Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 49 (The whole of science is an anomaly that Lipton ignores)

February 11, 2019

In the previous post had presented us with an anomaly that scientists “ignore” — a single, poorly documented case from the 1950s which scientists didn’t ignore. They just didn’t have enough data to know what happened, and the “miraculous” healing couldn’t be reproduced by anyone, even the person who initially supposedly performed it.

He is about to follow that with an even vaguer case from the late 1800s where someone drank water laced with cholera and didn’t die. But before rejecting the entire germ theory of disease, he is about to attack science again.

Unfortunately, scientists most often deny rather than embrace exceptions.

It is laughable on two counts that Lipton says scientists “ignore anomalies”: they don’t; and Lipton does. And the anomaly which Lipton ignores is the whole of science.

My favorite example of scientific denial of the reality of mind-body interactions relates to an article that appeared in [the journal] Science about nineteenth-century German physician, Robert Koch, who along with Pasteur founded the Germ Theory.

Before we go any further, let us note a few things about Robert Koch (1843-1910). His achievements include discovering a way to isolate pure bacterial cultures, having already discovered the necessity of isolating them to better research infectious diseases. He successfully identified the anthrax bacillus — linking for the first time a specific microorganism to a specific disease. He discovered the cause of tuberculosis, correctly identifying the bacterium. His proposed cure failed (disastrously) but could at least be used as an effective diagnostic tool. He discovered the bacterium that causes cholera, traveling to Egypt and India, of course at great personal risk. Anyone who has not had any of these diseases probably has Koch to thank for it.

But instead of telling his readers any of that, Lipton laughs at him for ignoring “body-mind interactions”.

The Germ Theory holds that bacteria and viruses are the cause of disease. That theory is widely accepted now, but in Koch’s day it was more controversial.

Widely accepted”? How about universally accepted by all those people who either don’t want to die, or who don’t want to watch their patients die. It is rejected by many alternative medicine practitioners who don’t like the idea that a bacilli affect everyone indiscriminately, commoners and kings, alcoholics and teetotalers, atheists and New Age people who are allergic to cell phones and microwave ovens.

One of Koch’s critics was so convinced that the Germ Theory was wrong that he brazenly wolfed down a glass of water laced with vibrio cholerae, the bacteria Koch believed caused cholera.

Factual error: Koch didn’t “believe” this, rather he had done the work to demonstrate that this pathogen is indeed the cause of cholera — whether you believe it is or not.

To everyone’s astonishment, the man was completely unaffected by the virulent pathogen.

I have no idea who this man was. Lipton doesn’t say, and the article cited is behind a paywall. (Dr Bruce, don’t do this if you’re writing a popular science book!) Koch certainly had his opponents and detractors, and maybe this incident happened. Something along these lines seemed to have happened. The only case I can find of anyone drinking water laced with cholera was Koch himself doing it, to try to give himself a mild case of the disease before he’d discovered the cause. I don’t think this is what Lipton means, but he has made far stupider mistakes than that, so who knows?

The Science article published in 2000 describing the incident stated: “For unexplained reasons he remained symptom free, but nevertheless incorrect.” [DiRita 2000]

The man survived and Science, reflecting the unanimity of opinion on the Germ Theory, had the audacity to say his criticism was incorrect? If it is claimed that this bacterium is the cause of cholera and the man demonstrates that he is unaffected by the germs. . .how can he be “incorrect?”

This is what I mean by the whole of science being an anomaly for Lipton that he ignores. It is odd for someone with a Ph.D in science to be acting like this. Firstly, the science saying cholera is caused by this bacterium is good. If there are exceptions, let’s see them! And if you think there are real exceptions, and, let’s say, you have a Ph.D in cell biology, then why don’t you study these and PRESENT them? Instead, Lipton prefers to present his work to Hay House Publishing rather than peer reviewed journals.

Instead of trying to figure out how the man avoided the dreaded disease, scientists blithely dismiss this and other embarrassing “messy” exceptions that spoil their theories.

Their “theories” that have saved 100s of millions of lives, including, probably, Lipton’s stupid undeserving ass as well.

Remember the “dogma” that genes control biology?

Remember, that this is a dogma that is entirely invented by Lipton, which is why the phrase itself (genes control biology) is vague and meaningless.

Here is another example in which scientists, bent on establishing the validity of their truth, ignore pesky exceptions. The problem is that there cannot be exceptions to a theory; exceptions simply mean that a theory is not fully correct.

Again, for Lipton the whole of science is an anomaly that he ignores. Read any science paper. Exceptions are the bread and butter of science.

Lipton equates “theory” with “dogma” — which is exactly what his theories are. But in science, theory doesn’t only mean hypothesis. Aerodynamic theory is not ‘the theory that planes can fly’, but rather how best to make a plane fly, or why a bird’s wing takes a particular shape, etc.

Lipton thinks he has a better way of dealing with cholera than the World Health Organisation currently has its disposal, but instead of saying any more about this signature claim, we get this:

A current example of a reality that challenges the established beliefs of science concerns the ancient religious practice of fire-walking.

This is exactly the logic that Lipton is serving up his readers in this book: If you can walk across hot coals, you can also drink cholera infected water and not die.

Seekers gather together daily to stretch the realms of conventional awareness by walking across beds of hot coals. Measurement of the stone’s temperature and duration of exposure are enough to cause medically relevant burns on the feet, yet thousands of participants emerge from the process totally unscathed.

Factual error #1: hot coals are not stones.

Factual error #2: their temperature at the point of contact is not hot enough to burn the feet, which is makes this a nice party trick, as long as you get the right kind of wood, and make the path no more than about 10 meters, then everything is fine. Wrong kind of wood and people burn their feet. (I’ve seen that happen in Australia.) Add a few meters to the path with the right kind of wood and even experienced and very mind-over-mattery-people burn their feet too.

Before you jump to the conclusion that the coals were not really not that hot, consider the numbers of participants who waver in their beliefs and get scalded walking across the same bed of coals.

Factual error: the physics is well understood and not mysterious at all. Radiant heat can be very hot; but direct contact with the wood itself doesn’t transmit so much at all, as long the contact is brief. Again, the science is an anomaly that Lipton ignores.

Similarly, science is unambiguous about its claim that the HIV virus causes AIDS. But it has no conception as to why large numbers of individuals that have been infected with the virus for decades do not express the disease?

Factual error #1: nitpicking, but genes are or are not expressed. Lipton is trying to use fancy terminology and gets it wrong.

Factual error #2: there is no mystery here. At least as far as I understand it, it depends on how the immune system is affected, and which pathogens a sufferer comes into contact with.

Lipton is implying that ‘mind over matter’ plays some kind of a role, somehow, but couldn’t be bothered saying how.

More baffling is the reality of terminal cancer patients who have recovered their lives through spontaneous remissions.

Note the wording, making it sound as if the patients somehow managed to cause their spontaneous remission.

Because such remissions are outside the bounds of conventional theory, science completely disregards the fact that they ever happened.

Factual error. there are plenty of studies. A moment’s thought helps one realise that it’s difficult to get data accurate enough to be used in a proper study. Estimates of frequency vary wildly, reflecting this obvious difficulty.

Spontaneous remissions are dismissed as unexplainable exceptions to our current truths or simply, misdiagnoses.

Factual error. See studies in the above link.

Lipton has not even bothered to make a case for mind over matter in any of these cases. Yet that is the subject of his book.

That is a rather serious deficit here isn’t it, Dr Lipton.

And that deficit only gets worse, as we will see in the next post.


  1. You know you have a flimsy premise when walking on hot coals comes into it. SO many people at seminars where this is done..Tony Robbins, if memory serves..have sustained injuries while doing this!

    You don’t hear about them because people are embarrassed..and busy getting treatment for their burns.

    And again with the terminal cancer spontaneous remissions implication that it is the belief system of the patient that creates these conditions.

    I just can’t with this guy.

    Did this book gain any traction?

  2. Yes, Tony Robbins made some dumb mistake and whole heap of people got burned feet.


    Lipton’s book is extremely successful, outselling any proper science book. He’s the new Louise Hay.

  3. I stumbled upon your website while I was writing a review of Lipton’s book and wanted to cite specific instances where Lipton misconstrued/misinterpreted the evidence for his claims. During this I was also trying to find the original source where he is making the argument (though I had slightly more luck and got behind the paywall) stemming from the individual who drank Cholera and saw this post. I was glad to see you got into it much more thoroughly than I did. Anyway, I thought you’d like to know for curiosities sake the individual is Max von Pettenkofer. I first learned of this incident from a biography about Koch, but the last paragraph in this short article will also explain the incident in more detail.


    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your work and that I am relieved I am not the only one who was completely blown away by how many people were swept up in his misinterpretations and poorly evidenced writing!


  4. Thanks for this information. I have now written an extra post using it and linking to your review of Lipton on Good Reads (and linked back to your comment here).

    I wish I’d known about that earlier — Lipton mentions that case triumphantly and very often in that book, and of course, the actual truth of the story completely demolishes his argument, as happens almost every time.

    I thought your review did a really good job of succinctly explaining how science works and *doesn’t* work. I never managed to put it so concisely, despite having plenty of opportunities over the course of 79 blogposts!

    I really appreciate your comment!

    Here’s a link to my blogpost which mentions the information you provided and links to your article


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