Some years ago, my wife at the time (long since ex-wife) came home from shopping with a new book. I do not recall the title, but the author was Deepak Chopra. I suspect she bought it because she'd either heard about it on Oprah or knew someone who recommended it to her. But it made sense that it would appeal to her. She was feeling somewhat trapped between an atheist husband and a deeply religious mother. On most days, she would say that she really wasn't sure what she believed. She had been raised to value spirituality but had been turned off my organized religion. I think Chopra's book fit perfectly well into her search to find some sort of belief system with which she could align herself.
I was not particularly familiar with Chopra at the time. All I really knew of him was that he appeared to be a genius at marketing himself as some sort of New Age figure. The few times I remember seeing him on TV, I marveled at his ability to sound like he was delivering profound wisdom even though he wasn't communicating much of value. Still, I viewed him as harmless.
My ex-wife enjoyed his book and suggested that I read it. I had very little time or interest in reading because I was working on my Ph.D. and often felt like reading was all I did most days. But I did give it a try, making it about a quarter of the way through before giving up, calling it bullshit, and getting back to work.
Today, I'm not so sure Chopra and his ilk are harmless. I'm not sure if he had a lasting impact on my ex-wife, but I do remember her going through a period of dismissing Western medicine, science, and reason for assorted New Age bunk. My guess is that this was something she needed to go through and that it would have happened with or without Chopra. I'm not sure this is the case for everyone, and his brand of false hope can be expensive. Besides, critical thinking is challenging enough without someone intentionally seeking to undermine it to line his pockets.
I haven't thought about any of this in quite some time. What prompted it was a post at Unreasonable Faith. It seems that someone noticed that much of the "wisdom" Chopra spouts in his Twitter account seem like randomly arranged words and decided to have some fun with it. What a great idea!
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