An Opportunity Suggests Itself

On the flight back from my honeymoon, I noticed an ad on my airplane promoting this sweepstakes – and my attention was drawn to the grand prize:

Win a one-on-one meeting with the renowned author and mind-body expert, Deepak Chopra, M.D. and rejuvenate your spirit with his Seduction of Spirit Retreat at the Chopra Center. Dr. Chopra is a global force in the field of human empowerment and the prolific author of fourteen bestsellers on mind-body health, quantum mechanics, spirituality and peace. Time Magazine heralds Dr. Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century and credits him as “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.”

If you’re not familiar with Deepak Chopra, there’s a detailed summary at the Skeptic’s Dictionary. Suffice it to say that he’s a physician who realized that peddling pseudoscience was much easier and more profitable than actually curing sick people. His repertoire includes generous doses of garbled nonsense that tries to connect quantum mechanics with ancient Indian superstitions, plenty of woo-woo New Age creationism, a healthy disdain for atheists, and most bizarrely of all, the claim that one can reverse the aging process by an effort of will.

So much for Chopra. But it occurred to me, why should one of his many credulous, worshipful followers win this award? Wouldn’t it be great if the one-on-one meeting was with a knowledgeable skeptic who could take this pompous fraud to task? Granted, it probably wouldn’t accomplish much; but the chance to prick Chopra’s bliss bubble, to force him for once in his life to face genuine criticism, is too good to pass up. And the public embarrassment it would cause him could provide some welcome, entertaining press for the skeptic movement.

So, I’m seriously considering entering this sweepstakes. The contest is open until June 25, so there’s plenty of time for skeptics to get on the bandwagon. Anyone else who’d relish the chance to confront Chopra want to throw their hat into the ring along with me?

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  • DSimon

    Perhaps we should enlist PZ and his merry band of ballot-stuffers. Sure, lots of wooers probably want to talk to Chopra, but lots of skeptics probably wouldn’t mind the chance to stealth their way in, and you can’t ask for a bigger group than PZ’s.

    One suggestion, though: if somebody wants to set this up, please don’t just provide a direct link from the skeptical site to the sweepstakes entry form. That makes it too easy for them to retroactively just filter out skeptics based on their web server logs (since web browsers will indicate where links are being followed from). Instead, use a link that goes through Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” so that it looks like the contestant found the site through a regular search.

  • Katie M

    I just entered-this is a great idea :)

    And I’m sharing this on my FB page.

  • Larian LeQuella

    I entered, and I think that DSimon has a great idea! Pherungilate the entry as well! I would like to call out that fraud for the woomeister that he is!

  • fyreflye

    Deepak Chopra has already met face to face with two eminently qualified skeptics and nobody’s mind was changed by anything said:
    Why continue playing these childish gotcha games when the participants will never agree on the rules?

  • Shawn Smith

    I hate to be the wet blanket on this entertaining idea, but here I go anyway. I really don’t think meeting a skeptic will do anything at all to Chopra or his audience. Michael Shermer, one of the most accommodating skeptics you’ll ever be likely to meet, has “debated” him in public. The results were no change. The woo meisters and their followers will never, I repeat, never give up their favored beliefs. The meisters because they are making too much money, and the followers because they would be way too embarrassed if they had to admit their errors. If reason and evidence were all that was necessary to get people to adopt an evidenced-based view of the world, we wouldn’t have 30% of Americans thinking that the earth is strictly less than 11,000 years old and still be able to function as independent adults.

    Also, I’m pretty sure this meeting will be anything but public. And if a skeptic actually did win and did meet with Chopra, and demolished him rhetorically, and got the entire conversation on tape, lawyers would get involved so fast to suppress and destroy all copies of the recording that it would not be a pretty sight.

    So, if you want to try to game this meeting, go ahead. I just am not expecting too much.

  • 2-D Man

    …mind-body expert…

    Heh, I shotgun “pizza-cheese expert”. Anyone else want “sandwich-spinach expert”?

    I’m hungry.

    I’d enter the contest, but if I won, then I’d have to share a meal with Deepak Chopra. I don’t think that downside has been properly emphasized here.

  • TEP

    Chopra looks a little old for somebody who can stop aging at will.

  • Steve Bowen

    I’m absolutely sure I’ll master this stopping aging thing eventually, probably by dying. hope I’m very old by that point though.

  • Doug
  • Ebonmuse

    Blast! PZ is one step ahead of me, as usual. Clearly, his tentacled hordes give him a near-omniscient view of all that’s going on on the internet.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I’ve also got the word out to another site I mod at — and signed up too. Now, to compose the scolding.

  • Rollingforest

    I agree with Shawn Smith. Pointing out his ideology’s flaws in public does far more than talking to him in private.