Archive for the ‘Deepak Chopra’ Category

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Dr Rudolph Tanzi’s Rainbow Bridge to Quackery

April 22, 2014

As mentioned in an earlier post, Deepak Chopra and neuroscientist Rudolph Tanzi have written a book claiming that you can “use your thoughts to alter your biology” including your DNA. What’s more, you can even pass on your spiritual virtues to your off-spring via epigenetics. It all disproves Darwin, apparently, and enables something they call self-directed evolution.

The human genome is set to be the stage for future evolution that we ourselves direct, making choice an integral part of genetics… 

Self-directed evolution is the emerging paradigm.

(Hmmm, I thought the whole point of a paradigm shift is that it happens fairly swiftly and is only clear in retrospect, but who am I to say?)

Customers can demand some good evidence for these claims, given that Tanzi (unlike Chopra) is a reputable academic with impressive credentials. (Dr Rudolph Tanzi is Professor of Neurology at Harvard University and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. Deepak Chopra MD, is a holographic expression of the entire universe that is manifesting as a continuum of probability amplitudes for space/time events.)

cnn2Chopra & Tanzi display their Super Brains on CNN

Together, they claim that science is currently dominated by an “old paradigm” of genetic determinism, (which they characterize as the view that genetics alone determines behavior). This is not true — modern genetics acknowledges a vast array of influences on behavior. But whatever the case, let’s not allow that to spoil the story, because Chopra and Tanzi’s new paradigm has transcended genetic determinism and replaced it with…..

….Well……..Epigenetic determinism.

According to real, actual scientific genetics, each individual gets to make a clean start at trying to make the best of their genetic heritage. The sins of the fathers are thankfully NOT passed on genetically to the sons. Nor, (according to the evidence so far), are acquired traits such as habits or learned behaviors passed on epigenetically either. 

But many New Agers believe that acquired traits are mystically transmitted via some kind of “genetic memory” in their DNA. They probably turn to Chopra and Tanzi (or the many other DNA-altering crackpots), hoping to update their genome, purge the past, and now, thanks to Chopra and Tanzi, to enforce their spiritual nutbaggery on subsequent generations as well, through the supposed power of epigenetics. 

There is no evidence for any of this…. unless Chopra and Tanzi can produce some. And who knows, maybe they have — they’ve already written a book about it (with an entire support program), called: 

Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being.

brain

As mentioned in the earlier post about this, Chopra and Tanzi were roundly criticized by biologist Jerry Coyne. In response, Tanzi and his Super Brain appeared in the comments on Coyne’s article to defend his work.

So then — does he have evidence that thought can really alter DNA in controllable ways? Or that such changes, if they exist, can be passed on to subsequent generations via epigenetic mechanisms? And if so, will this enable self-directed evolution?

Or as one commenter put it to Tanzi directly:

Can you provide any kind of evidence that human thought can voluntarily influence gene expression, that this supposed effect is epigenetic, that it can be stably inherited and that it can be adaptive?

Tanzi’s answers were clear and incisive:

Typical of a professed atheist to only attack the person and not address the science put forward…

…It is you who is using the militant and fundamentalist religion of atheism to attack a fellow colleague unprovoked.

And your insults and bullying will not work here…you are accountable for your defamations of reputation and character. You cannot hide behind a website and assume you are immune to libelous behavior…

Man, this is a dark website! Rest assured…this is my last post. Over and out! Phew!

Of course, in true New Age style, after his “last post” Tanzi returned, possibly realizing that the only insulting comments on the thread came from a certain “Rudy Tanzi”; and that several of his critics were well qualified academics who had asked important questions.

Eventually after much evasion, complaining, insults, obfuscations, threats of libel suits, and hand-waving, he mentioned, among other things, a study on mice. Here, epigenetic changes relating to stress were inherited by offspring for a generation or two, before disappearing. Well and good. But making a grand leap from lab mice to humans — isn’t that rather a lot like the very worst of the “old paradigm”? And just because it works for stress in mice, will it also work for consciously directed thought in humans? Is it heritable by epigenetics? And if so will it be stable enough to eventually affect evolution?

Tanzi finally admitted he has no evidence for any of that…. “yet”. In his words:

So, no, we do not yet have direct molecular evidence of humans changing their DNA epigenetically in response to life experience and perceptions accompanied by biochemical and molecular genetic reactions…..

Uhuh, so all that stuff in the Super Brain Kit

USERS MANUAL HARDCOVER BOOK, SUPER BRAIN SOFTCOVER BOOK, SUPER BRAIN – THE HANDBOOK SOFTCOVER GUIDE, SUPER BRAIN – GETTING STARTED NOW! 7-DVD LIBRARY 1. Super Brain (program DVD) 2. Super Brain Steps for Permanent Weight Loss 3. Your Super Brain & Your Money 4. Stop Worrying Now! 5. 10 Steps to Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease 6. Super Memory Now!  7. Steps to a Super Soul DIGITAL DOWNLOAD APP, BLISSFUL SLEEP

teaching customers how to

Use your brain instead of letting it use you Create the ideal lifestyle for a healthy brain Reduce the risks of aging Promote happiness and well-being through the mind-body connection Access the enlightened brain, the gateway to freedom and bliss Overcome the most common challenges such as memory loss, depression, anxiety, and obesity

was just based on speculation?

Well maybe they could have chosen a title that reflected the reality of the situation a little better. Like maybe —

Super Brain: hypothetically Unleashing the possibly Explosive but so far purely speculative Power of Your presumed Mind to Maximize or at least minimally affect Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being if we ever figure out how.

So that’s what an “emerging paradigm” looks like. Impressive isn’t it. Especially when it comes from a Harvard professor. And that’s what a bunch of speculative bullshit looks like when it’s promoted by a sleazy hack like Chopra.

… 

And  finally, why are they so insistent about all this self-directed evolution nonsense?

Tanzi doesn’t seem to realize it, but his co-author has already been self-directedly evolving for some time now. That’s right, D-Bag Chopra is a certified Evolutionary Leader!

evoleadersEvolutionary Quacks & Scammers (Source)

Chopra and the other fine specimens in the picture are the herald of a future species of Quantum Humanity! Gaze in wonder upon people like Bruce Lipton, (cancer quack), Gregg Braden (cancer quack), Jack Canfield & The Reverend Michael Beckwith (scammers from The Secret)…. The list goes on.

And as always, once you start pulling on a thread of New Age Scammery, an avalanche is released. This Foundation for Conscious Evolution is a tax free religious foundation that rakes in about half a million dollars a year. Funny how such a highly evolved new paradigm remains true to the “old paradigm” of religious tax evasion. 

Perhaps Tanzi doesn’t realize it, but this elite cross-promoting network of scammers and cancer quacks will use his book as just another brick in the wall of manipulation and quackery that they are building around their unsuspecting fans/customers/victims.

And, incidentally, Chopra’s special evolutionary status was probably behind an earlier twitter message that he sent to his critic, the afore-mentioned Jerry Coyne:

twit 2Happy to give this joker Coyne some publicity -evolutionary maladapted Homo Erectus

That is more, I suspect, than just a random insult. Chopra really seems to believe he is somehow “more highly evolved” than the “maladapted Homo Erectus[sic]” Professor Coyne, and anyone else who has failed to develop their quantum consciousness according to God’s divine plan. It all sounds like a form of — I don’t know — epi-eugenics. He really seems to think he’s part of a spiritual master race from the future.

Posted by Yakaru

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Dr Rudolph E. Tanzi — the thinking person’s Bruce Lipton

December 22, 2013

I almost wrote a post about Deepak Chopra recently, but I decided against it because I find him utterly repellent. He adopts a superior, condescending and authoritarian tone to his readers (with baseless assertions about “YOUR” true nature) and aggressively insults and attacks those who criticize him. And then of course pulls every dirty trick in the book to evade constructive criticism. He is a horrible person who does not deserve attention.

However, a recent article by Chopra was “co-authored” by one Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D, who despite being a qualified neuroscientist and holding a post at Harvard, shares both ideology and disgraceful manners with Chopra. In this post I will deal with their article, and then in a separate post, with Dr Tanzi’s response to criticism. (The article was roundly criticized by Prof. Jerry Coyne, whom Tanzi threatened to sue for libel. He also pulled most of the typical woo tricks that I list in the comment policy here.)

The article is titled — in typically presumptuous and intrusive Chopra style — You Will Transform Your Own Biology. It consists of the usual Chopra distortions and word-tricks, only this time with a Harvard professor signing off on it too.

Biology, they claim, sees humans as “puppets of our genome”. This crass deterministic model (which is supposedly in all the text books), sees the effects of genes as:

fixed and unchanging, controlling every aspect of our physical makeup, behavior, and susceptibility to disease. Not just eye color, height, and other physical characteristics were predetermined by inherited genes, but perhaps all kinds of behaviors, from criminality to belief in God.

That claim about current models of physiology, psychology, medical science and genetics is false. It’s too extreme to be judged an oversimplification. But it does accurately reflect a widespread misconception about genetics among the public, especially the public who read hucksters like Chopra. (No coincidence!) People fear such crass genetic determinism, because if it were true it would mean the end of the inner life, the extinguishing of hopes and aspirations, and the abolition of personal identity.

But there’s no need to fear, because Chopra and Tanzi will rescue you from this (albeit nonexistent) ideological threat. Their “new model” “gives control back to each person.” Note here the salesmanship and assumption of power and authority over you — they will “give control back” to you. The “old model”, foisted on you by evil materialist scientists, has taken away your control over your most basic bodily and psychological functions. It is your birthright to tinker mentally with your genome, and the “new model” will give you back this power. So buy Chopra & Tanzi’s new book Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being, selling for just $19.20 at all good bookstores now.

Just to make it completely clear before going further, the “old model” is a complete misrepresentation of modern genetics, and the “new model” is entirely speculative. It is derived from a dualistic ideology, which is so popular that few people ever even realize that it’s based on a long string of assumptions, let alone question these assumptions.

At this point the article leaves coherence behind altogether and wades into the murky waters of Chopra-esque marketable jargon and trigger words. We make a quantum leap from talking vague nonsense about the genetics of the individual to suddenly talking about the evolution of every species who ever lived on this planet.

Theories of evolution and genetics have long taught that genetic mutation is entirely random. However, genetics has been gradually stepping into a new era of “self-directed biological transformation….”

So here’s the deal. Your non-physical soul gets to reach down into your biology, right into your genome and prevent it from turning you into a puppet. And this also disproves Darwin. Deal!!! For only $19.20.

But do you really want to evolve into a new species?

Regardless of the nature of the genes we inherit from our parents, dynamic change at this level allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate.

You could grow a nice furry tail like a fox or something. Cool!

Joking aside (if that was joking — I see nothing in this article beyond the vague qualifier “almost unlimited” that would preclude that), there’s a serious danger here for people wanting use this “new model” practically. If you want to break a habit, let’s say smoking, you will think that you can do it by altering your genome. Your nonphysical soul can reach down into your genome and miraculously — er, I mean, holisitcally — know which bits to fiddle with. You will alter your own behavior as a fait accompli, ordering your current and future self to quit and stay quitted…. Unless your immortal soul decides it likes smoking and changes your genome back again.

This is a very poor and dangerous model for psychological functioning. Do you really need to alter your friggin’ genome before you can change your behavior for god’s sake? No, but what the heck, it’s easier to sell if you tell people that. Go ahead, Dr Tanzi, tell me this isn’t what you were both meaning. And then make sure you tell your customers too.

The three words in the advertising slogan — er, sorry, I mean the “new model” — are explained:

Self-directed = Voluntary activity in your thoughts, feelings, habits, and desires. This is the realm of personal choice.

Biological = Effects at every level of the mind-body system, including reactions by your genetic material.

Transformation = Major shifts in cellular activity leading to physiological changes.

(Hmmm, maybe you really can grow a tail with this stuff.)

We get some biology talk describing how all this works, and then it’s back to the highly marketable and completely pointless activity of Darwin-bashing:

Darwin didn’t know about epigenetics and “soft inheritance”. Otherwise, he may have written a very difference [sic] treatise, in which evolution wouldn’t solely result from random gene mutations. Self-directed evolution is the emerging paradigm.

Here’s a red flag for pseudo-science: “X is the emerging paradigm.” This also frequently takes the form “What scientists are beginning to see is…” The ideology behind this claim is the anti-scientific notion that we intuitively “know” certain things, and “science still has yet to catch up and confirm what we already know.” Hang your head in shame for putting your name to that, Dr Tanzi…

… 

Overturning evolutionary theory is the holy grail of modern woo. It means that our species made itself evolve, rather than being the product of natural processes acting over long periods on icky hairy apes. It makes you a child of God, or a divine being having a human experience, or… whatever Chopra tells YOU that YOU are.

Bringing evolution (or evolution-bashing) into this discussion is transparent populism and crass marketing. Whereas the authors at least make a token effort to justify their assertion that thoughts can alter your genome, they say nothing at all to justify their quantum leap into evolutionary theory. There are important steps missing here. Altering the cells in one part of the body does not automatically alter the DNA in other cells, and especially not in the reproductive system — which would be necessary for such changes to become heritable and potentially affect evolution.

Maybe the authors think that DNA contained in sex cells miraculously — er — holistically adjusts itself in real-time to the miniscule alterations in the cells in the rest of the body. Maybe they mean that your non-physical soul can holisitcally descend into your testes and ovaries and twiddle various knobs or something. I don’t know. They don’t say. Whatever the case, Tanzi and Chopra are waltzing happily with Intelligent Design Creationism, only with YOUR soul taking the place of Yahweh.

There is an awful lot more speculation going on here than the authors, especially Tanzi, want to admit. A multitude of undefined and miraculous mechanisms are supposed to have been active in– how many species, for– how many billions of years? 

Who knows, but this “new model” will give you back the control over your genome that materialistic scientists like Richard Dawkins stole from you. It will cure your cancer, make you permanently happy, and allow you to alter the course of human evolution, all for just $19.20!!!

See the next post, covering Tanzi’s admission on Jerry Coyne’s website that he doesn’t in fact have any evidence at all for any of this. It’s all hype and speculation foisted on his customers as fact.

*Who is Bruce Lipton? You don’t want to know, but here’s a sample.

Posted by Yakaru

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Medieval Quantum Theology with Deepak Chopra

July 18, 2010

I finally got around to watching the debate between Sam Harris & Michael Schermer (on the skeptic side), and Deepak Chopra & Jean Houston (promoting the cause of New Age unaccountability on the other). It aired way back in March on ABC’s Nightline.

It was a lesson in devious obfuscation from Chopra; and clarity, sincerity and intelligence from Sam Harris. Schermer was ok, but nowhere near as impressive as Harris. New Age self-important blitherer Jean Houston, could easily have been replaced with Sammy the Performing Dachshund without detracting from the intellectual level of the debate.

Chopra spoke his usual pompous mess of arrogant bullshit, alternately attacking science and claiming science for his own. He thinks his particular type of spirituality (which he sees as the only universally correct brand) can “upgrade science”. And he accused scientists of living in the “dungeon of scientific orthodoxy”.

Then he claimed that science itself(in particular, quantum physics)has actually confirmed that “we live in a sea of consciousness”, and anyone who denies this is a “scientific jihadist“.

Sam Harris calmly pointed out how foolish it is for non-physicists to lecture people about quantum physics, especially in an audience of a thousand at CalTech. Chopra angrily asserted his credentials as an MD and as someone who has repeatedly spoken with real proper scientist people, so he has the right to use “specialist language” – by which he means his special redefining of terms like non-locality, for example.

Harris:  If you are saying that non-locality is an operant concept in neuroscience, then that is woo woo.

Incredibly, Chopra countered that non-locality is indeed a valid part of neuroscience, and claims that not only the brain, but even a pace-maker (yes, a freaking pace-maker!) functions according to the principles of the aforementioned non-locality.

Yes, he really said that.

Any Chopra fans reading this should let that sink in.

Chopra was very insistant on this point, that it his work is a valid part of science. As he once explained to Richard Dawkins, “The aficionados in the world of quantum physics have somehow hijacked the word for their own use.”

Yes, he really said that. Any Chopra fans, etc. etc.

There is a marked contrast between D-Bag Chopra’s pig-ignorant deceitful waffle and Sam Harris’s well-informed awareness of the limits of his own knowledge, and the current stand of science. In fact he made a better case for research into spirituality than Chopra himself did. Harris:

We need a scientific discourse on the possibilities of human well-being, and you can get as esoteric as you want there. You can talk about self transcendence, the ego being an illusion, you can ask what is the relationship between consciousness and the rest of the physical world.

And the truth is that when you get out to some of those fringe areas, you are getting to an area of real scientific ignorance, and the first thing you want to do in the spirit of intellectual honesty is admit ignorance, not claim that you, by closing your eyes, can realise your identity with the entire cosmos, and that you can get to before the big bang with your unguarded intuitions. That’s not how you discover what happens.

And therein lies the fundamental difference between Chopra’s idea of science and the thing which the word usually refers to. Chopra has a foregone conclusion that he has “intuitively grasped” through subjective experience:

Chopra: It’s called [neural] binding.
Harris: It’s called absolute ignorance of what is actually going on outside your subjective consciousness.

Of course, being prepared to recognise your ignorance, study hard, take risks and wait for answers is of no use to New Age teachers. The market wants answers NOW and there are profits to be made. Science, just like ancient mythology and indigenous cultures, is there to be plundered for marketable ideas and concepts.