Nov 04 2013

Chopra Shoots at Skepticism and Misses

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20 Responses to “Chopra Shoots at Skepticism and Misses”

  1. oldmanjenkinson 04 Nov 2013 at 8:34 am

    Chopra has a problem differentiating reality from fantasy so his position regarding skeptics is no surprise.

  2. Lukas1986on 04 Nov 2013 at 9:05 am

    The argument that Wikipedia is under attack by skeptics is used by woo promoters like Craig Weiler and others:

    In October 2013 Weiler published a blog post titled “The Wikipedia Battle for Rupert Sheldrake’s Biography” in an attempt to stir up a controversy over Rupert Sheldrake’s Wikipedia article. In the post he demonstrated a decided lack of comprehension with regard to basic Wikipedia policies, which do not allow the promotion of pseudoscience on Wikipedia. He also drew upon several conspiracy theories about how Sheldrake is supposedly being oppressed by skeptics. Weiler believes all kinds of woo should be included on Wikipedia without critical or skeptical coverage.

    Among the conspiracy theories was one that was immediately debunked just by looking at the source. He claimed that there was a “Wikipedia mafia” that had attempted to intimidate him on Wikipedia. He provided quotes from his Wikipedia user page as evidence. However a simple check of the page reveals that no such intimidation occurred. On the page he was simply asked to look at Wikipedia’s “real name” policy because he was using the name “Craig Weiler” on Wikipedia. The policy’s purpose is to prevent impersonators, and everyone using a real name should follow the policy (for example linking from his blog to his Wikipedia page would satisfy the policy). Furthermore, his user page on Wikipedia reveals that he acknowledged and thanked those who brought the policy to his attention. A comment was posted on his blog describing this state of affairs (screenshot), which was approved and appeared on his blog for a few hours, before he deleted it.

    Taken from:

    This is just a example on the mind-energy forum/Skeptiko forum the forum of Alex Tsakiris. There is more out there – they are monitoring every parapsychologist and taking a look into it if it was changed into a more skeptical view like Dean Radin wikipedia page etc..

  3. Kawarthajonon 04 Nov 2013 at 11:59 am

    Why shouldn’t sceptics be militant? There are a lot of pressing issues that sceptics address, including a lot of issues that could have a significant and positive effect on many people (i.e. vaccines, global warming, unsafe consumer products, etc…)! While I realize that Chopra is being manipulative by using the word “militant”, I think that sceptics should take it as a compliment that even big name pseudoscience peddlers are feeling the sting of sceptical activism. Sceptics are up against some very passionate and militant foes – anti-vaccers, con-artists and manipulators. Some militancy is a necessary counter to the pseudoscience peddlers.

  4. ConspicuousCarlon 04 Nov 2013 at 12:11 pm

    “his unflinching criticism of pseudoscience”

    Minor correction: he flinched for Bill Maher.

  5. Tim Farleyon 04 Nov 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Another aspect of Craig Weiler – he gives the impression in a comment on the Chopra article, and in his blog posts, that he personally was involved in editing the Sheldrake article, and complains of almost being banned.

    But here’s the thing – Craig Weiler’s editing history, like everyone else’s, is public information on Wikipedia. Since he joined Wikipedia on September 14 of this year, he’s made about 64 edits to 6 distinct pages. Every single one of those 6 pages is what Wikipedia calls a “talk page” – in other words, meta-discussion about editing.

    Let me reword that for those not familiar with Wikipedia: Craig Weiler has never once in his life made one constructive edit to the content of Wikipedia.*

    And so, anyone who thinks he has any real knowledge of what goes on in Wikipedia is fooling themselves. He’s an outside observer who doesn’t understand the rules, and has made no effort to try.

    The reason skeptics like myself, Susan Gerbic and the rest of her skeptic Wikipedia team have been successful in our edits is because we HAVE actually taken the time to learn the rules, abide by them, and apply them in practice. Unless and until Weiler, Chopra, Sheldrake and the rest of them put in that effort, they are always going to be whining about Wikipedia.

    * Not sure if links are allowed here, but if they are, here’s Craig Weiler’s editing history:

  6. Steven Novellaon 04 Nov 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Lukas and Tim – thanks for the extra info. Chopra promised follow up on the whole Wikipedia thing, so I was planning on tackling the issue then, but your info is very helpful.

  7. tmac57on 04 Nov 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Seems to me if they can’t follow the rules that Wikipedia has established,they should go the route of Conservapedia,and create their own reality…call it Wookipedia perhaps?

  8. Tim Farleyon 04 Nov 2013 at 2:51 pm

    @tmac57: I somewhat expect a move like that, because Weiler’s last blog post about Wikipedia is essentially “I give up”. It’s happened several times before – not only is there Conservapedia, but chiropractors have their own Wiki, and so on and so forth.

    Of course, setting up your own wiki is NOT a real solution. The reason Wikipedia is so interesting to edit is because of its unique visibility both in search engine results and in the culture itself. No special-topic Wiki is going to achieve that visibility.

    I will say that Wikipedia is not without problems. The rules are voluminous and arcane, the culture is hard to learn, and it’s easy to get slapped down and become discouraged as a newbie. The Wikimedia foundation is aware of these problems and continually strives to do better. But the answer isn’t to whine in an op-ed about it, the answer is to knuckle down, learn the rules, and do the work.

    P.S. FYI, Weiler is continuing to argue on the Chopra piece at SFGate. It’s somewhat entertaining, as are his blog posts. For one thing he saw my handle “krelnik” and referred to me as an anonymous commenter – apparently it’s too much work to type 7 letters into Google to figure out who someone is.

  9. FacelessManon 04 Nov 2013 at 5:09 pm

    @Tmac57 “…call it Wookipedia perhaps?”

    Not to be mistaken with Wookieepedia (Star Wars wiki), also belonging to the fantasy genre, but with a better plot.

  10. ccbowerson 04 Nov 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I wish I could understand the appeal of this type nonsense. It is so jarring to hear someone spouting off this type nonsense that I often feel the need to remove myself from the situation (as a way to remove painful stimuli), while others gather ’round and listen intently.

  11. ConspicuousCarlon 04 Nov 2013 at 8:20 pm

    ccbowers on 04 Nov 2013 at 7:22 pm
    I wish I could understand the appeal of this type nonsense.

    I think some people (maybe all of us to some degree) have a natural tendency to think that everything can be understood in terms of things we already know and understand. In a way I suppose we kind of have to do that, since it is not really possible to think about a new subject in terms of concepts we don’t understand yet.

    As crazy as Chopra’s nonsense sounds to people who have the slightest knowledge of the subjects he hijacks, to a total layperson with some excess pride it might sound more appealing to hear a sloppy false metaphor than to be told you have to actually learn a whole bunch of stuff. I think our first impulse is to deny that second possibility.

    “Those scientists aren’t as smart as they think! Quantum strangeness is just a manifestation of the conflicting feelings in our minds! They make things complicated because they refuse to open their hearts and accept that we are all one with the universe!”
    –”I don’t know exactly what that means, but now I feel smart because I can recite a few sentences which sound like some kind of answer.”

  12. BillyJoe7on 04 Nov 2013 at 9:36 pm

    SN: “The big “but” is that not everyone believes in God as a scientific fact. Some people choose to have faith in an unfalsifiable god, one that resides outside the realm of science”

    How many is “some”?

    Does anyone personally know of anyone who believes in a unfalsifiable god?
    An unfalsifiable god is one who has no interaction within the universe he has presumably created.
    IMO, the “big butt” is a “vanishingly small butt” of no practical consequence.
    In other words, Richard Dawkins is, for all practical purposes, correct.

    Do faeries and hobgoblins also have big butts?

  13. zaphod900on 05 Nov 2013 at 12:37 am


    This is a great topic for discussion. Wikipedia is very misunderstood by the general public and shunned by far too many academics.

    I would suggest having Susan Gerbic on the SGU to expand on the rules and regs of editing Wikipedia. She is a great resource, and has wrangled many, many people to become the “Army of Skeptics” better known by it’s real title, The Guerilla Skeptics of Wikipedia.

  14. Lukas1986on 05 Nov 2013 at 2:35 am

    Here is the info about stalking on wikipedia where a user with the name Dan the Skeptic changed Dean Radins page into a more skeptical tone:

    “It would look like “Dan skeptic” is going to town destroying Dean Radin’s reputation.…action=history
    Pretty laughable that he claimed to be new to Wikipedia, yet he immediately knew all the ins and outs of Wikipedia. He’s yet another pseudoskeptic who obsessively follows this board and has probably been banned before. Here’s another proponent that was perhaps unfairly banned years ago:
    They say he revealed personal info about another Wikipedia editor. But isn’t that what a number of the pseudoskeptics, including Dan Skeptic and Lucky Louie, did to Tumbleman?”

    Its from:

  15. Lukas1986on 05 Nov 2013 at 2:36 am

    Its seems that pseudoscience promoters are not happy that their “stars” receive criticism and therefore they stalk those who write a normal view on the subject..

  16. Mad Vertexon 05 Nov 2013 at 7:14 am

    > Why shouldn’t sceptics be militant?

    Because in this case it’s to a misnomer, implanted only for the purpose of
    I wouldn’t really classify skeptic activism in any way as being correctly described with any meaning of the word “militant” (

    It is very similar to when it’s used to describe outspoken atheists, since in the context of religion, “militant” takes a much stronger meaning. “militant christians”, “militant jews”, “militant muslims” all refer to (quite horrible) violence, which then makes it very unfair for the term to be used as a synonim for “outspoken” or “vocal”.

  17. 123FakeNameon 05 Nov 2013 at 9:23 am

    The crazy thing is that for all his talk about the evils of skepticism, there’s no doubt that if he did have any legitimate science on his side he would point to it and insist on its importance. The only reason for someone to deny the value of evidence and criticism is if they know that their ideas aren’t supported by it.

  18. ccbowerson 05 Nov 2013 at 9:44 pm

    “Does anyone personally know of anyone who believes in a unfalsifiable god?”

    In a difference sense, a lot of people do, but from their own narrow perspective only. The problem is that you are looking for a coherent concept of such a being, in which people come to believe through logic and continue to test this idea. People do not usually treat their religious beliefs in this fashion (like a scientific question). The more common treatment of religious belief to make it ‘unfalsifiable’ in a person’s mind is for individuals to refuse to attempt to falsify it. Taking the idea of their god(s) as a given, they use special pleading, compartmentalization, etc – whatever it takes to keep the beliefs that they want, plus acknowledge the reality that they want or can’t deny.

    In fact, the people that don’t do this I would call fundamentalists. These people stand out because they hold onto their beliefs much more strongly than the obvious realities around them.

  19. rocken1844on 06 Nov 2013 at 1:18 am

    Hearken back to Dr. Novella’s post of May 02/2013 HIV Cure Close?

    “Regardless of which researchers cross the finish line first, this is a great victory for science. In one generation we have gone from the discovery of a new frightening infectious illness, to figuring out the viral cause and working out its entire life-cycle, and designing targeted treatments that improved to the point that we are now able to essentially put the infection into remission. We are still working on developing a vaccine, and now also on eradicating the virus entirely.

    That is a dramatic success for reductionist science. Nothing in the “alternative” world can even come close. Science works. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.”

  20. Bill Openthalton 06 Nov 2013 at 3:54 am


    Does anyone personally know of anyone who believes in a unfalsifiable god?

    Probably not when stated like this, but I personally know excellent scientists who are deeply religious, and have no problem holding two conflicting models of the world almost simultaneously.

    It would seem that if, for whatever reason, people establish a “personal” relationship with a $DEITY, this personal experience trumps rational arguments against the existence of this being. The good thing is they do realise it is a personal belief, and do not see it as universal. If only all religious people were like this…

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