Pharyngula

A quick question for Deepak Chopra

Chopra has another mindless post on the HuffPo, titled Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World. I read the whole thing. He’s got some fuzzy definitions, praises god-consciousness, gushes about love, joy, kindness, peace, etc., but overall, it’s the usual vacuous fluff. I am left with one question in reference to the bold assertion in his title.

How?

Just to name a few problems of the world: overpopulation, famine, resource depletion, water scarcity, war, and disease. Deepak Chopra, quick, 30 seconds: how will you solve any one of those problems with spirituality?

Bzzzt, time’s up. OK, clearly you can’t answer questions with that kind of scope. Let’s narrow it down a bit: the aftermath of the Chilean earthquake. How will you fix infrastructure problems with spirituality? 30 seconds.

Oh, man, you suck at this game. We’ll simplify some more. A woman comes into your office looking for medical help. She has breast cancer. In 30 seconds, tell us what spiritual advice you would give her that would actually help her with this disease?

Bzzzt. Oh, so sorry, you’ve been skunked. Better luck next … wait. The judges have made a decision. Really? You’re going to give it to him?

The judges have decided that the correct answer for each of those questions was “No, spirituality can’t fix any of those problems” and that your stupefied silence counts as a legitimate response. You lucky dog, you win the grand prize! We’re going to give you a shovel, a hammer, a bag of antibiotics and vaccines, and airdrop you into a remote African village where you can use your “spirituality” to solve a few problems. Congratulations!

Comments

  1. #1 Maslab
    March 2, 2010

    Why is it that whenever I read a post like this while enjoying a delicious beverage my screen suddenly has a need for a quick cleaning?

  2. #2 FrankT
    March 2, 2010

    What about the problem of nothing to write about today? Surely spirituality can help us with that?

  3. #3 Glen Davidson
    March 2, 2010

    Cause, uh, people will think so much nicer, love each other, and be open to The Truth, and everyone will praise Deepak. That’s how.

    Or maybe the idea is that if the masses have enough opiate, well, they’ll think everything’s wonderful. Then, even if we all die, we’ll die with smiles on our faces.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  4. #4 vanharris
    March 2, 2010

    But PZ, you’re missing the point. I heard BBC Radio 4′s ‘Thought for the Day’ this morning. The religious doctor (of what we aren’t told) told the nation that a young man who was murdered while performing an heroic act, behaved as he did because of the teachings of his religion. That he learned his morality which he then applied to a situation where he did not have time to analyze it, but reacted instantly. And so it goes.

    I despair of these faith-head eejits.

  5. #5 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 2, 2010

    If only people would have deep thoughts about water and fertilizer, farms will have higher crop yields. And if people would would find their spiritual roots with all organisms, we can live in harmony with parasites and end illnesses. If only we can come to an understanding with our cancers, we can co-exist with each other.

  6. #6 https://me.yahoo.com/a/OJCYPJd5hOso5i6YDH2QAWLl7KD0VHDg#f8ecc
    March 2, 2010

    So have you posted this (or a shortened version of this) at Huffpo where he might actually see it?

  7. #7 Draken
    March 2, 2010

    I thought for a second the lay had gone fcked, but it was Deepak Chopra pondering in the whitespace. How apposite.

  8. #8 scribe999
    March 2, 2010

    Maybe he thinks that the Care Bears really exist. Hug your problems away, or use the Care Bear stare.

    Between British politicians endorsing rape and U.S. politicians using unemployment insurance as a hostage, “spirituality” is the last thing on my mind.

  9. #9 CalGeorge
    March 2, 2010

    You are sooooo wrong, PZ. If we all think really nice cosmic thoughts then we can forget about war, disease, earthquakes, etc. Problems “solved.” What’s for lunch?

  10. #10 Dyolf Knip
    March 2, 2010

    Right up there with “In God We Trust”. To do what? Make the sun rise and the rains fall, to ensure bountiful harvests? Not even creationists are that thick. To heal the sick and injured? Why bother with doctors then? To protect us from accidents and enemies both within and without? Gosh, I guess we can dispense with all cops, fire fighters, law enforcement, and soldiers. To ensure representative and proper behavior from our leaders? Then we wouldn’t need elections and open government, now would we?

    What, exactly, is it we as a country are trusting in this god character to do for us?

  11. #11 martha
    March 2, 2010

    The claim is simple: The world can be physically changed through the magic powers of meditation.

  12. #12 Randomfactor
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality.

    Anyone else want to take a crack at this? I always want to ask those who say they’re “spiritual, but not religious,” what the hell that means.

    To me it means “I’m afraid to come out as an atheist.”

  13. #13 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    That seems about right.. I certainly experience my universality whilst taking a dump a every morning, right after coffee.

  14. #14 RickR
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality.

    Is somebody getting paid by the word? There’s some redundancy here. Let’s see if I can whittle it down a bit…

    Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality.

    Nope. Still a crock of shit.

  15. #15 Paul
    March 2, 2010

    Anyone else want to take a crack at this? I always want to ask those who say they’re “spiritual, but not religious,” what the hell that means.

    I come from a Christian background, and plenty of Christians would say that. It doesn’t mean they have atheist leanings necessarily, but it’s a way to say they believe in God (emphasizing a personal relationship, very common in modern Christianity) but are not big on organized religion. It tends to essentially be a way to hold on to their religion, but disavow any evil done in the name of said religion. Because it’s not relevant to them, all they care about is their personal relationship with God. They’re not connected to those people who do bad things in the name of God.

    I don’t doubt there are other ways “spiritual, but not religious” is used, but I saw that one a lot.

  16. #16 MosesZD
    March 2, 2010

    Catholic Charities has just changed its employee benefit policies to avoid insuring homosexual spouses. The sad part is that NO new employees can get health insurance for their spouses. All for fear (and hate) that some gay person might, in some way, get a benefit from the Catholic religion…

    I don’t know how people can continue to defend the Catholic Church. Those creeps will engage in a world-wide conspiracy to protect pedophiles, but won’t give health insurance to a gay spouse…

  17. #17 fester60613
    March 2, 2010

    Just more spiritual ejaculation from a follower of a god who is too witless, weak, disinterested, evil or retarded to do anything. Anything at all.

  18. #18 mumonjmk
    March 2, 2010

    Although is about Buddhism from the Zen point of view, I too, abjure the term “spirituality.” It tends to mean nonsense.

    To answer your questions, though, a practice can help with the above problems simply by being a reminder to pay attention, dammit.

    Chopra’s an embarrassment to folks like me, who don’t go in for the “woo” stuff, but see the benefit of a discipline.

  19. #19 Blondin
    March 2, 2010

    We’re going to give you a shovel, a hammer, a bag of antibiotics and vaccines, and airdrop you into a remote African village where you can use your “spirituality” to solve a few problems.

    Don’t forget to give him a supply of homeopathic malaria remedy.

  20. #20 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    “a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect, and ego” means it resides in our reptilian complex?

  21. #21 Die Anyway
    March 2, 2010

    PZ, your snark becomes you. (ie. I loved it. As usual.)

    And yet Chopra rolls in dough while I wallow in poverty. Intelligent, rational poverty, but poverty none-the-less.

    Eat well, stay fit, Die Anyway.

  22. #22 salon_1928
    March 2, 2010

    I saw recently that this wind-bag (Chopra) is coming to my hometown of Calgary. I?m always stupefied by people who eat hit crap up and gleefully pay for it!

  23. #23 segfaultvicta
    March 2, 2010

    @12 – That’s basically the sense in which I used the term before I did wind up coming out as atheist. I had a lot of fuzzy thinking that I had to work through, but I had always been in the ‘Spinozan pantheist’ camp – The God Delusion convinced me rather adequately that Spinozan pantheism was, as far as Dawkins was concerned, isomorphic to atheism, and that realisation made it much easier for me to work through a lot of the fuzzy thinking that remained.

    In a way I still consider myself a Spinozan pantheist, and I can sort of understand why someone would refer to that as a spiritual or religious feeling. A lot of what accomodationists and fuzzy theists get hung up on is a sort of feeling of awe at Nature, or the ‘pale blue dot’ feeling Sagan is good at invoking, or they have a really good trip, and because they only know religious memes for processing that sort of thing, they call it a spiritual experience, incorrectly bringing the supernatural into the mix.

    They then almost invariably proceed to bring more and more and more supernaturalism in once they’ve opened the door, and then you get some variety or another of magical thinking. I’ve been there, but I no longer understand why I seriously entertained these thoughts, and rather wish I’d kept a journal.

  24. #24 martha
    March 2, 2010

    Randomfactor (#12), I can take a crack at it from Chopra’s point of view.

    I think Chopra views religion narrowly, as a set of rules and practices for the followers. In contrast, he views spirituality as the foundation on which religion should be built. So, if you buy into Chopra’s view, you can be any religion and your religion will become stronger with a foundation of spirituality. And the basis of that foundation is “deeper” levels of consciousness, which you reach through meditation. Reaching the absolute and all. Very Hindu. Or Hindu lite.

    That is the theory anyway.

    The problem is that Chopra defines religion too narrowly. His belief system, mostly involving meditation and theories regarding consciousness is essentially religious. The dictionary definition of religion includes: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

    To take it further, he believes you can be an atheist and follow his spiritual advice. This defines atheism narrowly, as one who simply does not believe in God. If you believe in the Absolute, in the powers of consciousness, that is not believing in God in his view.

    Talking about this reminds me of the Pete Seeger song, where he talks about little boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same. It all is the same. Something bigger, something more, something in control, some magic.

  25. #25 https://me.yahoo.com/a/WBCXGoQqscQFMpp4WiEB3k6971jq_wQ5nA--#975ee
    March 2, 2010

    HIlarious! I’m glad I wasn’t drinking any coffee!

  26. #26 Nnoel
    March 2, 2010

    I dont have time for many exchanges on here, first post! but I would like to say a few things…

    First, you can’t view subjective speculations in an objective way, if people are talking about meditation, they have to DO the twenty or so years of the stuff before they are in a position to judge (bit of a strong claim, but you get my point).

    Second, Deepak is suggesting that if everyone is super nice and wonderfully spiritual that we wouldn’t have any problems in the world… hmm, what a FAR FETCHED claim!

    This is a science blog, and if religion encroaches on science by claiming it’s holy books know more, then please voice an opinion, but I’d like to know what evidence can be shown against the position that if EVERYONE was honest and helpful that the world’s problems wouldn’t be solved!?

    I can provide evidence for how things would be solved.. 1. Police force would not be needed, if no crime happened, then police would be free to do other stuff, not to mention the cost of crime besides the police, a stabbing uses hospitals and ambulances and prisons and judges and lawyers, etc, etc.

  27. #27 Nnoel
    March 2, 2010

    Lol, I’m not (as much of ) a crazy person as I sound, I promise, it’s hypothetical to say EVERYONE, but you have to agree a world without the need for police would be a wonderful place!

    I also think Deepak’s view of religion is not one he would force on others, he may try to convince you, but if he is half the person I think he should be, he should never insist ‘his is the only way’.

    If everyone helped others more than they helped themselves, alot of the worlds problems may just fade away, I believe anyway.

  28. #28 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    yeah! lets make everybody honest and helpfull with our magic meditations..

  29. #29 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    “If everyone helped others more than they helped themselves” ever heard of game theory?

  30. #30 Caine
    March 2, 2010

    Shorter Chopra:

    “Spirituality will give you the warm fuzzies while you starve to death in filthy conditions.” Bleargh.

  31. #31 mikeinmaine
    March 2, 2010

    The huff post banned me after making unkind observations about Deecrap Coprolite.

    What a bunghole that site is.

  32. #32 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    See! The warm feciezz! Right after coffee..

  33. #33 Randomfactor
    March 2, 2010

    Second, Deepak is suggesting that if everyone is super nice and wonderfully spiritual that we wouldn’t have any problems in the world… hmm, what a FAR FETCHED claim!

    Yes, it is.

    The Universe is out to get me. It’s nothing personal, but any of a million random events could kill me before sundown.

    If everyone in Haiti and Chile were super nice, they’d still have had an earthquake.

  34. #34 broboxley
    March 2, 2010

    #26 Nnoel and I would be king of everything if that did in fact take place, cant happen with humans at any rate

  35. #35 v.rosenzweig
    March 2, 2010

    Nnoel,

    You’re reasoning from your conclusion. You would need to demonstrate that spirituality would produce honesty and helpfulness. Given the last few thousand years of human history, in which religious people have started wars, pillaged cities, slaughtered prisoners, raped women, and defended slavery on religious grounds, I doubt you can do it.

    I don’t see many self-proclaimed spiritual people living an abstemious life so they can give more to those who genuinely need it. If spirituality made people that helpful, I’d expect Chopra to take most of those millions he gets from book sales and appearances, and donate it to Habitat for Humanity or Medecines sans Frontieres or the like.

    Also, honesty and helpfulness wouldn’t solve everything.

    Yes, if everyone were honest, we would have fewer problems. And probably some different ones: no need for a detective if you’re in a monogamous relationship and think your partner is cheating, but would you really benefit from having coworkers or random relatives say every unkind thing they think about you?

    Everyone being helpful would also be a net win, I think–though, again, I know enough people who would like J. Random Stranger not to try to “help” by telling them something he’s sure will fix their medical problems, advice often of the “it’s your fault for not praying/eating right/living like me” sort.

    That’s even before we think about the person who is driven by helpfulness or loyalty to assist a relative or neighbor in a bank robbery, or cover up a murder on the grounds that it’s too late to do anything for the dead person, and he shouldn’t hurt his brother/uncle/mother/teacher/etc.

    But even if the bad side of that somehow magically didn’t happen, you still won’t have solved all the world’s problems: malaria, HIV/AIDS, and earthquakes are examples of things where yes, human cooperation could improve things, but it wouldn’t solve them. (Yes, in a genuinely helpful world–one in which we didn’t build ourselves McMansions or vacation homes while people in Port-au-Prince and Istanbul live in buildings that won’t survive the next quake, or as long as anyone is homeless–fewer people would die in quakes. But there would still be earthquakes.)

  36. #36 martha
    March 2, 2010

    #26, Chopra expresses a desire to be ecumenical. But he really still is just pushing his own beliefs. His beliefs about consciousness. His belief that science somehow support his beliefs. A wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  37. #37 daveau
    March 2, 2010

    Nnoel

    …but I’d like to know what evidence can be shown against the position that if EVERYONE was honest and helpful that the world’s problems wouldn’t be solved!?

    But why do we need spirituality to accomplish that? Why can’t it just be practicality or something else real?

  38. #38 Nnoel
    March 2, 2010

    @RijkswaanVijanD lets MAKE everyone nothing, everyone should decide for themselves. Also, does game theory include a scenarios where some people work for themselves and some people for everyone else? because unfortunately i think in a world where you help others at your expense, anyone not ‘playing along’ would make the whole system collapse.

    Everyone ‘helping others’ may not be entirely tenable for the entire population, but I’d like to see the evidence that ‘smaller groups’ (called teams) should NOT work together to get the best result. lol.

  39. #39 Jon A
    March 2, 2010

    All this guff about consciousness being the soul. So does a person with reduced consciousness only have half a soul. And does the soul leave when a person has a general anaesthetic or suffers from a brain injury? I think Deepak Chopra should receive a special award for talking complete nonsense.

  40. #40 Antiochus Epiphanes
    March 2, 2010

    but I’d like to know what evidence can be shown against the position that if EVERYONE was honest and helpful that the world’s problems wouldn’t be solved!?

    The world’s problems don’t all arise from dishonesty and selfishness. If everyone were honest and helpful, diseases would still exist, there would still be conflict between the needs humans have for food and water and our need to preserve biodiversity, we would still need to find ways to obtain energy more efficiently, we would still need to solve conflicts concerning humane animal use, blah, blah, blah.

    Also, the argument that “spirituality” promotes honesty and kindness is taken as a given. I would challenge that notion. Further, “spirituality” provides no cure for ignorance, a serious problem.

    Promoting knowledge and rationality would be much more effective at solving the problems of the world than honesty and kindness.

  41. #41 Nnoel
    March 2, 2010

    @daveau I think in many people’s view, being ‘spiritual’ could be loosely defined as ‘adhering to the hidden rules that govern all’, or at least a sophisticated view of spirituality might be (some leeway on this please) , and in that sense what you suggest is natural spirituality, define the movement of the apple however you like, it’s still gravity.

  42. #42 Copyleft
    March 2, 2010

    All Chopra does is substitute the word “consciousness” for “god.” Otherwise, he’s the same as every other pulpit-pounding preacher… all hype, no substance.

  43. #43 Sastra
    March 2, 2010

    Chopra writes:

    Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality. This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect, and ego. In religious traditions this core consciousness is referred to as the soul which is part of a collective soul or collective consciousness, which in turn is part of a more universal domain of consciousness referred to in religions as God.

    During meditation, and under other forms of stress or drugs, the primitive part of the brain that helps distinguish self from not-self can be shut down or distorted, leading to a sense that “everything is one.” There is no ego, there is no separate world; what is experienced is an awe-inspiring sensation which is completely relaxed, and without the ability to judge or analyze, simply accept.

    It (apparently) feels wonderful — and it can inspire and motivate people to see others as like themselves, and become better people — but it’s not really a profound fact that’s been discovered about the cosmos, or consciousness being universal, or whatever. It’s a fact about the human mind, and how it constructs its sense of reality.

    Chopra is accepting the superficial interpretation as indisputable. If it feels “as if,” then that’s what’s really TRUE. No, it’s more complicated than that. And no, you don’t get to insist that the person who has the experience is the best judge of what the experience means. They’re actually too biased to make an objective assessment.

    When we have even a partial glimpse of this level of awareness we experience joy, insight, intuition, creativity, and freedom of choice. In addition, there is the awakening of love, kindness, compassion, happiness at the success of others, and equanimity.

    This is his big fat solution to problems.

    Just to name a few problems of the world: overpopulation, famine, resource depletion, water scarcity, war, and disease. Deepak Chopra, quick, 30 seconds: how will you solve any one of those problems with spirituality?

    Your problems are solved when you stop caring about what happens to you, because you’re so selfless and secure that one situation is pretty much like any other situation. It’s all good.

    Some mystically-inclined friends of mine were once waxing eloquent on the benefits of this Chopra-style spiritual enlightenment, and I said that it sounded a lot like the last stages of Alzheimer’s: no self, no separation, no intellectual analysis — just pure, raw experience and a sense of being completely in the moment, and the moment was good. They actually laughed and agreed.

    I was tempted to go on and ask them if they thought lobotomies would be equally desirable (given that they were done by a suitable all-natural shaman, of course), but I let the opportunity pass.

  44. #44 martha
    March 2, 2010

    Nnoel, what hidden rules? Laws of nature, like gravity, magnetism?

  45. #45 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    lol is appropriate
    Teams do team up to get best results, usually at the expence of other teams.. Doesn’t sound like an improvement of any kind to me.

  46. #46 Rubio
    March 2, 2010

    Facebook isn’t letting me post a link to this article on my feed because:

    “Some content in this message has been reported as abusive by Facebook users.”

  47. #47 Nnoel
    March 2, 2010

    @Antiochus Epiphanes yes disease would still occur, but no one would steal the medicine or overcharge the patient or not stop to help because they gonna miss their favourite tv program. Conflict would NOT exist, in my picture of things anyway, but I cant convince you of that. And yes, education and good reason is important, maybe we can make the redundant police into ‘teachers of reason’ instead.

    Anyway, this was fun, but I’m going home, it’s 5:30!

  48. #48 martha
    March 2, 2010

    I don’t want honesty. My feelings would be hurt if my husband said my butt looks big in these jeans. Even if it does.

  49. #49 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 2, 2010

    Nnoel seems to imply hidden rules of morality, which of course has nothing at all to do with spirituality.. But them fools do love to suggest it does

  50. #50 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    I have to say PZ that this post left me feeling a bit icky because it used the same infuriating tactic that the religious often use against us – that is to strawman the other side by portraying them as not having an answer by pretending there is only silence in reply when in reality the person wasn’t there to answer and never had the chance to even try to answer. (Compare this to, for example, creationists pretending scientists have no responses to questions like “how did the eye evolve”, when in fact if they were in the room at the time they would have responses, and good ones too.)

    We’ve been on the receiving end of that silly rhetorical tactic enough times that it feels wrong to be using it ourselves. Putting silence in your opponents mouth is a strawman just as much as putting words in his mouth.

  51. #51 Caine
    March 2, 2010

    @ 41:

    ‘adhering to the hidden rules that govern all’

    Uh huh. What hidden rules?

  52. #52 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    We’ve been on the receiving end of that silly rhetorical tactic enough times that it feels wrong to be using it ourselves. Putting silence in your opponents mouth is a strawman just as much as putting words in his mouth.

    The only problem with this argument is that it is wrong, unless you have examples of Chopra explaining how spirituality would deal with the things PZ mentions.

  53. #53 Moggie
    March 2, 2010

    Only spirituality can solve the problems of the world? Great! When can they start? We’ve had “spirituality” since, well, basically forever, so it seems to me that spiritual people must be slacking on the job. Meanwhile, we’ve had respectable science and medicine for a much shorter period, and they have a better track record of problem-solving. I don’t have to worry about smallpox, I have a much higher life expectancy than my ancestors, I still have all my own teeth etc etc. None of this was achieved through “spirituality”.

  54. #54 daveau
    March 2, 2010

    Nnoel@41-

    I knew I’d get myself in trouble for indulging your Utopian premise. Gravity is real. It can be measured. It can be demonstrated. Spirituality cannot. It is imaginary. It is superstition. It does not act upon the world.

  55. #55 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    I should clarify the above post by saying that if Deepak had a chance to reply to those questions I think his responses would be vacuous meaningless word salad, given his past history of speeches. I don’t believe he does have a good reply. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s only fair to give him that chance to make the attempt. In reality he would not be silent. He would have a reply. A stupid reply, yes, but still a reply.

  56. #56 Nineveh
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is easy. You can kind of make it up as you go along.

    Math is hard. :(

  57. #57 PZ Myers
    March 2, 2010

    There’s a link to Chopra’s post right up there. Go ahead and read it. He chose to title his article “Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World,” and look closely: not one word on how it will do so.

  58. #58 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Nnoel | March 2, 2010 11:59 AM

    , but I’d like to know what evidence can be shown against the position that if EVERYONE was honest and helpful that the world’s problems wouldn’t be solved!?

    I can provide evidence for how things would be solved.. 1. Police force would not be needed, if no crime happened, then police would be free to do other stuff, not to mention the cost of crime besides the police, a stabbing uses hospitals and ambulances and prisons and judges and lawyers, etc, etc.

    It’s true that that would solve many problems, although not nearly all – we would still have natural disasters, diseases, and accidents. But that’s not Chopra’s claim. He claimed that if everyone was spiritual those problems would be solved. You claim that if people were honest and helpful those problems would be solved. Those are two completely different claims. One has nothing to do with the other.

  59. #59 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    I should clarify the above post by saying that if Deepak had a chance to reply to those questions I think his responses would be vacuous meaningless word salad, given his past history of speeches. I don’t believe he does have a good reply. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s only fair to give him that chance to make the attempt. In reality he would not be silent. He would have a reply. A stupid reply, yes, but still a reply.

    What do you mean give him a chance ?

    This is a criticism that has been levelled at the man for years. He has never once addressed it.

    How many more years do you require he be given ? How more books should he write before we are allowed to conclude he has no answer ?

  60. #60 martha
    March 2, 2010

    I think one thing people are missing about Chopra is his belief that people will be able to change the physical world through meditation. He originally was part of the transcendental meditation movement. The movement believes that if you have a group of certain size doing TM meditation and TM sutras the world will change. They even claim science backs this up, citing 40 plus “studies” in support of their claims that groups of meditators can reduce crime in an area. They even believe that they can effect the weather. The stock market. Anything.

    It is extremely narcissistic. It also leads to blaming the victim as they believe that people can achieve perfect health. If you become ill there is something wrong with you. Did you not live in an east facing house? Did you do your meditations regularly? Did you take all the supplements Dr. Chopra recommended for you?

  61. #61 Grant N
    March 2, 2010

    HaHaHaHaHaHa…. Good post PZ. Best LOL I’ve had today.

    But what?!
    It wasn’t quantum spitituality?
    Not the new and improved quantum spirituality?!
    Just the regular old drivel?… Oh… wait…
    I thought he was going to say quantum something or other right after this…

    As we begin to have a more scientific understanding of the transcendent level of our existence…

    Nope. No dubious quant, quanta, quantum or quantanium anything. How unexciting.

    BTW, he didn’t list any references to the papers about the scientific studies on transcendent existence. Or was he just getting confused with the existence of Transcendent.

  62. #62 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Matt Penfold Author Profile Page | March 2, 2010 12:37 PM

    We’ve been on the receiving end of that silly rhetorical tactic enough times that it feels wrong to be using it ourselves. Putting silence in your opponents mouth is a strawman just as much as putting words in his mouth.

    The only problem with this argument is that it is wrong, unless you have examples of Chopra explaining how spirituality would deal with the things PZ mentions.

    That would only be true if he was previously *asked* these questions. If he was not, then what I said still stands.

  63. #63 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    That would only be true if he was previously *asked* these questions. If he was not, then what I said still stands.

    Ok. Time for you to produce some evidence I think.

    Chopra has been seen stuff like this for years, and for years people have been asking how what he suggests will work.

    Please point us to towards his answers.

  64. #64 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Steven Mading | March 2, 2010 12:50 PM

    That would only be true if he was previously *asked* these questions. If he was not, then what I said still stands.

    Those questions follow from the assertions he is making. If someone claims spirituality can do something, but neglects to explain how it can or provide evidence that it can, then we can be confident he has no answer to offer.

  65. #65 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    That of course should “Chopra has been saying….”

    I would also point out that nowhere in the article does Chopra explain how. Kind of odd, since he must know people will ask. He might have been able to get away with saying the how is complicated and will be explained another day but no, there is total silence.

    Had this been Chopra’s first offence you might have point, but it is not. He has been doing it for years. He is well known for doing it. There comes a time when we can say enough is enough. If he has not answered by now he never will.

  66. #66 coughlanbrianm
    March 2, 2010

    There remains only one way to solve the worlds problems, or at the very least to mitigate them substantially. That is through agreed laws fairly applied.

    http://www.voteworldparliament.org.

  67. #67 Carlie
    March 2, 2010

    That would only be true if he was previously *asked* these questions. If he was not, then what I said still stands.

    How thick are you? He said that spirituality can solve the world’s problems. That is a claim that requires an explanation of how in order to be taken seriously at all. You’re saying it would be unfair for people to brush me off as nothing of consequence if I say something like “Only blue pigs can solve global warming” and don’t explain it. On the contrary, a claim like that requires an explanation of how it would work if one doesn’t want to be considered a flaming idiot.

  68. #68 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    There’s a link to Chopra’s post right up there. Go ahead and read it. He chose to title his article “Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World,” and look closely: not one word on how it will do so.

    Yes, PZ, a very true point, and I share your disgust at the habitual liar known as Deepak Chopra. But it does not detract at all from what I said. If you think it does, then you didn’t understand what I said. You tried to portray it as he he was stumped in response to questions you just asked of him. How is that any different from the tactic of, say, those faked video mashups a few years ago designed to make it look like Richard Dawkins was stumped trying to answer a question posed to him? Did you actually just ask those questions in a venue in which Deepak had a chance to reply? If not, then why portray it that way? We have the facts on our side. They don’t. Therefore we don’t NEED to resort to this sort of thing in our rhetoric, so we shouldn’t.

  69. #69 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is one of a handful of words that makes me reflexively want to put a deathgrip on my brains and wallet, since I expect illogical and incomprehensible woo to follow. And it usually does.

  70. #70 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    Mading,

    I can see your problem.

    You think the “questions” PZ posed where real questions that he wanted to see Chopra answer, rather than a rhetorical device intended to illustrate Chopra’s inability to offer anything substantive to say over years.

    Not sure how you made that mistake, since to me, and others it seems, the device was perfectly obvious. Still, neither we nor PZ are to blame for your failure in comprehension.

  71. #71 Sastra
    March 2, 2010

    truthspeaker #58 wrote:

    But that’s not Chopra’s claim. He claimed that if everyone was spiritual those problems would be solved. You claim that if people were honest and helpful those problems would be solved. Those are two completely different claims. One has nothing to do with the other.

    This is Chopra’s genius, an extension of the genius that is Marketing Spirituality. He’s trying to blur the distinction, and appropriate all the positive, uncontroversial stuff to his side. This way, arguing against his theory (hypothesis) on “spirituality” will seem like arguing against the value — or even the existence — of honesty, kindness, helpfulness, and so forth. It’s a shrewd move, because who wants to be against being helpful by denying the source and cause of helpfulness?

    Chopra would argue that a genuinely spiritual person will think nothing of themselves, and will give and do anything necessary to help others. Of course, this is supposed to fit in with the belief that all suffering is due to attachment, and the real goal of enlightenment is to accept that problems don’t matter, they are only there for our benefit. They teach us to accept.

    I don’t think those views work with each other very well. “Here, you’re hurt, I will help you — though the greatest help I can give is to explain that being hurt isn’t a problem that needs fixing, it’s a lesson in becoming less focused on yourself.”

    I also agree with martha at #60 — they think that their “positive energy” (beaming good thoughts while sitting on your butt) will shift reality to a more harmonious balance, and do more good in the long run than sending out a medical team. If everything-is-consciousness, then you can rewrite what happens, just by changing your mind.

  72. #73 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Matt Penfold Author Profile Page | March 2, 2010 12:53 PM

    That would only be true if he was previously *asked* these questions. If he was not, then what I said still stands.

    Ok. Time for you to produce some evidence I think.

    Chopra has been seen stuff like this for years, and for years people have been asking how what he suggests will work.

    Please point us to towards his answers.

    I’m the one making the null hypothesis here. I’m the one saying the event during which these questions were asked didn’t occur. That’s the null hypothesis. Show your evidence that the questions were asked. Produce that and I’ll drop my complaint and admit I was wrong.

    Asking me to provide evidence that the questions were NOT asked is identical to when theists ask us to produce evidence that god doesn’t exist.

    Now can all of you please stop it with the made-up implications that I’m defending Deepak here or that I think he doesn’t have a need to show his work? Of course he does. Of course the fact that he hasn’t backed up his claims makes him in the wrong. Of course the fact that he hasn’t offered a good explanation of his claim makes him in the wrong. But can’t you see the difference between “He should have done X without being asked to and the fact that he didn’t ruins his argument.” (a statement I would agree with) versus saying “I explicitly asked him to do X and he was silent after I asked.” ? Those are NOT the same claim.

  73. #74 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Steven Mading | March 2, 2010 1:21 PM

    Of course the fact that he hasn’t backed up his claims makes him in the wrong. Of course the fact that he hasn’t offered a good explanation of his claim makes him in the wrong. But can’t you see the difference between “He should have done X without being asked to and the fact that he didn’t ruins his argument.” (a statement I would agree with) versus saying “I explicitly asked him to do X and he was silent after I asked.” ? Those are NOT the same claim.

    No, they aren’t. But PZ is making the first claim, not the second claim.

  74. #75 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    I’m the one making the null hypothesis here. I’m the one saying the event during which these questions were asked didn’t occur. That’s the null hypothesis. Show your evidence that the questions were asked. Produce that and I’ll drop my complaint and admit I was wrong.

    Why do I have to show anything ?

    The questions are a rhetorical device. If you not understand what one of those it, google it. They are not actually questions that were intended to be put to Chopra. This has been explained to you, but clearly you are still having problems understanding the point.

    You have not offered a reason as why PZ should have put those questions to Chopra, or rather a reason not based on your inability to understand what PZ said.

    Now can all of you please stop it with the made-up implications that I’m defending Deepak here or that I think he doesn’t have a need to show his work? Of course he does. Of course the fact that he hasn’t backed up his claims makes him in the wrong. Of course the fact that he hasn’t offered a good explanation of his claim makes him in the wrong. But can’t you see the difference between “He should have done X without being asked to and the fact that he didn’t ruins his argument.” (a statement I would agree with) versus saying “I explicitly asked him to do X and he was silent after I asked.” ? Those are NOT the same claim.

    Quit whining. You made a mistake, and failed to pick up on the fact PZ was making use of a rhetoric. Now you feel all embarrassed. But it is you who made the mistake, not us.

  75. #76 flightpapers.org
    March 2, 2010

    Maybe he thinks that the Care Bears really exist. Hug your problems away, or use the Care Bear stare.

    Like this?

  76. #77 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    I get the impression Mading actually thinks PZ sat down and asked the questions out loud, and given how unlikely it was that Chopra would be in the room to answer, wrote down that Chopra did not offer an answer. How else can we explain this comment from him

  77. #78 Sonja
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is a bullshit word with no meaning. I’ve never heard a definition that wasn’t self-referential. I saw a professor (name escapes me) lecuture who actually defined spirituality as “reading text for its spiritual meaning”.

    What people mean when they say they are “spiritual” is that they have feelings — which ALL humans do. Usually they are the feelings humans get when experiencing great awe or mystery.

    Because these types of feelings are usually experienced at the first encounter of a mystery, people struggle to recapture these types of experiences.

    For example, walking for the first time through a dark, mysterious, unknown woods might cause some titilating fears and emotions. However, if you walked through the same woods every day, these feelings would diminish.

    Religion takes advantage of this very human trait and immerses people in the “mysterious” to try to tap into these common (very human) feelings.

    Often, people who describe themselves as “spiritual” but not religious, are delving into other mysteries of life to try to evoke the same feelings (meditation, “new age”, alternative healing, UFOs, etc.)

    The catch-22 with trying to experience feelings of great awe and mystery is that, whatever is causing the feeling, will become less mysterious over time and will fail to keep delivering.

    For example, the Finale of the Franck D-minor Symphony evokes great feeling in me and I will listen to it over and over and over. But, eventually, it just doesn’t do it and I need to listen to something else.

    So people keep going back to their religion to recapture some past experience where they felt these “spiritual” feelings. But, like a gambling addiction, even if the returns are not there, they will keep pursuing similar paths that created these feelings before.

  78. #79 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Matt Penfold Author Profile Page | March 2, 2010 1:10 PM

    Mading,

    I can see your problem.

    You think the “questions” PZ posed where real questions that he wanted to see Chopra answer, rather than a rhetorical device intended to illustrate Chopra’s inability to offer anything substantive to say over years.

    If course I don’t think they were real. That’s the point of my complaint. I think they were fake. And there are far better ways to have made the point PZ was making other than falsely portraying a conversation that in reality never happened, and (this is the important bit) would NOT have gone that way had it actually happened. Given his past behaviors I fully suspect that Deepak would not have been silent like that. He would have given some bogus woo-woo answer that obfuscates, but would not have sat there silently.

    You might not see a difference, but I do, between portraying your opponent as ignoring you versus portraying your opponent as giving you bad responses that don’t do a good job of answering the question.

  79. #80 segfaultvicta
    March 2, 2010

    Matt Penfold: It seems pretty obvious to me that Mading knew damn well that PZ was using a rhetorical device. Specifically, he alleged that PZ was using a rhetorical device which creationists like to use when they’re trying to make people (like Dawkins, for example) look stupid!

    The difference is that while Dawkins (and others) have repeatedly and often actually addressed, publically, the EXACT issues that the creationists bring up in their questions-which-go-’unanswered’, Deepak et al have never once actually provided a response to the questions.

    As a result, while it might not be the -classiest- rhetorical device to use, I think that lumping it directly in with the creationist videos is -somewhat- of a category error.

  80. #81 Cassiopeia
    March 2, 2010

    Awesome post, PZ! It always irks me that people think Deepak Chopra is so deep and spiritual when all he really does is construct long sentences that make absolutely no sense. Can someone please explain to him what a thesis is?

    @ Randomfactor (#12): Totally right on! That sentence doesn’t say anything, but I’m sure many Chopra enthusiasts will quote it often.

  81. #82 Daks
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is the answer only in that throught it’s iradication from the human psyche, once remove we as a whole can move as one rational group working together towards common goals…. Ha ” one rational group” ” common goals” I crack myself up sometimes.

  82. #83 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    Matt Penfold: It seems pretty obvious to me that Mading knew damn well that PZ was using a rhetorical device. Specifically, he alleged that PZ was using a rhetorical device which creationists like to use when they’re trying to make people (like Dawkins, for example) look stupid!

    Yeah, he said that but it is at odds with everything else he has said so I do not give much weight to it. HE seems to think that PZ was actually asking questions to which he expected answers, rather than using the questions and Chopra’s non-reply to illustrate the vacuousness of Chopra’s argument. I doubt anyone thinks PZ actually interviewed Chopra.

    The difference is that while Dawkins (and others) have repeatedly and often actually addressed, publically, the EXACT issues that the creationists bring up in their questions-which-go-’unanswered’, Deepak et al have never once actually provided a response to the questions.

    Thw whole bloody point of PZ’s post is to point out that Chopra has never explained how his ideas would work.

    As a result, while it might not be the -classiest- rhetorical device to use, I think that lumping it directly in with the creationist videos is -somewhat- of a category error.

    No idea what you are on about here.

  83. #84 burpy
    March 2, 2010

    Chopra and others of his ilk propose that being nice to eachother will solve all of the world´s problems. Well, it wouldn´t do any harm anyway. The problem is that people have a hard time being nice to eachother whilst they´re competing for the planet´s limited resources. Meditation can´t help with that, but science can.

  84. #85 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    OK, Steven? When William Shakespeare wrote the line “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war!”, he did not intend for people to believe that Julius Caesar had actually uttered that phrase (or its Latin equivalent), nor did he intend his audience to think that Julius Caesar wanted his officers to actually shout “Havoc!”.

    PZ used an easily understood rhetorical device to demonstrate that Chopra makes a lot of claims without backing them up.

  85. #86 segfaultvicta
    March 2, 2010

    Off topic, but…

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/us/27race.html?ref=politics

    I’m just reading this and getting so, so very angry. I can’t tell if the NYT is trolling here, or if they’re just trying to report on a phenomenon as impassively as they can. Is it not politically correct to say “These people are batshit insane”?

  86. #87 Sastra
    March 2, 2010

    segfaltvicta #80 wrote:

    The difference is that while Dawkins (and others) have repeatedly and often actually addressed, publically, the EXACT issues that the creationists bring up in their questions-which-go-’unanswered’, Deepak et al have never once actually provided a response to the questions.

    The other difference is that Dawkins provides specific answers, with details — and Chopra simply hands out more glittering generalities. That was PZ’s point: he can’t give details to any specific question, one which requires detail in the response.

    Maybe you’d feel more comfortable if, instead of blanks, PZ had written Chopra’s response as “Blah, blah, blah” — or, better yet, Orac’s version of Chopra-woo, from Respectful Insolence.

    So, instead of the blank space, mentally put in:

    the aftermath of the Chilean earthquake. How will you fix infrastructure problems with spirituality?

    Woo woo woo woo woo Dawkins woo woo. Woo woo woo woo woo materialists don’t understand woo woo. Woo woo woo woo Materialists say evolution is random woo woo woo. Woo woo woo anthropic principle. Woo woo woo consciousness woo woo can’t be explained by DNA woo woo. Woo woo consciousness all around woo woo. Woo woo universe is conscious. Woo woo woo quantum theory woo woo. Woo woo woo evolution information theory. Woo woo. Woo woo universal consciousness intelligent design. Woo woo woo. Woo woo woo God woo woo field of consciousness woo woo pervades universe woo woo. Woo woo arrogant skeptics woo woo versus dogmatic fundamentalists woo woo. Woo woo Chopra find middle ground in woo. Woo universe experienced through consciousness woo woo consciousness is God woo woo woo.

    Okay, there we go.

  87. #88 Matt Penfold
    March 2, 2010

    If course I don’t think they were real. That’s the point of my complaint. I think they were fake

    Good.

    And there are far better ways to have made the point PZ was making other than falsely portraying a conversation that in reality never happened, and (this is the important bit) would NOT have gone that way had it actually happened. Given his past behaviors I fully suspect that Deepak would not have been silent like that. He would have given some bogus woo-woo answer that obfuscates, but would not have sat there silently.

    Aside from the fact no one would auctually think that the “interview” was real, if you do not like PZ’s writing style then you are of course free to stop reading him. You are also free to try and produce something better yourself.

    You might not see a difference, but I do, between portraying your opponent as ignoring you versus portraying your opponent as giving you bad responses that don’t do a good job of answering the question.

    Ok, I asked you once before and you refused to provide evidence of Chopra’s typical responses to these sort of questions. Since you think there were answers, by which I do not just mean Chopra said things but instead actually addressed the points being raised, then let’s hear them.

    The fact that when Chopra answer such questions he actually says nothing at all is well portrayed as silence.

  88. #89 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010


    Quit whining. You made a mistake, and failed to pick up on the fact PZ was making use of a rhetoric. Now you feel all embarrassed. But it is you who made the mistake, not us.

    I’m perfectly aware that it was rhetoric. Your claim that this is where we disagree is bullshit. Please read the above post by segfaultvicta, who still disagrees with me but does so civilly without resorting to lying as you have done above. (Why do you believe it is possible for you to read my mind as you would have to be able to do to make the claims you made?) And not, I don’t feel embarrassed by your accusations because they have no merit.)

    Now if you want to address the argument and not engage in ad-hominem, look at the post by segfaultvicta again as an example of how to do that.

  89. #90 sandiseattle
    March 2, 2010

    LEAVE DEEPAK ALONE!

    :-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-):-)

    Seriously, Deepak is pretty cool. I have found his 7 laws useful. But thats just me.

  90. #91 Walton
    March 2, 2010

    OK, Steven? When William Shakespeare wrote the line “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war!”, he did not intend for people to believe that Julius Caesar had actually uttered that phrase (or its Latin equivalent), nor did he intend his audience to think that Julius Caesar wanted his officers to actually shout “Havoc!”.

    I dispute this. Shouting “Havoc!” before going into battle is, in fact, a well-known military strategy. This fact was imparted to me by the leprechaun sitting on my shoulder, so it must be true.

    *giggles maniacally*

  91. #92 PZ Myers
    March 2, 2010

    But..but…if Chopra had answered “Woo woo woo woo” blah blah blah, then he wouldn’t have won the Grand Prize!

  92. #93 segfaultvicta
    March 2, 2010

    Matt: Sorry, what I wrote was somewhat unclear. And I do think that there’s slightly concern-trollish behaviour going on here on Mading’s part, I was trying to provide the benefit of the doubt.

    Essentially, though, that last bit was directed to Mading: Inserting blank spaces of the “Hello? …hello?” variety after asking questions when ten minutes’ search of the Internet would give you a solid answer to your question – for example, the Dawkins videos – is deplorable.

    Inserting blank spaces after asking questions that have been asked many, many times, under many different circumstances, which have never been answered at all, let alone adequately – what PZ did – it’s the same rhetorical device, in a sense, yes, but you cannot lump it together with the creationists’ use of that device, so I don’t agree with Mading that PZ’s use of the device is dangerous or hypocritical.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  93. #94 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    March 2, 2010

    But Sandi, Deepak is not even a christian. He is just as damned as the rest of us atheist.

    If it makes you feel any better, I take Deepak as seriously as I take you.

  94. #95 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    Steven Mading, your argument, such as it is, has already been addressed. PZ did not do what you accuse him of doing.

  95. #96 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Matt Penfold Author Profile Page | March 2, 2010 1:45 PM

    HE seems to think that PZ was actually asking questions to which he expected answers

    You have been shown numerous times that this is not what I think, nor what I said. In fact, the fact that this never actually happened was exactly what I complained about.

  96. #97 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    So your complaint is that PZ used a rhetorical device to illustrate that Chopra made assertions without supporting them?

  97. #98 Royce Bitzer
    March 2, 2010

    PZ, here’s the answer!

    The Transformations feature prototypes of locations around the world in which “Christian dominion” over government and societal structures supposedly produce mini-utopias where AIDS is miraculously cured, crime and corruption overcome, environmental degradation instantaneously reversed and vegetables grow to monstrous sizes. They believe these claimed results can be repeated worldwide as the apostles and prophets of the movement bring the “kingdom of God” to earth. Locations included in the movie series include the nations Uganda, Fiji, and cities of Cali, Colombia; Hemet, California, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kiambu, Kenya; Almolonga, Guatemala; and more. The movies demonstrate the use of spiritual mapping, spiritual warfare, and other unorthodox evangelization tools. The emphasis is not on saving individual souls but expelling demons and taking control of territory or entire populations….

    From Talk to Action: Resource Directory for the New Apostolic Reformation

    The full article can be found here.

    I doubt that this scheme is what Deepak has in mind, however. It wouldn’t give him much of an opportunity to peddle his books.

  98. #99 Gav
    March 2, 2010

    Present with a supposed answer, it’s quite reasonable to ask what the question is but I’m not sure that Dr Myers’ “rhetorical device” hits the spot this time.

    More interesting to ask:

    We have the means to solve, up to a point, overpopulation, famine, resource depletion, water scarcity, war, and disease. Will it happen?

    We have the means, pretty much, to fix infrastructure problems in Chile. Will it happen?

    We have the means, let’s say, to help the woman with breast cancer. Will she get help?

    Mr Chopra’s being wrong doesn’t necessarily make anyone else right.

  99. #100 John Marley
    March 2, 2010

    @Nnoel (#26)

    but I’d like to know what evidence can be shown against the position that if EVERYONE was honest and helpful that the world’s problems wouldn’t be solved!?

    I’m sure you would. That is a common tactic in woo-filled arguments, but it is wrong.

    The world has problems.

    You are proposing a solution.

    The burden is on you to show that your solution would work, not on anyone else to show that it wouldn’t.

  100. #101 Royce Bitzer
    March 2, 2010

    Let’s try this again. The link in #98 is

    here.

    I think I forgot a quotation mark in the HTML code the first time.

  101. #102 Peter G.
    March 2, 2010

    I don’t know about the world’s problems but spirituality is the key to solving Chopra’s problems. Which is how to move prodigious quantities of the the chunder he peddles in various forms from books to videos.

  102. #103 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    Steven Mading, your argument, such as it is, has already been addressed. PZ did not do what you accuse him of doing.

    Well, the argument that Matt was pretending I had made has been addressed. and it’s true that PZ did not do what Matt incorrectly claimed I had accused him of. That’s why I’m glad I didn’t say what he keeps claiming I did.

    Ok, I asked you once before and you refused to provide evidence of Chopra’s typical responses to these sort of questions.

    I already addressed this by saying you need to first show me the instances of him actually being asked these questions. My claim is that these questions weren’t asked. We’re both atheists and therefore know perfectly well why it’s a fallacy to be asked to provide evidence of such a null hypothesis.

    However, I will be generous enough to leave open the possibility that you didn’t see my response where I did that when you wrote this. There’s enough of a delay to making posts on scienceblogs that it can be hard to tell how many of the responses were showing on your screen at the time you wrote this.

    The fact that when Chopra answer such questions he actually says nothing at all is well portrayed as silence.

    And that sentence, after I mentally strip away all your patronizing tone, is really the only place we actually disagree and yet you keep insisting on pretending it’s more than that, and being frankly, kind of a dick about it. Is it good to portray poor answers that don’t do a good job of answering the questions as if they were the same thing as pure silence? I don’t think so. You do. That should be the only point of disagreement, and it would have been if you hadn’t decided to jump in and strawman the hell out what I said.

    Now can we get back to that, or are you going to keep on pulling this stunt? I’m logging out for today after this post and I’ll see your response tomorrow.

    Now, switching to segfaultvicta:

    segfaultvicta, I agree with you that the Dawkins “stumped” fakes and PZ’s post here are not of the same magnitude. I just don’t agree over where the threshold is where it starts to make it seem a bit dodgy to me. I find all uses of this rhetorical device to be dodgy. It’s not nearly as bad when what it portrays is fairly close to reality and only a little bit off as in PZ’s example, as opposed to when it’s a lot different from reality as in the various Dawkins’ “stumped” fakes, but I still view that as a case of being a less bad variant of the rhetoric, not a good variant.

    And this is really the only point we disagree on, despite all of Matt’s attempts to misrepresent what I said and make it sound like more than that. Thank you, segfaultvicta, for being civil and reasonable in your disagreement with me.

    Now can we get back to hating on Deepak for what he actually does – which is his practice of making bold objective claims and then switching into a subjective context when called upon to back them up so he doesn’t have to defend his objective claims with objective reasons? That’s what he actually does. He engages in the fallacy of acting as if a subjective statement is an acceptable way to back up an objective claim. This is what leads to his wishy-washy woo-woo statements in response to criticisms.

  103. #104 Moira Manion
    March 2, 2010

    P.Z., I love you. Well, I love your mind, at least. Just sayin’.

    Moira Manion
    “Everything I Can’t Say On Public Radio”
    http://moiramanion.blogspot.com/

  104. #105 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Steven Mading | March 2, 2010 2:38 PM


    Ok, I asked you once before and you refused to provide evidence of Chopra’s typical responses to these sort of questions.

    I already addressed this by saying you need to first show me the instances of him actually being asked these questions. My claim is that these questions weren’t asked.

    Nobody has claimed that those questions were asked. By writing the article making those assertions, the burden was on Chopra to answer those questions. He didn’t. Hence PZ’s post.

  105. #106 mcn42.myopenid.com
    March 2, 2010

    Mr. Chopra will define spirituality in any manner that guarantees that the cash registers keep on ringing.

  106. #107 Thorne
    March 2, 2010

    @martha #48:

    I don’t want honesty. My feelings would be hurt if my husband said my butt looks big in these jeans. Even if it does.

    Martha, your husband has to be MORE honest. When my wife asked if her butt looked big in those jeans, I told her truthfully, “No bigger than without them.”

    Someday she’ll speak to me again. Maybe.

  107. #108 martha
    March 2, 2010

    If you want to know how Chopra thinks, this video helps:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e94TRMejnz0

    Sorry, I don’t know how to embed the video. Bold claims, questionable facts, bad science.

  108. #109 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    Okay, ONE more post – this was too good to ignore:

    Posted by: Sastra Author Profile Page | March 2, 2010 1:50 PM

    So, instead of the blank space, mentally put in:

    Woo woo woo woo woo Dawkins woo woo. Woo woo woo woo woo materialists don’t understand woo woo. Woo woo woo woo Materialists say evolution is random woo woo woo. Woo woo woo anthropic principle. Woo woo woo consciousness woo woo can’t be explained by DNA woo woo. Woo woo consciousness all around woo woo. Woo woo universe is conscious. Woo woo woo quantum theory woo woo. Woo woo woo evolution information theory. Woo woo. Woo woo universal consciousness intelligent design. Woo woo woo. Woo woo woo God woo woo field of consciousness woo woo pervades universe woo woo. Woo woo arrogant skeptics woo woo versus dogmatic fundamentalists woo woo. Woo woo Chopra find middle ground in woo. Woo universe experienced through consciousness woo woo consciousness is God woo woo woo.

    Okay, there we go.

    Actually, I would have been happy with that. It’s a rather accurate portrayal of Deepak. You were trying to be funny there but I’m serious. That I would have been fine with, because then PZ wouldn’t have been saying “Bzzzt, time’s up”, and “Bzzzt. Oh, so sorry, you’ve been skunked.” and other such lines that only work the premise that in such a conversation Deepak would have been totally silent.

    Actaully I would have even been fine with just the one line summary of Deepak’s typical rhetoric like “<bunch of mumbo-jumbo that dodges around the issue here>”. I still see that as very different from portraying silence.

  109. #110 truthspeaker
    March 2, 2010

    But silence is what was in Chopra’s article.

  110. #111 Steven Mading
    March 2, 2010

    (grumble- what does it take for scienceblogs to implement blockquote tags correctly? gaaaa. A line break is not necessarily the end of a quoted section – crimeny)
    Sorry for not using “preview” on the above first. Hopefully it’s clear which parts were supposed to be in the blockquotes.

  111. #112 Knockgoats
    March 2, 2010

    We’re going to give you a shovel, a hammer, a bag of antibiotics and vaccines, and airdrop you into a remote African village where you can use your “spirituality” to solve a few problems. – PZ

    Hey PZ, what dreadful grudge have you got against remote African villages?

  112. #113 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 2, 2010

    Martha, your husband has to be MORE honest. When my wife asked if her butt looked big in those jeans, I told her truthfully, “No bigger than without them.”

    My friend once told his wife that “You look less fat in those jeans”.

    I’m pretty sure that was a few years ago. I don’t think they’ve spoken.

  113. #114 blf
    March 2, 2010

    My friend once told his wife that “You look less fat in those jeans”.

    I’m pretty sure that was a few years ago. I don’t think they’ve spoken.

    Then how did he tell her? Sign language? Notes nailed to the front door? Airdropped oversized concrete Scrabble tiles?

  114. #115 Rincewind'smuse
    March 2, 2010

    Posted by: Nnoel | March 2, 2010 11:59 AM
    , but I’d like to know what evidence can be shown against the position that if EVERYONE was honest and helpful that the world’s problems wouldn’t be solved!?

    I can provide evidence for how things would be solved.. 1. Police force would not be needed, if no crime happened, then police would be free to do other stuff, not to mention the cost of crime besides the police, a stabbing uses hospitals and ambulances and prisons and judges and lawyers, etc, etc.

    You do know that what you’re doing here is not providing evidence at all, but speculating based on assumptions that have little basis in reality, right? Based on what we have seen over the last few thousand years we do have insight into human nature, and while there is much to be encouraged by, there is as much if not more that would imply that spirituality or religion does little to change the lot of others on a large scale….would there be less likely to be medicine overcharged in your earlier example…perhaps…..would some people still not be able to afford it and die as a result….probably…..being nice is great but not the same as doing good for the sake of doing good, and you don’t need spirituality or religion for that.If anything, I’ve seen people almost stupified by the opiate of their own religion/spirituality at times, to the point of being less acutely aware of the suffering of others.

  115. #116 BeyondKen
    March 2, 2010

    “Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality.”
    “Spirituality is the awareness of that domain of experience where we are aware our universality.”
    “Spirituality is the universality of that domain of awareness where we experience our awareness.”
    “Spirituality is the domain of that awareness of universality where we experience our universe.”

    Gene Roddenberry was right – God is nothing but a computer. (Probably programmed in BASIC)

  116. #117 https://me.yahoo.com/a/sNPqlmF2xPVaHbvm9Z1nfIGq_ZQvLXTYRg--#9ca51
    March 2, 2010

    I’ve got $10,000 to spend and I’m tossing up between two different quacks selling two different varieties of snake oil. How should I decide which to buy?

  117. #118 KOPD42
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality.

    This is a perfect example of what Dennett would call a “deepity.” To the extent that it’s true it is trivial, and to the extent that it’s profound it’s meaningless.

  118. #119 conelrad
    March 2, 2010

    “That wasn’t funny. That rabbi would never even
    have been in that bar in the first place. &
    another thing…”

  119. #120 Dust
    March 2, 2010

    Brian Greene (theoretical physicist)

    There’s a larger universal reality of which we are all a part

    Deepak Chopra (author)

    This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect, and ego

    Brian Greene invites us into the larger reality, Deepak Chopra’s domain is one that is, as described above, is un-experiencable*.

    Greene makes more sense to me.

    *is this a word? It is now!

  120. #121 https://me.yahoo.com/a/CGWty1lslPBt7EBwUpQ4_z6osBtpb6fIMKot#2ec45
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality.

    The vapidity of that sentence will haunt my dreams.

    Seriously though, I suppose spirituality of the sort espoused by Chopra could conceivably reduce war — if everyone was a spiritualist hippie who spent all their time meditating in a lotus position about peace, love and understanding, I imagine there would be less war in the world. Of course, if this were really a “Christian nation” in the sense of actually being run according to the principles associated with the stories surrounding Jesus Christ (as opposed to the right-wing bastardized interpretation of such stories), we would have responded to 9/11 by turning the other cheek and forgiving our enemies seventy-fold. Strangely, whenever I point that out to Christians, they get really mad at me.

  121. #122 YamaZaru
    March 2, 2010

    PZ, this is freakin’ hilarious. The words of post-religion “spirituality” sellers like Chopra really remind me of the worst of postmodernist drivel. Like Chomsky noted once, when their sentences are decoded you end up with either dressed-up banal truths or entirely meaningless phrases.

    Putting blank spaces in for his replies is entirely appropriate since “el Chopracabra” is really saying just that: nothing!

  122. #123 DavidCOG
    March 2, 2010

    > …overpopulation…

    Yeah, about that “overpopulation” thing:

    * Population explosion is over, it masks complex causes of poverty and inequality, hunger is not the result of too many mouths, population growth is not the driving force behind environmental degradation, population controls have a negative effect on basic health care, population alarmism encourages apocalyptic thinking that legitimizes human rights abuse, threatening images of overpopulation reinforce racial and ethnic stereotypes and scapegoat immigrants and other vulnerable communities, overpopulation views stand in the way of greater global understanding and solidarity. http://popdev.hampshire.edu/sites/popdev/files/uploads/dt/DifferenTakes_40.pdf

    * World population fertility rate is *decreasing*: http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sp_pop_grow&idim=country:USA#met=sp_pop_grow&idim=country:USA:CHN:IND&tdim=true

    * Overconsumption is the real problem – the world’s richest half billion people – that’s about 7 per cent of the global population – are responsible for 50 per cent of the world’s emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 per cent are responsible for just 7 per cent of emissions. One American or European is more often than not responsible for more emissions than an entire village of Africans: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327271.700-population-overconsumption-is-the-real-problem.html

  123. #124 MadScientist
    March 2, 2010

    Spirituality sure fixes Chopra’s worldly problems though. Without suckers for superstition, Chopra would have to get a REAL job.

  124. #125 MadScientist
    March 2, 2010

    @DavidCOG: You have a pretty bizarre view of the world.

    “Population explosion is over”? What do you mean by that? The world population is still increasing at an exponential rate, even in the US, India, China (even though “fertility rates” may be slightly lower). In fact China has an official policy which in principle should lead to a gradual reduction in population – and yet the population still grows (for now anyway since more people live longer; at some point the mortality rate should be higher than the birth rate).

    “Overconsumption is the real problem”. That’s a bizarre vast oversimplification of everything. Go live like an African tribesman or nomad then. Do you really believe that everyone in a city can simply move out into the bush with a machete and sustain themselves with farming and hunting as many African tribes still do? We should simply give up the technological civilization we have then and avoid “overconsumption”? We should accept the high infant mortality rates of the African tribes because the infrastructure necessary for modern medical science is “overconsumption”?

    You can’t simply pick and choose what you want from an industrialized society; so many things are interdependent. You can cut down on luxuries, but that’s about it and that will not be enough to save the world from global warming due to CO2 either.

    “population growth is not the driving force behind environmental degradation” Really? Wow – I never heard that one before.

    “population controls have a negative effect on basic health care” Really? On what planet?

    “population alarmism encourages apocalyptic thinking that legitimizes human rights abuse” Where’s your evidence for that? If you mention China then you haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about.

  125. #126 MAJeff, OM
    March 2, 2010

    During meditation, and under other forms of stress or drugs, the primitive part of the brain that helps distinguish self from not-self can be shut down or distorted, leading to a sense that “everything is one.” There is no ego, there is no separate world; what is experienced is an awe-inspiring sensation which is completely relaxed, and without the ability to judge or analyze, simply accept.
    It (apparently) feels wonderful — and it can inspire and motivate people to see others as like themselves, and become better people — but it’s not really a profound fact that’s been discovered about the cosmos, or consciousness being universal, or whatever. It’s a fact about the human mind, and how it constructs its sense of reality.

    I’ve experienced something similar, but while I was performing music. The sort of way I described the experience was that it felt like “I” ceased to exist and became a conduit through which the music passed. There was a calm euphoria. Just my brain doing really cool shit. Nothing more…nothing more needed than that.

  126. #127 David Marjanovi?
    March 2, 2010

    I put comment 40 into my quote folder.

    Steven Mading, it’s not like Chopra were banned here or something. He’s welcome to defend himself.

    World population fertility rate is *decreasing*:

    Yes. If everything keeps going the way it is, the world population will have started shrinking before the end of this century, and could even be lower then than now.

    But in the meantime we’ll pass through a peak of 9 to 12 billion.

    Or perhaps we won’t. Peak Oil is coming, to mention just one… problem.

    the world’s richest half billion people – that’s about 7 per cent of the global population – are responsible for 50 per cent of the world’s emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 per cent are responsible for just 7 per cent of emissions. One American or European is more often than not responsible for more emissions than an entire village of Africans:

    That’s of course true… and it’s the reason for why Peak Oil is so close.

  127. #128 Becky
    March 2, 2010

    The “spirituality” of all these new age fuckwits can be boiled down to the following: think happiness and sunshine and you can “manifest” anything. If you always think happy thoughts you can make the problems go away. The problems don’t go away they just get so bad they can kill you, problem solved…..

  128. #129 Blake Stacey
    March 2, 2010

    Also, does game theory include a scenarios where some people work for themselves and some people for everyone else?

    Yes.

    you have to agree a world without the need for police would be a wonderful place!

    A world so passionless that no one ever commits a crime in the heat of the moment?

  129. #130 a.human.ape
    March 2, 2010

    I read the whole thing.

    Horrible. I couldn’t do that. I have a very low tolerance for bullshit, and nobody is more full of it than Deepak Chopra. http://tinyurl.com/yzslp8o

  130. #131 Knockgoats
    March 2, 2010

    The world population is still increasing at an exponential rate – MadScientist

    Garbage. Do you not actually know what “exponential increase” means? Or are you just ignorant of the fact that the rate of world population growth peaked in the 1960s at around 2.2% per annum, and is now a little over half that? For that matter, even the absolute annual increase in global population is now lower than it was in the early ’90s. That’s called sublinear growth, MadScientist, not exponential.

  131. #132 RickR
    March 2, 2010

    MAJeff-

    I’ve experienced something similar, but while I was performing music. The sort of way I described the experience was that it felt like “I” ceased to exist and became a conduit through which the music passed. There was a calm euphoria. Just my brain doing really cool shit. Nothing more…nothing more needed than that.

    I get the same experience when I’m painting, and the work is “going hot”, for want of a better term. I become absorbed in it, with a high degree of focused awareness coupled with a feeling of deep relaxation, and deep slow breathing. I also experience something akin to having a shutdown of mental “surveillance cams” (a faint awareness that I’m observing myself and interactions with others from somewhere outside myself) and all I’m left with is a clear sense of “just me being in the moment” and “losing myself”. It’s highly pleasant.

    Like you said, it’s the brain, doing some really cool shit.

  132. #133 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnb-E55g7vrnvH-3L1M6d7QuDYWoM_IDEM
    March 2, 2010

    PZ: I rather like your idea of air-dropping Chopra with a hammer instead of a parachute.

  133. #134 Pierce R. Butler
    March 2, 2010

    She has breast cancer. In 30 seconds, tell us what spiritual advice you would give her that would actually help her with this disease?

    Chopra may have come up blank on that one, but not Karen Allen.

    Confronting Cancer with Faith is a six-week Bible study with five lessons per week that can be completed in approximately thirty minutes each. … Applicable to any type of cancer regardless of gender, the book may be used with small groups or as an individual study.

    Consider this before you scoff:

    Non-believers, too, will find comfort and empathy from Karen?s relatable stories, which range from heartbreakingly moving to entertainingly humorous.

    You, too, can “give God the glory” (between barfs from that sickeningly secular chemotherapy) – for only $17.09 plus shipping!

  134. #135 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnUGx81lf68eIUFb35Jhdja01Vdh8rxgFM
    March 2, 2010

    We’re going to give you a shovel, a hammer, a bag of antibiotics and vaccines, and airdrop you into a remote African village where you can use your “spirituality” to solve a few problems.

    but no parachute, that can be the first problem he solves with spirituality.

  135. #136 Pierce R. Butler
    March 2, 2010

    Randomfactor @ # 33: If everyone in Haiti and Chile were super nice, they’d still have had an earthquake.

    Are you sure? What if they were all hetero & monogamous and waited until marriage and didn’t do anything kinky afterwards?

    “Nice” isn’t everything, sinner!

  136. #137 heyjude
    March 2, 2010

    That made me laugh and laugh :) Thanks PZ

  137. #138 gnuosphere
    March 2, 2010

    Years ago, Chopra was fortunate enough to meet and talk with J. Krishnamurti. Though he praised Krishnamurti, apparently nothing sank in. He may have been inspired, but clearly wasn’t enlightened.

  138. #139 Islander
    March 2, 2010

    Is Chopra one of those people that tells cancer-stricken patients to forego modern medicine and use spiritual healing?

  139. #140 Knockgoats
    March 3, 2010

    Years ago, Chopra was fortunate enough to meet and talk with J. Krishnamurti. Though he praised Krishnamurti, apparently nothing sank in.

    Oh, I think it did: he learned how to make a living and attract followers when you have absolutely nothing of any value to say, from a great master of that art.

  140. #141 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    March 3, 2010

    But silence is what was in Chopra’s article.

    Odd, I thought that it was closer to white noise. Kind of like silence but way more annoying…

  141. #142 Summer Seale
    March 3, 2010

    You know, I’m not even sure what the hell “spirituality” means…it’s about as undefinable as…”spirituality” itself, isn’t it?

  142. #143 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 3, 2010

    Got an invitation today about a reading at UU on mindfulness.. Some mixture of boedhism and psychology as it seems, it immediately gave me the post-coffee feeling.
    Apparently they claim it has therapeutic value.. But a glance at wiki makes me feel a bit of GRRR DAMN HIPPIES!!
    Anybody here heard of this new retro thing? Is it as sad as I expect or should I just be a bit more mindfull?

  143. #144 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 3, 2010

    I guess it goes a little something like this..
    ACTuality describes the world in which we act,
    spirituality describes the realm of the spirit, that which nowadays we call mind and consciousness.
    Hence no place for religion in science.

  144. #145 Steven Mading
    March 3, 2010

    Posted by: David Marjanovi? | March 2, 2010 6:18 PM
    I put comment 40 into my quote folder.
    Steven Mading, it’s not like Chopra were banned here or something. He’s welcome to defend himself.

    Agreed. Now where’s your evidence that he follows pharyngula regularly and therefore is aware of what was was written here? If you don’t have that, then your comment is a non-sequitor. Responses designed to obfuscate (What Deepak actually does) are different than non-responses (what he was portrayed as doing). (In some ways they’re worse, actually.) But if you’re going to nail Deepak, nail him for the dishonest behavior he actually does engage in (there’s certainly more than enough of that to go around), not the dishonest behavior you portray him as engaging in. The comments in this thread have done that a lot better than the original post by PZ did.

  145. #146 Steven Mading
    March 3, 2010

    Got an invitation today about a reading at UU on mindfulness.. Some mixture of boedhism and psychology as it seems, it immediately gave me the post-coffee feeling.
    Apparently they claim it has therapeutic value.. But a glance at wiki makes me feel a bit of GRRR DAMN HIPPIES!!
    Anybody here heard of this new retro thing? Is it as sad as I expect or should I just be a bit more mindfull?

    I’ve always been more offended by the attitude of “any sort of spirituality is better than those horrible people who have none at all” attitude of some UU groups (and in some of his speeches, by Deepak Chopra) than by the outright open hatred of the fundies. It’s one thing to be hated by a group that hates pretty much everybody else who’s slightly different from themselves too. It puts you in good company. But it’s a bigger insult to be hated by a group that loves everybody except you.

  146. #147 Gavin
    March 3, 2010

    The fact is even a cursory bit of internet research on Mindfulness, or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and its various spin offs will reveal the scientific evidence supporting mindfulness based therapeutic approaches usefulness in healing and improving health.

    In depression, stress,pain, illnessess, improved immune function and so on.

    So, apart from the so called spiritual benefits of mindfulness, it has well researched and well documented physical, psychological and emotional benefits too.

    No seriously spiritual person would deny the truth that part in parcel of their spirituality is the practical application of ways and means alleviate the problems of humanity.

    Incidentally, I know of a woman who helps people to face their death and dying of cancer in extemely poor shanty towns in SOuth Africa. Where there is no available resources that could possibly save her life. But by using mindfulness helps poor people dying of cancer face the reality with more dignity and peace. Of course, if there were resources available, they would be used too. Why does it have to be so black and white? Why not spirituality and cancer treating drugs and facilites, going hand in hand?

    In my experience, even when there is nothing we can do, just being with a person can make all the difference. SOmetimes we can’t fix things.

    Kooks. I applaud your serious attempt to address the state of the world. I prefer real spirituality.

  147. #148 RijkswaanVijanD
    March 3, 2010

    This is because IF there is an effect to spirituality, this should be adressed scientifically to reduce it to it’s physical components.. Just refering to spiritual blabla doesn’t learn us anything.

  148. #149 Sastra
    March 3, 2010

    RijkswaanVijanD wrote:

    Anybody here heard of this new retro thing? Is it as sad as I expect or should I just be a bit more mindfull?

    As with all things “spiritual,” there will be an interpretation which is ‘trivial but true’ — and an interpretation which is ‘extraordinary but false’ — and the two interpretations will be blurred together, as if, at the deepest level, they are really the same thing.

    By ‘trivial but true,’ though, I don’t mean that the more reasonable interpretation of something like “mindfulness” can’t be extraordinarily useful, and significant, and important to someone’s life, in a psychological sense. Gavin’s description of the benefits of mindfulness (with the possible exception of ‘improved immune function’) seems like it’s perfectly consistent with a non-supernatural, non-”spiritual” understanding of reality.

    You can keep the baby, when you throw out the bath water.

    Steve Mading #146 wrote:

    I’ve always been more offended by the attitude of “any sort of spirituality is better than those horrible people who have none at all” attitude of some UU groups (and in some of his speeches, by Deepak Chopra) than by the outright open hatred of the fundies. It’s one thing to be hated by a group that hates pretty much everybody else who’s slightly different from themselves too. It puts you in good company. But it’s a bigger insult to be hated by a group that loves everybody except you.

    Yes! I quoted this in full, because I think there’s a tendency to give the liberal, ecumenical groups a pass on their narrow, non-ecumenical attitude towards atheism.

    In addition to your point, there’s the matter of faith, and “choosing to believe.” It is one thing to be told that you don’t believe in God because you “don’t want to accept that there is a God who judges people and sends most of them to hell,” due to your atheist arrogance. No, that’s not why I don’t believe in God — but the statement itself is actually quite true. That’s a horribly immoral situation. If it were true, I would wish it wasn’t.

    But the liberals, who believe in a version of God or Spirit which is nothing but sweetness and light, are forced to explain atheism by claiming that atheists “don’t want” to accept the God of sweetness and light, because of their arrogance. That makes atheism more monstrous. I am more deeply insulted.

  149. #150 Q.E.D
    March 3, 2010

    This is the only intelligible bit of Chopra’s nonsensical article:

    “Our present times are particularly dangerous because ancient habits [read "religion"] combined with modern capacities and technologies of destruction are a devastating combination that can destroy life on our planet.”

    Anyone notice how he appears to agree with Sam Harris on his point that “true believer” jihadis + weapons of mass destruction technology don’t mix?

  150. #151 pendensproditor
    March 3, 2010

    I haven’t been able to read the whole discussion, but I think I’m with Steven Mading (comment #50) on this one.

    I don’t know what Chopra’s answers are to the first two questions, but his book “Quantum Healing” is basically one long answer to the breast cancer question. It’s not a good answer (an answer backed by, well, reality), but it’s an answer. Chopra has never once been silent on that front — most of us wish he would be.

    So I’m unclear what we’re arguing Chopra should have done here. Yes, the article is drivel, but if he’d directed people to his books he’d just be criticized for trying to sell more copies. If he’d answered one of these questions in depth he’d be criticized for not answering whatever other questions we can come up with ad hoc. I assume the Huffington Post will only pay for so many words. Are we just playing into the caricature Chopra has in his head of a skeptic by deciding ahead of time that he just can’t win, and we’ll work out why as we go?

    Chopra is dispatched easily enough without resorting to cheap shots. I think it’s a little beneath us.

  151. #152 PsiCop
    March 3, 2010

    Anyone else want to take a crack at this? I always want to ask those who say they’re “spiritual, but not religious,” what the hell that means.

    To me it means “I’m afraid to come out as an atheist.” ~Randomfactor, 3/2/10 11:33 AM

    Actually, my experience is that this what religious people say, when they try to swerve out of the way of the way of the negative connotations associated with the words “religion” and “religious.”

    Some of them also claim, “I’m not religious, but I have a relationship with God” or something like that.

    Unfortunately, dictionaries agree that the definition of “religion” includes just about everything that can also be called “spiritual,” and it also includes having any kind of “relationship” with a metaphysical being. So neither of these claims is semantically correct.

  152. #153 Dr. I. Needtob Athe
    March 3, 2010

    Deepak Chupacabra.

  153. #154 truthspeaker
    March 3, 2010

    Posted by: Gavin | March 3, 2010 10:45 AM

    The fact is even a cursory bit of internet research on Mindfulness, or Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and its various spin offs will reveal the scientific evidence supporting mindfulness based therapeutic approaches usefulness in healing and improving health.

    I believe you, but that has jack squat to do with spirituality.

  154. #155 cathy.a.sander
    March 4, 2010

    I recently posted this reply on the main website [it's been featured as well, for now!]…

    An appeal to the need for more understanding of what we can do…

    Chemistry, not spirituality, will solve [to a great degree] the major issues that we all face! The question, then is…how will it?

    1) If we come to grips with the fact that the universe is in one piece, which is indifferent to the prayers and calls of puny humans, we can become more realistic in our goals…and actually achieve them with greater probability.
    2) If we don’t accept that the natural world includes us [including the restrictions and things we can't do anyway because of our finiteness], then the world will go on [as it has for billions of years], taking us down faster than we may wish.

    It’s all a matter of seeing the interactions of entropy, enthalpy and the changes in these variables in the world. That is, if we want to solve our problems, we should at first understand what the problems really are, and not get into the habit of vague predictions and scaremongering.

    A bonus: as we are an integral part of the natural world, we have the ability to resolve these difficulties. [This is a problem, though, if people believe that they are 'beyond' nature.]

    The world is what it does, and we must not forget this!

    Signed,
    The chemist down the road

    P.S: there’s great movement towards green chemistry, which strives to prevent chemical accidents and environmental damage before it happens.

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