Stop pooping! You’re killing sentient beings!


In a recent quack conference, Deepak Chopra did his usual thing: taking new science that he understands poorly and stuffing it full of magic bogosity.

According to Chopra, that pesky inflamed microbiome is sentient. The genome, microbiome and epigenome, which the author collectively calls the “super gene,” are referenced throughout the interview. His book, Super Genes: The Key to Health and Well-Being, was published last year.

Oh, no! Every time I use the bathroom, I am slaughtering billions of sentient beings? I’m going to have to stop pooping.

…frequent criticism doesn’t seem to deter Chopra from spouting microbiome misinformation. While discussing yoga during his interview with Chopra, Mark Hyman gushed, I love yoga, and I do it, and I always feel transformed, and it’s amazing that not only your genes are listening to your thoughts, but your microbiome, the bacteria are listening to your thoughts. Yoga can be a great form of exercise, but this is a bit of a stretch.

But Chopra agreed with Hyman: Yeah, the bacterial genes are listening to your thoughts.

It’s bad enough that we have a satanic cat that prowls around our bedroom listening to our private conversations, but now you’re telling me that E. coli is reading my mind? I changed my mind. Dumping those devious little spies into the toilet sounds like its only fair.

At the quack conference, there was apparently a lot of talk about “leaky guts”, the new invisible ailment that the con artists are selling pills to prevent. Leaky guts are the new cause of autism, cancer, mental illness, impotence, and any affliction you can think of that needs a cure.

And you know they have a cure. It’s all right here in a little pill. The answer is…molecular hydrogen!

Don’t worry, though. It’s not the kind of hydrogen gas that explodes in zeppelins. It’s a very tiny form of hydrogen that gets injected into your cells and turns the bad free radicals (but not the good ones! No! It can tell!) into water, so it helps with hydration, too. It’s been around for millions of years, so it must be safe. If you know anything about chemistry, you’ll listen to that talk and think, “wait, I can see where that weird idea came from, but it’s wrong”, and you’ll cringe a lot.

The cure is a little pill that you drop into water, and it fizzes, releasing hydrogen gas. The pill just contains hydrogen and magnesium…

Hey. Is she selling tablets of magnesium hydride? Seriously? For ingestion?

It would be bubbling out H2, plain old hydrogen gas or molecular hydrogen, and it is highly flammable. Zen Honeycutt ought to try it: after she’s put the pill in her bottle of water, wait a little bit, and then light a match. Fwoooosh! Just like the Hindenburg!

The websites selling this stuff claim it contains “pure magnesium” plus a few other compounds. This would imply that the reaction is combining Mg and H2O to produce magnesium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Nope, I wouldn’t eat that, either. I still want to see her light up the mouth of that bottle.

Although…if I really wanted to get those sneaky bacteria in my gut, I could just pop a couple of those pills directly, and then light a fart.


  1. moarscienceplz says

    Oh, the humanity!

    I’d be willing to bet you can buy magnesium turnings much cheaper than those pills, although swallowing razor-sharp shards of metal might not be the most pleasant experience. OTOH, should you swallow your pill while it is still fizzing and risk blowing up like the blueberry girl on Willy Wonka, or should you wait for the fizzing to stop, thus losing all that precious hydrogen to the atmospere?
    Keeping healthy is so difficult these days.

  2. Richard Smith says

    Couldn’t you achieve a similar (probably not as voluminous, but…) release of H2 by dropping a 9 volt battery into your water? With the added bonus of some O2, like you were drinking water at an oxygen bar!

    As to Chopra’s response to mind-reading bacterial genes, I confess I’d say, “Yeah, the bacterial genes are listening to your thoughts,” too. Just in a quiet, placating voice as I backed slowly away.

  3. diatryma says

    OOOk… I pretty much suck at chemistry, sorry, but HOW does hydrogen turn anything (=any old free radical) “into water” that isn’t an oxygen molecule it can bond with?? I had to stop at three minutes in, else my head will start hurting.

  4. mck9 says

    It was my understanding that the intestinal flora typically produce a fair amount of molecular hydrogen already, in addition to methane.

    Indeed, proctological surgeons have to carefully flush the bowel’s gaseous contents with an inert gas like nitrogen before doing electrocautery within the bowel. Otherwise the procedure may result in leaky guts a la Hindenburg.

  5. Sastra says

    The idea that at some level everything is alive and/or conscious is a very popular idea in Spiritual circles. Its analogous to God’s omnipresence. The body, the cell, the molecules, the atoms — trees, sun, chair, and table — all of them are sentient beings just full of thoughts and feelings. Sentience is simply a form of “energy” (or vice versa.)

    The woo-sters world reminds me of what I once noticed when my children were babies: their clothing, their bedding, their pictures, their walls, their toys, their utensils, their plates, their entire environment was all smiling. There seemed to be nothing so mundane that someone couldn’t slap a happy face or pretty picture on it if an infant might encounter it. It’s as if Chopra and his ilk never left this.

  6. says

    Well, you see, magnesium is an essential nutrient — it’s in all of those expensive vitamin pills — so adding a large quantity of magnesium shavings must be a good way to get more magnesium into your system, right?


    This leaves aside, of course, that “molecular hydrogen” won’t break down at human-cell temperature and energies to bond with free radicals nearly as readily as will many other compounds. What’s neaded are more enzymes to minimize the energy constraints and waste heat… wait a minute, laundry detergent has enzymes in it now (look at the box)…

  7. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    I’m going to have to stop pooping.

    But then you’ll end up like Chopra.

  8. coragyps says

    Their magnesium is a mixture – but not really an alloy – with iron. I’ve seen it used in natural gas wells to provide some heat and agitation at the bottom and get poor wells flowing again.

    Potassium metal is a far more exciting hydrogen source. Way prettier flames.

  9. prae says

    Sentient or sapient? I favor the definition where “sentient” barely means “able to respond to external stimuli” and “sapient” is stuff like talking, using tools, building weapons of mass destruction, etc

  10. says

    The tragic aspect of this is that the billions of suffering, feeling, thinking animals humans kill every year are erased by these woo-peddlers who insist that everything from microbes to the universe feels and thinks and wills (and even has psychic powers). With this nonsense, they subvert real sympathy and empathy based on comparable experiences.

    (Not that I think we should pay no attention to the “needs” of, for example, bacteria. I’ve often thought that different approaches to infection could involve luring them out of bodies by providing a hospitable exterior environment… I have to assume this has been tried/done already…)