Dear Bruce Lipton Fans & Commenters….

May 19, 2013

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. 1. that Lipton’s teachings are in fact supported by mainstream science; and 2. 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 recent advancements in genetics have been misunderstood by the press, who then 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 not become part of modern science, nor been reported on by the media. Rather, they 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


  1. I see on Wikipedia that the predominant source of reference material about Dr Liptalk for the Wikipedia summary, is Dr Liptalk himself (including BruceLipton.com).

    An idea would be to start editing his Wikipedia entry by peppering it with some links to extraneous critical or sceptical assessments.

  2. So the perceptions of our cells depends upon our beliefs? Thats a good one.
    I wouldn’t say that our beliefs affect our perceptions, although our beliefs definately affect our interpretation of our perceptions, not the senses themselves.

  3. That would explain a lot if sensory perceptions depended on beliefs. I am not sure why there are not more car accidents for example. “The telephone pole jumped into the road.”

    I remember a science student at university who as part of a unit she was studying had to conduct an experiment where she went around asking other students like me to identify the contents of various unlabeled containers carried inside in a non-descript cardboard box by sniffing them individually. The catch was that she would present the same object more than once, without the subjects being able to tell they were repeats, and in my case I assume she got a different identification from me each time I sniffed X.

    One could spice the Liptalk teachings up with some consideration of hallucinogenic drugs, dreams, and frogs swimming in near boiling water – poor things, and sadistic biologists.

    Hopefully if I try perceiving perceptively enough and do not believe some of what Dr Liptalk claims, he and the offending parts of his website and his books and seminars will depart my consciousness.

  4. I added an external link to the Wikipedia article on (and possibly by)Bruce Lipton. The added item at the destination of the link is a seemingly respected (& often cited) piece entitled:

    Leukaemia stem cells and the evolution of cancer-stem-cell research

    I now have to wait and see what happens to that link, or how long the link lasts before it gets deleted. It went online originally on 2013 May 20, at 5:52am.

  5. @Woody,
    Don’t go and look at it, but in the lecture referred to he tries to explain how perceptions can be distorted. Instead of using optical illusions or something like that, he uses Mercator vs Peter’s projection maps of the world. He thinks that a person looking at a Mercator map and concluding Norway is bigger than India is an example of beliefs distorting perception. Then he “corrects” it with a Peter’s projection map.

    A better example would have been people failing to recognize a clown because he has a PhD.

    A lot of people use wikipedia as free advertising space. It’s good to shake them up a little, but they will simply keep deleting anything they don’t like. As I see it, anyone who is impressed by an obviously biased wikipedia entry with no neutral links will never change their mind anyway. People with doubts will look further. Sadly there’s not much on Lipton anywhere.

  6. As you write, there is not much authoritative information about Dr Liptalk on the internet other than that which is issued by Dr Liptalk himself (or I have not found the independent information yet). Many descriptions of him in various quarters use the very same words as other descriptions use to describe him: e.g. describing Dr Liptalk as an “international authority” on a “new idea”, or the like.

    According to the Wikipedia entry, the Wikipedia administration would like to see some/any “secondary” and “tertiary” sources for information about Dr Liptalk. I would hope that coming up with secondary sources to expand the article would merit some official protection from deletion.

    I came across this dissenting view in a review of his first book, except that it is anonymous it might have been accepable as a secondary source:


    From what Dr Liptalk has to say about his background, it appears that 40 years ago he was conducting stem cell research. Can this be the suppressed research ?

    I don´t think the nebulous suppressed research could have been research conducted during his Ph D work, as I think Ph D theses become public documents (not sure about this) and cannot be suppressed.

    I ponder the mystery of why it took Dr Liptalk 40 years from the time of his stem cell research he refers to, to get around to writing/publishing his first book The Biology of Belief. ???

  7. It took about 10 hours for the change to the Dr Liptalk article on Wikipedia to be reversed. I have now made three more changes. The user name of the person making the reversion is Yobol – and appears to be someone with no particular affiliation with Dr Liptalk.

  8. @Donald

    I just tried to post a link and it lasted two minutes. Here’s the advice I got form Wiki admin

    “Seriously, amateur blogs are against basic WP:LINKSTOAVOID policy. If you want to add some scepticism to the article, maybe see what actual press coverage of Lipton you can dig up, and write about it in the article? I was having a look earlier but couldn’t find anything much. –McGeddon..”

    It seems that the only way to add anything to the Wiki entry is to get an article published in a recognised publication and then write about it in the Wiki article.

  9. Instead of using optical illusions or something like that, he uses Mercator vs Peter’s projection maps of the world. He thinks that a person looking at a Mercator map and concluding Norway is bigger than India is an example of beliefs distorting perception. Then he “corrects” it with a Peter’s projection map.


    Now he’s treading on my profession’s toes. They’re both projections, therefore they both have distortion. There’s not really that profound a difference between the two, either, since they’re both cylindrical projections. You have to get into fancier shapes if you want to minimize (or equally distribute) distortion of land masses on a global map.

  10. @Andy (Basil Rathbone ? or you look like him, I thought you were killed by Moriarty long ago…)

    Thanks for your efforts.

    “McGeddon” also appears (like Yobol) to be Wiki admin (if that is the correct expression). S/he has made numerous changes to the contents and layout of the Bruce Lipton article in the last 12 hours. S/he seems to be sympathetic to the introduction of some sceptical analysis into the information (sic ?) presented. I have been thinking part of the ethos of Wikipedia should be to facilitate arriving at the truth, and starting from the assumption that Liptalk is controversial, there needs to be more balance.

    BurgerKM09 was apparently actively & repeatedly trying to introduce the word pseudoscience into the article over a month ago, without success.

    I don´t know what the situation is in the US, but in Australia it would be unusual (and perhaps never happens) that a university student can receive a BA in Biology, as far as I know biology is never an arts subject in Australia. It is also unusual for a student to proceed from a bachelor degree (in Australia) to a Ph.D. in a medical / science discipline , and further unusual to reach a Ph D after a Bachelor degree without picking up a Master degree in the interim (in Australia).

    There are also various extra biographical details about Dr Liptalk in his book The Biology of Belief, I have read part of it since yesterday – as if you go to Amazon there are many sample pages from the book available online.

    I also suffer from some of Dr. Liptalk´s musings or attitudes, but not all of them.

    Here´s a run-down of the activity at Wikipedia over the last 5 weeks (during which time things have warmed up in terms of the amount of edit traffic, compared with the last 2 or 3 years – I think the article “Bruce Lipton” first made it into Wikipedia in 2010 ?).

    (cur | prev) 13:18, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,157 bytes) (-133)‎ . . (rv again per WP:ELNO; should not link to “Blogs, personal web pages and most fansites, except those written by a recognized authority”, which would cover an anonymous surgeon writing under the name of a Blake’s 7 computer) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 13:16, 21 May 2013‎ Wtf1962 (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (5,290 bytes) (+133)‎ . . (→‎External links) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 13:12, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,157 bytes) (-133)‎ . . (Reverted 2 edits by Wtf1962 (talk): Rv pseudonymous blog per WP:LINKSTOAVOID. (TW)) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 13:11, 21 May 2013‎ Wtf1962 (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,290 bytes) (+3)‎ . . (→‎External links) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 13:09, 21 May 2013‎ Wtf1962 (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (5,287 bytes) (+130)‎ . . (undo)
    (cur | prev) 09:11, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,157 bytes) (+2)‎ . . (more appropriate template) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 09:09, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,155 bytes) (+28)‎ . . (actually, this does need solid secondary sources – it’s all sourced to his own publications, a couple of podcast appearances and lists of conference attendees) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 08:43, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,127 bytes) (-137)‎ . . (→‎External links: rm apparent copyvio of one of his books) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 08:41, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,264 bytes) (-28)‎ . . (cut template I added; was cleaning them up and thought it might need this one, but I don’t think it does, on reflection) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 08:40, 21 May 2013‎ McGeddon (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,292 bytes) (-297)‎ . . (merge small sections, copyedit, drop nested age brackets from lede sentence, and wikilink from external links (if he’s a chiropractor, we should say that in the article)) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 04:59, 21 May 2013‎ Donald Telfer (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,589 bytes) (+69)‎ . . (The socio-economic status of Mt Kisco is not relevant, N.B. citation needed , added a link to Wikipedia article on Chiropractic, moved heading “Academic Work” down a sentence, as receiving a BA is a learning activity not an academic work activity) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 16:15, 20 May 2013‎ Yobol (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,520 bytes) (-319)‎ . . (Undid revision 555903418 by Donald Telfer (talk) don’t see the relevance of this) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 05:52, 20 May 2013‎ Donald Telfer (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,839 bytes) (+319)‎ . . (→‎External links: Added a link to an historical perspective on developments in cancer stem cell research) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 14:32, 29 April 2013‎ (talk)‎ . . (5,520 bytes) (+2)‎ . . (→‎Books) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 14:32, 29 April 2013‎ (talk)‎ . . (5,518 bytes) (+70)‎ . . (→‎Books) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 14:31, 15 April 2013‎ Yobol (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,448 bytes) (-1,366)‎ . . (Undid revision 550478538 by (talk)controversial information in a biography of a living person needs strong reliable sources) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 14:30, 15 April 2013‎ (talk)‎ . . (6,814 bytes) (+1,366)‎ . . (Undid revision 550438091 by (talk) Factual information, if not accurate make changes where necessary rather than just deleting please.) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 07:36, 15 April 2013‎ (talk)‎ . . (5,448 bytes) (-1,366)‎ . . (→‎Pseudoscience) (undo) (Tag: section blanking)
    (cur | prev) 04:09, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (6,814 bytes) (+1)‎ . . (→‎Pseudoscience) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 04:06, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ . . (6,813 bytes) (+81)‎ . . (→‎Pseudoscience) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 03:57, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ . . (6,732 bytes) (+9)‎ . . (→‎Pseudoscience) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 03:54, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (6,723 bytes) (-276)‎ . . (→‎External links: removed unnecessary duplicate links (part 2 and 3 are included in part1)) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 03:53, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ . . (6,999 bytes) (+1,274)‎ . . (→‎Pseudoscience: Heading for a description of a lecture called “The wisdom of your cells” and various examples its pseudoscientific content) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 02:52, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ m . . (5,725 bytes) (+1)‎ . . (→‎External links) (undo)
    (cur | prev) 02:39, 14 April 2013‎ BurgerKM09 (talk | contribs)‎ . . (5,724 bytes) (+412)‎ . . (→‎External links: links to summary of The wisdom of Your Cells lectures.) (undo)

  11. @ Donald,

    I was in fact murdered by Moriarty but manged to overcome it with wishful thinking!

    In the UK too one usually needs to hold a Master’s prior to studying for a Phd. I think in the US system an element of the Phd is taught and this could be why it took Lipton five years. I have no doubt that his qualifications are genuine. The point of this blog is to expose how he uses his Phd and some genuine science insidiously to promote his cancer quackery.

    I think that it’s important for Wikipedia, if they use external links to promote the subject of the article, especially those that include sales material, then they should allow links that review and critique the products for sale on those links.

  12. I looked at information about the C W Post (?) University (where Dr L gained a BA). One of its several faculties is called the College of Arts and Sciences, which conducts courses in Languages, Fine Arts, Biology, Physics, Chemistry etc (Strangely potentially confusing). So apparently if a student graduates from there, you are awarded a BA, not a BASc and not a BSc.

    There is an entry in the Online Movie Database (www.imdb.com) for the documentary film Kymatica. According to the Wikipedia article on Dr Liptalk I think Kymatica describes or parallels his ideas. (I have not watched the film, one can find it in various editions on Youtube.)

    There are no comments or reviews and more usefully no synopsis or plot entries as yet for Kymatica in IMDB. It is “tabula rasa”. The point of that is whoever gets in first and writes a plot summary and/or synopsis gets the “front page” entry and gets to keep the front page. As far as I know, once someone writes a plot summary or synopsis or review in imdb.com, normally no one else can come along and edit, revise, delete etc your contribution / opinion.

    If someone did that in IMDB, they could then go back to the Wikipedia entry and insert a link to the IMDB entry beside the entry in Wikipedia linking to one of the various online video versions of Kymatica. I have not figured out yet if “Kymatica” has anything to do with Psych K.

    Maybe Wikipedia allows links to book reviews on Amazon, perhaps more people buy the books than read the reviews however, so my earlier book review suggestion in a prior posting may be futile and ill-advised.

    I’ll let you get back to the violin so I can get back to the viola.

  13. @Bronze Dog,

    That cartoon is brilliant – http://www.xkcd.com/977/ – I love that guy. (I guess I would have been a Hobo Dyer devotee for most of my adult life, going by his descriptions.)

    Really, I think Lipton screwed up that explanation more thoroughly than anything else. It’s such a simple idea that perceptions can be fooled, but he doesn’t understand it. Then he tries to explain it using a medium (the maps) which he also doesn’t understand.

    @Andy & DT,

    It is kind of infuriating that this loon still hasn’t been smacked down in any reputable publications. He’s so mad, no biologist wants to touch him with a barge pole. Even the rabid anti-creationist PZ Myers, who’s certainly not one to lightly pass up a chance for smack down, simply backed away from an interview with Lipton he heard, calling it “a place where reason goes to die.”

    But what I’ve noticed is that believers will always be believers, and those who have doubts don’t need much — at least not in this case — to realize he’s a scammer.

    According to my stats, the search term “Bruce Lipton quack” is by some distance the most common search term that brings people to this blog. One doesn’t have to ask too many questions to confirm such suspicions.

  14. I’m more a fan of Equirectangular since I think it’d be easier to code something that translates spherical coordinates to projected coordinates and back. Aside from that, the Waterman Butterfly is awesome.

    Back on Lipton, yeah, I imagine it’d be an entertaining read if one of the big names did an in-depth article or series on him.

  15. Part of the recent overhaul of the Bruce Lipton article in Wikipedia involved updating the list of his books to include the latest book The Honeymoon Effect which came out this month (May 2013).
    I had a look at the Amazon entry for it to make sure it really existed as a published book. And it really does.
    Some collateral (?) information that cropped up out of Amazon is that the book has by now been reviewed 11 times. All eleven reviews were positive (i.e. supportive). 7 of the 11 gave it 5 stars out of 5, and the other 4 reviews gave it 4 out of a maximum 5.
    6 of the reviews were composed by reviewers who were given a complimentary copy of the book by Hay House so that they may review it online (for Amazon ?)
    The remaining 5 reviews were written by people who either bought the book, borrowed it, or were given it by Hay House (or Bruce Liptalk ?) but neglected to mention it (the first 6 all formally disclosed that they were given review copies for free.)

    I conclude from that that so far several copies of the book may have been sold to satisfied customers. But I would be more interested to learn total sales and total print run. Maybe that information is somewhere.

    I did not receive any free review copy. I guess Dr Liptalk does not have me in the inner circle on his radar.

  16. Slightly off subject here is a link to a free course on Epigenetics run by coursra and the University of Melbourne. These courses are of a high quality and well worth taking part in if you have the time.

    The course may be of interest to Lipton fans too, but please be warned that they do contain actual science and involve some effort on the student’s behalf.


  17. I´m kind of glad there is a female running it. Some of the girls I was at university with ended up not getting a job in their field of study, only because they were girls.

    Incidentally, if you watch the introduction to the lecturer (?), in the background is a clock tower, which is part of the “Old Arts” building. Directly under the clock used to be the rooms of the Indian Studies department, during the 1970s. Back then TM and Indian philosophy and religion were gaining in popularity, but the Indian staff members had much the same outlook on scams, rackets and quacks then as some sceptics have on new age adherents nowadays.

    Some prankster could load a link to the epigenetics course into the Bruce Liptalk Wikipedia article.

  18. […] a mind cleaner, I offer this link to a funny cartoon that Bronze Dog linked to in the comments of the previous Lipton […]

  19. Do you know if there has been a recorded discussion on this topic between Richard Dawson and Bruce Lipton? I would love to hear the outcome of that. I respect both of them and luckily I’m not ” religious” about who is right or wrong. Just curious. One more question: I have read some angry comments on this site. This topic seems to make everyones amygdala spin out of control.What is the threat?

  20. I assume you mean Richard Dawkins… No, generally scientists dont even know Lipton exists.

    The angry comments come from people who are angry that I have ridiculed Lipton´s stupidity. Half are angry and insult me, the other half pretend they that they are neutral, and “just curious”. In fact they would love to believe that Lipton is right and would love to be able to defend him but cuoldnt be bothered informing themselves enough to develop in intelligent opinion.

    They also avoid the issue of Lipton´s deadly cancer quackery. They preted it´s all just an interesting hypothetical, instead of a stupid fuckwit using his PhD to sell them a deadly quack cure.

    How do you feel about that?

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