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Lipton Meets Sheldrake Part 3 — The Mystery of Morning Wood

July 11, 2015

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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 is now complete — “Bruce Lipton Gets His Own Teachings Wrong”.)

Posted by Yakaru

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10 comments

  1. Great post, Yakaru! I can’t write more because I facepalmed so hard I think I have brain damage.


  2. I am trying to be more conscientious with health warnings before presenting direct quotes from Lipton to the public, but there is always going to be a risk involved.


  3. “Beavis and Butthead are not role models.” -The Disclaimer.

    It’s bad when they look better in comparison.


  4. Ironic — Beavis and Butthead get health and safety warnings pinned on them in case people believe them, but two clowns with Ph.D-credibility spouting nonsense about cancer are left to roam free.


  5. LOL! Brilliant post. I read it first on my phone without downloading the pics – now I’ve seen them it’s even funnier. Lipton’s statement is very telling, that level of professed stupidity at the core of his pretensions to knowledge. I say ‘professed’ because I get the sense it’s just a lie anyway. I don’t think they’re as stupid as they make out.


  6. Thanks, Lettersquash!

    One could certainly make a good prima facie case that they are not as stupid as they make out. In fact I often find that skeptics are far too generous in assuming honest intentions on the part of pseudo-scientists.

    However, having previously transcribed an entire hour of a lecture by Lipton, I must confess to having gained the distinct, if not overwhelming, impression that he is indeed every bit as stupid as he makes out.

    In fact, I think he probably even more stupid than we can even conceive. You might recall the first post I ever wrote about Lipton — I quoted him saying this–

    …and that’s why there’s this great upheaval right now because new beliefs are entering from every area of science right now…

    He consistently reduces “science” to being a set of beliefs. Sheldrake does exactly the same thing. There are also, of course, plenty of liberal academics who do exactly the same thing, especially in the name of post-modernism and cultural relativism, so L & S are standing on well inhabited academic ground.

    The difference is that Sheldrake postulates his own scientific theories (eg., the laws of physics evolve, light can decide to go faster or slower depending on its mood, etc) and Lipton goes even further.

    The above quote from Lipton comes from a two minute video where he advocates taunting and ridiculing cancer sufferers to shake them out of their negativity — “man you’re outa here, you’re dead”. And then claims that belief in Darwinism is bringing about the end of the world, and only his cancer quackery will prevent it.

    I would argue that such nuclear grade stupidity is simply not possible for humans to fake.

    https://spiritualityisnoexcuse.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/bruce-lipton-phd-quack-ignoramus/
    and
    https://spiritualityisnoexcuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/bruce-lipton-quack-creationist-buffoon-phd/


  7. It’s one thing for a woo woo person who isn’t a trained scientist to say that scientists live only by dogmatic beliefs and decide things based on a show of hands. They can be forgiven their ignorance. But for a tenured professor to say such a thing? The man clearly has no respect for his colleagues. And if he views science that way, and, by logical conclusion operates that way, then I have no respect for any of his ideas.


  8. It is ironic, isn’t it, that he gets so much credibility by flashing his Ph.D around, yet by his own measure, his Ph.D is worthless. As always, pseudo-scientists want it both ways — to deny the worth of science and then piggyback on the credibility science has built up over the last few centuries.


  9. This is why both Lipton and Sheldrake have contributed exactly the same amount to modern science as have Beavis and Butthead.

    Actually, Sheldrake has a few publications to his name in peer reviewed journals (without looking it up, something about plant hormones, if I remember correctly?).


  10. According to http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake

    “Sheldrake claims to have authored “more than 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals”. However, excluding articles in pseudojournals that clearly weren’t peer reviewed, the true number is actually less that half this number (helpfully they’re on his website so you can count ’em) – he hasn’t published any peer reviewed research since the mid-1980s.”

    So he published some, but he doesn’t know how to count. Or it was deliberate deceit.

    Plus, as pointed out here, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ruperts-resonance/ despite having a Ph.D, he doesn’t know how to design an experiment. Or it was deliberate deceit.

    (Lipton, as far as I can tell has published one paper on the Huffington Post (!!!) and the rest of his work is published by the cancer quack Louise Hay’s publishing house. I agree with Sheldrake that Lipton is an appropriate choice for a professional exchange.)

    Their contribution to science is in fact worse than that of Beavis and Butthead, who have never wasted anyone’s time.



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