Search Results for "deepak chopra"

Apr 07 2010

Magic Man – Deepak Chopra

Published by under Pseudoscience

Deepak Chopra believes that he is magic. He thinks he can affect reality with his thoughts alone, and that is as good a definition of “magic” as any.

On Sunday there was a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Baja CA. This is a serious quake, and on the Mexico side of the border where construction quality is not as good, there was substantial devastation and some loss of life.

Following the quake Deepak tweeted:

“Had a powerful meditation just now — caused an earthquake in Southern California,”

and then:

“Was meditating on Shiva mantra & earth began to shake. Sorry about that.”

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28 responses so far

Jul 18 2008

Deepak Chopra – More Woo from the Master

Published by under Uncategorized

Writing for the Huffington Post (an online news outlet that regularly hosts pseudoscience and anti-vaccinationist ravings), Deepak Chopra seeks to inform us: Why the Paranormal is Normal. What he actually demonstrates is his ability to twist and abuse language in an attempt to distract and confuse his reader. At this verbal deception Chopra is truly the master.

Language is important- words matter. Anyone who has studied a technical field should appreciate the need to use precise and unambiguous terminology. Good writers will also carefully choose words to illuminate, rather than obfuscate, what they wish to convey. It is also true that humans generally think in words. Language is closely tied to conscious thought. We therefore need clear language in order to think clearly. Words are also handle-bars with which we can grab hold of concepts – therefore by expanding our vocabulary we can expand our intellectual horizons.

Those who wish to push a claim or point of view that is illogical, at odds with reality, or simply does not make sense will often use language to force-fit their ideas to reality. They will use ambiguous terms, or will shift the definition of terms as needed, for example. This is exactly what Chopra does in order to make his dubious point.

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44 responses so far

Jun 17 2014

Deepak Challenge to Skeptics

Deepak Chopra doesn’t appear to like skeptics much, or understand them. He just put out a YouTube video challenging “Randi and his cronies” to his own fake version of the million dollar challenge.

All we have to do, apparently, is make 50-100 years of scientific advance in neuroscience in a single peer-reviewed paper. I’ll get started on that right away.

Actually, even that probably would not be sufficient. The whole point of pseudoscientific goal-post moving is to keep forever out of reach of current scientific evidence. It doesn’t matter how much progress science makes, there will always be gaps and limitations to our knowledge. Chopra lives in the gaps.

Here is his exact challenge:

Dear Randi: Before you go around debunking the so-called “paranormal,” please explain the so-called “normal.” How does the electricity going into the brain become the experience of a three dimensional world in space and time. If you can explain that, then you get a million dollars from me. Explain and solve the hard problem of consciousness in a peer-reviewed journal, offer a theory that is falsifiable, and you get the prize.

The challenge is absurd because it is completely undefined. “Explain” to what degree? Science often advances by developing theories that are progressively deeper. Obviously we can explain consciousness on some level, and just as obviously Chopra would not accept that level as sufficient, but he gives absolutely no indication of how much deeper an explanation he would require.

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49 responses so far

Nov 19 2013

Coyne Destroys Chopra

Chopra continues his attack on his skeptical critics with a piece in the New Republic, focussing his attention on Jerry Coyne. Coyne, in turn, responds to Copra. I gave away my assessment of the exchange in the title of this post, but take a look and decide for yourselves.

Chopra continues his attempt to portray the situation as him being the victim of militant skeptics who are using underhanded tactics to attack anyone who would expand science beyond our narrow materialist view. In so doing he actually betrays his pseudoscientific natture.

Coyne immediately zeros in on Chopra’s major fallacy – he is arguing that he is not a pseudoscientist by listing all his credentials and associations. That is exactly what a pseudoscientist would do, surround himself in the trappings of science. There is no doubt that Chopra is a successful self-promoter, and in fact he is partly responsible for the infiltration of pseudoscience into academia. None of that rescues him from being a pseudoscientist.

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12 responses so far

Nov 12 2013

Chopra Skepticism Fail Part 2

As promised, Deepak Chopra has written a follow up article about what he calls The Rise and Fall of Militant Skepticism. As we saw in part 1, Chopra remains consistent with his reputation for being intellectually superficial and careless, more interested in propping up his particular brand of mysticism than genuinely engaging with his critics.

In part 2 Chopra also continues his practice of erecting massive strawmen, consistent with the narrative standard in his corner of the wooniverse. He begins by once again conflating atheism with skepticism. Clearly he did not read or comprehend any of the skeptical responses to his first post. Now he trots out the tired claim that skeptics are negative and want to kill curiosity – it’s all just so tedious.

He also uses a strategy that I see increasingly within the subculture of many pseudosciences, specifically trying to adopt the language of skeptics but turning that language back against skeptics, as if they thought of in the first place.

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31 responses so far

Nov 04 2013

Chopra Shoots at Skepticism and Misses

Published by under Skepticism

Deepak Chopra apparently has no love for organized skepticism. This is not surprising and his particular brand of spiritual pseudoscience has been a favorite target of skeptical analysis. He is also not the only one who has decided to fight back against the skeptics – if you cannot defend yourself against legitimate criticism, then shoot the messenger.

In a recent article Chopra renews his attack against what he calls “militant skepticism.” This is a blatant attempt, of course, to portray skeptics as extremist and on the fringe, a strategy that has been used against “militant atheists.” Chopra also uses his article to conflate skepticism with atheism, almost as if he is completely unaware of the internal discourse that has been taking place for decades within the skeptical movement.

Chopra writes:

The rise of militant skepticism clouded the picture, however, beginning with its popular attack on religion. The aim of Richard Dawkins, as stated in his best seller, The God Delusion, was to subject “the God hypothesis” to scientific scrutiny, the way one would subject anti-matter or black holes to scrutiny. In fact he did no such thing with God, for the scientific method requires experiments that can be replicated and facts that can be verified. Dawkins offered no experiments to prove or disprove the existence of God. What he actually did was to subject religion to a barrage of scorn and ridicule, attacking it on the rational improbability – as he sees it – that a deity could possibly exist.

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20 responses so far

Apr 22 2013

Confusing Standards for Censorship – Chopra Edition

Published by under Skepticism

TED is a prestigious biannual conference whose brand is, “Ideas Worth Spreading.” (TED originally stood for “Technology, Entertainment, Design,” but its scope has since expanded.) It has spawned TEDx – regional independent TED style conferences that are allowed to use the TED brand as long as they strive for the same level of quality.

Deepak Chopra apparently thinks that TED’s logo should be, “Let’s throw any crap against the wall and let the audience sort it out.” Of course that is what all self-styled gurus and purveyors of pseudoscience want, no real scientific standards so that they can present their crackpot ideas as legitimate.

This conflict of vision recently came to a head when TEDx directors (Lara Stein, TEDx Director and Emily McManus, Editor) wrote an open letter to TEDx organizers giving them guidance on how to avoid accidentally promoting bad science. The letter is an excellent primer on pseudoscience and I recommend reading it in its entirety. The letter was a response to several dubious TEDx talks and the backlash that resulted. Early in the letter they make clear its purpose and their philosophy.

“It is not your audience’s job to figure out if a speaker is offering legitimate science or not. It is your job.”

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23 responses so far

Dec 03 2009

Chopra Attacks Skeptics

Published by under Skepticism

Deepak Chopra, writing for (of course) the Huffington Post, laments about his critics that, “Most of my stinging darts come from skeptics.” So he has decided to attack skeptics and skepticism – a preemptive strike against his critics. Predictably he mangles scientific skepticism, and is content to attack a straw man and then declare victory.

He begins:

Over the years I’ve found that ill-tempered guardians of scientific truth can’t abide speculative thinking. And as the renowned Richard Dawkins has proved, they are also very annoyed by a nuisance named God.

Right of he starts by accusing skeptics of being “ill-tempered” as if we are all cynical curmudgeons. This is an unimaginative ad hominem (Chopra really wracks up the logical fallacies in this post). Many of the skeptics I know are actually quite mild-mannered, even overly nice. Chopra confuses, perhaps, sharp scientific criticism with emotion. This is a common mistake among those who are not adequately familiar with the scientific process – it is a relentless meatgrinder of criticism and does not abide illogic or sloppiness – and that’s a good thing.  Beware of those who confuse scientific analysis and criticism with being mean.

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29 responses so far

Nov 16 2009

Chopra Mangles Quantum Mechanics – Again

Published by under Pseudoscience

Deepak Chopra has made a career out of misunderstanding quantum mechanics (QM) – and through his popularity, confusing the public. Like many others, he has found a superficial way in which to interpret quantum mechanics to make is seem as if it is congruent with Eastern metaphysics.

And now he has done it again, in that anti-science rag the Huffington Post. Chopra goes beyond the typical New Age distortion of QM, which is basically the claim that QM is really weird, therefore magic is real. Chopra assumes some very specific, and common, misinterpretations of QM. He writes:

Quantum physics tells us that objects exist in a suspended physical state until observed, when they collapse to just one outcome — we don’t know what happens until we investigate, and our investigation influences that reality. Whether or not certain events may have happened some time ago, may not actually be determined until some time in your future — it may actually be contingent upon actions that have not yet taken place.

Chopra is referring to the wave-particle duality of matter, quantum entanglement, and the uncertainty principle – but he gets them profoundly wrong. First he makes the common mistake of interpreting the collapse of the wave function as being dependent on an observer, which is false. QM states that light, electrons, and all fundamental particles exist not as  discrete point particles, but spread out like a wave. We can only describe the probability that they will be in a specific place at any moment, and that probability is the wave function. Particles, when free from interactions with other matter, actually behave like waves (see the double slit experiments).

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32 responses so far

Dec 31 2007

Deep Nonsense from Deepak

Deepak Chopra is one of the biggest names in dualist woo nonsense. His arguments are particularly vacuous and poorly thought out, and in his recent two-part article in the Huffington Post he remains true to form. (Part I and Part II) This time he is trying to argue from some recent developments in neuroscience that the mind is separate from the brain, but his argument is little more than a thinly veiled leap of faith.

He writes:

One need only turn to the work of the late Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita from Mexico, who attracted general scorn thirty years ago when he suggested that the brain was capable of “sensory substitution.” That is, a blind person could learn to “see,” for example, by substituting the sense of touch for the sense of sight. Braille already gave a clue that something akin to this audacious idea was possible, but Dr. Bach-y-Rita went much further. By the time of his death at 72 last year, he had developed a mechanism known as a “Brain Port,” a small paddle that fits on the tongue. Using a grid of 600 electrical points attached to a camera, the Brain Port can deliver a picture to the tongue of whatever the camera sees. This picture consists of electrical impulses that activate touch, yet after some practice, the blind person’s brain actually sees the image.

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11 responses so far

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