Poor Deepak Chopra is crying again at the nastiness of the blogosphere’s reaction to his idiocy.
I’m pausing at the end of a long series of posts on the mind outside the brain to reflect on science, bad manners and objectivity. Bad manners are the norm in the blogosphere, and no one who dips into that world should bring along a thin skin. Salt air stings but it’s refreshing at the same time. There’s a raffish lack of respectability to blogs, however, that drive away good people and good minds. Insulting boors abound here, and it’s easy enough to go elsewhere and enjoy a civilized debate.
We should make Chopra feel rejected and unloved; we should hope to drive him away … because he is not good people and he does not have a good mind. He is a con artist, a fraud, a huckster. He’s a credulous kook who endorses astrology, doesn’t even understand science, peddles worthless magical nutritional “supplements”, and makes a living lying to people. What he means by “civilized debate” is engaging with sycophants who will not call him on his phoniness. I am pleased to hear that at least some people have made this charlatan uncomfortable on the web.
This does reveal a real problem by comparison, though: he can always return to the Big Media where the big bucks are and discover a whole mob of friends who will not question him. There is almost nothing on television or in the newspapers where journalists or ‘media personalities’ exercise critical thinking and actually make quacks like Chopra squirm a bit on air — there’s nothing but a constant buzz of unquestioning acceptance of any claim, no matter how absurd. In a just world, mindless media shills like Oprah Winfrey would be struggling to make ends meet selling Amway, and the demanding skeptics like James Randi would have the media empire and the big money rolling in.
At least some elements in the blogging world still maintain a true and worthwhile attitude of skepticism — that “raffish lack of respectability” Chopra complains about, by which he means “lack of respect” for his brand of charlatanry. Although it is troubling that an uncritical site for suck-ups like the Huffington Post can get so much traffic.