It "does far more harm than good". This is how Deepak Chopra described the kind of skepticism being advanced by the likes of James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss and Jerry Coyne. Chopra wrote an article for the San Francisco Chronicle as a follow-up for his one million dollar challenge to skeptics. In the article, Chopra argues that there is no real need for the skeptic movement to exist. It has a "very small, even insignificant role to play" he adds.
Proclaiming himself as "one of the major confronters" of this skepticism, Chopra sends a warning by saying that it is his "primary goal to defend the truth of spirituality". He compares skeptics to Elmer Gantry, a character from a novel by Sinclair Lewis. This character in the book is a minister who is a greater sinner than the lost folks he preached to. The skeptical movement, according to Chopra, is "much more close-minded and blindly irrational than anyone they expose". Chopra is basically saying that James Randi is more close-minded and blindly irrational than Uri Geller and Peter Popoff (two of the most prominent figures that Randi debunked and exposed for the liars and frauds that they are).
Chopra also tagged the skeptic movement as a "society for the suppression of curiosity". The rest of the piece has Chopra expounding on his One Million Dollar Challenge to the Skeptics. He describes his challenge in a variety of ways:
1) He is offering one million dollars to "any skeptic who could prove how electrochemical activity in the brain produces the appearance of a three-dimensional world, the point being that debunkers of the paranormal can't come close to explaining the normal."
2) He says his offer focuses on "What is consciousness, how does it create reality, and how far does this reality extend?"
3) He calls it a "challenge against materialism".
Chopra's challenge for skeptics generated mostly negative feedback. The challenge video which Chopra posted on YouTube has 1,096 dislikes and 286 likes. The feedback for the follow-up video is identical, that is it got more dislikes than likes.
In the article he wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, Chopra dismissed this negative feedback saying "Within twenty-four hours, my challenge met with the predictable reaction. My skeptic fans decried the video as silly, ridiculous, a publicity stunt. But in what way was my offer any different from Randi’s?"
Well, Chopra asked for the difference between his challenge and Randi's so a viewer of the video and reader of the follow-up article named Per Nordin has stepped up to the plate and answered the question.
Here's Per Nordin's answer in full which he posted as a comment on the YouTube video of the challenge: "In a very fundamental way. Randi's challenge does not ask for proof in how the paranormal abilities work. His only challenge is to show that it works! He does not ask even for any attempt to explain how it works, let alone any proof of the scientific underlaying mechanisms and absolutely no demands on peer-reviewed scientific papers on how it works. He asks only to show that one can demonstrate paranormal powers of any kind.
Your challenge - in stark contrast - does not ask to show that consciousness works, but for proof positive scientific peer-reviewed explanation on how it works! The equivalent challenge (as you want to know about consciousness) would be "Show me you can think, that you are conscious, and you win". That you falter to see the difference between his and your challenges is amazing."
Chopra ended the article on The San Francisco Chronicle with a "To be continued." He said he will further explain his challenge in his next post.
Here's Chopra's challenge if you haven't seen it:
Here's the follow-up video:
James Randi has responded sort of to Chopra's challenge by posting a meme photo on his Facebook page which says "Woo shall not pass." See the meme photo here. Woo is a term often used to describe pseudoscience and paranormal claims.
Write Your Comments Below