Sunday, October 14, 2012

Betasso Reserve, Walker Ranch & Deepak Chopra

The "woomeister-in-chief"

The weather has been strange recently with lots of low cloud cover in the high mountains - meaning only one thing at this time of year...snow!! I took a trip up to Coney Flats last weekend, and although the snow isn't lying deep, it is very icy and tricky on steep rock trails. It also isn't too kind to a dog's paws. I seriously considered a high level run today, but decided, for the second successive day, to revisit one of my lower lying winter runs - blue skies over the foothills and thick cloud over the high peaks made this the right choice. Yesterday it was the superb Betasso Preserve. Today it was the more undulating Walker Ranch. Knowing both trails so well I was on auto-pilot for much of the time...and when I am on auto-pilot I think about "stuff". Sometimes really weird stuff. Which brings me to Deepak Chopra, the shyster and woomeister-in-chief.

Through the woods on the initial descent.
Deepak Chopra blocked me on Twitter. Apparently, politely asking him to provide evidence for his rather outrageous claims is sufficiently provocative to warrant exclusion from his world. This is hardly problematic to my intellectual wellbeing and now prevents me from choking on food as I splutter with disbelief at his latest nonsense, but his actions speak loudly - Deepak has ideas...he thinks those ideas are his mind he believes them...but there is no evidence for them, and he hates it when people expose his deceit. And with over 1 million "followers" on Twitter, he clearly has a "reputation" to protect, and an irksome pedant like me is just too problematic.

It's difficult to look at Deepak and not think that he's a little "wild-eyed"
Deepak is a menace. He's a menace to science and reason, and ultimately to society. And the reason for this is that he, well, makes stuff up. He is expert at exploiting the gullible by writing using "sciency" sounding words ("quantum" is his favorite, although he clearly does not know what it means) that suggest superficial plausibility. For the uneducated, credulous and uninformed, lacking even the remotest element of curiosity or doubt, he meets their every need. He provides the simplest answers they are looking for to solve some of their most perplexing questions. Worried about dying? No problem...Deepak knows all about the afterlife. That's right, he knows. Apparently even your first kiss has an afterlife. Wow. It's just really hard to know where to begin with that one.

Climbing steeply away from South Boulder Creek

Deepak's problems stem from the fact that he is a smart person with a background in Medicine. This means that he can talk "medical language" with confidence and in many areas of basic medical advice he is likely correct...well, I hope he is correct. However, some of Deepak's current beliefs completely contradict everything he was ever taught...and medicine. For example, he believes in a "soul" and that humans have this because of the past activities of God...the Christian God apparently, who intervened in human evolution to implant a soul. There is nothing that can falsify this baseless assertion, but spoken by someone who lauds his "scientific" background, his credulous sycophants just lap it up. To be fair, "mainstream" religion makes similar claims, but they base them on theology (which is their version of just making stuff up).

But it is in the area of consciousness that Deepak truly excels. His assertions about consciousness are simply staggering. He emphatically states, for example, that consciousness exists outside of the brain. As I collect my jaw from the floor for a moment, this conflicts with absolutely everything we know about neurology. If our consciousness - awareness of self, if you will - exists completely separate from the brain, then why does brain damage so severely limit cognitive functioning related to specific capabilities? Why, even, do personality disorders exist? Surely, if there is a completely separate existence for consciousness then it ought to be possible to damage huge areas of the brain and yet retain a complete and rational sense of self. These small issues don't seem to concern Deepak in the slightest.

Crossing South Boulder Creek before the final ascent
While it is relatively easy to convince the gullible and credulous of his prowess, he tends to come unstuck when faced with scientists who really know what they are talking about. It's difficult not to watch this clip without cringing in embarrassment. Still, with a multi-million book publishing machine  - he churns about 4 out every year - behind him, he can afford to look completely and utterly stupid.
Final climb to the trailhead
The list of topics where Deepak is in opposition to established science appears limitless. His ignorance of "random" in genetic mutation from this 2008 article is another case in point. In fact, his view on evolution appear synonymous with those of "old earth"creationists. In this article we have Deepak arguing in favor of the non-scientific "intelligent design" theory as though he had something profound to say. It seems that when you have a world-view like Deepak, it is amazing how much evidence can be uncovered to support it.

It's going to be a long winter!!
Livvy taking a break at the trailhead

Walker Ranch

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