Monday entertainment: Deepak Chopra tries to attack Dawkins, fails miserably

Let’s start off the week with something light and amusing, and by that I mean the recent lucubrations of Deepak Chopra, always good for a giggle or guffaw. This PuffHo Live video was made last November, so I’m late to the party, but I haven’t seen it posted anywhere else.

Click on the screenshot below to hear Deepak excoriate Richard Dawkins for his “militant atheism” and for calling non-militant atheists “stupid”. Chopra then talks about the things that he considers “real,” goes off on his usual tirade about “consciousness”, and argues that scientists’ concept of reality has been “bamboozled by the superstition of materialism.”

Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 7.19.40 PM

Diamonds in his glasses!

I asked Richard about Chopra’s “militant atheism” quote; he responded that “I don’t recall saying I was a militant atheist although I may have. I’m pretty sure I would never say that anybody who wasn’t a militant atheist was stupid.” Dawkins did add that it was possible he said that and just forgot, but, given Chopra’s history of distorting and misquoting New Atheists, I think the Deepakity is just making this up.  I challenge Chopra to provide the source of Dawkins’s quotes.

But on to the philosophy.  Chopra’s stalking horse is, as he notes in the video, the notion of  “naive realism,” which, as he argues is the incredibly immature notion that there is nothing more to the world than matter and energy. That is, materialism. Chopra, of course, feels that there is a Great Numinousity above it all; that the whole fricking universe is conscious in a way that can’t be described, even in principle, by the laws of physics. Here is a precis from the PuffHo notes:

“He’s a fundamentalist,” [Chopra] told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. “His version of realities is what we call empirical realities. That if you can see it, it’s real. If you can’t see it, it’s not real.”

“But we know, you can’t see your thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, imagination, creativity, choice — and they’re real,” he continued, making a case for a non-visible God. “Your inner world is real.”

Here Chopra conflates two notions of reality, and I think he does it on purpose. Although I can’t speak for Richard, I’m pretty sure he would agree with me that “thoughts, feelings, emotions” and so on are real in one sense: they are experienced by people and described by them. If someone says his stomach hurts, his feeling is a real feeling—if he’s not lying, that is.

What I would deny are two things: first, that those emotions are not anchored in the physical substance of our brain and thus do not reflect brain activity produced by chemistry and physics. That is, I would deny that emotions and “choices” reflect something beyond and not reducible to the material. Second, I’d deny that the experience of having feelings and emotions itself says something about reality. That is, feeling the presence of God is not conclusive—or even strong—evidence that there is a God.  To arrive at that conclusion one needs empirical evidence that can be supported by multiple observers: the kind of evidence that Chopra abjures. The belief may be real, but not the object of that belief.

Here’s a 7-minute clip from The Young Turks deftly demolishing Deepakity’s inanities. I like the idea that Chopra is promoting “religion for the nonreligious.” One of the convergences between Chopra’s craziness and Sophisticated Theology™ is the notion that consciousness will forever lie beyond the ken of science, and therefore provides some evidence for both nonmaterialism and the numinous.

Finally, here is one of Chopra’s tw**ts from yesterday. It could serve as the illustration of the dictionary definition of “deepity”:

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 7.42.52 AM

162 Comments

  1. Jeff Rankin
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    nothing more to the world that matter and energy

    PCC™ I think you want a “than” in there.

  2. Jeff Rankin
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    That if you can see it, it’s real. If you can’t see it, it’s not real.

    I’d like to know when Dawkins said such a thing. I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen.

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Somewhere, a scoundrel tailor pretending to make invisible clothes for a naked emperor read Deepak and remarked “Now that’s what I call bullsh**t!”

      • darrelle
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        When she came to visit for xmas a few weeks ago, my mother presented me with a T-shirt that has “That’s Bullshit!” printed across the front in big, bold letters.

        She had them made up initially for my brother who is notorious for proclaiming just that. What I never realized is that apparently I have the same habit, or so my Mother claims. So I got the shirt too!

        • TJR
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

          If you’re talking to someone who is likely to make you want to flash the t-shirt, make sure your jacket/coat is in easy-to-undo mode. You don’t want to be left struggling to undo a load of buttons with cold fingers while they stride off cackling.

          • darrelle
            Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            Good tip. And it is kind of chilly here today.

            • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:03 am | Permalink

              I’m picturing a Velcro flap which canceals your motto – like Federal agents on TV shows have over their badges, to rip open when they start a raid.

              You also get that satisfying rip sound. Theatrical!

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

                Meant to say, on your jacket, for cold days.

        • Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

          “Calling” bullsh**t? Brother, I’ve got that on speed dial!

          • darrelle
            Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

            I’m going to try and remember that. Like it.

          • Mark Sturtevant
            Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:51 am | Permalink

            Maybe a ‘bullshit’ button app for your phone.

            • Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

              “Hello! And thank you for Calling Bullshit! To continue in English, Press 1. Para llamar las sendeces en Español, oprima numero dos … “

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

                …if your bullshit knows no bounds, please stay on the line and one of our expert bullshitters will be with you shortly. No, really — they will! Just keep holding…that’s right…only a little while longer…only a few more people ahead of you….

                b&

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

          I too have a similar reputation among family and friends. But, what do they expect if they say stupid wooish or misinformed things?

          • Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

            At a guess, I’d say that they expect you not to point at the emperor’s wrinkled old willy and laugh loudly.

            Now, why they should have such an expectation…who can say?

            b&

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

              They sometimes tell me I have a “scientific mind”…and they think they are insulting me.

              • merilee
                Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

                I have sometimes been told by friends that I’m too logical…

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

                Yeah…it’s rather telling when the worst insult somebody can think to throw at you is one of the highest compliments you can think to receive….

                b&

              • Posted January 20, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

                “You assess things so accurately! Take that!”

      • Sastra
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        I’d like a t-shirt with “Just for the record, Spirituality is bullshit, too.”

      • Posted January 19, 2015 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        I’m so going to steal that!

        /@

    • Posted January 20, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Also, talk about immature views. Where the hell does Deepak get the notion that empirical evidence only involves sight?

      • Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

        I was wondering that too. I think it’s a hangover from some time before 1676, when Anton van Leeuwenhoek saw microbes.

  3. GBJames
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    “Wholeness undertakes a symphony of energy.”

    I’m pretty sure Chopra just goes here when he wants to tweet something.

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      “Hidden meaning is the womb of quantum opportunities”

      Thanks. I needed to visit the Deepak-o-lator something fierce. Great way to start the week.

      • Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        That’s funny. He told me “Hidden meaning is the foundation of the progressive expansion of love”

        • Posted January 20, 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

          The generator has presaged the inflationary model of Big Bang cosmology, methinks. Generator 1: Deepakity 0. Turing wins again.

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      That link is just about the most fun ever!!!!

    • Posted January 20, 2015 at 12:03 am | Permalink

      “Kittens are birds.” Um….I lose?

      • winewithcats
        Posted January 21, 2015 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Not at all! Whereas birds are in the genetic lineage of the dinosaurs, kittens are the rightful moral heirs to the dinosaurs’ legendary ferocity. It’s an excellent analogy!

    • Posted January 20, 2015 at 12:07 am | Permalink

      “Evolution differentiates into pure boundaries.”

      I can’t tell if that is almost, but not quite completely wrong or actually brilliant.

  4. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    A perfect lagniappe to accompany my over-sweetened breakfast cereal. Now I have a fine Monday morning sugar buzz.

  5. Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful “Force” controlling everything. There’s no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

    Don’t everyone thank me at once.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Powerful you have become. The dark side I sense in you.

      Actually, that reminds me of this perfect car sun shade.

      • darrelle
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:04 am | Permalink

        Indeed, Yoda and Deepak make perfect bedfellows.

        • starskeptic
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          But Yoda knew what he was talking about.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      You left out the best part: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid. – Han Solo

      • Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        The Pope punched first!

        /@

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

          Perfect mashup for a t-shirt!

          • Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            Oh, and it was a right cross.

            /@

            • Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

              Not a sucker punch to the intestines…?

              b&

            • Diane G.
              Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

              Right to the victim’s center of mass.

            • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

              Well, I’m sure the recipient of that cross must’ve been very rood, indeed.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

                Maybe even a crook.

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

                Well played!

  6. Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    Deepity doo dah, deepity ehhhhhh
    ( deep doo doo)

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      …my, oh, my, what a balderdash day.
      Plenty of twaddle, yammered my way… etc., etc., etc.

      Or, my favorite:
      Deep-a-little-pack-a-little, Deep-a-little-pack-a-little, Deep Deep Deep pack-a-lot, pack a little more,
      Deep-a-little-pack-a-little, Deep-a-little-pack-a-little, Deep Deep Deep pack-a-lot, pack a little more…

      • merilee
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        LOL

  7. Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    And sub

  8. Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Deepcrap maintains a strong interest in consumer materialism despite his expressed animosity toward philosophical materialism. Projection and contradiction are the accelerants that perpetually ignite his risible public persona. He’s become the kind of bullshit artist you’d find at a street booth on Fremont Street handing out EMF meters.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Sorry but I can not agree.(attempt at humor) He hasn’t become, he always has been!

      • Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        To contemplate that he was once the Chief of Staff at Boston Regional is creepy (but this probably explains why it was eventually shut down).

        • darrelle
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:45 am | Permalink

          That fact does give reason for anxiety when considering one’s own medical needs. You’ve got to keep your eyes open.

        • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          Sometimes when an organization is going under, they provide career counseling for the staff. Maybe they gave Deepak a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?.

          List your strengths.

          “Let’s see … 1. Shamelessness … 2. Making superficially smart-sounding New Age word salads …”

    • reasonshark
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      Ah well, only the pure of heart and open of mind work hard enough and flexibly enough to earn money.

  9. darrelle
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    That tweet is awesome. In some aspect. I just can’t quite figure out what aspect.

    I wish I could get rich by creating such gibberish. But my conscience, let alone my stomach, prevents even the attempt.

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      The “professions” that reward talking/looking a good game while in fact being a know-nothing hack are many and varied.

  10. Kieran
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I’m going to try and put together a Chopra quote from stuff that’s on my desk. I am aware of the random quote generator.

    “Give it a spin, variety earth’s most powerful method should give concise information”.

  11. egyoung
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I am curious: Would not the Buddhist tell Deepak that he has it EXACTLY the wrong way round? Ie that ‘being’ is an illusion and ‘becoming’ ( change) is all there is?

  12. colnago80
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Here’s what Dawkins actually said after hearing a lecture by fake mathematician David Berlinski: One who rejects the Theory of Evolution is either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked (but he didn’t want to consider that). Berlinski is neither ignorant, stupid or insane.

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      FTW. And therein I see the seed of Deepak’s accusation: accepting science = militant atheist, therefore atheist who doubts science = not-militant.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      And here’s what Richard really said about militant atheism. The whole talk is, of course, good-natured and humorous.

  13. Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Is it just me? I tried listening to Chopra, even in the part quoted by the “vlogger” (what a word!).

    I just can’t take more than about half a minute….

    b&

    • GBJames
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      I have the same problem. I tried, but didn’t even make it as far as you did.

      • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        May I say then we should commend the intestical (yes, intestinal + testicular = intestical) fortitude of a certain professor who read ALL the Sophisticated Theology™ so we don’t have to.

        Greater love has no one than this!

        • Hempenstein
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

          Exactly!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Me neither!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      I managed to listen right through, though it took me three attempts. Do I get a medal?

      • Diane G.
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 4:17 am | Permalink

        That, or an appointment at your local psych clinic…

  14. Randy Schenck
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how much money this Deepak makes with his appearances or the boat load of books he cranks out but it seems he really has very little to say. Just keeps repeating the same words, subconsciously of course.

    When you start spending your book time running down someone like Richard Dawkins you are in trouble and the guy is just fresh out of bull shit.

    • Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Internet sources put Deepockets’ net worth at USD 80 million – and Richard Dawkins’s at USD 135 million.

  15. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I know it’s a quite appalling criticism, and my instinct is to treat it as a kind of hideous smear, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks being labelled a believer in ‘scientism’ isn’t that bad, so long as the following definition of ‘scientism’ holds – ‘the belief that the only way to find out novel facts about the world is through empirical investigation’.

    I consider scientism by that definition to be perfectly reasonable. In fact it borders on tautological. The only way to find out about the world is by looking at it. Is that unreasonable, or reductionist?

    The problem people have with it is that it renders lots of other subjects epistemically impotent, and the people who study those subjects find this a little embarrassing. That’s why practically everyone, from philosophers through theologians, historians, novelists and Deepaks are ranged against scientists who dare to denigrate, implicitly or otherwise, their ability to pronounce with authority on real world truths.

    So most of the time scientists relent and say something about ‘other ways of finding truth’. But when it comes to real world truths(as opposed to logical or mathematical truths, which cannot uncover information that wasn’t already embedded in the original premises) I can’t for the life of me see any other way of rooting them out than by checking with the real world itself. Jerry’s refrain of ‘how do you know?’ undermines every single other supposed method of uncovering the natural world.

    As for other ways of finding the truth that actually work, they apply to things like logic and mathematics but not to the real world. And they seem to be inherently tautological.

    To put it glibly, philosophy is the comparison of what’s in your head with what else is in your head. Science is the comparison of what’s inside your head with what’s outside it. It’s the only method that has an independent arbiter, in the form of the natural world.

    I’m about halfway through Alex Rosenberg’s book about naturalism, which makes a very strong, although not particularly readable, case for scientism. My definitions may be a little different from his, but as long as we’re talking about real world truths I don’t see anything unreasonable about scientism. It seems like a word conjured up for political motives by academics who are put out by how little authority their respective subjects have in parsing the real world. After all, it’s not that long ago that theologians and philosophers were the only people who spoke about truth.

    I’m not at all against philosophy – I don’t think it has anything like the reach it believes it has but it’s utterly fascinating and I love to read it. The same goes for music, and fiction, and art, and video games and cinema. I love them just as much as I ever have.

    But it does feel like a lot of people bend over backwards to make these various subjects feel important in a way that they really aren’t. I don’t think that poetry tells us deep truths about the real world. Nor do literature and ‘great art’. But I love them and they make life worth living. That’s more than enough to me.

    I don’t think there’s much chance of doing so, but I’d like to reclaim the word ‘scientism’, which, to me, simply expresses a truism.

    • Sastra
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      To put it glibly, philosophy is the comparison of what’s in your head with what else is in your head. Science is the comparison of what’s inside your head with what’s outside it.

      That’s a little bit too glib, I think. Philosophy is supposed to involve arguments and people to argue with. As Rebecca Goldstein put it,

      Philosophy is necessarily gregarious rather than solitary. The exposure of presumptions is best done in company, the more argumentative the better.

      Science is a philosophical arrangement “that allows reality to answer us back”

      I don’t think there’s much chance of doing so, but I’d like to reclaim the word ‘scientism’, which, to me, simply expresses a truism.

      I understand what you’re saying but I think the word “scientism” is just too heavily tainted with its implications that it describes people “who don’t believe in anything they can’t see.” It was invented as an insult which feeds into supernatural preconceptions. So it might be a bit like “reclaiming” the term “spirituality.” The religious mindset is very greedy. If they can interpret it in their favor, they will.

      • BillyJoe
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Agreed. Scientism is just a pejorative term for those who are really just scientists.

      • peepuk
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        Dawkins, Dennet and others tries “Brigths”.
        That doesn’t work for me (horrible).

        “Scientism” I could live with, it shows at least a commitment to science.

        It’s reasonable easy to defend as the view that science is the only reliable source of knowledge. Competing sources of knowledge miss always reliable evidence.

        So far I use “materialism” it has nice ambiguous meaning.

        Determinism, nihilism and reductionism I would try to avoid, a PR-nightmare.

        • Posted January 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Try, “rationalism.”

          b&

          • merilee
            Posted January 19, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

            agree with Ben

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            I like ‘rationalist’. If I have to choose anything it tends to be ‘materialist’, I think partly because it’s considered such a poisonous insult when used by opponents. It also narrows things down slightly more than ‘rationalist’, as I’d imagine there are at least some non-materialist rationalists.

            • rickflick
              Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

              In philosophy rationalism competes with empiricism as ways of gaining knowledge. Rationalism holds that you can gain knowledge without experience of the senses. So, rationalism is counter to science. For me, “science” seems to contain the right ingredients. It entails rationality together with testing ideas against physical reality. To add “ism” is not really necessary. If someone tries to label me, I’d use the opportunity to educate.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

                It’s strange that the philosophical definition of ‘rationalism’ is so different to the more common usage of the word. Philosophical rationalism always seemed rather unreasonable to me – bordering on truth through revelation.

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

                Indeed.

                I prefer “naturalism” — but “naturalist” is ambiguous…

                /@

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

                Why’d philosophy have to muck with a perfectly good word?

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

                Yeah…but, in philosophy, zombies play chess by shoving fat men into trolleys. And, in Christianity, Love is Jesus advising Satan on the best way to sodomize you for eternity. And, in Republicanism, the best way to end poverty is by giving handouts of millions to handfuls of billionaires.

                Why let irrationalists like that be the ones to define language?

                b&

              • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

                But it is A. C. Grayling, a philosopher, who points out that “rational” means “in proportion to the [empirical] evidence available”.

              • rickflick
                Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

                In philosophy zombies are just like you and me except they lack a soul, much like republicans.
                I’d agree with A.C.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 3:28 am | Permalink

                I agree with Diane – damn philosophers, screwing up a perfectly good word. Their ‘rationalism’ (if Rickflick’s description is accurate) is the opposite of what I’d term ‘rational’. A murrain upon them!

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 4:19 am | Permalink

                Ooh, nice word!

              • rickflick
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

                Susan Jacoby is a strong advocate of the term Freethinker, and Freethought. It sounds a bit old fashioned today but was popular in the days of Robert Ingersoll. Maybe it should be revived.

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

                I’m certainly in favor of that. And so are all the members of the FFRF, of course.

            • peepuk
              Posted January 20, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

              I like it too. I will stick for the time being with “materialism”, almost nobody knows in my country what a scientism stands for.

              Materialism has an air of narrow-mindedness that I like. And it comes with some Greek supporters (Epicurus, Democritus).

              • Posted January 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

                “Materialism” suggests “materialistic” too strongly, I think.

                /@

              • Posted January 20, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

                That would seem to be the case with the first dictionary definition that comes up. Although the first seems to conflate the definition of materialistic with part of the philosophical definition, this does seem to be how it is used colloquially most of the time.

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

                That’s my problem with it, too. Of course any word that gains wide identified-with-atheist traction is soon going to have a pile of negative connotations associated with it.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

                ….and it just makes that Madonna song confusing.

              • Diane G.
                Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

                Talk about negative connotations…

              • Posted January 21, 2015 at 5:01 am | Permalink

                We don’t want to be associated with any Madonna!

                /@

              • Posted January 21, 2015 at 10:06 am | Permalink

                Yeah, but I’ll take Madonna over any theologian or philosopher any day….

                b&

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted January 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

                “materialism has an air of narrow-mindedness that I like”.

                I know what you mean. There’s something pleasingly snotty about it. As for the possibility of confusing it with consumer materialism…I like that about it too.

                I’m perfectly happy being called either kind of materialist. I love big, shiny T.V.s, expensive guitars, nice clothes. If I could afford any of that stuff I’d definitely splurge on it. I’d be a sanctimonious sod if I implied otherwise.

                We are living, one might argue, in a material world, and, in a very real sense, I am a material girl.

              • Posted January 22, 2015 at 2:17 am | Permalink

                Oh, I’d assumed otherwise, with your name (Saul).

                /@

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          Agree completely about ‘materialist’. It’s definitely my favourite. There’s something elegantly austere about it too.

          And Brights is not good. I cringe when I read it…

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        You’re right that it’s probably too loaded a term to reclaim. Like I said, I dont think there’s too much chance of it being successful but it’s worth a try. I believe that only looking at the world will tell you anything about it.

        If opponents want to argue that this is not the case, or that scientism is defined in some other way, they can try but I think it’s about time we asked them what exactly is unreasonable about scientism as defined above. I’m going to stand my strident, reductionist ground I think.

        “That’s a little too glib I think” – hey, I’m a facetious little sod. Always have been I’m afraid. I don’t think it’s too endearing but there you go:)

        Re. the Rebecca Goldstein quote – that’s of course true, but what I meant was that, even when philosophy is being discussed, it’s still the comparison of thoughts with thoughts. You may be comparing your own thoughts with someone else’s but if there’s no independent arbiter it’s just as epistemically fruitless.

        However, that applies only to real world truths – I’m not arguing philosophy can’t determine logical truths. And I’m also perfectly aware that all of this is itself a philosophical argument…

        I can’t stand the word ‘spirituality'(my favourite band are called Spiritualized, and their name’s always struck me as naff) so I wouldn’t want to reclaim it particularly, but you’re right that the religious majority, the majority in general, aren’t going to cede ownership of a word without a fight. I’m a hopeless optimist though.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Saul, there have been a few of us here lobbying for embracing “scientism” as a positive term, the way you describe it. The majority, though seem to feel that reclamation is beyond hope.

      Another effort that attracts a few of us is to introduce the term “philosophism,” to be used the way scientism currently is by its opponents.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for informing me. I’m aware I’m new here so I’m massively ignorant about what’s been tried in the past:)

        I really like the idea of, if not reclaiming the word, at least making a solid effort not to shrink away every time it’s applied to us.

        ‘Philosophism’? I hadn’t heard that one before. Sounds good to me.

        • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

          I agree that we shouldn’t shrink from the term.

          When it gets used, it could be a good opportunity to try to explain valid epistemology and when we can and when we can’t say we “know” something.

          Scientism FTW!

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

            I have literally only 30 seconds ago realised that FTW might stand for For The Win rather than Fuck The World. WTF is wrong with me?

            • Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

              lol

              (laughing out loud)

            • Posted January 20, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

              WTF…FTW!

            • Diane G.
              Posted January 21, 2015 at 2:53 am | Permalink

              Oh, Saul, it took me a long time to figure that one out, too! A couple of years ago, though…

      • egyoung
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 2:35 am | Permalink

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        /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ WordPress.com

        Sent from my BlackBerry® PlayBook™www.blackberry.comFrom: “Why Evolution Is True” <comment-reply@wordpress.com>To: “egyoung@nb.aibn.com” <egyoung@nb.aibn.com>Sent: 19 January, 2015 8:11 PMSubject: [New comment] Monday entertainment: Deepak Chopra tries to attack Dawkins, fails miserably Diane G. commented: “Saul, there have been a few of us here lobbying for embracing “scientism” as a positive term, the way you describe it. The majority, though seem to feel that reclamation is beyond hope.

        Another effort that attracts a few of us is to introduce the ter”

  16. rickflick
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Chopra and many others are playing on the fact that subjective experience (the hard problem of philosophy) has not been scientifically explained. Most people interested in the problem of consciousness conclude that it will take a better understanding of the brain before we can really say for sure how subjective experience operates and how and why it exists at all. It remains a mystery. From this acknowledged gap in our understanding, these goats pretend that if science hasn’t resolved consciousness, then anything goes. They are free to postulate vague new realms of reality, spiritual essences, and deepity upon quantum deepity. It seems a lot of people are willing to go along with this illogical garden path. Little can be done to correct this sad state except to push for more training in critical thinking skills in our educational system.

    • egyoung
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      But, are we content that we have pushed the scientific community to think outside the box seriously enough about this? One does not need be predisposed to mysticism to see that there is something lacking in our models of awareness, of self awareness, and so on. What progress has been made in studying the analogous phenomenon in primates? in very young children, in interacting electronic systems, etc. Have we done a good job of even admitting and taking inventory of the ‘mysterious’ or ill-understood mental phenomena (the ‘prey instinct’ if there is one, etc) that these folk feed off? Seems to me we are a tad too self-righteous.

      • rickflick
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        I think the scientific community can always use a nudge. There natural curiosity will often be sufficient for progress to be made.

        Recent research on macaques has revealed some new tidbits. Unlike apes, who seem to recognize themselves in a mirror, monkeys generally do not. Experiments to train them to do so were successful, but only after many training sessions. What’s the difference between monkey and ape brains?

        Young children have been studied extensively as they live and learn. Chomsky and Pinker showed that language is probably an ‘instinct’. So, when chimps are trained to use sign language, what structure in the brain do you suppose they use? Curious.

        I think in fact we have clearly seen the challenge of understanding consciousness and are working toward resolving the question.

        I don’t think criticizing Chopra and wishing for better education is self righteous. He uses only wild speculation and revels in mystery and supernaturalism, then pronounces conclusions without any reference to scientific method. I have to conclude that the people who follow him loyally are not thinking critically and/or are naive and scientifically illiterate.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      Yeah and my money is on science figuring out consciousness and subjective experience way before Deepak does. I would like to know how Deepak knows what he knows and how he knows that he’s not delusional about the whole thing.

      • Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Indeed: what is the standard by which you measure success? That is what your efforts will most closely approximate.

        b&

      • rickflick
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        “I would like to know how Deepak knows what he knows…”

        Same way a salesman with his foot in your door knows his product is a miracle of modern science and way, way under priced.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

          Probably uses this model to justify his assertions.

          • rickflick
            Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

            I just knew you would send me over to one of those satirical sites. Thanks for the link.

      • Posted January 19, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

        The thing about races is that the other racer needs to know when s/he has or hasn’t crossed the finish line.

        Deepak thinks he already has figured it out.

        • Diane G.
          Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

          He’s more like one of those caterpillars racing ’round and ’round the top of a jar.

        • Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

          In Deepak’s case, he’s showing up to the high school drama club’s bake sale thinking it’s the Boston Marathon and not understanding why everybody is laughing at him and giving him strange looks.

          b&

  17. Posted January 19, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Yep, another book I won’t have to buy…

  18. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    “But we know, you can’t see your thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, imagination, creativity, choice — and they’re real,”

    We can “see” emotions, choice et cetera readily as they affect behavior or are almost universally self-reported in humans.

    On the other hand the absence of some emotions in some individuals (e.g. psychopaths) or their above average strength in others (depressed people, say) means Deep Pockets has trouble defining them as “real” in the sense of independence of minds. So no “case for a non-visible [magic agency]”.

  19. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    A small, tangentially related P.S. to my very, very long previous post –

    an example of the kind of animosity that still exists between C.P. Snow’s ‘two cultures’ is BBC Radio 4’s mini-series ‘Self Orbits CERN'(it ran a couple of weeks ago and I think it’s still on iPlayer), in which famous writer and Peter Cook wannabe Will Self visits the LHC and walks around it.

    It’s the result of an invitation by a physicist friend who wanted to show Self the “wonder” of CERN and science in general. That’s the premise at least. It does not go well, and it’s one of the most telling examples of the seemingly enormous gulf that separates the humanities from the sciences. I found it fascinating and unbearable in equal measures. It’s definitely worth a listen(assuming it’s still available).

    • merilee
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      I’ll have to look for that. I really liked Self’s book, Umbrella, but assume from what you’re saying that he doesn’t have any kind of deep understanding of science. Snow’s Two Cultures is one of my all-time favorite essays.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        I’d be very interested to hear what you thought about his behaviour during the trip. A lot of people would’ve killed to visit CERN.

        I’m aware you can’t lump everyone in the humanities into the same group with Self, but I do think the attitude he expressed is pretty common. I thought it said a great deal about the relationship between science and the humanities, and very little of it was good.

        It was still a very interesting listen though. Hope you can find it…

        • Posted January 19, 2015 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

          I’m a musician, and based on my experience, I would not bet any significant sum of money on the wall between the two cultures being torn down by those on the “arts” side.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

            I’m a musician too. I had something like a damascene conversion 8 years ago after a lifetime of utter indifference towards science. I found science at school almost cosmically tedious. I think how I felt then is common, and my subsequent ‘conversion’ is rare.

  20. still learning
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Taurean feces! Lab tests can show elevated and low body chemicals. Functional MRIs show the effect of hormones, etc. on the brain. Therefore, our feelings and emotions can be scientifically proven.

    • Benjamin Branham
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Deepock would just tell you you’re “frozen in the dungeons of conservativism and orthodoxy”

      Sam Harris Exposes Deepak Chopra’s Religious Woo …: http://youtu.be/09UmufmfSLc

      • rickflick
        Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Right at the end of that segment Harris points out that scientists like theoretical physicists are specialized in their expertise and cautious when making assertions. The reason they are so cautious, says Harris, is “…to save themselves from potential embarrassment – something you (Chopra) are not doing.”
        A wonderful zinger.

  21. tim reichert
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I feel the same way about Deepak as everyone here, but in the name of full disclosure and fairness, Dawkins does refer to himself as a “militant atheist” in one of his first TED talks, and he presses the audience to join him in “militant atheism.” And there is no doubt that he intends to suggest that non atheists are stupid. But I’m cool with all of that.

    By “militant” it seems pretty clear to me that Dawkins was talking about being vocal and outspoken as an atheist rather than closeted. And by “stupid” I think he means uneducated and/or stubbornly anti-intellectual.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes he did say those things and I agree, there is nothing nefarious in what he said. Grania (12) supplied the link.

  22. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to nitpick on spelling but

    just as adjective
    “curiOUs” drops its final “u” when embedded in noun “curiOsity”,

    just so adjective
    “numinOUs” drops its final “u” when put in noun “numinOsity”.

    “Numinous” was a term either coined by or heavily popularized by Rudolf Otto in his 1923 book “The Holy” translated into English as “The Idea of the Holy”. The root word is “numen” meaning divine power or spirit.

    I’m not sure how Woody Allen spelled “heaviosity” a word he coined for “Annie Hall”. However, I must say Deepak Chopra strikes me as having more “heaviosity” than “numinosity”. 🙂

    I agree with Christopher Hitchens and Carl Sagan that you find REAL numinosity in the pics from the Hubble Telescope.

  23. Sastra
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    The Spiritual have their own vocabulary. Unless you can properly translate it you’ll argue right past their point and they’ll simply assume you’re not capable of understanding or thinking deep thoughts. That’s part of the reason they evolved their own vocabulary in the first place; it protects them.

    “Spiritual” people think they are nothing at all like the “religious” because in their view religion is all about controlling others. It tells people what to do and uses rules, force, and punishment. Religion is thinking you know things; Spirituality is admitting you know nothing and accepting God/Spirit.

    A “fundamentalist” then is anyone who says “I’m right and you’re wrong” and tries to argue or change someone’s mind. That’s the same as converting people. There’s no distinction between reason and force. People who have accepted God/Spirit never try to convert people who are unwilling (skeptical) because you won’t see until you’re ready.

    So their definitions of “religion” and “fundamentalism” are off. They’re not the objective definitions we’re familiar with. They’re more like the definitions people with authoritarian parents who teased them for being silly would come up with. Spirituality is a safe space for bullshit.

  24. eric
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Its Mystery Men II, featuring Deepak Chopra as “the Shoveler.”

  25. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    This is a pure guess, but I think Chopra may be misremembering Dawkins quoting – with approval – Douglas Adams, who was saying that [i]he[/o] was a “[i]radical[/i] atheist” (“just to signal that I really mean it”).

    • Henry Fitzgerald
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      Christ, I made a mess of those markup tags.

  26. Denholm Elliot
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Deepak, is a great salesman, always trying to sell his books. I am not convinced that he actually believes any of what he says……

  27. kelskye
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Yes, your consciousness is real. It’s just not real all the way down…

  28. merilee
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    sub

  29. gunnerkee19
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m watching a debate between Professor Krauss and Dr. Craig in which the former makes a quote within his presentation about hallucinations being real to those that have them. This should be presented to the Deepster as perhaps an explanation as to why he thinks all the rest of his hokum smokum is a form of reality.

  30. Posted January 19, 2015 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    “But we know, you can’t see your thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, imagination, creativity, choice — and they’re real,” he continued, making a case for a non-visible God. “Your inner world is real.” –

    Having suffered from mental illness most of my life, I for one have realized that feelings, emotions etc. aren’t always factual, this is why cbt (cognitive behavioral therapy) exists. Sometimes our thoughts do NOT add up to reality. This man needs a new hobby!!

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Hope you’re doing better mate.

      • Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        I’m up and down, but thank you for your comment!!

        • Diane G.
          Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Glad you’re doing better. 🙂

          Re the last of that Chopra quote–gawd forbid my inner world were real.

          • rickflick
            Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            Ooo. Sounds like a potential film. I hope you write these things down.

            • Diane G.
              Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

              Lol!

              Not unless it suddenly takes a turn for the interesting.

  31. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Reading through these comments, I tried to imagine how Deepak would react if he were reading these comments. I suspect he’d get through a few of them then fly off the handle and misrepresent what everyone was saying to dismiss us.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 19, 2015 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. He has a lot of pat answers on hand, so I think we’d here a lot we’ve all heard before.

  32. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 20, 2015 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    I liked the phone-in comment from ‘Boring fileclerk’ – “Dawkins’ logic is based on evidence, what is your logic based on?”

  33. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 20, 2015 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Yesterday I saw a TV program ‘Richard Hammond Builds a Universe” (yeah the Hamster seems an unlikely populariser of science but anyway…) one of the computer graphics was an illustration of the web of dark matter which links the galaxies together thus:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kw0mt/p01kw019

    It looks uncannily like a neural net, I think, and my instant thought was, “If Deepak ever sees that, how many microseconds will it take him to conclude that the universe is a giant brain?” I’m not taking bets on it.

    • Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      I guess we need unlikely popularisers to reach a wider audience. Hammond did do some other science-y stuff before joining Top Gear.

      /@

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:07 am | Permalink

        I quite like the guy, and I’d be willing to bet his program was 100% more scientifically accurate than anything Deepak’s ever done, just the contrast with what I saw him doing an hour earlier thrashing cars alongside Captain Slow and Jezza was a little disconcerting.

  34. Wisethat
    Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Being subjected to yet more Deepities I am minded to use an old Royal Naval expression to cover such outpourings, viz:-
    “If BS were music you’d be a brass band!”. This could also be sung with, of course, appropriate sound accompaniment.
    Childish maybe but there again, as is evidenced in most of Deepak’s artificial pearls of wisdom & in some ancient texts I could name , waffle begets waffle!

  35. byran9
    Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    he is trying to out Osteen Osteen.

  36. Michael
    Posted January 20, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It’s so stupid how low the bar is to be considered a ‘militant’ atheist. To be considered a militant religious person, you have to commit acts of violence. But to be a militant atheist you just have to write some books.

  37. Posted January 28, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I did not see how to send this email privately. Did you know that Deepak Chopra is an AIDS Denialist? This youtube conversation with Tony Robbins they discuss their denialism at the 22:25 mark.


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