Move over, Deepak, there's a new woo-meister at HuffPo

Anyone who's been reading this blog for any length of time longer than a few weeks knows what I think of Deepak Chopra. Indeed, he's been a recurring topic here since the very beginning (just type his name into the search box for this blog if you don't believe me). In fact, Chopra has "distinguished" himself by becoming a fairly recurring target on ScienceBlogs in general and a number of skeptical blogs, including SkepChick and NeuroLogica Blog. The reason should be obvious. No one--and I mean no one--lays down the quantum dualistic woo the way that Deepak can. Whether it be abusing genetics, whining about those nasty skeptics, bloviating about "scientific evidence" for life after death by abusing near death experiences, or postulating a "quantum consciousness" that to him supports mind-brain dualism, no one does it like Deepak. No one wants to.

At least that's what I thought until I came across Ervin Laszlo. After running into Laszlo, all I can say is that Chopra had better watch his back. There's a new woo-meister in town, and he's gunning for Chopra.

Naturally, like Chopra, Laszlo is blogging at that repository of quackery, woo, and anti-vaccine pseudoscience, The Huffington Post, thus muscling in on Chopra's territory, although I do note that the two seem to have a rather mutually respectful relationship. Maybe Chopra is the source of Laszlo's woo. Maybe Laszlo can even surpass the Master of Woo himself. Who knows? Let's find out.

But first, who is Ervin Laszlo? Given how strong the woo is in this one, I was shocked that I had never heard of him before. According to his HuffPo bio, he's:

Ervin Laszlo is a systems philosopher, integral theorist, and classical pianist. Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he has authored more than 70 books, which have been translated into nineteen languages, and has published in excess of four hundred articles and research papers, including six volumes of piano recordings.

Dr. Laszlo is generally recognized as the founder of systems philosophy and general evolution theory, and serves as the founder-director of the General Evolution Research Group and as past president of the International Society for the Systems Sciences. He is also the recipient of the highest degree in philosophy and human sciences from the Sorbonne, the University of Paris, as well as of the coveted Artist Diploma of the Franz Liszt Academy of Budapest. Additional prizes and awards include four honorary doctorates.

Wow! Those are some pretty impressive credentials! After all, he's been nominated for the Nobel Prize twice! Of course, pretty much anybody can nominate anyone for the Nobel Prize (well, not quite, but it is a lot of people--perhaps I could get one of my buddies who happens to have the rank of Professor to nominate me), making this honor a rather unimpressive one in the scheme of things I could ask all of you out there who are professors to nominate me and have more nominations than Laszlo! (It would be easier than getting my legislators to do it.) Actually, I look at being nominated for the Nobel Prize to be like fight club. The first rule is, no one talks about fight club.

With all these awesome credentials, this guy couldn't possibly be a crank, could he? Well, not so fast there, pardner. The dude may have the credentials in a lot of things, but it's painfully obvious from his HuffPo output that he's not a scientist. It starts right away in his latest post entitled The Dis-Ease of the Western Mind (which he has also crossposted at his own website). Now, there are at least a couple of rules of thumb that I've learned over the years to help me identify woo-meisters or the woo-prone very rapidly. One is that whenever I see someone refer to "Western medicine" or the "Western mind," there's a high likelihood that what is about to follow will not be scientific. However, that rule, although pretty good, is not enough to base a heapin' helpin' of not-so-Respectful Insolence on. There is, however, one rule that is about as close to foolproof as any rule of thumb can be. Whenever I see someone--anyone--spelling "disease" as "dis-ease," I know with at least 99% certainty that pure woo is about to follow in copious quantities. Think Robert O. Young, for example. And follow it does in Laszlo's channeling of Deepak Chopra:

Take merely these characteristics of the Western mind:

  • it sees things as separate, each thing on its own, connected merely by mechanistic relations of cause and effect;
  • it's competitive: each individual is on his or her own, making his or her way in an impersonal and indifferent world;
  • it disconnects the mind from the body: the mind only "drives" or "manages" the body as it would a car or an organization;
  • it best understands the things it creates as artificial, synthetic things that can be readily and unambiguously manipulated;
  • it disconnects the human from the natural; nature itself becomes the "environment" that humans can manage and manipulate to serve their interests;
  • it categorizes, schematizes people and things, viewing them as abstract entities rather than as existing, living realities;
  • it deals with the representations of people and things rather than with our living experience of people and things;
  • and it views all things, nature included, as mechanistic kinds of systems, put together from their parts and capable of being manipulated by acting on their parts.

These traits add up to a dis-ease, to the long-discussed malaise of civilization -- Western civilization. Other civilizations have their own problems and failings, but the above traits are typically those of the Western mind: of the civilization created by the Western mind.

While there's a grain of truth to some of these, what Laszlo really appears to be complaining about is not so much the "Western" mind, but rather science itself. He's complaining about reductionism, which is a useful tool of science. He's complaining about a mechanistic view of how nature works, but that view is also useful to science. But most of all he appears to be complaining about a "disconnect from nature." There's a grain of truth in that to the extent that we humans tend to view ourselves as outside of nature, thanks to technology, but that is not a trait unique to the "West." Rather, it appears to be a consequence of technology allowing us to isolate ourselves more and more from the elements, from the actions of nature.

Lazlo blames this "problem" (if problem it even is) on the split between science and religion, with science relegating the "felt 'inside' world of value, feelings, and spirit" to religion and everything else to technology. Of course, one can't help but wonder how Laszlo explains how little influence religion is increasingly having in secularized "Western" nations in Europe. (The U.S. is an anomaly among developed nations in the intensity of its religiosity.)

All of this is not so bad. As I pointed out, there is even a germ of truth in some of it. However, like any good woo-ist, Laszlo starts reasonable-sounding before diving into the deep end of the woo pool. Starting out with a discourse on the difference between the "right brain" and the "left brain," Laszlo dives right in. Apparently the water (maybe a homeopathic remedy?) is just fine. After lamenting the "left brain's" hold on rationality, cause-and-effect, and--of course!--science, Laszlo opines:

The world of the right brain would be a very different world. Although having only the right brain available to us we would mean we couldn't analyze things and express them in language, our experience would be filled with many positive things. We would be making connections between things, seeing the world around us as a whole in which people and things are organic parts. We would be attending directly to our experience, seeing people and things in their presented uniqueness. We would be living in our body, feeling ourselves one with it and the world that surrounds and embeds it. The sense of time, the "flow" of things, would be primary, and we would enjoy experiences where this flow is evident, such as narration, theatre, dance, and music. Because of the betweenness connecting us to the world, we would be more empathetic, tuned to compassion and fellow-feeling, and concern with all things in nature. And our empathies would get a powerful boost by our being aware of our intuitions, of our subtle communication with the world beyond the range of our bodily senses. This perception is within the compass of the nonlocal quantum-receptivity of the sub-neuronal networks of our brain, but is repressed by the narrow rationality of our left hemisphere.

Quantum. He mentioned the word "quantum." Why did he have to use the word "quantum"? I hate that word. Well, not really. Quantum physics is really, really cool--mind blowing to contemplate, actually. Unfortunately, though, the whole concept of quantum coupling has been a goldmine for quacks and "quantum" hucksters like Deepak Chopra, so much so that I frequently find myself responding: Quantum. You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. That's exactly what's going on with Laszlo as he concludes:

The dis-ease of the Western mind is a product of historical circumstance. But it is not fated; we could overcome our one-sided heritage of the past. The key to it is using our brain more fully. This would give us a consciousness where the broad, holistic world of the right brain is linked with the pragmatic, skillful world of the left. This "broadband" consciousness without loss of acuity is the hallmark of what I called Quantum Consciousness. QC could be the next step in the evolution of the human mind, and it could be our salvation. Moving toward it by balancing your own approach to reality would be a good beginning toward curing the dis-ease of the Western mind.

This is nothing more than science word salad, but it leads me to the question of "salvation." What, exactly, does Laszlo think that we poor "dis-eased" people with left brain-oriented "Western" minds, who are so pathetically lacking in the the "wholistic" view that those right-brained "traditional" people have. Of course, I can't help but note a bit of not-so-subtle racism here, a version of the "noble savage" myth tarted up with quantum jargon--as though "traditional" people can't reason or learn science as well as we left-brained "Western" people with "dis-eased" brains. I'm sure this little slip derives from Laszlo's nonanalytical, wholistic right brain; he's probably completely unaware of it.

But what is "quantum consciousness" (or QC, as Laszlo puts it)? For that, we have to go back a couple of posts and look at Quantum Consciousness: Our Evolution, Our Salvation and Cosmic Symphony: A Deeper Look at Quantum Consciousness. Add these posts to Laszlo's most recent post, and he's produced a symphony of woo that will rival anything the reigning champion Deepak Chopra could come up with. Well done, sir! Well done! Here we find woo worthy of Chopra, for example:

Here I call "quantum consciousness" the consciousness we access when we use the potentials of our quantum-computer brain. Our brain is a macroscopic quantum system, yet we use it as if it were exclusively a classical biochemical system. With its quantum-system functions, our brain can receive information not only from our eyes and ears, but directly from the wider world with which we are "entangled" -- nonlocally connected. Insightful people throughout history, whether shamans or scientists, poets or prophets, have extensively used this capacity, innate to all human beings. Today it is widely neglected. This impoverishes our world picture and causes a nagging sense that we are separate from the world around us.

I give this passage 4 Chopras out of five possible. The only thing it lacks is whining slaps at scientists. On the other hand, maybe I should give Laszlo five Chopras because he confidently predicts that QC will be the next stage in the evolution of human consciousness. In the process, he abuses quantum physics willy-nilly as stupidly as anything Chopra has ever written. You know, quantum woo-meisters like Chopra and Laszlo should have tattooed on their heads with dirty needles, "Quantum effects do not couple macroscopic objects." In any case, what Laszlo is postulating is nothing more than old-fashioned boring mind-brain dualism draped in a mantle of New Age quantum woo. If you don't know anything about quantum physics, it sounds impressive as hell, but in reality it means nothing, particularly in the post from which I quoted the passage above. He tries to rectify that lapse in his "cosmic symphony" post.

If there's one thing I can't grok, it's why Laszlo would use the utterly lame metaphor of comparing the brain to a radio that picks up signals--consciousness--from elsewhere. It's nothing more than a variant of the cell phone metaphor that everybody's favorite creationist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor used three years ago. It was easy to demolish that analogy then, and it's just as easy now. Let's put it this way: To make a cell phone or a radio stop producing sound, all you have to do is to block its signal by putting it in a lead box. So why can't we find something that blocks all those "quantum-y" signals that (or so Laszlo says) are pouring into our brain? It's a question that neither Chopra nor Egnor could answer; so I doubt that Laszlo can, either. But he sure can conduct a symphony of woo:

The quantum-perception of the world is just as real as its sensory perception. Here, in brief, is why.

All things in space and time emit waves, and these waves interact with the waves produced by other things. They create wave interference patterns. Pressure waves in the air, and electric and magnetic waves in the EM field, diminish with distance, and the patterns they produce are limited to our immediate vicinity. However, quantum waves (waves that propagate in the nearly infinite virtual-energy domain that fills cosmic space) move instantly over any distance. The kinds of interference patterns they create constitute quantum holograms, and quantum holograms are "entangled" with each other -- they are instantly connected. As a result the information carried by one quantum hologram can be transferred to any other quantum hologram. Thus a system that can "read" the information in one hologram has access to the information carried by all. Our quantum-resonance-decoding brain could in principle capture information on anything and everything that creates quantum-interference waves in the universe.

That's right. Your perception isn't just holograms; it's quantum holograms! Apparently holograms are better with quantum-ness. But it's not just quantum holograms. No, that would be too...boring. Rather, it's quantum holograms that are all entangled with each other and "instantly connected. "It's time for Laszlo to read that tattoo again. Either that, or it's time for him to "get in the f-ing sack"!

But he won't. In defiance of the tattoo, Laszlo justifies his claim that the brain is a "quantum computer":

What's revealed at the leading edge of quantum physics and quantum biology is that your body is not just a biochemical system: it's also a "macroscopic quantum system." Quantum systems were believed to exist only at the submicroscopic level, where quanta are in the state known as "coherent," which means that they are able to get into synch with each other.

Laszlo then goes on to claim that "some theories" claim that quantum coupling can function at the macroscopic level, and that's why...well, let Laszlo tell it:

This makes sense because living systems exhibit highly and until recently inexplicably coherent behavior. Their cells and organs resonate in phase, and the entire living organism seems to obey one encompassing "macroscopic wave-function." In other words, instead of functioning like a bunch of cells and chemicals each doing their own thing unaware of each other, all the biochemical and bioelectric dance in superb coordination acts like a giant wave which moves and flows as one, despite the many individual droplets that are within it.

This means that your body is not just a biochemical system: it's also a macroscopic quantum system. Your brain is not just a bioelectric and biochemical computer, but also a quantum computer. The cells of your body, and the neurons and networks of neurons of your brain, are entangled with each other. This is why your brain can perform functions that are entire dimensions beyond the capacity of any conceivable biochemical system.

Ding ding ding ding ding! Give a prize to that man! He's managed to bring the other essential ingredient to any form of New Age pseudoscience that is at the basis of so much quackery. That's right, the vibrations have taken over! Why is it that everything in woo world always has to come back to vibrations and the abuse of quantum theory? I suppose I should be grateful that Laszlo didn't tell us that we could "reenergize" or "activate" our DNA somehow. On the other hand, I'm not at all grateful that apparently Laszlo understands evolution just as well as he understands quantum physics, as he demonstrates right here in an article entitled Design? Yes. Evolution? Yes. Contradiction? No. Then Why the Controversy? (conveniently cross-posted, for maximal pseudoscience potential, on HuffPo).

Gack! It's nothing more than the anthropic argument and the sharpshooter fallacy all rolled into one. It's truly worthy of a game of "name that logical fallacy." In the end, I'm surprised I've never heard of Ervin Laszlo before. After all, he's been around a long time, apparently. I have no idea what his achievements might have been outside the realm of science and philosophy, but his entire schtick seems to be eerily similar to that of Deepak Chopra. Take Cartesian dualism, tart it up with a bunch of quantum-y obfuscation, and succuss. Unfortunately, unlike homeopathy, Laszlo does not dilute his woo.

That much is obvious.

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Orac, how about if I dig up the paperwork and nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize? It's undoubtedly a bummer being unable to cite how many times you've been nominated. Then, ahem, if you would maybe return the favor, then I could be a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, too!

After a few iterations, we could scoff at Lazlo for having been nominated only twice! Yeah!

Well noted Zeno, I have to say that oce I read the line "Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize" I really felt that I knew everything I needed to know about this crank.

Which is a pity given how much work Orac has but into the rest of this post.

it disconnects the mind from the body: the mind only "drives" or "manages" the body as it would a car or an organization

Wait. I thought it was science that said the mind is most likely a part of the body, namely, the brain, arising from complex chemical interactions, and that the woo-woo crowd like Lazlo and Chopra view the mind (consciousness) as coming from outside.

In addition to his other many accomplishments, this guy is also an environmentalist, because he's recycling the same old shit.

By T. Bruce McNeely (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

This guy doesn't even use his entire brain, we should of course expect him to babble a lot of bs..
And why are people so eager to express their nominations for Nobel prizes? It's not like he won

By rijkswaanvijand (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Gee, Zeno. You stole my line. I wasn't going to wait to scoff at him for being nominated only twice. What was he doing in all of those other years?

His quantum peace spreading must be very powerful, but not powerful enough. Close, but no quantum cigar.

I also love the Western slur.

Some of the original research posted in the current issue of the American Journal of Emergency Medicine:

Practice variation in the management for nontraumatic pediatric patients in the ED
Yu-Che Chang, Chip-Jin Ng, Yu-Chuan Chen, Jih-Chang Chen, David Hung Tsang Yen
pages 275-283

What is the optimal dose of epinephrine during cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a rat model?
Meng-Hua Chen, Jun-Yu Lu, Lu Xie, Jun-Hui Zheng, Feng-Qing Song
pages 284-290

Factors associated with sustained return of spontaneous circulation in children after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest of noncardiac origin
Chao-Jui Li, Chia-Te Kung, Ber-Ming Liu, Chu-Chung Chou, Chin-Fu Chang, Tung-Kung Wu, Tzu-An Liu, Yan-Ren Lin
pages 310-317

Out of 9 studies, 3 are by groups of people with names that suggest they are familiar with a form of medicine that is not Western. Not unusual for this journal. Maybe Lazlo should try preaching to them about their apostasy. Or maybe, they know more about medicine than Lazlo.

Lazlo does not appear to realize that there are plenty of people practicing real medicine in the East as well as the West. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of people practicing his unicorn medicine in the West as well as the East.

"it disconnects the mind from the body: the mind only "drives" or "manages" the body as it would a car or an organization;"

As I see it, this is precisely wrong. Scientific materialism teaches us that our "self" is not some separate thing at all. Decartes was flat out wrong. I am my brain, my nerves and hormones. These things are me. My body / my self.

I interact with nature - the physical world - because "I" am *part of it*. Global warming, pollution, all these things affect me because I belong to this word: not some pie-in-the-sky heaven or some endless cycle of rebirth.

It's the woo-meisters who want to believe in ghosts, the buddhists whose highest goal is to leave the world and its attachments behind forever that separate us from the real world and from nature.

Lazlo blames this "problem" (if problem it even is)

Orac, if you are channeling Yoda, you are two days late. May the forth was Tuesday. :D

Although having only the right brain available to us we would mean we couldn't analyze things and express them in language, our experience would be filled with many positive things. We would be making connections between things, seeing the world around us as a whole in which people and things are organic parts. We would be attending directly to our experience, seeing people and things in their presented uniqueness. We would be living in our body, feeling ourselves one with it and the world that surrounds and embeds it.

Yes, and as a side effect, we would be literally insane.

By mad the swine (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Given his wikipedia article, the woo is strong with this one.

"Akashic field theory"?

Two things:

Dr. Laszlo is generally recognized as the founder of systems philosophy and general evolution theory -- ok, WTF is this "general evolution theory" that he claims HE'S founded?

And,
it disconnects the mind from the body: the mind only "drives" or "manages" the body as it would a car or an organization;
Uhhhhh....I thought, as paulmurray says, that it was "Western science" (right, because no-one from the Enlightened East has participated in the development of physical sciences) which said mind arises from our physical bodies and cannot be separated from them, while it's THIS guy's "philosophy" which states that mind is in fact separate from body, not dependent on the body, and drives the body according to the, whatisit, "quantum signals" now?

Whut?

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

When I see "QC", I automatically think "Quality Control". Which his "theories" are sadly lacking.

By attack_laurel (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

I recently decided in thinking about the whole area of quantum woo that the #1 question(s) I would ask anyone who uses that term would be:

What is quantized (divided into discrete, non-continuous levels)?

How do you measure it?

If you can't measure it, how do you know it is quantized?

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Our brain is a macroscopic quantum system

Does anyone have any good remedies for treating simultaneous forehead and palm pain?

While the list of nominees is secret, it turns out that a wide variety of people can nominate people or organizations for the Nobel Peace Prize. In addition to small categories like living prize winners (and members of the boards of prize-winning organizations),

The right to submit proposals for the Nobel Peace Prize shall, by statute, be enjoyed by:
1. Members of national assemblies and governments of states;
2. Members of international courts;
3. University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology;â¦

Category 3 there includes a huge number of people (probably more than was envisioned at the time). Also, your member of Congress or Parliament can nominate, if s/he wishes.

Bingo, paulmurray!

The whole world is all one thing, and we are part of it, whether we like it or not. Being "disconnected" does absolutely zip-doodle to that. That's a major pet peeve I have with a lot of the woo-woo world.

That said, belief in ghosts or buddhism doesn't separate us from the real world and from nature. It can't. It's ultimate goal is futile; we are a part of nature, and always will be. The only thing we can change is how we happen to feel about that. Denial does seem to be a rather popular choice.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

So, uh, what's new?

By DrWonderful (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@11, I think this sets up a Chopra vs Laszlo showdown ;)
"I was but the learner. Now I am the master."

I believe that even Gaddafi (the Libian tyrant that sponsored airplane bombing terrorists)was nominated for the Nobel Peace Price, and also the likes of Castro and Chavez. Not a very good note to put in your CV indeed!!

Oh, where to begin? He manages to simultaneously slaughter physics *and* psychology(both physio and cross cultural studies of cognition).I find what separates the truely *professional* cranks from the "high ranking amateurs" is the ability to blend several disciplines into an unfathomable conglomerate,intentionally mystifying the audience.Then there's the left brain/ right brain nonsense.And I've actually heard him speak!With a lovely *Mittel Europaean* accent! While doing my financial "chores"- with Null's noontime show on, for comic relief- he was a guest perhaps twice.Imagine if you can, my bemused bewilderment at the remarkable conversation that ensued between these two *masters*,as I monitored the reality of prices,graphs,and chirons flashing on the screen.It was like two "worlds colliding"- and- I was there!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Ya know, I'd like to know what qualifies as "Eastern" medicine and why it's so much better than Northern or Southern medicine. Everybody loves citing the Chinese and their medical folklore, but nobody talks about what native Hawaiians did when they got sick. Or what Argentinians accomplished medically. I bet folks in Greenland have some doozies, and hey while we're at it let's include some new traditions from our friends in the Antarctic research stations. Channel your inner penguin, folks!

Seeing these Chopra-kin talk is like driving past a car wreck: I want so badly to turn away, but there's this morbid allure to it.

I guess my curiosity gets especially peaked since I finished my Quantum II final Monday. How in the world do these idiots get off manhandling it in that way? I am rightfully appalled. Somebody needs to drag Mr. Laszlo through reality by the nose. Repeat after me: particles with mass do not travel faster than light, even if they are wave packets. By claiming that they travel everywhere instantly, he has killed the causal structure that even allows there to be a wave! What a fool... if it were instantaneous, all this interference structure that he is marveling at would not exist.

One question about Mr. Renaissance Man: how do you "publish" "six volumes" of piano recordings?

It's like saying your literary output includes writing six MP3 files.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@14: I usually just ask, "What's the Hamiltonian of the system?"

quantum mechanics is cool. here is a Science News link to a paper that was released in Nature:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/57385/title/Physicists_obser…

the scientists coupled a quantum bit and a mechanical resonator.

the interesting thing about this is that the resonator is about 6 microns long, which is barely visible to the naked eye--i.e. getting macroscopic!

quantum behavior was displayed in a macroscopicish object!

as for entangling brains and cosmic energy fields with infinite speed:

STHU

real science, like that above, is much much more fascinating than any craptastic quantum woo that chopra and now laszlo are spewing.

With such obvious credential padding (nominated Nobel prize, founder of general evolution theory), you have to wonder just how valid those other claims of his are. Are those "books" just pamphlets, or the same book reprinted in 70 different countries by some acolyte who volunteers to print them off on an independent press? As mentioned by others, you don't really need to read past those credentials to know how unreliable his following messages will be.
-dan

By Daniel J. Andrews (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

p.s. did you know if you anagram the names "Laszlo" and "Chopra", you get "Zoo Hall's Crap"?

Or my preferred variation, "All Pooh Czars"?

There's some quantum entanglement right there.

All hail the Grand Pooh Czars.

By Daniel J.. Andrews (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

All things in space and time emit waves, and these waves interact with the waves produced by other things. They create wave interference patterns. Pressure waves in the air, and electric and magnetic waves in the EM field, diminish with distance, and the patterns they produce are limited to our immediate vicinity. However, quantum waves (waves that propagate in the nearly infinite virtual-energy domain that fills cosmic space) move instantly over any distance. The kinds of interference patterns they create constitute quantum holograms, and quantum holograms are "entangled" with each other -- they are instantly connected.

He's talking about the Force! It's all about the midicholorions.

To make a cell phone or a radio stop producing sound, all you have to do is to block its signal by putting it in a lead box. So why can't we find something that blocks all those "quantum-y" signals that (or so Laszlo says) are pouring into our brain?

FEAR MY QUANTUM DEATH RAY!

By Screechy Monkey (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Qualified Nominators: The right to submit proposals for the Nobel Peace Prize shall, by statute, be enjoyed by:

1. Members of national assemblies and governments of states;
2. Members of international courts;
3. University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes;

So go hang out with the right profs and you too can get a nomination.

By Tsu Dho Nimh (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@27 tl,

Good point. It's been too long since I really studied this stuff. If I remember correctly, you could also ask if they preferred the tensor or the wave function description of quantum mechanics?

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

"He is also the recipient of the highest degree in philosophy and human sciences from the Sorbonne, the University of Paris"

So is Elisabeth Teissier, the personal astrologist of the late President Mitterand (who is believed to have kept her around more to improve his immediate landscape than for any interest in the occult, whatever Dan Brown is saying).
(in French)
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89lizabeth_Teissier#Une_th.C3.A8se_de_…

The writer Rabelais, from the 16th century, noted wisely that one anagram of Sorbonne is non-sober. I wonder about the jury who gave a diploma to these 2 peoples (assuming this Lazlo really got one).
I'm suddenly not that proud of my own PhD. Anyone can get one, it seems.
I'm afraid astrology, magnetism and other woo stuffs are fashionable in certain elitist Parisian circles.
This guy will need more concrete references to get my trust. Like, what was his thesis about? Not that I'm really interested in reading it, now that I have seen a sample of his current prose.

sounds like he's been reading Morris Berman.

I'm so pleased to see you've discovered Laszlo. As a Huffpost blogger, I've been trying to get him to quit with the quantum... Oh so many times.

As woo goes, however, this last article was nothing compared to prior nonsenses.

I have no idea why I've never discovered Laszlo before. After several years at this, I thought I knew all the major player woos. Apparently there is always a new one to discover.

or possibly, also too much Julian Jaynes and the bicameral theory of mind?

Maybe he was in hiding with his grandfather, Victor.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

"The writer Rabelais, from the 16th century, noted wisely that one anagram of Sorbonne is non-sober."

Not in French it isn't.

it deals with the representations of people and things rather than with our living experience of people and things;

it categorizes, schematizes people and things, viewing them as abstract entities rather than as existing, living realities;

Anyone else see the irony here? By making this list, isn't Laszlo essentially performing these two processes he's put on the list, thus outing himself as one of those dreaded "Western Minds"?

Bookfinder.com did find quite a lot for him. I'm seeing a lot of overlap in titles, and a LOT of woo words that wouldn't be out of place in the titles of self-published crank newsletters.

Erin,

My theory regarding which civilizations can be origins of long-lost magic requires them to have been considered superior at times. Ancient Chinese, Indians, Mayans, etc. invented/developed a lot of things, so the idea that they may have stumbled on something is plausible.

Unless you have the Western mind "dis-ease", you adopt the barely-plausible, inexplicable, localized and ancient, and reject the recent, sensible, repeatable, and universal.

Im sorry, but I have to ignore Ervin, Ive sworn that the only Lazlo I will pay any attention to is Lazlo Hollyfeld.

@42 Jon H

Eh? I don't remember my Gargantua?

Sorbonne

Maitre Tubal Holofern de la Nonsobre.

What did I get wrong?

This was such fun! Post and comments.

The nurse (LPN) who gives me allergy shots informed me today, with great pride, that her youngest daughter is studying at PALMER CHIROPRACTIC in Iowa! I tried really hard to feign a bit of enthusiasm, but quickly switched to admiring the nearby photo of her grandchildren. Why does WOO follow me EVERYWHERE? Is it the ghost of quantumness trying to punish me for my rationality? This post was especially welcome after that earlier experience.

If I may be permitted one moment of horn-tooting, note that in this comment, I noted that D.D. Palmer (founder of chiropractic) used the term "dis-ease" in the late 1800s, likening the afflicted anatomy to an "overheated gearbox.

I thought that analogy perfectly suited to Victorian times, and speculated on its modern incarnation:

I can easily imagine a quack^D^D^D^D^Dholistic healer using just that metaphor in 1896. Today, I expect he would work "quantum" in there somewhere.

[does the Eagle Rock]

Vicki (#17) correctly notes:

"...it turns out that a wide variety of people can nominate people or organizations for the Nobel Peace Prize."

And let us not forget that even people who are not on the approved Nobel nominating list can submit nominations - they are simply ignored. I'm pretty sure that at least one person claiming to be a "Nobel nominee" had their spouse mail in a nomination.

Since this seems to be a sort of badge of authority among the woo-inclined, I've sent in six nominations for Orac (three as "Orac" and three for his mild-mannered secret identity). Not to be out-done, I've also sent in three for myself (I was going to send in five, but I thought that would be going too far).

Now Orac can claim to have been nominated three times (!!!) for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. If he likes, I can nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize as well, although that one seems to have lost some of its lustre in recent years.

Prometheus (Three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature)

@Anthro

Last night I was on a first date with a woman I met a few months back. We were talking about disastrous first-date experiences, and I told her about another recent date I was on where my date described me as a "typical Virgo." "Astrology!" I said "in this day and age! Hilarious!"

I was then treated to a lecture about how astrology is the underpinning of all modern philosophy, and how amazingly true it is, even though nobody really knows how it works.

The same quantum ghost is haunting my sex life, cock-blocking me at every turn.

While we're padding our CV's, I:

am Discoverer of the Bozon, the fundamental particle of stupidity.
hold a Doctorate of Quantum Cryptozoology
am Developer of the super-symmetric simplified probability theory - shit happens, or it doesn't
am Originator of the Cosmic Misanthropic Principle, which is, the universe hates you, ALL OF YOU!

By The Gregarious… (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

I was then treated to a lecture about how astrology is the underpinning of all modern philosophy, and how amazingly true it is, even though nobody really knows how it works.

I have an ex who used to think like that. We're still good friends, and she's a skeptic now. Hopefully this girl will wise up and come around, eh?

By Jeff Read (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@Jeff Read

Somehow (despite being one of the more dickish people to comment here) I managed to refrain from doing anything besides nodding politely and steering the conversation toward something neutral... like tequila shots. All in all, I think the night was saved. We'll see how it goes.

I was then treated to a lecture about how astrology is the underpinning of all modern philosophy, and how amazingly true it is, even though nobody really knows how it works.
...
I managed to refrain from doing anything besides nodding politely and steering the conversation toward something neutral... like tequila shots.

Managed to avoid channeling Tim Minchin, did yez?

Now Orac can claim to have been nominated three times (!!!) for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. If he likes, I can nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize as well, although that one seems to have lost some of its lustre in recent years.

Prometheus (Three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature)

Prometheus,

Thank you, it has been a long hard day. When I got to your signature I laughed so hard tears came to my eyes.

"So is Elisabeth Teissier, the personal astrologist of the late President Mitterand (who is believed to have kept her around more to improve his immediate landscape than for any interest in the occult, whatever Dan Brown is saying)."
I wouldn't be surprised if Mitterand WAS interested in astrology. The man wrote an essay about how Mao was a humanist at the moment when millions of Chinese were starving due to Mao's insane policies. Mitterand wasn't exactly the most critical thinker in the history of France.

I think I'll nominate myself for the Nobel prize in Funkanomics.

By Matthew Cline (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

3. University rectors; professors of social sciences, history, philosophy, law and theology; directors of peace research institutes and foreign policy institutes;

So professors of life sciences or physical sciences can't nominate Nobel candidates? Does that mean if you discover the ribosome, apoptosis, neutrinos, or the hole in the ozone layer, you have to go hang out with the liberal arts folks and wait for them to nominate you?

Hmmm. Mullis got his Nobel for the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) awfully darn quickly. Maybe he shared some of his stash with the philosophers and that's how they nominated him faster than usual.

By Toxicology Kat (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Toxicology Kat@60

That list of eligible nominators is only for the peace prize.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

@Toxicology Kat

Kary Mullis is also woo friendly, last I checked. Maybe he did have friends in like Astral-Plane totally high places.

Science is unpopular for good reason. It caused the extinction of the faeries. It caused magic powers to fail inexplicably on The Amazing Randi's show. It kidnapped every child's imaginary friends and won't tell us where it's hiding them.

By Scott Cunningham (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

As an encore,Laszlo will now elucidate today's economic fiasco with his post:"How the Western Markets' Unnaturally Over-Managed,Mechanistically Systemic Unconsciousness Contributed to Dis-Eased Macrocopic Quantum Events".

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

I nominate Chopra for the Noble Peach Prize--where some very noble people throw rotten peaches at the "winner".

By Quantum Peaches (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

Wait . . . are you sure it wasn't the Sore Buns institute ?

Michael, as I discovered recently and very much to my surprise, Mao's little red book is a very strongly humanist text! China would have been a much happier place if only Mao had practiced what he preached.

But most of all he appears to be complaining about a "disconnect from nature." There's a grain of truth in that to the extent that we humans tend to view ourselves as outside of nature, thanks to technology, but that is not a trait unique to the "West." Rather, it appears to be a consequence of technology allowing us to isolate ourselves more and more from the elements, from the actions of nature.

Ironically, this traces back to religion, not science.

Many if not most religions, including the Judeo-Christian-Islamic ones, tend to put up what Stephen Jay Gould called "picket fences" around humanity, exempting us from fully participating in the natural world or being subject to the same natural laws that every other entity faces. This tendency carried over into the first stirrings of Western science, where the insistence on human uniqueness wound up holding back various sciences for much of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. It was once even theorized that humans stopped evolving once they hit the "modern human" stage, thus removing them from the natural world!

(waves that propagate in the nearly infinite virtual-energy domain that fills cosmic space)

Waves. Virtual. Energy. Cosmic. Space.

Simply take those words, use them frequently in a talk about whatever you fancy, add a few "quantums" into the mix and you could give a lecture at New Living Expo or Green Festival.

The man should be on Top Chef Masters. He could make Salade de Mots avec obscurcissement. Deeeelicious.

By Pareidolius (not verified) on 06 May 2010 #permalink

WTF is this "general evolution theory" that he claims HE'S founded?

Excerpt from his wikipedia page under "Work":

their goal was to explore whether it might be possible to use the chaos theory to identify a new general theory of evolution that might serve as a path to a better world.

It seems they forgot to throw in "quantum" in some form or another which must be why the effort failed.

But truly, this man is Deepak's inferior only in notoriety. His woo is second to none.

@61 Militant Agnostic,

Toxicology Kat@60

That list of eligible nominators is only for the peace prize.

Looks like somebody was trying to pick a fight between the Sharks and the Jets of academia.

I am glad that I had finished what I was drinking before I read through the comments in the 50s, here. The adventures of Ian and the astrologeress crazy date. She does not believe that the use of tequila to get her drunk is some form of Western intoxication method? Nothing like a little soap opera to liven up the comment section. :-)

It appears that I can nominate myself for the Nobel Prize by email. If the nomination is going to be ignored anyway, does it really matter how it is sent?

Why even bother with that, I will psychically nominate myself. There. That's done, or did I just psychically order a horde of flying monkeys to attack the Huffington Post? Either way, it's a win. ;-)

I've got to learn to control these powers, but as long as I do not evolve quantum powers, I can still manage. If I evolve quantum psychic powers, then it is Big Bang all over again.

How in the world do these idiots get off manhandling it in that way?

Easy : they don't have the maths. Quantum physics is nothing more than gobbledygook if you don't have the maths. I'm ready to bet this doofus doesn't have any idea what a wavefunction looks like, what are its properties, what the hell is an hamiltionian and why there are destructive and constructive interference. It's just magic hocus pocus words for him. And since his audience doesn't have the maths either, it's pretty easy to get away with making shit up.

Pareidolius:

Simply take those words, use them frequently in a talk about whatever you fancy, add a few "quantums" into the mix and you could give a lecture at New Living Expo or Green Festival.

After you wrote that, I wondered if someone had created a text generator based on that formula, similar to the Postmodern Generator. I couldn't find anything, though. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.

By J. J. Ramsey (not verified) on 07 May 2010 #permalink

HuffPo has reached critical mass and now functions as a magnetic vortex for all kinds of woo. Robert Lanza, M.D. thinks his medical degree qualifies him to pontificate on consciousness and quantum physics.

You're not an object -- you are your consciousness. You're a unified being, not just your wriggling arm or foot, but part of a larger equation that includes all the colors, sensations and objects you perceive. If you divorce one side of the equation from the other you cease to exist. Indeed, experiments confirm that particles only exist with real properties if they're observed. Until the mind sets the scaffolding of things in place, they can't be thought of as having any real existence -- neither duration nor position in space. As the great physicist John Wheeler said, "No phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon." That's why in real experiments, not just the properties of matter -- but space and time themselves -- depend on the observer. Your consciousness isn't just part of the equation â the equation is you.

By Reginald Selkirk (not verified) on 07 May 2010 #permalink

So... anyone know what in the flying hell "systems philosophy" is supposed to be (besides "bullshit")? The Wikipedia article seemed like a bunch of gibberish, and I'm used to wading through philosophy writing.