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Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra (/ˈdiːpɑːk ˈtʃoʊprə/; born October 22, 1947) is an Indian-American author, holistic health/New Age guru, and alternative medicine practitioner. Chopra began a mainstream medical career in hospitals and universities in the Northeastern United States, becoming Chief of Staff at the New England Memorial Hospital (NEMH). In 1985, Chopra met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who invited him to study Ayurveda. Chopra left his position at the NEMH and became the founding president of the American Association of Ayurvedic Medicine, and was later named medical director of the Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center.In 1996, Chopra and neurologist David Simon founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, advertising it as having a "holistic view of life".Chopra has enjoyed business success from the sale of a range of books, courses and alternative and complementary health products. He has written more than 50 books and they have been translated into 35 languages.Chopra is a controversial figure. According to a 2008 article in Time magazine, he is "a magnet for criticism", primarily from those involved in science and medicine. Critics have taken issue with his "nonsensical" references to quantum theory, criticized his descriptions of AIDS and cancer, and said the claims he makes for ineffective alternative medicine may bring "false hope" to people who are sick.Alternative medicineChopra has been described as "America's most prominent spokesman for Ayurveda". He mixes ideas associated with quantum mechanics with ayurvedic medicine in what he calls "quantum healing".Chopra has described the AIDS virus as emitting "a sound that lures the DNA to its destruction" and which can be treated, according to Chopra, with "Ayurveda's primordial sound". Taking issue with this view, medical professor Lawrence Schneiderman has said that ethical issues are raised when alternative medicine is not based on empirical evidence and that, "to put it mildly, Dr. Chopra proposes a treatment and prevention program for AIDS that has no supporting empirical data".A 2008 article in Time magazine by Ptolemy Tompkins commented that for most of his career Chopra had been a "magnet for criticism": Tompkins wrote that the medical and scientific communities had voiced negative opinions of Chopra, which ranged from the "dismissive" to the "outright damning", particularly because Chopra's claims for the effectiveness of alternative medicine could lure sick people away from effective treatments. Tompkins however considered Chopra a "beloved" individual whose basic messages centered on "love, health and happiness" had made him rich because of their popular appeal.Quantum healingChopra coined the term quantum healing to invoke the idea of a process whereby a person's health "imbalance" is corrected by quantum mechanical means. Chopra claimed that quantum phenomena are responsible for health and wellbeing. He has attempted to integrate Ayurveda, a traditional Indian system of medicine, with quantum mechanics, in order to justify his teachings. According to Robert Carroll, he "charges $25,000 per lecture performance, where he spouts a few platitudes and gives spiritual advice while warning against the ill effects of materialism".Chopra has equated spontaneous remission in cancer to a change in quantum state, corresponding to a jump to "a new level of consciousness that prohibits the existence of cancer". Physics professor Robert L. Park has written that physicists "wince" at the "New Age quackery" in Chopra's cancer theories, and characterizes them as a cruel fiction, since adopting this view in place of effective treatment risks compounding the ill-effects of the disease with guilt, and might rule out the prospect of getting a genuine cure.Chopra's claims of quantum healing have attracted controversy due to what has been described as a "systematic misinterpretation" of modern physics. Chopra's connections between quantum mechanics and alternative medicine are widely regarded in the scientific community as being invalid, but nevertheless have a number of followers. The main criticism revolves around the fact that macroscopic objects are too large to exhibit inherently quantum properties like interference and wave function collapse. Most literature on quantum healing is almost entirely theosophical, omitting the rigorous mathematics that makes quantum electrodynamics possible.Spirituality and religionChopra acknowledges that his thought has been inspired by Jiddu Krishnamurti and others.In 2012, reviewing War of the Worldviews – a book co-authored by Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow – physics professor Mark Alford explained that the work is set out as a debate between the two authors, "[covering\] all the big questions: cosmology, life and evolution, the mind and brain, and God". Alford considers the two sides of the debate a false opposition, and concludes that "the counterpoint to Chopra's speculations is not science, with its complicated structure of facts, theories, and hypotheses, but something much more basic. The antidote to Chopra is Occam."In August 2005, Chopra wrote a series of articles on the creation-evolution controversy and Intelligent design, which were criticized by science writer Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptics Society. Shermer has said that Chopra is "the very definition of what we mean by pseudoscience".SkepticismPaul Kurtz has written that the popularity of Chopra's views are associated with increasing antiscientific attitudes in society, and that they represent an assault on the objectivity of science itself by seeking new, alternative, forms of validation for ideas. Kurtz argues that medical claims must always be submitted to open-minded but proper scrutiny, and that skepticism "has its work cut out for it".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 a fair representation of the views of such figures as Rupert Sheldrake – the result, Chopra argued, was that the encyclopedia's readers lost out through not being able to read of attempts to "expand science beyond its conventional boundaries". Biologist Jerry Coyne responded saying that it was instead Chopra himself who was losing out, as his views were being "exposed as a lot of scientifically-sounding psychobabble".Use of scientific terminologyReviewing Susan Jacoby's book, The Age of American Unreason, Wendy Kaminer sees Chopra's popular reception in America as being symptomatic of many Americans' historical inability (as Jacoby puts it) "to distinguish between real scientists and those who peddled theories in the guise of science". Chopra's "nonsensical references to quantum physics" are placed in a lineage of American religious pseudoscience, extending back through Scientology to Christian Science. Physics professor Chad Orzel has written that "to a physicist, Chopra's babble about 'energy fields' and 'congealing quantum soup' presents as utter gibberish", but that Chopra's writing gifts enable him to construct a compelling narrative that non-scientists can find convincing.Chopra has been criticized for his frequent references to the relationship of quantum mechanics to healing processes, a connection that has drawn skepticism from physicists who say it can be considered as contributing to the general confusion in the popular press regarding quantum measurement, decoherence and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. In 1998, Chopra was awarded the satirical Ig Nobel Prize in physics for "his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness". When interviewed by ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in the Channel 4 (UK) documentary The Enemies of Reason, Chopra said that he used the term "quantum physics" as "a metaphor" and that it had little to do with quantum theory in physics. In March 2010, Chopra and Jean Houston debated Sam Harris and Michael Shermer at Caltech on the question "Does God Have a Future?" Shermer and Harris criticized Chopra's use of scientific terminology to expound unrelated spiritual concepts.Others have argued that Chopra's misuse of the word "quantum" has undermined the public's confidence in genuine science and has discouraged people from engaging with conventional medicine. Brian Cox says that "for some scientists, the unfortunate distortion and misappropriation of scientific ideas that often accompanies their integration into popular culture is an unacceptable price to pay."YogaIn April 2010, Aseem Shukla criticized Chopra for suggesting that yoga did not have origins in Hinduism but is an older Indian spiritual tradition. Chopra later said that yoga was rooted in "consciousness alone" expounded by Vedic rishis long before historic Hinduism ever arose. He accused Shukla of having a "fundamentalist agenda". Shukla responded by saying Chopra was an exponent of the art of "How to Deconstruct, Repackage and Sell Hindu Philosophy Without Calling it Hindu!", and he said Chopra's mentioning of fundamentalism was an attempt to divert the debate.Media and entertainmentChopra is a weekly columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, a regular contributor to The Washington Post "On Faith" section, a prolific contributor to The Huffington Post, and is also a contributor to the LinkedIn Influencer program.Chopra is also a monthly contributor to The Times of India Speaking Tree.Chopra is heavily featured in UniGlobe Entertainment's cancer docudrama titled 1 a Minute talking about mind, body, spirit and the mystery of life and death. The documentary is directed by actress Namrata Singh Gujral and also features cancer survivors Olivia Newton-John, Diahann Carroll, Melissa Etheridge, Mumtaz and Jaclyn Smith.A friend of Michael Jackson for 20 years, Chopra has criticized the "cult of drug-pushing doctors, with their co-dependent relationships with addicted celebrities", saying that he hoped Jackson's death, attributed to an overdose of a prescription drug, would be a call to action.Minor business activitiesIn 2006, Chopra launched Virgin Comics LLC with his son Gotham Chopra and entrepreneur Richard Branson. The company's purpose is to "spread peace and awareness through comics and trading cards that display traditional Kabalistic characters and stories".Since 2005, Chopra has been a board member of Men's Wearhouse, Inc., a men's clothing distributor and Fortune 1000 company.Select bibliographyChopra has written over 50 books and they have been translated into 35 languages. They include:Chopra, Deepak (1987). Creating Health. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-395429-53-6. — (1989). Quantum Healing. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-05368-X. — (1991). Perfect Health. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-81367-6. — (1994). The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. San Rafael: Amber Allen Publishing. ISBN 1-878424-11-4. — (1995). The Way of the Wizard. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-517-70434-X. — (1995). The Return of Merlin. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-59849-3. — (1995). Ageless Body Timeless Mind. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-59257-6. — (2004). The Book of Secrets. London: Rider. ISBN 1-844-13555-1. — (2008). The Third Jesus. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-307-33831-2. — (2008). The Soul of Leadership. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-307-40806-X. Chopra, Deepak; Tanzi, Rudolph (2012). Super Brain. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-307-95682-2. Chopra, Deepak (2013). What Are You Hungry For?. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-770-43721-4. Awards and membershipsChopra is a member of the American Medical Association (AMA), a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.Doctor of Science, Hartwick College Doctor Honoris Causa, The Giordano Bruno University In 1997, Chopra was given the Golden Gavel Award by Toastmasters International.He was presented the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic awarded by the Pio Manzu International Scientific Committee. In the citation, Committee Chairman Mikhail Gorbachev referred to Chopra as "one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time". Chopra was awarded the 2006 Ellis Island Medal of Honor by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations.As the keynote speaker, he appeared at the inauguration of the State of the World Forum, hosted by Mikhail Gorbachev and the Peace and Human Progress Foundation. He was the recipient in 2009 of the Oceana Award.He received the 2010 Humanitarian Starlite Award "for his global force of human empowerment, well-being and for bringing light to the world". Chopra is the recipient of the 2010 GOI Peace Award. He is the 2010 Art of Life Honoree and 30th Anniversary Gala Honoree, Asian American Arts AllianceIn the Help Yourself category, Time magazine lists Deepak Chopra as one of the 100 Heroes and Icons of the Century. In March 2000, President Clinton said, "My country has been enriched by the contributions of more than a million Indian Americans ... which includes Dr. Deepak Chopra, the pioneer of alternative medicine."


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