Deepak Chopra is not an intelligent person

Deepak Chopra is capable of saying some of the most incoherent things imaginable.

The idea that we live in an intelligent universe has thrived for quite a while. It’s an important idea because it would explain many things, including how we got here. I keep my eye out for any bit of evidence to support the theory, and a beauty surfaced recently on the PBS program, Nature, entitled “Clever Monkeys.” It turns out that monkeys are far more than clever. They may be tapping into the basic fabric of the cosmos.

Wow! The whole wide cosmos? Goodness gracious. The rest of this article is going to be amazing!

But the red colobus [monkeys] recently made a life-altering discovery. They found that if they eat a bit of charcoal from the abandoned fires of local villagers, their indigestion is cured. This had made them happier monkeys, and as a result their numbers have dramatically increased; not only that, but they are free to explore other food sources. These advantages aren’t felt by the white-and-black colobus, who haven’t hit upon the charcoal-eating trick. New generations of red colobus learn the habit by having it passed on from mother to child.

Oh. A population of monkeys started eating something random (because that’s what monkeys do) and it helped settle their stomachs.

Again. Oh.

It’s amazing how much critical knowledge is contained in this one anecdote. Self-medication is well known, but here the red colobus has hit upon the same property in charcoal that emergency room doctors use when a patient arrives with acute poisoning. Medical science is able to explain how charcoal absorbs toxins in the stomach. Monkeys can’t explain anything or do laboratory research. It is completely untenable to claim that they eat substances at random until they hit upon just the one perfect remedy — such random behavior isn’t seen among them.

God damn it. They’re monkeys. They eat whatever is in front of them. And no, Chopra, they aren’t doing it with the intent of hitting “upon just the one perfect remedy”; they discovered they felt better after eating charcoal. That’s it.

But this is not an intelligent man. He continues.

What we are witnessing is an intelligent discovery on the part of creatures who stand far below Homo sapiens on the evolutionary chain, and that discovery is being passed on from mother to child without genetic adaptation. To me, this means that quite a blow has been struck for intelligence being innate in the universe. It suggests that evolution itself has never been random but is guided by the principle of intelligence — not “intelligent design,” which is a red herring supplied by religious conservatives. The intelligent universe is a cutting-edge idea, not a throwback to scripture. As a theory, it gives us a much more elegant explanation for many things that are clumsily explained by falling back on randomness to explain every new development in Nature.

So many things wrong. Brain explode.

1) Homo sapiens do not stand atop any chain. In fact, there is no chain. Those monkeys are perfectly well adapted in their intelligence for the sake of being monkeys. Evolutionary success is not measured in particular characteristics or traits (should one want to compare species), but rather in survivability and longevity.

2) This does not indicate any sort of intelligent guidance. It indicates that monkeys eat a lot of crap. Sometimes that crap makes them feel good.

3) This is not an example of evolution. Chopra has no grasp of the concept.

At the moment, evolutionary theory refuses to abandon the notion of random selection, and geneticists cling stubbornly to the doctrine of random mutations to explain why new things appear in the unfolding story of life.

Evolutionary theory is so much more than Chopra knows. Selection is not random, plenty of mechanisms exist which help to explain the appearance of new characteristics and traits, and again, he hasn’t even offered an example of evolution in the first place. But just to be clear, he eventually comes right out and says it:

We all have a stake in this argument, however. Seeing the red colobus evolve before our eyes cannot be denied.

No, no, no, no.

Rather than saying that a larger brain made intelligence possible, why not say the opposite, that intelligence dictated a larger brain so that it could expand?

Because you have no evidence for the ridiculous claim that inherently says natural selection has foresight?

This guy is such a fucking joke.

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12 Responses

  1. What… the… fuck?

    Even IF we accept all the mumbo-jumbo semi-Larmarckism pseudoscientific crap, how does he arrive at the conclusion, that because monkeys are hyper-intelligent and apparently psychic, that must mean that they tap into the intelligent “basic fabric of the cosmos”?

    He’s not a joke. Jokes are supposed to be funny.

  2. Not in defense of Chopra. But if you are going to go around and claim that other people are unintelligent, suggesting that you are in fact smarter, you should at least consider this: All human thought and ‘knowledge’ is a product of subjective experience, and exists only in the abstract. Any concept of forms existing within the universe are just that, concepts. They differ in many ways from even our immediate experience and certainly from the reality. To be sure, we are extremely limited in our understanding of things. There is nothing wrong with attempting to map out and understand the reality of the universe by breaking it down into parts, delving into minutiae and accepting scientific ideas about the world that we can percieve. But you cannot go on to say something about the entirety of the Universe based on specific observations (which are necessarily effected by the observing parties) and be justified logically. You must accept that there is a point at which words, ideas, theories, etc..are insufficient to explain the nature of reality, the interconnectedness of everything. This is not mumbo jumbo, this is a fact that demands recognition from a logical mind. Now, like I said, I am not defending the claims of Chopra, or any other spiritual thinker for that matter. But time and time again I see scientific minded people trying stretch scientific ideas much farther than they can logically go. You can see why this tendency brings into question your basic and fundamental grasp on logic, and subsequently your understanding of scientific theory.

  3. You have effectively denied the legitimacy of physics as a whole (not to mention a whole host of other sciences). You then vaguely appeal to Heisenberg’s principle – an idea which you can only claim is true if you are also willing to apply it to the entire Universe – in order to claim that scientific ideas cannot be applied wholly. Not only does Heisenberg not even support what you’re saying, but you’re also contradicting yourself.

    But I’m the one with the questionable grasp of logic.

  4. I have not denied the legitimacy of physics as a whole. But first of all, your ego is getting in the way. And yes, words, ideas, and theories only exist as words, ideas, and theories. They are not adequate to explain the entire Universe, unless you define the Universe as something less than what is. If you cannot understand that intuitively, you will never understand it rationally.. Because you will always be considering things in the realm of intellect. Which is fine, if that is what you want to do I guess.

  5. This,

    But you cannot go on to say something about the entirety of the Universe based on specific observations

    denies the legitimacy of physics.

    I actually agree with a good chunk of what you said. Specifically,

    All human thought and ‘knowledge’ is a product of subjective experience, and exists only in the abstract. Any concept of forms existing within the universe are just that, concepts. They differ in many ways from even our immediate experience and certainly from the reality. To be sure, we are extremely limited in our understanding of things. There is nothing wrong with attempting to map out and understand the reality of the universe by breaking it down into parts, delving into minutiae and accepting scientific ideas about the world that we can percieve.

    Where I disagree is in your implication that science can’t get us to a full understanding of the Universe. I don’t think it will because of the shortcomings of humanity, but science itself has no limitations.

  6. Science has definite limits. You yourself have made a personal decision in believing that science has no limits, but this preference itself can in no way be substantiated scientifically. Love, beauty, morality, spirituality. These are things that science cannot explore without a backdrop of values, which cannot be chosen without making judgements which science cannot inform, since science places no vested interest in anything, it is by definition a neutral observer (ideally.)

    That being said, I do believe that your scientific understanding is beyond my own, and I respect that. I am glad that you agreed with “a good chunk of what I said.”

  7. Of course science can investigate love, beauty, morality, and anything else. We may not always find it particularly useful in day-to-day life, but it all breaks down to chemical and biological reactions and interactions. And that all breaks down to physics. And that all breaks down the mathematics. Every last bit.

  8. Just playing devil’s advocate..what about the concept of infinity, or its opposite. Can these truly be understood scientifically?

  9. I suggest you watch this, particularly the last 15 minutes or so…it may spark your curiousity considering the source.

  10. Physics cannot yet accurately make observations on the entirety of the Universe, because the smallest components of the Universe are not able to be observed nor measured at this time. “Science” is not what we will ever have, but only “human science”. So, making generalities based on observations, such as beauty or love all ” breaks down to chemical and biological….physics…..and mathematics” is based on a deep assumption of a trust in your limits of perception. We know very little,and need to be humble about that, in order to still remain neutral observers instead of dogmatic. The Universe is not simple, and neither is beauty or love. Even reducing it to the mathematical, does not fully “explain” it. A sense of wonder may be the most genuine posture, to stay humble in recognition of the limits of the abilities we have. I learned some of this from listening to the account of how DNA discovery occurred, from Nobel Prize winner.

  11. I don’t have time to go in depth about how the author of this article grossly misunderstood Deepak’s article, but I would just like to state my concern over the poor analytical skills of this author and I don’t even understand some of his points.

  12. Denny, you said “We know very little,and need to be humble about that, in order to still remain neutral observers instead of dogmatic.” Deepak says he knows more than everyone else. That’s pretty far from a man humble in his ignorance!

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