Monday, February 19, 2007

What makes Deepak Chopra so stupid?

Deepak is back with Part 2 of Why Evolutionary Biology Embraces the Bogus.

It's short and shallow and utterly stupid. It's so shallow it's barely worth commenting on so this time I'm going to take a different tact and explain why Deepak Chopra is stupid and not just ignorant. I can sum it up for you right now: Deepak Chopra's preconceived notions of "non-physical" causes and "non-physical" consciousness blind him to all potential physical, brain level, explanations for human behavior and render him grossly incapable of learning anything new in the areas of neurophysiology, evolutionary psychology, quantum physics and related scientific subjects. If you get that, you can stop reading now (unless you want to know my secret big mistake in my last post on Chopra). The rest is detail and argument supporting the view you already understand.

We're all ignorant to some degree and I put my ignorance of Prozac and clinical depression out there in my first post on Deepak (that post is re-written now, so take my word for it or read the comments section on my fist Deepak post). However, unlike Deepak, I caught my error, thanks to you guys commenting on my post and pointing it out, and so I learned. But Deepak can't learn what I learned. That's why he is stupid and not just ignorant.

One of the things that happened in Deepak's first post on why he thinks evolutionary biology is bogus is that comments on his post pointed to a huge error in his implied assumption that losing one's job could cause a person to have an "imbalance of serotonin" and possibly needing Prozac. What he had said was simply; "Let's say a man loses his job, becomes depressed, and wants a prescription for Prozac. What made him depressed isn't the imbalance of serotonin in his brain but the loss of his job." There was confusion there about two uses of the term "depression." On one hand there is clinical depression which needs to be treated with a drug like Prozac, at least for awhile, and then there is the street use of the term "depression" which can mean you're a little sad, worried or blue in a completely normal and healthy way. The error is gross because in the case of clinical depression where you can get a prescription for Prozac it really is the imbalance of serotonin that's causing it. Normal sadness is still in balance.

If you're blue about losing your job you may have somewhat lower serotonin levels, I assume but don't know that and normal sadness may not even alter serotonin levels, but you certainly do not have an imbalance of serotonin in normal sadness. No doctor who knows what he is doing is going to give you Prozac for the kind of normal, in balance, sadness. Prozac is meant only for the chemically imbalanced, clinical depression and related serious conditions. Now, maybe losing your job might trigger a susceptibility to having your serotonin levels go out of whack but losing your job can not be called "the cause" simply because it's too normal an experience to lose a job and most people don't go clinical as a result. I have no experience myself with clinical depression. I've never used Prozac. I've never needed psychiatric help for depression in any way. But I have gotten fired from two jobs – that certainly made me sad, and eventually I re-thought my entire approach to life as a result, so the sadness was useful for me. Deepak was just dead wrong to imply that losing your job will cause clinical depression of the kind you need Prozac for.

In his new post, Deepak writes about how, in materialistic science, "associations will be mistaken for causes," and that is exactly what Deepak did with his comment about a man losing his job and getting depressed. We can prove job loss does not cause clinical depression and prove Deepak wrong. Deepak says, materialistic science, evolutionary psychology/biology, is using, "quite invalid reasoning, because it always winds up proving one's own preconceptions." But again, this is what Deepak is doing. He can't even acknowledge the provable errors he has already made. Deepak's own conclusion precedes the investigation.

He's guilty of everything he accuses evolutionary biology of and worse. One thing Deepak does that no evolutionary biologist would do is come to the table with no specific evidence and examples at hand. Deepak quotes no papers on the evolutionary biology he attempts to criticize but only makes vague assumptions about what evolutionary biologists do and assumes they do what he does – make bogus arguments and not examine evidence. It's pure projection.

Like I said earlier, I made a mistake in my first Deepak post and didn't take into account this confusion about the different meanings of "depression." I actually thought you might get Prozac for a little mood brightener after losing a job. I was ignorant. No doctor would prescribe Prozac for you unless he thought you were clinically depressed. I acknowledge this and I have learned. Deepak has learned nothing he admits too. In his recent post he totally ignores his past mistakes and moves on to build on his past ignorance and make a wall that guards him from "Materialist" scientific understandings. (Or maybe he's building a wall to guard his marks from understanding the science that would destroy his ability to con their money from them?)

Deepak says: "Evolutionary biology isn't a magic science or a privileged one. It brings a preconceived model to a problem." As far as I can tell, that's half correct, evolutionary biology isn't magic – magic is what Deepak pretends to sell along with his own preconceived (several thousand years ago) notions. Chopra goes further off track very soon by adding: "It applies that model without looking to the right or the left. It has a strong bias in favor of material fact instead of abstract philosophy."

Abstract philosophy? What's really lacking isn't abstraction or philosophy, what is not "allowed" in science is theological teleology and supernatural causes, something Deepak identifies, vaguely, with abstract philosophy.

Deepak claims: "Human beings do lots of non-physical things." Like what? Thinking? Feeling? Getting depressed – even clinically depressed? If there's no physical cause for clinical depression, then why does Prozac have any effect at all? Does Deepak think it is all placebo effect?

The assumptions Deepak claims are ignored or flouted by evolutionary biology are also "ignored" by neurophysiology and neuropharmacology and every other science out there. Deepak claims that "We intuitively know how to select a cause as opposed to an association." But the failures of Deepak's own intuitive attempts in this area prove that relying on intuition, and "religious-like" notions about souls, produce gross errors. Deepak says "evolutionary biology tends to forget intuition" but that will change as soon as someone writes a paper on intuition and where it really comes from and how Deepak gets things so clearly wrong using it.

Like everything else Deepak writes about, materialistic science produces results, even evolutionary science. And it is Deepak who produces only words.
And Deepak lies. This is what Deepak claims evolutionary biology is like:

"So what if two explanations arise in evolutionary biology? Assume that the gene for music is isolated. As an evolutionary development, the cause for this is that one gene pool didn't contain music and died out, while another gene pool did contain music and survived. If explanation A holds that prehistoric women were attracted to men who whistled while explanation B holds that prehistoric men ran away from men who whistled, there's no valid way to choose. In the absence of physical data, evolution is a highly dubious model to apply to behavior."

No Deepak that is your straw man version of something you have no understanding of. If you want real evolutionary psychology, go here:

Max Planck researchers have used psychological research techniques to successfully reconstruct primeval cognition.

And here:

Let us know why you think the Max Planck group failed to "reconstruct primeval cognition."

Or, here's something easier, Steven Pinker on the evolutionary psychology of religion.

Deepak says "I realize that this kind of critique frustrates and even infuriates materialists…" Yes, being constantly lied about is frustrating. So, stop lying, Deepak and next time you want to criticize evolutionary psychology instead of making up a straw man version of an evolutionary psychology paper, read a real paper on it and criticize that.

1 comment:

LetGoAndFlow said...

I think Chopra criticizes evolutionary biology in the same way he criticizes ALL science. Chopra's favorite topic is consciousness (read awareness) and science has always failed to explain it. Evolutionary biology is what it is: a science, a model, an organization of facts - its very limited when you really think about awareness beyond our physical existence.