Paranormal Pseudoscience Religion Skepticism/critical thinking

Yawn. More Choprawoo.

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a bit bored with Deepak Chopra. He’s like the Energizer Bunny of woo; he just keeps going and going and going and going. Unfortunately, one of his sycophants going under the ‘nym “ChopraFan” appears to have infested my blog, posting plugs for Chopra’s latest idiocy in the comments of unrelated blog posts. it’s almost as though he wants me to trash Chopra’s latest incursion into woo, a breathtakingly inane piece called The God Delusion? Part 5 (or here on The Huffington Post).

PZ’s already chewed over the woo, but I can’t resist getting a couple of licks in myself, mainly because “ChopraFan” has annoyed me by continuing to post links to Chopra’s drivel in my comments. Chopra begins:

Science has progressed through experiments that convince people about the truth through verified results. If it’s true that consciousness is everywhere in Nature–a basic tenet if you want to prove that God exists–there needs to be an experiment to prove it. Materialists argue that no such experiments exist and therefore no claim for either consciousness or intelligence is believable. Life proceeds by chance, adaptation, and survival. That’s the creed of Darwin, who single-handedly stripped Nature of everything having to do with intention, purpose, and intelligence as a guiding force. In Dawkins’ view there’s no need to alter this stroke of radical surgery..

Ack! There he goes again with the straw man argument against evolution that it proceeds by chance!

IHe’s also full of crap in his argument about God because he has only one view of what such a being would be, if he exists. If there is a God, why does Chopra assume that God must be a “consciousness that is everywhere in nature”? Maybe the existence of God would imply such a thing; maybe not. The “consciousness” permeating nature is Chopra‘s view of what God must be if God exists. It is not the only possible view for such a being, nor is it every believer’s view of what God is.

I’m not going to go over the pathetically illogical “thought experiment” involving visualizing a yellow flower that Chopra uses to “prove” that this universal consciousness exists and must be more than just the matter that makes up the human brain. PZ has already revealed it for the New Age woo that it is as well or better than I could. One of the commenters demolished the Choprawoo blathering that somehow our ability to imagine a yellow flower without there actually being a flower within our heads is somehow an argument against the “materialistic” assertion that consciousness is explained adequately as the result of physical processes in the brain:

Your “thought experiment” is, once again, a straw man. In what way have you refuted Dawkins? Sights and sounds in the mind are the interpretations of phenomena that impinge on our senses. It requires no appeal to the supernatural to explain this. The observer cannot “know” reality because the observer is separate from the phenomena observed – but the observer can still record (and recall) images that it associates with the phenomena.

I have before me a DVD that contains the movie “Jaws”. Where is the ocean? Where is the boat? Where is the bad acting and implausible plotline? A real shark does not threaten me so (by your “logic”) all DVD’s must be linked to an uber-consciousness. Do DVDs believe in god?

Heh. Or, as commenter Blake Stacey put it:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Apparently, our boy Deepra is still amazed that grandma doesn’t actually live in the telephone.

Indeed, Chopra seems unable to distinguish between the images and memories retained by the brain and the actual objects and experiences that resulted in the formation of those memories.

Unfortunately, that’s not all the woo Chopra dishes out:

The physical world can’t deliver God, not because God doesn’t exist, but because the solid, physical world is an illusion–as quantum physics proved long ago–and one must look inside consciousness itself to find what God is about. If God is a universal intelligence, that will turn out to be a fact. It won’t be superstition. It won’t be derived from the Bible or the Koran.

Um, no, Dr. Chopra. Quantum physics has not proven that the “physical world is an illusion.” Quantum mechanics, despite the counterintuitive observations produced by it, is quantifiable, verifiable, and measurable by science. If quantum mechanics were otherwise, it wouldn’t have persisted as a key part of modern physics. Illusion has nothing to do with it. What you’re spouting here is nothing more than the unholy union of Buddhist philosophy (the world being an illusion) and a hilariously off-based misunderstanding of quantum theory, resulting in yet more of the bastard offspring that I once dubbed Choprawoo.

But the woo doesn’t end even there:

When you get to the primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is everywhere, but it also localizes itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field, so is a thought. If a molecule isn’t an object but a collapsed quantum wave, then that holds true for the whole brain. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world. When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us toward the field, which quantum physics continues to explore. Crude skeptics like Dawkins lag far behind.

Fortunately, as the two worlds of inner and outer begin to merge, we won’t be plagued by either the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism. New concepts will explain how the color yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.

That covers the basic and I think most convincing refutation of the anti-God argument. It doesn’t prove God by any means, much less does it degrade science. The damage that anti-God rhetoric does is to cloud reality. In reality there is ample room for both God and science

The Choprawoo here is so concentrated that I truly fear for my sanity and critical thinking skills if I were to try to delve too deeply into deconstructing it. It’s just a number of buzzwords thrown together to form “paradoxes” that are meant to be profound but really are nothing more than bad ideas tarted up with “sciency”-sounding and “philosophical”-sounding jargon. “This field is everywhere, but also localizes itself”? Molecules are “collapsed quantum waves”? I suspect that Chopra has no clue what that actually means or what physics really says about collapsed quantum waves. No, I know he has no clue. If this “universal consciousness” exists and is indeed responsible for the creation of human consciousness, I have to think it must be as incompetent as the “intelligent designer” that anti-evolutionists like to invoke as somehow guiding evolution and occasionally inserting “irreducibly complex” structures into organisms if it also created Deepak Chopra’s consciousness.

I’m also sure that Albert Einstein, were he alive, would bitch-slap Chopra for abusing his words in such a manner.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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