Posts in Category: pseudoscience

Bruce Lipton – The Biology of Perception

It was suggested to me that I should check out “The Biology of Perception” by Bruce Lipton, so I did…

A few seconds into “The Biology of Perception” I got a bad vibe, so I looked up Lipton via my trusted sources such as randi.org, and they tell me that he’s a complete fraud. I agree.

If you go to his web site http://www.brucelipton.com/ on the front page he has embedded this youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uftWcoE_S28#!

In this video he skims over the mechanism via which perception controls cells, and as he explains this mechanism, it just, doesn’t make any sense at all, although it is convenient to have a succinct summary video so I don’t have to trudge through the two and a half hours of ‘biology of perception.’ The reasoning he uses, the deductive logic that he uses, none of it holds any water at all. He’s got cells in different dishes that are turning into different kinds of cells, which uh, you know, isn’t extraordinary at all, but somehow this leads to revolutionary and powerful insight. Okay, let’s hear some details about what’s so special about these cells in this dish, but I’m guessing that it never actually gets any more detailed than this.

“As you change your mind, as you change your belief, you change your biology.”

Obviously, this is true, to a point. There’s all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff that goes on with cellular biology and genetics and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics , and obviously we don’t understand it all. The language which we use to express ideas should accurately reflect what we do and don’t understand. Not what we fantasize to be true. That’s the difference between a fraud, and a scientist. A fraud speaks in vague language that promises you the moon, a fraud takes true statements out context and turns them into lies, and that’s what Lipton does. This is horrendously dangerous and is a disservice to humanity, because it teaches people a language of reasoning that is completely devoid of skepticism.

If Bruce Lipton sold electric batteries to consumers, he would be the Energizer Bunny. I think that consumers understand, when they see the Energizer Bunny, that this Bunny is a metaphor. Consumers understand that the Energizer battery doesn’t literally last forever, it does have limits. I’m not so sure that consumers can sort metaphor from scientific reality in Lipton’s song and dance, especially considering that there apparently is no scientific reality in his work to start with. And that’s fine. I’ve got nothing against feel-good religions. Meditation? I’m all for it. Mind-body connection. Groovy dude. Can it cure cancer? Most of the time probably not, but in just the right conditions, maybe. If I had cancer, I would sure give it a try. Can it prevent cancer in the first place? Now that’s more likely.

But keep science out of it. Science is a set of methods and reasoning and deduction and science is pretty damn useful, within certain limits. When you go ahead and you hijack science, as Lipton does, in order to prove scientifically that your religion is true and valid, well, you know, that creates a problem, because to accomplish this, you have to break science in the process, so then we’ve got this lump of science sitting on the table, this mangled mess of science, and it’s broken, smoke coming off of it, funny smell, and the next time we use it to solve something like global warming or curing cancer or finding better fuel efficiency or whatever, we can’t, because you broke it, and so now we’ve got to send it in to get it fixed, and we’ve got to pay shipping, and wait 6 weeks while it gets fixed, and it never quite works the same afterwards.

If one day, we get science to the point where science can figure out just under exactly what conditions meditation can cure cancer, and exactly how it happens, or exactly the different ways in which one’s state of mind impacts one’s epigenome, and how we can and can’t control that, well then, don’t worry Bruce, we will give you a phone call, and at that point, you can start to call your religion science, at least part of it, but until that point, please, leave science alone. I know you think you’re trying to advance science, but you’re not. instead, you’re retarding science, profoundly.

I’m shamelessly cribbing from Asimov’s introduction to Randi’s book _Flim Flam_ when I say this, but when we have people like Lipton who come on the scene and tell the general public that there is no limit to the POWER of some pseudo-scientifc phenomenon, then it just, it just makes it that much more difficult for the public to differentiate fact from fiction, it makes it that much more difficult for the public to correlate cause and effect, it makes it that much more difficult for the public to take reality seriously. And, we’ve got some very serious issues to contend with in reality, and the added complacency that someone like Lipton adds to the mix, with his promises of easy power and new science, might be just the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s hard enough for good public policy to get the funding and attention it needs, without people being led to believe that if push comes to shove we can all just solve problems with a little meditation.

I mean, why should I worry if the tobacco companies are selling cancer-causing chemicals, when according to Bruce Lipton, cancer might just only be a question of one’s state of mind anyway. You see what I’m saying. By promising power without limit, or at least promising power with substantially less limit than we know today, which is what Lipton is promising, then you know, he makes it that much more difficult for people to take the limits of reality seriously… You know, those limits of reality that are going to cause a few billion people to die because as a global society we have ignored those limits for so long and it’s only a matter of a few short years before our global systems collapse into a heap.

http://shop.skeptic.com/merchant.mvc?&Screen=PROD&Store_Code=SS&Product_Code=b001PB

Unfortunately, Bruce Lipton is benefiting from the timeless truth that the most effective lies are those which have some truth at their core.