Major cryptocurrency and blockchain conference Ethereal Summit is defending its decision to extend an invitation to Deepak Chopra, a New Age spiritual leader and alternative medicine advocate.
Ethereal, which is sponsored by Ethereum development studio ConsenSys, describes itself as the “SXSW of blockchain” and expects to host 2,000 attendees at its upcoming event in New York City.
The summit invited Chopra — who has written 21 New York Times bestsellers — to lead meditations at the conference’s “Zen Zone,” which also hosts yoga and other types of mindfulness exercises.
Chopra’s inclusion at the event drew criticism from a variety of prominent personalities in the Ethereum community, who alleged that Chopra engages in pseudo-science and will reflect badly on the conference as a whole.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin went so far to as to call Chopra a “fraud,” adding that he was “basically the [Craig Wright] of yoga.”
Scheduled Ethereal speaker and former JPMorgan blockchain lead Amber Baldet also lamented Chopra’s addition to the summit, tweeting that the cryptocurrency space already “has enough of a cultish perception that it probably doesn’t need to be exacerbated by elevating blatant pseudoscience.”
However, Ethereal co-founder Amanda Gutterman defended the decision in a Reddit thread, arguing that the blockchain conference aims to present attendees with a diverse range of speakers and ideas.
“I tend to think interest from cultural figures in this technology is a good thing. Deepak Chopra is a cultural icon who represents a perspective that aims to change the world with a health-and-wholeness orientation. That orientation is part of what makes Ethereal special. He won’t be the be the first or last Ethereal speaker whose views are not agreed upon by all. That is not our goal, and a diversity of thought plus consensus mechanisms help drive innovation forward.”
Gutterman added that several activities will happen concurrently throughout the event, so attendees do not have to listen to any speakers they fund “unwelcome” or unconvincing.
Featured image from Flickr/Mitch Aidelbaum Photography.