Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 68 (Darwinian obstetricians)

August 20, 2019

Lipton continues his attack on scientists, now turning obstetricians, who he claims are genetic determinists.

Consequently, Ob-Gyns are only concerned with a few maternal prenatal issues: Is she eating well? Taking vitamins? Does she exercise regularly? Those questions focus on what they believe is the mother’s principal role, the provision of nutrients to be used by the genetically programmed fetus.

As noted last time, Lipton fails to distinguish between heredity and genetics. (Heredity involves the inheritance of variable traits; genetics is the much broader study of how genes work to produce the particular protein they code for.) Lipton seems to think that geneticists believe genes influence behaviour as deterministically as they determine eye colour. And he thinks that the fact that genes get switched on and off by external signals proves that they are wrong. And he thinks that scientists and the entire medical profession side with geneticists in this dogmatic belief, simply because to admit it isn’t so would destroy their beloved godless Darwinism.

That is why he is attacking obstetricians. He sees them as ideologues in the struggle against the Truth Lamarckism (and quantum physics).

The Truth he is fighting for is the idea that genes are overruled by epigenetics, which itself is the delivery system by which — somehow, he doesn’t say how — parental thoughts and attitudes are transferred to and — somehow, he doesn’t say how — permanently encoded in the epigenetic markers that — somehow, he doesn’t say how — determine fetal development.

And obstetricians prevent you from knowing this out of loyalty to Charles Darwin. So all they do is ensure that a pregnant woman is eating properly and exercising regularly.

But the developing child receives far more than nutrients from the mother’s blood. Along with nutrients, the fetus absorbs excess glucose if the mother is diabetic, and excess cortisol and other fight or flight hormones if the mother is chronically stressed.

And what are the symptoms of chronic stress? Maybe poor nutrition and lack of exercise for example?

Lipton then dumps another copy-and-paste lecture notes avalanche about neurochemicals and stress hormones affecting a developing fetus. As always, this is exactly the kind of research he has just accused scientists of refusing to carry out as they are dogmatic anti-quantum Darwinists.

We can skip to where he says:

The new focus on the influences of the prenatal environment extends to the study of IQ, which genetic determinists and racists once linked simply to genes.

He follows this up with another cut-and-paste avalanche about studies showing that genes have varying effects on IQ, and that a pregnant mother who ingests alcohol or lead decreases the IQ of her child.

I doubt any genetic determinist or racist would have disputed those findings. More to the point, it just shows how important it is for obstetricians to monitor health — doesn’t it. But as always, Lipton doesn’t realise he is demolishing his own argument.

Then a new subheading.

Nature’s Head Start Program

You may be wondering why evolution would provide such a system for fetal development that seems so fraught with peril and is so dependent on the environment of the parents.

Lipton clearly fell asleep every time evolution was mentioned during his biology course, because — big surprise — he’s got this completely and utterly wrong. We can clear it up for him.

The standard neo-Darwinian perspective would consider the costs and benefits of a multitude of variables: a large brain (and cranium) vs the difficulty of getting through the birth canal without killing mother or child; long period of infantile dependency vs time to learn highly complex behaviours; and so forth.

A creationist/intelligent design perspective would argue that everything was designed by god. New Age spiritual folk would add the idea that everything will work perfectly as long as people act in accordance with their divine higher nature. 

Lipton thinks he’s a Lamarckian but he’s an intelligent design creationist. And that is why he says this:

Actually, it’s an ingenious system that helps ensure the survival of your offspring.

Factual error. It’s largely an inevitable byproduct of evolution, resulting from millions of years of agonising death in childbirth, agonising success in childbirth, and fine tuned by the cumulative effects of differential survival minute physiological differences — which of course are inherited through genetics.

But Lipton thinks all that death misery and suffering that determined the course of human evolution didn’t happen. Instead, he thinks some kind of intelligent agent — he’s about to call it “Nature” — designed it all for the comfort of individual humans. Or rather the comfort of those humans who say the right affirmations.

Eventually, the child is going to find itself in the same environment as its parents. Information acquired from the parents’ perception of their environment transits the placenta and primes the prenate’s physiology, preparing it to more effectively deal with future exigencies that will be encountered after birth. Nature is simply preparing that child to best survive in that environment.

This is another buzzing stinging hive of factual errors.

The studies he mentioned dealt with subtle differences in IQ, and the detrimental effects of poison, malnutrition and stress. These are not evolutionary adaptations to suit babies to a very specific habitat, but rather the inevitable consequences of being a viviparous mammal.

However, armed with the latest science, parents now have a choice. They can carefully reprogram their limiting beliefs about life before they bring a child into their world.

And “positive” as that may sound to his readers, nothing in the dozens of scientific studies he cited said anything at all about “limiting beliefs” being transferred epigenetically.

And this book was supposed to be about how to reverse this stuff anyway! All he has said so far is that if your parents treated you badly you’re screwed, and now add to that, that you can only flourish in the kind of environment you were born into.

He has replaced his stupidly exaggerated ideas about genetic determinism with stupidly exaggerated about epigenetic determinism. And he thinks it is good.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 67 (Lipton contradicts everything in the entire book)

August 15, 2019

We are getting close to the end of this. Just 20 pages more in this chapter and then a short epilogue. This should be done by 70. (The post number, not my age, though I did start this when I was 51 and now I’m 53.)

I had planned to summarise his ideas from here on in, rather than going through it quote by quote, but as will soon become clear, his ideas are so profoundly and thoroughgoingly incoherent that one can only repeat them in the order they appear.

One small thing however, can be cleared up at this point. Throughout the book he conflates genetics with heredity — an inexcusable mistake for a biologist. It is due to genetics that I have four limbs and walk upright. But things like eye colour, type of hair, and behavioural proclivities are due to heredity. Both parents have different versions of the gene (called an allele) for these things. So I inherited my skin type, with its tendency to get skin cancer, from my mother. (I probably got my gray hair and foul temper from reading Lipton.)

Conflating these makes Lipton say that genetics has no effect, when what he really means is that heredity has no effect — which is itself yet another mistake.  And had he cleared it up, it still would not have saved him from occupying both ends of the nature/nurture controversy spectrum; nor from replacing his fabricated version of the loathed genetic determinism with his own insane version of epigenetic determinism… without realising he has replaced the effects of nurture with epigenetics as well, while simultaneously believing in the absolute primacy of mind over matter to the point where you can drink poison and survive…. And mind over matter is dependent on the ability to overcome the subconscious mind, which he says is “millions of times more powerful” than the conscious mind, which is why so many people fail to cure their cancer with affirmations.

Remember, he has promised half a dozen times to explain how to overcome that very problem in the course of this chapter, and so far he has said nothing at all about it. At first I thought he had forgotten about it entirely, but maybe what follows is indeed his attempt to show how that insurmountable hurdle to his own cancer quackery can be overcome. This is about to get confusing even by his standards.

He begins by talking about how to “consciously” conceive a child.

A Twinkle In Your Parents’ Eyes: Conscious Conception & Conscious Pregnancy

He begins by saying that it is best to plan ahead and prepare if you want to have a child. Stop the presses. He continues:

Research reveals that parents act as genetic engineers for their children in the months before conception.

Factual error. “Genetic engineering” does have a meaning, and that isn’t it. Not even metaphorically. And why is he claiming that blind epigenetic processes are genetic engineering?

In the final stages of egg and sperm maturation, a process called genomic imprinting adjusts the activity of specific groups of genes that will shape the character of the child yet to be conceived. [Surani 2001; Reik and Walter 2001]

The studies cited do not say anything about parents “controlling” this process in any directed manner, let alone engineering it. Above all, it is not predictable what will eventually come of it in the biography of the growing child or adult.

Research suggests that what is going on in the lives of the parents during the process of genomic imprinting has a profound influence on the mind and body of their child, a scary thought given how unprepared most people are to have a baby.

This is like saying you can consciously engineer your digestive processes by eating salad instead of poison. Though that’s a bad analogy, because he’s already said people can drink typhoid serum and survive with mind over matter. (Yes he did say that.) Now he’s reverted to saying that subtle changes in parental behaviour have irreversible life-long effects on fetal development.

This might be how he thinks you can overcome the “millions of times more powerful” subconscious — by doing it preemptively for your unconceived children via epigenetics! So genetics has no effect and doesn’t “control your biology”, but rather you are a puppet of your epigenome instead, and you can protect your children from getting cancer in that manner. So I guess they can stand in the sun year in year out and smoke like a chimney without any problems? Because their parents epigenetically immunised them?

Is that what he means? Is that why that man in 1850 could drink poison and survive — because of fortunate epigenetic genetic engineering by his parents before he was even conceived?

Is that what he meant by all that?

Maybe it is, but maybe it isn’t. Because he also said that that healer who healed a patient’s supposedly incurable congenital skin condition in 1950 was because healer had positive beliefs, and then couldn’t heal it in anyone else because he might have lost his positivity with other patients…..

But then that still leaves the problem of why he says affirmations can overcome the millions of times more powerful subconscious.

I’m still confused.

And the research he cited doesn’t deal with any “conscious” parental aspects of this at all. For that he turns instead to an author called Vemy, whom he quotes at length:

“It makes a difference whether we are conceived in love, haste or hate, and whether a mother wants to be pregnant. . .parents do better when they live in a calm and stable environment free of addictions and supported by family and friends…”

This is so vague that it seems to say that “hasty” love making will somehow affect the ensuing zygote as much as drug use during pregnancy affects the fetus.

Vemy continues even more vaguely:

“Once the child is conceived, an impressive body of research is documenting how important parents’ attitudes are in the development of the fetus. Again Vemy writes: “In fact, the great weight of the scientific evidence that has emerged over the last decade demands that we reevaluate the mental and emotional abilities of unborn children. Awake or asleep, the studies show, they [unborn children] are constantly tuned in to their mother’s every action, thought and feeling. From the moment of conception, the experience in the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament, and the power of higher thought.”

This is so vague as to be completely meaningless, and none of the “impressive body of research” is not cited. As usual, readers are left free to assume he is saying whatever they want him to be saying. And what the hell is “the power of higher thought”?

There is indeed plenty of research about embryological development, but the most fascinating and important parts of it are all squarely within the realm of mainstream biology. And Lipton has either missed this completely, or quoted it in the pretense that it supports his vague notions, which it doesn’t. (While still denying that the research doesn’t exist or is being suppressed by dogmatic scientists.)

He does, however, manage to find a few sensible words about not blaming mothers if, for example, they have an autistic child. But instead of admitting that the researchers who were to blame for that all made the mistake of emphasising environmental influences to the exclusion of genetics. (Autism appears to be due in large part to a particular combination of otherwise perfectly healthy and useful genes — no parental guilt here, just inevitable biological variability.)

But instead of using genetics to relieve mothers of guilt, Lipton merely expands it include the fathers as well!

And then he follows it up with this:

We surely cannot blame ourselves, nor our parents for failures in our own or our children’s lives.

He means we should not hold our parents accountable for determining our lifelong health by their actions before they even had sex to eventually conceive us. And we shouldn’t blame ourselves for being too weak to overcome the epigenetic determinism that he claims is far more powerful than genetics, even though he labeled such people as “positive thinking drop outs”.

And homeopathy and acupuncture can fix it thanks to quantum physics. And maybe affirmations can fix it if you use them properly, but he still hasn’t said how to do that.

Clearly satisfied with his effort so far, He decides now is the time to bash science again.

Science has kept our attention focused on the notion of genetic determinism, leaving us ignorant about the influence beliefs have on our lives, and more importantly, how our behaviors and attitudes program the lives of our children.

Factual error. Science does not advocate genetic determinism.

Most obstetricians are also still uneducated about the importance of parental attitudes in the development of the baby. According to the notion of genetic determinism that they were steeped in as medical students, fetal development is mechanically controlled by genes with little additional contribution from the mother.

Again, that is not genetic determinism.

It is worth pausing for a moment and recognising what an absolute dog’s dinner Lipton is making of all this.

For all his constant ranting against “genetic determinism”, there has only been one idea mentioned so far in the entire book that would count as genuine genetic determinism: the idea that babies have a a “survival instinct” that enables to them to swim, and it was Lipton who said that, not Darwin, not James Watson, not David Duke.

Even more oddly, far away at the other end of the scale, at the polar opposite position of extreme environmental determinism, there is Lipton too, somehow, denying that genes have any influence whatsoever, and parents can determine the epigenetic development of their embryo even long before conception!

So what is it, Dr Bruce?

And he has done it all without realising anything at all is wrong. His by now comatose readers obviously haven’t noticed anything either.


Antisemitism: a personal encounter

August 9, 2019

I knew that she was called Ruth and that she was Jewish. I spoke to her only once very briefly, and somehow managed to work some extremely harsh criticism of Israel into the conversation. Similarities with the Nazis were mentioned. She looked at me briefly, but didn’t respond and the conversation was suddenly over.

That was about 25 years ago. I had strong opinions about Israel — so strong that they were almost bursting out of me. I could almost feel my skin reddening, my breath changing and a shot of adrenaline rushing into certain combative muscle groups when I thought of it. Why? I didn’t know much about Israel at all. No, that’s a lie. I didn’t know anything at all about Israel, beyond that there were Jews living there. I saw them as rich and white, and that they had stolen land from the Arabs or something.

Why so much anger? Well, my best friend used to get very angry about it, and I looked up to him. He seemed to know a great deal more about everything than I did. I was about 25, he was in his early 40s, was better educated, had traveled widely, and had a much stronger personality than I did. He seemed to know what he was talking about, and I generally agreed with his (left wing) politics. It seemed important, and I saw how angry it made him, so I identified with his anger. It made me angry too.

But why did I speak to Ruth in that manner? I wasn’t angry with her about it. Why did I do that? Read the rest of this entry »


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 66 (Lipton tells ‘conscious’ parents to throw their babies into a swimming pool)

July 20, 2019

Welcome back to the Encyclopedia Liptonnica. (I have some other posts in the works, and they’ll be up soonish, but for now it’s back to Lipton.)

Alas, I must return to some stuff I skipped in the previous post. Regular commenter @Lettersquash cleared up the mystery of why Litpon keeps saying “downloading” instead of “learning” — it’s from The Matrix. (He has written an insightful article about the confusion that film caused for so many people.) As well as this, he coaxed me into looking again at the material I had hastily passed over, and of course, as he had noticed,, it contained a very silly factual error.

And looking more closely at the whole passage I realise I was wrong to hurry through it without considering what it was actually saying. I had registered that it was wrong and stupid, but thought it was irrelevant enough to ignore. I’m a bit embarrassed that it didn’t instantly strike me as insane and dangerous.

Anyway, backtracking…..

Moths fly toward the

That’s exactly where I cut it off last time. And of course, yes, the next word is


and of course it’s stupid. If moths flew toward the light, they would fly straight up towards the moon and would die without reproducing and there wouldn’t be any moths anymore. Instead, of course, they use a light source (previously the distant moon) as a positional marker to orient themselves. Thus, they will circle an artificial light and spiral down into it. Lipton could have used this as an example of how an instinctive behaviour causes problems when the environment no longer suits it, but he doesn’t seem to know about it.

This is nitpicking, but Lipton has a PhD in biology. He should know this and should be using it to support his argument if he’s going to mention it at all.

The sentence continues:

sea turtles return to specific islands and lay their eggs on the beach at the appropriate time…

Again, he’s failed to explain what’s happening: they return to the island they were born on, using the earth’s magnetic field for navigation. I don’t know which kind of turtle he is referring to, so maybe “the appropriate time” refers to seasonal migration, possibly triggered by changes in water temperature. All this involves many layers of highly complex (‘instinctive’) fixed action patterns, which undermines his earlier point that the more highly developed an organism’s nervous system, the less complex its instinct.

and the swallows return to Capistrano on a specific date…

And again he thinks it’s mysterious and spooky. Why not say “around a specific date”?

yet, as far as we know, none of these organisms have any knowledge of why they engage in those behaviors. The behaviors are innate; they are genetically built into the organism and are classified as instincts.

Ok, but he hasn’t integrated this at all with his other claims about genetics having no influence on behaviour at all.

Organisms higher in the Tree have more complexly integrated nervous systems headed by bigger and bigger brains that allow them to acquire intricate behavioral patterns through experiential learning (nurture).

He babbles on a bit longer, accepting even that humans do have some instinctive behaviours, and quotes a couple of anthropologists to convince parents that their children are more capable of learning than are sea turtles.

So far in this book, Lipton has repeatedly dismissed the whole of genetics as “genetic determinism”. He has claimed claimed that reflexive behaviours like knee jerking are identical to “reflexive” responses learned through Pavlovian conditioning. Now he suddenly and dramatically — and unbelievably stupidly — contradicts all of that, and vastly exaggerates and misrepresents the role of genetics.

We do have, of course, behavioral instincts that are innate— consider the infant’s instinct to suckle…

Yes! This is an accurate statement, more or less!

…to quickly move his hand away from fire…

No! This is a stupid statement. That is not an instinct but a reflex triggered by pain.

…and to automatically swim when placed in water.

What???? No! Factual error. Um… And kind of dangerous.

We are born with the ability to swim; infants can swim like graceful porpoises moments after they are born.

This chapter is written specifically for parents and is called “Conscious Parenting”. Conscious parents don’t drown their children. This is insane. Here is some advice from a website for parents.

No. It’s not true that babies are born with the ability to swim, though they have reflexes that make it look like they are.

A reflex called the bradycardic response makes babies hold their breath and open their eyes when submerged in water, says Jeffrey Wagener, a pediatric pulmonologist in Colorado. (Parents can cause this same reaction by blowing in their baby’s face, a response that disappears after about 6 months.)

Also, until around 6 months, babies placed in water tummy down reflexively move their arms and legs in a swimming motion, which makes them look like natural swimmers. “These reflexes don’t mean the baby can swim, though,” says Wagener.

Babies aren’t old enough to hold their breath intentionally or strong enough keep their head above water. In addition to the risk of drowning, it’s dangerous for an infant to swallow large amounts of pool water.

Still, many infant swim programs rely on these reflexes to help babies “swim.” However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) doesn’t recommend swimming programs for children younger than 1 year old. After the age of 1, the AAP suggests checking with your child’s doctor to find out if your baby is ready to participate in a swimming program.

This is just insanely stupid from Lipton. I hope and pray that the tens of thousands of parents who read Lipton and trust him don’t try this out.

He continues:

But children quickly acquire a fear of water from their parents — observe the response of parents when their unattended child ventures near a pool or other open water.



Children can drown extremely quickly if they swallow water. So many children drowned in Australia that a law was passed forcing ANYONE, with or without children, to put a fence around their pool. In many countries it is illegal to leave infants unattended around water, to prevent exactly the kind of scenario that Lipton is telling parents is absolutely no problem at all.

Children learn from their parents that water is dangerous.

Water IS dangerous you fucking moron!

And children don’t learn to fear water if they see their parent panic.

Parents must later struggle to teach Johnny how to swim. Their first big effort is focused on overcoming the fear of water they instilled in earlier years.

Nonsense. Complete and utter rubbish.

Instincts are built in behaviors that are fundamental to the survival of all humans, independent of what culture they belong to or what time in human history they were born.

This is not only wrong, it also completely contradicts everything Lipton has previously said about genetic influences, which was also wrong. Remember he said that reflexes are all somehow learned through conditioning. Now suddenly they’re all survival instincts!

Part of his problem is that he uses a popular catch-all term — instinct — in territory where more exact language is required. A fixed action pattern is a simple reflexive action triggered by an external stimulus. Flinching (pulling the head down, raising the shoulders) at a sudden explosive noise is a fixed action pattern. Instincts are bunches of such things kind of stuck together. Insects have very complex groupings of these, like the dance of bees to communicate a geographical location; humans tend to have very simple ones which require learning to make anything of them. (Though bees can learn too.)

We inherited these from our mammalian past (though there is a tendency even among scientists to imagine they all evolved ‘on the Savannah’). They are not all designed, as Lipton thinks, to ensure our survival. Many were once useful to some little furry fellow once upon a time, but wound up coming along for the ride throughout the ages, because there was no selection pressure to get rid of it.

Humans are a partly random grab-bag of leftover instincts, some of which are still useful, some pointless, some kinda weird, and some a pain in the ass. A great deal of learning builds on the basis of these. We can learn not to flinch, not to hit out, not to cower before an dominant figure, etc. But the fixed action patterns themselves are like a half formed basis for a significant proportion of our behaviours, and the impulses are still there, regardless of whether we allow them to be expressed.

But the fixed action patterns we are born with, like the aforementioned bradycardic response, are not perfectly designed complex programs for survival as Lipton tells his readers.

But through evolution, our learned perceptions have become more powerful especially because they can override genetically programmed instincts.

I have no idea what he means by “through evolution”. By “learned perceptions” I guess he means attitudes picked up from parents. But such attitudes — depending on whatever the heck he is referring to — may be at least partly inherited (something Lipton thinks is impossible), and are in any case layered on top of a foundation of fixed action patterns.

It is stupid to say they are “more powerful” because they can “override” instincts. They can only do so to a degree, and only in certain conditions — again depending on what the hell he is referring to.

The body’s physiological mechanisms (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, blood flow/bleeding patterns, body temperature) are by their nature, programmed instincts.

Lipton is revealing his complete and utter ignorance of genetics, behavioural genetics, animal behaviour, and the entire fields of human psychology and physiology.

No. Heart rate is obviously not an “instinct”. Nor is blood pressure. And bloodflow, believe it or not, is dependent on heart rate and blood pressure, and therefore also not an instinct.

Bleeding patterns — whatever in God’s name that’s supposed to mean — are also not an instinct.

And body temperature is of course determined by external conditions and heart rate, and is of course not a freaking instinct either for heavens sake.

However, yogis as well as everyday people using biofeedback can learn to consciously regulate these “innate” functions.

Factual error. Heart rate can be altered to some degree by controlling the breath and controlling movements. These can be consciously controlled, but you can’t “consciously” order your heart to beat differently.

There may, however, be instincts that prevent stupidity. If so, Lipton is indeed capable of overriding them.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 65 (Dr Lipton answers your questions about parenting, and demolishes his own arguments again)

July 7, 2019

We will get some answers from Lipton today.

He has mentioned this chapter at least half a dozen times in the book so far: here he will explain how to overcome the detrimental effects of the subconscious. I have been wondering how he is going to do this, given that the subconscious is — he claims — “millions of times more powerful than the conscious mind”.

The key is in parenting, and he will explain his theory for us here today.

The next section begins.

The Conscious Mind: The Creator Within

The evolution of higher mammals, including chimps, cetaceans and humans, brought forth a new level of awareness called “self-consciousness,” or, simply, the conscious mind. The newer conscious mind is an important evolutionary advance. The earlier, subconscious mind is our “autopilot”; the conscious mind is our manual control.

This is all very nice, but it utterly demolishes the central thesis of the book: that cells are conscious beings with brains, free will and intelligence. While he has claimed that in a “colony” (as in a human body) they subsume their free will below the ‘collective voice’ of the conscious mind, but they decided to do this of their own free will; and if left to their own devices, they have all the same attributes as a human — that was his big “insight” in the Caribbean all those years ago.

For example, if a ball comes near your eye, the slower conscious mind may not have time to be aware of the threatening projectile. Yet the subconscious mind, which processes some 20,000,000 environmental stimuli per second v. 40 environmental stimuli interpreted by the conscious mind in the same second, will cause the eye to blink.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. It perfectly demonstrates how stupid he has been to say that a single cell can do even more than this.

He rams the point home with a photo made up of pixels to represent the amount of information the brain can process in one second, and compares it to one small dot that can be consciously processed.

Then he goes on another rant, repeating things he’s clearly forgotten he’s already blabbed about — poorly thought out stuff about the conscious and subconscious minds working together so you can think about something else while mowing the lawn. He explains this banal point all over again at great length.

Finally, a page and a half later, he gets to the point.

The two minds [conscious and subconscious] are truly a phenomenal mechanism, but here is how it can go awry. The conscious mind is the “self,” the voice of our own thoughts. It can have great visions and plans for a future filled with love, health, happiness and prosperity. While we focus our consciousness on happy thoughts, who is running the show? The subconscious.

And this utterly banal observation is where he has ended up, after a massive and absurd detour which took his readers through epigenetics, evolutionary history, sea turtles, moths, cetaceans and lawn mowers.

He could have just said “humans often find it difficult to consciously control their habits” and saved everyone the last 170 pages.

And what does he think we can do about it?

After a bit more babbling, he proposes a solution:

What if we had conscious parents and teachers who served as wonderful life models, always engaging in humane and win-win relations with everyone in the community?

Oh that’s brilliant. Why didn’t anyone think of this before? Probably because we didn’t know about epigenetics and quantum physics.

If our subconscious mind were programmed with such healthy behaviors, we could be totally successful in our lives without ever being conscious!

I am not in the least surprised to learn that it is Lipton’s dream to be able to live his life without ever engaging in conscious thought. So far he seems to be doing fine.

It reminds me of a Monty Python sketch I heard when I was a kid. (Starts 10 seconds in, 1 minute long)

They could have added the above text to this sketch and it would fit perfectly.

Lipton’s utopian vision would work fine for anyone who happens to consist of one cell and is floating about in a glob of goo, but for those in more complex environments, and with a more complex nervous system — like 37 trillion times more complex — it doesn’t work. Obviously even the most “positive” impulses and habits will swiftly begin contradicting each other and require painful choices. Is anyone not aware of this? (Anyone apart from Lipton, of course.)

Now that the difficulties of parenting have been cleared up, we can move on to the next section.

Lipton goes on another rant about how difficult it is to overcome habits. It includes nothing new, insightful, or scientific. He spends a page and a half describing the plot of the film Shine (about a concert pianist with a mental disorder), as a case study of a parent being too strict, and then starts attacking medicine again.

Conventional methods for suppressing destructive behaviors include drugs and talk therapy.

Again, while there is plenty to criticise about medicine and especially psychiatry, Lipton’s approach (typical of promoters of alternative medicine) is dishonest, vague, and exaggerated. There is no concession that in some cases “suppressing destructive behaviours” is necessary for the patient’s health or survival, for example.

Newer approaches promise to change our programming, recognizing that there is no use “reasoning” with the subconscious tape player.

What are these methods? He doesn’t say. But he does explain how they work:

These methods capitalize on the findings of quantum physics that connect energy and thought.

Factual error. Quantum physics does not do this. “Energy” as used in quantum physics does not mean what Lipton thinks it means; nor does Lipton say how a physicist might quantify “thought” in a way that can be mathematically expressed. So the sentence is really just a series of blank spaces where readers can write in their own meanings and be happy that “Lipton says that quantum physics says whatever I want to believe.”

This fraud, not quantum physics.

In fact, these modalities that reprogram previously learned behaviors can be collectively referred to as energy psychology, a burgeoning field based on the New Biology.

This is completely useless: unidentified “therapies” that work in an unspecified manner, and are based on the non-existent “New Biology”, itself based on connections with quantum physics which remain unspecified (due to their non-existence).

So far Lipton has said absolutely nothing whatsoever.

But how much easier it would be to be nurtured from the beginning of life so that you can reach your genetic and creative potential? How much better to become a conscious parent so that your children and their children will be conscious parents, making reprogramming unnecessary and making for a happier, more peaceful planet!

And that’s it, folks. That’s what he’s been working up to for the last 171 pages.

Satisfied with how he has dealt with mental health and parenting, he moves next to conception and pregnancy.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 64 (Epigenetics and, um, Chiropractic?)

July 6, 2019

A new section starts.

Parental Programming: The Power of the Subconscious Mind

I’d like to tell you about how I— who put myself in the category of those who were not prepared to have children— came to question my ingrained assumptions about parenting. You won’t be surprised to hear that I started my reevaluation in the Caribbean, the place where my shift to the New Biology took root.

Oh god. The Caribbean again, where he decided that cells have all the same characteristics as a human being.

He babbles on for several pages, so here is the short version. He fell off a motorbike and hurt himself. He went to a chiropractor — who of course believes that all diseases are caused by misalignments of the spine, not by epigenetics. And this chiropractor did some Applied Kinesiology on him, which is another form of quackery invented by a chiropractor: you stick out your arm, your get asked a question and if you answer answer truthfully your arm resists a slight push; untruthful and your arm gives. This process is supposedly beyond conscious control and thus a kind of lie detector, accessing the “wisdom of the subconscious”.

Lipton bases all of his babbling about the subconscious on this.

I was able to saunter out of that dorm feeling like a new man after a few simple, vertebral adjustments on the “quack’s” table… all without the use of drugs. And most importantly, I was introduced to the “man behind the curtain,” my subconscious mind!

And suddenly it’s not epigenetics but vertebral misalignments that are responsible for everything.

To understand better what had happened in that chiropractor’s office, I first turned to comparative neuroanatomy which reveals: the lower an organism is on the Tree of Evolution, the less developed its nervous system and thus the more it relies on preprogrammed behavior (nature). Moths fly toward…….

And he’s off again, dumping a load of tendentious blabbering on his readers. From epigenetics to chiropractic to kinesiology to moths. Again, we can cut this irrelevant blithering short. He winds up two pages later saying that brain size is not so important and tries to get from moths to the idea that the subconscious mind is located in the body external to the brain.

What the hell does this have to do with epigenetics? Or parenting?

Lipton then engages in a complicated rant about brain size vs intelligence, (while ignoring the question of brain size in comparison to body mass), and establishes nothing relevant to anything. We can skip these pages. (We are now on page 160.)

I submit in the epilogue of this book that human intelligence can only be fully understood when we include spirit (“energy”) or what quantum physics-savvy psychologists call the “superconscious” mind.

(Yeh, when I said this is the last chapter, I forgot to say there’s an epilogue too.)

But for the moment, I’d like to stick to the conscious and subconscious minds, concepts that psychologists and psychiatrists have long grappled with. I’m grappling with it here to provide the biological foundation for conscious parenting as well as energy-based psychological healing methods.

At least he recognises that he is “grappling” with this. The whole thing was very odd, very dull, completely unsuccessful and utterly pointless, which is why I didn’t quote it.

And with that, the section ends, and he launches a new one on yet another completely different tangent, and again with lots of evolutionary history.

Human Programming: When Good Mechanisms Go Bad

Let’s go back to the evolutionary challenge for human beings, who have to learn so much so quickly to survive and become a part of their social community. Evolution has endowed our brains with the ability to rapidly download an unimaginable number of behaviors and beliefs into our memory.–

Let us pause here for a moment and ask WTF is he talking about????? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what he means by “downloading behaviours and beliefs into our memory”.

Ongoing research suggests that a key to understanding how this rapid downloading of information works is the brain’s fluctuating electrical activity as measured by electroencephalograms. The literal definition of electroencephalograms (EEGs) is “electric head pictures.”

What??? What??? What???

These increasingly sophisticated head pictures reveal a graded range of brain activity in human beings. Both adults and children display EEG variations that range from low frequency Delta waves through high frequency Beta waves. However, researchers have noted that EEG activity in children reveals, at every developmental stage, the predominance of a specific brain wave.

Dr. Rima Laibow in Quantitative EEG and Neurofeedback describes the progression of……

Lipton starts babbling again, this time about brian activity and machines that read brain activity and children learning by imitating and machines that read electrical brain activity while imitating, and also chimps because, well, why not?

We can skip it, but note this:

Young children carefully observe their environment and download the worldly wisdom offered by parents directly into their subconscious memory. As a result, their parents’ behavior and beliefs become their own.

Um, WTF has this got to do with epigenetics? Where did that all go? All he has been babbling about is just complicated measurements of normal behaviour, and it either completely contradicts or doesn’t relate in any way whatsoever to the notion of epigenetic influences being strong and heritable.

Once programmed into the sub-conscious mind, they control our biology for the rest of our lives… unless we can figure out a way to reprogram them.

At least I’m starting to get an idea of what he means by controlling our “biology”. He means the body, I guess. But why is imitation “downloading” something? This chapter is supposed to be about the inheritance of epigenetics. Now he’s somehow morphed into talking about imitation instead, and calling it downloading. Why?

Anyone who doubts the sophistication of this downloading should think about the first time your child blurted out a curse word picked up from you…

And that is an example of the behaviour he says is being downloaded and will control your biology till the day you die?

Given the precision of this behavior-recording system, imagine the consequences of hearing your parents say you are a “stupid child,”you “do not deserve things,” will “never amount to anything,” “never should have been born” or are a “sickly, weak” person. When unthinking or uncaring parents pass on those messages to their young children, they are no doubt oblivious to the fact that such comments are downloaded into the subconscious memory as absolute “facts” just as surely as bits and bytes are downloaded to the hard drive of your desktop computer.

Okay, but what has this got to do with epigenetics inheritance? Does your epi-genome alter each time you swear?

And where does the hard drive’s programming come from if not from the hated genetics?

As we get older, we become less susceptible to outside programming with the increasing appearance of higher frequency Alpha waves (8-12 HZ). Alpha activity is equated with states of calm consciousness. While most of our senses, such as eyes, ears and nose, observe the outer world, consciousness resembles a “sense organ” that behaves like a mirror reflecting back the inner workings of the body’s own cellular community; it is an awareness of “self.”

Well actually, the kinestheitc sense — perception of body positioning (aka proprioception) — works by means of nerves that end well below the epidermis. Thankfully, this doesn’t give information about each of the 37 trillion cells in the body.

He babbles on about this some more — it almost sounds like physical development is largely genetically preprogrammed.

At around twelve years of age, the child’s EEG spectrum begins to show sustained periods of an even higher frequency defined as Beta waves (12-35 Hz). Beta brain states are characterized as “active or focused consciousness,” the kind of brain activity used in reading this book. Recently, a fifth, higher state of EEG activity has been defined. Referred to as Gamma waves (>35Hz), this EEG frequency range kicks in during states of “peak performance,” such as when pilots are in the process of landing a plane or a professional tennis player is engaged in a rapid-fire volley.

By the time children reach adolescence, their subconscious minds are chock-full of information that range from the knowledge of how to walk, to the “knowledge” they will never amount to anything, or the knowledge, fostered by loving parents, they can do anything they set out to do.

This is completely trite and doesn’t require the evolutionary history of moths or fancy brain wave readings to explain it.

The sum of our genetically programmed instincts and the beliefs we learned from our parents collectively form the subconscious mind, which can undo both our ability to keep our arm raised in a chiropractor’s office and our best New Year’s resolutions to stop sabotaging ourselves with drugs or food.

So now all of a sudden we do have genetically programmed instincts. And expressed in the kind of deterministic language that sensible biologists avoid. (Our so called “instincts” are limited mostly to simple fixed action paterns that require embellishment by learning.)

But Lipton places learned habits and beliefs on a par with things like the gag reflex.

Again I go back to cells, which can teach us so much about ourselves. I’ve said many times that single cells are intelligent.

Well actually he never went quite that far till now, saying only that cells have brains, perceptions, beliefs, and free will. But I guess that amounts to intelligence, so okay, yes he has said that….

But remember, when cells band together in creating multicellular communities, they follow the “collective voice” of the organism even if that voice dictates self-destructive behavior. Our physiology and behavior patterns conform to the “truths” of the central voice, be they constructive or destructive beliefs.

Is anyone impressed by this? Is anyone surprised to hear that the individual cells in the lungs can’t rise up in unison and prevent the cells in the arms from opening a packet of cigarettes?

I’ve described the power of the subconscious mind, but I want to emphasize that there is no need to consider the subconscious a scary, super-powerful, Freudian font of destructive “knowledge.” In reality, the subconscious is an emotionless database of stored programs, whose function is strictly concerned with reading environmental signals and engaging in hard-wired behavioral programs, no questions asked, no judgments made. The subconscious mind is a programmable “hard drive” into which our life experiences are downloaded. The programs are fundamentally hardwired stimulus-response behaviors. Behavior activating stimuli may be signals the nervous system detects from the external world and/or signals that arise from within the body such as emotions, pleasure and pain. When a stimulus is perceived, it will automatically engage the behavioral response that was learned when the signal was first experienced. In fact, people who realize the automated nature of this playback response frequently admit to the fact that their “buttons have been pushed.”

What has this got to do with epigenetics?

He doesn’t say. Either he hasn’t thought about it, or he has thought about it and realsied that saying anything about it would demolish the idea that epigenetic programming is permanent enough to shape the character traits of his children more decisively than even genetics could have.

The case he is trying to build is incoherent.

And then he’s off again babbling about evolution. But this time I’ll quote it, because with it, he utterly demolishes one of his central arguments.

Before the evolution of the conscious mind, the functions of animal brains consisted only of those that we link with the subconscious mind. These more primitive minds were simple stimulus-response devices that automatically responded to environmental stimuli by engaging genetically programmed (instincts) or simple learned behaviors. These animals do not “consciously” evoke such behaviors, and in fact, may even be oblivious to them. Their behaviors are programmed reflexes, like the blink of an eye in response to a puff of air or the kick of a leg after tapping the knee joint.

So animals aren’t conscious. Okay….

…….But cells are?


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 63 (More confusion about epigenetics)

July 6, 2019

Obviously, I’m no geneticist and have no right to say anything at all about epigenetics. So, here is a passage from Adam Rutherford, who is a geneticist.

Think of DNA as an orchestral score, the notes on the page unchanging. But the annotations on the manuscript will dictate how the music sounds, with crescendo and lento and adagio. The conductor and orchestra play their annotated manuscript, and each performance is unique, even when the original scores are identical.

Many individual genes are modulated, or tagged, like this too, and many corresponding traits are dependent on this system. We’ve known about this for decades. Rat mothers lick their pups, and those that are licked less have measurably higher stress levels, which correlates with less epigenetic tagging on genes associated with stress. What’s more, it’s reversible. So, the environment influences genetics.

In mammals, these types of modifications tend to get reset each generation, but here’s where it gets interesting, and irksome. Some limited, rare epigenetic tags can be passed down from parent to child. We’ve seen a handful of these in mice, even fewer in humans….

These results are complex, perplexing, but possibly slight, and demand greater examination. Science is unfortunately prone to fashion, and many scientists are intrigued but anxious that the scrutiny being applied to these studies is not robust enough to justify the fanfare….

New age gurus such as Deepak Chopra cite epigenetics as a way of changing your life, under the false supposition that genes are destiny, and epigenetic changes brought on by lifestyle choices such as meditation “allows us almost unlimited influence on our fate”. Well, no: that sandwich you just ate has changed the expression of your genes too. Even the few inherited epigenetic changes we observe are not very predictable, let alone predictably positive.

This all makes it rather difficult to use your own epigenetic changes as a parenting tool. They only seem to get passed on in rare cases, under very specific conditions of extreme stress. Are parents really going to be prepared to subject themselves to famine, merely in order to raise their child’s susceptibility to stress? This doesn’t sound like successful parenting to me. And it also wouldn’t count as genetic engineering as Lipton claims, but epigenetic engineering.

But Lipton seems to think that all of his epigentic changes got passed on to his children. But most of them are, as Rutherford notes, transient and malleable. Why then, would they suddenly become permanent enough to affect the character traits of his children?

Moreover, why, for heaven’s sake, would they result in his children being remarkably different from one another? Lipton inexplicably rejects the idea that genetics might have something to do with this, because we are “not puppets of our genes”. We are instead, then, puppets of our genome. This is exactly the kind of determinism from which many people run from with their hair on fire. And now it’s good all of a sudden?

Even those like me with no knowledge of epigenetics whatsoever should instantly see that this is not just beyond stupid from Lipton, it’s insulting. But he’s rolled this past his slumbering readers without waking them up.

He continues, quoting his beloved and utterly vague Dr Nathanielsz.

Nathanielsz is one of the scientists now brave enough to invoke the “L” word for Lamarck: “…the transgenerational passage of characteristics by nongenetic means does occur. Lamarck was right, although transgenerational transmission of acquired characteristics occurs by mechanisms that were unknown in his day.”

Nope, Lamarck was still wrong, as is Dr Nathanielsz, even at this level of supreme vagueness.

Why is Lipton dragging everyone over this territory again? I already debunked it in the early posts. Obviously, if the changes aren’t permanent, they can’t affect evolution or make baby Darwin cry.

And anyway, what the hell has this got to do with parenting?

The responsiveness of individuals to the environmental conditions perceived by theirs mothers before birth allows them to optimize their genetic and physiologic development as they adapt to the environmental forecast.

Well that would indeed revolutionise evolutionary theory….. IF it had ever happened, but it hasn’t. So no revolution in biology, and no use for parents either.

And there is an even more serious problem here. I don’t know what to make of the claim about “optimising their genetic disposition”. Is he really saying that the “perceptions” of a mother alters a child’s genes? That’s what he wrote, but it is insane even by his standards.

Maybe he really didn’t mean it. Maybe he is just babbling in his sleep at this point.

Or maybe, and I genuinely hope this is not the case because it would be the stupidest thing he has claimed yet in this book, he does mean it and this is what he was referring to in the title of the chapter: Parents as genetic engineers.

Or maybe he thinks epigenetic changes affect the DNA. Who knows. Maybe we’ll find out at some stupid point.

Human development can go awry and lead to an array of chronic diseases in older age if an individual experiences adverse nutritional and environmental circumstances during fetal and neonatal periods of development. [Bateson, et al, 2004]

Ok, but this has nothing to do with supposed inheritance of epigenetic markers.

The same epigenetic influences also continue after the child is born because parents continue to influence their child’s environment.

Now he’s switched topic to the epigenetics involved in normal child development, rather than anything supposedly inherited. There are two competing definitions of epigetics: one referring broadly to all markers external to DNA (and previously called ‘development’), and one limiting it to heritable markers, (a far narrower and tentative field). Lipton is switching back and forth between these and pretending the second is as solid and widespread as the first.

And we can stop this here for today, as he then barrels on into another subheading, Parental Programming: The Power of the Subconscious Mind.