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January 10, 2009


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He wants to include unproven Woo
Its not even 'unproven' woo. This, to me, implies that there is still some likelyhood that it may work. It has been looked into, it never works better than placebo (unless you unblind the studies and use small populations).

I think we just need to make a better case about what working as well as placebo means it isnt a good treatment.

I suppose "unproven woo" is a little redundant.

I accept that a healthier diet, no smoking, exercise etc would be good for you. But this has nothing to do with the acupuncture or the Qi Gong that he also introduced in this article.

Qi Gong is a subset of exercise, no?

Yes and no.  Qigong:

…refers to a wide variety of traditional cultivation practices that involve methods of accumulating, circulating, and working with qi or energy within the body.

The studies Chopra linked didn’t talk about working with “qi”.

From Chopra's link:

[...] stress management 60 min per day (gentle yoga-based stretching, breathing, meditation, imagery, and progressive relaxation)

From Wikipedia's qi-gong article:

[They] view qigong as a set of breathing and movement exercises, with possible benefits to health through stress reduction and exercise.

Chopra's link may not mention qi gong with words, but if you drop the labels, his link from which I quote above is pretty much what a typical qi gong session would look like.


You are falling or the exact same bait and switch equivocation trick that I wrote about in my post.  Yes, Qi Gong can be described as just breathing and movement exercises, but that is not the Woo definition that Chopra wants to promote once he has you on the hook.  You have just been reeled in.

The studies did not mention Qi Gong, and even if they did, it would not be possible to say that Qi Gong works because of the confounding factors – low fat diet, aerobic exercise etc.

Read Equivocation. It's just more of the same.

So because Qi-gong is supposedly a type of exercise, all benefits of exercise apparently apply to Qi-gong as well? Sorry, but it doesn't work that way, even for proven benefits of exercise. You can't build your arm muscles by running, or build cardiovascular endurance by lifting weights, though both of those are benefits of exercise when it's generalized.

Hypothetical comparison: Let's say I invent an activity called "R-movement," which consists of moving your arms around randomly while standing in one place. Since it involves moving your body, I say it's a type of exercise. Exercise is good for you, so R-movement must also be good for you, right? We must start promoting it immediately!

You see what I'm doing there? That's all the justification we're given for Qi gong in this case, and it sounds idiotic when you apply it to a made-up practice. The argument is simply invalid.

It's hard not to view Chopra's equivocating as anything other than pure dishonesty. Not well-meaning, but deliberately misleading. The man's words are those of a huckster, pure and simple.

Chopra's equivocating as anything other than pure dishonesty

You know, I am truly tempted to think that too. At the same time, I have seen so many times that people honestly believe what they are talking about. Dawkins interviewed water dowsers, they honestly believed they could find water with a stick, even in the face of evidence that they can not

I have no idea if there is evidence the Chopra is knowingly misleading. He may truly, honestly believe this stuff he spouts. He may in fact be as much a victim of his own equivocation as the people who listen to him.

This doesnt make him criminal, it just makes him a person that should not be listened to. And article like this one from Skeptico will provide some reference point as to why.

Then again, someone may be able to link to a place where he knowingly is misleading people, but this WSJ entry is not it.

"Herbs usually have far fewer side effects than pharmaceuticals."

Probably because pharmaceuticals actually do something in the first place. Water also doesn't have too many side effects (including the homeopathic variety, apart from wallet thinning) but it won't independently cure many diseases, either.

Thanks for posting these types of articles, i get sucked into these words and start nodding - "yes it seems reasonable" until it is carefully analyzed and you realize just how it works.

The man, Chopra, is an out and out charlatan, mind you a very smart one but, a charlatan nevertheless. If critical thinking were a prominent subject in our education system this woo master could not have amassed his millions. He is a disgrace to the human specie and so are many of us.

Why stay ignorant when you have a choice not to be?

Chopra remains the king of the lifestyle con men. While pushing genuinely beneficial modifications (stress reduction, diet, exercise), he also advocates a variety of "non effective" approaches. He also will not subject himself to any legitimate criticism, which he would have had to as an MD. Now that he is officially an "amateur" he can say whatever he likes with no fear of sanction or serious challenge. Anti-Chopra posts on Huffpo are summarily removed and any rational discussion of his vague generalities remains untested.

The Chopras are saying they will close down their original Intentblog.com within days.
Here part of one of the “good bye” pots:

It was fun and we had some good exchanges, but there was a pattern at IB. Posts that called for giving reason and reality a chance to find the truth and not assigning the unexplainable to the supernatural were often not allowed or even deleted. These “reality posts” seemed a threat to the owners.

But faith, which is nothing but blind belief, is at the heart of many conflicts today and indeed throughout history, and if we don’t learn to reason things out our children and grandchildren will inherit a very dangerous world, if a world at all?

“…let’s help the world find a religion that worships the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science. It might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths”. CS

On Dawkins' Enemies of Reason film, there's an interview with Chopra where he complains that physicists have "hijacked the term quantum physics".

Maybe it's also worth linking to this older post by http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/10/deepak_chopra_does_it_again.php>PZ Myers on Chopra. It's interesting to see typical Chopra-esque woo-talk being brought into contact with actual science.

There are some interesting articles on http://www.rickross.com/groups/deepakchopra.html>Rick Ross about Chopra's private life. There are plenty of far worse people than him in the New Age movement, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bandler#Corine_Christensen_Case>of course, but when one can't practice what one preaches, then maybe what one preaches is a load of hogwash.

One of these days you will experience something that is only explainable or "fixable" by these subjects in which you claim not to believe.

"He doth protest too much..."

Talk about cynical and pessimistic, e. Doggerel #127: "Unexplainable"

What makes it funny is that I have yet to see any of those subjects explain anything effectively. The wonder of science has done a much, much better job at that sort of thing while all you can do is try to tear everything down.

You seem a little confused e. Not a surprise really, since understanding reality seems a stretch for people like you.

We don't claim that we don't believe in these subjects.

We claim (and can show with evidence) that these subjects belong to the realms of pseudoscience, pseudohistory and pseudomedicine and that they don't have the effects that are claimed for them, or don't do the things people claim they do. We don't believe in many of the claimed properties of these subjects.

Try and understand the difference before coming back.

We acknowledge that the subjects exist, it's just that almost everything else about them is bullshit.

Since you don't even seem to understand the skeptical position, there's not much point in talking to you any further. Come back when you have at least tried to understand our position, and can effectively demonstrate this.

One of these days you will experience something that is only explainable or "fixable" by careful application of the Force using Jedi principles.

"I sense much fear in you..."

I link 2 U in a comment on the Movin' Meat blog! :) Which I cannot link, for some reason. Me go lie down now.

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