Pharyngula

Deeeeeepaaaak!

Deepak Chopra recently gave a talk in which he rattled off all of the amazing assertions below.

The essential nature of the material world is not material; the essential nature of the physical world is not physical; the essential stuff of the universe is non-stuff.

Western science is still frozen in an obsolete, Newtonian worldview that is based literally on superstition — and we can call it the superstition of materialism — which says you and I are physical entities of the physical universe.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding – that perception is in the brain. It’s not in the brain; perception is in consciousness. All our thoughts are in consciousness, all our imagination is in consciousness, all our cognition is in consciousness. Everything that we call reality is in consciousness. Everything! There’s nothing outside consciousness. And no one can find this consciousness. And the reason they can’t find consciousness is because they are looking in the wrong place.

Past, present and future are actually one phenomenon, one picture, one reality, one consciousness.

Every cell instantly knows what is happening in every other cell, in fact, in the whole universe.

I am particularly amused by the topsy-turvy claim that modern science is all superstition, since this talk was given at a funny venue.

Deepak was speaking at an Indian Astrology Conference.

My comment: Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa! Hee hee. HAAAA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ho, ha, ha <choke> ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Hee.

That guy. What a joker. I wish I were dishonest enough that I could make the kind of money he does marketing himself as a clown. He doesn’t understand physics, the brain, consciousness, or cells, yet he can still make big bucks standing up in front of a professional society of frauds and telling them a set of lies that they want to hear.

By the way, parts of India experienced an eclipse on New Years — and the astrologers and priests were full of worries.

But astrologers took the eclipse seriously. “Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do. Those who came in direct contact of the eclipse between 12.22am and 1.24am should have been careful. But since most of the New Year parties were planned indoors due to the cold weather, there was not much reason to worry,” said Vinay Kumar Dubey, a city based astrologer.

Temples in the city, however, closed early in wake of the eclipse. Mythology says that a lunar eclipse generates negative energy. “It is inauspicious to invoke the deities during an eclipse. The idols are covered by organic materials like grass, neem leaves, vila trees or raw silk shroud to prevent the natural aura from being destroyed,” said a priest at the Hanuman temple on the University Road.

Those were Chopra’s people! Of course, if you read the whole article, you’ll find that India also contains many sensible people who deplored the superstitious nonsense, and saw it as an interesting astronomical phenomenon, and nothing more. I guess in Chopra’s terms, they were the superstitious ones…not the buffoons covering idols with neem leaves.

Comments

  1. #1 Islander
    January 2, 2010

    “To believe in this rock, you automatically believe in God.”

    -Deepak Chopra

  2. #2 dustycrickets
    January 2, 2010

    He seems to be working on the “the most cosmic dude get the grooviest chick” formula.

    What a load of BS.

  3. #3 JD
    January 2, 2010

    You just can’t topra that kind of inanity.

  4. #4 Scott H
    January 2, 2010

    Perhaps Chopra would consent to having his brain damaged to see if/how it effects his consciousness.

    On second thought, I’m not sure it would have an effect on his consciousness. He doesn’t seem to use his grey matter much.

  5. #5 The Science Pundit
    January 2, 2010

    APOD had a great double exposure picture of the eclipsed blue moon today.

    I particularly liked his claims that nobody can find consciousness (which he failed to define) and that every cell instantly knows what every other cell in the universe is doing. Tell me doctor Chopra, does that include cells that are about to get eaten by another cell? What a clown!

  6. #6 Aquaria
    January 2, 2010

    I’ve often wondered how many people act crazy during the full moon because they’ve been convinced the full moon affects people.

  7. #7 T_U_T
    January 2, 2010

    I’ve often wondered how many people act crazy during the full moon because they’ve been convinced the full moon affects people.

    Werewolves included ?

  8. #8 neon-elf.myopenid.com
    January 2, 2010

    I’m with you, PZ. I laughed and then, just for a moment, wished I was more dishonourable, because there’s such a rich vein of gullibility, stupidity (and big bucks), out there just waiting to tapped by any unscrupulous con artist who is happy to babble a load of shite to the rubes. I can babble with the best of them, if I try, but sadly (for the sake of my wallet) I do like to be able to look myelf in the mirror and not feel ashamed.

  9. #9 aharleygyrl
    January 2, 2010

    I saw that Chopra guy years and years ago and I thought he was a freak who was full of it. Guys like him want to find a niche that is different so they can make tons of money and get lots of fame. That is all it is. He should be certified and committed if he actually believes all his garb.

    “Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do” Hahahahahaha! You mean, we all should read our horrorscope before walking outside for the day?!

  10. #10 TimJohnsonMN
    January 2, 2010

    Perception is not in the brain? Has he heard of Roger Sperry or Michael Gazzaniga? That split-brain patients can consistently make correct choices when shown items to only their left field of vision while offering only confabulations as to why they did seems to me to be a pretty compelling argument that interrupting brain function interrupts perception.

  11. #11 Fred The Hun
    January 2, 2010

    I’ve often wondered how many people act crazy during the full moon because they’ve been convinced the full moon affects people.

    It only affects lunatics…

  12. #12 Sastra
    January 2, 2010

    I just can’t make myself laugh at Chopra, because I know too many otherwise intelligent people who consider themselves “spiritual,” consider themselves “scientific,” and consider this sort of nonsense the non plus ultra of the harmonious reconciliation between science and religion. As far as they’re concerned, there is no inherent contradiction: there are only people who think holistically (them), and those who are stuck in a reductive, primitive mindset (fundamentalists and atheists.)

    They manage to take astrology seriously by the liberal application of Karen Armstrong-style apologetics. It’a all metaphors which point to transcendence, and expressions of traditional human longing — except when it isn’t, and it’s literal — or not. They’re not bothered by contradicting themselves, because it means they’ve transcended the need to be judgmental, and learned to accept.

    The more you try to counter this, the more they pity you. And the madder they get.

    So Chopra drives me mad, and makes me mad.

  13. #14 Jerry Stanford
    January 2, 2010

    Whenever I think of Deepak, I remember the Microsoft Windows commercial where he said, “I am not a person thinking.”

    Yeah, I used my first comment here for that.

  14. #15 anonymous
    January 2, 2010

    the full moon does affect people, ask any bouncer at a popular club

  15. #16 Aquaria
    January 2, 2010

    Werewolves included ?

    You might want to read some Anita Blake. It doesn’t seem to matter about the moon for her werewolves.

  16. #17 Alison S
    January 2, 2010

    He’s unwatchable without a barf bag handy.

  17. #18 jt93
    January 2, 2010

    George Lucas might want to look into this, it sounds an awful lot like Star Wars mythology, especially the bit about every cell knowing what every other cell in the universe is doing. The Dark Side of the Force is strong with Chopra.

  18. #19 Jack Carlson
    January 2, 2010

    People who play to human weaknesses in order to gain fame and/or money have no shame or conscience. Packaging bullshit as fluffy new-age babble doesn’t cover up its smell. Gullibility must have some evolutionary advantage, but when people like Chopra abuse it for their own advantage I wish it didn’t.

  19. #20 ironflange
    January 2, 2010

    Barnum was right.

  20. #21 JeffF
    January 2, 2010

    Sounds like he’s taken too much LSD.

  21. #22 sidhracadian
    January 2, 2010

    The idols are covered by organic materials like grass, neem leaves, vila trees or raw silk shroud to prevent the natural aura from being destroyed

    And John Ashcroft the Lady Justice draper finds, in a priest of Hanuman the Monkey god, a kindred spirit. Bring out the Crisco.

  22. #23 Aquaria
    January 2, 2010

    Anonymous:

    Citation, please. The studies I’ve seen analyzing police reports of bizarre behavior/increases in criminality don’t coincide with anecdotes about the full moon. Show me the bouncer, too, who has written down every instance of bizarre behavior at a club for, say, six months, then compared it to a lunar chart for those months.

    Show me studies that demonstrate it. Otherwise, the data I’ve seen strongly suggest that what’s at work is a very bad case of confirmation bias.

  23. #24 Matt Penfold
    January 2, 2010

    the full moon does affect people, ask any bouncer at a popular club

    Better yet, why not examine the evidence.

    There are not more arrests for violent or disorderly behaviour on a full moon as compared with other phases of the moon. Nor are there more hospital admissions for psychiatric (or any other) reasons.

  24. #25 Aquaria
    January 2, 2010

    My hero, Matt, always there to back me up. LOL

  25. #26 llewelly
    January 2, 2010

    The essential nature of the material world is not material; the essential nature of the physical world is not physical; the essential stuff of the universe is non-stuff.

    The essential stuff of Deepak’s clever-seeming jabber is non-stuff.

    This is a great lecture by Dan Dennett in which he explains the brainless vapidity of statements which seem profound, but are actually garbage. He calls them “deepities”, perhaps in honor of Deepak Chopra.

  26. #27 Sastra
    January 2, 2010

    By the way, despite the insistence that consciousness does not depend on the brain, the followers of Chopra do not consider themselves dualists. Dualists believe there are separate physical objects, and mental or spiritual objects, which interact. Instead, what’s being promoted here is a form of idealistic monism: everything is mental. Everything. Atoms are just vibrations of thought.

    So they hotly deny believing in the “supernatural.” They insist that they reject “dualism.” There is only the Natural — but it’s made up of Mind. If you aren’t familiar with this view, and on the watch for it, it can initially pass as a rational, scientific, naturalist standpoint. “The supernatural? Oh, what nonsense. Science has pointed us away from that type of primitive thinking, haha!”

    Sounds like a skeptic, or scientific humanist. But if they keep on topic, they give themselves away. ESP. The Secret. Healing Energy. Quantum consciousness. All predicted and confirmed by modern science.

    To us, it’s a bait-and-switch, or self-contradiction. But, if you understand how they’ve framed it, you realize they’re sincere. They’re using language in a misleading way because their thinking is so screwed up.

  27. #28 Whore of All the Earth
    January 2, 2010

    Deepak’s a nut case, but he makes good blog fodder.

  28. #29 llewelly
    January 2, 2010

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding, that perception is in the brain. It’s not in the brain; perception is in consciousness

    Chopra refuses to admit that perception (or consciousness, for that matter) is a phenomena of the brain because that is the only way he can get to sleep after a long hard day of damaging other people’s brains. That and the money.

  29. #30 NewEnglandBob
    January 2, 2010

    TypePad is broken yet again, Is Deepak in charge of that too?

  30. #31 SuzyBrown
    January 2, 2010

    He used that “superstition of materialism” line on Dr Shermer last week. While I’m glad to see it wasn’t specific to Dr S, its just a phrase he’s throwing around these days, I’m still mystified. How is materialism a superstition? Am I dumb because I don’t get how materialism, believing in things that can be explained, could possibly be a superstition, that is, believing in things that you can’t understand?

  31. #32 raven
    January 2, 2010

    IIRC Deepak’s babble isn’t new and he didn’t make it up.

    I’ve heard Hindu and Buddhist mystics say the same thing. All is illusion. Your mission, should you decide to take it, is to break through the illusion and become one with the universe or something.

    This isn’t much different from Gnosticism, an ancient xianity that lost the war with the proto-orthodox.

    Deepak just translates it into English and repeats it with some added sciency bafflegab.

  32. #33 SuzyBrown
    January 2, 2010

    He used that “superstition of materialism” line on Dr Shermer last week. While I’m glad to see it wasn’t specific to Dr S, its just a phrase he’s throwing around these days, I’m still mystified. How is materialism a superstition? Am I dumb because I don’t get how materialism, believing in things that can be explained, could possibly be a superstition, that is, believing in things that you can’t understand?

  33. #34 Skeptic Tim
    January 2, 2010

    “…lunar eclipse generates negative energy…”
    This is great news; now we can collect a few buckets full of negative energy and use it to hold the throat of a wormhole open and then travel the universe at will!!

  34. #35 ArmandTanzarian
    January 2, 2010

    This is the guy with massive billboards all over Chicago’s highways. Its disheartening to see the amount of otherwise rational people following his crap.

  35. #36 Lynna, OM
    January 2, 2010

    I guess when my mother’s material brain was being destroyed by Alzheimer’s Disease, and her consciousness was deeply and negatively affected, she should have consulted one of her cells, which, after all, knew everything in the universe at once. Or maybe she should have exported her Alzheimer’s Disease to Chopra’s brain so that he could get a reality check.

  36. #37 Andrew T
    January 2, 2010

    “yet he can still make big bucks standing up in front of a professional society of frauds and telling them a set of lies that they want to hear.”

    So in other words, he’s essentially just a New-Age televangelist, doing what anyone in the religion profession does.

  37. #38 aharleygyrl
    January 2, 2010

    FOX NEWS – The Love Guru & Deepak Chopra

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyGczLL6OCw

  38. #39 Lynna, OM
    January 2, 2010

    Physicist Heinz R. Pagels, author of The Cosmic Code: Quantum Physics as the Language of Nature vehemently rejects the notion that there is any significant connection between the discoveries of modern physicists and the metaphysical claims of Ayurveda. “No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud,” says Dr. Pagels.

    The claim that the fields of modern physics have anything to do with the “field of consciousness” is false. The notion that what physicists call “the vacuum state” has anything to do with consciousness is nonsense. The claim that large numbers of people meditating helps reduce crime and war by creating a unified field of consciousness is foolishness of a high order. The presentation of the ideas of modern physics side by side, and apparently supportive of, the ideas of the Maharishi about pure consciousness can only be intended to deceive those who might not know any better.
         Reading these materials authorized by the Maharishi causes me distress because I am a man who values the truth. To see the beautiful and profound ideas of modern physics, the labor of generations of scientists, so willfully perverted provokes a feeling of compassion for those who might be taken in by these distortions. I would like to be generous to the Maharishi and his movement because it supports world peace and other high ideals. But none of these ideals could possibly be realized within the framework of a philosophy that so willfully distorts scientific truth.

  39. #40 t3knomanser
    January 2, 2010

    Now, I’m not a materialist (I believe that the Universe is composed of information, and the laws of physics describe the allowed operations upon said information). So he was actually doing alright by me for the first few sentences.

    Which actually had me worried, because the thought that I might agree with Deepak Chopra is terrifying.

    Fortunately, he promptly went off the rails and all was right with the world.

  40. #41 erpease
    January 2, 2010

    Well an eclipse can affect events if people believe it is significant and change their behavior because of it.

    Ancient historians love the solar eclipse of May 28, 585BCE because it happened during a battle between the Medes and the Lydians on the river Halys which so frightened both sides they promptly stopped fighting, agreed to a truce, and wrote about it. Historians like it because it provides a fixed date to pin a timeline to (without it they knew event A happened X years before B and Y years before C and so on but not the absolute date of those events).

    A full moon affects human activities only in so far as (a) it affects the height of the tides and (b) it provides extra light during the night (there was a reason the Lunar Society was called the Lunar Society). I could imagine certain types of crimes such as smuggling did depend on the moon.

  41. #42 VonWatters
    January 2, 2010

    “Always with the negative waves Moriarty! Always with the negative waves!”

    Exactly how does one come into contact with an eclipse?
    Doctor: “What’s the problem?”
    Patient: “I got hit in the face by a lunar eclipse!”
    (there must be a punchline for that)

  42. #43 Glen Davidson
    January 2, 2010

    The trouble with that talk is that it’s not altogether wrong. Take this:

    All our thoughts are in consciousness, all our imagination is in consciousness, all our cognition is in consciousness.

    Mostly true, although woo-meisters like him ignore the importance of the unconscious, which is the brain.

    Trouble with that nonsense is that even without the unconscious, there’s nothing about that “truth” that precludes the evidence-based conclusion that consciousness is due to brain activity.

    He’s playing off of the typical dualistic sense people have to say that, well, yes, consciousness is something not brain, that it’s superior to “mere matter.” And ignoring all of the evidence that shows that consciousness is not divorced from physics.

    He also has a very appalling philosophical problem with understanding the difference between abstractions that we normally understand as “physics” and the conscious phenomena themselves which are not abstractions.

    Thomas Nagel appears to be about as ignorant of the difference as well, which is why he thinks consciousness lies outside of physics. In fact, I’d worry more about Nagel and similar philosophical boobs than the obviously wacko (if still intelligent) Deepak Chopra.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  43. #44 Omatix
    January 2, 2010

    This guy has it down. Say something truly meaningless to people who are committed to a fictional worldview, and you’ve got their instant earnest agreement. And to anyone with a brain who’s foolish enough to engage with you over your claims, you get years of fodder to argue over what you “meant” by your random eructations.

  44. #45 Arun
    January 2, 2010

    Deepak Chopra is a professional guru. His function is to create wealth from selling nonsense. I think he’s pretty good at that.

  45. #46 Sili
    January 2, 2010

    I’m sorry, but – to steal a line from Michael Shermer (I think) – more than 90% of all cases of domestic violence occur within a fortnight of a full moon.

    So there!

  46. #47 Mark
    January 2, 2010

    I think that Michael Shermer is supposed to debate Deepak some time soon. Deepak was the one who put out the challenge. Of course he did. He knows that no one can amass an argument to refute his nonesense. I have no idea how you debate against this crap, but all the best Michael!

  47. #48 VegeBrain
    January 2, 2010

    “Those who came in direct contact of the eclipse between 12.22am and 1.24am should have been careful.”

    Another nitwit sniffing his own farts. NOBODY came in contact with the eclipse because the eclipse was on the moon, and nobody is on the moon! Or are there people on the moon and we just don’t know about it?

  48. #49 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 2, 2010

    jt93 #18

    The Dark Side of the Force is strong with Chopra.

    When I read the excerpt PZ posted I thought exactly the same thing.

    The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. -Obi-Wan Kenobi

    As the joke goes, how is duct tape like the Force? It has a light side, it has a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

  49. #50 madbull
    January 2, 2010

    At a state dinner in India in March 2000, US President Bill Clinton said, “My country has been enriched by the contributions of more than a million Indian Americans, which includes Dr. Deepak Chopra, the pioneer of alternative medicine.

    gulp! , nice label for the rest of us Indians

  50. #51 M31
    January 2, 2010

    “Or are there people on the moon and we just don’t know about it? ” — VegeBrain

    My cells know.

    I like this quote from the article: “Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do.”

    It’s completely true! Exactly the same way!

  51. #53 Thunderbird 5
    January 2, 2010

    “Western science is still frozen in an obsolete…”

    and that’s as far as I got with this latest dribble of woo wankery from Deeps here.

    A patient of mine (I’m a community nurse in rural SW England) last week waved one of his wastes of trees at me and enthusiasticaly endorsed the contents. Although she did’t say whether she expected it to contain any useful therapy for her stubborn venous ulcer. She’s still in sufficient possession of enough discriminatory ability to not recommend I read it (she knows what I think about quackery, especially of the New Age variety).

    Anyway, I managed to ruin it with an entirely accidental elbowing of a bottle of povidone-iodine.

  52. #54 Bride of Shrek OM
    January 2, 2010

    Sastra @ #12 hits the nail on the head for me.

    I used to think this guy was an absolute hoot and his followers laughable in their almost divine reverence of any crazy batsht that comes out of his mouth but not anymore. I work with two people who are certainly not unintelligent people and I have to listen to them spouting their “Deepakisms” (their ridiculous term, nit mine) every goddam day. Weirdly they also both profess to be deeply christian and seem to either ignore or are seriously confused about the concept of worshipping false idols in their devotion to Swami Deepak.

    They, of course, consider ME the closed minded person as I won’t share their stupid affirmation sessions etc and don’t seem to feel the irony of repeating all this group-hug crap yet still being critical and judgmental of others who don’t share their cult-like beliefs. So no, I don’t find the idiot funny anymore either.

  53. #55 Bride of Shrek OM
    January 2, 2010

    Another flabbergasting moment at work occurred when I overheard one of same said colleagues sincerely informing the other one that she was “feng shuing” her house this weekend as it is “scientifically proven to work” and is NOT, emphastically insisting twice, NOT woo. I was speechless and that is an extremely rare event for me.

  54. #56 a_ray_in_dilbert_space
    January 2, 2010

    Science begins when people get tired being utterly ineffetual against a Universe that is indifferent to their existence. Mysticism, spiritualism and other profound-sounding mumbo-jumbo never helped a single person in the 100000 years they held sway over humanity. Science has revolutionized the way we live in 400 short years.

  55. #57 reyfox
    January 2, 2010

    “Western science is still frozen in an obsolete, Newtonian worldview”

    Psst, Deepak. Ever heard of a guy named Einstein? Step out of the 19th Century, please.

    “that is based literally on superstition”

    Another jackass who doesn’t know what “literally” means.

    ” — and we can call it the superstition of materialism — which says you and I are physical entities of the physical universe.”

    At least we know that physical entities exist. The burden of proof is on you jokers to show anything more.

  56. #58 SaintStephen
    January 2, 2010

    Regarding PZ’s rather insensitive comment: “Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa! Hee hee. HAAAA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ho, ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Hee.”

    I personally don’t mind the initial “Bwa“, nor all the subsequent “ha’s“, or even the stray “HAAA” or “Ho” (despite its ugly connotation) or even his gasping for breath.

    But that LAST little “Hee“, my friend, was simply a bridge too far.

    Take it back. NOW, please.

    (Pretty please?)

  57. #59 thomas.c.galvin
    January 2, 2010

    Sweet Vishnu, I could make bank if I had looser morals.

  58. #60 holyspiritdenier
    January 2, 2010

    George Gilder uses the phrase, “the materialist superstition”:

    http://www.discovery.org/a/2053

  59. #61 colluvial
    January 2, 2010

    Chopra confuses non-falsifiable with profound.

  60. #62 thomas.c.galvin
    January 2, 2010

    Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do.

    Well this, at least, is totally accurate. Though not for the reasons the astrologers think.

  61. #63 Newfie
    January 2, 2010

    Deepak needs a physical kick in his metaphysical nuts.

  62. #64 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 2, 2010

    Bride of Shrek OM #55

    one of same said colleagues sincerely informing the other one that she was “feng shuing” her house this weekend

    She is going to change the orientation of her house? Is it on a turntable or have casters on all support beams?

  63. #65 Michelle B
    January 2, 2010

    Steve Novella wrapped this decade up with a summarizing post regarding the challenges confronting skeptics and rationalists over at Neurologica. Below is the excerpt dealing with Chopra’s specialty. I agree with Bride and Sastra, this stuff despite its fluff remains a serious threat to evidence-based medicine.

    Alternative Medicine

    This is a tough one. From one perspective the CAM movement has continued to gain ground over the last decade ? not so much in usage (the numbers are actually quite flat) but in mainstreaming their propaganda. They have convinced much of the public that natural is magically better. They have successfully smeared Big Pharma and mainstream medicine. They have continued their infiltration of academia and regulation.

    However, I also think they are coasting on the successes of the last decade. In the last ten years, if anything, I see more and more of a pushback against outlandish claims and the wild-west regulation that CAM advocates have been pushing for. The mainstrem media has caught on to the fact (unheard of in the 1990s) that CAM is often a SCAM.

    We are starting to see more and more books like Trick or Treatment. And the British Chiropractic Associate lawsuit against Simon Singh has united the skeptical movement and large portions of the scientific community against chiropractic. That was a big fail for the BCA (even though the suit is still ongoing) and if anything just showed them to be thugs who are trying to hide their dirty little secret that there is little to no evidence for many of their claims.

    Maybe the tide is turning ? but this is the time to increase our efforts to protect the integrity of science in medicine. Those who are attacking science as the basis of the standard of care in medicine (for whatever motivation) are going to fight back hard. And they have established a lot of groundwork. We still have our work cut out for us, and the outcome is far from determined.

  64. #66 thomas.c.galvin
    January 2, 2010

    And no one can find this consciousness. And the reason they can’t find consciousness is because they are looking in the wrong place.

    No, actually, the reason no one can find it is because consciousness is an abstract noun, not a tangible thing. Saying you can’t find consciousness is like saying you can’t find a bucket of stupidity. You know stupidity is real, because Depak is talking, but you can’t find the stupid and remove it for him.

  65. #67 sailor1031
    January 2, 2010

    …”Western science is still frozen in an obsolete, Newtonian worldview that is based literally on superstition — and we can call it the superstition of materialism”

    Where has this guy been? Newtonian worldview? Holy shit man, today it’s M theory and cyclic universes and everything is energy – matter is so… newtonian….

    This guy needs to get his act together else Lord Ramtha will be really pissed!!!

  66. #68 Kemist
    January 2, 2010

    @Bride of Shrek

    I know how you feel. A very close friend of mine is also into similar woo (doesn’t like Chopra but has another similar swami). And she should know better, being an actual scientist. The problem is that I don’t dare argue with her, since her health is not good, and this group is part, according to her, of what is helping go through it.

    But the problem is that it is me, and others of her friends who have to pick up the pieces when she gets bad news despite being repeatedly told that everything will be all right if she just thinks positive and eats no sugar. Then she becomes guilty as well as depressed, and guilty because she is depressed.

    I went along with it until I developped depression of my own, and she insisted that I was depressed only because I thought I was depressed. Turns out I had a thyroid problem. When I think about what I went through because of the delay in treatment, I still get angry, for me and all those others who were told that happy thoughts and vegetarian diet will get them out of their health problems.

    And yes, since I’ve come around on those things, and that I most emphatically won’t try any woo for my problems, that I’ve just accepted that I do have them, I’ve become the ‘close-minded’ one too.

  67. #69 politas
    January 2, 2010

    I’d like to see Deepak “manifest” his own food for a month.

  68. #70 Tim H
    January 2, 2010

    Sounds like he plagiarized that from the Atreides Manifesto. Dar’s gonna be pissed.

  69. #71 Kemist
    January 2, 2010

    @politas

    Don’t say that!

    A lot of these gurus like to pretend they need not eat or sleep with sufficient meditation.

    Of course it’s a lie. But when you’re all hyped up in group meditation, sleep and food deprivation helps with feeling all spiritual.

  70. #72 B166ER
    January 2, 2010

    I have to thoroughly agree with Sastra @ 12

    I have friends who are not unintelligent who have bought hook, line, and sinker into this new age bullshit. People who I used to have engaging, intellectually stimulating conversations are now trying to tell me that certain crystals heal ailments LIKE FRAKKEN CANCER by being placed on the different body “chakras”, or that apple cider vinegar cures diabetes. They know how I feel about science and because of a moving out party I had at my last house with both woo and skepticism alike in attendance, i haven’t seen those people for months. “Best of all”, one person told my friend that has had diabetes all his life that vinegar tripe and it almost broke out into a woo vs. science physical battle royale. Because of the loss of my ex-girlfriend of 2 years and other friends over the new age woo, i have a very hard time seeing anything funny about it. My ex and I broke up entirely because of the differences in our perceptions of the world. I see the world through the correcting lenses of evidence, and she sees a world where everything is just an opinion and all opinions are as equally valid. I love them all and miss them fiercely, yet I don’t see a way to reconcile our differences to the point of bringing back the fun and interesting times we shared. I really miss them but because of my love affair with science and skepticism, I don’t think I’ll be seeing them anymore… fuck you, Deepak Chopra and all you other woo meisters. Fuck you for infecting the brains of reasonable and intelligent people and driving them away from those people who live in reality that love them… Unifying theory my ass…

    No Gods, No Masters
    Cameron

  71. #73 RockyHarper
    January 2, 2010

    I recommend that Chopra read Carl Sagan’s Pulitzer prize winning book “The Dragons of Eden”.

  72. #74 bje
    January 2, 2010

    Having made quite a living off the gullible, at least Deepak is, for once, speaking to the correct audience. Nonsense meets nonsense, the essential “non-stuff” of the universe.

  73. #75 raven
    January 2, 2010

    I have friends who are not unintelligent who have bought hook, line, and sinker into this new age bullshit.

    So do I. Try living on the west coast without them.

    They mostly amuse me and it isn’t worth worrying about most of the time. Many of them move from belief to belief on a frequent basis. Most of them don’t take it too seriously.

    One friend claims to be a shaman healer. It didn’t stop her from going ballistic when someone was diagnosed with breast cancer and went alternative. It also didn’t do any good. The patient had a greater than 90% prognosis for a cure (early stage), 18 months later she was dead at age 34.

  74. #76 IaMoL
    January 2, 2010

    fuck you, Deepak Chopra and all you other woo meisters. Fuck you for infecting the brains of reasonable and intelligent people and driving them away from those people who live in reality that love them…

    The ultimate responsibility rests on the heads of those supposed reasonable and intelligent people. Blaming a seducer for acquiring an STD is no excuse – the culpability lies equally with the dupe who gives in, whether panting “yes, yes, ohhh yes!” or “whatever… just pull my pajamas up when you’re through.”

  75. #77 A. Noyd
    January 2, 2010

    B166ER (#72)

    she sees a world where everything is just an opinion and all opinions are as equally valid.

    Apparently the opinion that all opinions are equally valid is more equally valid than all other opinions.

  76. #78 Cheesis K
    January 2, 2010

    Chopra is giving a bad name to Platonism and relativity and certain other physical thinking that is not so far off from some of what he says.

    For example, I for one also believe that the past present and future all exist on an equal footing. In relativity there is of course no unique entity that can be identified as the present. The past and future of one observer may be in the present of another.

    But, as has been observerd upthread, he then goes off the deep end. I guess he doesn’t really understand what he’s talking about, even when he sometimes gets a little bit right.

  77. #79 Kel, OM
    January 2, 2010

    Blaming a seducer for acquiring an STD is no excuse – the culpability lies equally with the dupe who gives in, whether panting “yes, yes, ohhh yes!” or “whatever… just pull my pajamas up when you’re through.”

    This ultimate personal responsibility is pretty unrealistic though, isn’t it? It seems to neglect the interrelationships and strong social presence we all have, and the role of social interaction and trust that is a strong part of our actions. It’s abusing trust, and even if we want to write off every person who bought his books as a credulous moron, it still doesn’t make Deepak Chopra any less culpable for the nonsense he spews out.

  78. #80 Sioux Laris
    January 2, 2010

    Eventually – and certainly, should the confluence of evil cosmic woo bring us a President Palin – DC will be brought on stage to describe the wonders of waterboarding and every other Konservative value.

    Someone referring to DC without turning aside to vomit is as sure a sign of my need to excuse myself forthwith as someone wearing a red t-shirt with “Burn this flag!” and Teabagger necklace.

    To paraphrase the Simpsons: He’s stupid, but he’ll die. So I’m happy.

  79. #81 B166ER
    January 2, 2010

    @ raven #75

    Yeah, I know all about living on the west (kook) coast. i live in Everett, WA (about 15 or so miles north of Seattle) so this whole area is infested with the woo heads.

    @ IaMoL #76

    I understand your point, but I can’t help but put a little more responsibility on the shoulders of the Charlatans spewing the nonsense then the people wanting to feel like they have a greater understanding of the universe and reality. I don’t take all responsibility from them to make their own actions, but I can’t help but think of where many of these people would be without all these Elmer Gantry’s running around.

    No Gods, No Masters
    Cameron

  80. #82 Petzl
    January 2, 2010

    Check out Deepak’s superhero cape in the
    “Indian Astrology Conference” link.

    I dont get how he can be so critical of
    empiricism and science which has actual
    evidence (albeit evidence that resides in this
    material world of which hes so very skeptical),
    yet astrology provides NO evidence. Its just old.

    When he breaks his leg, does he go to a hospital,
    or does he have a shaman pray over it with a
    monkey’s paw?

  81. #83 truthspeaker
    January 2, 2010

    I don’t take all responsibility from them to make their own actions, but I can’t help but think of where many of these people would be without all these Elmer Gantry’s running around.

    But try turning that around – where would the Elmer Gantrys of the world be if nobody listened to them? Certainly I blame Chopra for spewing lies and nonsense, but if everybody ignored him, he wouldn’t be able to make a living at it.

  82. #84 IaMoL
    January 2, 2010

    Hence my statement

    – the culpability lies equally with the dupe who gives in…

    Fuck, try to be humorous…

  83. #85 IaMoL
    January 2, 2010

    The defensiveness is telling.

    We defend our family and friends as intelligent even though that vague descriptor applies to all humans short of a vegetative state. Define “intelligent”. Isn’t a modifier such as mostly or usually more apt when describing those that buy into Deep woo? Does that undefined line of what constitutes smartnes, prudence or intelligence lie past the critical thing skills of understanding logical fallacies and pseudo-refutations? We are all guilty of the Lake Wobegone effect at sometime or another but really…

    Does no one remember the old warning which separates the suckers from the prudent? Caveat Emptor
    (NBTBS)

  84. #86 John Morales
    January 2, 2010

    Bride of Shrek,

    I work with two people who are certainly not unintelligent people and I have to listen to them spouting their “Deepakisms” (their ridiculous term, nit mine) every goddam day.

    I suggest you retaliate by always using Orac’s wonderful term: Choprawoo. :)

  85. #87 Mobius
    January 2, 2010

    Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do.

    Well, I have to say that this is a true statement, just not true in the way Deepak means. They influence in the same way…which is not at all (unless one count supersticious dread).

  86. #88 rtwomey
    January 2, 2010

    Can someone come up with a definition of “Deepak” or “Chopra” along the lines of “Santorum”?

  87. #89 John Morales
    January 2, 2010

    Um, the Sun is a star.

    </pedant>

  88. #90 Sven DiMilo
    January 2, 2010

    The essential nature of the material world is not material; the essential nature of the physical world is not physical; the essential stuff of the universe is non-stuff.

    Indeed. The essential nature of all that non-stuff is “essence.” I don’t see how this can be argued with.

    Sounds like he’s taken too much LSD.

    Speaking as someone who has taken too much LSD, I resent that.

    Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do.

    OK, ready? Here’s one of my favorite quotes from any scientific paper ever:

    Lizards generally are very abundant diurnal vertebrates in the ecosystems they inhabit…Also, they are good subjects for ethological studies…and are an important link in trophic webs….Such are the characteristics of the widely distributed North American lizard: Uta stansburiana.
    In spite of the ecological importance of U. stansburiana there does not exist any previous reference concerning its behavior during a total solar eclipse.

    source

  89. #91 pcarini
    January 3, 2010

    In spite of the ecological importance of U. stansburiana there does not exist any previous reference concerning its behavior during a …

    … Captain Kangaroo rerun
    … zombie apocalypse
    … Rolling Stones concert
    … luxury sea cruise
    … bank robbery
    … championship air-guitar match
    … Indian astrology conference
    … etc. etc. etc.

    (All snark aside, I am sort of curious now)

  90. #92 dae
    January 3, 2010

    Chopra is a charlatan, no doubt about it. He’s one of the “quantum” freaks who think that the Heisenberg principle can be applied to the macroscopic world, allowing for all sorts of metaphysical phenomena. He can ensnare otherwise thoughtful people however when the discourse turns to the question of consciousness. Materialists realize that consciousness is a metaphenomenum of the material organization of the brain. But thought and perception while having an obvious physical basis do transcend their physical bounds. No one to my knowledge as been able to fully understand or articulate the true nature of perception beyond the reductionist appeal to stimulus and response. Does a jellyfish see or just react to the presence or absence of light? The unresolved nature of perception (does the sensation of ‘red’ have a material aspect beyond the wavelength of the spectrum that it represents, what about smells, etc.) and consciousness are fodder for the likes of Chopra and other idealists.

  91. #93 DLC
    January 3, 2010

    I remember seeing this cretin the first time he appeared on Larry King Live.
    King’s bland acceptance of Chopra’s inane, vacuous crap caused me to lose what little respect I had for Larry King as an interviewer.

  92. #94 arensb
    January 3, 2010
    Eclipses do influence people’s lives just the way stars do.

    Well this, at least, is totally accurate. Though not for the reasons the astrologers think.

    Let’s see: they’re fascinating phenomena, Phil Plait has written about both, and they’re good excuses to meet people from the astronomy club on the university mall.

    Yeah, that works for me.

  93. #95 Mojo
    January 3, 2010

    Deepak wrote:

    Western science is still frozen in an obsolete, Newtonian worldview that is based literally on superstition — and we can call it the superstition of materialism — which says you and I are physical entities of the physical universe.”

    I think he got this from the first paragraph of Alan Sokal’s celebrated essay: Transgressing the boundaries: towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity. Social Text 46/47 (Spring/Summer 1996), pp. 217-52.

  94. #96 phoenixwoman
    January 3, 2010

    Every cell instantly knows what is happening in every other cell, in fact, in the whole universe.

    Poor John Stewart Bell. Well, at least the nutters waited until he was dead to start abusing his work.

  95. #97 Cheeses K
    January 3, 2010

    It’s easy to disbelieve Deepak Chopra.

    There are some of us though who think the whole idea of quantum entanglement (and so forth) is erroneous. See, e.g., http://arxiv.org/abs/0904.4259

    Also see progress towards a theory of the microscopic that is not fundamentally quantum-mechanical: http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0511179

    (It’s based only on proper relativistic dynamics, where propagation delay is not ignored at the microscopic level. Also, proper relativistic dtnamics treats reatrded and advanced propagation on an equal footing (i.e., Wheeler-Feqynman ED – http://arxiv.org/abs/0901.1077)

  96. #98 Anonypack
    January 3, 2010

    I shook hands with him once and collected a DNA sample from his sweaty little grabber. We now have a line of Chopra stem cells in the lab…. We will soon be selling petri dishes with Chopra cell lines, along with a BernzOmatic? mini torch for fun Deepak.

  97. #99 Iain Walker
    January 3, 2010

    Deepak Chopra needs to get in the fucking sack.

  98. #100 Ajita
    January 3, 2010

    We have a rule among Indian rationalists. Anytime an Indian utters the words “Western Science” its either time to ignore them or to laugh hysterically.

    If Chopra thinks that materialism is a western concept, he knows as little about India as he does about science. Materialism in ancient India (Carvaka) almost certainly predated materialism in ancient Greece (Leucippus) .

  99. #101 Rincewind'smuse
    January 3, 2010

    @ 93,

    King’s bland acceptance of Chopra’s inane, vacuous crap caused me to lose what little respect I had for Larry King as an interviewer.

    I’ve now seen both Deepcrap and Jennie McCarthy on Larry King;don’t get me started…@ 100,I think he would argue that spirituality is more developed in the “nonwestern lifeview” and materialism is the prevailing mindset in “western science”; still bullshit terminology and inaccurate( is it really “western” science? If I was a scientist in a non western country I’d be offended.) but slick enough to get by the gullible willing to put up the cash to listen.

  100. #102 eviltwit
    January 3, 2010

    My mother, in a desperate attempt to get me away from my non-belief, sent me this DVD by Deepak entitled, “Knowing God is Knowing Yourself” (based on his best-selling book). (My ethnicity is Indian, btw. My family is very Catholic.) One the phone, she said, “Watch it, it has some space and science information in it. You’d like”. I almost didn’t, but then got curious as to what kind of “conversion” crap she’d sent me. And, I have to say, it was definitely crap of the highest order. I just sat there watching it with this “Whaaat??” thought in my head the whole time. I almost burned the thing afterwords. I can’t believe people buy this stuff. It’s such a bunch of frou-frou, new-age-y BS. But, I do find it hysterical (and sad) that my mother is still trying to “bring me back to the fold” as I’m hurtling towards 40. I guess that will never end, though.

  101. #103 ancientbrit
    January 4, 2010

    In one respect, Chopra might be right – but only accidentally.

    If dark matter and dark energy turn out to be real (and they’re looking promising), then (as I understand it) the stuff of which we are made constitutes only about 5% of the universe.

    So, if by “non-stuff” he means regular matter then yes, most of the universe is made of non-stuff.

    But I really don’t think he’s that well-informed…

  102. #104 ancientbrit
    January 4, 2010

    Shoot – not only do I have to contend with the vagaries of trying to sign in using badly coded pages (not PZ’s fault) AND have to wait ages for javascript that seems badly-written too (also not PZ’s fault), I can’t edit my one measly post to change the first “non-stuff” to “stuff” so that it makes any kind of sense. Aaaaaaaagh!

  103. #105 B166ER
    January 4, 2010

    @Iain Walker #99

    I second that! Even with the others, I really wouldn’t mind who got the worst of it! XD

    No Gods, No Masters
    Cameron

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