For those who aren’t familiar with the term, “woo woo” is a derogatory reference to almost any form of unconventional thinking, aimed by professional skeptics who are self-appointed vigilantes dedicated to the suppression of curiosity. I get labeled much worse things as regularly as clockwork whenever I disagree with big fry like Richard Dawkins or smaller fry like Michael Shermer, the Scientific American columnist and editor of Skeptic magazine. The latest barrage of name-calling occurred after the two of us had a spirited exchange on Larry King Live last week. Maybe you saw it. I was the one rolling my eyes as Shermer spoke. Sorry about that, a spontaneous reflex of the involuntary nervous system.
I sometimes have difficulty with new-age gurus like Chopra. And guys like Eckhart Tolle positively make my skin crawl. Repackaging and marketing ancient wisdom as if it were his idea is at best a copyright violation, at worst, a fraudulent way to make millions. There are those who say it’s a great idea to bring this knowledge to the masses stripped of its cultural and religious trappings, and as such it is more accessible. I understand that. But there is a downside, and that it the skin-crawling part, that I can’t quite get over. No ancient ever became a wealthy celebrity, did they? What was the B.C equivalent of Oprah? These are different times, I know. Yet I can’t imagine Lao Tsu marketing $200 audio books.
This could be at the heart of Michael Shermer’s objection, though, like me, he can’t seem to put his finger on it. Lucky him, he has the scientific knowledge to front his objection, even when he can’t manage it effectively.
For the time being, Chopra has challenged Shermer to a reasoned debate, reminding him of this statement:
“Nobody understands how decisions are made or how imagination is set free. What consciousness consists of, or how it should be defined, is equally puzzling. Despite the marvelous success of neuroscience in the past century, we seem as far from understanding cognitive processes as we were a century ago.”
That isn’t a quote from “one of those people who believe in spirituality, ghosts, and so on.” It’s from Sir John Maddox, former editor-in-chief of the renowned scientific journal Nature, writing in 1999. I can’t wait for Shermer to call him an idiot and a moron. Don’t worry, he won’t. He’ll find an artful way of slithering to higher ground where all the other skeptics are huddled.
Part of the “mission” of this blog is to research and discover ways in which science is now demonstrating the efficacy of touch as a treatment and teaching modality. It has been fascinating to watch as study after study reveals the lightbulb going off, lending scientific credence to what bodywork practitioners have intuitively known for decades. Since the new religion is effectively science, this credence is of utmost value. When “woo woo” and the new “religion” of science concur, we are in for a revolution.
I’m curious to know what you think.