Monday, January 4, 2010

Kook! - Deep-pockets Chopra

Today's Kook-A-Day got me to thinking about a blog post by Roger Ebert, who recently wrote a great article about how "New Agers and Creationists Should not be President." I couldn't agree with this more, and I like the fact that he takes liberals who believe in all sorts of woo-woo bullcrap to task just as harshly as he takes on the Christian fundamentalists. Let's face it, that type of liberal deserves the criticism just as much as the conservatives on the other side.

Much like what he relates in his article, I, too, have met people who laugh at creationists just like I do, and yet they give credence to things like astrology. Yeah, I know, I pick on the extremist Christians a lot in my blog, but let me make this very clear: believing in astrology is just as bad as believing in creationism. They both have the same amount of evidence, and they're both as equally unfalsifiable in the eyes of the believer. In other words, there's nothing you can say that would convince them to not believe in their crap. And before you accuse me of being just as bad in the other direction with my skepticism, let me say this: I am more than willing to believe in either one of these things if only they had some reliable evidence. Not only that, but I'd like to hear the other side say what they'd accept as evidence that it's all bull. The sheer fact that both of these modes of thought are unfalsifiable is exactly what makes the horsecrap. If astrology could pass something as simple as the identical twin test, and if creationism could explain why God would give me an appendix, then I'll be willing to at least give them some consideration.

Somewhere on the fringes of rationalism and kookiness exists the wonderful world of Deepak Chopra. I was going to spend a lot of time researching what he writes, as he's a case where I only hear from him in short bursts here and there, and every time I do, I think to myself: "What a load of crap. He's just making stuff up!" I wanted to be really specific in my criticism, but hey, I'm not getting paid to write this blog, so I didn't bother. If you think that there's some article of his in particular I should read, send it my way and I'll respond point-for-point. Until then, I just have some general and scattered thoughts.

First of all, the kind of person who likes Chopra is obviously somebody who's impressed with the following sorts of "Daily Inspirations" from him:
When love and spirit are brought together, their power can accomplish anything. The love, power, and spirit are one.

The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.

When you perceive yourself as spirit, you will not simply feel love–you will be love.

Anything that is of value in life only multiplies when it is given.

The love reflected from another person has its source in your own heart.

As you can tell, it's all just a bunch of fortune cookie sophistry. It all sounds very pretty and nice, but what the hell does it all mean? This is pretty much the feeling I get whenever I hear him talking or read anything he wrote. He's also one of these yahoos who uses the phrase "Western Science." Here's the thing - if you use that phrase, and you actually think that it means something, then you don't understand the basic concept of science. Science is a process based upon evidence. There is no "western" and "eastern" way. When the Chinese want to send a rocket into space, they don't use some other form of science to get it up there. They use the exact same processes that our scientists do. And from what I understand, a lot of Chinese doctors are having a hard time combating "traditional Chinese medicine". Do you really think that if you see a doctor in China he's going to give you some kind of herbal woo-wah bullcrap? No, he's going to use methods that are grounded in science.

Guys like Chopra are always going to have a following though because he's an expert in sophistry and obfuscation. (Yeah, I know I used that word when describing Christian apologists, but this is a tactic that apologists and New Agers have in common. Instead of addressing the real point, they use a lot of fancy-babble that has little if no actual meaning if you spend any time really analyzing what they've said.)

Lately, he's been taking on skeptics and skepticism, with an online debate with Michael Shermer. I suggest that you check it out. I also suggest that you check out how PZ Myers eviscerates Chopra's ignorance of science and evolution.

I realize that what I wrote is hardly an in-depth takedown of the guy, but I honestly can't read through too much of his claptrap before my eyes start to roll. Like I said, the "daily inspirations" are pretty awful enough. Go check him out for yourself if you want to make up your own mind, but if you're like me, and you're thinking that you've read deeper Bazooka Joe fortunes, then you might want to just take my word for it and move on with your life. Here, compare Chopra's words of wisdom with Joe's. I'm partial to the latter:
When the student is ready, the teacher will stop flunking him.

He who pays the cell phone bill calls the tune.

Friendship is the sturdiest of all ships; although, sometimes it springs a leak!

The door to the club of greatness is guarded by many bouncers.

People who live in glass houses should put on a robe!


Ingrid said...

Lance, I can't stand this guy and he never makes any sense to me. I thought it was just me.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

It's not just you.

He is a good speaker though, and it usually takes a few moments to realize how completely full of crap he is.

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