12/28/2009

A Sexy Voice Only Gets You So Far When it's Used to Express Self-Righteous Stupidity, Deepak Chopra

So, in his latest Huff-n-Puff piece, Deepak Chopra admits to being full of the woo woo and thinks it is a step ahead of Shermer's bad science. Le sigh. I tried to get a comment on, but oddly enough, it didn't get through. I can't imagine why. All I wrote was something to the effect that Deepak appeared to be mighty bitter in some of his latest pieces and how odd that was for someone on the path to enlightenment.

I'm going to run an informal experiment here based on Chopra's piece "The Perils of Skepticism," where Deepak writes: "If you've ever used Google Alert, you know the jolts it can deliver. Whenever anyone in the blogosphere decides to blow a poison dart your way, Google is happy to deliver the news, along with the more positive mentions, of course." I tried this on my wordpress blog, Ionization Energy, after signing up for google alerts for Deepak Chopra and it never showed up. Maybe this blog will? I mean, I'd hate for Deepak to miss out on my post.

Now, let me tell you, after a week of getting Deepak Chopra google alerts in my email box and wading through them, a lot of people write about this guy and way more of it is positive than negative. First off, it makes his bitching and whining all the more odd. Secondly, he's rolling in the dough, which I can only assume was his goal, so his being mortally offended that scientists and skeptics aren't impressed with his woo seems more than a tad bitter considering what he's selling.

I happened on this youtube video of Dawkins and Chopra yesterday (thanks to this blog); thank the cosmos that Deepak admits he's not really using quantum physics, but his own metaphorical idea of quantum theory. He sounds almost reasonable until he accuses scientists of "hijacking" his idea of quantum theory, never mind that quantum mechanics predates him.

In his latest drivel, Chopra writes: "For those who aren't familiar with the term, "woo woo" is a derogatory reference to almost any form of unconventional thinking, aimed by professional skeptics who are self-appointed vigilantes dedicated to the suppression of curiosity."

No, woo woo is not a "reference to almost any form of unconventional thinking." It is, acording to The Skeptic's Dictionary, "ideas considered irrational or based on extremely flimsy evidence or that appeal to mysterious occult forces or powers." I'll grant that it may be derogatory, considering this site continues its definition: "When used by skeptics, woo-woo is a derogatory and dismissive term used to refer to beliefs one considers nonsense or to a person who holds such beliefs."

Chopra on Shermer: "The latest barrage of name-calling occurred after the two of us had a spirited exchange on Larry King Live last week. . Maybe you saw it. I was the one rolling my eyes as Shermer spoke. Sorry about that, a spontaneous reflex of the involuntary nervous system."

Really? You're going to excuse your eye-rolling as a "spontaneous reflex of the involuntary nervous system"? I don't think so.


There is so much bitchy and whiny with Deepak's post that it's hard to know where to dig in. Take this, for instance:

"All are deemed irrational by the skeptical crowd. You would think that skeptics as a class have made significant contributions to science or the quality of life in their own right. Uh oh. No, they haven't. Their principal job is to reinforce the great ideas of yesterday while suppressing the great ideas of tomorrow."

The first sentence is referring back to the Pope and others who believe in God. Okay. What's his point? His second sentence has been shown to be false by many people many times, although I suppose his lumping skeptics into a class is a way around this? What is he designating a skeptic, by the way, and why does he hate them so?

From his Perils piece, he defines skeptics as "ill-tempered guardians of scientific truth can't abide speculative thinking." Are you kidding me? Scientists are the ultimate speculative thinkers; they come up with novel hypotheses and test them, then refine their ideas and retest. They are full of curiosity about the world and how it works. They are grand bullshitters, but unlike Chopra, they are show-me people. They want to prove it, hold it, touch it, figure it out. They are rationalists. Chopra loves to call them mechanistic (see the youtube video or his response to Dawkins). Mechanistic. That's his criticism of those who think his quantum theory co-option is the bullshit that it is. And what is Chopra if not materialistic? How can he defend himself against that accusation? Has he not grown rich off of feeding into people's need for woo? 75 grand per speaking engagement? Are you kidding me? Seems to me he's quite mechanistic in his selling of the transcendent.


Chopra continues: "For we have reached the state where Shermer's tired, out-of-date, utterly mediocre science is far in arrears of the best, most open scientific thinkers -- actually, we reached that point 60 years ago when eminent physicists like Einstein, Wolfgang Pauli, Werner Heisenberg and Erwin Schrodinger applied quantum theory to deep spiritual questions." WTF? Where is his support for this? Ack. Which is it, did they co-opt your whole quantum theory before you were around to hawk it or are they the true originators of quantum spirituality?


It doesn't get better, unfortunately, and I at least reach the point of where a sexy, exotic voice no longer outweighs the bitchy woo-diocy that Chopra is selling: "Skeptics feel that they have won the high ground in matters concerning consciousness, mind, the origins of life, evolutionary theory, and brain science. This is far from the case. What they cling to is 19th Century materialism, packaged with a screeching hysteria about God and religion that is so passé it has become quaint."

Chopra, you need to breathe and decide why, when you're still raking in the bucks from folks buying into your special brand of mysticism, you're so frakking bitter over this. Scientists follow the scientific evidence available. Responsible scientists don't deal in absolutes. They are interested in the evidence. Do they "believe" based on the evidence at hand that science better understands some things than do the proponents of woo? Hell yes, they do. They have empirical evidence to back it up. Where there is none, they admit that it's theory and bullshitting at its finest. Scientists can be an arrogant lot, but they tend to have some real hard data to back up that arrogance. What is your excuse exactly?

Chopra came back to the newest post at Huff and added a new paragraph:
"What I am really addressing here is the brand of professional skepticism that Shermer stands for that borders on cynicism and which leads to a rigid attachment to materialist science. It is the cynicism and prejudice that refuses to explore the new frontiers of neuroscience, genomics, epigenetics, information theory and the understanding of consciousness that I am speaking to."


Anybody else notice how close "professional skepticism" is to the anti-vaxxer's pharma shill bit? Also, really? What scientists aren't willing to examine "the new frontiers"?  All those fields of science are a far cry from Chopra's quantum theory of consciousness and his embracing of biocentrism.

For an excellent deconstruction of the latest Chopra piece, see Veritas Nihilum Vincet.

And if this doesn't return a google alert for Chopra, what the hell will? I used Chopra's name as much as Thelma uses dumbass. :-)

2 comments:

Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

Is Deepak Chopra one of those people involved in that horrible movie "What the Bleep Do We Know?" I feel sorry for anyone who actually believes that movie is about quantum physics. He is probably involved in the "Institute of Noetic Sciences" or something of the sort.

Mind you, I have a very strong interest in philosophy, religion and other topics that cannot be proven through science. But it is so easy to manipulate the public with spiritual BS like this and make an easy profit.

KWombles said...

Stephanie,

Surprisingly enough, he wasn't in that. Perhaps they wouldn't pay him enough? It is right down his alley, though.

You're in good company, Stephanie; I'm deeply interested in philosophy and comparitive religions. It's important to use science where it can be used, and I believe it to be our best bet, but nothing beats philosophy and religion for tremendous conversations regarding the meaning of life. In the best of all possible worlds, you can embrace science and enjoy debating the finer points that philosophy and religion bring to the table. The trick is to do it with an open-mind and a built in woo-detector. :-)