I just received an email from someone who thought that I should treat Bruce Lipton‘s teachings on the Biology of Belief as a provisional hypothesis awaiting further confirmation or disproof. Okay, let’s consider the arguments for and against.
There are two common arguments against this position. One is that Lipton’s teachings are in fact supported by mainstream science, and the other argues that Lipton’s work is a threat to mainstream science and that the studies supporting it have been suppressed. Let’s examine these opposing factions.
One who argues strongly that the Biology of Belief is accepted by mainstream science is Dr Bruce Lipton Ph.D.
In this lecture, he argues that the popular press has misinterpreted the recent advancements in genetics and misinformed the public. He is supported in this position by a group of commenters here on this blog, who point to numerous articles which they believe, for reasons that escape me, somehow support Lipton’s teachings.
On the opposing side, arguing that the Biology of Belief directly contradicts the dominant mechanistic paradigm of modern science and has therefore been suppressed, is Dr Bruce Lipton Ph.D.
In this interview he argues that the studies which support the ideas behind the “Biology of Belief” healing system have been suppressed. “Hundreds of studies”, he claims (without naming any) have been suppressed because they contradict mainstream science. He is supported in this by a group of commenters here on this blog, who argue that mainstream science is narrow-minded and so blinded by its materialism that it is incapable of recognizing the truth of Lipton’s teachings and suppresses them.
I could just let these two groups of commenters slug it out between them but they haven’t noticed each other’s existence yet. And anyway, experience tells me that if they did ever meet to discuss things, they would all be swapping sides back and forth without even noticing. It’s a bit like biblical interpretation. Lipton’s teachings are so garbled that his fans are forced to make up their own version. In fact, this leaves them free to make up several of their own versions, between which they can alternate according to which ever point they want to make at a given moment. Of course, they still ascribe it all to Bruce Lipton Ph.D.
Luckily, the solution is simple.
Both camps are wrong. Lipton’s teachings are not supported by mainstream science, nor are they supported by research that has been suppressed. At least Lipton has never named any of the “hundreds of studies” that were refused publication. That argument might have been slightly more plausible in the 1980s, but these days with the internet, anyone who wants to put their cancer cure online can do so. And obviously, we have cases like Andrew Wakefield‘s elaborate fraud which got published in the Lancet despite being highly controversial at the time, and the sincere but premature publication of the neutrino affair which would have overturned a “central dogma” of physics. This even got saturation coverage in the mainstream press before the scientists themselves discovered their error and retracted it at great professional cost.
More importantly Lipton does not present his ideas as a provisional hypothesis, but rather as fact. So certain is he that his teachings work that he is prepared to stake…… well…… other people’s lives on it.
If you wish to claim Lipton’s teachings are a provisional hypothesis, you have just acknowledged that Lipton is a cancer quack.
Incidentally, there is also a third group who suspect that Lipton is a babbling loon, but can’t quite bring themselves to let go of the idea that magic is real because someone with a Ph.D says it is. So they say “I’m not defending Lipton, but can you prove he is wrong?” All I can say to these people is pick one of the above groups and get in line.
An analogy is NOT evidence and it does NOT constitute a hypothesis, not even a provisional one.
Lipton does not describe or propose any chemical reactions or physiological processes which might be involved in his cancer cure, despite having a Ph.D in cell biology. Instead he uses nothing more than an analogy — an extremely poor and wildly over-stretched analogy — to support his claims.
Scientists sometimes use analogies to explain unfamiliar things by comparing them to familiar ones. For example, a protein fits into a protein receptor in a manner that is analogous to a key in a lock. This does not mean that proteins dangle on something like a key chain or that the protein receptor will rust if it gets wet. That’s pushing the analogy too far.
Lipton uses a general analogy to describe cell function. He likens cells to an individual human being. He lists some functional components of a person (brain, heart, sex organs, etc) and then points to parts of the cell which he feels are analogous to these. Then he goes way overboard and ascribes ALL the characteristics of such components in a whole person, to the supposedly analogous components of a cell. Not surprisingly, everything that follows this ridiculous abuse of analogy, is utterly wrong and highly dangerous.
Clearly, if this were to be a hypothesis, he would postulate chemical reactions which might be occurring. He doesn’t do this. Instead, he starts with technical explanations using technical biological terms, and then advances it using analogy alone, and winds up presenting a model of healing which is based entirely on this one spurious analogy. This is what he sells as a cancer cure.
Let’s go through this step by step.
Lipton draws an analogy between the way the cell membrane can identify a protein using its protein receptors, and the way we use our sense organs or perceive our environment. From there he makes an unjustified leap and starts using the word perception to describe what the cell membrane does!!!
From there, he explains that our belief systems influence our perceptions, and then leaps on further to insisting that by changing our belief system we can change our perceptions. (His presentation of this is wildly exaggerated and very muddled, but I’ll let it pass because he’s traveling towards a different goal.)
The next leap is to assert that not only do cells perceive things, but that they too — like us — have belief systems!!! The next leap is that these belief systems determine the way the cell perceives, and the next leap is that by changing its belief system the cell can alter its perceptions of what is around it.
And the next leap is the idea that the cell can change its belief system if ordered to do so by the brain. This is followed by another long and squarking-like-a-turkey leap, where Lipton insists that our brain can cure cancer by ordering cells to stop perceiving their environment as cancer inducing. Lipton of course offers no explanation for how this might work, and of course proposes no evidence for this. For him, the mystical powers of analogy is enough.
Those who claim that these teachings are part of mainstream science apparently think that if they can find an article which seems to support some part of this (like for example that cells can bee affected by stress) then this must mean the rest of what Lipton says is true too. I won’t bother pointing out how stupid that is.
To those who think I don’t have the right to speak about this because I am not a scientist, I offer you the conclusion of a recent commenter @Mona, who is a biologist (and her claim to be certainly matches up with her IP & other data):
I was given a book by Bruce Lipton and found it completely bananas.
That’s it. There’s no need to take it any further than that.
Posted by Yakaru