Deepak Chopra’s One Million Dollar Challenge to the Skeptics to explain the hard problem of consciousness

Last updated on 19th August 2014

Dr. Deepak Chopra’s One Million Dollar Challenge to the Skeptics, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up6GqgBK5Qo, 5 min. 36 secs, published on Jun.14th 2014

I have transcribed (to text) the challenge as a comment in the same youtube page here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up6GqgBK5Qo&google_comment_id=z133sjz5ulmujtayd04ci1bpmnbgipprpxs0k

I have also provided the same transcript below:

This is Dr. Deepak Chopra and I am issuing a challenge to the amazing Randi and all his colleagues, … his so-called militant atheist friends and professional debunkers.

Dear Randi, before you go around debunking the so-called paranormal, please explain the so-called normal. How does electricity going into the brain become the experience of a 3-dimensional world (in) space and time. If you can explain that then you get a million dollars from me. Explain and solve the hard problem of consciousness in a peer-reviewed journal. Offer a theory that is falsifiable and you get the prize. OK?

The problem with you and your cronies is that you are bamboozled by the superstition of matter. You don’t realize that everything we experience as the physical world is actually a perception. And that perception is the result of an experience in consciousness. And we have no idea how that happens. If I ask you to imagine a sunset on the ocean right now and you have the experience somewhere then explain to me where that picture is.

And don’t just give me a neural correlate or NCC as it’s called. Neural correlates of consciousness are well known but they are not good enough explanation for how we experience the world. How we experience colour, taste, sound, form, any perception. (Can’t) explain it – texture, solidity – you cannot explain that. We can’t even explain how do we have the perceptual experience of our own body. Or our thoughts, intuition, insight, imagination, creativity, cognition, self-reflection.

And once again, neural correlates are not causation. So when I asked you to think of that sunset there was neural correlate. But it wasn’t there till you had the experience or you had them simultaneously or one before the other, it doesn’t matter. You had intention. Explain to me, intention.

So until you explain the normal, why are you wasting your time in debunking the paranormal. Experience is experience, whether it is so-called normal or it is so-called paranormal, and we have no explanation for either. OK.

So if you can give a scientifically viable, falsifiable theory published in a peer-reviewed journal, you or any of your cronies including Dawkins, Shermer and the whole gang, then you get a million dollars from me. And I will be happy to present you the cheque on Television, on national media. So that’s my challenge, you guys. You take such pride in saying that the so-called paranormal is a perceptual trick, a magic show, explain to me the ultimate magic show which is the universe.

Do it guys. I know your conference is coming up … visit the amazing whatever-you-call-it … you self-appointed vigilantes for the suppression of curiosity and imagination and legitimate science, have a good time at your conference. Keep congratulating yourselves as being amazing when you are all naive realists. You don’t know one thing about consciousness. You are superstitious and actually believe that your perceptions give access to you of reality.

And for Richard Dawkins, of course, you (are) going to respond by calling this willful obscurantism because you don’t understand the language. Just as you don’t understand the language on my T-shirt unless you happen to be a native of the culture that speaks that language. So Dawkins stop being a willful ignoramus and try (to) understand normal experience before you talk about reality.

All the best guys. Congratulate yourselves and continue to congratulate yourselves as amazing. But do know that what you really need is epistemic humility, transcendence, a sense of reverence for existence and also gratitude.

— end transcript —

Ravi: I really liked the last sentence, “But do know that what you really need is epistemic humility, transcendence, a sense of reverence for existence and also gratitude.” It is this kind of attitude that opens up the intuitive and spiritual faculties in us.

BTW I did not know the meaning of “epistemic humility”. https://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111016172456AAvJ63b gave me some idea.

I think it is a terrific challenge from Dr. Deepak Chopra to the militant skeptics and atheists. Some of the language may come across as harsh but then I think the militant skeptics and atheists (as against plain atheists and skeptics) also use similar language.

Here are a few interesting blog posts about this challenge:

a) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/skepticism-and-a-million-_b_5522690.html, 24th June 2014 (Deepak Chopra explains why he pushed back on the militant atheists and skeptics with his challenge). A small extract, “As one of the major confronters, I’d say that my primary goal is to defend the truth of spirituality. The world’s wisdom traditions are just as precious as science. To lump them together as arrant charlatanism (as if Buddha and Jesus stand on the same level as a stage magician or con man) is grossly misleading. To dress up this hostile attitude as scientific and rational only deepens the deception.”

b) http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.in/2014/07/chopras-challenge.html, 12th July 2014.

c) http://www.newstatesman.com/future-proof/2014/07/deepak-chopra-doesnt-understand-quantum-physics-so-brian-cox-wants-1000000-him, 7th July 2014 (has tweet arguments, more like a slanging match actually, between Deepak Chopra and Brian Cox, with Cox starting the slanging match)

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