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← Biocentrism Demystified: A Response to Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza's Notion of a Conscious Universe

Biocentrism Demystified: A Response to Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza's Notion of a Conscious Universe - Comments

GodsDontExist's Avatar Comment 1 by GodsDontExist

Vital to his proposal is the idea that the universe does not really exist unless it is being observed by a conscious observer. To support this idea, Lanza makes a series of claims

In other words, if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make noise?

Um, yes, it does. End of discussion.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 16:55:00 UTC | #423631

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 2 by Dr. Strangegod

Rebutting Deepak Chopra? Why? Only crazy New Agers listen to him anyway. Also, his ideas are relatively benign and pleasant as far as religious concepts go, despite being flatly wrong.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 16:56:00 UTC | #423632

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 3 by aquilacane

Ahh! But how do we know trees fall if no one is there£ Perhaps they lie down gently and only fall when someone is there. The question should be: Do trees fall if no one is there£ We must answer that question before we can even consider the question of noise.

Seriously, I hate this "reality only exists in our presence" BS. Life goes on without you Chopra, now get over it.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:03:00 UTC | #423634

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 4 by Steve Zara

A nice article.

I think I can sum it up quite concisely.

This business of involving consciousness really is nonsense, because we have no idea what it is. There is also no useful concept of an 'observer' of reality.

All we have is particles interacting in a way that certain patters of information processing result in the thought 'I am conscious'. But why should we trust that thought? It's not even clear what 'I' means in that context.

"All" that is going on is some neural processing that results in me typing the words of this post. I look at this post and have the that "I" am typing it, but that is neural processing too and results in the words I have just typed!

My view is that the "mystery" of consciousness will be solved when we have enough understanding of the processing of the brain to understand why people end up typing the phrase "mystery of consciousness" :)

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:13:00 UTC | #423638

GodsDontExist's Avatar Comment 5 by GodsDontExist

3. Comment #442199 by aquilacane

The question should be: Do trees fall if no one is there?

LOLOL!!! Oh yeah, since we are talking about the weirdo Chopra, makes sense!

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:19:00 UTC | #423642

GodsDontExist's Avatar Comment 6 by GodsDontExist

Or, the article can be summed up Deepak Chopra and Robert Lanza are egocentric money-grubbing, niche-searching idiots.

Chopra's got like 38 friggin' books (of nonsense)

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:24:00 UTC | #423645

GodsDontExist's Avatar Comment 7 by GodsDontExist

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says 'No' Robert Lanza, M.D.Scientist; author, "Biocentrism"

Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling - the 'Who am I?'- is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain. But this energy doesn't go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?


Death does not exist in a timeless, spaceless world. In the end, even Einstein admitted, "Now Besso" (an old friend) "has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us...know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." Immortality doesn't mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether.

This was clear with the death of my sister Christine. After viewing her body at the hospital, I went out to speak with family members. Christine's husband - Ed - started to sob uncontrollably. For a few moments I felt like I was transcending the provincialism of time. I thought about the 20-watts of energy, and about experiments that show a single particle can pass through two holes at the same time. I could not dismiss the conclusion: Christine was both alive and dead, outside of time.


Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:31:00 UTC | #423649

MarkOnTheRiver's Avatar Comment 8 by MarkOnTheRiver

In other words, if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make noise?

Um, yes, it does. End of discussion.

I once saw this expressed as; If a man is alone in a forest, and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong?
Though of course I wouldn't dream of recounting such a sexist line here.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:37:00 UTC | #423650

Sciros's Avatar Comment 9 by Sciros

These guys are stupid con men. Annoying to no end. Thanks for that link, BiologicDentists. I don't know why huffingtonpost continues to have such insane bullshit posted in it, but it does it all the time and as long as it keeps at it, it will not be a respectable news site.

Lanza's story is nothing but ridiculous wishful thinking. I like how the article ends with "he's one of the leading scientists in the world" which is a total joke.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:40:00 UTC | #423651

Sonic's Avatar Comment 10 by Sonic

As I’m typing this message, Deepak Chopra is appearing on the Bonnie Hunt Show (a daytime TV show the US). I expect they’ll post the interview here where we could leave comments.

I love Julia Sweeney’s epiphany from her one-woman show, Letting Go of God -

I was so intrigued by this quantum mechanics that Deepak refers to over and over again in his books that I decided to take a class in it. What I found was that Deepak Chopra is full of shit!

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:45:00 UTC | #423653

root2squared's Avatar Comment 11 by root2squared

Chopra is a big quack. It is sad that more people read Chopra's books than Dawkins's (My guess only).

"According to the idealists, the mind creates all of reality."

Great. I'm now going to make my mind create Charlize Theron.

"According to Chopra and Lanza, this idea makes Darwin’s theory of the biological evolution and diversification of life insignificant. "

Someone tell Richard he has wasted his entire life.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:47:00 UTC | #423655

epeeist's Avatar Comment 12 by epeeist

Comment #442220 by root2squared:

"According to the idealists, the mind creates all of reality."
Which almost inevitably ends up in solipsism.

We are all figments of Dianelos Georgoudis' imagination.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 17:51:00 UTC | #423657

GodsDontExist's Avatar Comment 13 by GodsDontExist

"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."
~ Jack Handy

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 18:15:00 UTC | #423663

Joe Henderson's Avatar Comment 14 by Joe Henderson

Yes! A response to that article has been posted at last!

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 18:22:00 UTC | #423666

SamKiddoGordon's Avatar Comment 15 by SamKiddoGordon

Yes trees fall down when no one is around. I have to get guys to pick up the ones that fall in the highway right of way all the time. wind or age caused them to fall. There is evidence that they were standing so they must have made a sound when they fell. So simple. Not to mention the universe was around for 13.72 billion years before humans, unless it was the aliens that were around then that created it.

On a side note, happy i got my christmas bundle from RDF yesterday!

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 18:58:00 UTC | #423669

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 16 by Nunbeliever

INTERESTING article. I have to read it more carefully. STILL, I have to say that Lanza is partially right. I think he is wrong to impy that HUMAN life is central to the existence of a universe. But, I think observance is central to the existence of a universe. At least if we mean a universe that is possible to define in some meaningful way. I do not want to deny that there is someting that objectively exists if not observed. But, exactly what this would be is a much more complicated issue than the author of this article wants to admit.

I'd like to make the analogy of a computer game. Does a computer game exist if suddenly all CPU:s in the world were destroyed? Well, it would be impossible to play the game, but still it would exist in some form. Or would it? Well, it would exist as pure magnetic "information" (if restored on a magnetic hard drive). Still, it would be meaningless to say the game existed. Or would it?

In the same way it would be meaningless to say that the universe (defined in any meaningful way) exists without an observer. Or would it be? It would be an universe without opportunities, or would it? The problem is of course that we KNOW that there was an universe LONG before there was any observers at all. And still the universe developed until the first primitive observers came into being, or did it? Is it all an illusion by our consciousness? Well, as interesting as these questions are, it seems to be fundamentally impossible to get an answer, or is it?

Ok, these questions really can make one crazy! So I'd better stop here...

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 18:58:00 UTC | #423670

Sciros's Avatar Comment 17 by Sciros

No, Nunbeliever! Don't fall for the trap of never-ending bullshit! We didn't know about subatomic particles or DNA for a long time, but they didn't pop into existence the moment we observed them. Same goes for everything, dinosaur bones, whatever. It's not meaningless at all to say that the universe exists without an observer. Existence is a property that is independent of [non-destructive] observation (by "destructive" I mean, if you try to guess how many inflated balloons are in a garbage bag by popping them with a pin blindly, you'll cause them to no longer exist as you "observe" them).

When the Sun swallows up the Earth and makes life uninhabitable, our solar system will still exist. Yes that's right, at some point we'll all be gone and the universe won't care.

I think Chopra and Lanza don't want to come to terms with that.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 19:21:00 UTC | #423672

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 18 by Steve Zara

Comment #442235 by Nunbeliever

But, I think observance is central to the existence of a universe.

How can it be? "Observance" (that we have encountered) is a certain kind of data processing by neurons.

Why should certain kinds of electrochemical activity be central to the existence of a universe?

The more you look at such concepts, the more absurd they appear.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 19:28:00 UTC | #423673

Thelonious's Avatar Comment 19 by Thelonious

"No man is a solipsist while scraping dog shit from the bottom of their shoe" - attr. James Joyce

As to trees, forests and sounds, I'd always had that question presented in the context of "sound" as a conscious experience as opposed to simply vibrations in the air (i.e. the tree makes no sound because "sound" is actually something that occurs in the brain/mind, not in the air) - one of those minor nitpicky semantic points that philosophers are so fond of (and which do on occasion lead to interesting places).

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 19:30:00 UTC | #423674

jonjermey's Avatar Comment 20 by jonjermey

"Explaining metaphysics to the nation,
I wish he would explain his explanation."

Byron -- Don Juan

And I'm afraid that goes just as much for the 'rebuttal' as for the original article. I decided long ago that the current state of particle physics was purely a mathematical construct, and attempting to put it into human language is a futile and pointless exercise. Far better to simply say 'We put this number in and this number comes out' than to try and formulate a meaningless 'story' about why it works.

As for Lanza and Chopra, they can be dealt with in exactly the same way as any other metaphysician: by asking them politely if they have any evidence for their claims.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 19:34:00 UTC | #423675

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 21 by aquilacane

How do you know they fell£

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:00:00 UTC | #423676

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 22 by aquilacane

do not the squirrels have ears£

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:03:00 UTC | #423677

David Blackwell's Avatar Comment 23 by David Blackwell

Apart from Lanza and Chopra whom I haven't read, Irish Bishop George Berkeley several hundred years ago made the claim esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived). I suspect he was essentially right (though completely off the mark and contradictory in using it as an argument for the existence of "God," which was his agenda). Can one say something exists, has existed, might exist, etc. if it is not at least hypothetically experienceable in one way or another? The world of experience not only referring to what we label the world outside us, but to our inner world (moods, thoughts, etc.) also. The objective world, the world "existing outside or independently of us," including the probabilities it exhibits, referring to the constants of experience. Nothing to worry about regarding the integrity of evolution. At least trying to intimate the essential case off the top of my head. I'm pretty sure I once read Russell say that when he was honest about it, he had to admit that he couldn't come up with a satisfactory answer to Berkeley. Ask what one is referring to when one says that such and such is (might be, will come about to be, etc.) an existent, and what one is actually referring to when one says that something exists when I'm not present or am not aware of its presence? What do you mean, what are you ACTUALLY REFERRING TO with your words when you say the tree made a noise when it fell and you weren't there to hear it make the noise? There are a multitude of things you could be implying, one of them being that if you had been there, you would have heard it fall; another possibly, though usually unlikely, but used as an example to illustrate, that someone else told you they'd been there and heard the tree fall, and that you had no reason to disbelieve them. Yea, strange, disturbing stuff, but it's not impossible to learn to live with it. In reality we've been doing so all along, even if not aware of it.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:04:00 UTC | #423678

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 24 by aquilacane

It exists if it exists regardless of its detection

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:07:00 UTC | #423679

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 26 by Border Collie

Again, I'm reminded of how truly ignorant and marginally educated I am, but that's OK. My initial route out of Christian fundamentalim was into the Eastern religion "stuff". Although I pretty well understand some of it, and a lot of it isn't religion anyway, this thing of reality not existing except through observation always stuck in my crop. This article really gives me something more solid, a connection, to base my thoughts on. I've been politely arguing with my Eastern-religion-nut friends for at least thirty years about this very thing. It was always this thing of perception and reality. Their thoughts were that "somehow" there are all these "realities" out there that "we" (as souls before we were human) decided on before we came to Earth and that somehow they would all sort of mesh and make sense to us, but that each of us literally created his or her own physical reality by observation. Yeah, I know, you can't make this stuff up. My thoughts were that regardless of whether I existed, was conscious or not or was just a carrot, there is a physical reality that simply exists outside of individual perception. Now, if I exist, I bring maybe a slightly novel "perception" of reality to life, but that's all. Nice to find out that I wasn't the crazy one.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:09:00 UTC | #423683

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 25 by glenister_m

They also had a quote from Ekhart Tolle in the article as well. They keep printing sections of some of his books (like that one Oprah went on and on about) in a free magazine I occasionally read. I end up ignoring Tolle's contribution since as Hitchen's says, its all white noise. Lots of fancy phrases and mystical ideas with no substance.

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:09:00 UTC | #423682

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 27 by Sally Luxmoore

Julia Sweeney on Deepak Chopra.
Great stuff - and how honest she is to admit that she had (briefly) been taken in!

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:16:00 UTC | #423685

sitarsojourner's Avatar Comment 28 by sitarsojourner

Chopra's views are so self centered. The human senses are limited anyway, so we can't hear and see truly everything that's happening. For example, the red capped manakin bird mating call is made vocally, but it is produced by rubbing it's wings together 80 times per second (I think- I forget the number). You can't see this with the naked eye, you need Special photography. if you can't see that, Imagine all the different things you can't see. Does that mean they aren't happening? Some pitches of the mating call aren't audible to humans... Does that mean the pitches don't exist? Of course they exist, whether we can hear and see these things or not. It's a shame people are this close minded

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 20:29:00 UTC | #423688

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 29 by mordacious1


Get the matchbox ready...Oral Roberts has died:

[edit] change to matchbox

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 21:02:00 UTC | #423695

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 30 by Rawhard Dickins

Whatever happened to Occam's razor?

Don't they have them any more?

Tue, 15 Dec 2009 21:05:00 UTC | #423696