Deepak Chopra, Cosmic Consciousness and Heisenberg Uncertainty

hei skeptics,

Yesterday I blogged to you about how physicists have discovered the Higgs Boson, after it being predicted 40 years ago. Today I am going to be blogging about a spiritual person abusing and misinterpreting the work of physicists to try to prove his particular ideology. Deepak Chopra has, for a long time, been trying to prove his western ideology that consciousness creates matter, and recently, I got into a bit of a twitter debate with him. I’m fairly sure I came out on top, with him resorting to ad hominem attacks and fallacious reasoning, but here i will post an elaborated explanation of my argument, as it is difficult with only 140 characters.

One of the main arguments Chopra uses which has some reasoning and comes from real science, is the idea of observation of quantum systems. His argument is as follows. If the act of observing quantum systems (wave function collapse) changes a system, then this means that the act of our consciousness observing something has an active effect, which shows that our universe is just created by our conscious, and that matter is an illusion, created by consciousness.

There is one problem with this argument (other than that conscious probably doesn’t exist), and it is his assumption that observation is the only way to cause wave function collapse. He is right, observation is enough to cause the collapse, but it is not the only way. What actually causes the collapse of wave functions is the interaction of particles.

What is important to know is that observation is itself an interaction, but not all interactions are observations. When an interaction occurs, a particle (usually a photon) bumps into another particle, and exerts a force on that particle, and then goes on its way. This force changes the way the particle acts. Now, that is an interaction. An observation is when this photon goes on and subsequently hits somebody’s retina or a sensor designed to detect photons. This is an observation. Observation requires interaction, but not visa-versa.

This interaction, which results in observation, is what makes the uncertainty principle an impossible nut to crack. This photon running into the particle always has an effect on it. And seeing that we cannot observe the particle any other way, we can never find out perfectly where it is and where it is going, but that’s another time.

Deepak Chopra then decided to call this an oxymoron, which is just ridiculous, and called me ‘a materialist kid’ and a ‘teenager’ as insults (ad hominem!!!), before insulting my spelling when my phone auto-corrected consciousness to conscience, and then refusing to debate me until I learnt to spell and use perfect grammar on a social networking site which has a rule of only 140 characters.

He threw many other arguments at me, which I will tackle at later dates, but this one was his most prominent argument, which is based on a false premise (he attacked me for accidentally spelling it premace while debating him) and has no real tangibility with quantum mechanics.


Is skepticism a religion?

Hello to all of my skeptical fellows,

I was recently addressed with a point from my father, it is one of his main attacks on scientific skepticism and atheism, and I have heard it from others. He stated that skepticism is a religion and it is no different from any other ideology (ideologies are different to religion, but this is what my father said, not me). I think this is an interesting misconception and I will be talking about it in today’s post. There are dozens of differences between skepticism and religions, and I will only touch on a few today, but I may do some more at a later date.

One of the main reasons why the world view which is scientific skepticism is different to different world views such as Christianity or Marxism is that skepticism is the only ideology which has any tangible relationship with reality, and is willing to change its ideas to fit the evidence. Scientific skepticism is the only ideology which will change any of its views when it has definitively been proved to be incorrect. You may say that the Catholics are able to be swayed by the evidence too, and I agree that the Catholic church has done well to support evolution and an old-earth theory of the world, but they will only do it to the extent that it does not go against their main base ideology that god exists and Jesus rose after three days.

Scientific skepticism is also unlike religions in that they do not worship, nor acknowledge the existence of a supernatural or supreme deity. Of course, if it is proven that such a supreme being does exist, then we will change our views to say that there is a supreme deity, but most scientific, skeptical, agnostic atheists are pretty sure that that will never happen.

Scientific Skepticism is also the only ideology which does not have any preconceived notions about the universe which we live in. It is happy for the science and the evidence to show the way they should think about the world. No other ideology has started with no predisposed beliefs and let the evidence take them where it takes them.

Scientific skepticism is the only ideology which, upon there not currently being any evidence about the subject, will simply say “We don’t know what is going on here.” This is unlike all other religions and ideologies which will fill this gap in their knowledge with whatever predetermined beliefs they have about the universe.

That is all for me today, I will be posting about this again soon. I will leave you with a quote from Mark Twain, ” When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.” Mark Twain, an author and humorist of some note.

I am going to be adding a question to the each post from now on, and you can give your answers in the comments or by emailing me. Today’s question is ‘How many DNA base pairs are there in the human genome?”