Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Bashing of New Age Pseudoscience

This is one review of a book that I agree with. The writer at the Guardian reviewed and and properly bashed Deepak Chopra's mumbo jumbo book "The Spontaneous Fulfillment Of Desire". In doing so, he highlighted a simple aspect of something that many people seems to forget.

Copper-bottomed psychological science, however, tells us we are predisposed to find meaning in random occurrences. It's partly confirmation bias: you never remember the times you find a gift from a friend, then don't get a phone call. We're also bad at judging the likelihood of "miraculous" events. The mathematician JE Littlewood enshrined this, tongue-in-cheek, as "Littlewood's law": if you assume we're active and alert for eight hours a day, and that we have experiences (taking a sip of coffee, having a thought about someone) at the rate of one per second, then astonishing things - events with a one-in-a-million frequency - will happen to us, on average, once every 35 days.

There is very little one can do with crackpots like Chopra. They are certainly free to sell their brand of new age spirituality. However, when they invoke valid science, and especially physics, to justify and give weight to their arguments, then that's when the gloves are off. This is especially true when they bastardize the various physics principles. People who buy into it should be told that, very much like that "What the *@$^%&%$#$ Do We Know" movie, physicists do not endorse such bastardization nor is it based on verified ideology. If people still want to buy into such pseudoscience even knowing that, then they deserve what they get!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An alternative science to that pseudoscience is FACS, as made popular by the recent Fox series Lie to Me. Maybe if Chopra and others were to suggest their "solutions" as hypotheses, and attempt to test those hypotheses, they'd stumble onto new discoveries in psychology. Too bad that everyone just wants to get published and famous, regardless of how many people they dupe.

Bashing approved!