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Intelligent Sugar Molecule

In the last two posts, I showed how Chopra eliminated any trace of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his book, despite the fact that by his own admission, Maharishi was the source of his quantum healing. I also pointed out the absurdity of trying to explain “scientifically” the efficacy of the medicine of the Serpent-King Shesha. In this post on Chopra, I look at his theory of intelligence.

Intelligent solar system

Quackscience2 300x172 1380122Chopra unabashedly uses cells, chromosomes, DNA, peptides, amino acids, etc., without acknowledging the source of all these objects. The very notion of “too many chemicals (literally thousands of them)” is gifted to the mind-body medicine by science. Digging through the pages of the Sushruta and Charaka Samhitas for hundreds of years would never have given Chopra a cell, a chromosome, an amino acid, or a single one of the “too many chemicals!” But he does not just use these ideas. He turns them into ammunition against the very source from which he walked off with them:

…  somehow the human cells have evolved to a state of formidable intelligence. At any one time, the number of activities being coordinated in our bodies is quite literally infinite. … The healing mechanism resides somewhere in this overall complexity, but it is elusive. … How does the body know what to do when it is damaged? Medicine has no simple answer. Any one of the processes involved in healing a superficial cut … is incredibly complex, so much so that if the mechanism fails, as it does with the hemophiliacs, advanced scientific medicine is at a loss to duplicate the impaired function.(p. 40)

Since we have already seen the similarity between mind-body medicine’s assessment of the complexity of our body and that of the solar system, let’s go back 400 years in time, and locate a ‘mind-body’ astronomer at the turn of the seventeenth century. Let him look at the sky and see the planets move around the sun in elliptical orbits (as Copernicus and Kepler had just shown). Now listen to what he has to say:

… somehow the solar system has evolved to a state of formidable intelligence. The mechanism of planet rotation resides somewhere in this overall complexity, but it is elusive. How do the planets know not to go any further when they get to their apogee? Astronomy has no simple answer.

That mind-body astronomer was right until less than a hundred years later Newton discovered the mathematical law of gravity and the laws of motion, based on which scientists could explain the detailed motion of all planets and show that it was mathematics and the laws of motion that told the planet to return to the sun, once it reached its apogee! Today’s mind-body doctors are also right: scientific medicine has no simple answer now. In fact, it may never have a simple answer. But answer it will have. Just wait a hundred years or so!

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In the last two posts, I showed how Chopra eliminated any trace of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his book, despite the fact that by his own admission, Maharishi was the source of his quantum healing. I also pointed out the absurdity of trying to explain “scientifically” the efficacy of the medicine of the Serpent-King Shesha. In this post on Chopra, I look at his theory of intelligence.

Intelligent solar system

Quackscience2 300x172 1380122Chopra unabashedly uses cells, chromosomes, DNA, peptides, amino acids, etc., without acknowledging the source of all these objects. The very notion of “too many chemicals (literally thousands of them)” is gifted to the mind-body medicine by science. Digging through the pages of the Sushruta and Charaka Samhitas for hundreds of years would never have given Chopra a cell, a chromosome, an amino acid, or a single one of the “too many chemicals!” But he does not just use these ideas. He turns them into ammunition against the very source from which he walked off with them:

…  somehow the human cells have evolved to a state of formidable intelligence. At any one time, the number of activities being coordinated in our bodies is quite literally infinite. … The healing mechanism resides somewhere in this overall complexity, but it is elusive. … How does the body know what to do when it is damaged? Medicine has no simple answer. Any one of the processes involved in healing a superficial cut … is incredibly complex, so much so that if the mechanism fails, as it does with the hemophiliacs, advanced scientific medicine is at a loss to duplicate the impaired function.(p. 40)

Since we have already seen the similarity between mind-body medicine’s assessment of the complexity of our body and that of the solar system, let’s go back 400 years in time, and locate a ‘mind-body’ astronomer at the turn of the seventeenth century. Let him look at the sky and see the planets move around the sun in elliptical orbits (as Copernicus and Kepler had just shown). Now listen to what he has to say:

… somehow the solar system has evolved to a state of formidable intelligence. The mechanism of planet rotation resides somewhere in this overall complexity, but it is elusive. How do the planets know not to go any further when they get to their apogee? Astronomy has no simple answer.

That mind-body astronomer was right until less than a hundred years later Newton discovered the mathematical law of gravity and the laws of motion, based on which scientists could explain the detailed motion of all planets and show that it was mathematics and the laws of motion that told the planet to return to the sun, once it reached its apogee! Today’s mind-body doctors are also right: scientific medicine has no simple answer now. In fact, it may never have a simple answer. But answer it will have. Just wait a hundred years or so!

Writing in 1989, Chopra was justified in saying that advanced scientific medicine was “at a loss to duplicate the impaired function” of the body of hemophiliacs. But in this particular case, we don’t have to wait a hundred years! Since 1993, recombinant factor products – which are typically cultured in Chinese hamster ovary tissue cells and involve little, if any, human plasma products – have been available and widely used. In early 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Xyntha anti-haemophilic factor, genetically engineered from the genes of Chinese hamster ovary cells. (N.B. Of course, we don’t expect mind-body doctors to pull their heads out of the sand and acknowledge such developments. It is a characteristic of mystic gurus to be oblivious to any change in science, because all the scientific advances have been materialistic, reductionistic, genetic, and molecular biological developments.)

Intelligent hydrogen atom

Chopra has not yet found the source of the intelligence in cells. To find it, he casually and opportunistically exploits the great discoveries of scientific medicine. He then immediately turns around and starts degrading it by complaining about the shortcomings of what his medical school taught him about neurons, namely that they communicated through electrical signals across synapses. He is equally dissatisfied with his medical textbooks: ” … the description we learned in our neurology textbook in 1966 told us next to nothing about how neurons act in real life.” (p. 50)

Is it not possible that Chopra’s neurology textbook in 1966 contained next to nothing about how neurons act in real life because neurons were not fully understood at that time? Is it not true that the biology textbooks in 1950 said next to nothing about the double helix and the DNA molecule? Is it not also true that the biology textbooks in 1830 said next to nothing about the germ theory of diseases? And physics textbooks of 1910 said nothing about the nucleus of the atom? Science is not the content of some ancient book as Ayurveda is, and the neurology textbook of 1966 is not the Charaka Samhita of neurology! Science is, to use Chopra’s own phrase, “a river not a sculpture.” It is constantly changing, with new discoveries being made on a daily basis, and its textbooks being revised accordingly.

The mind-body medicine has thus far discovered that neurotransmitters are the carriers of intelligence. But where do they get that intelligence from? Stretching the intelligence of neurotransmitter molecules further, Chopra puts the official seal on the strange ideas he has been hinting at, and arrives at the heart of his theory of quantum healing:

The mystery of mind-over-matter has not been explained by biology, which prefers to push on to more and more complicated chemical structures. It is still obvious that no one is ever going to find a particle, however minute, that nature has labeled ‘intelligence.’  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. (pp. 65-66)

All medical doctors, who, by the nature of their training, are required to take a good number of chemistry courses, should know the qualitative difference between a chemical compound and its constituents. However, Chopra, with his idea of the presence of intelligence in the simple constituents of a more complex structure, shows a complete ignorance of this basic understanding. To measure this ignorance, consider geraniol, the chemical name for the rose fragrance. Each molecule of geraniol consists of ten carbon atoms, eighteen hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen atom. One of Chopra’s readers has some questions for him. Here is how the QA conversation might go:

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 has to be explained by the electrical interaction and spatial configuration of the atoms of which it is made, plus the interaction of that compound with our olfactory nerves. Similarly, intelligence is a property of our brain, which has to be explained by the electrical and chemical interactions and spatial configuration of the neurons of which it is made. Without understanding the detailed structure of a neuron and the physical and chemical processes in which it participates, no explanation of intelligence is possible.

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