Well I’ll be! We haven’t heard from Chopra in a while, but the old quack has finally been recognized for what he is, and by his fellow physicians, of all people. This piece from Medscape (you have to join to read it, but inquiry can yield a pdf) reports that the American College of Emergency Physicians removed Deepak Chopra from its lineup of keynote speakers after the ACEP membership objected.
And it was announced on Twitter in a way not likely to please Deepakity, as he’s usually thin skinned and can’t take rejection from those he perceives as his colleagues. In fact, Chopra learned about his cancellation from the tweet below.
— ACEP Members (@ACEPNow) September 8, 2020
An ACEP spokesperson explained the decision to Medscape:
“ACEP is committed to a diversity of voices and messages in our programming,” said ACEP spokesperson Maggie McGillick. “Deepak Chopra was scheduled to speak specifically to the topic of wellness at one of four general sessions.” The spokesperson described the “strong feelings” expressed by many members who were not in favor of Chopra’s appearance. In order to support the “unity of the emergency medicine community,” ACEP decided to remove Chopra from the lineup, she said.
This happened after ACEP announced that Anthony Fauci would also be a keynote speaker, and then, when Chopra’s talk was announced, the organization worried that the two speakers could be considered “equivalent.”
The reaction from the members was largely positive, but not unmixed:
Chopra’s latest book, Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life, is set to be published later this month.
“ACEP seemed to be saying, ‘We consider him an expert in wellness.’ When Chopra defines wellness, it is far beyond the way emergency medicine defines wellness,” [ACEP member Dan] Buckland said.
“[Chopra] has preached Ayurdeva (an alternative medicine system) and ‘quantum healing’ as cures for everything from aging, to cancer, to AIDS,” said Rupinder Singh Sahsi, MD, an ACEP member in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. “He claims that evolution is not a genetic process but one guided by consciousness.
“It’s simply ridiculous for someone who flies so arrogantly in the face of modern, evidence-based, scientific progress to end up as a keynote speaker at an annual scientificmeeting of a legitimate medical organization,” he said.
Indeed; it was a travesty to invite His Quackness in the first place. But, though I dislike Chopra’s woo-ness as much as anybody, I have to agree with the woman below:
But one person suggested that the damage has already been done with the invitation.
Cathy Richards, a retired population health dietitian, tweeted that although inviting Chopra to speak would have given him the chance to use ACEP as a marketing tool, canceling now gives him the chance to say, ” ‘[Doctors] are so afraid of my teachings they cancelled me’. So ACEP has created a no-good-outcomes scenario for themselves.”
I sure wouldn’t have invited him, but once he was invited, I consider it an abrogation of free speech—and of civility—to cancel him. It doesn’t look good, as Richards notes above, and what are the doctors afraid of? Of course the ACEP doesn’t have to abide by the First Amendment, but once it schedules someone, it should let him talk. Others may differ.
Chopra seems to have largely vanished from the public stage, though I suspect that, like most of his books, the new one will make him a lot of dosh. He’ll cry on his way to the bank. Actually, his response was rather measured and civil—for Chopra:
Chopra told Medscape Medical News that he’s not offended by the withdrawal of the invitation or by the criticism.
“Thirty years ago, I would have been very upset and shocked but today, actually, I find it amusing,” he said.
“I have spoken at Harvard Medical School, I do the yearly update in internal medicine for Beth Israel Hospital,” Chopra noted. “I was actually amused that the American College of Emergency Physicians had not kept up with what’s happening in the world.”
Chopra spokesperson Aaron Marion noted that Chopra’s fee for the ACEP presentation, $5000, is being returned.
Chopra tweeted an apology to ACEP members on Thursday, saying, “Dear ACEP Members, I realize there was a lot of angst about my presentation at your convention. I’m sorry for creating so much turbulence,” adding a link to the presentation he would have given, which he notes cites references from leading, peer-reviewed journals.
His message to his critics: “Please look up the references and decide for yourself if this is science or not.”
If you think it was okay for ACEP to withdraw its invitation to Chopra (or agree with me that they shouldn’t have), weigh in below.