The etymology of the word “science” – to know – is befittingly simple. It is the quest for information about the universe around us. It’s the search for objective truth.
That is why, when Deepak Chopra M.D. – a trained endocrinologist, writer, speaker, and prominent alternative medicine advocate – tells IFLScience that he dislikes the truth, it strikes us as a little odd.
“I prefer those who are looking for the truth, and I’ve run away from those that have found it.” Questions, not answers, are this man’s cup of tea.
We were a little surprised that Chopra got in touch with us at all, actually. He wanted to have a chat about his new book, You Are The Universe, in which he and theoretical physicist Menas Kafatos suggest, in a slight twist on the Copernican principle, that our very own species are the central masters of the universe – the architects of the material world around us.
Chopra has courted controversy for many reasons, and many have claimed that he uses highly dubious scientific language in order to sell New Age doctrines to his impressively large worldwide following. Intrigued to see how a conversation would develop between ourselves and Chopra’s beliefs, we accepted his invite to talk about his new book and his life’s work.
It was, to summarize, an adventure in semantics.
It’s Not A Crocodile Universe
“I’ll speak slowly because it’s kind of a complex idea,” Chopra said as he prepared to explain the grand concept behind his latest work. “The universe that we experience is a human construct. And the science is the measurement of that.”
This is undoubtedly true – we perceive the universe through our neurological processes. So far, so good. Noting there is only one reality – which there is – Chopra repeatedly emphasized that the universe is a human one, “not a crocodile, bat, dolphin or insect-with-100-eyes universe.”
Chopra and Kafatos promoting their new book this February in New York City. Donna Ward/Getty Images
This, however, is when things started to go a little off-piste. Bringing up the wave-particle duality, the scientific concept that every particle can be described as both a wave and a particle, Chopra explained that these were actually “waves of possibility in mathematical space, in mathematical imagination.”
“So the answer to the question ‘what is the universe made of’ is: it’s made of nothing.”
I’m sure most scientists, particularly those that study matter, would disagree with that. Just as they’d disagree with the oft-stated idea in the book that the ever-elusive dark matter, a key enigma in physics, is akin to a mythical monster – we can’t directly see it, so it’s just as likely to be there as a minotaur.