Without the average person’s general bewilderment of quantum mechanics, the New Age Community wouldn’t have such a cool, sciency subject upon which to base its feel-good flapdoodle. We wouldn’t have characters like Deepak Chopra, who, according to one reviewer of his book, Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine,
(Chopra) calls this ability to cure disease from within “quantum healing,” and shows how we’re all capable of it. He believes intelligence exists everywhere in our bodies, in each of our 50 trillion cells, and that therefore each cell knows how to heal itself. It’s a fascinating assertion, one that remains unprovable by science but overwhelmingly true by anecdote.
Just below that quote, however, is one from the book’s publisher in complete contradiction,
Now (Chopra) has brought together the current research of Western medicine, neuroscience, and physics with the insights of Ayurvedic theory to show that the human body is controlled by a “network of intelligence” grounded in quantum reality.
“Quantum Healing” is “unprovable” by science, yet Chopra uses science to demonstrate it. Why hasn’t Chopra earned a Nobel prize? Well, he has. He earned a satirical Ig Nobel prize for physics in 1998, for “his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness.” Economic happiness indeed, the man has published 62 books (62!) since 1987, not including audio, video, and other work.
Chopra is not the only offender to make money and sow confusion of quantum theory, as physicist Victor Stenger discusses in his new book, God and the Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Religion and Science. Stenger and I spoke in a podcast published last week. This post is a continuation of my previous one discussing our conversation.
In his book Stenger discusses the history of quantum mechanics, and then offers reasons why woo-woo peddlers like Chopra and others misuse the science. Another theory widely distorted by religious apologists is the “fine-tuning” argument for the existence of god. This argument asserts that the physical constants of the universe are so precise that they had to be conciously pre-programmed by a divine knob-twiddler – ergo Jesus. Stenger refutes this argument in his book, as well.
In the past, similar to Chopra, Creationists employed week arguments that only sounded like science. Now, proponents of intelligent design, such as Micheal Behe and Will Dembski, use science – bad science – to assert the existence of the supernatural. According to Stenger:
They understood this point about the god-of-the-gaps argument not being sufficient to argue the existence of god: Just because science doesn’t understand something, therefore god must exist to explain it. And that doesn’t work. Because you never know, maybe science, tomorrow will explain it, or 1,000 years from now will explain it. You never know this. So they recognized that, so they tried to come up with some ideas that they claimed sicence would never be able to answer. And Behe came up with this “Irreducible Complexity” in life. That was a really bad idea, because he wasn’t even familiar with the literature on the subject. The examples he gave had already been gone over by evolutionary biologists, which he wasn’t one, he was a biochemist.
Dembski, a theologian, claimed that the more complex a system, the greater the information it contains, and that no natural process can result in an increase in information. He called this the “Law of Conservation of Information.” According to Stenger,
That was just totally wrong, in fact, I disproved that in a book that I wrote called Has Science Found God. . . . The proof is really simple. Because information is associated with entropy. And the way information is defined in information theory is as a kind of negative entropy. And it’s very mathematical. It’s been completely worked out mathematically. And entropy is not conserved. The second law allows entropy to change. So, it’s just provably wrong to say that information has to be conserved, that you can’t have a system go from less information to more information – it happens all the time…
Even though Behe and Dembski’s assertions are bad science, Stenger disputes the notion that science has nothing to say about the supernatural. In a column for The Huffington Post on May 15, 2012, titled, Scientists and Religion, he wrote,
However, while supernatural entities may not be directly observable, any effects these entities might have on the material world should manifest themselves as observable phenomena. Anything observable is subject to scientific inquiry. On the other hand, if the supernatural has no observable effects on the natural world, then why even worry about it?
Stenger’s column received more than 1,000 comments and his controversial view is different from many scientists, who believe that science has nothing to say about religion. According to Stenger,
I just totally disagree with that, it’s not even a fact, because people are doing research on questions like prayer and near death experiences, and so on, which could come back with information that would proved evidence for the supernatural. And if they did then the scientists would have to accept it.
Not only would they accept it, they would welcome it. It would be new territory for them to explore and gain knowledge – and grant money, according to Stenger.
Or, if they want money, they could write a quantum mechanics self-help/spiritually book. I’ve got a few suggestions for Chopra’s 63rd and 64th book:
- The Quantum Diet: Quit Fasting – Use Physics!
- Quantum Retirement. How to Invest for Your Future Using Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
If he starts his “scientific research” now, he could have both books published by mid-summer. I can’t wait.