Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 35 (Lipton says 3 sensible things in a row and then stops)

May 18, 2018

Apologies again to those who subscribed to this blog expecting a bit more varied coverage of topics than this. There are posts on other topics in the pipeline, more than half written, I promise.

Anyway, in the previous post, we witnessed Lipton saying something sensible. He noted that the reason drugs have side effects is because biological systems are “redundant”. Oddly, for him, he took time to explain the jargon to his readers: “The same signals or protein molecules may be simultaneously used in different organs and tissues.”

This is not a stupid thing to say. In fact, it counts as an interesting observation about the reason drugs can have side effects.

While this redundancy complicates the effects of prescription drugs, it is another remarkably efficient result of evolution.

This is truly remarkable. For the first time in the book we have three sensible (if completely tangential and ungrammatical — the result is not efficient, but rather evolution) points in a row. But then he suddenly leaps to this:

Multicellular organisms can survive with far fewer genes than scientists once thought because the same gene products (protein) [sic] are used for a variety of functions.

WTF has that got to do with anything at all here?

But since he took us here, let me note the following:

Factual error. Some scientists in the early 1970s speculated about this, and, not surprisingly, their estimate was wrong. Their error is both entirely inconsequential for subsequent science; and entirely irrelevant to the point Lipton is trying to make. Unless of course, if he means to imply that the error remains uncorrected and is widespread, in which case we would need to throw another ‘factual error’ onto the enormous heap he has accumulated so far.

Then we get more copy-and-paste obfuscation. I’ll quote some of it, to show that it is irrelevant blather aimed at impressing his readers and sending them to sleep so they don’t notice the next intrusion of the next Liptonian non sequitur.

In my research on human blood vessel cells, I experienced first-hand the limits imposed by redundant signaling pathways. In the body, histamine is an important chemical signal that initiates the cells’ stress response. When histamine is present in the blood that nourishes the arms and legs, the stress signal produces large gaping pores in the walls of the blood vessels. The opening of these holes in the blood vessel’s wall is the first step in launching a local inflammatory reaction. However, if histamine is added to blood vessels in the brain, the same histamine signal increases the flow of nutrition to the neurons, enhancing their growth and specialized functions. In times of stress, the increased nutrition signaled by histamine enables the brain to ramp up its activity in order to better deal with the perceived impending emergency. This is an example of how the same histamine signal can create two diametrically opposed effects, depending on the site where the signal is released. [Lipton, et al, 1991]

He continues with a lot more of this, and explains yet again how a drug can affect more than one part of the system. He uses the example of hormone replacement therapy for women. He makes absolutely no reference whatsoever to modern medicine having had any success at all.

Adverse drug effects, like those contributing to the HRT controversy, are a primary reason why a leading cause of death is iatrogenic illness, i.e. illness resulting from medical treatment. According to conservative estimates published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, iatrogenic illness is the third-leading cause of death in this country. More than 120,000 people die from adverse effects of prescribed medications each year. [Starfield 2000] However, last year a new study, based on the results of a ten-year survey of government statistics, came up with even more dismal figures. [Null, et al, 2003] That study concludes that iatrogenic illness is actually the leading cause of death in the United States and that adverse reactions to prescription drugs are responsible for more than 300,000 deaths a year.

These statistics, assuming they are correct, are scary but they don’t support his argument.

He stupidly implies that these deficiencies are a result of the “linear Newtonian thinking” and lack of quantum physics. But deaths due to mal-practice, poor hygiene, procedural error, and bad luck would account for the vast majority of these. A long list of improvements could easily be drawn up, all pointing in the direction of more staff, better training, better working conditions, more personable and more individualized care, and restriction of rampant profit-motives for pharmaceutical firms, but inserting Liptonian quantum physics or anything else in his “New Biology” would solve absolutely nothing, (except perhaps cure insomnia). And it would need to overcome exactly the same procedural problems. And how have they gone with that so far?

With alt med, people die when they are given what according to their protocol is exactly the right diagnosis and exactly the right treatment. There is never any investigation into what wrong, because (a) no alt med practitioner keeps sufficient records; (b) the patient probably signed a disclaimer; and (c) everything went exactly according to protocol.

Lipton has no idea how many people are dead today because they believed his quackery. Occasionally, here on my rarely visited website, a potential victim leaves a comment like this one:

As someone that’s currently due to have a preventative double mastectomy due to brca1, the initial readings/listening of his [Lipton’s] on a few podcasts etc I thought was my get out clause – I could not have the surgery! But reading his claims which make no sense for the many ladies who realise they are brca1/2 after diagnosis, or for many other illnesses, it’s upsetting to me that he could be giving women such a glimmer of hope at such a traumatic time.

Those who trust Lipton and die because of it appear nowhere in anyone’s statistics, except in Lipton’s sales figures. 

Lipton continues:

These are dismaying statistics, especially for a healing profession that has arrogantly dismissed three thousand years of effective Eastern medicine as unscientific…

Factual error #1: Geographical location or origin of an idea is irrelevant to science.

Factual error #2: “Eastern” medicine has not been rejected as “unscientific”, but rather as unstudied.

Factual error #3: If by “Eastern”, Lipton is referring to acupuncture, its origins owe more to Chairman Mao and some alt med freaks in the US in the 1970s than it does to any “three thousand year” tradition.

Factual error #4: If the treatments really had been effective for the past three thousand years as Lipton asserts, they would still be effective now, and it would show up in research. Which it doesn’t.

The sentence continues:

…even though it {“ancient wisdom”] is based on a deeper understanding of the Universe.

Factual error. It isn’t.

For thousands of years, long before Western scientists discovered the laws of quantum physics, Asians have honored energy as the principal factor contributing to health and well-being.

Factual error #1: Lipton implies a connection between quantum physics and some idea of “energy” supposedly held by “Asians”. There is none. The “energy” of quantum physics can only be the sub-atomic strong and the weak electromagnetic forces.

Factual error #2: The term “Asians” is ridiculously broad, and it must include the Chinese idea of “chi”, as well as the Yogic idea of prana. Both conceptualize some kind of life force-type of “energy”, but the latter relates explicitly to the breath, which the former does not.

In Eastern medicine, the body is defined by an elaborate array of energy pathways called meridians. In Chinese physiologic charts of the human body, these energy networks resemble electronic wiring diagrams. Using aids like acupuncture needles, Chinese physicians test their patient’s energy circuits in exactly the same manner that electrical engineers “troubleshoot” a printed-circuit board, searching for electrical “pathologies.”

Factual error. What an acupuncturist does is not “exactly like” what an electrical engineer does. I will leave it for acupuncturists to decide whether Lipton is doing them justice, Lipton’s account is exactly the kind of simplistic reasoning that neglects complex interactions of various systems that Lipton accuses “Newtonian” scientists of.

Furthermore, if these “electrical circuits” really could be checked like that, they would easily show up like that when properly investigated. And of course it doesn’t. This is all fine if you’re just fooling about with stuff that makes you feel better — lying on a table while a nice caring person respectfully takes care of you (even if that involves sticking pins into you). But the fun stops exactly at the point where it becomes dangerous or life-threatening. And that is exactly the point at which this dangerous and extraordinarily ignorant book starts.

Comments welcome, but please try to address the issues raised in the article!

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