Bronze-level articleDeepak Chopra

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Chopra, deeply gazing into your wallet.
Dolphins and money

New Age

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As Deepak Chopra taught us, quantum physics means anything can happen at any time for no reason!
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth[1]

Dr. Deepak K. Chopra (born 1947) is the deepest most visible public proponent of mind-body woo, quantum woo, and alternative medicine (specifically Ayurvedic medicine). He is a writer of New Age self-help spiritual books that say things like "look around you[note 1] at the beauty of the Earth" and "look into the beauty of yourself". Chopra sells Ayurvedic medicine, which is traditional Indian medicine filtered through the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and mixed with "physics" in order to treat the dangerously low levels of money in Chopra's wallet.[citation NOT needed]


[edit] Life and career

The book that launched Chopra's alternative career. How's that ageless body going for you, doc?

Chopra was born to Krishan Lal Chopra (1919–2001) and Pushpa Chopra in New Delhi, India on October 22 1947.[2][3] Chopra's father was a prominent cardiologist, head of the department of medicine and cardiology at New Delhi's Mool Chand Khairati Ram Hospital for over 25 years.[4] Chopra gained his MD in 1968 in India,[2] after which he gained interest in endocrinology[wp] and neuroendocrinology[wp].[5]

Chopra married in India in 1970; the same year, he emigrated with his wife to the United States. Chopra arrived, penniless, in the United States to take up a clinical internship in New Jersey, where doctors from overseas were being recruited to replace those serving in Vietnam.[6][7] Between 1971 and 1977 he completed residencies in internal medicine at various Massachusetts hospitals[8] and gained his board certification in internal medicine with a specialization in endocrinology in 1973.[2][9][10] Afterwards, Chopra taught at the medical schools of Tufts University, Boston University and Harvard University; later, he became Chief of Staff at Boston Regional Medical Center.[11] Life was good (and mainstream) in the world of Chopra. From there, it's all downhill.

Then, in 1981, while visiting New Delhi, Chopra met the physician Brihaspati Dev Triguna, head of the Indian Council for Ayurvedic Medicine, who advised Chopra to begin investigating Ayurvedic practices.[12] Chopra was "drinking black coffee by the hour and smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day"[13] and took up "transcendental meditation" to stop.[14] Chopra may have committed the pragmatic fallacy; because transcendental meditation (TM) and Ayurvedic medicine helped him feel good, Chopra decided that they were good.

Chopra's involvement with TM led to a 1984 meeting with the leader of the TM movement, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who asked him to establish an Ayurvedic health center.[15] Chopra left his position at the NEMH and became the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (AAAM), one of the founders of Maharishi Ayur-Veda Products International, and medical director of the Maharishi Ayur-Veda Health Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts.[16] Doing so, Chopra became one of the TM movement's spokespersons -- in 1989, the Maharishi awarded him the title "Dhanvantari[note 2] of Heaven and Earth".[17][18] That year Chopra's Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine (1989) was published, followed by Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide (1990).[19]

Chopra finally hit it big in 1993 by publishing the book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old which got him interviewed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and coverage in "People" magazine.[2] From then, Chopra's life was quantum woo and money.

[edit] Publicity

Colbert: Are you a prophet?
Chopra: If you spell it p-r-o-f-i-t.
—Chopra on the Colbert Report[20][21]

As of 2014, Chopra has written 75 books, 21 of them New York Times bestsellers, which have been translated into 35 languages.[22] Chopra has a whopping 57 self-help books and countless publications in medical-ish journals.[23] He is a favored contributor at The Huffington Post.[24] From 1988 to 2007, Chopra sold 30 million books.[21] In 2015, Chopra had 2.5 million Twitter followers.[25]

Chopra gives 40 speeches per year[21] at the quantum-shattering price of $25,000 each, where he preaches against excessive materialism.[23] Through his lectures and various businesses, Chopra makes at least $2 million per year[21] and has an estimated net worth of $20 million.[2] His audiences are apparently not troubled by his living in a $2.5 million house in La Jolla, California.[23] While Chopra was president of the AAAM, the center charged between $2,850 and $3,950 a week for Ayurvedic cleansing rituals such as massages, enemas and oil baths, and TM lessons cost an additional $1,000.[16]

Chopra states that he doesn't want his medical title on his books, but publishers keep it there regardless just to better pull in new victims book purchases; either way, it works.[26]

His supporters include:

[edit] Badly trolling atheists

In 2015, Chopra tried to troll Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Shermer and Alejandro Surianu with a series of weird tweets on religion, including:[28]

  • ". I don't have enough faith to be an atheist"
  • ". I don't have enough faith in molecules to be the source of intelligence"

Needless to say, Chopra got smacked down by Krauss:

  • "funny, or rather silly, since you also think atoms have consciousness

Butthurt, Chopra mocked what he considered to be the atheistic worldview:

  • "Nothing =Infinite Being = Source = Pure Potential = Omniscience = God"

Later, Krauss tweeted:

  • "Two theologians at Irish pluralism conference and Cardinal Murphy O'Connor all said: "atheists are not fully human". But balstocysts are?"

Chopra decided to agree with the nonhumanity of atheists:

  • "If you are not totally surprised & bewildered by your existence & humbled into reverence & gratitude,your humanity is incomplete"

It's mildly concerning that a sage who preaches inner peace has nothing better to do than get angry on Twitter.

[edit] Million dollar challenge

Chopra decided to try duplicating the Amazing Randi's million dollar challenge, demanding entrants prove that consciousness emerges from physical attributes of the brain instead of whatever quantum woo pleases him any given day.[29] Amusingly, within a week, scientists at George Washington University completed a publication on a section of the brain that regulates the appearance of properties generally understood as consciousness, and could even be stimulated to turn it on and off.[30] It should be fun to see just how fast those goalposts move.

[edit] Woos and views

Deepak Chopra comes from a long line of pseudo-Hindu spiritualists making money off of gullible Americans, but he is one of the first to successfully merge Eastern ayurvedic woo with Western quantum woo and sell it to a mainstream US audience.

[edit] Dosha

Another order of that delicious human quantum-body essence, please!

A key concept in Chopra's woo is the Dosha, or "human quantum-body essence," which he can apparently assess with ease by checking a patient's pulse. The balance between the three doshas in each patient is then corrected with a diet of alternating sweet and spicy foods[31] as well as no doubt expensive treatments available exclusively from Chopra himself. Doshas are essentially a form of humorism.

It should be noted that dosha (or doṣa) is not to be confused with an Indian flatbread[wp] often served with vegetable stew and chutney, which is quite delicious (and more substantial than Chopra's writings). It is also unrelated to the British slang dosh, meaning currency, but you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

[edit] Prescription drugs

Chopra said that one of the reasons he created an Ayurvedic organization was disenchantment at having to prescribe too many drugs: "[W]hen all you do is prescribe medication, you start to feel like a legalized drug pusher. That doesn't mean that all prescriptions are useless, but it is true that 80 percent of all drugs prescribed today are of optional or marginal benefit."[32]

[edit] Humans as quantum machines

Somehow, quantum explains this. Somehow.

A significant part of Chopra's philosophy argues that humans don't act in Newtonian ways, but according to the laws of quantum physics. This is bullshit. Quantum mechanics breaks down at levels significantly larger than one atom; for example, at the larger-than-atom level, wave-particle duality no longer appears to occur. Humans are much larger than a single atom[citation NOT needed] and thus do not operate under quantum mechanic laws.

Chopra's theories are also not the same as quantum cognition[33], where mathematical models used in quantum theory are applied to psychology but do not mean that the brain is a quantum computer or that the mind is some sort of immaterial independent entity.

[edit] Style

Luckily, Chopra never uses reason, and thus avoids this trap.

Chopra's quotes read like the meaningless confidence-building babble of a motivational speaker, likely because he is a paid motivational speaker.[34] Examples:

  • "In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you."[34]
  • "Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment."[34]
  • "There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle."[34]

Chopra's style of sounding deep while saying nothing, often via use of confusing or uncommon words, is both typical of New-Age woo and quite monetarily successful. Chopra deeply packs[note 3] a vast vocabulary of meaningless quantum crap into a small space in order to confuse victims.

[edit] Nicknames

Orac of Respectful Insolence coined the term "Choprawoo" to refer to Chopra's special brand of woo.[35] Michael Shermer calls it "Deepakese."[36]

[edit] Distinction from parody

"DBag Chopra" on Twitter produces tweets which are, with subtle differences, nearly identical to that of the D-pac himself:[37]

  • "Take a moment to embrace whatever is most alive inside of you! Start with your gut flora!"
  • "If the only prayer you ever said was 'Thank You', that would be enough, though it couldn't hurt to add 'Sir, May I Please Have Another?'"
  • "The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more than the risk of blossoming, so I divested & sought a higher yield."
  • "The thoughts we allow ourselves to think can create powerful nipples in our lives."
  • "Oneness is something that multiplies when it is divided. Show your work for partial credit."

The fact that all of those probably felt really deep, just for a second, before snarky reality hit, should tell you everything you need to know about Chopra's "wisdom".

It has been demonstrated that Deepak's thoughts, writings, and particularly his tweets, are indistinguishable from a set of profound-sounding words put together in a random order.[38]

[edit] Religion

Though Chopra's beliefs are fundamentally based on New Age and Hindu syncretism, he is not afraid to embrace other religions, professing his belief in not one, but three iterations of Jesus Christ.[39]

[edit] ISHAR

The Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository (ISHAR; also known as ISHARonline) is a pseudoscientific internet library for alternative medicine. It was launched by Deepak Chopra in 2014.[40][41]

ISHAR claims to document studies of homeopathy, acupuncture, acupressure, energy healing and "numerous other kinds of integrative and holistic medicine."[42] A trip through ISHAR's database reveals a wealth of "peer reviewed scientific literature" espousing the value of treatments like bloodletting, arsenic, and cow urine.

The library was originally formed in opposition to Wikipedia after disgruntled woo-editors failed to get their alternative medicine and pseudoscience papers cited in Wikipedia articles. The library accuses the mainstream scientific community and skeptics of ignoring studies supportive of alternative medicine.[43]

In April 2014, the previously banned-on-Wikipedia Rome Viharo disguised himself as "Chopra Media" then as "SAS81"[44] in order to promote ISHAR[45] and argue on Wikipedia talk pages for revisions that would make Chopra's article more favorable to Chopra.[46] By December 2014, Viharo's ruse was exposed and his alter ego banned.[47] Unsurprisingly, Viharo was the director of operations for ISHAR during this period,[48][49] but has since been replaced by Ryan Castle.[50]

ISHAR has requested $50,000 to get the library going.[51] All donations go to the Chopra Foundation.[52]

Although promoted as "the electronic Library of Alexandria for the realm of integrative studies",[48] Deepak Chopra said, quite obviously referencing his involvement with funding ISHAR, "I am definitely going to pursue this correction of behavior of some very bigoted, prejudiced people on Wikipedia..." [53] Bernardo Kastrup refers to ISHAR's activities as a "major archetypal battle" and says donating money to ISHAR is "your historical opportunity to join this battle".[54] Robert Schwarz of ACEP says that "ISHAR promises to be the organizational tool that we need to end the incredible bias and unfair editorial practice at Wikipedia when it comes to holistic health care practices". [55]

This doesn't sound like a research library, but more like an attempt to end Wikipedia's "bias" towards having reliable sources for claims and to counteract the evil shadow government of Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia.

[edit] Dubious achievements

  • He earned himself an Ig Nobel Prize in Physics in 1998 "for his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness".[56]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes

  1. Not to be confused with Look Around You[wp], though there is a certain Poe'ish element in contrasting the first series' and Chopra's take on (as well as grasp of) science.
  2. Dhanvantari is the Hindu physician to the gods
  3. Get it?

[edit] Footnotes

  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4
  3. Chopra and Chopra 2013, pp. 5, 161.
  4. Chopra 2013, pp. 5–6, 11–13; Michael Schulder (May 24, 2013). "The Chopra Brothers". CNN. .
  5. Carl Lindgren (March 31, 2010). "International Dreamer – Deepak Chopra". Map Magazine's Street Editors. 
  6. Chopra 1991, pp. 54–57; Joanne Kaufman, "Deepak Chopra – An 'Inner Stillness,' Even on the Subway," The New York Times, October 17, 2013.
  7. Chopra 1991, p. 57; Deepak Chopra, "Special Keynote with Dr. Deepak Chopra", November 2013, from 2:50 mins; Richard Knox, "Foreign doctors: a US dilemma", The Boston Globe, June 30, 1974.
  8. "Dr. Deepak K Chopra", U.S. News and World Report.
  9. "Deepak K. Chopra, M.D.", Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine
  10. "Verify a Physician's Certification", American Board of Internal Medicine.
  11. Baer, 2004. "Toward an Integrative Medicine", p.121
  12. Chopra 1991, p. 105ff.
  13. Chopra 1991, p. 125.
  14. Rosamund Burton (June 4, 2006). "Peace Seeker". Nova Magazine. 
  15. Chopra 1991, p. 139ff; Baer 2003, p. 237.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Elise Pettus, "The Mind–Body Problems," New York Magazine, August 14, 1995, (pp. 28–31, 95), p. 30. Also see Deepak Chopra, "Letters: Deepak responds," New York Magazine, September 25, 1995, p. 16.
  17. Cynthia Ann Humes, "Schisms within Hindu guru groups: the Transcendental Meditation movement in North America," in James R. Lewis, Sarah M. Lewis (eds.), Sacred Schisms: How Religions Divide, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 297.
  18. Cynthia Ann Humes, "Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Beyond the TM Technique," in Thomas A. Forsthoefel, Cynthia Ann Humes (eds.), Gurus in America, State University of New York Press, 2005, pp. 68–69.
  19. Tony Perry (September 7, 1997). "So Rich, So Restless". Los Angeles Times: p. 2. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Deepak Chopra, The Skeptic's Dictionary
  24. HuffPo apparently takes him seriously.
  25. Chopra's Twitter account
  26. LLC, New York Media, (1995-08-14). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. pp. 95–. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  27. The 2010 TIME 100: Lady Gaga, TIME
  28. Lawrence Krauss smacks down Deepak Chopra for trying to troll him with New Age nonsense
  29. getting zombies excited (also zombies are relevant, for some reason)
  30. Scientists discover consciousness on/off switch
  31. Ayurvedic medicine, The Skeptic's Dictionary
  32. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, "The Crisis of Perception", Media Monitors Network, February 29, 2008.
  33. Quantum cognition
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3
  35. The Trouble With Deepak Chopra: Part 3, Respectful Insolence
  36. Deepakese: The Woo-woo Master Deepak Chopra Speaks, HuffPo
  38. A Random Deepak Chopra quote generator exists to, in a sense, Turing Test that postulation.
  39. The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore (What?)
  40. Deepak Chopra Launches ISHARonline
  41. Let’s Raise ISHAR – and why we need to by Deepak Chopra
  42. Campaign Underway to Create ISHAR as Wikipedia-like Archive of Energy Medicine Information and Research
  43. The Mind/Body community is building ISHAR, an online digital Library of Alexandria free for everyone
  44. "Chopra Media" requests a name change to "SAS81"
  45. Viharo as "SAS81" promoting ISHAR on his user page
  46. A sample of Viharo's argumentation "For every scientist out there that you can find a quote of that is unfavorable to Dr. Chopra, I can find another one that is favorable."
  47. Wikipedia:Sockpuppet_investigations/Tumbleman/Archive
  48. 48.0 48.1 Let's Raise ISHAR! "Rome Viharo, the director of operations for the cutting edge ISHAR."
  49. Tumbleman (Rome Viharo) on Wikipedia
  51. ISHAR Will Be the Ultimate Resource for Integral Healing
  52. Click on donation page on the ISHAR website it redirects straight to the donation page for the Chopra Foundation.
  53. Deepak Chopra and the Future of Wikipedia
  54. Bernardo Kastrup - Why we really, really need to RAISE ISHAR - Deepak Chopra
  55. #ISHAR matching Grant. ACEP kicks off the '$2K WAVE' Let's Raise ISHAR - Deepak Chopra
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