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Deepak Chopra reviews Richard Dawkins

Shorter Deepak: “Richard Dawkins didn’t endorse my quantum bullshit, therefore The Magic of Reality sucks!”

Deepak Chopra actually sounds quite upset — his review of the book reads more like the indignant squawk of a charlatan furious that the presence of a skeptic might cut into his take. It’s largely an exercise in name-dropping and the profession of bleary, vacuous misinterpretations of science on his part, which he then turns around and uses to accuse Dawkins of error because he doesn’t share his inoculation of the ideas with pseudoscience. Like this:

What is obnoxious about Dawkins’ version is his tone of absolute authority about matters that he shows complete ignorance of. Respected physicists like John Archibald Wheeler, Sir Arthur Eddington, Freeman Dyson, Hans-Peter Dürr, Henry Stapp, Sir Roger Penrose, Eugene Wigner, Erwin Schrodinger, and Werner Heisenberg suggest a fundamental role for consciousness in quantum theory and a mental component at the level of biological organisms and the universe itself.

I notice that 56% of the people he names are dead, that none of them are biologists or psychologists, and that several of them, while authoritative in their fields, aren’t actually known for their views on consciousness. This is a common pseudo-scientific con, roping a few famous corpses into agreeing with wacky interpretations.

But even the ones who’ve pontificated on consciousness and physics, like Dyson and Penrose, don’t help. Those guys don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Quantum effects matter in that they’re fundamental to how all matter behaves, but cells are big — any counter-intuitive weird quantum effects are going to be negligible in the large-scale bulk activity of a synapse. This is a world where the laws of thermodynamics and electromagnetism rule: the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation doesn’t need any quantum handwaving to accurately describe the potential across a cell membrane.

Bringing these guys into the argument is as silly as if I were to charge into a discussion of how the tides go in, the tides go out by insisting that we have to take into account the effect of the presence of schools of squid. Sure, they’re real and they’re there, but they don’t affect the tides. This simply is not where neuroscience is going: if you want to understand how the nervous system works, learn math and the physics of electrochemistry, and in particular learn about biochemistry, pharmacology, and molecular biology…but studying quantum physics won’t help you at all.

I won’t even get into his absurd ideas that the universe itself is conscious. Dawkins’ book is about reality, not fantasy.

So Deepak then gets off his quantum bandwagon and tries to discuss biology. He fails.

Dawkins bypasses evidence from his own field of genetics that might upset his hobby-horse. He ignores, either willfully or through ignorance, the evidence for directed mutagenesis first put forward by John Cairns of Harvard in 1988. John Cairns showed that if you grow bacteria with the inability to metabolize lactose, they evolve that ability in petri dishes tens of thousands of times faster than would be predicted if mutations simply occurred randomly. Professor Rudolph Tanzi of Harvard Medical School further points out that mutations in the human genome do not occur randomly but cluster in “hot spots” that are hundreds of times more likely to undergo mutation.

Dawkins is not a geneticist: he’s an ethologist and evolutionary biologist. Of course, he knows far more about genetics than does Deepak, so his confusion is understandable. Deepak would have to stand awed before the depth of knowledge known by my undergraduate students in comparison to his.

The Cairns results were interesting, but I don’t know of anyone who still claims that they are the result of directed mutagenesis, other than woo-peddlers. The fact that bacteria produced viable mutations more rapidly than predicted is explained by the observation of hypermutability in bacteria under stress. Basically, if you measure the error rate of replication in normal, healthy bacteria under growth promoting conditions, and then use that same rate to predict the frequency of mutations in a population under stressed conditions, you’ll underestimate the frequency.

The observation of hotspots for mutation in the genome is also well-known. It’s not magic, it’s not because these regions are well-liked by the mutation fairy, it’s because of chemistry. Some areas of a chromosome are more prone to breakage or error because of their structure or sequence.

This does not defy the observation that mutations are random. It merely means that the probability of mutation is not uniform across the entire length of the genome. Deepak’s argument is like claiming that because, when shooting craps, you’re more likely to roll a 7 than snake-eyes, throwing two dice generates a non-random result. Deepak doesn’t understand physics or biology, and he also doesn’t understand elementary probability theory.

Dawkins does. I heard him talk about this book on Sunday, and Deepak’s baseless complaints to the contrary, he did take a moment to explain what he meant by “random”, and it wasn’t the cartoonish nonsense Deepak Chopra babbles about.

I could go on and on about the stupidity of Deepak’s review — every paragraph is like the evacuations of an elephant with diarrhea — massively feculent and slimy, of a quality that will not even appeal to the neighborhood dung beetles. But I do have to mention one more sentence that left me laughing.

One doesn’t ask for advanced genetics in a primer for young adults, but one does ask that the writer know his field before adopting a tone of authority.

That’s rich coming from a quantum quack who is demonstrably deluded about medicine, biology, evolution, physics, chemistry, and the entirety of science, yet manages to pretend to be an authority every day.

(Also on Sb)

Comments

  1. says

    This is a world where the laws of thermodynamics and electromagnetism rule: the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation doesn’t need any quantum handwaving to accurately describe the potential across a cell membrane.

    I wish he were only talking about the effects of quantum mechanics on consciousness. But he’s not. He’s talking about the effects of consciousness on quantum mechanics. He’s taking the Copenhagen interpretation out into left-field, where all quantum woo-meisters go. It’s the difference between bottom-up processes, and top-down processes.

    He seems to seriously believe that we can manipulate reality by thinking about it, through the “observation” of quantum mechanics. He further appears to believe science really backs this up, through wave function collapse. Never mind that “observer” really just means “interaction,” and that wave function collapse is most likely an epiphenomenon of decoherence.

    And of course he’d have to take issue with Richard Dawkins’ book on science. The discipline of actual science requires rigor and documentation and research and data gathering and peer review. That kinda interferes with making shit up.

  2. Ewan R says

    What is obnoxious about Dawkins’ version is his tone of absolute authority about matters that he shows complete ignorance of.

    amusingly one need only change the name from Dawkins to Chopra here for this piece to make absolute sense.

    Which is probably about as close to making sense as Deepak will ever come.

    I think congratulations are in order.

  3. adrianedmonds says

    Perhaps it’s where I’m viewing your website from. There are a lot of religious sites appearing on the sidebar such as “The Restored Church of God” . Are freethoughtblogs taking a cut? Inquiring minds would like to know. Screenshots available on request.

  4. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    You bastard. I navigated to that article and made the mistake of reading the comments.
    I now have a severe case of SIWOTI.
    Must. Not. Destroy!

  5. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    That kinda interferes with making shit up.

    But if you remove making shit up from Choptra’s toolkit, he’s reduced to telling lies and outright nonsense.

  6. Gregory says

    It amuses me, the way some people like Chopra will squawk about the universe being conscious, without themselves showing any conscious thought about the matter. The universe is VAST: if their premise is correct, then the entire solar system is as significant to this consciousness as a particular hydrogen atom is to human consciousness. Even if they really mean “the Earth is conscious”, individual humans are still reduced to the role of, maybe, individual mitochondria. Not exactly the kind of “you are special” clap-trap they are trying to peddle.

    And professor, I like your use of the word “feculent.” It is always nice to learn new vocabulary.

  7. Zerple says

    Deepak Chopra’s beliefs are so comical, that until I read this article, I thought he was a fictional character invented for “The Love Guru”. I am kind of shocked to find that he actually exists.

  8. says

    ‘Tis Himself:

    But if you remove making shit up from Choptra’s toolkit, he’s reduced to telling lies and outright nonsense.

    Right. Making shit up in other ways.

    I really need to have my ethics surgically removed so I can use cargo-cult science to bamboozle millions of people out of millions of dollars.

    I wonder how much that surgery would cost?

  9. Louis says

    Eurgh, did someone mention Deepak Chopra? The man is such a self-serving oleaginous liar I feel dirty.

    Excuse me whilst I have a shower.

    Louis

    P.S. Note the pseudoscientific tendency of Chopra to pull one or two experiments out of context and go “LOOK LOOK! IT’S ALL WRONG! {INSERT CLAIM HERE} MUST BE TRUE!!!”. Consilience is just a word to these people.

  10. davidct says

    You should have warned us to turn down our irony meters before including that final comment. Mine was set on low sensitivity but it still got fried.

  11. eric says

    The observation of hotspots for mutation in the genome is also well-known. It’s not magic, it’s not because these regions are well-liked by the mutation fairy, it’s because of chemistry. Some areas of a chromosome are more prone to breakage or error because of their structure or sequence.

    True story: this summer, a seemingly random assortment of TV stations went out on my cable service. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the pattern, why some stations went out and others didn’t. The selection just didn’t make any sort of sense, not even an “owned by the same corporation” type of sense.

    Finally, I gave up trying to figure it out on my own and called the cable service. “Those are the stations carried on the physical outer layer of the cable; some water probably seeped in.”

    Sometimes its about geometry. :)

  12. ACN says

    As a physicist, I despise Deepak Chopra.

    The fact that you can find a physicst, even a GREAT physicist (I chuckled at the wording of “authoritative in their field” as I read a list that included Wigner, Heisenberg, et al :) ) who is willing to believe some tripe about consciousness and QM DOES NOT MEAN THAT QM SUPPORTS IT. As you said PZ, it seems that Deepak knows the additional pro-tip, make sure the claimed physicist is dead so that he/she can’t defend themselves.

    Fucking assclown.

  13. How do we destroy Chopra? says

    We really ought to come up with a campaign to discredit, defund, and denounce Chopra wherever he goes. We ought to “Occupy Chopra” and shout him down from his lectures with pleas that he solve the Schrodinger Equation from an undergraduate Quantum Mechanics text. We ought to throw spoons at him for his support of Uri Geller. We ought to systematically Pharyngulate the Amazon.com ratings for his moneymakers: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&keywords=Deepak%20Chopra This guy needs to be stopped.

  14. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    @3 adrianedmonds
    Every ad gets paid for, you can be sure. It just happens that the Christers and woo-pedlars and “get your Ph.D. in phrenology” people are wasting their money here. This is a Good Thing. Enjoy!

  15. says

    Deepak Chopra:

    …but one does ask that the writer know his field before adopting a tone of authority.

    This is a bit like Joseph Mengele telling Florence Nightingale to care more about the wellbeing of her patients.

  16. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    @9 Louis
    Consilience is just a word to these people.

    Consilience IS just a word! Deepity!

  17. Brownian says

    Professor Rudolph Tanzi of Harvard Medical School further points out that mutations in the human genome do not occur randomly but cluster in “hot spots” that are hundreds of times more likely to undergo mutation.

    It’s been a while since I’ve taken any genetics courses (and those were fairly introductory), so this business of ‘hot spots’ is new to me, but even as I read the lines I was pretty sure the answer lies in chemistry, not qi.

    Deepak’s head’ll fucking blow when he learns that thymine dimers always involve thymine bases. OMG! WHAT CAN IT MEAN?!

    What a fucking doucheflake.

  18. Kevin says

    Hold the phone…I thought PZ wasn’t doing HuffPo anymore.

    The great burning stupid that is the entirety of HuffPo has been off my list ever since — well — ever.

    I feel like the guy in Chinatown: “Forget it PZ. It’s HuffPo.”

  19. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    Brownian

    Deepak’s head’ll fucking blow when he learns that thymine dimers always involve thymine bases. OMG! WHAT CAN IT MEAN?!

    Amusingly, it means that quantum mechanics is relevant to mutation. Its a pity that Deepak doesn’t seem to understand* that at the chemical level quantum mainly functions to provide a deeper understanding of chemical reactions that can be observed and repeated. Photochemical 2+2 cyclizations are interesting for a number of reasons, but as far as I can tell they have nothing to do with the magical “consciousness” phenomena that Deepak keeps prating about.

    *assuming stupidity in place of deceit.

  20. says

    The misunderstanding of Chopra and other “woo peddlers” by the author and commenters is really pathetic. The easy thing to do is to write off Chopra as someone with poor intentions and get back obsessing over every word uttered by Richard Dawkins. The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes. Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    But if you are on here just to feel better about your view of reality while denigrating another’s, then please continue this garbage.

  21. says

    Some scientists believed in woo. Therefore, woo is reality.

    Quantum.

    Dawkins sucks.

    No need to overdo it, woomeister Deepak. But then, to make it sound intelligent to the naive, you do need to overdo it, hence you do.

    Glen Davidson

  22. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Perhaps it’s where I’m viewing your website from. There are a lot of religious sites appearing on the sidebar such as “The Restored Church of God” . Are freethoughtblogs taking a cut? Inquiring minds would like to know.

    Can’t be all that inquiring, as it’s been blogged about a few times and commented to death already.

  23. says

    We ought to “Occupy Chopra” and shout him down from his lectures with pleas that he solve the Schrodinger Equation from an undergraduate Quantum Mechanics text….

    Occupy Woo Street!

  24. Brownian says

    The misunderstanding of Chopra and other “woo peddlers” by the author and commenters is really pathetic. The easy thing to do is to write off Chopra as someone with poor intentions and get back obsessing over every word uttered by Richard Dawkins. The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes. Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    But if you are on here just to feel better about your view of reality while denigrating another’s, then please continue this garbage.

    Well then, start explaining ‘Chopra and what he is trying to do’.

    And try not to sound like you’ve been lobotomised when you do so.

  25. Ben says

    I don’t have anything to add to the discussion. I just want to thank everyone for bashing Chopra. He’s a super blowhard, so I love seeing him mocked.

  26. Ing says

    The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    And yet you show no interest in understanding us and what our goals are.

  27. David says

    Damn, I need a new name, why does it seem like there is a high percentage of people who believe in woo, with the name David? Meh, probably just bias on my part I suppose. Time to start thinking of a good pseudonym.

  28. Brownian says

    The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    And yet you show no interest in understanding us and what our goals are.

    That’s not fair, Ing. We’re not David’s navel, so why should he show interest in us?

  29. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes.

    I’m not sure what the hell testicles have to do with being able to speak, but that’s not really relevant. Chopra has had plenty of opportunity to explain himself and provide evidence that he is not just grossly misunderstanding every single branch of science. Thus far he has failed.

  30. Rey Fox says

    The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    Care to give us a little primer? Or is the mystery what sells books?

    But if you are on here just to feel better about your view of reality while denigrating another’s, then please continue this garbage.

    We denigrate his because it’s based on fuzzy wishful thinking, and not facts. You’re welcome to provide your own facts, and I suggest you get on it, because trying to make us feel bad for our meanie tone isn’t going to get you very far here.

  31. Dear David says

    Oh, dear David (@23),

    Thing is, “spirituality” as a subjective experience is a phenomenon that can be understood in the same way belief in ghosts or fairy tales or rationalizations for the death of a loved one can be understood. I feel for the folks caught up in this woo, I really do, and as much as I might like to help educate the people who take a popular (mis)understanding of a complicated topic and (mis)construe it to serve their own petty beliefs, I am in no mood to entertain the facile ineptitude of quacks and hucksters who make MONEY off selling such snake oil to the people who are looking for such solace in our cold and unforgiving universe. Deepak is on the “self-help” side and hasn’t yet succumbed to the greed of hawking his own miracle cures, but historically, that’s always been the next step for such hucksters and has been for centuries (c.f. homeopathy, theosophy, Christian Science, etc.) Promoting beliefs in pseudoscience hurts human beings who shun the actual help that empirical evidence shows is to their benefit. All the while, the celebrities in this game line their pockets with the money coming from such desperate souls. I have no sympathy nor patience for them.

  32. Matt Penfold says

    David,

    Chopra does not understand science. If having that pointed out upsets you, good.

  33. says

    …but one does ask that the writer know his field before adopting a tone of authority.

    This is a bit like Joseph Mengele telling Florence Nightingale to care more about the wellbeing of her patients.

    I LOLed. And very OL.

  34. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    The other David,

    Damn, I need a new name, why does it seem like there is a high percentage of people who believe in woo, with the name David? Meh, probably just bias on my part I suppose. Time to start thinking of a good pseudonym.

    Well, it is a rather common name. But if it makes you feel better, I share a given name with a few quacks that are the subject of a few posts on this blog. Hence the ‘nym. I’ve never seen anybody using anything close to it, so I should be safe.

    The flip side of that is I have to own every stupid thing I ever say, because there’s no way I can say “It was that other Erulóra!” Keeps me honest, and generally makes me think twice about what I’m going to say.

  35. Mike de Fleuriot says

    Is it now time to publicly and rudely tell Chopra to fuck off? What would say to him, if you where stuck in an elevator with him?

  36. says

    The misunderstanding of Chopra and other “woo peddlers” by the author and commenters is really pathetic.

    Yet you can’t quite manage to point out any misunderstanding. Dolt.

    The easy thing to do is to write off Chopra as someone with poor intentions and get back obsessing over every word uttered by Richard Dawkins.

    No, dumbass, the easy thing to do is to write off Chopra as someone who doesn’t understand evidence, science, and epistemology. Because he simply doesn’t, or at least his writings supply no evidence that he does.

    The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    Especially since he writes rambling fallacies. Much as you do.

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes.

    Yeah, that takes great courage. Mlodinow seems simply to humor his doltish attempts to sound relevant.

    Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    In what way? I can see that it might have allowed him to have a shot at Chopra’s audience, which is why I wouldn’t condemn Mlodinow. But we’d need evidence to see that it was positive in some other manner.

    But if you are on here just to feel better about your view of reality while denigrating another’s, then please continue this garbage.

    Dumbshit, while Chopra is an unending source of bafflegab and pretense, the main point here was the vacuousness and fallacies of a particular article. We’re here faulting a specific piece of nonsense, and all you can do is whine without the slightest ability to show that anything anybody here said was actually incorrect.

    Glen Davidson

  37. Matt Penfold says

    Chopra has had plenty of opportunity to explain himself and provide evidence that he is not just grossly misunderstanding every single branch of science. Thus far he has failed.

    He could write papers, and submit them to peer-reviewed scientific journals. That way he would be get his ideas across to scientists.

    Of course if his papers do not provide evidence to support hos contentions they are unlikely to be published. Of course that would also mean he has nothing worth saying.

  38. Just_A_Lurker says

    Is it now time to publicly and rudely tell Chopra to fuck off? What would say to him, if you where stuck in an elevator with him?

    Well, hell I’d keep it simple and say

    “Fuck off and die in a fire. And it will happen since I’m making it a reality through my thoughts with your Quantum Mechanics theory.”

  39. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Of course that would also mean he has nothing worth saying.

    Yeah, wouldn’t that be a shock?

  40. Rob says

    Roger Penrose isn’t a promoter of pseudo-science. He might be wrong of course, but his arguments about consciousness are technical, serious, and careful. Have you even read it?

    It’s annoying to see a fraud like Chopra appropriate Penrose’s work, but it’s even worse to see a biologist and rationalist blithely dismissing it.

    Roger Penrose is aware of the scale of applicability of quantum mechanics, he discusses issues related to that in some detail. Do you really think a physicist hasn’t considered this?

    What’s with biologists anyway? Do they spend so much time teaching undergrads and arguing with creationists that they no longer believe someone else can have a good argument? Penrose is certainly a damn sight more careful in his reasoning than PZ is here.

  41. Brownian says

    What’s with biologists anyway? Do they spend so much time teaching undergrads and arguing with creationists that they no longer believe someone else can have a good argument?

    Interesting. Do physicists not spend time teaching undergrads?

  42. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Penrose is certainly a damn sight more careful in his reasoning than PZ is here.

    PZ is against the concept of quantum conscious, since it is flabbergabble. Other concepts of consciousness are given consideration, if they don’t involve the “soul”.

  43. Richard H says

    @23

    Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    Jack Sarfatti speaks very highly of him, too.

  44. Just_A_Lurker says

    David @23 (David the Woo-Defender, not the Batman of Woo*)

    Ugh.

    There I have faithfully reconstructed your argument and made a completely irrefutable argument against it. All in one word!

    Now, run along to play with the other believers until you gain some sense.

    *David, the other David, wanting a nym change, I am so going to think of you as the Batman of Woo now..

  45. Dr. Strabismus (WGP) of Utrecht says

    @21 Louis

    My mistake, Louis. I should have said deepakity instead of deepity.

    Cromulently yours,

    Strabismus

  46. says

    Quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of relativity posed revolutionary challenges to what the five senses tell us, but Dawkins doesn’t mention them, even in passing.

    Complete bollocks. Relativity simply explains what we can and do observe at high speeds and in high gravity, and quantum mechanics tells us about what happens at the submicroscopic level.

    Neither one challenges our senses in the least.

    It’s this sort of basic misunderstanding of what science means that we see so often in Deepak’s pseudoscience (or is it even too incoherent as propaganda even to count as pseudoscience?). He throws in a whole lot of philosophical nonsense as well, and Kekule (does anyone actually fault the creative process while pointing out that science is our “way of knowing” what exists–more exactly, that it’s the justification process?), a melange of misunderstandings and irrelevancies to Dawkins’ actual points.

    Glen Davidson

  47. says

    @Rob
    It’s not that Penrose is a fraud (unlike Deepak Chopra), but guess what his field is. It sure ain’t neuroscience. You see, when people talk about something outside their fields, they should not pretend like they know it in depth. Being serious about it and looking technical about it doesn’t mean he knows what he is talking about.

    @David
    You just cited a really stupid journal with a history of getting things really wrong. *facepalm*

  48. Matt Penfold says

    We knew well before Einstein and Planck that our five senses could mislead us.

    It is why we have the scientific method. We know we can be fooled, so we need a methodology that minimises the chances of that happening.

  49. Brownian says

    O hey Rob, finally someone with some sense. Thanks for that comment.

    Oh, you’re one of those. “I won’t bother defend my positions myself, but I’ll chime in to effusively thank anyone else who does it for me.” And you criticise us?

    No, don’t look to someone else. You came here, claimed we didn’t understand Chopra and his purposes, and then left without explaining why. Take your lips off of Rob’s ass and explain yourself, you fucking cowardly weasel.

  50. says

    Everyone here will probably call Roger Penrose a fraud after they read his work with the notable neuroscientist/woo-peddler Stuart Hameroff –

    Are you kidding?

    Penrose is no fraud in actual science. With Hameroff, doltish quantum consciousness monger, Penrose goes off the deep end. Hameroff is precisely the kind of jerk who thinks Chopra understands something, rather than clinging to anything to try to avoid the reality of death.

    Much as Hoyle did much great science, yet whined about the tornado in the junkyard, and faulted Archaeopteryx for no reason more than it was inconvenient to idiot anti-evolutionists.

    Glen Davidson

  51. says

    I said nothing about the validity of the Journal of Cosmology. I was simply pointing out that Roger Penrose has worked with Stuart Hameroff, a well-known woo-peddler. So if you think Roger Penrose will pass the skeptic test, then you are probably mistaken.

    In any event, I don’t care where about the validity of a journal. I care more about the specific article in question. Writing off an idea because who or what it is associated with is the ugly irrationality of uber-skepticism.

    I like how someone took a shot at Leonard Mlodinow. Apparently he is good enough to work with Stephen Hawking which should be one of those associations that makes skeptics wet themselves with feelings of objectivity.

  52. Gregory Greenwood says

    So, in a completely unsurprising turn of events, it transpires that Chopra can’t even lie competently.

    What is obnoxious about Dawkins’ version is his tone of absolute authority about matters that he shows complete ignorance of.

    Damnit, that’s another irony metre gone. Does anyone know where I can buy these things in bulk?

    David @ 23;

    The misunderstanding of Chopra and other “woo peddlers” by the author and commenters is really pathetic.

    OK then, why don’t you explain it all to us, if you are such an authority? It seems to me that Chopra is babbling about ‘quantum consciousness’ – a patently ridiculous and unscientific concept – while hilariously accusing a prominent scientist of not understanding his own field, while Chopra himself feels inexplicably entitled to hold forth on concepts he has not even the vaguest grasp of. If this isn’t the case, please ‘enlighten’ us…

    The easy thing to do is to write off Chopra as someone with poor intentions and get back obsessing over every word uttered by Richard Dawkins.

    The best interpretation one can put on Chopra is that he is deluded. The worst, that he is a conman. Given his propensity to profiteer from his woo, the second scenario seems the most credible.

    It surprises you that we are more inclined to listen to a highly qualified professional scientist than to a dime-a-dozen snake oil salesman? How curious…

    The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    Yup, it certainly is hard to make sense of Chopra’s ascientific quantum babble, mostly because it is utterly senseless drivel.

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes.

    (empahsis added)

    You are in a deep enough hole as it is, I wouldn’t add gendered language to the list if I were you. It tends to go down badly in these parts, and with good reason.

    Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    That certain individual scientists have been gulled by woo (in relation to a field other than their own in most cases) does not mean that that woo is ‘true’, or that the established scientific consensus is false. Science concerns itself with evidence, not unsubstantiated opinion.

    But if you are on here just to feel better about your view of reality while denigrating another’s, then please continue this garbage.

    Reality is not ratified by opinion. Reality just is, it is our understanding of it that is incomplete. Our ‘view’ of reality is backed up by the evidence, but those conclusions are tentative – if the evidence changes, we will change our minds. The error that the likes of Chopra and yourself make is to simply ignore the evidence if it conflicts with your established worldview, or to twist the evidence to fit your theory, rather than the theory to fit the evidence. Whether this is born of ignorance or mendacity depends upon the individual practitioner, but so long as this practice is continued, the proper employment of the scientific method will forever elude you.

    You can believe whatever you want, but you can’t claim that your beliefs reflect reality and expect to be taken seriously without scientifically credible, replicatable evidence. Anything less is just tales around the campfire.

  53. Brownian says

    Writing off an idea because who or what it is associated with is the ugly irrationality of uber-skepticism.

    YOU CAN START TELLING US EXACTLY WHAT WE’VE GOTTEN WRONG ABOUT CHOPRA ANY TIME YOU’RE READY!

  54. says

    Dunning Kruger David says:

    The misunderstanding of Chopra and other “woo peddlers” by the author and commenters is really pathetic. The easy thing to do is to write off Chopra as someone with poor intentions and get back obsessing over every word uttered by Richard Dawkins. The hard thing to do would be to attempt to understand Chopra and what he is trying to do.

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes. Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    But if you are on here just to feel better about your view of reality while denigrating another’s, then please continue this garbage.

    1st paragraph: Argument by assertion, followed by Courtier’s Reply.

    2nd paragraph: Argument from authority.

    3rd paragraph: Inept armchair psychology.

    Were you trying to make a point? All you actually achieved was to reveal yourself as a simpleton.

  55. Matt Penfold says

    I said nothing about the validity of the Journal of Cosmology.

    Yes you did. You provided a link to it to support your argument.

    Now what you could do, since you seem to think it has happened, is point us to where Chopra has been published in the reputable scientific literature.

    I say you think it has happened as you have asked us to take his scientific views seriously. That can only mean you are asking us to look at what he has had published in the scientific literature. So I need you to provide details of the papers that Chopra has had published in scientific journals.

    Are you willing to support your claims with evidence ?

  56. says

    YOU CAN START TELLING US EXACTLY WHAT WE’VE GOTTEN WRONG ABOUT CHOPRA ANY TIME YOU’RE READY!

    Or, even, why we ought to listen to him in the first place.

    What non-trivial issue has he ever gotten quite right in science? Does he know anything trustworthy about science, philosophy, or any of the other disciplines that he claims Dawkins ignores (which he likely does, but just as likely they weren’t helpful to what he was discussing)?

    Other than being famous for woo, what qualifications or knowledge has Chopra?

    Glen Davidson

  57. David the "other" David says

    I seem to remember reading something years ago about neuroscientists using magnets or something to disable parts of the brain, didn’t that pretty much prove that consciousness is in the meat?

  58. Rob says

    @48, 47

    PZ is against the concept of quantum conscious, since it is flabbergabble. Other concepts of consciousness are given consideration, if they don’t involve the “soul”.

    That’s kind of my point, I don’t believe he is giving consideration to other arguments, maybe because he doesn’t know what those arguments are. Penrose isn’t arguing for a soul or any other mystical nonsense.

    Interesting. Do physicists not spend time teaching undergrads?

    As little as they can get away with, I think. But seriously, excuse me a bit of venting, I’m not trying to make a physicists > biologists argument. I’ve been reading Jerry Coyne and others on related topics, and a lot of them seem dismissive of reasonably doubt about the accepted model of consciousness without ever grappling with those arguments.

    I’ve also been taking a bunch of classes in molecular biology recently, so maybe I have some repressed feelings about biologists to deal with…

  59. says

    All I see is people reading way too much into my comments.

    1. Just because an article does not mean I support the journal, the idea posed in the article, or the validity of the either. I clearly explained why I posted the article – to show that Roger Penrose is not someone that is accepted by the skeptic community.

    2. I don’t see why you have to call people a “snake oil salesman”. Chopra believes in his ideas and there are a lot of people that have been helped by him. This is all based on subjective ideas and experiences, so I don’t really see the point in claiming they are “wrong”.

    3. I can’t say “balls”?? Sorry I didn’t say “guts” instead. I would like to think that everyone here knew what I meant and did not get offended. If you get offended by the term “balls”, then you have issues.

    4. Leonard Mlodinow has not been brainwashed. It’s sad that you would assume that just because someone has agreed to collaborate with their adversary, they have also been “converted” to believe in something. He has simply taken the difficult path of trying to understand. It doesn’t take a peer-reviewed paper to know that you can learn a lot from your enemies, even if afterwards you continue to work against them. Maybe someone should write that paper though.

  60. Sally Strange, OM says

    Penrose isn’t arguing for a soul or any other mystical nonsense.

    I’m unfamiliar with Penrose. What IS he arguing for?

    and a lot of them seem dismissive of reasonably (sic doubt about the accepted model of consciousness without ever grappling with those arguments.

    Reasonable doubt about the accepted model of consciousness? Such as?

  61. Sally Strange, OM says

    All I see is people reading way too much into my comments.

    Translation: I never really thought that hard about what I was writing, now you’re telling me you’re going to take what I wrote seriously???!? Oh FUCK.

  62. Mr. Fire says

    This is all based on subjective ideas and experiences, so I don’t really see the point in claiming they are “wrong”.

    LOL

  63. says

    Dunning Kruger David says:

    Writing off an idea because who or what it is associated with is the ugly irrationality of uber-skepticism.

    No one is writing off Chopra because of who he is. We are writing him off because his ideas are ill-evidenced (and often blatantly counterfactual), ill argued, and largely incoherent. There is nothing “ugly” or “irrational” about calling bullshit bullshit.

    Harsh criticism is how science works. It’s how we tell the difference between truth and fiction. If you don’t like it, join the bleating inadequates following the Huffington Post.

    I like how someone took a shot at Leonard Mlodinow. Apparently he is good enough to work with Stephen Hawking which should be one of those associations that makes skeptics wet themselves with feelings of objectivity.

    Dividing people up into “good” or “bad” is a useful heuristic for a five year old, but for grownups, a little more subtlety is required. You see, it is possible for different aspects of a person to differ. For example, Linus Pauling was a brilliant chemist, but was hoodwinked by the Vitamin-C megadosage fad. Johannes Stark was a brilliant experimental physicist, but at the same time was Hitler worshiping moron, who allowed his antisemitism to cloud his judgment of quantum mechanics. Mlodinow is a good physicist, but that doesn’t carry over to other fields. Argument from authority is a pathetic, worthless, moron-revealing fallacy, regardless of how distinguished the authority is.

  64. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    That’s kind of my point, I don’t believe he is giving consideration to other arguments, maybe because he doesn’t know what those arguments are.

    The ones outside of the peer reviewed scientific literature are likely woo. Any skeptic knows that. It is easy to separate the wheat from the chaff. And Deepak isn’t even chaff. He is manure.

  65. Brownian says

    Or, even, why we ought to listen to him in the first place.

    I’d just like one of these fuckers to actually say something of substance for goddamn once.

    You want to accuse us of dilettantism? Fair enough, but you’d better be able to explain just what the fuck we’re wrong about.

    I seem to remember reading something years ago about neuroscientists using magnets or something to disable parts of the brain, didn’t that pretty much prove that consciousness is in the meat?

    Woomeisters themselves are pretty much evidence that humans are nothing more than meat.

    Smug, arrogant, prone to bias—all of those traits are acceptable and expected for an evolved and evolving species, but if your claim is that we’ve been specially touched by god and you are more aware of this than I am (or some other such narcissistic masturbation), you’d better be better than me.

    That goes for all the fucking priests, too.

  66. Matt Penfold says

    All I see is people reading way too much into my comments.

    You said what you said. If you did not mean to say it, then you should not have said it.

    1. Just because an article does not mean I support the journal, the idea posed in the article, or the validity of the either. I clearly explained why I posted the article – to show that Roger Penrose is not someone that is accepted by the skeptic community.

    No, you posed the link to show why Penrose should be taken seriously on the subject. Given the nature of the publication you linked, you achieved the precise opposite.

    2. I don’t see why you have to call people a “snake oil salesman”. Chopra believes in his ideas and there are a lot of people that have been helped by him. This is all based on subjective ideas and experiences, so I don’t really see the point in claiming they are “wrong”.

    Truth matters.

    3. I can’t say “balls”?? Sorry I didn’t say “guts” instead. I would like to think that everyone here knew what I meant and did not get offended. If you get offended by the term “balls”, then you have issues.

    No, if you think the use of such gendered terminology is acceptable then it is you who has issues.

    Now I asked for you to supply evidence. You have not done so. Why ?

  67. Sally Strange, OM says

    And Deepak isn’t even chaff. He is manure.

    Hey! Manure is useful. Couldn’t grow a good organic crop of kale without it.

    Can’t say the same for Chopra. Well, I guess he could be fertilizer, someday…

  68. Mr. Fire says

    Other than his liquid-shit assertion that the truth-value of Chopra’s claims rises in proportion to how much he believes in it, I’m still waiting for David’s counterpoints, as opposed to David’s whining.

  69. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I can’t say “balls”??

    Sure you can. Who said you couldn’t? What you can’t do is say something stupid and sexist and have nobody to call you out.

    If you get offended by the term “balls”, then you have issues.

    Being annoyed by sexists means I have issues. Right. You could have stopped at “sorry” and not made more of an ass of yourself, but from your showings throughout this thread I can tell that making intelligent decisions is not your strong suit. You may have balls, but you apparently lack brains.

  70. says

    David of Woo Street:

    Writing off an idea because who or what it is associated with is the ugly irrationality of uber-skepticism.

    I like how someone took a shot at Leonard Mlodinow. Apparently he is good enough to work with Stephen Hawking which should be one of those associations that makes skeptics wet themselves with feelings of objectivity.

    Right. Because people can’t practice real science on one hand, and be complete woo-believing idiots on the other. Good scientists believe weird shit all the time. Edison believed in ghosts, for instance. As Michael Shermer says, “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for nonsmart reasons.”

    Here’s the deal with science: it doesn’t matter how much you’ve contributed before, or how smart you are. If your ideas don’t hold up to evidence, they are no more valid than shit Deepak Chopra makes up, or anything a creationist might propose. Ideas are validated by reality. And there’s only one reality. As it turns out, it doesn’t give a flying fuck about your worldview.

    Now, I’d be willing to put some effort validating an idea put forth by someone with a history of good ideas. The probability of their idea being validated by reality is probably greater than the ideas put forth by your average creationist. But until it’s validated, it’s just an unproven idea, at best an hypothesis, at worst some shit someone made up.

    All you’ve done, David m’dear, is presented an argument from authority. That’s all Deepak Chopra is doing, as well. And that simply doesn’t cut it.

    Deepak Chopra is ridiculed not so much because he has stupid ideas, but because he presents them as valid, when they haven’t been validated against reality. He makes money telling people he speaks The Truth, when in fact there’s no way to distinguish his bullshit from the bullshit of L. Ron Hubbard.

    If Deepak Chopra were serious about his ideas, if he wasn’t simply out to make a killing, he’d be trying to design a method of validating his ideas against reality — in science, that’s the phase known as “testing.” But that isn’t what Chopra does, is it? He’s too busy selling himself, selling his books, selling his cult. That to me speaks more about his ideas than any argument from authority by credulous fools named David (not to be confused with The Other David).

    Chopra’s actions speak far louder than his ideas. And his actions say, “I’m a con-artist with sciencey-sounding arguments designed to exploit your inner desire to be a special snowflake.”

  71. DLC says

    Oh please. This guy went through one course series in biology and probably slept through it. He has no work in neurobiology, biochemistry or psychology beyond that required for an MD. What makes him any better than Gary Null, Nicholas Gonzalez or the other quacks out there ? What, he has a better line of bafflegab ?
    If he wants to comment on biology the first Amendment guarantees him the right to do so — but it does not make him immune from the quite deserved ridicule that comes with critical analysis of his blather.

  72. Brownian says

    All I see is people reading way too much into my comments.

    Oh, sorry. You pop in here with insults, and we’re supposed to just let your comments ride?

    Fuck you. Seriously. Fuck you.

    1. Just because an article does not mean I support the journal, the idea posed in the article, or the validity of the either. I clearly explained why I posted the article – to show that Roger Penrose is not someone that is accepted by the skeptic community.

    Whatever it is you were trying to do, you didn’t do it. You do stupid very well.

    2. I don’t see why you have to call people a “snake oil salesman”.

    Learn what a snake-oil salesman is, first.

    Chopra believes in his ideas and there are a lot of people that have been helped by him.

    Evidence for both of these claims is needed.

    This is all based on subjective ideas and experiences, so I don’t really see the point in claiming they are “wrong”.

    That’s because you’re a word-mincing coward.

    3. I can’t say “balls”?? Sorry I didn’t say “guts” instead. I would like to think that everyone here knew what I meant and did not get offended. If you get offended by the term “balls”, then you have issues.

    What a self-centred arrogant piece of shit you are. Fuck you.

    Why don’t you take the time to understand why “balls” is offensive, you fucking narcissist?

    4. Leonard Mlodinow has not been brainwashed. It’s sad that you would assume that just because someone has agreed to collaborate with their adversary, they have also been “converted” to believe in something.

    Take your “it’s sads” and shove them up your ass. You’re in no position to pass judgment, you brainless douche.

    He has simply taken the difficult path of trying to understand. It doesn’t take a peer-reviewed paper to know that you can learn a lot from your enemies, even if afterwards you continue to work against them. Maybe someone should write that paper though.

    And yet, you yourself display no interest in the difficult path of trying to learn from us.

    So why don’t you take your own advice, you fucking conceited dolt?

    Better yet, save your breath. Hold it, in fact. If you need help, try sticking your head underwater. Weight it down first.

  73. ManOutOfTime says

    @23 David – Touché, Sir! Your thoughtful and well-supported defense of Chopra’s ideas has made a believer of me! I especially like the way you explained his er um … and the detail you added to support his ah uh er … well, anyway, how much support does unsubstantiated bullshit need, right? Now tell me why I should believe oh really believe and not dismiss faeries, pixies, and sprites!

  74. says

    David of Woo Street:

    This is all based on subjective ideas and experiences, so I don’t really see the point in claiming they are “wrong”.

    Because they are wrong?

    “Subjective” doesn’t mean, “Isn’t wrong.” It just means it’s yours. You experienced it, or thought it up, or were told to believe it so you do.

    Theists have a subjective belief in God. They think they have specific ideas of who this God character is. They are also wrong. The subjectivity of the belief doesn’t give them a free pass, it doesn’t make their belief special, and it sure as fuck doesn’t stop them from being wrong.

    In fact, if you take a subjective experience and attempt to universalize it (such as you did), you are most likely wrong.

    That’s why science is so important, David m’dear. It helps remove the subjectivity from our understanding of objective reality. Without that, you’ll have no way to know whether thunder is caused by an atmospheric discharge of electricity, or by an angry god who’s peeved you sacrificed a goat instead of a lamb.

    So, “subjectivity” is not a get-out-of-wrong-free card. You can be both subjective, and very very wrong.

  75. Myron says

    What Chopra complains about is that the materialist and realist Dawkins has swept the spiritualist or idealist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

  76. says

    Myron:

    What Chopra complains about is that the materialist and realist Dawkins has swept the spiritualist or idealist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

    Right. So he’s complaining that Dawkins, in a book about science, writes only about science.

    It’s like complaining that the movie Apollo 13 didn’t have enough Klingons.

  77. Rob says

    I’m unfamiliar with Penrose. What IS he arguing for?

    Here’s an extremely brief, amateurish summary. He used a modified Godel argument to show that human mathematicians aren’t using a computational algorithm to ascertain mathematical truth within that argument. So the brain must be taking advantage of a non-computational feature of the world, but no such feature exists in modern physics. Where is there room for such a feature at a level the brain could take advantage of? Maybe the qm measurement process. He also speculates a bit about biology, at which he’s a complete amateur.

    Now, that’s not an argument, it’s just a description. I’m not going to argue for his position, not here anyway. I’m just saying that his argument is a scientific one, and deserves to be argued scientifically.

  78. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    What Chopra complains about is that the materialist and realist Dawkins has swept the spiritualist or idealist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

    I agree, that’s a problem. It means that crap is still in your house. It’s time to take that carpet out back and beat the shit out of it.

  79. andyo says

    I had been following Mlodinow on Twitter for a while. I’ve mentioned his collaboration with Chopra before, especially when people link to the now famous video of when they first “met”, where he put down Chopra’s quantum crap pretty neatly. They became friendly afterward.

    I recently stopped following him though, cause instead of tweeting interesting things like other scientists, he’s just tweeting about the new book. While I liked The Drunkard’s Walk, I just can’t find anything of interest in this “conversation” he’s having with Chopra. Like the saying goes, it looks good on Chopra’s CV, not on his.

    And David, you’re a moron. Chopra is using Mlodinow’s name and others like Roger Penrose (who’s also worked with Hawking) to seem credible, but he’s only fooling his followers. NO scientist that works in those fields is buying it, and the rest of skeptical people are way past taking Chopra seriously. And by the way, regardless of what we think of Mlodinow’s “collaboration” with him, you do realize that the whole point of the book is them disagreeing, right? What am I thinking, of course you don’t.

    Yeah, and if you haven’t noticed yet, you’re using Hawking’s name to pump up Mlodinow’s name to pump up Chopra’s name.

  80. says

    Myron:

    What Chopra complains about is that the materialist and realist Dawkins has swept the spiritualist or idealist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

    …without providing a shred of evidence for these “spiritualist or idealist interpretations”. Dawkins has not swept anything under the carpet, as there is nothing there to sweep.

  81. says

    Myron:

    What Chopra complains about is that the materialist and realist Dawkins has swept the spiritualist or idealist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

    Actually, I’m beginning to see your point. I’m really pissed that Dawkins has swept the nihilist and solipsist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

  82. says

    From what I’ve read, heard, and seen by Deepak Chopra, this is what he seems to promote:
    Pure objectivity is impossible to achieve. Science is great because it attempts to minimize subjectivity as much as possible, but it never eliminates it. He is trying to show that pure objectivity is impossible and is exploring why it is so. His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    He works with scientists like Roger Penrose (mathematical physicist), Stuart Hameroff (neuroscientist), and Rudy Tanzi (neuroscientist) that are willing to explore the possibility that consciousness creates reality.

    He places a lot of value on subjective experience and helps others learn to use their experience to make a difference in their lives and the world.

    He writes a lot of books about spirituality, personal development, and alternative health (meditation, yoga, woo-woo diets).

    He makes a ton of money doing all of this. Not saying this gives him credibility or authority, just had to mention it since so many people here take issue with this fact.

    Disclaimer: This is my best interpretation of Chopra’s work. It is not complete and is likely less than 100% accurate. It is not necessarily what I believe.

  83. Enkidum says

    Since no one else seems to have taken up this challenge, I will:

    Penrose is a woo-peddler, and is completely full of shit about consciousness. Brilliant mathematician, clever insights into all sorts of stuff, total horseshit about consciousness. He’s nowhere near the level of Chopra, and I suspect he genuinely believes his theory, but he’s nevertheless full of it.

    20 years ago he wrote The Emperor’s New Mind, which is probably the single best introduction to the state of consciousness research at the time. He fairly and rigorously goes through the field, examining most of the important theories and discussing their strengths and weaknesses. That stuff is really good – I would recommend it to someone today, except it’s rather out of date now, of course, and slightly over-focussed on formal stuff and mathematics (understandable, given his background).

    Then he presents his own theory. Which, in its totality, is: “Consciousness is mysterious, really hard to understand, and appears to defy explanation. Quantum mechanics is mysterious, really hard to understand and appears to defy explanation. Therefore, they are the same thing.”

    I’m being slightly unfair here. He does actually posit a location and mechanism for the quantum aspects of consciousness: they are supposed to occur in microtubules, which are something like the “skeletal system” of cells. This takes some guts on his part, he’s actually advancing a particular hypothesis. One which a lot of scientists have actually invested serious effort into investigating. Over the past two decades, not a single shred of interesting evidence has been presented. And a huge number of criticisms have been levelled at the theory.

    At this point, believing in quantum consciousness in microtubules is precisely like believing in God: it is true that we can’t disprove it, but there is no good reason (a.k.a. evidence) to believe in it. Anyone who says otherwise is delusional.

    Like I said, though Penrose is full of shit about consciousness, he is nowhere near the level of Chopra, but he enables frauds like Chopra. He’s like the alcoholic’s friend who keeps leaving drinks out. Fuck that.

  84. says

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    And that is wrong.

    He works with scientists like Roger Penrose (mathematical physicist), Stuart Hameroff (neuroscientist), and Rudy Tanzi (neuroscientist) that are willing to explore the possibility that consciousness creates reality.

    Neat. Doyle spent time exploring the possibility of fairies.

    He places a lot of value on subjective experience and helps others learn to use their experience to make a difference in their lives and the world.

    he places a lot of value on the least reliable forms of evidence.

  85. Richard H says

    Sarfatti thought Uri Geller had genuine psycho-kinetic abilities.

    But it is said that Murray Gell-Mann found Sarfatti’s ideas interesting, <waves hands> therefore we just need to understand what Chopra and Geller are trying to do and have the balls to actually talk with them and learn about the ideas they promote.

    Oh, wait, what do you mean, someone finally checked with Gell-Mann – and found the complete quote was “Your ideas are interesting, but [looking at watch] I’m late for an appointment.” ?

  86. says

    Disclaimer: This is my best interpretation of Chopra’s work. It is not complete and is likely less than 100% accurate. It is not necessarily what I believe.

    Well to me it is what you believe. It’s all subjective

  87. andyo says

    Hameroff is a neuroscientist now? I thought he was an anesthesiologist (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    LOL. Spiritual sages also have been telling us that sacrificing virgins is not such a bad idea.

    Sorry, did I miss the Opposite Day festivities?

  88. says

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    The problems of collective soliphcism are so laughable that it’s not worth going into.

  89. Enkidum says

    @David 101

    That actually seems like a pretty fair interpretation of what I understand of Chopra too. That’s why everyone here hates him.

  90. Dr. I. Needtob Athe says

    It’s hard to keep reading after you come to this part:

    —————–
    The Magic of Reality is a sunny title for a young adult book that suggests its real agenda in the subtitle: “How We Know What’s Really True.” The giveaway is “really,” because it implies that there are ways of knowing the truth that might seem valid but aren’t.
    —————–
    At this point you get the strong feeling that the writer must be way out there, past Pluto, if he’s about to argue that there are NOT ways of knowing the truth that might seem valid but aren’t.

  91. andyo says

    oops didn’t get the quote out. This is the Opposite Day material:

    He makes a ton of money doing all of this. Not saying this gives him credibility or authority

  92. Rey Fox says

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    But what does “reality” mean in this case? And how does consciousness create it?

  93. says

    He makes a ton of money doing all of this.

    As have his “sages”. Yet not one of them has ever prayed a disease out of existence. For some reason we only get big notable undeniable results from the people who use an objective reality. He’s pissing in bottles and calling it lemonade

  94. says

    Seriously, Deapthroat Chookyah is a horrible charlatan and hypocrite. All of these new agers are because nobody lives “subjectively” because it’s a horrible freaking idea. Well I take that back some people do, Manson for instance lived very subjectively. It’s a horrible idea to go about deciding that your perceptions ARE reality. Derprock is selling people a cure from self doubt basically, when one of the biggest problems we face is a lack of self questioning. I’m sorry, but if I’m on death row I damn well want my executioner to be open to the idea that his perception is wrong because it disagrees with reality, not that reality is wrong because it disagrees with his subjective view.

  95. ckerst says

    I just read “The Magic of Reality”, it should be required reading for high school freshman. The section on evolution is especially well done. I plan to give copies of it out as christmas gifts.

  96. andyo says

    Lynna, 106

    See, this guy is very likeable, but I do wish he’d taken the Dara O Briain “dentists don’t debate with tootheologists” approach.

  97. Brownian says

    Pure objectivity is impossible to achieve. Science is great because it attempts to minimize subjectivity as much as possible, but it never eliminates it. He is trying to show that pure objectivity is impossible and is exploring why it is so.

    Those who understand science know this. We value science because it is better at minimising subjectivity than anything we’ve developed so far.

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    Sages have been saying a lot of shit for thousands of years. And the science that minimises subjectivity (much better than what the sages do, for instance) has evidence that contradicts this claim.

    He works with scientists like Roger Penrose (mathematical physicist), Stuart Hameroff (neuroscientist), and Rudy Tanzi (neuroscientist) that are willing to explore the possibility that consciousness creates reality.

    In other words, he looks for the scientists that might validate and justify what he already believes. So much for minimising subjectivity.

    He places a lot of value on subjective experience and helps others learn to use their experience to make a difference in their lives and the world.

    Evidence fucking needed. Just because he claims to help people and people claim to have been helped by him does not make it true.

    Again, look up snake-oil salesman.

    He writes a lot of books about spirituality, personal development, and alternative health (meditation, yoga, woo-woo diets).

    He makes a ton of money doing all of this. Not saying this gives him credibility or authority, just had to mention it since so many people here take issue with this fact.

    The argument here is that his money is made fraudulently, by claiming things he shouldn’t claim, based on evidence he doesn’t have.

    It is not complete and is likely less than 100% accurate.

    Geez, suddenly you’re all about the right and wrong, ain’t you?

    Nice ass covering.

  98. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    Consciousness creates reality? Can anyone please just begin to explain how that statement is so very, very wrong?

  99. says

    @Thomathy

    No. No one can. It’s not even wrong.

    See my family and I have a running joke I do where I made up a character modeled off of our dog, Gypsy…a self absorbed, lazy, diva of a lap dog. One of the character’s beliefs and debates I have in her voice is that the world is only 6 years old…because if there was anything before her birth she would remember it.

    That is basically the newage argument.

  100. Ichthyic says

    What is obnoxious about Dawkins’ version is his tone of absolute authority about matters that he shows complete ignorance of.

    Chopra has made an artform of projection!

    In fact, he’s the undeniable MASTER of it.

  101. says

    David:

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    This is the money-quote. There’s a reason the responses focus on this.

    He believes this, yes. He also presents it as The Truth&tm; (patent pending). The books he spends his time writing and promoting and profiting from are all predicated on this idea being The Truth.

    Y’know these scientists you list? What’s he doing with them? Is he, perhaps, using their names to flog his books? Because that certainly seems to be what he’s doing. He’s not using them to quietly study his ideas. He’s loudly broadcasting their names.

    Why might that be?

    Do you think maybe it’s because his primary product is his books? The ones based on some wild-assed shit he made up (plagiarizing liberally from mystic woo-meisters) and not on sound science?

    David. Use some logic here. If Chopra really wanted to help, if he really thought his ideas could stand up to scientific scrutiny, would he not attempt to actually prove them? Rather than write books as if they were already proven?

    I call him a snake-oil salesman because he acts like a snake-oil salesman. His ideas may make people feel better about themselves, may make them feel like extra-special snowflakes, but really, that’s not helping. It doesn’t help them recognize reality. Wishing the world were different doesn’t help make the world different.

    Reality exists outside of consciousness. Consciousness is merely an emergent property of an evolved pattern-recognizing data processor. All of our current research indicates this is so. There is no evidence supporting Chopra.

    His views aren’t valid. Similar views have been discredited and disproven in the past. It is very unlikely he has anything at all to contribute to the understanding of consciousness, or our understanding of reality or the human condition.

    He’s a con-man selling books to a credulous and undereducated population. It’s really as simple as that.

  102. What a Maroon says

    @Thomathy,

    See, without consciousness reality would exist, but consciousness can’t exist without reality. Therefore, consciousness has to create reality as a precondition for its own existence.

    (Just a few thousand more words of filler, and I’ve got myself a best-seller.)

    (And you can’t write a best-seller without b.s.)

  103. Ichthyic says

    He makes a ton of money doing all of this. Not saying this gives him credibility or authority, just had to mention it since so many people here take issue with this fact.

    so does Ann Coulter.

    It’s easier to make money selling a simple lie that is a sentence long, than to attempt to make money selling the 10 pages it often takes to refute that lie.

  104. says

    I call him a snake-oil salesman because he acts like a snake-oil salesman. His ideas may make people feel better about themselves, may make them feel like extra-special snowflakes, but really, that’s not helping. It doesn’t help them recognize reality. Wishing the world were different doesn’t help make the world different.

    Hell, making people feel good about themselves for no reason isn’t exactly a good thing

    “What am I supposed to do? Help you become a happy well adjusted mobster?”~Analyze This

  105. says

    Please don’t confuse the ideas of spirituality with the F’ed up people that started religions. Spirituality never tried to control, exploit, or spread false hope. Spirituality is about personal growth and believing in a connection between everything. Religion wants us to stone virgins, hate homosexuals, and kill others in the name of god. I think the distinction between spirituality and religion is important and the atheists/skeptics that harp on the shortcomings of religion are really wearing at old arguments that they’ve already won.

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality”, that’s fine. I can respect that. The scientific community is not even close to accepting this ideas as valid, so why should you?

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring. I don’t see the reason to hate someone that believes in this idea and wants to prove it scientifically. If it doesn’t describe reality accurately, then it will not be proven scientifically and there is nothing to worry about.

    In the meantime, continue to let Chopra and anyone else know that they don’t have the scientific evidence on their side. This will force them to find that evidence or continue to be considered “woo”.

    PS Yes, Hameroff is an anesthesiologist, my mistake. I told you that statement wasn’t 100% accurate!

  106. Ichthyic says

    What Chopra complains about is that the materialist and realist Dawkins has swept the spiritualist or idealist interpretations of the physical world under the carpet.

    lol

    more like under the steamroller.

    …and backed over it a few times just to make sure.

    and, rightly so.

  107. says

    Please don’t confuse the ideas of spirituality with the F’ed up people that started religions. Spirituality never tried to control, exploit, or spread false hope.

    Yes don’t confuse the priests and shamans with the priests and shamans.

    It’s all false hope.

    I think the distinction between spirituality and religion is important and the atheists/skeptics that harp on the shortcomings of religion are really wearing at old arguments that they’ve already won.

    The religious people are spiritual. The spirituality is not separate from their religiosity, it is the root of it. The spirituality is a magical thinking model that lets them think it’s ok to stone virgins or whatever because they are trained to believe what they want to believe is true.

    What do Spiritualists and religionists have in common, they both assert as true that which they cannot defend. It’s the same shit, different wrapping

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring. I don’t see the reason to hate someone that believes in this idea and wants to prove it scientifically.

    “UHHUH!” is not a scientific test

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality”, that’s fine. I can respect that. The scientific community is not even close to accepting this ideas as valid, so why should you?

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

    WHY!?

    If it doesn’t describe reality accurately, then it will not be proven scientifically and there is nothing to worry about.

    You’re a pedophilic rapist.

    Hey, if it’s wrong then you have nothing to worry about…the truth will be proven!

    In the meantime, continue to let Chopra and anyone else know that they don’t have the scientific evidence on their side. This will force them to find that evidence or continue to be considered “woo”.

    Then why are you bugging us?

    PS Yes, Hameroff is an anesthesiologist, my mistake. I told you that statement wasn’t 100% accurate!

    how honestly can you accept “consciousness creates reality” and then even be corrected? Was he not an anesthesiologist before but now is because you think he is?

  108. says

    David:

    Spirituality never tried to control, exploit, or spread false hope.

    But that’s exactly what Deepak Chopra is doing. He is exploiting people’s desire to be in control of their life by selling them false hope. And he’s making a killing doing it.

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality”, that’s fine. I can respect that. The scientific community is not even close to accepting this ideas as valid, so why should you?

    The more important question is, why should you?

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring. I don’t see the reason to hate someone that believes in this idea and wants to prove it scientifically.

    Have you been paying attention? Chopra isn’t trying to prove it scientifically. He writes and sells books. He has no interest in proving his ideas. That’d take the effort to refine the ideas to a point where they are scientifically testable, as he currently hasn’t even provided a coherent, testable hypothesis. Second, even assuming he did have a testable hypothesis, he doesn’t want to kill his cash cow (his books, and his fame).

    In the meantime, continue to let Chopra and anyone else know that they don’t have the scientific evidence on their side.

    What do you think we’re doing here? Y’know, on this thread where you came in to criticize us for calling Chopra out on his woo?

  109. says

    A certain school of thought holds that some quantities one discusses in quantum physics are best thought of as analogous to Bayesian probabilities. (See Leifer and Spekkens (2011) for an example and citations to related approaches.) In that sense, quantum physics involves “consciousness”, but only in the way that a weather forecaster’s claim “there’s a 30% chance of snow tomorrow” does. Quantum mechanics does not give us mystic powers, any more than the weatherman makes snow.

  110. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality”, that’s fine. I can respect that. The scientific community is not even close to accepting this ideas as valid, so why should you?

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

    Right, the science community is concerned with details like evidence, repeatibility, and reality. Not bullshit. There is nothing to explore. It explains nothing, helps with nothing, except to sell books for a professional bullshitter. Conciousness is just an extrapolation of the meatware brain, becoming complex enough to give self identity and awareness of surroundings. All of which helps the organism to survive and reproduce. No need for bafflegabble.

  111. Brownian says

    Please don’t confuse the ideas of spirituality with the F’ed up people that started religions. Spirituality never tried to control, exploit, or spread false hope.

    People still trot this one out?

    It’s good to know that flakes haven’t changed much since I used to hang with them.

    Do people still gobble ‘shrooms and avoid LSD under the idea that one is ‘natural’ and therefore ‘spiritual’, ‘healthy’, and otherwise ‘better’?

    Well, even if such a dichotomy were grounded in more than the assertion of millions who want to reap the benefits of organised religion while also getting to be seen as rebelling against them, which side of the line would best-selling Deepak Chopra, the guy who sells the hope that consciousness creates reality—though even you admit that it’s not supported by the science community—be on?

    Exploiting people’s desires for their money? ✓
    Selling unproven, if not outright false hope? ✓

    Sounds like ‘spirituality’ isn’t much different than organised religion.

    And FYI: the woomeisters all fucking claim they’re ‘spiritual’, rather than ‘religious’.

  112. says

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

    The world is really run by cosmic insects and reality is their Matrix Lotus Machine Illusion.

    I suggest that is an idea worth exploring. Other than a book deal what does Dipshit have that my idea doesn’t?

  113. What a Maroon says

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality pearls create oysters”, that’s fine. I can respect that. The scientific community is not even close to accepting this ideas as valid, so why should you?

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

  114. Ichthyic says

    We really ought to come up with a campaign to discredit, defund, and denounce Chopra wherever he goes.

    I’m game.

    let me know what you come up with, or how it would be coordinated.

    fisheyephotosAThotmailDOTcom

  115. truthspeaker says

    David says:
    11 October 2011 at 5:04 pm

    From what I’ve read, heard, and seen by Deepak Chopra, this is what he seems to promote:
    Pure objectivity is impossible to achieve. Science is great because it attempts to minimize subjectivity as much as possible, but it never eliminates it. He is trying to show that pure objectivity is impossible and is exploring why it is so. His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    The idea in bold is patently ridiculous, which is why we discount it. Understand now?

  116. Tim Campbell says

    My own comment. Don’t know if and when it will be accepted by site:

    As with most purveyers of woo woo and New Age silliness, Deepak, you are a professional liar. You accuse Dawkins of dismissing spirituality and the concept of things that the eyes cannot see, but of course nothing could be further from the truth. In all of his writings, Dawkins shows incredible respect, reverence and awe for such immaterial things as creativity, artistic expression, love, and the beauty and power of Nature. He simply ascribes those feelings to his human brain, the result, not of supernatural intervention, but the interactions of energy and matter that have taken place over billions of years.

    You, however, refuse to see this simply reality and instead attempt to use your misunderstanding of science in order to promote your own rather ridiculous interpretation of reality. Sam Harris correctly called your New Age silliness woo woo. A rather polite version of the term I would use.

    Of course science cannot prove that God is an illusion. But thankfully, science has not found a single bit of evidence outside of human claims to indicate that God is anything but an illusion.

    Not that any of this matters to you. You know that there are enough ignorant and naïve people out there who will purchase your own books and imagine themselves to be enlightened when they are really just being scammed.

  117. Gareth says

    Chopra is fool who appropriates a lexicon he doesn’t understand and uses it to bamboozle the ignorant and credulous. For a great example of this, watch his “debate” with Sam Harris and Michael Shermer. It’s hilarious and disturbing in equal measure.

  118. andyo says

    David,

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality”, that’s fine. I can respect that.

    You guys really need to stop confusing what you like with what’s true.

    You’re projecting, it’s not because we don’t like it that we think it’s not true. We don’t like it cause it’s bullshit. We like it even less cause it’s vacuous crap used to part gullible people with their money.

  119. Rey Fox says

    Please don’t confuse the ideas of spirituality with the F’ed up people that started religions.

    The line is a lot blurrier than you think.

    Spirituality is about personal growth and believing in a connection between everything.

    We already have psychology and sociology and ecology for that.

    If you don’t like the idea that “consciousness creates reality”, that’s fine. I can respect that. The scientific community is not even close to accepting this ideas as valid, so why should you?

    Then why complain when our disrespect manifests as a critical blog post such as this one? You want to talk the mellow talk, you got to walk the mellow walk.

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

    Why? You don’t even define it. How does consciousness create reality? What reality?

  120. Pay No Attention To The Woo In The Corner says

    David of Woo Street opines:

    His believes what spiritual sages have been telling us for thousands of years – consciousness creates reality.

    While Rob of the Support Penrose Club explains:

    So the brain must be taking advantage of a non-computational feature of the world, but no such feature exists in modern physics.

    Here is the lesson: when you try to take some claim that is fundamentally untestable (magical solipsism in Chopra’s case and a bastardization of correspondence theory in Penrose’s case) and place all of your irons in the fire that proposes there is or eventually will be evidence that you are correct, you tend to get burned.

    Penrose has lately fallen down the rabbit hole of making ostensibly falsifiable claims that he then turns around and declares evidence for. Then, in defiance of the considerable skepticism of his bold claims of evidence, he continues to argue that his argument is still valid in the face of the reasonable and hefty critique without addressing the points substantively. This has lately turned into a dishonest shell game that has descended into the madness of the Journal of Cosmology, for example. Penrose’s outlandishness has lately gotten much worse. There seems to be a pattern to this kind of curmudgeon-like behavior in older theorists. Call it hubris, call it vanguardism, but whatever it is it is highly out-of-order.

    Chopra on the other hand simply ignores facts and reality whenever it suits him because he doesn’t care about understanding science or carefully interpreting discoveries to layfolk. Rather, he seems only to care about whether the words he reads or hears from various “authorities” he chooses can be twisted to support his cause. He’s truly slimy.

  121. says

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

    No, fuckwit, you insist that it is worthwhile even though you haven’t the slightest bit of evidence that it is.

    I don’t see the reason to hate someone that believes in this idea and wants to prove it scientifically.

    There’s a huge problem right there, he wants to “prove” what he never properly inferred in the first place. That’s reprehensible to science and any other reasonable position that asks for the evidence to come first.

    If it doesn’t describe reality accurately, then it will not be proven scientifically and there is nothing to worry about.

    Really? So if we get plenty of evidence that mind = brain, Chopra will quit whining, projecting, and teaching falsehoods?

    Well, no, because we have as much evidence that mind = brain that any reasonable person would require, and Chopra’s still getting rich by lying that we don’t.

    In the meantime, continue to let Chopra and anyone else know that they don’t have the scientific evidence on their side.

    So why’d you come in here whining stupidly that we have done exactly this?

    This will force them to find that evidence or continue to be considered “woo”.

    They need to learn to follow the evidence, rather than try to force it into their preconceptions. A concept that you apparently lack, lackwit.

    Glen DAvidson

  122. Kagehi says

    He seems to seriously believe that we can manipulate reality by thinking about it, through the “observation” of quantum mechanics. He further appears to believe science really backs this up, through wave function collapse. Never mind that “observer” really just means “interaction,” and that wave function collapse is most likely an epiphenomenon of decoherence.

    This is precisely the problem. I had a situation not too long ago where someone that should know better was talking about something one some Wiki page and made a really seriously… odd comment about what it supposedly said. Rather than admit he screwed up, he just started saying, “No, that’s not what I meant, lets talk about the article I pointed to, not what ever you think I said.” I took that at face value that he admitted he *had* said something damn silly, but just wouldn’t own up to it. But, it took this to pin him down on what it “sounded like” he was saying, versus what was really going on:

    Three identical cases:

    1. Two detectors, one slightly farther away than the other. One of an entangled pair hits the closer detector, and the other one never reaches the second one.

    2. One detector, and a block, which is closer. One of the pair hits the block, the detector never “detects” anything.

    3. Two blocks, same arrangement as both above. Nothing gets “detected”.

    In Deepak’s insane world, case #1 and, possibly, case #2 both “collapse the waveform”, because someone was there “looking for it”. But, case #3…. who the hell knows, because no one was watching. The problem being, of course, that this misunderstanding of the Copenhagen interpretation is **complete idiocy**.

  123. Brownian says

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring.

    You mean the one that the mystics have been promoting for thousands of years, and yet still need to continue to promote?

    I’ll give you two ideas that ancient humans found worth exploring:

    1. Conciousness creates reality;
    2. Tools allow us to hunt, gather, and live more effectively than without.

    One of these ideas so permeated human society that its application is completely and utterly ubiquitous. No human culture is without this idea and the results it spawns, and newborn humans simply uptake this idea without much thought. No one has to sell books and conscript scientists to legitimise it, and none need to be convinced that it is true (though some do challenge it).

    The other has remained on the fringe of human experience for millennia. Since both purport to have an effect on the material world, why is the effectiveness of one so universally held to be evident, and the other not?

    How much more exploring do ideas need?

  124. truthspeaker says

    David says:
    11 October 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I suggest that it is an idea worth exploring

    Why?

    In the meantime, continue to let Chopra and anyone else know that they don’t have the scientific evidence on their side.

    What the hell do you think PZ’s post – which you objected to, along with the comments here – was doing?

  125. says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness. How do these ideas lead to hate, exploitation or false hope?

    Let’s not confuse the malicious acts of human beings with ideas that make the world a beautiful place.

    “Consciousness creates reality” – If you don’t know what that means then learn about it. It is not some inconceivable or meaningless concept. I’m not going to explain it, many others have already done so much better than I ever could. Try Google.com, I heard its good for learning stuff.

  126. ACN says

    David,

    Listen, if you’re going to run the “let me google that for you bro” bullshit on me. At least have the common courtesy to actually do it right:

    http://tinyurl.com/44694p3

    If you don’t want to defend your stupid ideas, go away.

  127. truthspeaker says

    David says:
    11 October 2011 at 6:13 pm

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness. How do these ideas lead to hate, exploitation or false hope?

    Let’s not confuse the malicious acts of human beings with ideas that make the world a beautiful place.

    What about ideas that encourage human beings to commit malicious acts?

    “Consciousness creates reality” – If you don’t know what that means then learn about it. It is not some inconceivable or meaningless concept.

    I’ve read about it and I know what it means. It is not a concept that corresponds with anything in reality.

  128. andyo says

    “Consciousness creates reality” – If you don’t know what that means then learn about it.

    I think I see what your problem is. You don’t know what words mean.

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness. How do these ideas lead to hate, exploitation or false hope?

    So without spirituality you would be a cruel, hateful, disconnected person? Now I feel sorry for you.

  129. Ichthyic says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness. How do these ideas lead to hate, exploitation or false hope?

    red herring.

    how does this lead to pearls creating oysters?

  130. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you don’t know what that means then learn about it.

    Nothing but bafflegabble. That is all there is, as there is nothing concrete to learn. There is nothing to it. All smoke and mirrors, signifying nothing.

  131. Gregory Greenwood says

    David @ 74;

    I don’t see why you have to call people a “snake oil salesman”.

    Because the term fits rather well.

    Chopra believes in his ideas

    How do you know he believes in his ideas, rather than just profiting by gulling the credulous? Even if he himself is a ‘true believer’, that doesn’t mean that his claims are accurate.

    …and there are a lot of people that have been helped by him.

    Personal testimonials are hardly the equivilant of scientific evidence. Many people may believe that they have been helped by him, but that is hardly the same thing as deriving objective benefit. Are you familiar with the placebo effect?

    This is all based on subjective ideas and experiences, so I don’t really see the point in claiming they are “wrong”.

    As noted above by nigelTheBold @ 92, just because a belief is subjective this does not stop it from being wrong. Chopra makes claims about the quatifiable universe that run entirely contrary to the evidence. Therefore he most certainly is wrong, the subjective character of his beliefs not withstanding.

    I can’t say “balls”?? Sorry I didn’t say “guts” instead.

    Now, why do I think that this apology is insincere…?

    I would like to think that everyone here knew what I meant and did not get offended.

    Go and look up the significance of the patriarchy in modern society – specifically how patterns of exclusion and discrimination are replicated by language – and then maybe you will be in a position to discuss the relative offensiveness of the term ‘balls’ in this context.

    If you get offended by the term “balls”, then you have issues.

    Let me get this straight – because I find sexist langauge that explicitly associates male genitalia with intellectual integrity and strength of character, and thus implies that these are attributes not found amongst women, I have issues? Really? Are you sure you want to go there?

    OK then, it is your figurative funeral. Why don’t you go ahead and mansplain to all of us ignorant progressive feminists why gendered language is no big deal? Remember to be extra condescending to the lady pharyngulites, and feel free to impugn my ‘manliness’ because I choose to avoid using gendered terminilogy…

  132. Pay No Attention To The Woo In The Corner says

    Or maybe David could be honest.

    1) He admits that there is no evidence for this consciousness creates reality solipsism.
    2) He admits that most scientists are extremely skeptical of this claim.
    3) He then opines we should take the claim seriously otherwise.

    Does David think we need more evidence than that we already have? On what basis does our dear friend David make this claim? Certainly it’s not on the basis of points 1) and 2).

    Hmmm…. Wishful thinking can create your own reality in a conversation, I suppose. Only there have been hefty points made in this comment thread that have shown that there is plenty of evidence that consciousness DOES NOT create reality.

    But David thinks that the jury is still out.

    I hear that we’re not yet sure whether Galileo was right or wrong either.

  133. Myron says

    It should be mentioned that quite a few serious philosophers of science deny that natural science is necessarily allied with realism and (ontological) naturalism (materialism/physicalism).

    “Belief in the truth of materialism is a matter of faith and needs to be tempered by agnosticism.”
    (p. 43)

    “It is particularly important for materialists to realize that they cannot adopt a fully fledged positivist position while continuing to call themselves materialists. For to be a materialist is to go beyond the empirically available evidence and into metaphysics.”
    (p. 48)

    (Strawson, Galen. Mental Reality. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009.)

    (I’m posting this as someone who defends both materialism and scientific realism.)

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/
    http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2010/entries/scientific-realism/

  134. Ichthyic says

    If you don’t know what that means

    What’s really clear is you are simply unable to even explain what YOU mean, let alone what “that” means.

    Is it an a-causal theory of how reality itself comes to be?

    is it a personal mantra of focusing on creating a positive atmosphere of interaction?

    is it a pogrom for cultural control?

    WHAT?

    you don’t even know, do you.

    you just think the words “chime” a chord, or somesuch thing, so that they sound good to you.

    get this:

    Words really do have meaning, and if you want your communications to, you know like, AFFECT REALITY, then you actually need to use them with their proper meanings.

  135. dcg1 says

    I found the Hawking/Mlodinow book, to be superb and most informative. On a par with a “Brief History of Time”. What I don’t understand about all this, is that why Mlodinow has decided to collaborate with a fraud and charlatan like Deepak Chopra?Giving him credibility.

    It doesn’t look good on Mlodinow’s CV.

  136. Brownian says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness. How do these ideas lead to hate, exploitation or false hope?

    Look, you seem exceptionally dense so I know the answer is no, but I wonder if you’ve ever asked yourself what people who subscribe to other religions think about their beliefs? Do you really think “oh, yeah, other people may pervert it, by my belief system is true and pure” is unique to you? Does a Catholic wake up and say “I’m going to practice my religion of hate and false hope”? How stupid are you?

    Besides, we’re talking about Chopra here, whose ideas you admitted are not necessarily your own. Why are you talking about what you personally think? No one gives a fuck.

    Jesus Christ kid, do you actually exist? Because so far, I haven’t seen anything even approximating original thought in you. Even your evasions are standard bullshit.

    Let’s not confuse the malicious acts of human beings with ideas that make the world a beautiful place.

    Actually, people who cannot even fathom being self-critical about their thoughts are the ones who cause most harm. That they desire to remain unaware of that in service of their own egos is malicious.

    You are one of those people, and your ideas do not make the world a beautiful place, no matter how compelling you think your personal desires are.

    Try Google.com, I heard its good for learning stuff.

    You’ve already been way too stupid to play smug, dumbass.

  137. Ichthyic says

    It should be mentioned that quite a few serious philosophers of science deny that natural science is necessarily allied with realism and (ontological) naturalism (materialism/physicalism).

    Good for them.

    However, when the when it comes to actual practice…

    please, show me ONE FUCKING EXAMPLE EVER of hypothesis testing using non material methodology. Not you, not them, nobody has ever done this, and the very same philosophers can likely come up with the reason why, though they still want to pretend it’s possible.

    this is why we often note how, uh, esoteric, philosophy can become when detached from application.

  138. Ichthyic says

    What I don’t understand about all this, is that why Mlodinow has decided to collaborate with a fraud and charlatan like Deepak Chopra?

    I’m going to guess it’s part of his retirement plan.

    not kidding.

  139. Ciantic says

    Side note, you can ask for the admins of FreeThoughBlogs to fix the creationist quotes CSS like this:

    blockquote.creationist { padding-left: 55px; }

    I thought PZ was loosing his mojo when I was following the Scienceblogs feed for several weeks now, as there are very few commenters left.

  140. Myron says

    What should also be mentioned is that the acceptance of materialism/naturalism does not entail the rejection of panpsychism. That is, a materialist/naturalist needn’t claim that animal organisms are the only material/natural beings with mental properties. They may well believe that all concrete objects, organic or inorganic, have subjective mental (psychophysical) being in addition to objective physical being.
    (Of course, what is incompatible with materialism/naturalism is the belief that there are concrete objects with subjective mental properties but without any intrinsic objective physical properties, i.e. pure minds/souls/spirits.)

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panpsychism/
    http://www.iep.utm.edu/panpsych/

  141. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    I know that some of you for a fact don’t have the balls to talk with Deepak Chopra.

    Alas, the speech center of the brain is not located thereabouts – with notable exceptions. What amuses me about Chopra is that, as somewhat of a working physicist in various things quantum, were I to throw all scientific integrity overboard today to join the woo brigade (and make more money, I am almost certain), the stuff this guy puts out is almost exactly what I would try to produce to fool people, maybe with a little more technical subtlety than him. By the way, do you happen to know if they can take away your phd if you write quantum consciousness meditation books under a ‘nym in your spare time? :)

  142. says

    please, show me ONE FUCKING EXAMPLE EVER of hypothesis testing using non material methodology.

    Show me one using material methodology. I mean, demonstrate “material” beyond the phenomenal experience of what we now call “material.”

    The point of “non-material” philosophy is not to get around the needs for evidence that science conceived as “material science” uses, it is to point out that it is actually phenomenal evidence that we use, and how much “material” is a construct. For most of science it makes not a whit of difference in practice, but in areas like cognitive science you have to understand what “material” means in terms of senses and constructs.

    There is nothing foundational to knowledge about “material,” it is another question that needs explanations via physicality (energy in physics) and mentation.

    Glen Davidson

  143. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness.

    We have a word for that – empathy. I don’t see anything in there that requires belief in spirits, so why do you have to go dragging ambiguous terms like “spiritual” in there and muddy the waters? And if you’re going to use terms (especially notoriously nebulous words like “spirituality”) differently than most people do, you have a responsibility to state your meaning up front.

  144. says

    @lmlodinow is a worthy opponent.Will resist being drawn into @pzmyers rants.

    Due to lack of ability to respond intelligently to cogent criticisms.

    Here’s a bucket, Deepak, fill it with your tears.

    Glen Davidson

  145. says

    Myron:

    It should be mentioned that quite a few serious philosophers of science deny that natural science is necessarily allied with realism and (ontological) naturalism (materialism/physicalism).

    So?

    There is evidence that reality consists entirely of that which we can see, touch, measure, and explain, plus the attributes and interactions thereof. There is no evidence that anything “spiritual” exists outside the subjective context.

    Further, neither idealism nor spiritualism have contributed anything whatsoever to the epistemology of science. Your mentioning of them was a non sequitur.

    And I’ll gladly venture into metaphysics. While the epistemology of science is not predicated on materialism/physicalism, the practice of science has supported objective naturalism/physicalism.

  146. Ichthyic says

    Look, Myron, here’s the deal.

    you don’t need to waste your time quoting various philosophers.

    what it boils down to is this:

    Philosophically, science does not reject non material causation a-priori.

    but in PRACTICE, hypotheses based on non materialistic causality are not testable.

    thus, science only functions in the realm of the material.

    there is no way around this.

    A obvious conclusion of this should be that since science cannot test non-material hypotheses, there is then no way to objectively distinguish between various concepts of any bit of non-material causation. Well, past simple logic tests, anyway.

    This leaves the realm of non-material causation in the realm of:

    Imaginary things that are can be fun to consider, but are not terribly useful to explain anything.

  147. says

    I have the iPad app/book version of The Magic of Reality. It’s a wonderful and important book. There’s nothing deceptive in it at all.

    Chopra is as crazy as ever.

  148. Ichthyic says

    There is nothing foundational to knowledge about “material,” it is another question that needs explanations via physicality (energy in physics) and mentation.

    all you’ve done is move “material” to physical.

    this is NOT the point.

  149. Ichthyic says

    For most of science it makes not a whit of difference in practice, but in areas like cognitive science you have to understand what “material” means in terms of senses and constructs.

    bullshit.

    sorry glen, all you did there was try to make cognitive science into something it is not.

  150. dcg1 says

    I’ve seen any amount of philosophical BS quoted in the comments section of this post. Who else shares Stephen Hawking’s view that Philosophy is dead?

    The modern Philosophical texts I’ve read, just rehash old ideas, formulated by the long dead Philosophers of the past.

    As Hawking suggests in his latest book, Modern Philosophers contribute nothing new to:”How we understand the world in which we find ourselves?” “How does the Universe behave?” “What is the nature of reality?” “Where did all this come from?” “Did the Universe need a creator?”

    How many of my fellow skeptics and freethinkers, consider that Philosophy should be taught in the same context, that they’d like religion to be taught. An historical one, merely to enable the student to understand the origins of global culture and belief sytems?

    I’d be interested to know.

  151. Ichthyic says

    here, try this:

    An emergent property is:

    A material or non-material explanation?

    If you answer non-material, you’re both empirically and philosophically incorrect.

    likewise, what you are talking about wrt to cognitive science is NOT the philosophical distinction between material and non-material.

  152. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about building things out of blocks and avoiding zombies and skeletons.

  153. Thomathy, now gayer and atheister says

    David, the idea is incoherent. It’s wrong because of that. I do dislike the idea. It’s because it’s wrong. I dislike wrongness.

    See, David, ‘consciousness creates reality’ is a phrase that consists of three words strung nonsensically together. It’s meaningless. Actually, it’s worse than meaningless. To use a metaphor, the entire train of logic that the phrase summons to the mind derails instantly and it’s a messy train full of problematic presumptions, circular reasoning and, necessarily, impossible conclusions. That’s the incoherence. That’s also how it’s worse than meaningless; there’s nothing so bad as a concept that brings to mind all kinds of shitty logic. It would be so much better if it were just gobbledygook, because I wouldn’t have to think about it.

    What scientists have to say about it doesn’t matter, either. The concept itself is worse than flawed; it’s impossible. For instance, think of an invisible, pink unicorn. There’s a problem with that statement because two of the terms are contradictory and contradictory statements like that are impossible. Invisible, pink unicorns are precluded from existing because their attributes are contradictory. Perhaps an invisible unicorn exists, or a pink one, but never one with both attributes. This is fundamental and very simple logic.

    Now, ‘consciousness creates reality’ is a bit more complicated than a simple contradiction. In order for it to be true, consciousness must be taken for granted and it must precede the existence of anything except itself. This is demonstrably untrue of consciousness as a phenomenon. Further, it requires that consciousness is not a phenomenon of discreet entities, but is a state of the universe. It, in essence, requires that consciousness be the equivalent of a god, an uncaused cause responsible for the existence of everything.

    It’s garbage reasoning, plain and simple. It makes no sense and it leads to all kinds of logical problems and cannot be reconciled with evidence, with reality (which is especially ironic considering what the statement so concisely, if incoherently, attempts to explain the existence of). It is necessarily wrong and can be dismissed out of hand as a concept worth considering.

  154. Ichthyic says

    Who else shares Stephen Hawking’s view that Philosophy is dead?

    while I argue about the stagnant nature of the material/nonmaterial issue, I WOULD say that I tend to view philosophy as more of an exploration of what might be possible, as well as an exploration of how we think about what already is.

    both of these things can be useful.

    one gives us new ideas to test (like a modeller working with an unrealistic system can generate new hypotheses that are harder to extract from a more complex world)

    and the other is more of a check and balance system applying standard logic to the conclusions we reach.

    so, instead of dead, I might say a bit stagnant in application to the area of science.

    Certainly not useless, but then, I’m not sure that even Hawking meant that by “dead”.

  155. says

    There is nothing foundational to knowledge about “material,” it is another question that needs explanations via physicality (energy in physics) and mentation.

    all you’ve done is move “material” to physical.

    this is NOT the point.

    No I didn’t.

    The big point is how we come to understand “material” to exist. That is, “material” itself needs to be, and quite properly is, justified as a sort of construct.

    Glen Davidson

  156. Ichthyic says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about building things out of blocks

    better known as Legoism.

    :)

  157. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about compassion, love, and connectedness. How do these ideas lead to hate, exploitation or false hope?

    You don’t know there is anything spiritual leading you anywhere.

    it’s not really that special to believe in compassion, love and being connected to your fellow human beings.

    It does not require any spiritual component.

    In fact I’d like you to show me this spiritual component you are subscribed to and then explain how it is anything more than you wanting it to be spiritual.

  158. Ichthyic says

    The big point is how we come to understand “material” to exist. That is, “material” itself needs to be, and quite properly is, justified as a sort of construct.

    it already has been, as a philosophical construct.

  159. says

    For most of science it makes not a whit of difference in practice, but in areas like cognitive science you have to understand what “material” means in terms of senses and constructs.

    bullshit.

    sorry glen, all you did there was try to make cognitive science into something it is not.

    Wow, you’re as good as David in areas you don’t comprehend.

    Actually, cogsci wouldn’t be my favorite example, as philosophy is really more the place for it, but of course cogsci is normally concerned with such matters, especially with respect to cognitive development.

    Well, really, you get very boring, repetitive, shrill, and nasty as you restate your prejudices and incorrect assumptions. Fucking learn something about philosophy and justification for Chrissake!

    Glen Davidson

  160. says

    Jesus Christ kid, do you actually exist? Because so far, I haven’t seen anything even approximating original thought in you.

    I’ve heard a variation of every argument posted here many times before. Don’t see why we should call people out for being unoriginal when that’s what everyone is doing.

    Actually, people who cannot even fathom being self-critical about their thoughts are the ones who cause most harm. That they desire to remain unaware of that in service of their own egos is malicious.

    Probably the smartest thing anyone has posted here. Once again, someone is making an assumption about me. I am quite aware of the good and malicious thoughts in my head. Spirituality has taught me to recognize both as equals forces and then act from that awareness. This doesn’t mean I never indulge in malicious thoughts or behaviors. In fact, I do it a lot. That’s life.

    I’ll be honest I love conflict which is why I started things off a little on the “asshole” side. I apologize for that. Looking forward to more discussion on this post and others.

  161. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Myron,

    One beautiful afternoon in autumn many years ago, just before the harvest, I was standing in midst of vast fields of wheat, and the setting sun cast the most delicious light on the scenery, bestowing a hue of dark honey on everything it illuminated. The culms were performing a sort of collective dance in the mild breeze which gave rise to a display of rich wavelike patterns floating across the gleaming surface of the grainfield. It was then when the idea came to me that the field I was contemplating might harbor a consciousness which emerges out of the collective movements of the billions of straws in front of me, a consciousness which might forever be inaccessible to mine for there is no language, no channel of communication which can translate its notion of self into mine, and nonetheless is just as real (I had never used any hallucinogenic altering drugs, mind you. Maybe a good cigar might have helped my insights.)

    Is this indeed so? I don’t know for sure, but though romantic, it seems highly unlikely. For biological neurons to function in order to produce a collective consciousness, they have to be very tightly interconnected in a very specific manner. Small perturbations lead to an immediate halt of this activity, for they do not do their work due to an universal principle of emergent consciousness which connects all living things somehow automatically, but rather through an elaborate construct which has been built over billions of years in a process of natural selection. Unless we see this level of faithful communication and storage of information in nature outside of biological brains, but in particles, somehow woven into the very foundations of the laws of physics (and this is so not the case presently), I call major BS on panpsychism.

  162. says

    The big point is how we come to understand “material” to exist. That is, “material” itself needs to be, and quite properly is, justified as a sort of construct.

    it already has been, as a philosophical construct.

    Gee, I said it is justified as a sort of construct, and you restated what I said.

    No problem generally with understanding it as already justified, it’s just that philosophically and cognitively it can’t be considered simply to be a done deal, as details continue to be worked out.

    Glen Davidson

  163. Ichthyic says

    Actually, cogsci wouldn’t be my favorite example

    that’s good, because it isn’t an example, even a poor one.

    you restate your prejudices and incorrect assumptions. Fucking learn something about philosophy and justification for Chrissake!

    Thanks for your reply, courtier.

  164. Ichthyic says

    Gee, I said it is justified as a sort of construct, and you restated what I said.

    just stressing the point.

    it’s just that philosophically and cognitively it can’t be considered simply to be a done deal,

    no, what you are actually saying, based on your examples so far, is not an issue of philosophy (which we already agreed is settled), but rather a “magic is science we do not yet understand” issue.

    IOW, while it might seem circular, we don’t really get to put in the “non-material” philosophical bin things we simply don’t understand how their material causation works.

  165. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Wow, the Hameroff, Penrose, Chopra book costs a whopping 100$ on Amazon. Talk about esoteric knowledge…

  166. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Spirituality has taught me to recognize both as equals forces and then act from that awareness.

    Spirituality, based on spirit, is null concept. Define both with sufficient rigor they can be falsified. Otherwise, nothing but noisy bafflegabble.

  167. Myron says

    How much “spirituality”/”mentality” can consistently be integrated into the materialistic/naturalistic worldview? The following views are all in principle compatible with it:

    i. absolute panpsychism = the view that all concrete objects, including single molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles, are individual subjects of experience.

    ii. relative panpsychism = the view that all complex concrete (macro-)objects (bodies or organisms) but no single molecules, atoms, or subatomic particles are individual subjects of experience.

    iii. absolute holopsychism = the view that the spacetime world as a whole is an individual subject of experience and that no part of it is an individual subject of experience, so that the whole world is the only concrete object which is a subject.

    iv. relative holopsychism = the view that both the spacetime world as a whole and some parts of it are individual subjects of experience.

  168. says

    Actually, people who cannot even fathom being self-critical about their thoughts are the ones who cause most harm. That they desire to remain unaware of that in service of their own egos is malicious.

    Probably the smartest thing anyone has posted here. Once again, someone is making an assumption about me. I am quite aware of the good and malicious thoughts in my head. Spirituality has taught me to recognize both as equals forces and then act from that awareness.

    And you cleanly miss the major issue in that snippet. The point is that you don’t question your “spiritual” claims about reality, and assume that you have some greater knowledge of “reality” due to your insipid “spirituality.”

    You don’t question the idiocy of Chopra, you don’t question your superiority, and you don’t question the worth of a “spiritual approach” to mind, spirit, whatever, despite its utter lack of meaningful results over thousands of years.

    That you might be aware of your “malicious thoughts” is the least of it.

    Glen Davidson

  169. Hurin, Nattering Nabob of Negativism says

    David

    Some scientists like Leonard Mlodinow have the balls to actually talk with Chopra and learn about the ideas he promotes. Mlodinow has already stated that his collaboration with Chopra has been a positive one.

    Citation and context badly needed.

    If Mlodinow had a nice chat with Chopra I’m happy for both of them, but it doesn’t add any validity to Chopra’s schtick. If the two of them have managed to refine Chopra’s usual handwaving gish-gallop of quantum physical buzzwords into something carefully stated and defensible then that is something else altogether. Ive actually seen Mlodinow take Chopra to task for the fact that his ideas are neither. Whether or not Mlodinow is now sympathetic to Chopra’s aims is irrelevant.

  170. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Myron, in the light of what we know about neurology and neural networks, all things pan and holo you have cited seem awfully out of sync with science. There is no evidence for them, and my impression is that they were all borne out of a desire, efforts to grasp the nature of human consciousness which are, ultimately, misguided because they try to retain a sense of reality beyond material reality which is motivated by subjective experience.

  171. Sally Strange, OM says

    I’m watching the debate with Shermer and Chopra right now.

    Chopra just said, “If I was worried about being embarrassed, I wouldn’t be influencing the people I’m influencing right now.”

    In other words, if he cared about looking like an ass, he wouldn’t sell as many books.

    What a fucking egotistical asshole.

  172. says

    Myron:

    How much “spirituality”/”mentality” can consistently be integrated into the materialistic/naturalistic worldview? The following views are all in principle compatible with it:

    Absolutely. I don’t think anyone is disagreeing with the potential of any of those.

    What we disagree with is that any of those are even vaguely supported by our current model of reality. Until there’s some sort of evidence that any of those are the case, then it’s all just mental masturbation, contributing neither insight nor knowledge.

  173. Ichthyic says

    The following views are all in principle compatible with it:

    but, what is the relevance of being compatible, in this sense?

  174. TheGodless says

    After we rid the world of Chopra, can we work on Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Drew? I’ve noticed every one of them peddling nonsense at one time or another. Why is is that every time a doctor or scientist gets mainstream media attention or household fame, they always got to go the quack route? Could it be that fame becomes more important to them than their actual profession?

  175. says

    TheGodless, I think it’s because real science is boring, unless you happen to love real science. That’s just my guess.

    Man bites dog! Now, that sells newspapers.

  176. says

    And you cleanly miss the major issue in that snippet. The point is that you don’t question your “spiritual” claims about reality, and assume that you have some greater knowledge of “reality” due to your insipid “spirituality.”

    You don’t question the idiocy of Chopra, you don’t question your superiority, and you don’t question the worth of a “spiritual approach” to mind, spirit, whatever, despite its utter lack of meaningful results over thousands of years.

    Say I’m wrong, stupid, an idiot, whatever. Please stop assuming what I believe. I’ve told you a lot about what I believe, none of which is in the above quote. If you need more information about me, ask.

    If you don’t care and would rather assume things, fine. That’s what believers do. They assume to know that which they do not and then do stupid things.

  177. Myron says

    The mere fact that some philosophical view is consistent or compatible with the empirical scientific data is certainly not a reason to believe in its truth. What are needed are positive rational or empirical reasons for believing or disbelieving in it.
    Nevertheless, the point is that if a philosophical view is data-compatible, then it isn’t falsified by the empirical evidence given, and so the belief in it cannot simply be declared “unscientific” or “irrational”.

  178. Brownian says

    Probably the smartest thing anyone has posted here.

    Which is, of course, why you failed to understand it. As I and others have noted, it’s really much too fucking late for you to play pretentious. You’ve shown yourself to be much too stupid.

    I am quite aware of the good and malicious thoughts in my head. Spirituality has taught me to recognize both as equals forces and then act from that awareness. This doesn’t mean I never indulge in malicious thoughts or behaviors. In fact, I do it a lot. That’s life.

    Fuck me, but you are a naive child, aren’t you? There’s not much I can do with someone who’s so entrenched in religious good/bad dichotomies that they haven’t any idea of what it is to look beyond that, but I’ll try.

    That is not what I was referring to.

    Any child can be aware of conflicting thoughts and feelings and choose whether or not to act on them based on what is healthier, more socially acceptable, more likely to achieve a certain goal, etc. Do less than that, and you barely qualify as conscious. And you want a cookie for it? As Erulóra Maikalambe upthread wrote, that’s basically empathy combined with deferred gratification. Congratulations: you’re not a toddler.

    Real self-awareness and the guts to be critical would require you to look at a belief like “ideas that make the world a beautiful place” and recognise that the claim is so subjective as to be valueless to the conversation at hand. To assert it as if it were true and universal—and worse, to assert that its subjective beauty to you outweighs its truth-value—is the kind of un-selfawareness that I’m referring to, much in the same way that choosing to drive drunk can be viewed as malicious, even though one has every intent of making it home safely and causing others no harm.

    The test here is not whether on not you have good intentions. The test is whether or not you have the wherewithal to recognise that you use your good intentions to shield yourself (and others whose ideas you like) from criticism.

  179. says

    Say I’m wrong, stupid, an idiot, whatever.

    Not a problem, moron.

    Please stop assuming what I believe. I’ve told you a lot about what I believe, none of which is in the above quote.

    Really. So you’ve been lying the whole time? I mean who cares about your claims not to believe what you’ve been espousing, you’re either a deliberate liar or so fucked in the head that you haven’t a clue what you believe.

    If you need more information about me, ask.

    I don’t believe that anyone here, excepting perhaps Rob, finds that they need more information about you. Your bad-faith approach to everything discussed here is enough.

    If you don’t care and would rather assume things, fine.

    An honest person takes responsibility for reasonable inferences made from their insipid nonsense. You just whine.

    That’s what believers do. They assume to know that which they do not and then do stupid things.

    Yeah, we noticed what stupidity you write.

    Glen Davidson

  180. says

    Myron:

    Nevertheless, the point is that if a philosophical view is data-compatible, then it isn’t falsified by the empirical evidence given, and so the belief in it cannot simply be declared “unscientific” or “irrational”.

    Actually, it can be declared unscientific. Is it falsifiable? No? Then it’s unscientific.

    That doesn’t mean we won’t gain new knowledge that will allow us to create a falsifiable hypothesis. At that time, it will become a scientific hypothesis.

    Until then, there’s no way to distinguish universal consciousness from fantasy. Therefore, it’s irrational to believe in it. It’s especially irrational to assume it’s true, and to promulgate it as true (which is what Deepak Chopra does).

  181. TonyJ says

    Just hearing the name Deepak Chopra triggers an automatic Julia Sweeney in my head to say “…and what I found is that Deepak Chopra IS FULL OF SHIT!”

  182. Brownian says

    Say I’m wrong, stupid, an idiot, whatever. Please stop assuming what I believe. I’ve told you a lot about what I believe, none of which is in the above quote. If you need more information about me, ask.

    If you don’t care and would rather assume things, fine. That’s what believers do. They assume to know that which they do not and then do stupid things.

    Then learn to write more clearly, or leave.

    You yourself have claimed you and Chopra don’t necessarily agree, and then you’ve gone on to whine about criticisms of him as if they were of you. As others noted, you jumped in here complaining about our criticisms of Chopra, and then later commended people for criticising Chopra. Later, you claimed your first comment was simple trolling because you like these sorts of arguments.

    The problem is not with us, David, it’s with you: you’re a shitty thinker, and a shitty writer. Further, you’re playing to win the argument rather than being honest with us or yourself, and you’re likewise skilled at neither.

  183. Kemist says

    The spirituality I subscribe to is about building things out of blocks

    better known as Legoism.

    From the rest of the description involving zombies and skeletons (and please don’t forget the damn creepers), I’d say it’s Minecraftism.

    A very time-consuming philosophy, that it.

  184. says

    The problem is not with us, David, it’s with you: you’re a shitty thinker, and a shitty writer. Further, you’re playing to win the argument rather than being honest with us or yourself, and you’re likewise skilled at neither.

    Could you say anything more egotistical? I’ll wait for someone else to call you out on your sense of superiority, apparently that is what this conversation has turned into.

    Sorry my writing sucks. I wish I was as good of a writer as everyone else here.

    The delusion is getting out of control.

    I don’t have a problem with anyone here or their ideas. I’m just one of those annoying people that refuses to say “Spirituality has all the answers” or “Science has all the answers”. I believe a collaboration of both provides the most complete world view.

    (cue personal attacks on my thinking, writing, debate strategy, or whatever else you can come up with)

  185. Rob says

    While Rob of the Support Penrose Club explains:

    I like to think of it as the Not Jumping to Conclusions Club, but hey.

    This interpretation of the Godel theorem is a minority view, but it is supported by more than just Penrose. It’s also not obviously wrong – other ways of interpreting the result also have interesting implications. For example, a common counter argument (given decades before Penrose started talking about it, by Hilary Putnam) is that human thinking is mathematically inconsistent, in principle, so the theorem doesn’t apply. That’s a remarkable statement to make.

  186. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    A very time-consuming philosophy, that it.

    Indeed it is.

    and please don’t forget the damn creepers

    The other day my cat sat on the button that turns off my speakers. I didn’t hear the hissssssssssssssss. :-(
    Luckily I was pretty close to my spawn.

  187. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    Could you say anything more egotistical?

    What, you mean you want us to quote you or something?

  188. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    No, David, you have not told us a lot about what you believe. You’ve been vague and you’ve indulged liberally in elastic, jello-ey words like “spiritual” without defining them.

    We’d all like to know one thing, and it’s a very reasonable request. What, specifically does “consciousness creates reality” mean? Don’t tell us to Google for it. Don’t go off on a 500-word disquisition. Simply explain in plain terms exactly what that means. You could start by defining “reality,” which for you must have a non-standard and idiosyncratic definition because if you’re using it in the standard sense, your phrase makes no sense at all (as Thomathy pointed out above).

    If you insist on continuing to demur you will continue to be savaged, and rightly so. You are not demonstrating good faith or respect for us as conversational partners (or even opponents). You’re behaving badly and petulantly, and you deserve what you’re getting.

    This is not a New Age or Unitarian sharing session. Precision and honest argumentation matter here, not validating your feelings or giving your ego a reach-around. Do better.

  189. Brownian says

    The problem is not with us, David, it’s with you: you’re a shitty thinker, and a shitty writer. Further, you’re playing to win the argument rather than being honest with us or yourself, and you’re likewise skilled at neither.

    Could you say anything more egotistical?

    Unless you don’t think the ability to write or to think is at all objective, there is nothing egotistical in pointing out your deficiencies, particularly when those deficiencies have demonstrably hindered this conversation. Should I be more apologetic about how much you suck? Will that make you feel better?

    David, I’m really sorry you’re a barely literate moron. I’m sure your parents think the world of you.

    I don’t have a problem with anyone here or their ideas. I’m just one of those annoying people that refuses to say “Spirituality has all the answers” or “Science has all the answers”. I believe a collaboration of both provides the most complete world view.

    And this means what? We should be nicer to you because your evidenceless assertions come from wanting the best for everyone? “Hey everybody, lay off David’s lack of evidence and poor, sophomorish thinking. He only has good intentions.”

    This is exactly the kind of thing I wrote about in 211.

    (cue personal attacks on my thinking, writing, debate strategy, or whatever else you can come up with)

    Knowing they’re going to come doesn’t invalidate them.

    You wrote this: “I’ll be honest I love conflict which is why I started things off a little on the ‘asshole’ side” and now you’re crying? I think Glen was right when he suggested you’re so fucked in the head that you haven’t a clue what you believe. If you don’t want to have your beliefs, ability to argue for them or write about them challenged, then keep them to yourself. You showed up here itching for a fight. If that’s not what you want, then you can fuck right off.

  190. says

    David:

    I’m just one of those annoying people that refuses to say “Spirituality has all the answers” or “Science has all the answers”.

    Which answers?

    “Spirituality” is an ill-defined catch-all for subjective feelings like awe and peace and contentment and love and a whole bunch of other feelings. So I’m not sure which answers you seek. If spirituality has some other, better-defined meaning, it would be nice if you’d clarify exactly what you mean by “spirituality.”

    “Science” is an epistemology. In fact, it’s the only prove effective epistemology for gaining new knowledge about objective reality. Science is also a pragmatic set of tools and best-practices adapted from the eponymous epistemology.

    Basically, if you’re after objective truth, science is the only thing that can reliably provide answers. If you’re looking for an interpretation of how you feel about something, and don’t care about the objective framework in which you experience that feeling, the spirituality is fine, inasmuch as it provides a catalyzing mechanism to process your feelings. There are perhaps better ways of dealing with your emotions and feelings and where you feel you belong in this great vasty universe, but spirituality is OK. It can help you find those personal answers you seek, though they might not be the best answers.

    The problem comes when you conflate your subjective experience with objective reality. Spirituality can provide you nothing when it comes to figuring out how reality works. It can’t even provide you objective truth about how you work.

    This isn’t just something you can “believe” and make it true. Reality doesn’t give a pair of decaying porcupines what you believe. It goes on with or without you, unaffected outside your physical presence and physical actions.

  191. Pay No Attention To The Woo In The Corner says

    Rob of the Refusing To Come to Any Conclusions At All Club writes:

    This interpretation of the Godel theorem is a minority view, but it is supported by more than just Penrose. It’s also not obviously wrong – other ways of interpreting the result also have interesting implications.

    “Not obviously wrong” must be shorthand for “no reason to be taken seriously”.

    1) Mathematics is incomplete and we don’t fully understand the implications of that!

    2) Consciousness is not fully understood!

    3) Do I need to connect the dots?

    Aside from an obvious fallaciousness toward which the true believers will likely cry “strawman”, the claims that Penrose and others make that there is a commonality between the Incompleteness theorem and the “mystery” of consciousness falls flat at first blush. “Barbers shave those who do not shave themselves.” does not tell us that our minds transcend deterministic endeavors of the brain any more than the entropic arrow of time going in one direction tells us that physics is incomplete. Hiding out in “mind-body” problems will not save your soul. The Astonishing Hypothesis ought to be taken more seriously than that.

  192. dcg1 says

    Ichthyic

    I agree with your final point, In that I don’t think that Hawking is saying that logical or rational thought is dead.

    I think he was questioning the relevance of Philosophy, with regard to its dictionary meaning. In that the advanced state of scientific knowledge is such that reason and argument alone (philosophy), are no longer sufficient to tell us anything new, about “reality, the causes and nature of things, the principles governing existence , the material universe, perception of physical phenomena, and Human behaviour”.

    On these grounds,Hawking is right to say that Philosophy is dead. This creates a problem for Philosophy as a serious,academic discipline. If it cannot contribute to the above, What is left?

  193. says

    This is not a New Age or Unitarian sharing session. Precision and honest argumentation matter here, not validating your feelings or giving your ego a reach-around. Do better.

    Josh, very well written and point taken.

    I think this article does a good job of explaining the idea – “consciousness creates the physical universe” – http://journalofcosmology.com/Consciousness140.html (warning, its from the journal of cosmology and deepak chopra is one of the authors).

    If you could make it through that article, watch this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-59oaJizrA (warning, deepak chopra and stuart hameroff are in this video).

    Those are just two links I know off the top of my head. Would love to hear you honest opinions.

    If all you have to say is this is woo-woo or bafflegabble, then I’m not really interested. If you want to explain why or provide a link that gives an explanation I would be happy to read it.

  194. Matt Penfold says

    David,

    Sometime while back in this thread I asked you to provide evidence of Chopra’s scientific credentials by citing papers he has writen that have been published in the scientific literature. You said his scientific ideas should be taken seriously, so clearly you have such papers in mind when you said that.

    Despite my reminding you, you have still failed to provided a single example.

    I am offering you one last chance. Do you have such evidence. If you do, produce it. If you do not, you need to explain why you pretended you did.

  195. Myron says

    For those interested:

    * Chopra, Deepak, and Leonard Mlodinow. War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality. New York: Harmony Books, 2011.

  196. Matt Penfold says

    David,

    You need to offer evidence. You Tube and The Journal of Cosmology do not count.

    You know this, it has already been explained to you. So why do you persist in refusing to offer evidence ? Are you just a lazy fucker ? Stupid ? A liar ? Mentally ill ? Or just a fuckwit ?

  197. Myron says

    “The spiritual hypothesis that was put forward thousands of years ago has three parts:

    1. There is an unseen reality that is the source of all visible things.
    2. This unseen reality is knowable through our own awareness.
    3. Intelligence, creativity, and organizing power are embedded in the cosmos.”

    (Chopra, Deepak, and Leonard Mlodinow. War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality. New York: Harmony Books, 2001. p. 6)

    These three statements are pretty vague.
    – It doesn’t follow from 1 that “the unseen reality” is immaterial.
    – Does 2 mean that “the unseen reality” is cognitively accessible through some nonrational mystical intuition?
    – It doesn’t follow from 3 that the creative and organizing powers are nonphysical powers.

  198. Matt Penfold says

    Just so David is very clear.

    David, you are playing with the grown-ups now. No one is going to look at your pathetic efforts of finger-painting and tell you how artistic and clever you are. If your logic and reasoning do not come up to scratch we are going to let you know, and we will not do so politely. Arguments here need to stand up, and if you cannot (or will not) stand your arguments up we are going to rip them to shreds without mercy. And we will not pay heed to your beatings when we do. Them’s the rules you follow as someone claiming to be an intelligent adult.

  199. Brownian says

    Would love to hear you honest opinions.

    If all you have to say is this is woo-woo or bafflegabble, then I’m not really interested. If you want to explain why or provide a link that gives an explanation I would be happy to read it.

    You know, you have been explicitly told on several occasions why “consciousness creates reality” is incoherent, and why your arguments have been poor and your evidence lacking. So far, you’ve whined about such criticisms when you haven’t ignored them outright. Remember writing this: “(cue personal attacks on my thinking, writing, debate strategy, or whatever else you can come up with)”?

    It’s clear you aren’t honest with yourself, but do not delude yourself into thinking that you welcome honesty from us.

  200. Matt Penfold says

    Myron,

    You need to offer evidence to support point one before proceeding. For some reason you have not bothered. Do not mistake us for idiots.

  201. It'spiningforthefyords says

    DC wants, wants, WANTS to believe, dang it! In EVERYTHING – except what’s simple and real (except money: he can put up with large amounts of THAT!).

    Well, he may be a piece of shit, intellectually, but the world he would have is still light years better in every way than that of any Xian, or any “Republican” politician. It would be woo-topia, insufferably sweet and stupid, but better the first circle of rationalist’s hell than the the last.

    He really is a man I’d like too meet by chance… and wedgie when his back was turned.

  202. Brownian says

    It would be woo-topia, insufferably sweet and stupid, but better the first circle of rationalist’s hell than the the last.

    I’m not sure it would be that sweet or sacchariney after awhile.

    Mellow out or you will pay.

  203. says

    If conciousness creates reality, whose conciousness? Whose takes priority? I ask because I’ve seen too many cases where believing that kind of idea leads to people making horrible conclusions, such as that the Holocaust happened because its victims wanted it to.

  204. Daniel Schealler says

    David

    I’ve had a quick read through of How Consciousness Becomes the Physical Universe. It’s a large body of text and obviously I haven’t really had time to digest the whole thing top to bottom.

    However I did have one thing in particular I was looking for and did not notice. I expect it is absent in the text, although I’m open to correction if I just missed it.

    My main problem with the quantum-mechanics-and-consciousness idea is that I think it rests on a shallow and naive interpretation of how quantum phenomena are described.

    Consider the statement:

    1) Water only wants to flow downhill

    Obviously to you or I, this is a useful shorthand that describes how water behaves as if it had willpower.

    Similarly, consider the following concept:

    2) The Selfish Gene

    This does not imply that Genes are themselves conscious entities that can have wants or desires or be ‘selfish’ – only that the way that replication plays out mechanistically means that the results are as if genes were genuinely selfish.

    This method of using short-hand to appeal to our intuitions when describing complex phenomena is very powerful for condensing complex behavior down into a simple description, which is useful if you want to have readable paragraphs. The problem is that it opens up these kinds of statements to naive and shallow misinterpretations that get people into trouble, particularly when they lend themselves to confirmation bias of a position that has been arrived at for nonrational reasons.

    Consider the following summary of quantum mechanics:

    3) The act of observation changes that which is observed.

    I think that 3) belongs in the same camp as 1) and 2) in that it is a very powerful summary of the phenomena it attempts to describe, but that it opens itself up to misunderstanding when only understood in a shallow way.

    My favorite resource for understanding quantum mecahnics in general and the two-slit experiment in particular is the Feynman lecture series. I’ve been collecting the whole series gradually on a month-to-month basis from Audible.com. The two relevant audio presentations are numbers one and two.

    The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Volume 1, Quantum Mechanics
    http://www.audible.com/pd?asin=B002V1CBD0

    The notes for these lectures have been compiled in a very compressed form in the book Six Easy Pieces. The link I provided is to Amazon – however, I found the book itself as a Penguin Paperback at a book store in New Zealand while waiting to catch a flight out of the country, so the book will likely be available locally for a similar price.

    Unfortunately all of that needs to be paid for, so I can understand how they may not be entirely applicable in the current context. All the same, they’re very good materials and worth a strong recommendation in their own right.

    I’d like to consider the two slit experiment.

    I’m assuming that you’re familiar with the background on this experiment, so I’ll be brief in my summary.

    Firing an electron gun through two tiny slits that are very close together produces an interference pattern indicative of wave-like behavior. Firing an electron gun through only one slit or the other produces a standard pattern indicative of particle-like behavior.

    This remains true even if we only fire a single electron at a time in our tests.

    In the two slit experiment we can set up a light source by the two slits. As each electron comes through it will scatter the light – and we will know which of the two slits the electron moved through. However, in this circumstance we do not get an interference pattern. We get the sum of the probabilities of shooting through only one slit or the other.

    There are many other ingenious ways that far cleverer people than myself have tried to catch the electrons in the act. But they’ve consistently failed.

    One method by which this is explained is that the act of observation changes the thing that is observed. Which is certainly true if taken with appropriate understanding.

    The problem is that this opens itself to the notion that the observers are important. They aren’t.

    Take the two-slit-light-scattering experiment again. We can set up this experiment to run exactly as normal. But in this new experiment, all of the scientists leave the room. No act of recording of the data as to which slit the electrons move through takes place. The minds of the scientists themselves do not observe the phenomena in action.

    After the experiment has run for a while the scientists come back into the room and see what kind of pattern they got.

    I do not know if anyone has bothered to do this experiment. But all the same, there is no doubt in my mind that the experimenters will find that they get the sum of the interference patterns for both slits, exactly as if they had recorded the data.

    The only explanation for this that makes sense is that the observers themselves are irrelevant to the functioning of quantum particles – that the ‘act of observation’ can just be explained as the interaction of particles that react to that interaction in highly unintuitive ways.

    There’s no room in this explanation for consciousness to be a relevant factor.

    So the summary that ‘the act of observation changes the thing that is observed’ still remains a useful summary of the phenomena – but it should not be read as implying that the observers themselves or their conscious minds are in any way responsible for the effects under consideration.

    Based on the information I have received about quantum phenomena, there isn’t actually any room for consciousness to change anything. It’s just an appendix-explanation sitting out on the side and in good need of a slice from Ockham’s Razor*.

    Consider then the following line from the abstract of the text to which you linked. Emphasis is mine.

    … Developments in quantum theory aiming to unify all physical processes have opened the door to a profoundly new vision of the cosmos, where observer, observed, and the act of observation are interlocked….

    I think that this sentence itself betrays the fundamental misunderstanding of quantum mechanical phenomena that I have been describing.

    However, as always, I am no expert. Merely an interested layperson with some very esoteric interests (Richard Feynman is my workout track at the gym). So I could very easily be wrong, and would be happy to accept as evidence any peer-reviewed scientific publications (as in, published in a reputable scientific journal) with conclusions or data that run contrary to my understanding as summarized above.

    Note that it wouldn’t be very hard at all to prove me wrong about the consciousness thing if I really am wrong. Just find a quantum mechanics experiment that performs differently when the researchers do not themselves observe the phenomena in action, only the end result after the experiment is finished. It doesn’t even have to be two-slit.

    I found that the text itself did not reference any such scientific work – it merely took it as an assumption that the observer is relevant to the discussion of quantum mechanical phenomena and went from their.

    Perhaps I missed something, or perhaps the bibliography itself held something of interest that wasn’t referred to directly in the text.

    Either way I remain highly skeptical of both your position and that of the paper on the grounds that I perceive you and it to fall prey to a naively intuitive misinterpretation of quantum mechanics, a perception that is backed up (to me) because I’m not aware of any of evidence of a kind that should be readily available if that interpretation was correct.

    As always, my position ties into evidence. So you can easily persuade me out of my skepticism by presenting some.

    Looking forward to your response.

  205. Brownian says

    If conciousness creates reality, whose conciousness? Whose takes priority?

    The arthropods’, clearly, unless Chopra has some metric for explaining why his and people like David’s consciousnesses are somehow privileged.

  206. CJO says

    Shorter: There is no “subject/object” duality when dealing with quantum phenomena. There are only objects interacting (albeit in sometimes quite counterintuitive ways).

    This whole idea that consciousness per se influences these observations is just the product of a quaintly naive view of science in which The Scientist observes these phenomena directly, rather than at a remove, aided, always, by the experimental apparatus without which there would be nothing to observe. When it comes to the quantum substrate of all reality, consciousness is even less relevant. Every particle is “observed by” (and observes) every other particle. It is not well appreciated by the woo-meisters that it is precisely this constant interference that necessitates the ingenuity of experimental design and the energy-intensive apparatus that are required to isolate the phenomena in order to study them.

  207. says

    David:

    Those are just two links I know off the top of my head. Would love to hear you honest opinions.

    My honest opinion is that Deepak Chopra has taken a strangely literal version of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, and built a very profitable empire on giving rehashed, disproven mysticism a veneer of science.

    Consider: at no point does Deepak Chopra say, “I have no evidence whatsoever to support my foundational assumptions,” and yet that is exactly the first thing he should say. He then uses this very flawed understanding of QM to spin a fairy tale which he passes off as truth.

    I have a simple question for you: if Deepak Chopra has no evidence for the bedrock of his many assertions, why should you accept his conclusions? Conclusions, I might add, arrived at not by observation and data gathering, but by a simple desire they be true.

    I asked you earlier, though evidently not plainly enough, and I’ll ask again: why should you accept Deepak Chopra’s most elaborate conclusions, knowing he has no evidence to support his most basic assumptions? When in fact, the evidence contradicts his most basic assumptions?

    (Here, “contradicts” means that modern evidence supports the idea that wave function collapse is essentially nothing more than an effect of decoherence, and the Copenhagen interpretation is simply wrong. Which shouldn’t matter, as Chopra doesn’t really use the Copenhagen interpretation correctly anyway.)

  208. says

    Daniel Schealler:

    Richard Feynman is my workout track at the gym

    Damn. All I have is Fall Out Boy.

    I feel dum now.

    nooneinparticular:

    Molly for October, pants down (IMO).

    Good idea.

  209. Kemist says

    David:

    All that paper shows is that the authors have absolutely no understanding of QM at all.

    Analogies only go so far, and certain words do not mean the same thing in science and math as in their everyday usage. Among those words is “observer”. It’s pretty clear from the text that Chopra confuses the everyday usage of “observer” and its meaning in physics.

    Another very bad sign to me is that this paper, which is supposed to be about QM, contains no math whatsoever. QM is so counterintuitive that it’s quite hard to understand without at least a primer in the maths involved in it.

    If you can play around with wave equations, you will find out how particle-like properties can emerge from waves in certain situations. And it does so very naturally without any handwaving or “conciousness” hocus pocus. The same operations will also elegantly demonstrate from where exactly the famous uncertainty principle comes from.

    If you cannot tackle the math, then you are stuck with analogies, and with words that you cannot properly and unambiguously define, just like the authors of that paper are. It’s ok for most people who just want to get the “feel” of QM, but not from somebody, like Chopra, who pretends to extrapolate so much from it over the heads of real physicists.

    If you are interested, one math subject that would provide some understanding is the Fourier transform. It’s not exactly an easy subject, as a whole class will often be given on it during the course of a physics or engineering degree. But, assuming that you have done advanced calculus and know a bit about complex numbers, it can be done.

  210. ConcernedJoe says

    OK I’ve taken a few shots to calm down and now I can write this in a calm and gentile manner: Rob, David, Deepak, etc. you are so full if shit you stink.

    OK – sure – Biology needs quantum physics to explain some phenomena – because biological mechanisms are in essence chemistry and physics.

    So for example when a REAL SCIENTIST proposes that the otherwise unfathomable speed and efficiency of photosynthesis is perhaps explained by quantum physics that does not mean the scientists buy into woo.

    Or when in neuroscience on uses the SCIENTIFIC knowledge of quantum phenomena to perhaps explain the the otherwise unfathomable instantaneous inter-connectivity of the brain that does not mean the scientists buy into woo.

    Holy fuck – you Deepakies bring nothing to science that is – well – SCIENIFIC (different than your sciency shit) and then you have the audacity to ask us to swoon at your sciency sounding stuff and appeals to SCIENTIFICALLY UNTESTED spaghetti thrown at the wall. And beyond audacity accuse us of not appreciating how scientifically marvelous quantum mechanics is when REAL SCIENTISTS not only use it they wrote the book.

    If you dreamers have a great discovery then go through the hoops of confirming it through the scientific method and then use the arduous process of publishing it properly. I will not hold my breath. You got nuttin.

  211. says

    John Morales:

    Even shorter CJO: ‘observation’ means ‘interaction’.

    Which is exactly what I said in comment … lessee, where was that now? Ah yes! Here it is:

    nigelTheBold:

    Never mind that “observer” really just means “interaction”…

    In comment #1.

    If David had just bothered to read the very first comment, he’d’ve seen my objections to Chopra’s woo, and maybe fucking addressed it before asking us what our objections were. Not that I claim to be the arbiter of all things quantum, but seriously. The very first comment. He might’ve at least explained where I was wrong.

  212. Brownian says

    If David had just bothered to read the very first comment, he’d’ve seen my objections to Chopra’s woo, and maybe fucking addressed it before asking us what our objections were. Not that I claim to be the arbiter of all things quantum, but seriously. The very first comment. He might’ve at least explained where I was wrong.

    He never did ask us. Not until #227. There was nothing to explain. All he did was excoriate us for not understanding Chopra.

    Because we didn’t immediately swoon at Chopra’s bullshit like he did, I guess.

  213. mandrellian says

    Since most of what Chopra produces is, for want of a word more befitting a respectful tone, shit, and since Chopra’s acolytes seem to just swallow it as a baby rabbit swallows its mother’s caecotroph, I humbly present my term for the unquestioning consumers of Chopra’s thinkful wishing:

    Chopraphage: an unthinking, ignorant or naive consumer of science-y sounding yet non-explanatory, implausible and unevidenced deepities designed specifically to appeal to those with a tenuous grasp on reality but who also have a simultaneous feeling that said reality exists to make them ludicrously happy if they’d only buy the right book.

  214. mandrellian says

    Re: 249 – a very good friend is something of a Chopraphage and once, during a science-y discussion, my friend made reference to DC’s superior understanding of quantum effects or what-have-you and how Modern Western Science didn’t know Everything and wouldn’t ALLOW discussion of a universal consciousness and good GOD did I have to hold my tongue. I don’t usually do so but my friend is unfortunately very woo-prone and somewhat fragile (two conditions which, incidentally, seem to feed off each other). To this day I avoid raising – or hastily brush away – any topic which might lead to more invocations of Chopra’s “superiority” in any field other than shilling his own books.

    I find it incredibly sad that otherwise intelligent people are taken in by – and spend money on – such transparent (to me, anyway) appeals to mystery and the allegedly enlightened faux-Eastern mysticism. One thinks that if Chopra’s exact guru schtick were put on by, say, a fat white Aussie bloke named Bruce who wore flip-flops everywhere and drove a big V8, that its credibility among the 21st century “seekers” would take a nosedive.

  215. says

    “The Emperor’s New Mind” is where Penrose speculated upon quantum consciousness. As someone upstream noted, he made an argument that what mathematicians who think about Gödelian problems do is not algrithmic. That argument does not rise to the level of a plausibility argument; its a conversational statement of conviction on his part, not a statement of proof. There are other very serious problems with the speculation even as such as violating parsimony.

    This is still a spectacularly good book and I would heartily recommend it … noting that this speculation is unproven and nearly disproven.

    Nonetheless, Penrose was (and is) taken seriously. And deserves to be. He has a proven track record if genius level productive work in mathematics and physics. As such there have been numerous specific tests to see if anomalous quantum properties can be found in microtubules and other brain specific or brain cell different structures. Those experiments, at least those I’ve heard of – and our friends would surely be crowing loudly otherwise – have uniformly come back negative.

    On Quantum Consciousness RP made a rather rash and bold public speculation. It was never (that I’m aware of) asserted as anything but speculation (on his part). It turned out to be wrong. But Penrose is not a woo meister for that mistake but remains one of the most brilliant scientists of our age.

    — TWZ

  216. John Morales says

    nigelTheBold,

    Which is exactly what I said in comment … lessee, where was that now? Ah yes!

    <blush>

    Yeah.

    (Moral of the story: read all comments before commenting, or be embarrassed)

  217. What a Maroon says

    I’m neither a philosopher nor a scientist, but still it wonders me that scientists are not more enthusiastic about the notion of embodied realism developed by Mark Johnson and George Lakoff. The basic idea is this: we cannot access any purely objective reality, but nor is our understanding of reality subjective. Instead, our understanding of reality arises from the interaction of our bodies with the real world as mediated through our senses. There are two important points to keep in mind. First, in order to survive, our understanding of reality has to reflect to some extent some kind of objective reality. We wouldn’t last very long if we think that, hey, my subjective reality tells me that that lion over there is really a big kitty cat that just wants to be petted or hey, so what if that shroom killed Zog, it won’t kill me. So in that case our naive understanding is a pretty good reflection of reality. On the other hand, it probably didn’t matter much to our ancestors as they were evolving in Africa whether the sun revolved around the earth or vice versa, so our naive understanding just takes as granted the common sense as we see it–the sun’s moving across the sky, so the sun revolves around the earth.

    But the second point to keep in mind is that our body includes our brain, which is equipped with a lot of awesome features. Among which is the ability of displacement–we can think in terms of other times, perspectives, realities, etc. And so this allows us to conceive of a world that doesn’t match what our senses tell us. So yeah, our senses tell us that the sun revolves around the earth, but when we try to make sense of the motions of the “heavenly” bodies, this leads to all sorts of complications in how everything moves. Until someone comes along and says, hey, displace yourself. Imagine the sun’s at the center of everything. Look at what happens then–things get a lot simpler.

    A lot of things touched on in this thread follow from this concept of human understanding. First, of course, while our naive understanding of the world does a good job in getting us through our lives, what we “know” is often wrong. We “know” that objects in motion come to rest, that heavier objects fall faster than slower objects, that the earth is flat, that the earth is the center of the universe, and so on.

    Second, our understanding of how things work is grounded in our interactions with our immediate environment, and we use metaphors to understand how the world works based on that grounded understanding. But without a lot of serious training in how things work, it’s far too easy to take those metaphors seriously, and so we really believe that, say, the “observation” in QM is from a conscious observer.

    Third, the processes we use to understand the universe are extensions of our basic facilities. When we make observations of phenomena that our senses can’t detect (e.g., looking at infrared radiation), we have to find ways to represent them that our senses can detect (i.e., in wavelengths visible to humans). Much of scientific experimentation (at least in physics) involves finding ways to make phenomena that are normally unobservable by humans observable.

    Finally, the farther a phenomenon is removed from our naive understanding of the world, the more difficult it is to accept. We can accept the idea of a non-geocentric universe fairly easily, because it still involves objects in motion. And while at first it may be hard to accept Newton’s laws of motion at first, we do have a pretty good naive understanding of the effects of forces, so we can wrap our heads around them.

    But as much as I’ve studied relativity or quantum mechanics, I’ve never really understood them. I accept them, and I can understand some of the consequences, but I can’t say I understand them.

    Anyway, as I’ve described it here, I think Johnson and Lakoff’s ideas ought to be fairly obvious and well-accepted, but outside of the relative small (but growing) universe of Cognitive Linguistics I haven’t seen much evidence that they’re accepted or even known.

  218. Ichthyic says

    our understanding of reality arises from the interaction of our bodies with the real world as mediated through our senses.

    so, when I use calculus to directly calculate the volume of the curved mug I’m drinking from, that reality is mediated through my senses.

    right.

    and what the hell does “purely objective reality” mean?

    I haven’t seen much evidence that they’re accepted or even known.

    have you considered that maybe the reason they are not well known is because they require an endless series of redefinitions of common words before they even start making sense?

    Too much jargon to my eyes for a quick evaluation.

    Newton’s laws of motion at first, we do have a pretty good naive understanding of the effects of forces, so we can wrap our heads around them.

    it’s a naive understanding at best, without the math.

    is math not part of our understanding of reality then?

    is math not objective?

    I could just as easily say that “intuitive grasp scales inversely with the complexity of the math involved”, and end up using the same examples you did to support it.

    In short, I’m missing why this particular perspective is useful?

    why is it useful, in particular, to you?

    How do you use it to explain anything?

    what predictive power has it shown?

  219. Kagehi says

    individual subjects of experience

    Sigh.. My head hurts, what does that construct even *mean*? If you take it to mean that someone is “observing” them, in the layman’s sense, then the various sentences this oddity happens in would seem to be implying either that stuff, as in my own post, **must be** seen by some sort of mind, to happen, which, as has been pointed out, is completely **wrong**. If you take it in the QM sense, then its 100% accurate, only.. **everything** is observing **everything else** and consciousnesses becomes an irrelevancy, since all those “observations” pretty much just make the world exactly as it is, without *any* ability of any single part of it to have an impact on what happens.

    Basically, why the hell, if true, would a human mind, made up of millions of “conscious” bits, have ***any*** effect at all on hundreds of millions of gagillions of *other* bits of stuff, that make up the rest of the universe? If its all consciousness, why the hell does some piddling, self deluded “mind” in a tiny fraction of the whole, matter more than every other part of it, when deciding what reality actually looks like? As a philosophical position to explain awareness, never mind reality, its a bit like claiming that one grain of sand, on a beach, on some planet, on the other side of the universe, plays a critical role in the shape of the continent of Africa, for all any “human” mind could, or would, be able to make the chair your ass is in, never mind any other part of the planet, *be* anything other than what *it* wants to be at that moment.

    Or, to paraphrase, with modification, the bad guy from The Incredibles, “When everything is ‘special’, nothing is ‘special’.” Which makes Deepak’s philosophy of mind completely useless, in that, it either describes *nothing*, or it is functionally equivalent to the faux Post Modern essay that spent page after page babbling gibberish, which basically said, in the end, that instead of using something as silly as math to solve certain problems, we should just use math. If *everything* is conscious, that is fundamentally *identical* to nothing being conscious, since there is *absolutely* no reason to assume that one particular glob of that stuff is any more important, powerful, or relevant, to reality, than *any other one*.

  220. mandrellian says

    Kagehi @ 255: “If *everything* is conscious, that is fundamentally *identical* to nothing being conscious, since there is *absolutely* no reason to assume that one particular glob of that stuff is any more important, powerful, or relevant, to reality, than *any other one*.”

    Yep. At least proper religions, execrable as they are, have the decency to point out who the unworthy, unsaved, unenlightened ones are, so that we may smite them with smiting stones and believe we’re snuggled in the bosomy goodness of The Mighty One.

    Chopra and his acolytes want to make everyone think they’re a special little fucking snowflake with this new-age non-religious quantum-ish science-y spiritualism, which utterly devalues the entirely relative concept of specialness! If you’re a special unique little snowflake of awareness in a gigantic avalanche of universal consciousness, you’re no more special or unspecial than any other little snowflake. You’re ONE brain cell. Which makes you approximately worth fuck all.

    FFS everybody – all we currently know points to you being a sack of meat with emergent properties, not a self-actualised cog in a vast reality-creating consciousness. But being a sack of meat doesn’t mean you’re not special – to someone. You’re probably special to your mother, your partner, your kids, your dog. Revel in it, for fucks sake, concentrate on what you can know and stop pretending you’re a Special Friend of the All-Knowing Space Brain. Stop pretending you’re a simple happy thought away from being a god. Stop swallowing shit like The Secret and stop indulging in Chopraphagy that masturbates your ego while it picks your pocket.

  221. Ing says

    Philosophically, science does not reject non material causation a-priori.

    FFS. I hate this inane distinction between supernatural and natural, from material and non-material.

    Here’s the truth (capital T). That which is part of reality is natural; that which has an effect is observable. If something is beyond observable phenomena then it is either a) indistinguishable from being nonexistent or b) nonexistent.

    If magic existed in our universe, actual conjuring and talking to daemons, would that mean there’s a supernatural? No, it’d just mean that the natural observable world includes conjuring and daemons.

    This non-material philosophical versus methodological naturalism is just one just smoke screen to hide something from the idea of evidence. It’s tiresome.

  222. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Kemist@216, Both of my kids are minecraftists, so I thought the same thing right away. Don’t forget the ninja cows (that’s what my kids call’em anyways).

    David@217, I don’t believe that science has all the answers (yet), but neither does it seem to me that spirituality has any of the answers.

    Also: Reality doesn’t care if you believe in it, it’s not going to change or be any less real. So there. neener-neener boo-boo.

    Yes, I’ve been drinking and it’s past my bedtime, why do you ask?

    Happy Monkey and Goodnight to all.

  223. mandrellian says

    Ing:

    “This non-material philosophical versus methodological naturalism is just one just smoke screen to hide something from the idea of evidence. It’s tiresome.”

    Also lucrative.

    Whether filling Vatican coffers via collection plate, buying Lear jets via “Prosperity Gospel” or selling spiritual self-help books that muddy the waters of the quantum universe, every self-appointed mouthpiece of mysticism knows that appeals to “other ways of knowing” brings the coin.

  224. says

    I’m ashamed to say I actually bought The Secret back in the day. Even at the time, I still didn’t think there was actually a literal “Law of Attraction” that I could manipulate and get what I wanted just by thinking about it. Instead I just kind of thought “Well, obviously if you make something your focus, you’re going to start noticing it more often in your life, and it’ll seem like you did it but its not literally because you attracted it to you, you just made a point of noticing it more.”

    Like when I bought my car, then starting noticing lots of people have that same model and colour. I obviously had a reason to notice them more, not that I literally attracted every one of those cars to me.

    The I went “Oh DUH. I just went and bothered to buy a book to tell me that. Man I feel like an idiot now. What will I do with this book? Its not even heavy enough to be a door stop. Shit.”

    I shudder to think about all those people who haven’t thought that through yet because they are still reading all this kind of garbage and listening to knobs like Chopra, and sitting there with a picture of Beyonce stuck of a piece of cardbaord going “ANY MINUTE now, she’ll be knocking on my door, and if she doesn’t, I just didn’t wish hard enough.”

  225. John Morales says

    [meta]

    David, if you weren’t such a rube, you too could become a skeptic.

    (Hell, it’s faintly possible, even so!

    Hint: Intellectual honesty is the key)

  226. says

    Daniel Schealler #238:

    Yay! I think I understood that! Or at least, it clarified the question for me. Thank you!

    (My poor brain always reels at the notion of QM; I’m not equipped for it. But that explanation removed some of the fog.)

  227. Ichthyic says

    I don’t believe that science has all the answers (yet), but neither does it seem to me that spirituality has any of the answers.

    it’s more than that though.

    it’s that science has shown it actually can PRODUCE useful answers with predictive power.

    religion/spirituality?

    nothing so far.

    I suppose if they ever get there, we might have something to talk about.

    but given what science has accomplished in just a couple hundred years of enthusiastic application, vs the thousands of years of vacuousness that the alternative has produced so far…

    do I even have to say it?

  228. says

    Haha I don’t know think my rube-ness will be going away anytime soon. I like to call myself a skeptic, but I don’t think anyone here would agree with that.

    @Jek The Secret is what got me started in spirituality. After the initial excitement wore off, I was ashamed to say I bought it for a long time. It became so obvious to me that there wasn’t any supernatural forces answering prayers or intentions. It is simply the brain’s amazing ability to focus on a goal and notice opportunities that are likely to make that goal a reality.

    At the same time though, this concept had been taught to me over and over again in a practical manner and never stuck with me. Parents, teachers, and coaches told me that hard work, determination and focus would lead to success, but I didn’t buy in. It wasn’t until it was presented to me in the context of spirituality that I took it seriously. Call me stupid (you got me Glen), but thats what I needed.

  229. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Ing@261, actually I am kind of enjoying it tonight. Interesting discussion and all.

    Off to bed with me now though. Really, no kidding this time (silly giggle). Honest. Tomorrow is another day! (glances at clock) Well then, later today is another day! Or something, I think.

  230. Ichthyic says

    …I meant to actually add there, that not only has the Woo not produced anything of use, but by it’s very nature, it simply CAN’T.

    which is really why anyone rational should never expect it to.

    It’s pretty fucking obvious at this point that, taking one popular religion as an example, none of the 40 thousand or so sects of it have managed to ever produce/recall/summon the very deity they seem to be based on.

    Hell, even if that deity shows up at the White House and does *jazz hands*, it’s pretty obvious it won’t be as a result of anything related to the religions associated with it.

    religion, as explanation, as predictor, even as MAGIC TRICK, has failed.

    the onus is on ANY kind of Woo to provide concrete evidence of usefulness.

    The Secret?

    Deepak Chopra?

    uh, in a word:

    no.

  231. says

    The Secret is what got me started in spirituality. After the initial excitement wore off, I was ashamed to say I bought it for a long time. It became so obvious to me that there wasn’t any supernatural forces answering prayers or intentions. It is simply the brain’s amazing ability to focus on a goal and notice opportunities that are likely to make that goal a reality.

    At the same time though, this concept had been taught to me over and over again in a practical manner and never stuck with me. Parents, teachers, and coaches told me that hard work, determination and focus would lead to success, but I didn’t buy in. It wasn’t until it was presented to me in the context of spirituality that I took it seriously. Call me stupid (you got me Glen), but thats what I needed.

    ah the old “I know it’s false but I believe it anyway”. The apex of “Holy fuck if you were any dumber you’d be a plant”

  232. says

    Seriously, how big of a failure as a human are you if you need Deepak Chopra to tell you that “love is good?”

    Good point, but I don’t think it is that simple.

    Sometimes it is hard to see that love is the appropriate response. Sometimes people do things to you and every fiber in your physical body says “retaliate now, with as much force as you can”. Would you call someone a failure for resorting to hate or violence in a stressful situation? I wouldn’t.

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating. Is spirituality necessary to teach this lesson? Probably not. But it is the one teaching it at the moment. Sam Harris and others are trying to change that by making a morality a scientific venture. I applaud that.

  233. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Ichthyic@265, Better said than I could say it. Thanks.

    AAAGH, Pharyngula addiction! Now. Must. Turn Off. Computer.

  234. Ichthyic says

    I don’t know think

    ok…

    It wasn’t until it was presented to me in the context of spirituality that I took it seriously.

    but… that’s not a value to any concept of spirituality itself, that’s just saying you refuse to learn without some sort of psychological trigger.

    It’s like trying to say that since AA’s twelve step program includes letting go to a higher power as part of it, that is proof of the utility of religion!

    uh, wait, you *do* actually understand that it’s not, right?

  235. John Morales says

    David:

    Call me stupid

    Nah, that is unwarranted on the basis of your comments, so far.

    (I call you intellectually timid, and charitably assume you’re neither lying to yourself deliberately nor a dolt)

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating. Is spirituality necessary to teach this lesson?

    Try defining ‘spirituality’, in your own words.

    (Yeah, that’s a challenge)

  236. says

    Good point, but I don’t think it is that simple.

    Sometimes it is hard to see that love is the appropriate response. Sometimes people do things to you and every fiber in your physical body says “retaliate now, with as much force as you can”. Would you call someone a failure for resorting to hate or violence in a stressful situation? I wouldn’t.

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating. Is spirituality necessary to teach this lesson? Probably not. But it is the one teaching it at the moment. Sam Harris and others are trying to change that by making a morality a scientific venture. I applaud that.

    It’s nice that you tear down your own points for us.

    In case anyone thought you were anything but useless.

    It’s also hilarious how what you get from an asshole I get from Doctor Who

  237. Ichthyic says

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating.

    you have “spirituality” confused with “empathy”.

    Is spirituality necessary to teach this lesson?

    This is a great case of not even being wrong.

    Sam Harris and others are trying to change that by making a morality a scientific venture.

    but… if morality and ethics can be scientifically explained (and we’re doing a pretty bang up job of it so far), then spirituality is useful for…?

  238. Patrick Wm. Connally says

    What I got was that the reviewer was saying that conciousness can influence quantium particles. Isn’t this magic?

  239. John Morales says

    Patrick, no, it ain’t magic; it’s the misunderstanding of a metaphor.

    (I refer you to the very first comment on this thread)

  240. says

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating.

    That’s not spirituality. That would be compassion, empathy and awareness. Mirror neurons, ya know?

    Is spirituality necessary to teach this lesson?

    No. First of all, spirituality is very close to a useless word as well as a concept, as it can be stretched to define pretty much anything one likes. Phelps & Co. think they’re spiritual warriors. Christian fundamentalists consider themselves spiritual, as well as most religious people, no matter the flavour. In case you haven’t noticed, a whole lot of those spiritual people thrive on hatred.

    Sam Harris and others are trying to change that by making a morality a scientific venture.

    Neuroscience is teaching us a great deal. What’s wrong with that? Morality is in our heads. Being social animals, people decide what things are good, what are bad and vigorously debate all those gray areas. There isn’t a great spirit in the sky, hanging out in a quantum cloud who is the font of authority when it comes to morality. Look at all the people still fighting over who has the bigger, badder Sky Daddy.

  241. A. Noyd says

    David (#217)

    I don’t have a problem with anyone here or their ideas. I’m just one of those annoying people that refuses to say “Spirituality has all the answers” or “Science has all the answers”. I believe a collaboration of both provides the most complete world view.

    Ah. You’re a militant fence-straddler. The reason it’s not working for you here is that the rest of us are all quite aware that making the fallacy of the golden mean into an ideology is exactly the kind of extremism your sort pretends to eschew.

    I don’t think anyone here would say “science has all the answers,” either, so your refusal to do so is not what makes you annoying. The problem is, even a claim so seemingly mild as “spirituality has some of the answers” still requires support. We can’t even figure out what that means, though, and for good reason: you haven’t defined your terms. And while you might be able to cough up a definition for “reality,” I think you’re going to get stuck at “spirituality.”

    See, attempts to contextualize “spirituality” show that, rather than meaning anything in particular, it’s a symbol for a set of values and emotions, the character and extent of which varies from person to person (or even from moment to moment for a single individual). You probably feel you know what “spirituality” means, but it doesn’t follow that the term really does have any discrete, explicable meaning. The term “all-natural” also suffers from this problem. Take, for instance, the “all-natural” soy milk that I once saw at Whole Foods. Any attempt to make coherent sense of “all-natural” in that context is futile; it’s an appeal to the values of people who have an extremely fuzzy and emotionally-involved notion of what “natural” is. Just as you associate “spirituality” with good things, so do people associate “all-natural” with good things; likewise, they can use “all-natural” to invoke recognition of that sort of goodness in like-minded others. However, they can’t explain it because it makes no sense, at least not in any context they would agree is appropriate. And yet, they can go their whole lives without noticing that if no one asks them to define it–or if they brush off any such requests.

    This is where being self-critical about your thoughts comes in. It’s not that you should own up to your “negative” thoughts; it’s that you should have challenged yourself to come up with a coherent definition for “spirituality” long before anyone asked you for one. And then you should have tested that definition to see if it could, at least in theory, explain anything. We’ve done that already. We do the same thing to nearly every concept we try to argue with or argue for, because we’re curious and because if we don’t, or if we talk ourselves into a bad definition, then others will recognize that and call us on it.

    Note, however, that while we regulars tend to be in agreement on the vacuousness of “spirituality,” agreement isn’t the aim of what I’m getting at. (Glen Davidson and Ichthyic and Ing and some others are conveniently demonstrating how Pharyngula is not an echo-chamber populated by mindless, group-thinking zombies.) The point is to be able to argue (that is, to disagree) in a meaningful way: rather than defining your position in opposition to your opponent’s and telling her to “Google it” when she asks for explanations, you should define your position with respect to the contents of your beliefs and be able to provide explanations for what you’re talking about yourself. You should have already made the effort to identify subjects where you’re uncertain or ignorant and you should know where to find respectable citations to back up your opinions on topics you can guess will be controversial.

    And if you can’t be arsed to do any of that, then don’t ask us for careful consideration of anything you say. There are places where you can get ass-pats simply for being a contrarian. Here isn’t one of them.

  242. says

    Question: How are we measuring whether an actual mutation has occurred? We’re not just counting the quantity of bacteria in the product that have genes allowing them to metabolize lactose right? Because it seems like this wouldn’t measure an actual mutation rate because this value would be influenced by higher reproduction rates of 1st generation mutants who thrived due to their ability to metabolize lactose, and the number of “mutants” would increase significantly via reproduction rather than simply random(ish) mutation. I’ll apologize in advance for probably misunderstanding since I’ve never had a course in genetics. I’m just genuinely curious.
    Thanks in advance to those to take the time to reply,
    -Katie

  243. mandrellian says

    A Noyd @ 281:

    “Ah. You’re a militant fence-straddler.”

    As I’ve always thought, the great thing about being a fence-sitter is that you can look down your nose at both sides of an argument.

    Of course, the bad thing about sitting on the fence is that you’re not close enough to actually be able to see what each side says – although you are aware that both sides are making a lot of noise.

    Get off the fence – you might realise that one side isn’t actually saying what you think it is and that the other side is standing up to its neck in manure and trying to tell you it’s cake. And sell it to you.

  244. John Morales says

    katiethigpen:

    How are we measuring whether an actual mutation has occurred?

    Scientifically?

    Compare the genome of the offspring to the genome of its progenitor; any difference indicates a mutation.

  245. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    I’m so done with you, David, and if everyone else here had a lick of sense stronger than their SIWOTI, they’d be too. First you say:

    I like drinking skeptics more than sober skeptics :)

    1. I can drink you under the table.

    2. I can think you under the table even while drunk.

    3. I’m doing it right now.

    Then you go on to ignore every honest attempt to engage you in substantive conversation, and drop this kind of nonsense on us:

    Parents, teachers, and coaches told me that hard work, determination and focus would lead to success, but I didn’t buy in. It wasn’t until it was presented to me in the context of spirituality that I took it seriously.

    You haven’t taken anything seriously, especially if the best cliche you can think of is “buy in.” What does “in the context of spirituality” mean? You don’t know. You’re just spouting jargon. You have no idea what you mean (except the disingenuous ‘I’m nice and a deep thinker kind of guy’), you’re just mouthing code words.

    Sometimes it is hard to see that love is the appropriate response.

    Shut the fuck up. Really. Shut. Up. You have no idea what you mean to express aside from, “I’m barely 25 [really, I'd be shocked if you were even that old - how old are you? Yes, it's relevant.] and this sounds very Zen and profound to me. And stuff. Lots of very good, mellow stuff.”

    You have mastered the regurgitation of New Agey platitudes, but you haven’t the faintest idea how to formulate a coherent thought. . .anything that a conversational partner can grab on to or engage with.

    You’re way out of your depth here, David. If you don’t want to appear vapid for the rest of your life, grow up and learn how to think (putting actual thoughts—not Oprah-isms—into coherent prose can come later. We can help).

  246. John Morales says

    katiethigpen, in the generic sense, you can’t — All you can do is determine the degree of difference between genomes.

    I think that, in practice (and sometimes), there are ways and means.

    (The biologists here can explain how this could be done in specified instances, but I cannot (being ignorant on this matter))

  247. says

    It just seemed more likely to me that there are more “mutations” when they are placed with lactose for more of a “survival of the fittest” reason rather than the case where lactose molecules are directly chemically altering DNA to form a gene that will synthesize the enzyme. After thinking this I started wondering how they determined the amount single mutations separately from the progeny of the mutants. I suppose you could record it on some kind of microscope video and try to keep up with it but that sounds like a daunting task. It seems that if they would have an easier way if that is in fact what they are measuring and so I was curious about that.

  248. John Morales says

    PS katiethigpen, the above said, if one keeps track of generational changes (cf. Lenski), then the fact arises from the ongoing observation.

    (Gotta love science!)

  249. John Morales says

    katiethigpen:

    … rather than the case where lactose molecules are directly chemically altering DNA …

    >aaargh!<

    (you’ve confused correlation and causation (effect and cause))

  250. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    And no, David, I don’t think you’re stupid or unintelligent. I think you’re bright, as a matter of fact. But your thinking is immature, and you’re suffering under a number of delusions. If you don’t get it here, I hope to goodness some college professor smacks the dumb out of you, because you can do better. Lots of us went through the same thing and we’re (hopefully) better for it.

    I realize that sounds smug and harsh, but so be it. It’s true.

  251. John Morales says

    To drive the point home, from the pfft, for the lazy:

    Around generation 33,127, the experimenters noticed a dramatically expanded population-size in one of the samples; they found that there were clones in this population that could grow on the citrate included in the growth medium to permit iron acquisition. Examination of samples of the population frozen at earlier time points led to the discovery that a citrate-using variant had evolved in the population at some point between generations 31,000 and 31,500. They used a number of genetic markers unique to this population to exclude the possibility that the citrate-using E. coli were contaminants. They also found that the ability to use citrate could spontaneously re-evolve in populations of genetically pure clones isolated from earlier time points in the population’s history. Such re-evolution of citrate utilization was never observed in clones isolated from before generation 20,000.

  252. A. Noyd says

    John Morales (#295)

    (you’ve confused correlation and causation (effect and cause))

    I think katiethigpen is just misremembered or misinterpreted the standard freshman biology example used to explain gene regulation, actually. Lactose does bind to the repressor that is blocking transcription of the Lac operon, causing it to be released so enzyme production can progress. She (?) has causation going the right way, but the specifics are wrong. Inducing a conformation change in a repressor is no more changing the DNA than taking the cap off a thumb drive is rewriting the data on it.

  253. John Morales says

    Hm, A. Noyd, I was sloppy in what I wrote, but (I can clarify if required) I think essentially correct.

    I cannot see any merit to the claim that “lactose molecules are directly chemically altering DNA to form a gene that will synthesize the enzyme.”

    (To me, it looks like a mutation was conserved by natural selection)

  254. Matt Penfold says

    I note David still has not provided details of papers written by Chopra that have been published in scientific literature.

    It seems David is happy to make claims but so happy to have to support those claims.

    Not honest David.

  255. says

    That’s rich coming from a quantum quack who is demonstrably deluded about medicine, biology, evolution, physics, chemistry, and the entirety of science, yet manages to pretend to be an authority every day.

    I think the whole shtick of appearing as an authority is to be able show why other supposed authorities are not only wrong, but completely misguided. You can’t really sell the illusion of authority if you’re going to be humble and charitable in interpretations.

  256. Alex, Tyrant of Skepsis says

    Matt,

    he can’t because there is a conspiracy of the scientific establishment to keep those ideas from being published, despite, or rather, because of their truth. I think if you believe Chopra’s stuff, this conclusion is kind of automatic. Thus, you asking for peer reviewed literature on this, are barking up the wrong tree.

  257. A. Noyd says

    John Morales (#304)

    Hm, A. Noyd, I was sloppy in what I wrote, but (I can clarify if required) I think essentially correct.

    I cannot see any merit to the claim that “lactose molecules are directly chemically altering DNA to form a gene that will synthesize the enzyme.”

    No no, you’re correct that the lactose molecules are not creating a mutation, much less creating entire genes that code for enzymes for digesting it. I’m just quibbling over the nature of the mistake katiethigpen is making. I think she (?) is taking a textbook example of gene regulation and confusing it with mutation for some reason. (Probably is misremembering the example from a bio class taken a few years ago.) In E. coli, lactose does have a causative role in the expression of the gene for the enzyme that cleaves it. But that involves conformational changes to proteins that bind to DNA rather than changes to DNA itself. So katiethigpen is wrong, but not in such a hideously weird way as it might first appear.

  258. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    David the bafflegabbler

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating.

    You still haven’t defined spirituality. Quit pretending everybody knows what you mean with bafflegaffle, which is what spirituality means. A null concept.

    It just seemed more likely to me that there are more “mutations” when they are placed with lactose for more of a “survival of the fittest” reason rather than the case where lactose molecules are directly chemically altering DNA to form a gene that will synthesize the enzyme.

    Babies have the ability to manufacture lactase world wide. In most humans, the lactase gene gets turned off as they mature. The mutation is in the gene that shuts off the ability of the gene, which doesn’t, so lactase is continually produce as person matures. Nothing fancy, nor is a new protein required.

  259. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    Ing: Od Wet Rust@269, That Whooshing sound must have been the joke sailing over my head, Sorry, I completely missed it (hangs head in shame). On the other hand I now have to go to work. woo hoo!

  260. John Morales says

    A. Noyd,

    I’m just quibbling over the nature of the mistake katiethigpen is making.

    Based on my extant knowledge-base, I bow to your expertise.

    (Thanks!)

  261. says

    mandrellian #249

    …since Chopra’s acolytes seem to just swallow it as a baby rabbit swallows its mother’s caecotroph, …

    Wait a minute…so this means…when Bigwig says “Siliflay hraka” to Woundwort, he’s really saying, “You look thin, are you getting enough to eat? Here, try some of this…”?

    Bigwig is my mom.

  262. Ing says

    Spirituality teaches us to love even when we feel like hating.

    Frankly this isn’t even true

    a) Satanists are “spiritual” but actually believe that you should hate when you feel like hating because other wise is lying to yourself

    b) Yes it’s great that Spirituality teaches you to love when you feel like hating….but no one brings up the horror of when it tells you to love when you SHOULD hate or to hate when you should love.

    For example, how wonderful is it to have the law of attraction and consciousness creating universe ideas given to a battered wife? What a marvelous way you’ve found to enable abuse! “IF i just love him a liiiiiiiiiiiiitle more he won’t hurt me anymore!”

    Good job, Spiritualists…heckavajob. Spirituality boils down to wanting easy answers.

  263. Erulóra Maikalambe says

    I’m just one of those annoying people that refuses to say “Spirituality has all the answers” or “Science has all the answers”.

    None of us here think science has all of the answers. But it does have a lot of answers, and it shows its work. Spirituality has nothing but guesses, refuses to show its work, and shuns attempts to verify which guesses are correct and which are bullshit.

  264. says

    Penrose doesn’t think that consciousness is a necessary part of quantum mechanics. Other way around. He thinks that quantum mechanics has to do with how consciousness and qualia arise. That’s a very different claim. Still probably wrong but it goes in the exact opposite direction that Deepak Chopra wants.

  265. says

    Ahh.. Ok I’m not good at explaining myself in writing, sorry for the confusion. Actually the issue is probably my reading comprehension. I do not at all think that the lactose molecules are directly changing the DNA. I read something somewhere in the article or the post (probably too quickly) where it sounded like someone said that. I was trying to politely say that DOUBT that’s what’s happening, that it seems more like (as John described) a mutation preserved by natural selection. I just posed it as a question instead of a disagreement and offered another possible solution. @John, I’m definitely not mixing correlation with causation, despite my lack of scientific expertise I do know better than that ( 99% of people with colon cancer use toilet paper on a regular basis :P)@ A.Noyd, thanks for elaborating. I just want to make sure I understand, the genes for the lactose metabolizing enzymes in the bacteria already exist but are being repressed? If so I wonder what evolutionary function it serves to inhibit that repression as a default? To save energy? To avoid some byproduct? This time I’m asking the questions with no hidden opinion of my own. I just think this stuff is fascinating.

  266. says

    @A.Noyd: yes that’s exactly what I thought they were implying that the “lactose molecule is inducing a conformational change” (an idea that, to me sounded a little goofy, and less likely than a preserved mutation) so thanks for understanding what I meant by “directly, chemically.” Good job. (no sarcasm, I suck at finding the words I need to explain my thoughts) But yeah, I’m going to try to find where I thought I read that before I embarrass myself. (and sorry for posting 3 times in a row.)

  267. says

    Ok, now I’m confused. What are they implying when referring to “chemical” influence on “hot spots” that are more susceptible to mutation? Blocking a repressor isn’t a mutation so I don’t think that’s what they are referring to in the article. Ugh. Nevermind.

  268. Alain says

    Deepack Chopra is a Quack!
    Roger Penrose is respectable but leads the evidence with quantum (philosophical) theories.
    Stuart Hameroff is left, and I haven’t seen a good refutation for the 20 hypotheses, he proposes.
    PZ Meyers critique misses the point, they propose the quantum effects in the microtubules. Orch-OR wikipedia article has more links. As well as this book: http://www.amazon.com/Consciousness-Universe-Quantum-Physics-Evolution/dp/0982955200

    The scientific? papers are:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=hameroff%20S

    “Memory bytes” – molecular match for CaMKII phosphorylation encoding of microtubule lattices.
    Hameroff SR, Craddock TJ, Tuszynski JA.
    J Integr Neurosci. 2010 Sep;9(3):253-67.
    PMID: 21064217

    The “conscious pilot”-dendritic synchrony moves through the brain to mediate consciousness.
    Hameroff S.
    J Biol Phys. 2010 Jan;36(1):71-93. Epub .
    PMID: 19669425

    Orch-OR is philosophy, but the articles above need to be addressed.
    I personally don’t think PMID: 19669425 is written with good scholorship in mind.

    Our gastro intestinal tract isn’t conscious therefore I reject the theory. And split brain (jeckyll/hyde atheist/theist syndrome) puts doubt on single or network of microtubule consciousness.

  269. Alain says

    @Ing
    The scientific papers that need to be addressed are located here:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=hameroff%20S

    “Memory bytes” – molecular match for CaMKII phosphorylation encoding of microtubule lattices.
    Hameroff SR, Craddock TJ, Tuszynski JA.
    J Integr Neurosci. 2010 Sep;9(3):253-67.
    PMID: 21064217


    The “conscious pilot”-dendritic synchrony moves through the brain to mediate consciousness.
    Hameroff S.
    J Biol Phys. 2010 Jan;36(1):71-93. Epub .
    PMID: 19669425

  270. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Alain, I see no quantum stuff in the abstracts. Just normal gated transmission of signals.

  271. Alain says


    The brain is both neurocomputer and quantum computer.
    Hameroff SR.
    Cogn Sci. 2007 Nov 12;31(6):1035-45. doi: 10.1080/03640210701704004.
    PMID: 21635328

  272. Alain says

    @Nerd of Redhead
    The first appears to talk about normal biology.
    The second is fully available.
    I added a third from the link above.

  273. Daniel Schealler says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay #288

    You have no idea what you mean to express aside from, “I’m barely 25 [really, I'd be shocked if you were even that old - how old are you? Yes, it's relevant.] and this sounds very Zen and profound to me. And stuff. Lots of very good, mellow stuff.”

    Hey!

    I’m 26 and not entirely happy about that particular association.

    >.<

    Although to be fair, I did have a Zen phase a while back. Final conclusions:

    1) Meditation: Good
    2) Neuroscience of meditation: Interesting
    3) Metaphysical Trappings Surrounding Meditation: Bad/false
    4) Best Concept in Zen: Makyo

    If I had better discipline I'd still be meditating daily. It's good practice.

  274. Ichthyic says

    If I had better discipline I’d still be meditating daily. It’s good practice.

    I got convinced that combining that with exercise is even better.

    they call it “Yoga” I think.

    as for discipline…

    I think mine’s the same as yours on that front.

    I tend to end up preferring to just do laps in the pool.

    same effect.

  275. Daniel Schealler says

    Yoga and Zazen are both good, but still very different. At least, they come across as very different in my limited experiences of each.

    I wouldn’t give up Zazen in favor of Yoga. Ideally I’d do both. In practice I do neither.

    So very lazy.

  276. Ichthyic says

    I’m not sure I would define “causation and correlation” as “cause and effect” anyway.

    and you shouldn’t.

    they literally are not equatable. Not sure what John meant there though, since I didn’t follow the whole exchange.

  277. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Hey!

    I’m 26 and not entirely happy about that particular association.

    And?

    Not all 25 year olds are the same, not all young people are naive in the same ways and to the same degrees, obviously. You’re a good example. It is nevertheless true that certain qualities of thought are more common among the young, or at certain stages of life. Sorry Daniel, it just is that way. If it doesn’t describe you, then know you weren’t the intended target.

  278. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Still not seeing quantum effects other than possibly tunneling, which is known to occur. That is why nobody really thinks much of “quantum consciousness”.

  279. Ichthyic says

    “chemical” influence on “hot spots” that are more susceptible to mutation?

    epigenetic effects, most likely.

    yeah, it’s quite complicated, and very difficult to analyze a paper without all the needed background knowledge. Especially in an open-ended forum comments section!

    your interest seems keen though.

    have you thought about auditing a course on the subject at your local uni maybe?

    It depends on the uni, and how crowded things get, but most professors usually have no problems with a few people sitting in on their classes.

    I would look first for a course in molecular genetics, and then a course in evolutionary biology.

    I also would recommend sitting in on student reading sessions, but those seem to be rare these days, for some reason.

    seems like there should be a LOT more of those kinds of things online than there actually are.

  280. Ichthyic says

    say, posting that link above reminds me…

    Did everyone know it’s mental health awareness week this week?

    http://www.google.co.nz/#q=mental+health+awareness+week&hl=en&prmd=imvnsu&source=univ&tbm=nws&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=3w-WTr-kAu7jmAWrvc3XBg&sqi=2&ved=0CEAQqAI&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=6d83fc6590dcadec&biw=1220&bih=768

    people tend to think of mental health as somehow less important than looking after the rest of their bodies.

    it isn’t, and it’s no harder to do.

    now if we could just get rid of the idiotic stigmas people have about mental health issues.

    of course, I suppose that’s the reason for such things as having a mental health awareness week.

  281. Daniel Schealler says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay #333

    Sorry, I keep forgetting that not everyone knows me on these message threads.

    My previous comment was intended to come across as a tongue-in-cheek… But of course I neglected to add any indicators of the fact.

    Mea culpa.

    Ichthyic

    I’ve come across a list like that before when I underwent about ten sessions of CBT as a treatment for extreme social anxiety (which totally worked, by the way).

    So could my I’m so lazy self image come from a misapplied should?

    Hmm… Now you mention it? Maybe.

    I don’t think so… But then again I wouldn’t, would I?

    I’ll give that one some thought.

  282. Ichthyic says

    I wonder what evolutionary function it serves to inhibit that repression as a default? To save energy? To avoid some byproduct? This time I’m asking the questions with no hidden opinion of my own. I just think this stuff is fascinating.

    it is indeed.

    In fact, it’s one of the hottest areas in evolutionary biology and molecular genetics.

    I’m not sure how much you will get out of single articles, but try this one on for size:

    http://biology.ucsd.edu/labs/rifkin/papers/Giladetal2006TIG.pdf

  283. Ichthyic says

    I don’t think so… But then again I wouldn’t, would I?

    LOL

    they don’t call them “Cognitive Distortions” for nothing.

    :)

  284. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Ichthyic responds to katiethigpen:

    I’m not sure I would define “causation and correlation” as “cause and effect” anyway.

    and you shouldn’t.

    they literally are not equatable. Not sure what John meant there though, since I didn’t follow the whole exchange.

    I was sloppy (and drunk) and so I misread katiethigpen’s comment.

    <blush>

    My response referred to that which I quoted: “rather than the case where lactose molecules are directly chemically altering DNA”

    So, to clarify: Causation implies correlation, but the converse is not true; hence, when causation occurs, its effect is correlatable to the cause.

    (In that instance, the cause is the change in DNA, the effect is the metabolisation of lactose, and the converse is not true)

  285. says

    Well it was around 4am (on the U.S east coast anyway), we were all likely tired. (Note to self: don’t ask questions on public forums at 4am because you will most likely ask poor questions and/or get poor answers.)

  286. Daniel Schealler says

    Susannah #264

    Thanks very much – although now I’m wishing I’d done a better job of explaining things. ^_^

    If you do want something to bring QM down to earth, definitely give the Feynman materials I referenced a try. They are what sealed the deal for me.

  287. says

    Ichthyic,

    Thanks for the article, it’s interesting so far.
    FYI: I meant to say “inhibit expression” or “repress” rather than “inhibit repression”

  288. A. Noyd says

    katiethigpen (#317)

    I just want to make sure I understand, the genes for the lactose metabolizing enzymes in the bacteria already exist but are being repressed? If so I wonder what evolutionary function it serves to inhibit that repression as a default? To save energy?

    This is specific to E. coli, but yes, the Lac operon (the set of genes involved in metabolizing lactose) already exists and is repressed in the absence of lactose. It’s actually a bit more complicated than that because expression also depends on other factors like glucose concentrations. If you have high glucose and high lactose concentrations, you still won’t see expression of the Lac operon. This makes sense because, energy-wise, glucose is a better fuel. So while E. coli can metabolize lactose, there’s always a cost to making enzymes, thus it’s beneficial to be able to switch production of those enzymes on or off in response to need.

    Keep in mind that the conformational change in question is to a protein* that has an affinity for a particular sequence of DNA. The sequence is located in a spot that physically blocks transcription. When lactose binds to this protein, the protein changes its shape in a way that reduces that affinity so much it separates from the DNA and no longer impedes transcription. If that’s not clear, try my terrible analogy: Imagine that you have a row of suction cups arranged along a wire attached to a weight (all of which is analogous to the protein). If you leave the wire straight, you can successfully stick the whole thing to a wall (wall = DNA), but if you bend the wire (add lactose) so only one sucker can stick at a time, the weight will pull the whole thing off.

    Now, I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know what bit of The Magic of Reality that Deepak is responding to when he says bacteria evolve the ability to metabolize lactose “in petri dishes tens of thousands of times faster than would be predicted if mutations simply occurred randomly.” It’s possible that he’s confusing mutation rates with the rates at which mutations are retained and spread within a population. Mutation rates can stay constant, but if there’s some selective force favoring a particular adaptation in the lab, it will spread (and thus be noticed) much more quickly than otherwise. Without selection, the mutation will still show up just as frequently but won’t tend to be kept around or spread, especially given how bacteria aren’t very tolerant of non-beneficial genes bloating their chromosomes. Anyway, it would be like declaring that the mutation rate in dogs is higher than in wolves because dogs exhibit a far greater range of morphological variation.

    Or maybe the Derpster is conflating experiments like Lenski’s with those of researchers who expose an organism to either radiation or chemical mutagens with the express purpose of causing a huge number of mutations in the hopes of getting something interesting or useful.

    Or maybe he’s drawing on the fact that certain mutations will happen more often to DNA of a particular character. For instance, when UV radiation hits a thymine, that base will sometimes let go of the adenine it’s paired with and bond to an adjacent thymine, leading to a mutation during replication if it isn’t fixed. While that can happen to any pair of side-by-side thymines, it would logically happen more frequently in genes with higher numbers of such pairs, like ones that code for proteins with large numbers of the amino acids phenylalanine and leucine.

    Or maybe he’s conflating the basic definition of a mutation (any change in the sequence of DNA) with that of a non-silent mutation (a change to DNA that affects gene expression). For instance, point mutations have a greater chance of altering proteins with a high proportion of tyrosine, histidine, glutamine, asparagine, lysine, aspartate, glutamate, cysteine and tryptophan simply because there are fewer redundant codons coding for those particular amino acids. And so on. There’s literally whole libraries worth of material that Deepak could be misinterpreting. It’s far more productive to study biology and physics and chemistry for their own sake than spend time tracing where a charlatan went wrong.

    (#321)

    What are they implying when referring to “chemical” influence on “hot spots” that are more susceptible to mutation?

    The “hotspots” in question are regions of a chromosome where the cutting and re-gluing that goes on during crossing over (the shuffling of genes between maternal and paternal chromosomes prior to the creation of eggs or sperm) is more likely to occur. PZ’s response is that, rather than being the signature of some consciousness, this is a phenomenon plain old chemistry can explain. You might take a peek at this explanatory article. It’s very jargon-heavy, but it’s easy to get the gist of just how mundane these hotspots are.

    …….
    *Note that, while a repressor is a protein that binds to DNA, a promoter is a region of DNA where proteins bind. It’s almost like biologists pick terms on the basis of how confusing they’ll be to students and laypeople.

  289. Henry says

    A plug: Richard Dawkins, banned in Michigan, will be talking to Michael Slate on the Michael Slate Show, Friday 10/14 at 10 AM Pacific Time, an hour-long conversation from the Detroit Zoo. KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, http://www.kpfk.org to listen live anywhere in the world.

  290. says

    @A.Noyd,

    “The “hotspots” in question are regions of a chromosome where the cutting and re-gluing that goes on during crossing over (the shuffling of genes between maternal and paternal chromosomes prior to the creation of eggs or sperm) is more likely to occur. PZ’s response is that, rather than being the signature of some consciousness, this is a phenomenon plain old chemistry can explain. You might take a peek at this explanatory article. It’s very jargon-heavy, but it’s easy to get the gist of just how mundane these hotspots are.”

    That’s what I was interested in clarifying. Thanks.
    P.S. Are you on (or have you finished) a medical track?

  291. says

    And really what I’m asking is “Is PZ implying the explanation for increase in mutation when lactose is present because of it’s chemical influence on a mutation prone segment of DNA?” I assumed that I was understanding wrong because to me a more likely explanation of an increase in lactose metabolizing bacteria in the presence of lactose seemed to be that of natural selection rather than mutation which is why I was asking if they could tell whether something was a primary mutant or the offspring of a mutant.

    Regulation of transcription is really interesting to me but I don’t think that either PZ or Deepak were referring to that.

  292. A. Noyd says

    Sorry, you’re asking about this, right? “The fact that bacteria produced viable mutations more rapidly than predicted is explained by the observation of hypermutability in bacteria under stress.” I should have reread the entire OP rather than going from memory. My bad. It looks like Deepak was talking about a particular set of experiments I’m not familiar with. (To answer your other question, I’m an undergrad majoring in cell bio with no plans for med school.)

    Nature has equipped organisms with several mechanisms for kicking mutation into overdrive in response to certain stresses. One of those mechanisms is what makes the vertebrate adaptive immune system adaptive. There are special cells that go on a mutation bonanza so we can make antibodies specific to never-before-encountered pathogens. Essentially, rather than re-engineering the DNA to make just what is needed to fight off a bug (which would be “directed mutagenesis”), our immune system induces random mutations in the antigen-producing genes till it happens across the antigen that works. Then it both mass-produces that antigen and saves its work so it doesn’t have to repeat the process twice for the same pathogen. (Which is the principle behind vaccination.) It looks like the other hyper-mutation mechanisms are similarly random.

    Carins’ experiment involved taking E. coli with a frameshift mutation that inactivated their Lac operon and growing them on a medium where lactose was their only food source to see if they would mutate in a way that reactivated lactose metabolism. There are several forms of mutation that could accomplish reactivation and while it looks like the mutation rate was increased in response to stress, that stress was starvation and the resulting mutations weren’t specific to the Lac operon. So, yes to increased rate, but no to direction. (I’ll admit I haven’t looked into this deeply so I might have missed something, but it’s a safe bet PZ knows more about it and he obviously doesn’t think there was any sort of directed mutation.) However, even if it had been directed, the genes were still already there and just needed to be pulled back into a readable alignment.

  293. Prasad says

    I read the review by Chopra on Dawkins’ book. What a quack he is, to be expected. Nice job by PZ.
    Hey I am ready to shout down Deepak. he won’t be making this kind of money practicing his profession. Huffington post and other media give him false legitimacy.
    Can we post this PZ Meyer’s as reply to Deepak’s review in H post and Amazon?