Wikipedia Skeptics’ Crucifixion of Deepak Chopra

Wikipedia Skeptics’ Crucifixion of Deepak Chopra

Richard Gale and Gary Null PhD
Progressive Radio Network, July 29, 2019

Every day tens of millions of Americans are ill, from cancer to dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, mental disorders, etc. As bad as this massive human suffering is, Americans are also faced with uncertainty of any given treatment. This creates additional anxiety. Will I live or die? Will I ever get off these medications? However, the large majority of sick Americans have something in common. Their first course of action is to visit their primary care physicians or go to the hospital with the belief that conventional modern medical science is the only answer. The medical establishment and all of our federal health agencies confirm medical science has tried and perfected protocols. But none of these treatments involve the patients’ beliefs, mental attitudes and personal worldviews. In effect, a patient is perceived as a damaged car going into the shop for a mechanical repair. The medical regime that dominates conventional medical practice is unable to take into account that a person’s own mind might have a critical role in the healing process. Evidence-based medicine claims there must be reproducible results, ideally founded upon placebo-controlled studies, and a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed literature from respected institutions to conclude that a pharmaceutical treatment might be effective. Aside from the numerous failures of medicine to meet these criteria, herein also lies modern medicine’s cognitive disconnect. There are thousands of studies that give credence to the benefits of body-mind medicine. Back in the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard discovered the power of positive thinking on physical and mental health. But Benson was not alone. There have been dozens of other physicians and scientists who have shown that negative emotions adversely affect our DNA and can turn off genetic expressions that trigger a disease. Conversely, directed positive thoughts can have an impact on DNA and facilitate healing.

When American scientists visit foreign countries to study meditation or yoga, breathing, chanting or drumming, and investigate whether there are measurable metrics to support therapeutic effects, they can be overwhelmed that there are multiple realities and therefore many roads to health and healing. Then Wikipedia and Google come along to tell us it is all nonsense. We are told not to believe our own experiences, intuition or the power of prayers or mental concentration. Instead, separate yourself. Become an atheist. Only believe in reductionist Scientism and place faith in the paradigm that only what has been manufactured into a pill can heal you.

Clearly, as more Americans become distrustful of standard pharmaceutical-based treatments and turn to alternative medical treatments, there is a clash of medical worldviews. This paper describes one its victims.

Modern day Skeptics who dominate Wikipedia’s content on non-conventional medicine, body-mind science and parapsychology have zero tolerance for theories that suggest the mind can directly influence health and treat certain diseases. In fact, theories that human consciousness, which underlies our subjective experiences of the world, may be non-localized, or independent and not contingent on brain chemistry is anathema according Skeptic’s scientific materialist view of reality. Although the religion of Scientism is less than a hundred years old and is now being fueled by the emergence of New Atheism during the past couple decades, what we today call mind-body medicine goes back to at least the first millennium BC if not earlier. In the East, meditative techniques to explore the nature of consciousness has been a 3,000-year scientific experiment. Its results have been reproduced innumerable times among its practitioners over the centuries and the results are almost always the same for those who are the most accomplished in these psycho-somatic and psycho-spiritual practices. The simple fact is that modern science knows far more about atoms, electrons and the Big Bang than it does about the human mind and consciousness. Every new discovery in the neurosciences opens up new questions. The reductionist opinion, fully embraced by Skeptics and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, suggests the mind and consciousness are nothing more than the firings of neurons and secretions of neurotransmitters all taking place in the brain; yet neuroscience has no means to explain subjective experience itself. In fact, Skepticism, and the new secular religion of Scientism in general, has been so habituated to only observing and measuring objective reality, that subjective experience, which gives rise to intuition, precognition, discernment, insight into phenomenon to discover meaning, and the capacity of the conscious mind to direct and focus in upon itself in order to affect the body’s biological processes are disregarded as delusions and nonsense.

Any successful treatment due to non-conventional and body-mind protocols and therapies that Skepticism cannot explain scientifically — which is practically everything — is simply attributed to the placebo effect. It does not require much thought to realize such an explanation is blatantly unscientific. The belief that the mind can cure the body’s ailments, whether by the intervention of a god or as a natural quality of the mind, albeit largely not understood, continues to be held by a large majority of Americans. Sixty-six percent of American adults believe God supernaturally heals. Clearly, there is no scientific doubt any longer that emotional stress can hinder the body’s immune system. And there are over 5,000 studies listed in the NIH’s database of peer-reviewed medical papers that have studied meditation’s and yoga’s effects on health. Today, the fact that the mind can reduce stress, thereby affecting the body’s biochemistry, and relieve adverse emotional conditions, is scientifically acceptable. Even Skeptics, notably Sam Harris, accept this. But if this is true, then why not explore this mind-body relationship further and deeper in order to discover other mechanisms by which the mind can heal illnesses rather than just taking a pill?

One of the pioneers for bringing mind-body science to the larger public’s awareness is Dr. Deepak Chopra. Regardless of how he may be perceived as a leading popularizer of the now overly commercialized New Age movement, in his role as a highly accomplished medical doctor, with a remarkable resume, Chopra has been instrumental in awakening Americans to the value of alternative and natural medicine, as well as the importance of incorporating meditative or contemplative practices into our life regimen for physical and mental well-being. Clearly, among the millions of people who have been influenced by Chopra and who have benefited from his books and lectures, he is an important pioneer in the advancement of a future medicine that will not solely rely upon the pharmaceutical industry.

Among all of the pioneers of non-conventional medicine, including Nobel laureates such as Linus Pauling and British physicist Brian Josephson, Skeptic Wikipedia editors have been least kind to Chopra. If there is any question regarding Skepticism’s enormous influence over Wikipedia, reading Chopra’s Wiki biography will dispel any doubts. Although Chopra is a highly trained medical physician in internal medicine, who has taught at the medical schools at Boston University, Harvard and Tufts, and later served as the Chief-of-Staff at New England Memorial Hospital, you would not learn this from Wikipedia’s introductory paragraphs about him. Nor, aside from his being a celebrity spiritual personality, would you learn on his biography that he continues to be a medical researcher conducting clinical trials and publishing in peer-reviewed medical journals. Rather he is simply introduced as an “Indian-born American author, public speaker, alternative medicine advocate, and a prominent figure in the New Age movement.” His original Wikipedia biography entered back in 2003 was only two sentences, “Deepak Chopra (born 1947) is one of the most popular contemporary writers on alternative medicine and Ayurveda. A physician, he started off in the TM movement but later branched off on his own.” A year later, it would appear that the Skeptics moved into his page, the anonymous editor CSTAR, a now retired Wikipedian and one of the earlier Skeptic editors sabotaging non-conventional health pages, quoted Quackwatch founder Stephen Barrett, a national public relations voice speaking on behalf of toxic corporate products such as tobacco, oil, pesticides, junk food and of course pharmaceutical drugs as an authoritative source for criticizing Chopra. Barrett has been a scientific consultant for Skepticism’s largest organization, the Center for Inquiry and a co-Chairman of its Health Claims Subcommittee since 1980.

Today Chopra’s entry is the equivalent of a small pamphlet with 148 end-noted references. The references include many of the most prominent names in the Who’s Who directory of the radical Skeptic and New Atheism movements such as Stephen Barrett, Robert Carroll, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, David Gorski, Paul Kurtz and Paul Offit. Aside from Dawkins, none of these individuals are common household names outside of Skepticism’s cults. However, for Wikipedia editors, they are the authors of Skepticism’s gospels, which are repeatedly referenced as authoritative sources on the encyclopedia’s pages to discredit non-conventional and mind-body medicine, and to promulgate Skepticism’s doctrine. Each of these ideologues is highly biased and prejudiced against everything outside the purview of pharmaceutical-based medical practice.

Unlike Skeptics, Chopra and other investigators into the mind-body relationship are not afraid of scientific exploration and discovery. In 2014, Chopra sponsored and led the Self-Directed Biological Transformation Study Initiative, a scientific trial that would measure the effects of meditation, yoga, emotional modification, lifestyle changes, microbiome health and diet on genetic changes in the body. This included regular testing of the participants RNA expression, telomerase activity associated with cellular aging, circulating protease activity, and a variety of metabolites, peptides and neurohormones associated with brain-body messaging. To Chopra’s credit, this is the kind of research that should have been conducted decades ago, but the influence of Skeptical thought throughout the medical establishment has prevented these kinds of trials from being funded and undertaken.

Here is a description of Chopra’s Initiative:

It is interesting to note that compared to Chopra’s main critics in the scientific community, he has published more peer-reviewed studies that investigate medicine beyond the limits of scientific materialism. Among the more recent studies published during the past 12 months,

• Prebiotic Potential of Culinary Spices Used to Support Digestion and Bio absorption (Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2019)
• Psychosocial Effects of a Holistic Ayurvedic Approach to Well-being in Health and Wellness Courses (Global Adv Health Med., 2019)
• 16S rRNA gene profiling and genome reconstruction reveal community metabolic interactions and prebiotic potential of medicinal herbs used in neurodegenerative disease and as nootropics (PLOS One, 2019)
• The Effects of Grounding (Earthing) on Bodyworkers’ Pain and Overall Quality of Life: A Randomized Controlled Trial. (Explore, 2019)
• Effects of Turmeric and Curcumin Dietary Supplementation on Human Gut Microbiota: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study (J Evid Based Integr Med, 2019)
• Prebiotic Potential of Herbal Medicines Used in Digestive Health and Disease (J Altern Complemnt Med, July 2018)
• The Effects of Stress and Meditation on the Immune System, Human Microbiota, and Epigenetics (Adv Mind Body Med)

Yet, nowhere on Chopra’s Wikipedia page is their any mention of his on-going scientific research that has been published in the scientific literature.

One of Wikipedia’s strongest attacks against Chopra concerns his analogies drawn from modern quantum physics to explain mind-body relationships that may influence a healthy change in our body’s biology and even genetic expression. To discredit this theory, Wikipedia Skeptics write that Chopra’s views “seem to fall into the pattern of general confusion in the popular press regarding quantum measurement, decoherence and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.” Clearly this is a subjective opinion of the editor. Rather than simply stating Chopra’s theory, he or she employs the very common Skeptic editing strategy to qualify opposing views in derogatory terms. This kind of personalized qualification is found repeatedly throughout Wikipedia articles controlled by Skeptics.

However, one of the most disturbing paragraphs in Chopra’s entry, perhaps the only one of its kind on Wikipedia, is Skepticism’s direct assault against Chopra’s own personal views about “Skepticism.” The paragraph is a flagrant example of Skepticism’s influence on Wikipedia as well as its irrational means to conduct debate or to handle controversy,

“In 2013, Chopra published an article on what he saw as “skepticism” at work in Wikipedia, arguing that a “stubborn band of militant skeptics” were editing articles to prevent what he believes would be a fair representation of the views of such figures as Rupert Sheldrake, an author, lecturer, and researcher in parapsychology. The result, Chopra argued, was that the encyclopedia’s readers were denied the opportunity to read of attempts to “expand science beyond its conventional boundaries”. The biologist Jerry Coyne responded, saying that it was instead Chopra who was losing out as his views were being “exposed as a lot of scientifically-sounding psychobabble.”

The first question might be, why is this paragraph worth printing on a Wikipedia page for a living person? The entry, we believe, is solely included to conduct a character assassination against Chopra and those who might share his views with the intent to marginalize their theories. This entry is also evident of another quality that is very recognizable among Wikipedia Skeptics and many of its leading spokespersons, notably Stephen Barrett, Jerry Coyne, David Gorski and Stephen Novella; that is the extraordinary depth their apparent acrimony and bitterness compels them to spend inordinate amounts of their time ridiculing and damning others. Gorski’s and Novella’s Science Based Medicine blog, a frequent reference for Wikipedia Skeptics, is nothing more than a personal directory of criticism and sarcasm spewed against non-conventional medical systems and their practitioners. In our opinion these are mean spirited people. And Skepticism expounds a very mean agenda.

Skeptics tend to deny biophysics and dismiss energy medicine. Mind-Body Medicine attempts to follow physical properties of bioelectrical and magnetic activity. But Wikipedia states under its “Energy Medicine” entry, “Physicists and skeptics roundly criticize these explanations as pseudophysics — a branch of pseudoscience which explains magical thinking by using irrelevant jargon from modern physics to exploit scientific illiteracy and to impress the unsophisticated.” But this unfounded claim can only be made by ignoring and denying an enormous body of published research indicating that biofields and biophysics likely play a huge role both in the onset and regression of diseases and for maintaining a healthy body.

Finally, we need to realize that Jimmy Wales’ gang of Wikipedia Skeptics, under the pretense of not being compromised volunteers motivated by a sincere desire to bring knowledge to the world, have taken control of much of Wikipedia’s subject matter for a single purpose; that is, to proselytize the pseudo-scientific religion of Skepticism. Thus, we have come first circle, back to Skepticism’s cognitive dissonance from reality. However, there are persons, both intellectually astute as well as illiterate, who believe there is much more to reality than what scientific instrumentation can measure. There remain many mysteries yet to be identified and understood. It is foolish to think like Skeptic Sean Carroll, that science has essentially discovered everything in the universe that there needs to be known. So while Deepak Chopra and numerous others in the fields of medicine and other disciplines are helping us to expand our innate mental capabilities, and assisting people in their healing journeys to restore health with meditation and yoga, adopting plant-based diets and other alternative health regimens, Jimmy Wales and his Skeptics continue to espouse a depressing and nihilistic view of reality. It is perfectly fine to hold such views. But when they become an ideology underlying what purports to be a factual encyclopedia it is nothing less than a new incarnation of the Inquisition.