Anyone who has a basic understanding of chemistry knows that a molecule can have substantially different properties than the atoms that went into it. Hydrogen – which is a gas that can cause headaches, ringing in ears, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, and … – combines with oxygen – which is also a gas – to form liquid water, which is the most essential substance for life.
Deepak Chopra, however, thinks otherwise. Since he is a mind-body doctor, he is interested in intelligence, a property of the brain, composed of trillions of neurons. But Chopra doesn’t want to study individual neurons, because the process is “too complicated.” Instead, he points to neurotransmitters as the “carriers of intelligence.” Where do they get that intelligence from? Stretching the intelligence of neurotransmitter molecules further, Chopra arrives at the heart of his theory of quantum healing: (the following is a quote from pp. 65-66 of Quantum Healing)
“You may find it easy to think of DNA … as an intelligent molecule; certainly it must be smarter than a simple molecule like sugar. But DNA is really just strings of sugar, amines, and other simple components.
If these are not ‘smart’ to begin with, then DNA couldn’t become smart just by putting more of them together. Following this line of reasoning, why isn’t the carbon or hydrogen atom in the sugar also smart? Perhaps it is.”
To measure Chopra’s ignorance of chemistry, consider the following conversation between Chopra and one of his readers about geraniol, the chemical name for the rose fragrance, which consists of 10 carbon atoms, 18 hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. 1
Reader: Why does geraniol smell so sweet?
Chopra: Because hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen atoms smell sweet.
Reader: Hydrogen sulfide consists of two hydrogen atoms and one sulfur atom. Why does hydrogen sulfide stink like a rotten egg?
Chopra: Because both hydrogen and sulfur atoms smell like rotten eggs.
Reader: Wait a minute! How can a hydrogen atom smell like a rose and stink like a rotten egg?
Chopra (after some thinking): A hydrogen atom is intelligent enough to know when it belongs to a geraniol molecule and when to a hydrogen sulfide molecule!
Fragrance is a property of a chemical compound that can be explained only by deciphering the electrical interaction and spatial configuration of the atoms of which it is made, plus the interaction of that compound with our olfactory nerves.
- Although the conversation is hypothetical, it clearly reflects Chopra’s vivid ignorance of (or inattention to) the difference between compounds and elements. ↩