I’m sure that most of you watched the Presidential debate on Monday night, just as I did. Over the years, these debates have always always painful for me to watch, given the candidates’ tendency to answer the question they want to answer rather than the question actually answered; to find ways to spew prepackaged talking points into answers, whether they’re related to the question or not; and, above all, to see how much spin they can get away with. Particularly annoying is when they pander to their base with particularly brain dead bon mots. Candidates from both parties do it, of course, but this year is a bit different because not only is one of the candidates, Donald Trump, am antivaccine loon dating back a decade, but he lies all the time more frequently, shamelessly, and proficiently than literally any political candidate I can remember in my adult lifetime, and I’ve been following Presidential elections since 1976. Add to that his penchant for insulting his opponents, conspiracy theories like the “birther” movement that denies that Barack Obama is an native born American citizen and thus is ineligible to be President, and his skill at Gish galloping, and this was going to be the most…unusual Presidential debate in modern history.
Donald Trump ended up doing far more poorly than I expected, falling for a number of rather obvious traps laid for him by Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, the topic of vaccines didn’t come up, and the topic of anthropogenic global climate change only came up when Trump lied about ever having said that anthropogenic global climate change is an invention of China to hinder US industrial competitiveness. He did.
I’m not here to dissect what happened on Monday night, though. There are many out there who’ve already done it and are better at understanding politics than I am. Regular readers already know what I think of Donald Trump, and not just my contempt for him for being an antivaccinationist, which is perhaps the only belief that he’s been utterly consistent about for a decade. No, rather, I couldn’t help but laugh uproariously at an article about which the Friendly Atheist gave me the heads up, an article by that master of woo, Deepak Chopra, entitled Donald Trump and the Looking-Glass War. In it, Chopra seems to be going out of his way to nuke another one of my irony meters.
More than one observer has remarked that the tactics of the Trump campaign, which misses no opportunity to turn the truth upside down, have taken us to a crossroads.
And that’s just the first sentence. Remember, Deepak Chopra is a man who is so full of himself (and woo) that nearly a decade ago I coined a term for the mixture of mystical blather liberally sprinkled with science-y sounding bits of science utilizing terms like “quantum,” “cosmic consciousness,” and “epigenetics.” That term was “Choprawoo.” Once you read a few Chopra articles you’ll be able to recognize it in a few sentences and realize that there’s only one proper response to Choprawoo. After all, he’s applied it to attack evolution as “materialism,” by invoking “intelligent genes,” and, of course, by attacking Richard Dawkins. Sadly, he’s actually conned real scientists into collaborating with him to do a clinical trial.
In fairness, my amusement with Chopra’s article is not about Choprawoo, though. It’s about an extreme lack of self-awareness, such as here:
The looking-glass war is a contest taking place in collective consciousness. According to a fact-based view of reality, the U.S. is not in imminent danger from terrorism on a mass scale; we are a prosperous, growing economy; our military strength far surpasses any other nation; immigrants are a positive force in our pluralistic society, not a gang of criminals and freeloaders. But facts aren’t the same as consciousness, and the wrong-is-right strategy that the Republicans have fostered for decades is rising to claim what is due to it. Because they owe their political survival to the very values that Trumpism expresses in exaggerated form, few Republicans are safe enough, or courageous enough, to speak out against him, and the prospect that this grotesque caricature of a candidate may actually win the Presidency has actually had the opposite effect. It has made estranged Republicans “come home,” as they say, which means the embrace of shameless, shameful values as if they are acceptable.
Collective consciousness holds up a mirror to the truth, and in the end there is no arguing against reality, wherever it takes us. My only point is to underline that all of us are reflected in the mirror as individuals
There is “no arguing against reality”? Really? “No arguing against reality”? Chopra is a man who has spent his entire life and career since abandoning real medicine for quackery and science for pseudoscience arguing against reality and losing! Just look at his brief bio after the op-ed. It lists him as being the author of Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being. Basically, it’s a book that invokes epigenetics to claim that you are the “user and controller of your genes, the author of your biological story.” Basically, it’s the same quack view of epigenetics as a magical biological mechanism that allows you to basically tell your genes whatever you want them to do and protect you from pretty much any disease. The bio also mentions that he is the author of Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine, perhaps the ultimate popularizer of the misuse of quantum physics to justify quackery. If you don’t believe me, just look at the blurb:
Inspired by the unexplained recovery of patients in his own practice who had been given just a few months to live, Dr. Chopra began his search for answers. After returning to his native India to explore humanity’s most ancient healing tradition, Ayurveda, he combined those insights with Western medicine, neuroscience, and physics. What he discovered—a “network of intelligence” in the human body with the potential to defeat cancer, heart disease, even aging itself—forms the basis of Quantum Healing. In this new edition, Dr. Chopra once again offers a fascinating intellectual journey and a deeply moving chronicle of hope and healing.
Now there’s your Choprawoo. Here’s some more that Chopra used recently to sell something he calls a HumaGram™:
HumaGrams are life-size photo-realistic digital representations of people, projected using ARHT’s patent-pending Augmented Reality Holographic Technology, capable of eliminating time and geography by allowing a speaker to appear in front of an audience as a hologram in real-time for a two-way interaction, without having the need to physically be there.
With the advent of HumaGrams in the health and wellness space, individuals can now be beamed into virtually any location around the world using the public Internet, and can interact with multiple audiences in multiple locations in real-time opening up endless boundaries for greater engagement and collaboration. The use of this technology will bring the insights of key thought leaders to the masses while fusing the online with the offline. Jiyo users will be able to access a schedule of lectures, meditations, and workshops around the world where a HumaGram of these experts will be available to interact with them.
I was only disappointed that Chopra didn’t invoke quantum physics.
Still, given Chopra’s skill at laying down the world’s most concentrated woo over a long period of time, I’m sure you can see why yet another of my irony meters is lying on the table in a bubbling, quivering pile of molten plastic and wires.
I just had a terrifying thought: What if Donald Trump and Deepak Chopra joined forces? The woo would be YUGE, perhaps so huge that the world couldn’t handle it. I also had another thought. Even though Chopra is correct about Trump’s relationship with reality, he needs to learn to realize that he’s no different. In fact, he’s probably worse.