #65 grumpy realist
    November 28, 2006

    Oh deary deary me….I think we ought to chip together a few dollars and buy Deepak a few reprints from Dover.

    And yes, indeed, sigh. The New Age Ninnies have a tendency to throw in “quantum!” into everything.

    About the only good thing I can say is a) a lot of them are rich and b) it is very easy to get them to buy things.

  66. #66 Dustin
    November 28, 2006

    As I posted over there in Bizarro-blog, it irritates me to no end when someone who has clearly never even integrated a wave function starts blathering nonsense about how “quantum physics says X.”

    You know what’s priceless? I’m not making this up. Back when I was taking undergraduate quantum mechanics, we comandeered an empty lecture room in the engineering building to study for a test. Inner products, BVPs and commutation relations were all over the board. At the time there was this zealot of a new-ager who was in our building for the purposes of taking one of those quaint little math courses for general education, and who had also gotten into the habit of haraunging us for our reductionist ways passed the room and saw the formalism scrawled on the board.

    She steps into the room, tirades about open systems, consciousness, complains about how we’re worshiping some weird equations on the board, and some other nonsense before finally saying, and this is the best part, “You clearly haven’t heard of quantum mechanics”.

    I still laugh out loud every time I think of that. Solid gold.

  67. #67 MTran
    November 28, 2006

    I shouldn’t let Deep DooDoo’s woo-woo bother me but when I consider all the gullible Noo Agers who buy into his tripe, I lose whatever remains of hope I have for finding any evidence of “common” sense. Still, I stepped over to the HuffPo link PZ provided and, much to my delight, I saw that the readers of that site really took the guy to task for his whoppers. That was really refreshing. Then I noticed that every one of the posts had been tagged as “abusive”! Apparently it is abusive to disabuse deceptive fools of their foolishness.

  68. #68 Dustin
    November 28, 2006

    I’d pay to see a DeepThroat brought onto a talk show only to have the host ask him something like “Derive the energy eigenvalues and eigenfunctions of the Hamiltonian of a one-dimensional infinite square well”, and then watch him sweat and flounder around as he fails to solve the easiest problem in all of quantum mechanics.

    Or, since he seems to know so goddamn much about QFT, you could just ask him to prove the time reversal invariance of the Dirac equation or something.

    Comedy gold, either way.

  69. #69 Richard Wade
    November 28, 2006

    Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.”

    Chopra: “I think, therefore you are.”
    “I also think you will buy my books and tapes.”
    “I think all major credit cards are accepted.”

  70. #70 Tom Foss
    November 28, 2006

    Well, like Descartes, Chopra’s trying to get to “I think, therefore God is.” And, like Descartes, he’s failing miserably and looking like a fool for doing so. Unlike Descartes, he doesn’t have the slightest clue what he’s talking about. At least when Descartes tried to prove God, no matter how wrongheaded and roundabout his methods, he did it with methods that he understood.

  71. #71 Mary Jones
    November 28, 2006

    I’ve never laughed so hard reading all these posts! Why don’t we all write Chopra and tell him to become a New Age stand-up comic? He would make even more money and entertain instead of confuse!

  72. #72 Richard Wade
    November 28, 2006

    When I see woo-woo, is there woo-woo in my head? When I smell woo-woo, there is no woo-woo smell in my brain, because there is no nose in my brain to smell the woo-woo. No, my nose is on the front of my head and it keeps my eyes from looking at each other. If they were to see each other that would not be good, because I would be seeing how I see and I wouldn’t even have to think about it, and…Well anyway, because I think up woo-woo proves the existence of God.

    Look, Deepspace,
    If it looks like woo-woo, smells like woo-woo, feels like woo-woo, and tastes like woo-woo, then it’s woo-woo! Just be glad you didn’t step in it. Woo-woo existed long before there was consciousness, and now we have so much more woo-woo to step in because of you-you.

  73. #73 G. Tingey
    November 28, 2006

    Who IS this Chpra bloke, anyway?
    He is completely unknown over her – which is, perhaps, fortunate.

    BTW: you did say. PZ – “Thought experiment”
    But, from what I’ve read about Deepak, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
    What thought, where?

  74. #74 Thinker
    November 28, 2006

    Well, like Descartes, Chopra’s trying to get to “I think, therefore God is.” And, like Descartes, he’s failing miserably and looking like a fool for doing so. Unlike Descartes, he doesn’t have the slightest clue what he’s talking about. At least when Descartes tried to prove God, no matter how wrongheaded and roundabout his methods, he did it with methods that he understood.

    Like Decartes, maybe we should bring D-Chop to Sweden and have him catch a good case of pneumonia? Then we could withhold antibiotics (hey, thinking antibiotics be just as good as taking them, right?), and he could promptly join the Wooniverse of Eternal Conciousness .

    After all: reading this pseudoscientific fluff at least gives me the impression he is already mounting his campaign to run for Supreme Wooniversal Emperor…

  75. #75 C.W.
    November 28, 2006

    It’s intensely disturbing that Chopra actually has followers, but there are ways to deal with these feelings.

    The most popular way is to think of Chopra as a con artist rather than someone who’s retarded enough to believe his own garbage. I have no idea if that’s true, but contempt is always easier to bear than frustration.

    It’s also a great comfort whenever a woo-woo finds himself backed into the corner of solipsism. Solopsism is the last refuge of an idiot, since not even idiots really believe it.

  76. #76 niku
    November 28, 2006

    “universe field”,yuk.
    and almost all comments on his page are marked “abusive”.

  77. #77 Cowardly Disembodied Voice
    November 28, 2006

    Yesterday I emailed a picture of a yellow flower to Deepak Chopra. Now, by his own logic, his computer is full of consciousness, and Dr. Chopra ought to get his computer to consent before he can shut it down.

    Do I really send e-mails to new age charlatans ? Well, it was a thought experiment, …………………..

  78. #78 unhappily
    November 28, 2006

    Confession Time:

    I’m an avid Pharyngula reader, an atheist, and a dirty filthy materialist. But my dear wife nearly always has one of these Chopra or Chopra-esque books on her nightstand. And she’s recently started fooling around with (gulp) homeopathy, too. Now, I’m a pretty laid-back guy, so my attitude w/r/t her ‘beliefs’ is “Well, it’s not hurting anyone or anything, and we’re not going to go broke over it. And, maybe it helps her somehow. So, whatever.” But, sadly, the intellectual in me looks at my lovely wife and frowns. What a dilemma.

  79. #79 STS
    November 28, 2006

    [Maharishi Lagrangian]

    Hence God exists; respond!

  80. #80 ckerst
    November 28, 2006

    I imagined a yellow flower and I got a head ache. Its obvious that I now have a yellow flower vibrating in my head due to collapsed quantum waves washing ashore on the sea of infinity, or maybe the LSD is just kicking in.

  81. #81 Tom Foss
    November 28, 2006

    Thinker said:

    (hey, thinking antibiotics be just as good as taking them, right?)

    I’m pretty sure that’s the central tenet of homeopathy…

  82. #82 JamesR
    November 28, 2006

    I saw the article by the Bryn Mawyr (sp) PHd yesterday but it was up for only a few hours. I was unable at that time to comment. It is gone now. But she stated that she was just interpreting what the physisists were finding and discovering. That is the problem as I see it. She is not a physisist but readily inteprets physics. Now I ask. Are there any physisists who believe this woo or is it only the latest mumbo jumbo to be recycled as scientific?

    I had a thought experiment prepared but I forgot where I put it. Does that count?

  83. #83 Tukla in Iowa
    November 28, 2006

    I’ve sunk electrodes into brains and recorded cellular responses to visual stimuli; I’ve washed them in calcium sensitive dyes and watched the flow of ions;

    Your poor kids.

  84. #84 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 28, 2006

    So chopra-woo is not just the usual preaching of a controversy but to con people on ‘third way’ books. I guess the third way is straight to his bank.

    Of course Chopra can’t abstain from a final carnival of quantum woo, with some field woo thrown in for good measure.

    “A universal field that encloses all matter and energy.”
    Woo-hoo! The best proposal for a fundamental theory today, string theory, fails to be defined as a full-dimensional field theory.

    “If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave”
    So objects disappear when they display their fundamental quantum properties? It seems Chopra has a unique idea of the relation between objects being in the quantum or classical regime. That may explain why he doesn’t realize that we can ‘uncollapse’ molecules and place them in quantum superposition.

    But most ludicrous is that an author pounding out texts, so filled with false analogies, on a laptop no less, tries to pretend he doesn’t know what symbols mean. The sound a concert makes is different from what a mike picks up, which again is different from what my ear picks up. Do I not hear a concert either way? Doesn’t internal representations of what I hear appear in my brain?

    Symbol-like behavior of the brain is not a long stretch. Relatively simple biologically modeled neural networks can display it:
    “After this training, the prefrontal layer had developed peculiar sensitivities to the output. In particular, it had developed abstract representations of feature dimensions, such that each unit in the PFC seemed to code for an entire set of stimulus dimensions, such as “shape,” or “color.” This is the first time (to my knowledge) that such abstract, symbol-like representations have been observed to self-organize within a neural network.” ( http://develintel.blogspot.com/2006/10/generalization-and-symbolic-processing.html )

    Since a simple network can learn and understand what colors are, and Chopra can’t, I can merely guess at the level of thinking his brain has to work with.

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist my very own false analogy. It must be a side-effect from reading all that chopra-woo.)

  85. #85 Torbjörn Larsson
    November 28, 2006

    So chopra-woo is not just the usual preaching of a controversy but to con people on ‘third way’ books. I guess the third way is straight to his bank.

    Of course Chopra can’t abstain from a final carnival of quantum woo, with some field woo thrown in for good measure.

    “A universal field that encloses all matter and energy.”
    Woo-hoo! The best proposal for a fundamental theory today, string theory, fails to be defined as a full-dimensional field theory.

    “If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave”
    So objects disappear when they display their fundamental quantum properties? It seems Chopra has a unique idea of the relation between objects being in the quantum or classical regime. That may explain why he doesn’t realize that we can ‘uncollapse’ molecules and place them in quantum superposition.

    But most ludicrous is that an author pounding out texts, so filled with false analogies, on a laptop no less, tries to pretend he doesn’t know what symbols mean. The sound a concert makes is different from what a mike picks up, which again is different from what my ear picks up. Do I not hear a concert either way? Doesn’t internal representations of what I hear appear in my brain?

    Symbol-like behavior of the brain is not a long stretch. Relatively simple biologically modeled neural networks can display it:
    “After this training, the prefrontal layer had developed peculiar sensitivities to the output. In particular, it had developed abstract representations of feature dimensions, such that each unit in the PFC seemed to code for an entire set of stimulus dimensions, such as “shape,” or “color.” This is the first time (to my knowledge) that such abstract, symbol-like representations have been observed to self-organize within a neural network.” ( http://develintel.blogspot.com/2006/10/generalization-and-symbolic-processing.html )

    Since a simple network can learn and understand what colors are, and Chopra can’t, I can merely guess at the level of thinking his brain has to work with.

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist my very own false analogy. It must be a side-effect from reading all that chopra-woo.)

  86. #86 V
    November 28, 2006

    Think of a Yellow Flower, a poem
    .
    GOD EXISTS. GOD EXISTS
    .
    Think of a yellow flower.
    You’ll see it in your head.
    The peduncle, the receptacle,
    The stamen, the stigma, the pistil,
    The anther, the ovary, the sepal.

    No. You see nothing of these.
    Even if you see, you don’t
    Know what are all these,
    Unless you’re a botanist.
    You see the yellow petals
    And the yellowness intrigues.

    But there is no camera in your
    Head, with films or silicon chips.
    No mega pixels, no magnification
    No light, no optical, no digital.

    And still you see the yellow
    Flower even if you close your
    Eyes. Unbelievable, magical!
    No. It isn’t. It is all delusional.

    Nothing is real. You are not real.
    Your woman – wife – is not real.
    You make love to a woman unreal —
    Some ghostly creature, all surreal.

    What does this mean?
    God exists. God exists.

    ~white wings

    http://whitewings.sulekha.com/blog/post/2006/11/god-exists-god-exists.htm

  87. #87 Keith Douglas
    November 28, 2006

    Glen D: Bunge wrote a dialogue (in 1954!) that shows how extreme empiricism leads to idealism. (In that sense an epistemologial stance has metaphysical conseuqneces). You (correctly) point out that the mistake Bunge draws attention to is being made by Chopra.

    (If anyone wants to read it, it is reprinted in Bunge’s _Scientific Materialism_ or in stand-alone form, “New Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous”

    Pascals’s bookie: More interesting one (courtesy of Dan Dennett). Imagine a cow. Now imagine a purple cow. What’s different between the two cases? Notice that the idealist answer is a non-starter; whereas a materialist has many resources (computational, neurological, etc.) to draw upon.

    E-gal: You slander the sophists by the comparison. They, at least, were good arguers. Chopra just spouts drivel.

    Taylor Selseth: I hope we can wean you off positivism, though. 🙂 [Hint: don’t give in to the claim that being pro-science makes you one.]

    PH: Indeed. I am not an Indian, but as a human being I am insulted by people like Chopra’s refusal to adopt the rationality that is our shared heritage. If I were an Indian, I would be further insulted by his adoption (and corruption of course) of the irrationalist strains from his ethnic background, when there are many ratioempiricist, skeptical etc. traditions from that philosophically (and now, scientifically) rich country.

    JS: Actually, it is Berkeleyian LSD (heh). And yes, one way to understand new age stuff is to remember two things – (a) it rhymes with sewage and (b) new age = old hat.

    Tom Foss: Descartes can also be forgiven, because he made so many other contributions to scholarship and understanding, and because he was no doubt afraid for his life. (He repressed his materialist cosmology because of its agreement with Galileo over the Copernican hypothesis, for example.)

  88. #88 Anton Mates
    November 28, 2006

    Yet you assume–as do all who fall for the superstition of materialism–that flowers and the color yellow exist ‘out there’ in the world and are photographically reproduced by the brain, acting as a camera made of organic tissue.

    Does Chopra think a camera contains either a yellow flower or a photographic reproduction of same? If you told him that it actually contains either a darkish sheet of undeveloped film or, these days, a Flash card, would it blow his mind?

    Does Chopra take steps to make sure cameras don’t steal his soul?

  89. #89 Dustin
    November 28, 2006

    [Maharishi Lagrangian]

    Hence God exists; respond!

    Ahh, that looks like the work of the good Dr. John Hagelin. Dude is cracked beyond all repair. Ok, so you’ve seen meditating Yogis hopping around like epileptic frogs and calling it “levitation”, right? See most people would naively assume that their little bouncing act was the result of muscular contraction. But Dr. John Hagelin is not so easily fooled! See, that hopping, according to John Hagelin, violates Newtonian laws of gravity. And that’s ok, according to him, because the real reason that they can levitate is: Quantum Gravity!

    So, not only did Dr. John Hagelin sleep through those lectures on parsimony, he evidently doesn’t think there should be a principle of correspondence either. Maybe he was spending all of his time working on a “Faith and Reason” requirement to placate all of the uppity Christian benefactors of his snooty private school.

  90. #90 G. Tingey
    November 29, 2006

    REPOST
    Who IS this Chopra bloke, anyway?
    He is completely unknown over here – which is, perhaps, fortunate.

    BTW: you did say. PZ – “Thought experiment”
    But, from what I’ve read about Deepak, isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
    What thought, where?

  91. #91 Yet another annoyed biologist
    November 30, 2006

    Sooner or later you would think the editors of the Huffington Post would recognize how Chopra justifies most of the views in his articles: by gross misrepresentations or misunderstandings of science and views of others. The misrepresentations are probably some mixture of deliberate intellectual dishonesty and lazy intellectual bankruptcy.

    Biologists certainly have a range of views on religion and mystical issues. However, no decent biologist I know of believes the crap Chopra creates as a strawman scientific viewpoint,

    As a thought experiment, if he wanted to argue for a “faith” that the earth is 5000 years old, that the earth rests upon a giant turtle, and that the moon is constructed of nothing but the finest blue Stilton cheese, that would not be a major concern to me. Just do not start off trying to make a faith argument with ignorant misrepresentations of science and what scientists believe. Faith, as is written in the Christian Bible, is the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for.

    He can argue whatever “blue cheese moon” or “new age” faith he wants, just do not make up “evidence” for that faith with deeply disordered misrepresentation of basic sciences.

  92. #92 Badger3k
    November 30, 2006

    I think huffington keeps him on for the increased traffic. People who go there to rip him apart may read other things, or maybe they just want the increase in traffic to make their site more noticeable than it already is (or something like that).

    Unhappily – my roommate gets annoyed when I point out that homeopathy is bunk, show her the scientific articles on its uselessness, and point out that by the theory of homeopathy we are all drinking waste products. I also have a friend who thinks (maybe thought by now, if she read my links) that most psychics are frauds, but not Sylvia Browne…. Then there’s the Rapture-Ready idiot at work, a nice enough guy if you can get by his desire for the deaths and torture of billions of human beings, or his belief that dragons exist(ed) as they are in the Bible (which he hasn’t really read), or that I am close minded for not believing the pre-Israelites built the pyramids. Hang in there.

    Whoops – wanted to comment on the “it’s not hurting anybody” – it is hurting the individual, at the very least, by hampering their critical faculties and encouraging false thinking. If it leads other people to thinking along the same lines, there is more harm. What if this interest in homeopathy causes them to avoid a real medical cure/prevention in favor of some fake treatment? My mom spent thousands (over many years) on homeopathic treatments (and other woo) on herself and her dogs (long story). At least when she was dying of cancer she relied on real medicine to help her, rather than feed these woo-sellers.

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