Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Plait attacks Chopra

The Bad Astronomer writes:
Last month, Playboy magazine ran an interview with Deepak Chopra, ... I received an email from an editor of Playboy asking me if I’d like to write an OpEd ...

Deepak Chopra has once again failed to grasp the reality around him....

This also extends to his pronouncements about quantum mechanics, where he universally garbles even the most basic premise of the science. To someone unaccustomed to it, he sounds profound, but to someone who actually knows QM what he says is mumbo jumbo. And when he tries to defend himself he says things that are simply false. ...

But what makes me really unhappy — yes, even angry — is that he’s shortchanging the Universe.
Unfortunately, he did not give Playboy readers any example of Chopra being wrong about physics.

I wish these scientists would show off their scientific reasoning. If Chopra says something that is scientifically wrong, then there must be some way to prove him wrong. The Bad Astronomer attacks Chopra a lot, but the most specific criticism I can find is when he cites Michael Shermer's essay:
Deepak’s use and abuse of quantum physics is what the Caltech quantum physicist and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann calls “quantum flapdoodle,” which is when you string together a series of terms and phrases from quantum physics and assume that explains something in the regular macro world in which we live. “The mind is like an electron cloud surrounding the nucleus of an atom,” Chopra writes in his 2006 book Life After Death. “Until an observer appears, electrons have no physical identity in the world; there is only the amorphous cloud. In the same way, imagine that there is a cloud of possibilities open to the brain at every moment (consisting of words, memories, ideas, and images I could choose from). When the mind gives a signal, one of these possibilities coalesces from the cloud and becomes a thought in the brain, just as an energy wave collapses into an electron.”
This is only wrong if you take it too literally. As an analogy, it is not too bad.

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