Pharyngula

The Chopra Delusion

Can I possibly bear another bucket of gobbledygook from Deepak Chopra? One must soldier on, I suppose, even as Chopra becomes even more vague. I’m going to keep it short, though.

Dawkins, along with other arch materialists, dismiss such a search [for "god"]. Are information fields real, as some theorists believe? Such a field might preserve information the way energy fields preserve energy; in fact, the entire universe may be based upon the evolution of information. (there’s not the slightest doubt that the universe has an invisible source outside space and time.) A field that can create something new and then remember it would explain the persistence of incredibly fragile molecules like DNA, which by any odds should have disintegrated long ago under the pressure of entropy, not to mention the vicissitudes of heat, wind, sunlight, radiation, and random mistakes through mutation.

Well, no. We can see the chemical processes involved, we can measure rates of degradation, we can calculate how selection would maintain a viable DNA sequence. This is all very silly; we don’t need his “invisible information field” to account for the characteristics of DNA. He’s fond of conjuring up these magic sources for phenomena we do understand, so maybe we should all be a little skeptical when he invents them for phenomena we don’t.

As for his lack of doubt about an “invisible source outside space and time” for the whole universe—I have my doubts, but I’ll defer to the physicists on this one. I don’t see why a source for something before which there was no space or time is at all necessary.

The man gets grandiose:

The entire universe is experienced only through consciousness, and even though consciousness is invisible and non-material, it’s the elephant in the room so far as evolutionary theory is concerned. This is a huge topic, of course, and I’ve offered earlier posts on the many flaws in current evolutionary theory. under the topic of Intelligent Design. It’s difficult threading one’s way through the battlefield, with fundamentalists firing smoke on one side and skeptics arrogantly defending the scientific status quo on the other, but earth-shaking issues are at stake. When we understand both intelligence and design, a quantum leap in evolutionary theory will be possible.

Actually, since most organisms lack any kind of consciousness yet evolve just the same, consciousness has almost no applicability to evolution at all. It’s a very narrow topic limited to a relatively tiny lineage, and the question isn’t how consciousness contributed to evolution, but how evolution produced consciousness. I don’t quite understand why he’s got that dangling sentence fragment splat in the middle of the paragraph, but his message is clear anyway: he’s just another Intelligent Design creationist, asserting that his god must have played a role in our origins, but he has no evidence, no real theory, and his ignorance of biology is pathetic.

Maybe he should ask the Discovery Institute for a membership application. He’d fit right in.

Comments

  1. #1 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 2, 2006

    Maybe there is work on information fields, but I doubt it. Ordinary Shannon or any type of algorithmic information can’t be it – the first is information communicated in a channel, the second resources to specify an object. Chopra has the usual information problem of an IDiot – he has it backwards. More information means more noise. Sheldrake’s ideas seems a more likely source.

    Practically true, but some physicists and cosmologists might quibble with it (wheelers game of twenty questions, the past is defined by observing it, etc).

    But have they got very far with that?

    First, it is my impression that the use of decoherence removed the need for special observers – classical systems makes themselves.

    Second, cosmologies with a final state deciding the earlier history seems hard to do. For example, Hawking-Hartle no-boundary cosmology seems to end with an empty de Sitter space without initial inflation. Not what we observe. ( http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006hep.th…10199P )

  2. #2 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 2, 2006

    “More information means more noise.” – More noise means more information.

    First rule of the net – when you accuse someone of something, first look in a mirror. Backwards, indeed. :-(

  3. #3 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 2, 2006

    Do you have any proof that drew-oo has visited earth at all?

    Anyone mentioning Penrose’s quantum-woo must be off meds…

  4. #4 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 4, 2006

    Except in Physics. In Physics, it’s “why not?”

    Excellent! So true for science, which is mostly in the business of disproving the wrong ideas. The remainder is indeed equal to “why not”.

  5. #5 Torbjörn Larsson
    December 4, 2006

    Tom:

    Also true. Though mostly I remember it as “Darn, this experiment doesn’t work either. Why not?”.

    Seems like we have several different uses for why not. Well, why n… huh.