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Bruce Lipton gets his own teachings wrong (Lipton Meets Sheldrake Part 4)

October 10, 2015

Welcome back to this long-running series on the discussion between quack biologist Bruce Lipton and pseudo-scientist Rupert Sheldrake. (Part 1 is here.)

Dr Bruce Lipton has invented a form of cancer quackery based entirely on complicated analogies. Cancer sufferers are in danger of believing his claims — after all, he has a Ph.D, and promises hope. But luckily his errors are easy enough to recognize, once his teachings are clearly explained: something you won’t find Lipton doing, but you can find here!

The central dogma of Lipton’s teachings is the (scientifically implausible) assertion that 

We are made in the image of the cell.

Esoteric people associate this with the ancient mystical idea:

As above, so below; as within, so without.

They think that they can use this idea as a template to understand his rather garbled and convoluted teachings. But what they don’t realize is that not even Bruce Lipton understands Bruce Lipton’s teachings. In fact Lipton does not teach that we are made in the image of a cell. He doesn’t realize it himself, but what he actually teaches is that 

Cells are made in the image of a person.

In other words, he has made a fundamental error of scale. As we will see, this is an important and unbelievably stupid inversion of his own illogical logic.

102Dr Bruce Lipton (right) discusses quackery with… whoops, wait a minute…

101Dr Bruce Lipton (right) explains cancer quackery to Dr Rupert Sheldrake (left, snickering like a fool)

As I have covered elsewhere, Lipton teaches, in effect, that every characteristic a person has, is also to be found in “the cell”.

A person has sense organs to detect things; a cell has receptors to detect things. So receptors are the sense organs of the cell. This analogy only works on the most basic, even childish level, although I wouldn’t even use it with children because it’s too misleading. But for Lipton it’s not an analogy: it’s a fact. He thinks that cell receptors are literally sense organs — every bit as complex and sensitive. (Yes, he does say that. I am not exaggerating.) 

And he pushes it even further, claiming that just as your sense organs perceive, so too do cell receptors “perceive”. But obviously perception occurs in a brain, and a cell does not have a brain…. You know that, I know that, but Bruce Lipton doesn’t know that.

He thinks they do have a brain. Why? Because you have a brain and you are “made in the image of a cell”. Therefore, a cell must have a brain, because this is dictated by Lipton’s teachings. So what part of the cell is its brain? Of course, it’s the cell mem-“brain”. And this mem-“brain” has perceptions, just like your brain does.

Crazy as it sounds, this really is what he is saying. It’s worth taking a moment to look at this, because Lipton thinks it’s his greatest discovery and he bases all his teachings on it. Of course, he’s got it hilariously wrong and we can laugh at him.

Lipton says that biologists believe that the cell nucleus is the brain of the cell. (They don’t — scientists don’t think that cells have brains.) And he thinks he dramatically proved them wrong once in his lab, by removing the nucleus from a cell and finding that the cell didn’t die instantly like it “should” if the nucleus is the cell’s brain.

Well, as it happens, cells can indeed live without a membrane, so by the same Lipton-logic, the membrane can’t be the “brain of the cell” either. Let me break this to you gently, Dr Bruce: cells do not have brains. People have brains, and some of them even use them.

But, regardless of all that, on with Bruce Lipton’s Amazing Cell-Brain Show.

Lipton blabs to Sheldrake:

….when I first saw cells I saw them as sentient beings, I didn’t see them as just moving around in the water. They were, like, the amoeba would go look at something and then back away and then move somewhere else, or the paramecium, and I saw them as people…

According to Lipton, the reason they scoot about like that is not just to do with the chemicals in the glob of goo they inhabit; it’s because cells have hopes and dreams. They have a brain; they perceive; they even have beliefs about the nature of their glob of goo. And of course, in true New Age style, their beliefs “create their own reality”. If they are happy with their lifestyle and perceive their glob of goo as a welcoming place, they will lead fulfilling, rewarding lives. But if they are unhappy and start harboring negative emotions in their teensy little brains, they will turn cancerous… This is where cancer comes from, according to Dr Lipton. 

(No, I’m not kidding. If you bought his book The Biology of Belief but couldn’t make head or tail of it, this is in fact what it says.)

And now we will suddenly start talking about fractals, because that’s what Lipton does.

He continues: 

…and it turns out to be that here’s a very interesting relation if, you know, we talk about at some point in regard to fractals…

Fractals, of course, are a “repeating pattern that displays at every scale.”

Fractal-Steiner-Chain-Orbit-Trap-18(Image from Fractal Science Kit)

Esoteric people love fractals. Not only are they scientific, but they also seem to echo that “as above, so below” idea mentioned earlier. (Actually fractals don’t mean this at all. They mean something more like “as within, so even further within; without is by definition different.” But again, let us not spoil things with reality.)

Fractals are a favorite among Creationists too. The Creationist website, Answers in Genesis says: “Evolution cannot account for fractals. These shapes have existed since creation and cannot have evolved, since numbers cannot change…”

Well, indeed some structures in humans do form something like fractal growth-patterns: the lungs, and the cardiovascular system, for example. But, sadly for Lipton and his fellow Creationists, this is not evidence that we were designed by a divine Creator.

As biologists at Yale point out, “this fractal structure makes the lungs more fault-tolerant during growth” and increases surface area for absorption and transfer of oxygen and blood. In other words, survival advantages — aka evolutionary advantages.

Even more stupidly, Lipton thinks that the same degree complexity is maintained, up and down the scale — that a single cell really is as complex as a being composed of 37.2 trillion cells. He really thinks that cells are basically little humunculi each with their own brains and beliefs. 

The big selling point of Lipton’s cancer cure is that if you change your own beliefs, this will somehow — he doesn’t say how — change the “cancerous beliefs” that cancer cells are harboring. Do that, and this will somehow — he doesn’t say how — stop your cells from being cancerous.

That’s it.

Confused? Incredulous? Well done. That means you understand more about Lipton’s teachings than he does.

The good news is that there is indeed a kind of fractal that is relevant here. It’s called Fractal Wrongness. This term was simply made for Dr Lipton. It means

the state of being wrong at every conceivable scale of resolution.


Got to: the final installment:”The Book That Changed Bruce Lipton’s Life”

Correction: Thanks to commenter “simon” for pointing out a stupid mistake I made when I initially published this post. I used the example of a protoplast as a cell without a membrane, but here a cell wall is removed, not a membrane. In any case, the membrane can be removed from cells, so the joke I was making still stands, and the text has been amended accordingly. Anyway, Lipton himself never specifies which kind of cell he is referring as the supposed in whose image “we” are supposedly made, so I could just as easily argue that according to Lipton’ vague standards, I was completely right. And as I noted in the comments, “simon” is demanding far higher standards of me than he does of Lipton.

Posted by Yakaru

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35 comments

  1. I’m worried about your attitude. Just one example. Just one.

    “Lipton says that biologists believe that the cell nucleus is the brain of the cell.” and then “They don’t — scientists don’t think that cells have brains.”

    Indeed, u can find a lot of sources where nucleus is considered as “the brain of the cell”. It is kind of a common parallel.

    University of California [http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=3966] about nucleus: “It is sort of like the brain of the cell.”.

    Therefore, in my opinion your article is unreliable and unprofessional, abounding with prejudgemnt. It is Irrelevant if Lipton’s right or not. Be sure that u are not the better one.


  2. Thanks for commenting, Simon. I appreciate it. And thanks for keeping it succinct, and fairly civil.

    There are a couple of points you seem to have misunderstood here. My post shows Lipton getting horribly confused about what is an analogy and what is a fact. The example you give is of scientists using the analogy of the nucleus being like a brain (or a boss, or whatever). In doing this they are not ascribing emotions or perceptions to it. Nor are they implying that the cell must therefore die if its “brain” is removed — which is what Lipton says they are claiming.

    The fact that some cells can function after the nucleus has been removed simply shows the point at which the analogy breaks down. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the membrane is really the brain of the cell instead. That’s just an analogy too, not a fact, as Lipton treats it. He ascribes all the characteristics of a brain to it — despite the fact that by his own logic, the membrane can’t be the brain of the cell either, because they can also survive without a membrane.

    This would all just be a trivial but incredibly stupid mistake if Lipton wasn’t selling it as a cancer cure. And it’s highly offensive to tell cancer sufferers that they caused their own cancer with their negativity. You don’t seem to have realized that he is a quack selling deadly quackery.


  3. Thanks for commenting, Yakaru. Keeping it succint makes our conversation succint as well.

    Like u said, one point that I seem to have misunderstood is Lipton’s view of the nucleus as the brain of the cell. “There are a couple of points […].” Well… where are the rest of points that I seem to have misunderstood?

    “[…] can also survive without a membrane”. Could u prove that or provide someone else’s evidence? That topic would be an interesting topic to discuss.

    I do not wanna consider Lipton’s idea and his “quack”. I can smell a bias in this article though.


  4. Because… about protoplast: “This is a cell which has had its membrane removed and yet continues to function…”
    It is not cell membrane that has been removed. It is a cell wall. It is a difference. Yakaru, u do not seem to have enough knowledge.


  5. You are exactly right and I was quite wrong. I will amend the text and add a footnote acknowledging the error (and including the original text).

    Indeed a protoplast is a plant cell, hence the cell wall instead of a membrane. My apologies.

    Obviously, I’m no biologist, but that is rather my point. Lipton presents his claims in such a garbled and chaotic fashion, that no one can follow them. All I have done is outlined exactly what he is saying. The part about protoplasts was a joke on my part, saying that even using his own logic, the membrane can’t be the brain of the cell, as cells can live without a membrane.

    And they still can, incidentally — this is a better link, as you requested
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130118064725.htm

    Like a child sucking an egg out of its shell, Ivo Telley from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, removed these cellular ‘innards’ from a fruit fly embryo, at a stage when it is essentially a sac full of membrane-less ‘cells’ that divide and divide without building physical barriers to separate themselves from each other.

    “It’s the first time we can study ongoing cell division without the cell membrane, and that means we can physically manipulate things,” says Telley, “so we can uncover the physical forces involved, and see what are the constraints.”

    I stress, this was a joke on my part — laughing at Lipton’s claim that scientists think the nucleus is the “brain” (in a non-metaphorical sense), and demonstrating it can’t be, by removing the nucleus and it doesn’t die. Even by Lipton’s own ridiculous logic, if a cell can live without a membrane, then the membrane can’t be the “brain” either.

    But of course on doesn’t need Lipton-logic to see that this is absurd and dangerously wrong. Cells don’t have thoughts, nor perceptions nor emotions.

    I explain his ideas more fully here
    https://spiritualityisnoexcuse.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/motivational-biology-with-dr-bruce-lipton-cancer-quack/

    You will notice that despite the serious medical nature of Lipton’s claim, and his having a PhD in cell biology, he has not published a single academic paper. Here is one oncologist who has taken the time to rebut some of his claims:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/06/14/choprawoo-returns-this-time-with-help-fr/

    But in general, he presents his ideas in such a garbled fashion that no one can follow what on earth he is talking about. When his fans comment here, they regularly contradict each other as to the most basic aspects of his teachings.

    Like I say, if he weren’t peddling a cancer cure, he could be rightly ignored as a crackpot. Instead he is encouraging his fans into shaming and blaming cancer sufferers into buying his products. Ridicule is the very mildest he deserves.


  6. The positive thing is that u are able to stand corrected. I appreciate it. I am sorry for my English. I am still a beginner learner.

    U were not “quite” wrong but u were completely wrong, and such sort of confusion shows the lack of basic knowledge. It should be enough to question your attitude and label all these words written about Lipton with bias. Therefore, your article has no scientific foundation because, like u said, u are not a biologist.

    Thus, once again, u are not a biologist. The experiment from EMBL which u found on the Internet AFTER I had mentioned about your misconception does not mean that cell can survive without cell membrane. It shows an extract of the cell. It “only” enables us to observe nuclear division without cell membrane. There is no even little assertion that “the cell can survive without the cell membrane”. Although, it is true that cell can survive without nucleus. It is true that there is a cell without nucleus, e.g. human erythrocyte.

    What will be next? Have u found the article about Bryopsis? It would be a better one. But still u have no enough knowledge because, once again, u are not a biologist.

    It is true that there is no cell without cell membrane. I said “true” but I would be pleased to see that sort of cell.

    I don’t judge Lipton’s view. I am neither his FAN nor ENEMY. I am pointing out your lack of professionalism. Once agian, u are not a biologist. U are not even interested in biology if u can misunderstand what is a cell membrane a what is not. It is a SIMPLE knowledge that u have not possess It is like 2+2 in maths.

    So, once again, u are not a biologist… why are u building your articles relying on scientific arguments if u cannot properly acquire even decent knowledge? Ironicly, I am just pointing out YOUR lack of knowledge.

    You emphasise evil that emerges from Lipton’s mind. All your blog emphasises it. In the same way, I emphasise a fact that… u are not a biologist. U have no idea how biology works.

    I hope that u will understand this constructive criticism. The same way u question Lipton, someone can question u. Please keep it mind. There is a lot of smart sarcasm in your articles but good writing is not enough. Ironicly, in a certian sense, your writings seem to be like Liptons talks.


  7. Leonardo said:

    “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.”

    Please keep it mind both doctor Lipton and doctor Yakaru.


  8. One more thing.

    “Indeed a protoplast is a plant cell, hence the cell wall instead of a membrane.”

    Protoplast is not a plant cell. Be accurate. It is a fungal or bacterial or plant cell without the cell wall.

    It is not the [plant or fungal or bacterial] cell with the cell wall instead of a membrane. It is the cell wall with the cell membrane.

    Protoplast has had removed its cell wall but the cell membrane is still present.

    U have a lot of scientific ignorance.


  9. “I used the example of a protoplast as a cell without a membrane, but this is exclusively a plant cell, which has a wall and not a membrane.”

    No civil comment now cuz the correction above is full of bullshit… again


  10. Please write only one comment at a time, simon.

    There was a reason why I wrote that I was “quite wrong”, insrtead of just “wrong” — By your standards, and mine, I was completely wrong; but by Lipton’s standards I was perfectly right. He doesn’t say what kind of cell he is talking about at all. He mentions paramecia once, and they are probably even less related to humans than plants are! So my joke using protoplasts was actually perfectly reasonable.

    Why do you expect me to get the finest details of a joke right — a joke which still proves him wrong, regardless of which kind of cell you want me to use. But you don’t expect him to identify which kind cell he is basing his whole cancer quackery on. You are using double standards.

    Lipton’s fans always come here, criticize me, and then say they’re not trying to defend him! It’s because they can’t defend him. Because they don’t understand him, but they don’t want anyone to criticize him either.

    Do you understand his teachings?

    What kind of cell do you think he is referring to?
    And how does this relate to his cancer cure?

    Because his cancer cure is what this post is all about. So far all you’ve done is focus on an irrelevant detail in a joke. Well?


  11. omg… U comment without constructive criticisim at all and u do not refer to the objectives of our conversation… therefore our conversation is over unless u can refer to the words that u have no idea about science.

    I do not support Lipton. U want me to prove points of his teachings but this is not the aim I would like to achieve. Once again, I am pointing out your lack of basic knowledge which question your authority. U do not know basic stuff about the cell but u dare to use this term all the time in the article. Like u said, u consider this as a detail.

    U called me a Lipton’s fan after I had said I am not one. Lipton has not been important for me in our conversation at all. All the time I am referring to misconception that u have written. U are the real topic.

    People can see who is right – simon or Yakaru.


  12. If you looked through the other posts I’ve done on Lipton, you would see a dozen or more commenters doing exactly what you have done here — attack me for some reason, while ignoring Lipton’s errors; then when challenged say they are not fans of Lipton and not even interested in him.

    Okay, fine.

    And thank you for taking such enormous interest in the finer details of a joke I made, even if you didn’t understand it. I don’t know what I did to deserve such specific attention. But I do notice it only happens when I post about Lipton. And I do notice that just like you, no one else can explain his teachings either when challenged.

    All you have posted about is one detail of one joke. This post is about deadly cancer quackery. If you don’t have anything to say about the topic, please stop commenting.


  13. “If you looked through the other posts I’ve done on Lipton, you would see a dozen or more commenters doing exactly what you have done here — attack me for some reason, while ignoring Lipton’s errors; then when challenged say they are not fans of Lipton and not even interested in him.”

    a. I want u to be a reliable crtitic. I did not claim that Lipton is right. Do u understand that?
    b. I said that I was not interested in Lipton in the first comment but u claim that it was after challenged me. Do u understand that?
    c. It is not about challenge though. Are u some sort of alfa male that u like to challenge someone?
    d. The reason u said I attacked u is below.

    U do not know what is cell.

    “And thank you for taking such enormous interest in the finer details of a joke I made, even if you didn’t understand it. I don’t know what I did to deserve such specific attention. But I do notice it only happens when I post about Lipton. And I do notice that just like you, no one else can explain his teachings either when challenged.”

    e. U emphasise that was a joke but it has no hidden that u do not kwno what is cell. It is not about the joke. It is about knowledge u represent. Do not take it personally but even a fool can tell a joke so it is not about the joke.
    i. U deserve such specific attention cuz u have no idea about science and people have the right to know it.
    j. I do not know the rest of articles u have written. Is there the same lack of knowledge or a lot of jokes?

    “All you have posted about is one detail of one joke. This post is about deadly cancer quackery. If you don’t have anything to say about the topic, please stop commenting.”

    k. I have posted one “detail” cuz it is enough to question competence that u represent. Do u understand that?

    l. Like u said, it is about deadly cancer quackery and u have no basic knowledge to seem to be a right person to discuss the topic.

    Please do respond to a,b,c…,l. This will keep our conversation succinct.


  14. I don’t make any claims at all for my competence. What I said in the post was that when Lipton’s ideas are presented clearly, the errors in them are plain to see.

    Unless you have something to say about the way I have represented his teachings, you are finished commenting here.


  15. I am a very negative person. I also long for a vicious little cancer to put me out of the misery that severe CFS has put me into. Yet the years go by and I remain frustratingly, heartbreakingly cancer-free. Maybe the longing is part of the problem. Maybe, the powers of irony being what they are, unhappy cells know that giving me cancer would make me happy, so they won’t do it. There is scope for a self-help book building on these truths, I think.


  16. Lipton’s fans — or rather all those people who “aren’t his fans” but nevertheless feel moved to attack and insult me for pointing out his errors — never realize how insulting these kinds of ideas are to people who are really sick. And he’s blaming people in advance for illnesses they will get in the future.

    I really appreciate your comments…


  17. Here u are something more.

    And he pushes it even further, claiming that just as your sense organs perceive, so too do cell receptors “perceive”. But obviously perception occurs in a brain, and a cell does not have a brain…. You know that, I know that, but Bruce Lipton doesn’t know that.

    Well…

    The behavour of cell is governed by its environment. A cell reponds to signals in its immediate environment, and also produce signals which affect the behaviour of other cells. Cell PERCEIVES and correctly repondes to signals in its microenvironment through RECEPTORS. [Shakir Ali, The Cell, 2014; about the author: http://jamiahamdard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Prof.-Shakir-Ali.pdf%5D

    Detail again?


  18. the correct link about the author is http://jamiahamdard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Prof.-Shakir-Ali.pdf


  19. Simon, that is called a metaphor or an analogy. People use them surprisingly often to describe complicated things by relating them to something more well known.

    You can use an analogy as a teaching device, as Shakir Ali does in the example you sent, but you can’t cure cancer with an analogy, like Lipton teaches.

    Does Shakir Ali say that cells have perceptions? No. Beliefs? Of course not. Emotions? No. Because they don’t have brains.

    If he did say that he would not be allowed to write a text book. Instead he would be laughed at the way all real biologists laugh at Lipton.

    In your stupid nitpicking you have continually avoided the issue that my article deals with.

    Lipton claims that cells have beliefs (in their brains) that cause cancer. He claims that these beliefs can somehow — he doesn’t say how — be altered, somehow — he doesn’t say how — by changing your own beliefs, and that these altered beliefs in the cell’s brain can somehow — he doesn’t say how — alter the perceptions that the cancer cell has, and in turn this can somehow — he doesn’t say how — cure your cancer.

    Recognize any of that from my article?

    If he practiced those beliefs as a doctor with cancer sufferers, he would be thrown in jail for manslaughter.

    You don’t know what to say about that, but you still want to somehow defend him. So you waste my time with your stupid attacks.


  20. I think the whole question of how much responsibility a person has for their own health in anything, be it addiction or cancer, is speculation until or unless we determine whether or how free will exists and operates. Even if we proved the speculation that misery caused cancer, and becoming unmiserable prevented it, we would still be speculating about what enables one person to change their attitude when another person can’t. Psychoneuroimmunology doesn’t really cover it. Quacks are presenting layers upon layers of speculation as fact and, as Ben Goldacre says, “the real threat from cranks is not that their customers might die… but that they systematically undermine the public’s understanding about the very nature of evidence.”

    In the UK it is illegal to claim to be able to cure cancer without proper evidence, but of course people do still hint, suggest, imply, engender hope. Is it illegal in the USA?


  21. Man what a lack of flexibilty… don’t u really care about what u are writing? Why are u treating me in such way? I have not seen Sheldrake and Lipton conversation but I have seen your writing and there are things (biology knowledge!!!) that are not correct. I wanted u to correct them. Why are u dividing your commentators into 2 groups: your fans and Lipton’s fans? Think sometimes about the way u treat people man.

    Once u had said that Lipton trully belives that cells have a brain (real one, not analogy) and they think etc.
    But now u said you can’t cure cancer with an analogy, like Lipton teaches. Thus, does Lipton use analogy or not?

    Easy man, really.

    I will watch that video though.


  22. @wolfity,
    Yes — that’s an important point about presenting speculation as fact. When Lipton talks he never uses any words like perhaps, or possibly, etc. It’s all straight up “this is true!”

    He also uses a secret weapon which other quacks haven’t yet mastered, which is garbling his ideas so much that everyone has to make up their own version of it. When his fans show up here, they clearly haven’t got a clue what the heck he is talking about, but want to defend him anyway. So they *all* do the same things

    1. Attack me
    2. Deny that they’re Lipton fans
    3. Link to some random article and say it somehow confirms Lipton’s teachings.
    4. Attack me again, while denying they’re Lipton fans
    5. Freak out totally and start spamming me, and then get angry when I refuse to post their 10,000 word rants
    —-

    Here in Germany the laws are rather more lax than the UK. IN Australia (where I come from) there have been a few doctors locked up for killing people with their quackery.

    Lipton covers himself by presenting it as spirituality, although the only resemblance it has to spirituality is no standards for evidence whatsoever.


  23. Simon, you have completely missed the point. You don’t understand what an analogy is.

    Yes, Lipton tries to cure cancer with analogies. And as I said in the article, he doesn’t know it’s an analogy. He thinks it’s a fact.

    Go and watch that video and try to understand Lipton’s beliefs before you try to defend him again.


  24. am a freak so that was u who have been right
    am a Liptons believer.
    but u are genius.
    but u have the knowledge and competence to talk about it.

    first u had been attacked.
    then there was a: am not a Lipton fan.
    then there was a link to some random article.
    then u was attacked again.
    in the end there was a freaking out process.

    hope that u forgive me these sins.


  25. Maybe you Lipton fans don’t have any other choice. None of you have figured out what he actually says — that’s been clear ever since I started writing about him here. There still has not been a single Lipton fan who has tried to defend him.

    Instead they deny they are fans and are just motivated for some other reason to tell me I must somehow — they never say how — be wrong about him.


  26. thats what it has been done.

    do not have other choice.
    have not figured out what he says.
    his fans do not defend him.
    was motivated for some other reason that u must somehow – I have never said how – be wrong about him.

    again hope that u forgive these sins
    u have the right knowledge.
    people should listen to u.


  27. How about you watch the video or another one by Lipton, and check his claims as carefully as you have checked mine.


  28. To be honest these words above I like the most and I agree with u. It is a right way indeed cuz the truth is the most relevant.


  29. :)


  30. I studied Lipton for two hours but I regret it as I quickly understood that he’s just pretending. So I’d like to say, with all due respect, that you people are being punked by a Benny Hinn type character.
    GcMAF is a real cure for cancer. Cancer is an immune deficiency disease. See it at my blog Truman Green’s Science Rumours. The medical science industry and pharmacorpia are currently trying to suppress the news about GcMAF. Please do some due diligence on it before dismissing it. Thanks, Truman


  31. Thanks for reading and commenting, Truman. While I share your estimation of Lipton, I’m afraid you are not the first person to appear on this blog and promote another cancer cure. There is rather a lot of competition for in the internet for such claims, and I would advise readers to see such claims as a red flag, and wait for good evidence from properly conducted studies.

    Or if one is prepared to accept lower standards of evidence, recognize how many other claims of a cancer cure would also fulfill such reduced criteria.

    http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2008/12/03/cancer-cured-for-good-gc-maf-and-the-miracle-cure/

    Some companies are selling Gc-MAF for use by cancer patients. This treatment is not approved or licensed in the UK for treating cancer or any 0ther disease. Given that there is no solid scientific evidence to show that the treatment is safe or effective, we would not recommend that cancer patients use it. [Updated KA 25/07/14]

    Cancer is an extremely complex disease. In fact, it is more than 200 distinct diseases, each requiring different treatment. And the success of treatment depends on many things, including the genetic make-up of the tumour, the stage of diagnosis, and how aggressive the cancer is.

    To suggest that there is a ‘magic bullet’ that cures all cancers is simplistic in the extreme.


  32. I have just started reading Lipton’s Biology of belief, and so far I like it, though I haven’t gotten to some of the New Age stuff you talk about. I am seeing flaws, like he argues that Darwinism promotes Social Darwinism, and that Darwinism doesn’t allow for cooperation, both of which are false. Reciprocal Altruism is an accepted theory in Evolutionary Biology, I don’t think there’s an evolutionary biologist today who would deny that. In fact Darwin was way ahead of his time, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if he talked about Cooperation to help all members get their gene’s passed on to future generations.

    He definitely makes you think about yourself in a different perspective, which I like: we are trillions of cells, all cooperating to carry out the functions for the sustenance of life. If you remove a cell from our body and place it in a petri dish, it will float around and act like any amoeba found in nature. That’s both interesting and creepy.

    Thoughts and beliefs can and do heal all sorts of problems and conditions in the human body, that’s an established fact in science called the placebo effect. I’m sure that has a naturalistic explanation, thoughts can trigger all sorts of emotions and hormonal reactions like sexual arousal, fear, stress, happiness etc. so that doesn’t necessarily need a supernatural explanation. But there certainly is something to the power of positive thinking. That would be an interesting topic to research, how to enhance the placebo effect.

    I’m also concerned when he says Lamarckian evolution is correct. I would be all for hearing his explanation, but so far he seems to dance around that. I’ll see if that goes anywhere. He says we can evolve before reproduction through gene transfer, but that’s only the case with single cell organisms. It’s going to be a hard sell for him to convince me that somehow I can give another human being my beneficial DNA that they can somehow incorporate into their genome. We’ll see where he goes with that.

    So far I still like it though, just because it’s a new perspective for me. As I read more I’ll let you know what I think.


  33. Thanks for you thoughtful and concise comment. I hope you do share your further impressions!

    Yes- social darwinism is a misunderstanding of Darwin’s ideas and even further away from modern biology. It suggests some kind of inherent hierarchy making “the fittest” somehow superior to the “losers”. Whereas Darwin noticed that the fittest are simply the ones who are better adapted to their habitat — ie they might be the smaller, less aggressive ones, the weaker ones, or (as with humans) the cooperative ones. And eugenics is straight up selective breeding, not natural selection.

    Lipton also gets genetics wrong. He equates modern genetics with genetic determinism (ie an exclusive determinant of behavior). That’s why he turns to Lamarck — he thinks Lamarck will get people out of deterministic jail by letting us alter our own DNA. But he’s wrong on two counts. Genetics is not deterministic as he thinks. It is one of a multitude of influences on behavior. And it was already clear 150 years ago that Lamarck was wrong. There are no plausible mechanisms for the kinds of adaptations he postulated, and the cases he cited are perfectly well explained by normal darwinian evolution. (And epigenetics doesn’t help here.)

    But there is no need to turn to Lamarck anyway, as genetics is not genetic determinism. Lipton and a host others (eg Chopra, Tanzi) are flat wrong.

    The fact that Lipton, who has a PhD in biology doesn’t know this is in fact a red flag, though I am sure you will notice far bigger ones.

    Another thing Lipton is ignorant about is the massive literature about stress and various hormones that influence both thought and behavior. He sells his ideas as if it is all in one direction — thought influencing behavior and even altering our DNA (somehow, he doesn’t say how).

    Again, this New Age spiritual obsession with altering DNA is purely the result of ignorance about genetic determinism.
    —–

    I would be very curious to know if you felt you could explain his ideas coherently. I’ve written a lot about him here over the years, and I’ve always been struck by how confused his fans are about what he actually teaches.


  34. Well I was, kind-of his fan, but yes, the more I think about how badly he interpreted evolution by natural selection, the more upset with him I feel, given that he teaches biology at the university level, is a spiritual guru charging monthly fees to access his website. I know how evolution works, but I don’t understand genetics, so if his main shtick is altering genes with thought, than I really won’t know if he’s correct or not, although given how wrong he is about evolution, he has somewhat lost my respect.


  35. Well, generally speaking if someone with a PhD in biology writes a book, you’d assume they have at least understood the basics. And biology, especially genetics, is not easy, so one would also assume anything one doesn’t understand is due to personal ignorance, and not because the author has got it wrong.

    He also claims that thoughts can cure cancer, and that negative thoughts caused the cancer in the first place. It is really quite disgraceful what he is doing.

    I wrote a long, more serious post looking at his ideas in some detail —
    https://spiritualityisnoexcuse.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/motivational-biology-with-dr-bruce-lipton-cancer-quack/

    Everything I’ve written on him so far is based on his lectures on You Tube, not his books. I would assume his books attain a higher level of coherence, given help from an editor, and I don’t know if he makes his cancer claims in his books. He does in his lectures though.

    Even without any knowledge of biology it is still possible to figure out if he is making sense by looking at the way he constructs his argument. He doesn’t distinguish between speculation and fact, and presents metaphors as if they are real. (Eg., a cell “perceives” its environment is a metaphor, but then he decides that if it perceives, a cell must also have beliefs that influence the perceptions, just like the brain. And therefore, you can change a cell’s beliefs just like you can change your brain’s beliefs and this changes the cell’s perceptions, which in turn will cure a cancerous cell.)

    I’d be interested to hear any further musings about the book (or my rantings about him)…



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