[Updated] The Quantum Bullshitverse Calls To You

Update #2 – 11/27/2011

The Twitterlords reinstated @DBagChopra last night. As near as I can tell, the suspension was due to it not being clear that the account was satire. Savour that for just a moment.

Update #1 – 11/15/2011

I neglected to mention that the term “Quantum Bullshitverse” is not my own, but was coined by Dianne. Too full of awesome not to use.
 
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Those of you on The Twitters may have noticed that a new resident moved into town last week: @DBagChopra, issuing 140-character pellets from his Pez Dispenser of wisdom. The DBag is an alter ego of mine, and at the risk of self-promotion, I wanted to take a few minutes here to give you some background on why he’s hit the scene.

I had a minor incident with the real Dr. Chopra about a week ago. I was musing, to my tiny band of followers, that I didn’t think Dr. Chopra could pass a Turing Test. Much to my surprise, he responded, and we had a brief exchange — polite if antagonistic – following which he blocked my account. I had a bit more fun at his expense that morning, and it would have ended there but for one comment from a follower:

Now, skeptics have taken Dr. Chopra to task on many legitimate issues: his promotion of dubious medical treatments; a dualist philosophy at odds with 30 years of research in the cognitive sciences; and his mischaracterizations of quantum physics to support his view of health, consciousness, and the structure of the universe. Important work has been done by important people within our community to debate Dr. Chopra on the merits of those arguments, and I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a skeptic who gives him much credence. Personally, having long since been convinced of the wrongheadedness of his worldview, I mostly find him rather ridiculous.

But that’s not the case outside of the skeptic community. In the popular imagination, as Dan Gardner points out, Dr. Chopra remains a respected figure. He’s a medical doctor. He’s written dozens of books that have been read by millions. He speaks and lectures globally. He’s a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. And his media footprint is only expanding, with the announcement this month of both a publishing deal with Amazon and a new video game for XBOX 360 and Wii.

In the war of popular perception, the tools of skepticism – reason, evidence, consensus science – are simply no match for this kind of reach. Frustrating as it may be, it simply doesn’t matter how cogently his positions are disputed if people like and trust him. And that, in a nutshell is why @DBagChopra came to life.

My hope is that through satire, more people can be made see how ridiculous Dr. Chopra really is. How much of what he says is better suited to a Hallmark card than an enlightened philosophy. And how at odds he is with what is substantiable about the universe we live in.

But in order to do that, The DBag has to first reach those masses. While I certainly hope the skeptical community gets more than a few laughs from this endeavour, my real aim is for you all share his “wisdom” with the less skeptical people in your lives. Humour is a unique tool with the power to cause us to think just a bit harder about things than we otherwise might, and this is really an attempt to harness that power to advance skepticism.

So retweet, forward, even Tumblog if you must. Let’s give @DBagChopra as much influence as his namesake.

9 Responses to “[Updated] The Quantum Bullshitverse Calls To You”

  1. Jon C says:

    Hello Eric,

    I’ve have always found your articles well researched and i’m sure your intentions are good, but I would advise against this. You and the other contributors to this site should be dispassionate with your critiques. This site would better serve the public if it becomes a respected resource of critical thinking. Mr. Chopra’s advantage has always been his graciousness. Humour can be a great teaching aid but I would hate to see this site become a joke. If your future articles are as sharp as i’m sure they will be I will link and share them. Take the high road. The climb is tougher but the view is better.

    Take care,

    Jon

    • Erik Davis says:

      Jon,

      Thanks for the feedback. I understand your perspective, and should clarify that this doesn’t signify any change in Skeptic North’s editorial philosophy. It’s my project alone — the other writers were simply good enough to let me announce it here.

      - Erik

    • Guy Chapman says:

      I would like to offer the following completely dispassionate view of Deepak Chopra: he is a crank who uses a gift with words to bamboozle the credulous into believing what even he must realise is abject nonsense, at least at some level.

      Speaking dispassionately, taking the piss out of Deepak Chopra is a public service.

  2. Infophile says:

    @Jon: There’s a big difference between using satire and being a joke. Just look at the Colbert Report if you don’t believe. Satire can help reach a wider audience, who are drawn because of the humor, but it can help more directly simply by taking an alternative approach. You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themself into, but if you expose their position as being ridiculous, you might actually make some progress.

    • Guy Chapman says:

      Although to be fair the beliefs of Deepak Chopra fall into the same camp as creationists: Poe’s Law applies, it is impossible to come up with a parody of Deepak Chopra’s ideas that is more bizarre than his ideas themselves. Chopra exhibits fractal wrongness.

  3. Molly Quinn says:

    I’m a fan of Skeptic North. But honestly, the @Dbagchopra’s tweets weren’t funny at all. And as a woman, I’m disappointed that using the terms “douche bag” and “d-bag” to make fun of people has become a common practice.

    • Erik Davis says:

      Molly – Can’t help the humour issue, but on the name, it certainly wasn’t meant to offend in that way. I actually expected that more people would read it as dirtbag than douchebag, though I knew both would be interpreted.

      If it’s any consolation, the account it currently suspended by the Twitterlords, presumably for not strictly adhering to the rules of parody accounts.

  4. Bayani Mills says:

    Account got suspended. Boo.
    Twitter needs more satire and less bullshit.

  5. Shazza says:

    For what it’s worth I’m liking the tweets. My first LOLZ for 2012. Thanks.

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  • Erik Davis

    Erik is a technology professional based in Toronto, focused on the intersection of the internet and the traditional media and telecommunications sectors. A reluctant blogger, he was inspired by the great work Skeptic North has done to combat misinformation and shoddy science reporting in the Canadian media, and in the public at large. Erik has a particular interest in critical reasoning, and in understanding why there’s so little of it in the public discourse. You can follow Erik's occasional 140 character musings @erikjdavis