Mod+ Deepak Chopra's challenge to skeptics

#3
I watched the first video, and it sounded fairly reasonable. I was surprised, because I expected him to sound crazy. Prior to this, I only knew 2 things about Chopra,

1. He is somehow associated with Oprah
2. Skeptics love to inject him into conversations

If I could only name one thing that skeptics love to do, it would be to make fun of Deepak Chopra. Sometimes I wonder if Chopra is some kind of "skeptic bait". Just mention him in conversation, and every skeptic in a 5 mile radius will show up, trampling each other to death in the rush to be the first to mock him. If Chopra were to show up at a JREF conference, the whole crowd would choke to death in a green cloud of toxic smugness. The guy is dangerous ;)
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
The best part about this challenge was reading the tweets from the JREF about it. The JREF blasting a bogus million dollar challenge: priceless.
Yeah, anyone who thinks the JREF challenge is anything but propaganda hasn't looked into the details.

Unlike Chopra, I think TAM should focus on the following rather than the Hard Problem (or any other philosophical challenges to materialism):

1) The problem of denying free will, as noted in these studies.

2) Rosenberg roundup

Having now completed our ten-part series of posts on Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, it seems a roundup of sorts is in order. As I have said, Rosenberg’s book is worthy of attention because he sees more clearly than most other contemporary atheist writers do the true implications of the scientism on which their position is founded. And interestingly enough, the implications he says it has are more or less the very implications I argued scientism has in my own book The Last Superstition. The difference between us is this: Rosenberg acknowledges that the implications in question are utterly bizarre, but maintains that they must be accepted because the case for the scientism that entails them is ironclad. I maintain that Rosenberg’s case for scientism is completely worthless, and that the implications of scientism are not merely bizarre but utterly incoherent and constitute a reductio ad absurdum of the premises that lead to them.
3) Pragmatism as a Dead End for New Atheism

What is the utility of Enlightenment and Liberty if the objectifying rationality that enlightens and liberates us forces on us a vision of universal undeadness, entailing not just the absurdity of theistic faith but the superficiality of the very concepts of morality, happiness, and personhood?

The pragmatic slogan in question betrays the new atheist’s narrow-minded scientism. In the wider view, science doesn’t work at all. Arguably, the costs of science’s efficacy outweigh the benefits. Granted, if all you care about is the cognitive domain in which science has prevailed, you won’t be concerned with the social implications of naturalism. But scientism doesn’t end there, since the naturalist must then reduce the concept of caring to some neurological mechanism. Moreover, she must interpret all concepts and thus all alleged symbols in scientific theories as being perfectly meaningless, since there’s no room for such a personal quality as intentionality in this exclusive version of the naturalist’s ontology, which consists only of more and more complex arrangements of causal relations between particles. Scientistic naturalism is thus the proverbial serpent that eats its tail.
4) Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Scientism and the Scapegoating of Philosophy

There’s more to human life than science. Of course, elites like Dawkins and Tyson know this perfectly well since they’re highly cultured individuals. Why, then, the contempt heaped upon poor, already-unpopular academic philosophy? Is this a case of schadenfreude?

No, the best explanation is that the scientismist uses philosophy as a scapegoat to distract attention from the fact that science, not philosophy or religion, threatens indeed all culture. Naturalists like Tyson or Dawkins really ought to rail against the arts, romantic love, and all other cultural illusions, just as they castigate philosophers and theists for not keeping up with the torrent of scientific discoveries. Just as philosophical speculations can appear juvenile next to an ironclad scientific theory, so too a painting, a song, or an intimate relationship seems preposterous in light of the mechanistic facts of nature. But postmodern scientists are typically neoliberals and so they play the game of the double standard. Secretly, they may worry about the apocalyptic implications of naturalism; perhaps they even soothe themselves by blaming hapless philosophy for cultural nihilism and hyper-irony, as if philosophers weren’t just channeling the upshot of scientific naturalism. But scientists aren’t saints, so they tend not to embrace the posthuman, which is to say antihuman, perspective from which phenomena are stripped of all meaning and purpose except for the horror made plain to anyone with aesthetic detachment. Scientists cling to their neoliberal humanistic values and sacred ideas in spite of the antihuman implications of naturalism. Moreover, they need to preserve the infantilizing culture of the uninformed masses, so the peons can continue to support the scientific enterprise, the latter being self-destructively all-important to the scientists’ higher culture.
 
#5
I think it's important to note that determinism is not something coming solely from the materialist camp. Many mystics also deny free will. I myself probably side with materialists on this issue but for different reasons.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#6
Is there a policy against cursing on this board? I honestly can't remember.

I think it's important to note that determinism is not something coming solely from the materialist camp. Many mystics also deny free will. I myself probably side with materialists on this issue but for different reasons.
I think most mystical traditions would provide some actual hope in light of this determinism though?

Personally I don't think we understand time well enough to say anything definitive on the issue of free will (see here for some details). I figure we might as well take the reality gamble we do have it since I've yet to see anyone live out the idea we don't. I do think Massimo would have interesting answers to this subject, given his apparent affinity for causality transcendent Mathematical Platonism, but I do think it would be nice for TAM to address the potential negative results of JREF's evangelism.

My problem, beyond the question of determinism, is the assumption of the skeptical movement -> that materialism elides into secular humanist conceptions of liberalism or libertarianism. But what stops people from pulling a Rosenberg and turning that same materialist-grounded skepticism on those value systems? Benjamin Cain takes an agnostic view on the free will question - it's the radical skepticism that makes him wonder about nihilistic implications.

Not that there aren't potential answers - Bell's "This Inscrutable Light" is a great atheist (doubting agnostic?) response to the anti-natalism of Ligotti's A Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Yet the very people peddling the materialism Ligotti uses as the foundation of his argument don't seem to have bothered to even think about this sort of thing - or at best they provide weak answers like the all-too-often-moronic Neil Degrasse Tyson: "Here's the answer to all your concerns about nihilism -> Look at how beautiful this CGI of the endless void of space is!"
 
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#7
RPK, please edit your post to remove the f-word. There are lots of less offensive expletives you could use.

As to Deepak Chopra, I'm not a great fan of his; and I doubt I'm the only proponent who feels the same way. IMO, this challenge is as pointless as Randi's, although for once he's making a fair point: before sceptics dismiss the paranormal, they should be able to explain the normal.
Indeed it sounds like a provocation, doesn't it?
A pointless challenge to expose the worthless PR stunt after which it is modeled.

All in all, I think it's a good idea.
 
#8
I think it's important to note that determinism is not something coming solely from the materialist camp. Many mystics also deny free will. I myself probably side with materialists on this issue but for different reasons.
Interesting mix. Have you already discussed it? If not you may start a new thread on this.
I'd be curious about it.
 
#9
Is there a policy against cursing on this board? I honestly can't remember.
I'm not sure. I swear all the time, but then again I've been banned from the forum twice.

I think most mystical traditions would provide some actual hope in light of this determinism though?

Personally I don't think we understand time well enough to say anything definitive on the issue of free will (see here for some details). I figure we might as well take the reality gamble we do have it since I've yet to see anyone live out the idea we don't. I do think Massimo would have interesting answers to this subject, given his apparent affinity for causality transcendent Mathematical Platonism, but I do think it would be nice for TAM to address the potential negative results of JREF's evangelism.

My problem, beyond the question of determinism, is the assumption of the skeptical movement -> that materialism elides into secular humanist conceptions of liberalism or libertarianism. But what stops people from pulling a Rosenberg and turning that same materialist-grounded skepticism on those value systems? Benjamin Cain takes an agnostic view on the free will question - it's the radical skepticism that makes him wonder about nihilistic implications.

Not that there aren't potential answers - Bell's "This Inscrutable Light" is a great atheist (doubting agnostic?) response to the anti-natalism of Ligotti's A Conspiracy Against the Human Race. Yet the very people peddling the materialism Ligotti uses as the foundation of his argument don't seem to have bothered to even think about this sort of thing - or at best they provide weak answers like the all-too-often-moronic Neil Degrasse Tyson: "Here's the answer to all your concerns about nihilism -> Look at how beautiful this CGI of the endless void of space is!"
Yes, I think I completely agree. If I was as clear-headed and articulate, I probably would have written something similar.
 
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#10
Interesting mix. Have you already discussed it? If not you may start a new thread on this.
I'd be curious about it.
Well, simply if the self is an illusion, what is there to have free will? It's also pretty clear that time is also an illusion, which, to me, defeats the idea of causation, which in turn defeats the idea of free will... But I haven't thought about this much, because it's a little over my head and I also don't care. It's amazing that it's so often discussed. I guess it's only because materialists have to reject determinism in order to have a position that is a little closer to being somewhat coherent.

Edit: have to accept determinism...
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
I'm not sure. I swear all the time, but then again I've been banned from the forum twice.

Yes, I think I completely agree. If I was as clear-headed and articulate, I probably would have written something similar.
Thank what RAW would call my Holy Guardian Angel. Met it on the way to my personal Chapel Perilous, and channeling it through automatic writing is the reason I have any "clear-headed and articulate" posts at all. <<insert appropriate smiley>>
 
#12
Michael, pardon me, but how are expletives offensive? Sometimes they can be quite useful for adding color to language. I can see the overuse of such words being annoying, but the words in and of themselves... I don't get it. Nobody is exempt from their use after stubbing a toe. Maybe that's how RPK feels.
I'm surprised you have to ask that, FDR. I could have told RPK to go f*** himself with a wire brush (a popular rejoinder in my part of the world), but I'm above turning to the last resort of the inarticulate; so I made a polite request for him to amend his post.

If I stub my toe, I can curse along with the best of them, but I don't go on the Internet and, after the fact, deliberately regurgitate my expletives. If I were to direct some ad hom at RPK, then rather than pedestrian obscenity, I might try for something with an illustrious pedigree that is actually quite humorous, e.g: they must have thrown the wrong bit away when he was circumcised (a remark some credit to the British prime minister, David Lloyd George). I could try for added wit, by asking him: "What say you? How's life as a discarded tea cosy going for you, then? Enquiring minds would like to know".

But I won't, of course. As I said, I am very far above engaging in such scurrilous banter.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#13
Ouch, now you are hurting my sense of humor. It is going to take me a long time to get tired of linking to that site every time Chopra is mentioned, it is just to funny.

"Evolution regulates formless abstract beauty", simply poetry
"The ego shapes ephemeral observations", who does not like that?
To end, this one:
"Each of us explains an expression of mortality"
What difference do you see between those statements and the ones made by Neil Degrasse Tyson in this video:

 
#15
Now now, let's not start ragging on people for the frequency of their posting. ;-)
Not for the frequency of the posts, for the mention of the JREF. It's like saying Voldemort's name.

I find it funny that if you manage to pass Chopra's challenge (you can't), he probably has the money to pay, but if you manage to pass Randi's challenge (you can't), you likely get one million James Randi IOUs.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#16
Not for the frequency of the posts, for the mention of the JREF. It's like saying Voldemort's name.

I find it funny that if you manage to pass Chopra's challenge (you can't), he probably has the money to pay, but if you manage to pass Randi's challenge (you can't), you likely get one million James Randi IOUs.
Yeah, I think Prescott's exposure of the challenge really needs to be more widely disseminated.

I also liked, "The Relentless Hypocrisy of James Randi" by Michael Goodspeed.
 
#18
What difference do you see between those statements and the ones made by Neil Degrasse Tyson in this video:
I like that he doesn't actually appear on screen. It makes it so much easier to imagine him in priestly garb reading a parable from holy scripture. IMO, he's bigger than even he thinks: bigger than the stars, bigger even than the galaxies. Despite himself, he has a sense of the spiritual, but focuses it on the wrong object. At least Alan Watts (whose talks I'm very fond of, incidentally), employed spiritual language about actual spiritual topics.
 
#19
Yes, because with Chopra it seems like money is his prime objective. Also, did you just link me to Randi website for proof of Randi's million?
Also, while I was on that website I seen an ad for TAM 2014. "Join us for skeptical camaraderie..." That might be the saddest thing I've ever read.
 
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