Chopra’s losing it

November 25, 2013 • 3:01 pm

This is what happens when a man with a thin skin is repeatedly told he’s mistaken and yet doesn’t have the dignity to absorb his punishment in silence.

The Chopra continues to tweet at me, Dawkins, and Harris, apparently not yet realizing that we haven’t the slightest interest in his lucubrations. Chopra is to science what skin barnacles are to a whale: while they are are a minor annoyance, they don’t impede the progress of the leviathan.

Chopra and Jordan Flesher (a master’s student in psychology) have written yet another piece on “radical skepticism” (his euphemism for skepticism that doesn’t countenance his woo). It’s PART FOUR! And he and his colleague have already touted it on Twi**er seven times today.

Deepak needs to calm down by quaffing some of his soothing ayurvedic teas.  At present, he and his co-author just keep tweeting “READ OUR PIECE!” “READ OUR PIECE!” See below:

The latest (this afternoon):

Picture 1
Screen shot 2013-11-25 at 2.37.14 PM

Earlier today:Picture 2Never trust a man who doesn’t accept free will. (I presume Chopra’s a dualist rather than a compatibilist.)

Okay, the fun’s over for today. I now realize why I don’t look at Twitter.

132 thoughts on “Chopra’s losing it

    1. “I used to be with it, but then they changed what “it” was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me.”

      Deepak Chopra/Grampa Simpson

    2. And on the first comment, congratulations. I never say something is driving me crazy because I recognize I’ve been there for for years. I wish I could drive back but the tires are flat…
      I wonder if we just ignored the woo-woo man if that would calm his tantrums

  1. Love the robots “without no freewill”; even his own syntax had abandoned him. See what I did there? I made syntax conscious!

    1. biological robots without no freewill

      Give him a break, he’s just a robot with a transient bug in his grammar module.

    1. Maybe the pain Jerry brings is the kind you just can’t suffer silently. At least if you’re a big ol’ narcissist.

    1. No, I think it is already perfectly named, e.g., a collection of cats is a clowder, a collection of crows is a murder, and a collection of twits is a Twitter.

      1. “The twittering of sparrows” is how the Chinese describe the clinking of Mah Jong tiles as they’re shuffled before a game.

        You could extrapolate that to mean “a pleasant but meaningless noise” if you wanted to use it to describe Deepak’s tweets.

      2. …and tv is only about TMZ, reality shows, talent contests, and the kardashians.

        like any tool/technology its worth comes from how the user chooses to use it. if you think twitter is a bunch of twits it’s because you are using it wrong. or far more likely, you have judged it without ever using it. (what actual twits do.)

        by following 10s of science writers I receive a constant supply of articles to read on my daily commute. and it comes to me, I don’t have to find it. It’s like browsing a great and broad science magazine.

  2. One of the most dangerous aspects of religious faith is the way it encourages the confusion of fact claims with meaning claims. In spiritual systems people are presumed to end up believing what they do because of their moral character. They were ready; they chose; they opened their heart and mind.

    And then there are the skeptics. The Unready, the Unwilling, and the Unable.

    For those who believe, no evidence is necessary (they simply in intuit truth directly); for those who don’t believe, no evidence is possible (atheists are like people who would stand around in broad daylight and deny that the sun exists.) This divisive anti-humanist approach is the antithesis of science.

    You will note that it’s also inherently insulting to the other side.

    No matter how we mock and sneer and laugh at Chopra, we’re still insisting on the common ground — objective reality and reason towards it. Chopra, on the other hand, is appealing to elitist sentiments and pretending that this is the humble approach. Of course he gets angry. He has jumbled his factual claims up with values, preferences, and personal journeys and can’t deal with criticism.

    1. He has also jumbled up his factual claims with huge profits and a large following. It is an unfortunate business for Chopra that an education would actually be harmful to his business, like those in the creationism business.

      What he calls “Militant Skepticism” we call the scientific method. We just wanted to know what Deepak was talking about, asked him to define a few points and provide evidence, like we would do to any scientist. Deepak responded like a the narcissist he is. But you ask someone for evidence of Evolution or Quantum Mechanics it is quite easy to find, a bit harder to understand and we are honest about what we don’t know. I don’t know or we don’t know is a common thing to hear from scientists, but we have some ideas and we are looking for an answer. It is rare to hear that honest uncertainty from someone pedalling pseudoscience. That would be harmful to their profits.

  3. He’s especially credible when he breaks out the Big Guns:…… Oprah!

    Suck on that science and evidence and your silly old double-blind testing.

  4. “The map is not the territory”

    But any useful map has a verifiable relationship with the territory.

    Chopra’s maps are like Tolkien’s maps of Middle Earth – great fun and fantasy — but nothing to do with reality.

    1. Other useful/intereting maps:

      Marauder’s Map (Harry Potter)
      Hundred Acre Wood (Winnie the Pooh)
      Island of Sodor (Thomas the Train)

      Deepak’s maps should not be put on such a list; they are not even close.

    2. Moreover, as a backpacker, you really don’t want to have to say, “Well we’re off the map. That is, totally lost.”

      1. If your navigation is up to knowing that you’re off the map, then it should also be up to knowing in which direction you’re off the map, and approximately how much you’re off the map by.
        I was doing mapping work as a student (i.e. making a geological map of an area for which I had a topographical map) when one day I saw a guy following a strange path. I hadn’t seen anyone for several days, so I got out the binoculars and verified that he wasn’t on the footpath in that valley, which was quite odd for a random walker. I’d been over there sampling and examining the rocks, and I knew that the path was much easier going. but … it’s his choice, so I went back to making my breakfast and then did my 10 hour shift on the hill (with an hour’s walk to and from the day’s area). As I was sitting down to make my supper … along the path comes a very tired looking guy. So I poured some tea and noodly sludge (an early touch of the Primaeval Appendage? (Sadly, the Church’s website is unconscionably slow today. I’m sure that YKWIM.)) into him and got his story. Early in the morning he’d been on his planned route … and following it. Or so he thought. But each major feature on the route (a peak, a col, a loch, a river) seemed to be taking far longer than he expected. And then instead of a road and a railway line (hard to miss!) there was another large loch …
        Which was when he realised that he was indeed, hopelessly lost, and precisely “off the map”.
        Having no-one to turn to (this was a decade pre-mobile phone, and reception still doesn’t reach these areas – there’s no population. And long may that continue.), he reasoned his way out of the predicament … and started to re-trace his steps. Which brought him to me in my tumble-down hut.
        I re-constructed his route for him (having the appropriate map sheet, and knowing the area like the haft and heft of my rock hammer) : at the first col, he’d gone down the wrong side – 180degrees out from his plan … and everything just spiralled deeper into trouble from there. At one point, when he started to re-trace his steps, he was almost 40 miles away from where he thought that he should be. Which is impressively lost for the UK mainland.
        Anyway, I put him on route again, loaned him the correct map (he’d started off near the edge of the map he had – an educational error for both of us, which I don not intend to repeat. I don’t think he will either.), showd him where the nearest public phone box was and gave him the phone number for the head of the local mountain rescue team (who’d noticed the unattended car, but hadn’t launched a search, yet ; they returned my map a few days later) and sent him on his way, footsore but wiser, and with a written list of “waypoints”.
        I suppose the modern version is “We’re off the GPS ; it’s just showing a blank screen. What do you mean `spare batteries`? Why would I need to put batteries int it? It works by magic and the power of quantum Deepities, doesn’t it?”

        1. Great story, although I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the concept of a random walker following a path. 😉

          1. Some time back, I was walking up a stream in the bush, I’d been up it once before, and I decided to short-cut a sharp dog-leg by a hundred yards. So I set off in a straight line through the undergrowth in this fairly open woodland and after a hundred yards or so came to the stream bank and scrambled down it, turned upstream – and recognised a rock I’d just passed. In the space of a hundred yards I’d turned through a complete semicircle and hit the stream downstream of where I left it.

            A rather disconcerting warning on how you can get totally disoriented without even suspecting it.

    1. It’s not meditation, just the experience of meditation. Maybe they just implant memories like in Philip K Dick’s We Can Remember It For You Wholesale popularized in the movie, Total Recall.

      That way no work and all memories.

  5. Saying you don’t use Twitter because of Deepak Chopra, is like saying you don’t listen to music because of Justin Bieber, or you don’t look stuff up on the internet because you once read something online that wasn’t true. You are missing out on some great stuff. When used correctly, Twitter can be fantastic. And yes, you can set your Twitter Machine to ignore people like Chopra, so you remain blissfully unaware of his lunatic ravings.

    1. Jerry was not using Twitter back in the days when he he barely knew Deepak Chopra existed 😉

      It’s just not everybody’s thing.

      I agree it can be a wonderful resource, but it also consumes a lot of time if you want to engage with other people on a regular basis. I just can’t fit it in to my day anymore. I regret it, because I have always enjoyed it. But I just can’t find the time, except for the occasional lurker-mode glance.

        1. Yeah, that comment was more for the other commenters/readers than for Jerry. He is probably too busy for twitter. It’s not worthless, though, and I think many people who don’t use it have serious misconceptions about what it is and how it works.

          1. I don’t know enough about it to even HAVE misconceptions about what it is and how it works!!! lol

      1. He can, he can! In that episode he creates a 3-headed gopher and “invents” other animals (“Consciousness is the driver of evolution”), then he wills them dead.

  6. Previously, I speculated that Deepak was in fact an atheist in disguise, and that he protended to follow woo in order to make money. In the light of these new tweets, it is absurd to think that Chopra is an atheist. He obviously follows his ideas with such conviction that he is angered by criticism. If he was merely pretending to follow the new age, this sort of reaction would be excessive.

    1. I don’t agree. He’s a conman on the back foot [cricket]. If he believed his own words he wouldn’t be so desperately seeking validation.

      1. He reacts because he’s scared his cover will be blown and those sweet ayurvedic dollars will stop coming in. Plus, everybody will laugh at him, and he’s far too self-important to tolerate that.

  7. I did a search for Chopra’s series at sfgate. I intend to summarize some material to write to the publisher about how they’re doing themselves a disservice giving this man an audience and lending him any credibility (as well as doing us a disservice).

    While looking, I was amused to see the tags at the bottom of each search result:

    Part 4 tags:
    psychology | abusive behaviour | science (general) | investigation | social problems | obesity

    Part 3 tags:
    science (general) | natural science | psychology | health treatment | cosmology | physics

    Part 2 tags:
    science (general) | natural science | psychology | particle physics | cosmology | physics

    Part 1 tags:
    literature | abusive behaviour | judaism | poll

    Woo makes you think you’re relevant in almost any subject you wish.
    I think I’m going to call this Chopra’s Law.

    If publishers actually tag his material in this way it’s no wonder he’s a legend in his own mind.

    1. That is insane. Image how unambiguously useless that makes such tags. It is worse than saying I develop a new type of oven that works in vacuum, but I will tag ‘optics’ and ‘acoustics’ to my research since I obviously turned on the room lights to do the research and I was listening to music while writing the report.

      It is interesting that the connectivity of religious people is usually absent, i.e., they do not see the ubiquitous advancements of science around them, and yet Chopra and his retinue overcompensate by connecting every iota of minutia together in an extraordinarily misguided fashion.

  8. Perhaps one of the most common mistakes that Chopra makes is his confusion over the idea of probability in quantum mechanics. Chopra seems to believe that an effort of the will can control the collapse of quantum states; that is, that our minds direct external reality and select which states a quantum system will collapse to. Even if consciousness was essential for the collapse of the wave function–which it is not–Chopra’s statement would still be incorrect. There is no “conscious will” term in the Schrodinger Equation, which governs the evolution of quantum states. The schrodinger equation tells us the chance that a system will collapse to any given state; a chance, as experiment confirms, that is governed by the laws of probability, not by human will. Furthermore, macroscopic objects do not exhibit quantum behavior.

    1. Even as a layperson I understand this. I got into it with a very woo-y coworker (she claims to have a “double masters” in dream and consciousness studies) who was claiming that the double slit experiment proved that consciousness determines outcome in particle physics. I explained that it was the act of “detecting” or “measuring” the particle that interfered with the outcome, not whether there was an observing physical brain involved. A beam of light or any other type of device necessarily interacts with the particles, hence changing the outcome.

      1. Yes. I dislike the whole schroedinger’s cat example becauese it somewhat confuses people as to the simple point that atoms and photons can do the observing.

        In reality, unless the cat and everything else in the box somehow achieves a fully entangled state, the atoms in one part of the cat (or the air in the box) will “observe” the other atoms in the cat and thus create a determined outcome before the box is ever opened.

        1. I disagree with you intetpretation of Schroedinger’s cat. Yes, the more atoms will be involved in interaction inside the box, the more quantum interference between two states car dead and cat alive will be suppressed, but the wave function will not have collapsed from the perspective of the observer until the state of the stuff inside the box is entangled with the state of the measurement apparatus (and observer), no?

          1. I’ve always thought the experiment was phony. Surely the damn cat has already observed whether it’s dead or not.

            A bit like that one about ‘if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?’. (Same answer – of course it does!)

            But I’m probably misinterpreting it.

          2. The experiment is certainly not phony in the sense that it misrepresents the theory – it doesn’t. It just isn’t feasible to actually pull it off on a macroscopic scale because it is not possible to isolate a large system sufficiently I think. In the Copenhagen interpretation of QM, which has the “wave function collapse” as an ingredient in the prescription how to calculate probabilities of outcomes, this is really messy to think about. Sure, the cat “observes” the vial with poison, but there is no differece between a cat and a piece of rock, or a gas cromatograph in this resepct, there is nothing special about life when it comes to wave function collapse. When the cat “observes” the poison, the joint wavefunction cat-poison apparatus has *not* collapsed with respect to *you*.

            It’s just that when a large number of atoms are involved in the system under observation (e.g. a cat), quantum interference effects becomes unobservably small and there is usually no detectable difference between a purely classical statistical 50:50 chance, and a 50:50 quantum superposition. This is however only a matter of quantity, not quality. There is simply less and less interference effects when going from 1 to 2, from 2 to 100, from 100 to 10^24 atoms. If you treat the cat in a perfectly isolated box mathematically correctly in quantum mechanics, you get a superposition state between dead and alive.

            You can either deliberatly cut off this procedure of taking superpositions of entangled states into account when it comes to entanglement with yourself and your measurement apparatus – giving you the copenhagen interpretation, roughly – or you can extend the description by a wavefunction to yourself and your apparatus without needing a concept of wave function collapse – this gives you the relativ state (“many worlds”) interpretation.

            There, the wave function after the opening of the box describes “you” having observed a dead cat entangled with a state of a dead cat, superimposed with a you having observed an alive cat entangled with the state of an alive cat. These superimposed states including all observers are then sometimes called different worlds, but it really only is an extension of the usual quantum description to all objects including yourself.

            Afaik, the main mathematical problem here is mainly how to calculate probabilities for a specific observer from this scheme. It is im principle clear how it should work, but there are arguments whether one needs additional axioms or whether it comes out automatically.

            Sorry for the long post…

          3. (Nice one Chris! 🙂

            Thanks Alex for that explanation.

            I think possibly, rather than ‘phony’, the cat-in-the-box analogy is just a little misleading. As someone noted, it suggests (incorrectly?) that human observation is necessary for the wavefunction to collapse.
            I doubt the perfectly isolated box is physically possible – I’m not sure whether it would be more like a wavefront moving outwards at the speed of light?

            If I may risk a (possibly faulty) analogy, I visualise the way in which quantum probabilities turn into statistics when the numbers increase, resembles the way in which individual molecules bouncing around at random become totally predictable ‘gas laws’ in quantity. You note that there’s no difference in quality, just quantity – but I’d suggest that a sufficiently large quantitative change can appear to be a change in quality.

            I expect I’m wildly misinterpreting all this.

          4. “As someone noted, it suggests (incorrectly?) that human observation is necessary for the wavefunction to collapse”

            Precisely, that is a very widespread misconception, and just the perfect myth for the woosters to exploit!

            I have to think about your analogy and how far it carries.

      2. a “double masters” in dream and consciousness studies

        I’m sorry, but it just has to be said …
        Can I have fries with that?
        To take a different dig at the Schrödinger’s cat purr-a-dig-me (sorry!), I recall a while ago a discussion in print to the effect that Schrödinger had left the cat’s opinion out of the thought experiment, and from this building up to the idea that the invention of the thought experiment had necessarily caused the cat to develop time travel.
        I’m not sure if I myself added the Wheeler-esque detail of ceiling cats travelling through our reference frame in one direction (relative to us) and basement cats travelling in the opposite direction. I could have picked it up from somewhere else, probably with a “herbal” cigarette. But it would explain … why calico cats are just different.

    2. I think you give him too much credit. The idea that an act of will can collapse a wavefunction is pretty easy to test; just set up a two-slit experiment and have the test subject “will” the beam to go through only one slit.

      No, his woo is far less transparent, specific, or sensible. I’m sure this global consciousness thing would never deign to do anything so testable.

      1. Exactly right. Experiments conclusively show that particles follow mathematical laws of chance, not will. Of course, Chopra could argue that the test subject lacks enough “spiritual cohesion” or whatnot.

      2. “The idea that an act of will can collapse a wavefunction is pretty easy to test; just set up a two-slit experiment and have the test subject “will” the beam to go through only one slit.”

        Haha absolutely brilliant!!! One should use this challenge from now on to publicly humiliate quantum woosters from now on, beautiful. Most of them will probably be shocked by the sudden concreteness of their own claim.

    3. To clarify my argument:
      There are essentially three ways to debunk Chopra’s use of quantum theory.

      1. That it is the act of measurement–even forms of “measurement” that do not involve human intervention, like the interaction of two systems–that causes wavefunction collapse, rather than human will.

      2. That quantum effects like superposition and entanglement essentially do not apply to large scale objects. Sure, in some controlled laboratory settings, macroscopic objects have been placed in quantum superposition, but this state only sustained for a fraction of a second and required unnatural conditions. It would be absurd to claim that quantum entanglement proves that “everything is connected”, as entangled states frequently disintegrate due to interaction with other matter, and no macroscopic object could be entangled without significant laboratory coordination, if at all.

      3. Even if (1) is false (as Chopra probably claims), and human sentience is essential for the collapse of the wave function (which raises more questions than it answers), this still does not mean that an act of the will can determine which state a wavefunction will collapse to. That, by adjusting one’s own thoughts, one can influence the outside world through QM is absurd. The Schrodinger Equation has no term that expresses “human consciousness”. The evolution of wave functions is described by mathematical laws that have nothing to do with the influence of human thoughts. These equations proscribe probabilities that any given state will be measured, and no act of the will can change these probabilities. Chopra confuses probability with consciousness, and does not respect the rigorous mathematical framework of QM.

  9. Wowzers…this is someone who is supposedly “enlightened”? Just maybe he is actually threatened that not everyone is as enamored of him as he is. Maybe he is actually threatened that if even a few people reject his bullshit it will mean less cookies for his cookie jar. Maybe he is actually threatened that he will have to seriously defend his claims in the nearby future. The emperor’s gossamer new clothes are being unraveled as is his empire.

    1. Ol’ Deepak is enlightened the way a Jack-o-Lantern is: His head’s been hollowed out and the cavity has been filled with a low-power light bulb.

    1. For those who haven’t seen it–random quote generator:

      <a href=""

      See if you can pick the real ones out:

      Isn’t a “Chopra quote generator” hitting a little below the belt? I do hope so!
      [Self : investigates …]
      “Emotional intelligence shapes incredible human observation” Certainly sounds Deep(-ity).
      “Knowledge arises and subsides in the flow of positivity” Yep, certainly hitting the thumbnail with the head there.
      Unfortunately the other site is taking too long to load. Obviously too deep for Africa’s bandwidth.

      1. Here they are:

        Five are real, five are randomly generated:

        A) “Impermanence keeps life fresh.”

        B) “Your movement is rooted in the expression of possibilities.”

        C) “Our consciousness is as much an activity of the universe as a spiraling galaxy.”

        D) “The unpredictable illuminates visible creativity.”

        E) “Nature is inherent in humble sensations.”

        F) “You are the timeless seer in the midst of time bound scenery.”

        G) “The light of awareness brings the universe into manifestation.”

        H) “Awareness regulates reckless experiences.”

        I) “The silent witness of thought is free of thought and therefore universal.”

        J) “Intuition arises and subsides in ephemeral energy.”

        1. I feel … unclean. In an Augean Stables sort of way.
          When will Deepak meet his Herakles. Or even his rivers?
          (There is a company in Aberdeen who specialise in using Archimedean augers for moving large amounts of warm, brown, unpleasant material around on oil rigs – a byproduct of the drilling process that is properly called “cuttings”, but has a pithier and shorter name in real life. They call themselves “Augean“, but I’ve never met one of their employees who has got the reference. But, a hat tip to whoever came up with it!)

  10. In addition to being surprisingly thin-skinned for someone with such a pervasive public persona Deepak Chopra’s problem is that he is apparently unable to understand the criticisms of his statements.

    Instead of realizing that he is being told that he has been misusing terms like “quantum” and “consciousness” to express his ‘ultimate truths’ he perceives the criticisms as a denial of his ‘ultimate truths’ and by implication himself because he sort of pretty much made it all up himself.

    Furthermore, he does not have enough confidence in his ‘self-discovered ultimate truths’ to assert them without ‘evidence’, therefore anyone criticizing his made-up/subjective ‘evidence’ is attacking him no matter what lengths the critic goes to make it clear that it is only the ‘evidence’ that is being criticized.

    One other aspect that I think is present is that he values having ‘secret knowledge’, asking him for ‘evidence’ (other than what we are supposed to accept as evidence because he so graciously presents it) is an attempt to get him to reveal his ‘secret knowledge’. Similarly, denying the validity of his graciously-presented ‘evidence’ is a malicious assertion that he has no ‘secret knowledge’. His whole sense of himself and his intrinsic importance is wrapped up in his access to ‘secret knowledge’ and how he deigns to share it with others. (There are logical inconsistencies in all of this, which is part of the phenomenon.)

    1. In addition to being surprisingly thin-skinned for someone with such a pervasive public persona Deepak Chopra’s problem is that he is apparently unable to understand the criticisms of his statements.

      Instead of realizing that he is being told that he has been misusing terms like “quantum” and “consciousness” to express his ‘ultimate truths’ he perceives the criticisms as a denial of his ‘ultimate truths’ and by implication himself because he sort of pretty much made it all up himself.

      I think it’s equally likely he doesn’t want his followers/target market/believers/acolytes/Chopraphages to be able to understand the criticisms of his statements; to realise that he is indeed misusing (and overusing) terms like “quantum” and “consciousness”.

      I naturally tend towards cynicism, so I tend to view him more as a cynical exploiter of layman ignorance than as a true believer who’s offended at heresy. I could, of course, be wrong (a phrase you’ll likely never heard from Chopra) – it’s highly probable he’s a mixture of the two.

      1. I think the mixture of the two is accurate.

        A sycophantic cacophony of approving cheers is the only thing loud enough to drown out that deep down voice that whispers, then shouts, “fraud!”. When he cannot hear that voice, he is able to concentrate on maintaining his cheerful facade.

        Disapprovers like Jerry and other real scientists, pierce some of those cheers enough for him to hear his own disapproving voice and for brief moment, his jocular facade starts to crack. It’s only a matter of time until the whole thing comes tumbling down to reveal the crappy decor behind.

        Somehow I have a feeling something like this happened in one of the original series Star Trek movies but less metaphorically.

        1. A sycophantic cacophony of approving cheers is the only thing loud enough to drown out that deep down voice that whispers, then shouts, “fraud!”.

          Why am I reminded of the (alleged) Roman habit of awarding successful generals a Triumph (Leni Reifenstahl’s film is accurately titled), then spoiling it for the general by having a slave walk around behind him during the whole of his Triumph, whispering into his ear “Remember you are just a man!”
          Wouldn’t it have been more sensible for the slave to whisper in Latin?

          1. ” (Leni Reifenstahl’s film is accurately titled)”

            I thought that “triumph of boredom” would have been a more accurate name.

          2. I found it quite hypnotic. In a very repetitive way, I agree. But I took that as a deliberate ploy to get people into a mood of receptiveness.
            We were shown the film in a Film Studies adjunct to English Language classes – same teacher – when I was doing my O-levels. At the time the film was still banned from release to the general public – it may still be – though you could get a licence from IIRC the Home Office to show it to private, select, audiences. Which is what the EL / Film Studies teacher did regularly for films that he considered important. So in addition to his class (who were mostly, let’s not beat about the bush, mostly thugs and sickos who were intending to leave school at the first opportunity, and FS was an attempt to instil some interest in learning in them. It worked, sometimes.), there would routinely be a second showing after school for staff and those pupils who expressed an interest. For me, it was a good idea. Because the thugs and sickos wouldn’t hang around after school for 2 hours to beat me up. Normally.

  11. Scepticism isn’t ‘ending’, it’s growing consistently- all studies point to that being the case. Atheism is on the rise. Even in supposedly religious EU countries, religious practices and traditions are in decline.

  12. “Chopra is to science what skin barnacles are to a whale: while they are are a minor annoyance, they don’t impede the progress of the leviathan.”

    Or as the saying goes “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on!”

    1. Ha ha! Until I read the “not” I was thinking, “who hurt you Stephen Barnard? Who. Hurt. You?”

      Glad you’re okay. 🙂

      1. I’m sorry to say that I have friends and family members who would appreciate gifts of his worthless crap. I’ll present them with donations to The Nature Conservancy instead.

  13. It’s interesting that the Chopra fanboi army aren’t flooding this comments section with accusations of scientism & etc.

      1. “To ask for a purely intellectual proof of the existence of God is like asking for the privilege of being able to see with your ears!”
        from ”Life at Its Best” –Meher Baba

        That bit of malarkey is from one of the comments

        I just left:

        curried solipsism and the “dogs hear better” gambit again. almost as popular among wooligans as quoting Hamlet.

  14. The real tragedy of Chopra’s abuse of quantum mechanics is that it distracts from true applications of the science. “Quantum medicine” is not simply the woo peddled by people like Deepak; real, sophisticated quantum chemistry, using advanced mathematical models and our latest understanding of the field, has enormous potential applications in medicine and beyond. By “hijacking” the word ‘quantum’, Chopra is stealing terminology from real, new branches of medicine and using it for nonsensical new age “treatments”.

    1. I worry/suspect that these “quantum applications” are also misusing the term “quantum”, or at least using it in a way that doesn’t refer directly to the actual behavior of sub-atomic objects. I might be wrong (I don’t really know much about quantum computing, for example) but I’m guessing these applications use concepts derived from quantum physics, not the actual behaviors of quarks and such.

      Am I wrong?

      1. I don’t know enough by far to say anything reliable about the applications of quantum chemistry in medicine. Quantum chemistry itself though is indeed mostly occupied with solving simultaneously the Schrödinger equation for the electrons in the atomic hulls to determine the binding energies of molecules and so on. Not quite on the level of quarks though, but actual real quantum stuff.

        1. I’d be skeptical that quantum chemistry would have any direct medical import: one would still have to go through pharmacology and so on along the way.

          (Cf. the maxims in Bunge’s work on epistemology, which includes “Do not skip levels!”)

  15. In hijacking “quantum”, Chopra’s clearly continuing the long-standing quack tradition of purloining the terminology of cutting-edge science – or of fields which aren’t very well understood by laypeople – and repurposing it for his own ends. For a while not so long ago, “therapeutic” magnets or copper were commonplace in everything from “healing” bracelets to pillows or footpads for the bed (they’re still around, but not as popular). “De-ionised” water (and the gubbins for accomplishing same) has also seen a heyday in recent memory, as have products that apparently “activate” your un-used DNA and some ridiculous sticker a couple of years ago called a “Radiguard” which was meant to absorb 99% of the EM radiation from your mobile phone, allegedly saving your precious brain (but which would, if it really absorbed that much EM, render your phone 99% useless). All these examples used surface-plausible scientific terminology to support notions which were highly implausible following the most cursory examination and some were outright laughable.

    As an aside, I find it interesting (damning too, perhaps) that woo-therapies, along with their ever-popular mainstays like homeopathy, have trends that, like the above, go in and out of style. You’d think that if something did actually work and could be proven to do so, that it’d become mainstream and wouldn’t rise and fall in the market like fashions in trousers. Clearly people market certain woo only as long as it’s profitable and then ditch it as soon as people catch on to the fact that it does not perform as advertised (my diplomatic way of saying “that it’s bollocks”).

      1. I love how the cell phone cancer gremlins jump right through your skull and into your brain. How come nobody’s worried about getting ear cancer?

        1. Or hand, for that matter. Forget talking – wow much time would the average person spend sending texts/facebooking/playing games on their phone (or tablet) these days? I know I can’t be the only one who spends 99% of my phone time not talking on it!

          Also, regardless of actual active usage, think about the amount of apps and native device functions that require constant or very regular contact with wifi or a cell network (most of which most people don’t bother to turn off), why aren’t people getting hip tumours as they carry their phones around in their pockets all day? Why hasn’t there been a plague of impotence and infertility due to pocketed devices sending and receiving signals constantly?

          It’s not just phones or tablets either – handheld game machines are all wifi-enabled these days. Won’t someone think of little Suzy getting a finger tumour from her DS as she plays Pokemon over wifi with her brother?

          1. Not to mention airline pilots who are exposed to RF all their lives at much higher levels, military personnel the world over as well. This is not exactly new technology. RF has been used extensively for decades and at much higher wattage. Don’t forget that there is often radio equipment in apartment buildings and antennae up there with labels on some of them not to walk in between because you can get an RF burn – just like a microwave. 🙂 People have lived in those buildings for decades & again much higher wattage.

            Grrrr, I heard on a radio show, someone call a microwave oven, “nuclear technology”!! Ahhhhh, it’s microwaves not x-rays!!!!

          2. Heh? It’s made of atoms, which all have nucleii in them, right? (I’ll bet they’re full of quantums, too, possibly even the jumping ones. I believe this gets the atoms all excited… 😉

  16. Hi Jerry, I love your website and I check it five times a day for new posts. I love it when you engage charlatans like Chopra by attacking their arguments and exposing their pseudo-science as garbage.

    But I don’t really like posts like this. As someone who regularly frequents loosely-moderated internet forums and before that unmoderated newsgroups, this sort of “engagement” between you and Chopra just reminds me of countless pairs of internet trolls who seem to become obsessed with denigrating their internet “nemesis”.

    I think people unclear on the difference between real science and woo, who come here to investigate the truth, would not see this as an exchange between a serious scientist and a crazy woo-peddler. I’d say they’d just see two men throwing insults at each other, and move on.

    It pains me to criticise you like this because I love 99% of your posts.So please keep up the good work, I hope you provide many more years of enjoyment for me and the rest of your readers.

    1. I can relate to your general concern about such “feuds”. In this case, though, one of the “trolls” is a multimillionaire charlatan, and the other an eminent scientist who is doing important work in exposing the former to a wider audience. An escalation of conflict is almost necessary for this to work.

      The latter has written a piece attacking the former’s fraudulent pseudoscientific claims (you do not have objections to that, right?), and the former spams Twitter (about the most public forum there is right now) with incoherent replies. I don’t see how Prof. Coyne reproducing these posts on his website because he doesn’t read twitter posts himself directly, adds so much to this conflict.

      Maybe he could have made more explicit reference in this post to his more substance-based criticism from before, so as to cue potential new readers in on the context of the debate.

    2. I am more distressed by the atheists and skeptics who go after each other instead of the true enemies of science & humanity. If I hadn’t been too lazy, I would have posted a congratulatory post to Jerry for taking on Chopra.

  17. Concerning his article at, I think the concept of “militant skepticism” is hilarious to begin with.

    What does it mean to be “militantly skeptic”? Theories either have supporting evidence, or they don’t. If they don’t, then there’s nothing “militant” about pointing that out in strong language – particularly if someone is peddling it in the public sphere as though it IS true, and HAS supporting evidence (such as when Chopra claims telepathy is a serious branch of scientific inquiry).

    And when one person is passive-aggressively tweeting all day at the other, which one is “militant”, again?

    Chopra is just like the rest – makes fantastical claims about the nature of the world, but then declares these claims to be untestable because they exist outside of the natural, perceivable world, when challenged on them (which begs the question of how such wisdom was ever imparted on him to begin with).

    Claims to special knowledge, immune from skeptical inquiry – and selling the fruits of that “knowledge” in the form of videos, talk show appearances, and homeopathic remedies. Such a business model demands a “militant” response from the sensible, because it should offend any thinking person.

    1. What does it mean to be “militantly skeptic”?

      It means your Skeptical Inquirer magazine and your Guns and Ammo magazine arrive together.

    1. If you’re a biologist, and you think “that free will thingy” is what makes us human, I think you should ask your university for your money back.

  18. Chopra (and the like) is more interested in usurping the audiences of Coyne, Dawkins, etc. in the hopes of gaining more exposure. Chopra’s popping up now because of his newly released book of vague worthlessness.

    The back-and-forth and “look at me look at me” are simply to push more sales, or at least to foster his prospects of getting interviewed on TV. And to an extent we fan his public-seeking flames. But, our side bites because we can’t shy away from his substantive nonsense.


  19. Can’t see if anyone else has mentioned this but I just stumbled across it and it reminded me of Chopra. An experiment done in 1970 to try and bamboozle an educated crowd by using big words strung together almost randomly to create something that seemed coherent and intelligent but in fact was just gibberish.
    From the article – ‘His polished performance so impressed the audience of psychiatrists, family doctors and general internists that nobody noticed that the man standing at the lectern wasn’t really Myron L. Fox from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine but Michael Fox a movie actor who though having considerable experience in playing doctors in TV shows didn’t know the first thing about game theory’.

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