I should have written this post ages ago, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. This post deals with a single sentence about science that Bruce Lipton uttered during his discussion with Rupert Sheldrake, (see the first post in this series). But it was so stupid that I just didn’t know how to approach it. Should I simply post the sentence — it is mercifully short — and abandon the reader to deal with it as best they can, or should I indicate what is wrong with it and wind up writing an encyclopedia length article, only stopping when I run out of expletives?
I am beginning to think that stupidity is not the polar opposite of intelligence, down the other end of a scale, but rather a creative force that works independently of intelligence. Both these fellows, Lipton and Sheldrake, have Ph.D’s, so they clearly have some intelligence. But if it was possible to measure one’s Stupidity Quotient, they would also both be high achievers.
So for this post, I have decided to call upon our two heroes who appeared in Part One of this series — the cartoon stars, Beavis and Butthead — to help illustrate the stupid, stupid, stupid sentence that Dr Bruce Lipton Ph.D said.
In one episode of Beavis & Butthead, our heroes are told by their teacher to choose a topic and do a science project.
The boys explain to their teacher that–
“We’re not going to do it. It sounds too hard.”
Their teacher, Mr van Dreesen, tries to coax them into learning something. “Come on guys,” he says, “this should be easy. There’s mysterious things happening around us every day. For example, this morning, would there anything you didn’t understand…”
Butthead chuckles behind his hand to Beavis,
“Heheheh…..He said morning wood… Heheh.”
Van Dreesen thinks that this was their suggestion, and after considering it, allows them investigate the topic of morning wood, as long as they “approach it from a scientific standpoint.” As we shall see, both Beavis and Butthead demonstrate a better grasp of how science works than Bruce Lipton does.
Beavis: What do you think makes it happen?
Butthead: Uh, I dunno. That’s why we’re doing this, dumbass.
Note how Butthead reserves judgment, and maintains a clear sense of the purpose of the project, as well as a dedication to unbiased methodology.
Beavis: Because I was thinking, like, maybe there’s, like, a Morning-Wood Fairy, you know, like the Tooth Fairy.
In fact, this is not so far away from the kind of answers Sheldrake comes up with. But instead of accepting it out of hand and then interpreting all sorts of results according to it, Butthead recognizes the importance of not succumbing to premature conclusions.
Butthead: Dammit, Beavis, quit screwing around. We’ve got scientific work to do. Besides, there is no such thing as fairies…. Fairies are for dillholes.
The experiment they have designed is deceptively simple. They are going to remain awake all night in front of the TV, and try to avoid getting what Butthead terms an “artificial stiffy”. (He even confiscates a magazine from Beavis which might have spoiled the experiment. — Again, we see these young boys showing more commitment to experimental method than those clowns Lipton and Sheldrake.)
Unfortunately the boys fall asleep in front of the television. They are awoken next morning by the sound of the national anthem coming from the TV. They discover that the phenomenon being studied has already occurred, without the chance to record any data. Their experiment is a failure.
Butthead: Maybe morning wood is supposed to be a mystery. It’s like the secret is too dangerous…
Beavis: I’m just glad it happens.
Butthead: Yeh. I never wanted to be a scientist anyway. Science sucks.
Just like Lipton and Sheldrake in parts one and two of this series, the boys have failed to understand a fairly uncomplicated piece of science, and wrongly declare it a mystery. In two junior high students with learning difficulties, this is an entirely understandable failure. In two people who hold Ph.D’s in the very subject being studied, it is beyond a joke.
Beavis and Butthead have intuited that they are out of their depth and decide they don’t want to be scientists. But this is where the similarity ends. Lipton and Sheldrake have also decided that “science sucks” — a conclusion they base on exactly the same degree of comprehension as our heroes — but unlike our heroes, they have decided that the fault lies with scientific method, rather than with their own stupidity. Beavis and Butthead have managed — like Socrates before them — to admit their own ignorance. Lipton and Sheldrake have not.
Making Beavis and Butthead appear Socratic demonstrates the genius of Lipton’s stupidity.
And now on to that sentence. (Again I must both forewarn and apologize to readers for transcribing a portion of Lipton’s atrocious verbiage, but I have highlighted the important part for easier reading.)
Over to Dr Lipton — former biology lecturer — to explain scientific method:
….And the joke for me was, that when I finally got to the [sic] awareness and I was already a tenured faculty member, I realized I was teaching religion, er, as much as I was teaching science.
And that’s because I was just teaching dogmatic beliefs based on what everybody, you know like, show of hands — how many people want to believe in this? Oh that’s enough people, so that’s a rule.”
If science was a person, it could sue Lipton for defamation.
Tell me Dr Bruce, when a surgeon removes an inflamed appendix, was it decided by a show of hands which body part is really the appendix? Do you think that the reason a plane can fly is because scientists took a vote on the laws of aerodynamics? Is the milk in your fridge still fresh because of a consensus of scientific opinion declaring that it must be?
This is why both Lipton and Sheldrake have contributed exactly the same amount to modern science as have Beavis and Butthead. Like Beavis and Butthead, they are there to be laughed at. However, Beavis and Butthead know when to stop. They have wasted nobody’s time, nor sold anyone a bogus cancer cure.
(Part Four to follow before the end of the century.)
Posted by Yakaru