A friend sent me an email with what she considered were the “profound” comments of Deepak Chopra. It was part of an interview with another creduloid, Larry King. I’ll spare you the majority of it (full transcript) but get this:
And you know, there's lots of evidence, even scientific, that the earth is a living organism. The gaia (ph) hypothesis. Is it possible that our consciousness and the turbulence in our consciousness has anything to do with the turbulence in nature? Michael Lerner just referred to that. One of the very interesting things that happened with the tsunami was, no animal died. The elephants. The monkeys. The rabbits. The birds. They were so tuned in to the forces of nature that they escaped. They ran. Some of the elephants broke their chains and ran to the high level mountainous area where the tidal waves could not reach. We have lost that connection. Is there a way that we can collectively transcend to a level of consciousness where we see that the turbulence in our collective mind, possibly, is inseparable from the turbulence in nature? Because we are part of nature.
…the idea here is that if we quiet the turbulence in our collective mind and heal the rift in our collective soul, could that have an effect on nature's mind, if nature has a mind? The gaia hypothesis says nature does have a mind, that the globe is conscious. So a critical mass of people praying or a critical mass of people collectively engaging in meditation could conceivably, even from a modern physics point of view, through non-local interactions, actually simmer down the turbulence in nature. And there are precedents for this in all the religions.
No elephants died? Earth to Chopra: perhaps that is because there were no elephants on the tourist beaches. Or maybe because elephants are, you know, kinda BIG. Big enough not to get washed away by a wave, maybe? You think? I wonder why no birds got killed. Hum, tricky one that. Let’s see, what characteristic do birds possess that might have saved them from being killed by a tsunami? I dunno, you got me there.
Even ignoring those blunders, no animals died in the Tsunami? Hardly:
HIS Asia reports: “Among the ruble (sic) are also thousand (sic) of dead animals. The smell is overwhelming.”
In The Telegraph, Jan Egeland, the UN disaster relief co-ordinator, is reported saying: "There are thousands of dead people, and there are tens of thousands of dead animals.”
The Times Online reports marine colonel Buyung Lelana, head of an evacuation team in Aceh province saying: "It smells so bad, fishy. The human bodies are mixed in with dead animals like dogs, fish, cats and goats."
What we have here is the anatomy of an urban legend being made. This is how it works. As far as I can tell, this story started with just a couple of people not seeing any dead animals. The media like paranormal stories, and so numerous media outlets repeated it without doing any fact checking of the source. Big surprise. Eventually the story mutates to “animals are psychic”, and this is picked up and repeated as fact by new age nitwits like Chopra. It’s not true though, and so Chopra’s conclusions are also not true (or profound).
If you want to read something about the Tsunami that is both true and relevant, I’d recommend this from Richard Dawkins' letter to The Guardian:
...Dan Rickman says "science provides an explanation of the mechanism of the tsunami but it cannot say why this occurred any more than religion can". There, in one sentence, we have the religious mind displayed before us in all its absurdity. In what sense of the word "why", does plate tectonics not provide the answer?
Not only does science know why the tsunami happened, it can give precious hours of warning. If a small fraction of the tax breaks handed out to churches, mosques and synagogues had been diverted into an early warning system, tens of thousands of people, now dead, would have been moved to safety.
Let's get up off our knees, stop cringing before bogeymen and virtual fathers, face reality, and help science to do something constructive about human suffering.
So there you have it. Pontificating about “lost connections”, “collective minds” or the “gaia hypothesis” will not help one bit. Nor will Chopra’s standard misuse of Quantum Mechanics (that was the “non-local interactions” bit, for those unfamiliar with Chopra’s drivel). Science can already give us advance warning of tsunamis and one day may be able to predict earthquakes. The truth really is out there but don’t expect to hear it on Larry King.