Nearly two weeks ago, it came to our attention that the Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton were having Deepak Chopra come as a special guest during their annual conference. We alerted Timothy Caulfield, Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, who works out of the U of A, regarding Chopra’s appearance. Dr. Caulfield was more than happy to discuss the issue in the media (on twitter and with CBC) raising awareness of concerns that pseudoscience was being included in a conference for families dealing with autism in their lives.
Letters were written and even a petition started circulating to have him removed from the event.
While he hasn’t been removed entirely, Chopra has been ”downgraded” on the conference speakers list and is no longer their evening keynote speaker as was originally advertised. Children’s Autism Services have also issued a statement on their website explaining that he isn’t talking about anything to do with autism.
Dear Friends of Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton;
Thank for your interest in us and for your interest in our annual conference – the largest of its kind in western Canada. Recently, I have received questions about our decision to invite Deepak Chopra to speak. I thought it was important to offer some clarity around that.
It is important to clarify that Deepak Chopra is not speaking about autism or any autism treatment. He is speaking about “The Future of Well-Being” which will include personal wellness, and mindfulness. This is a broad topic that impacts all of us. I feel that we all need to think about our own well-being.
Deepak Chopra will present one view of well-being, personal wellness and mindfulness. I hope you’ll agree that there are many approaches to well-being – medical, physical, spiritual and psychological. We don’t endorse any of these – though I suspect they are all important to individual well-being. Our goal in inviting Deepak Chopra was not to endorse any of these approaches, but to start a conversation about well-being in its largest sense that would be meaningful to all Edmontonians.
Thank you again for your interest. I encourage you to join us at the presentation.
I look forward to seeing you at our conference and gala!
Terri Duncan, Executive Director
While this is still not ideal in our minds (pseudoscience deserves no platform!), at least it is a small step forward and provides some clarification for people attending the event that his views are not endorsed by the Children’s Autism Services. However, we still urge organizers to consider removing him entirely from their guest list as his views on autism are dangerous and without evidence, which may give attendees of the conference false hope that autism can be ”healed” using Chopra’s unsubstantiated methods.