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Profiles in Wishy Washy Beliefs: Deepak Chopra

Yesterday, I watched the ABC Nightline debate between Sam Harris and Deepak Chopra featuring Michael Shermer and some crazy lady. The subject of the debate was whether or not God has a future. In reality, the real debate was whether or not Deepak Chopra is trying to be the next L. Ron Hubbard.

Many times during the debate, Chopra made statements of fact which were not actually facts. When called out on these assertions, he usually took the opportunity to spout off made up terminology presumably from his books. He was pretty quick with it too. At one point Sam Harris asked him how he defines God and before Harris could even finish, Chopra was rattling off his three word phrase which spelled the an acronym G.O.D.

During another part of the debate, Harris talked about how most scientists are quick to hedge their statements because “they are desperate to avoid public embarrassment” if presented with opposing information. Chopra at this point made an interesting comment: “If I was worried about being embarrassed I wouldn’t be influencing the people that I am influencing.”

Like I said, this is a very interesting statement. Chopra is trying to say that he puts his opinions out there without regard because he is somehow brave or something. But what he seems to be saying to me is that his goal is to influence people and the way to do that is to make bold statements without worrying about being wrong. The way I see it, Chopra is trying to be the leader of a new religion complete with its own terminology.

Unlike other cult leaders, Deepak Chopra doesn’t seem to have a coherent system of belief. Instead, he takes a little bit of science, a little bit of old school religion, a little bit of new age mysticism and throws it out there and sees what sticks.

“The spirit energy of the protons powers our souls to bring us closer to the Universe.” I just made that up and yet to some people that statement is profoundly informative. In reality it is a meaningless string of words thrown together by my Deepak Chopra phrase generator.

To help support my opinion of Deepak Chopra incoherent system of science, religion, and mysticism I give you these Nightline debates. Not long ago, Chopra was on the side of reason (sort of) against wacko fundamentalists in the debate: Does Satan Exist? There too, he was able to use his patented phrase generator to rattle off more meaningless dibble.

There is no doubt that in this current debate, Deepak Chopra dominated the discourse. So much so that Sam Harris had to ask him to “dial it down a little” and told him that he has already talked for awhile. Harris even used his signature line, “You have put a lot on the table.” Even the moderator, Dan Harris, had to ask Deepak to shut up on a few occasions. Still Chopra interrupted everyone and used every opportunity to spout his nonsense.

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  • qwertyuiop

    I still don’t know why they put lunatics like him on the same stage as real intelligent, professional people. It only serves to legitimize them and make people think the loons are somehow on equal footing with real experts when they’re not.

    I suppose it is entertainment for us sane people, but still.

  • Lynn Carney

    I watched and posted the unedited version as a bulletin on MySpace. It was long and sometimes hard to watch Deepak Chopra spew his woowoo as Michael Shermer calls it. Here is the link to the first of twelve videos if anyone wants to watch the unedited version plus a question and answer session, It’s almost two hours.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-8-Yxdphsg. I think it can also be found at Nightline’s web sight.

    I remember Julie Sweeney talking about Deepak Chopra in her documentary “Letting Go Of God”, admiring him and reading his books and falling for his woowoo as a young person searching for anxwers. After becoming an atheist and meeting him she realized he is “full of shit” as she says in her documentary.

  • http://dogmaticatheist.wordpress.com A-Dizzle

    I was actually at that debate at CalTech, and everytime Deepak opened his mouth I just wanted to cringe. The one thing I remember most is when he proclaimed that “we know consciousness can exist without a brain”. How the hell does he know that? Just a bald assertion without any evidentiary support.

    I didn’t watch the videos on the site, but I think a certain portion of the debate was cut. I don’t know if they cut this part out, but during Q&A an actual theoretical physicist who is writing a book with Steven Hawking stood up and basically said Deepak is completely clueless about Quantum Physics. It was great.

    • http://dogmaticatheist.wordpress.com A-Dizzle

      Oh, that part is in there with the physicist. Good stuff.

    • 1225truth

      that was included in the video.

    • PRG

      Of course consciousness can exist without a brain. Deepak Chopra is living proof!

  • Sonny Dee

    Oh, man, what a debacle. Anyone who takes this fool seriously deserves to be led towards stupidity and then led behind the chemical shed…. oops, my authoritarian nature is showing….

  • G.O’Muck

    Deepak’s glasses said it all. Rhinestones? He’s obviously is all about being a celebrity, and his comments were absurd nonsense. He was also obnoxious. Why anyone would buy into anything he says is beyond me.

  • PaigeB

    I am going to find out who “that crazy lady” was. You know, when I re-watched it (and I suggest you do that too) she seemed to be very enlightened and more of studier of human behavior than a WooWoo. I think she was at many time completely exasperated by Deepak and probably wished she hadn’t taken the gig sitting next to him. At least Shermer and Harris did not feel she was so inflammatory that they interrupted her and often agreed with at least part of what she was saying. Let me know if you want the link to the full debate – I thought my clip was longer than the aired version….

    Deepak is his own circus. How about those Elton John glasses?? I really loved the part when one of the guys told Deepak he needed to do some of his own meditation! At one point when he was being addressed by Harris he blamed Shermer for his discomfort. Deepak did himself no favors.

    Thanks for the good talk Staks!

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Her name is Jean Houston. The thing is that she came off really poorly. Most of the time when she was talking, she didn’t really make sense and what she was talking about didn’t seem to have anything to do with the topic being discussed at the time. The moderator just felt compelled to keep her in the debate by asking for her opinion.