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March 24, 2010

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I wish Richard Feynman were still alive so he could publicly put Chopra in his place. Dick never shied away from confronting 'abusers' of science.

Hell, even without that woo-addled ass-monkey to deal with, I wish Feynman was still alive. You cant help thinking the world would be better for it.

To falsify this interpretation you would have to see what would happen without a conscious observer monitoring the experiment.

Actually, this has been done. A concious observer is definitely not required to collapse the waveform. Put a detector on the slits of a single photon double-slit experiment and the interference pattern disappears, regardless of whether the detector produces any output. All that matters is that something "knows" which slit the photon went through. I believe it's all down to quantum decoherence.

This quote just makes me shit.

One set of measuring waves superimposed on other waves to be measured, only leaves more waves, not particles, not a quantified measurement.
If I didn't already know that Chopra had no idea what he was talking about, this line would clinch it for me. What the hell does he think a "particle" is? Something intrinsically non-wavey? Then how does he think anything goes from a "wave" to a "non-wave" through measurement, observer or no?

What we call "particles" are still waves, they're just localized. How do you get localized waves? To paraphrase Chopra's quote, you take "One set of... waves superimposed on other waves..." That is, in fact, exactly how something goes from being in a wave-like state to a particle-like state: superposition of waves.

And does he think there's something different about the states of the measuring device and the thing to be measured? There isn't. All matter is the same. There is no mystical difference between the electron you measure and the electron it interacts with inside the measuring device.

He doesn't know what waves are. He doesn't know what particles are. He doesn't know anything. I wish this huckster could stop subverting people's interest in science to sell his sciency-sounding but vacuous books.

Looks like Dunc beat me to a comment I was going to make. Saves me from looking for a link.

The way I understand collapsing wave functions: When you whack something (interact with it), the wave function collapses. Observation is just a specialized way of whacking something that gives us information. Observation is not a passive process.

Great entry... Much as I hate to play the pedant ;-) it's 'teeming quantum uncertainty', not 'teaming quantum uncertainty'.

Although the latter does have a sense of waves/particles working together ;-)

Man, beaten to the punch by Dunc, Flavin, and Bronze Dog. I gotta get back on my game.

I wonder if Armstrong, Aldrin et al know if the moon is there or if it was just photons of uncertainty.

'Course Big D probably denies the whole moon landing anyway.

Can't we all just try it at least... I mean, ALL stop looking at Choppy at the same time and see if he doesn't just stop existing!

It might be worth a try.

If everyone ignored him, his book sales would certainly cease to exist.

Quantum is such a work of art; it really is annoying to see someone missing the point in the process of propping up his particular nonsense. Not merely annoying, it's an insult to the life's work of a lot of brilliant, hardworking people. I would submit that the actualities of QM are more intriguing than the crap Chopra and his kindred misuse the word "quantum" so badly to support.

You know, if Choppy wants to believe in woo-woo stuff, that is his own choice. And if he can sell millions of books to others who yearn to believe in woo-woo too, fair enough.

In my opinion, he is deceptive to tie in broad scientific and quantum theories and package it all as proven woo-woo facts that will ultimately damage many people in their desolate strivance to make Magical Thinking work, while their real lives sink perhaps deeper into the mire they are desperate to escape.

As for "closed mindedness" - um scooze me? He gets to meet some really very impressive Quantum Scientists and, far from asking to learn from them... he argues to barrack them into accepting HIS WAY (and only his way) as the Truth.

All it proves to me is the truth of that old saying: The Smallest Minds Have The Biggest Mouths Attached.

Maybe, but the “observer” can be something non material – a scientific instrument, say.

Is this a mis-phrasing? A scientific instrument is certainly not non-material.

I blame the density of Chopra's woo.

Aah - typo. I meant "material" not "non material." Well spotted.

Skeptico, your articles continue to be a source of thought-provoking content. Keep up the excellent work.

It is my dream that we can someday convince all the woos to ignore Chopra, freeing us up to ignore him, and then he might as well not exist.

I believe that Shermer already pointed this out, but if collapsing the wave function of photons requires consciousness, then photography would be impossible... unless Mr. Chopra believes cameras are conscious.

Would Deepak Chopra exist if a tree fell on him in the woods????

Mr. Chopra makes perfect sense if you just give Ketamine a chance.

Dunc:

Actually, this has been done. A concious observer is definitely not required to collapse the waveform.

I’m not sure I totally agree.  Proponents of the consciousness interpretation would point out that the measuring device (in your example, the film recording the interference pattern) exists in a quantum superposition until it is viewed by a human observer.  Chopra would probably say that the image doesn’t appear on the film until you look at it.

My point is that no one can possibly know this – to test this claim you would have to look at the film without looking at it, which is impossible.  Because of this problem, I believe you cannot possibly say that QM proves consciousness is required.  Of course, this also means you can’t prove consciousness is not required either – I rule it out instead with Occam’s Razor.

Couldn't a computer program be designed to read, interpret, and quantify the results of the image for us, providing us with the same proof that a material observer was able to see the same thing we would have? Or would we just be extending the logic chain one further notch into the binary data in the computer not existing until we look at the results on the screen?

TurboFool:

How would you know what the computer had concluded without looking at the computer output?

Watching the debate I really got one thing from all Chopra said, and that was;
I have a product to sell, leave me alone and do not question it.

I'll just say a close friend is a devout atheist (no irony) and I have read many of Mr. Chopra's books. He is amazing, and I have yet to meet a happy atheist. That is all.

Oh, right, and all of this witless self-aggrandizing elitist prattle reminds me of IRC 10 years ago. Maybe you should be trying to enjoy life instead of shitting on everyone else?

The previous two posts have been inspected and are hereby certified to be content-free.

Inspector 27
US Bureau of Content

pot kettle black. kurosawa would be disappointed.

wow, as if judging proper beliefs by how happy they make you feel is a good way to judge their truth. And what kind of sample size do you have with your atheists? It sounds like you have one atheist that you claim to be unhappy, and have therefore presumed that All atheists are unhappy. Do you know what this 'friends' internal life is truly like, and to what extent you have projected your dislike of atheism on to him as 'unhappiness'. Additionally I would like a defenition of what eactly you find 'witless' or 'elitist' about this article and comments? Or indeed what self-aggrandisment is present? Rather you have respond to a critique of deepak chopra's confused and self serving understanding (I hesitate to call it such) of quantum mechanics by calling us, essentially, 'nasty doo-doo heads'. That is you havent defended deepak in the slightest, rather you have blindly attacked some percieved threat to him, without any attempt at debate, or communicating the why of your conviction; If you feel we are 'elitist' because we think chopra is wrong, have some pretty serious grounds for that claim, and call him and his ilk silly names; then I think you have missed the sense of what 'elitist' means http://www.thefreedictionary.com/elitist

So someone believing that if they put one foot ever so slightly out of line, or cuss when he or she whacks their thumb with a hammer, an almighty universal power will condemn them to eternal and unimaginable suffering is suppose to find that a barrel of laughs?

Well, I prefer South Park myself. Of course, as an atheist, when I piss myself laughing, I'm only putting on an act for the benefit of... well, the empty room, I suppose.

I must be just hiding the pain.

SkepticalOfSkeptics:

You say:

I'll just say a close friend is a devout atheist (no irony)

I assume you mean "devout atheist" to mean worship of or piety to, nothing, I guess. But it can also mean "sincere". Your friend may be sincere in stating "there could be a god or gods but until I have a reason to think so, I choose to ignore your belief". I certainly am.

You're a devout woo (no irony).

...I have read many of Mr. Chopra's books. He is amazing...

Why? Because he can write books? Or because he can use big words that you don't understand to make up whatever he thinks sounds neat?

and I have yet to meet a happy atheist.

Are you basing this assertion on your one devout friend? Why do you consider this person a friend if they are so sad/angry/evil?

That is all.

Well thank you for dropping by. I'm sure you've swayed everyone here with your jaw-dropping notion that "He is amazing." With this incredible evidence, compounded with the fact you can read books, I'm sure Skeptico will delete not only this post, but the entire blog. Following that I'm sure he'll sell all his belongings and begin the "Choppy-Choppy Chopra" religious movement.

I'm going back to being very content with the fact that there are no sky people I might piss off that will burn me in fire forever.

I understand why SOS is so content in life now - SOS likes being an asshole!

Oh, right, and all of this witless self-aggrandizing elitist prattle reminds me of IRC 10 years ago.

Well welcome to the future! This is called a "blog". It allows anyone to write content and post it on the internet. You may want to check into this "Facebook" thing or that "Twitter" deal.

Speaking as a blog writer myself, I can say that this "witless self-aggrandizing elitist prattle" is to help people see through the bullshit in life and utilize real, evidence based resources to solve problems and explain how the universe works.

Maybe you should be trying to enjoy life instead of shitting on everyone else?

Is this how you enjoy life? By perusing critical thinking blogs and shitting on them?

Pot - kettle black. Choppy would be disappointed. Remember what "irony" means?

No SOS, I'd enjoy life a lot more if there weren't unsinkable rubber ducks out there like yourself peddling magic as an answer to anything. Oh, right, and all of your witless self-aggrandizing elitist prattle reminds me of AOL trolls 10 years ago.

See how I changed a few words and now it applies to you? A neat rhetorical device I learned from the author of this blog.

Who is Deepak Chopra??

Oh, right, and all of this witless self-aggrandizing elitist prattle reminds me of IRC 10 years ago. Maybe you should be trying to enjoy life instead of shitting on everyone else?

Ah, like someone mentioned above - pot, kettle, black. Why do you come here and whine and "shit on everyone" instead of enjoying your life?

But more than that, I have to reply to this "elitist prattle"-bit.

What you've seen here, SkepticalOfSkeptics, is people replying to faulty lines of reasoning with scientific arguments. I have no idea what's either elitist or prattle about that. But it is something I hear a lot nowadays...

People are so happy to take advantage of what science and scientific thinking have brought. They happily live their long, mostly pain-free lives with the help of modern medicine. They use advanced electronics to be constantly entertained and constantly in contact with all of the world. They travel through the air and look at pictures from deep space. They use their GPS.

And normally they don't complain about any of the science that led to all of those wonderful advances. But as soon as their favorite woomeister is being argued against, all scientifically minded people are suddenly nothing but "prattling elitists."

Get a clue. It's not elitism to argue for proper science.

There is such a thing as real science that follows the scientific method, and it's very different from non-scientific woo. Real science has brought you the modern world, but it is under attack by those who defend the woo.

And if you're wondering, I'm a very happy atheist.

Thank you for being here. This blog, this website is awesome.
I have dabbled in all this stuff, read Chopra's books, done a ton of study and research purely for my own curiousity and interest. Went to groups of many different types involving spiritualism, and other belief based ideals. I have always just been curious about what people are thinking.

Wow, what a trip. It's all quite mind blowing.

Through all of this I find a great deal of comfort - not from the wishful thinking of the mystical unknowable things that for some seem to hold all the promise of complete fulfillment - but in the skeptical communities. I really like having my feet on the ground.

I am still a curious person with artsy tendendancies. I love drawing, writing and making things up but I know when I'm making things up and I don't claim the things I make up are actually true.

I have gone a long way with my studies and research into beliefs systems and I will continue to be curious the same way I am curious when I go hiking. I hike because I like the excercise and I want to see stuff, observe things, it's really just something to do while I'm here. It is nice however to come here and be in the company of sanity, reality, real science and just basic common sense. I am happy to find out there is a community of people that have a word to describe Deepak Chopra's long confusing rambling about how quantum mechanics confirms his ideals - woo woo.

So while I continue to allow myself to be hopelessly curious about everything, I have no desire to lose my rational mind and regardless of whatever beliefs I hang onto or develop in the future I do understand the difference between my beliefs and the reality of the here and now. I also understand that I can change my beliefs anytime time I want and all the real laws of physics won't miss a beat.

Anyway, this is my first post and all my dealings and communications with new agers, psychics and mystics has left me feeling hesitant to connect with others, I got creeped out, seriously creeped out. The popularity of The Secret and people like Oprah is just scary to me but this site has brought me some hope that there is a way to develop sane dialogue with others, at least some people, in this world.

Thanks Skeptical Community for putting people like Chopra in the spotlight. His words come out much less poetically and his otherwise calm demeanor gives way to fanaticism when sitting across from someone like Michael Shermer or Sam Harris.

Welcome over here, Jennifer. I was in something of a similar situation myself for a while, though without any focus on specific people.

What got me connected with the skeptical community was their willingness to ask simple questions and not let go until they were answered. Many of these questions were ones I asked myself or ones I hadn't thought of.

I had to do my share of thinking. It didn't help that a lot of big names in woo preferred to sweep those questions under the rug and then pretend they were never asked.

As for curiosity, that's one of the virtues we hold high. Many of the magic words used by people like Chopra are designed to suppress curiosity by making up an answer that doesn't actually say anything. They're also commonly hostile towards scientists who are actually studying things like neurology or evolution out of fear that the real answer might be something they don't like.

even if we all ignored him, Chopra would still exist to spew out more quantum drivel tomorrow, the next day, and the next day ad infinitum.
Would "ad nauseam" be a better choice than "ad infinitum." That wording implies something disturbingly "choprakish" to me.

The Royal Ontario Museum had invited Chopra to publicise his new book

Over at Sandwalk there's a petition setup to let ROM know that Chopra drivel does nothing to support the ROM's stated mandate to "serve as an advocate for science in the study of nature".

to petition - http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2010/05/dear-royal-ontario-museum.html

please take the time to go sign it

thanks

Grant

Seconded! It's ridiculous to have a museum legitimizing Chopra's ignorant profit-driven dangerous lunacy. It's also a chance to public awareness about the objections to what he is doing.

'I haven’t seen that debate yet (click the link for a video), but I have read Shermer’s brief description and his account of an exchange'

So you admit to simply accepting one person's (Shermer's) account of what transpired in this encounter. Would it have hurt so much to actually see the entire thing BEFORE you decided to comment upon it? How could you have been certain that D. Chopra hadn't been misquoted, or just misunderstood, before you had seen the debate?

Hey genius, read the post. It was not about the debate on video (that I didn't see), it was about what Chopra wrote afterwards on the Huffington Post. The clue was that I linked to and quoted Chopra's piece on the Huffington Post.

About the existence of the moon: what we see is an appearance of the moon. When we look away the moon disappears. When we look back again, the moon reappears. What we see is an appearance. What we can legitimately do is infer that there is a 'thing' existing which appears to us a 'the moon'. However, we need to maintain a certain humility, because an inference is not a proof. Assuming that there is a 'thing' called 'the moon' which exists independently of our perception of it is a valid inference. However, what we see and what the 'thing' actually is, is an entirely different matter. Too many people are trying to turn physics into poetry. Keep them separate!

well if there's any good to come out of the fast rising billion or so loonies wasted on feting G8/G20 round these parts, it's the cancellation of his gibberish at the ROM

While I totally agree with Skeptico's contempt of the kind of drivel that Deepak Chopra (DC) is spreading all around, I am sorry to make a very frivolous remark about this. Why dont we all kick DC's butt really hard to see how his 'consciousness' reacts to this 'quantum jump' of a kick

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