Archive for the ‘Bruce Lipton’ Category


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 32 (Lipton gets confused and starts promoting Newtonian physics)

March 17, 2018

Back to Lipton.

It may surprise Lipton’s readers to learn that Lipton’s working definition of the term “quantum physics” is: a system which is bafflingly complex. I’m not being sarcastic. He tries to make it look as if he is referring to the actual quantum physics that appears in a physics text book. But as soon as he has to be specific, he switches to using it as a metaphor for a way of thinking, before switching back to pretending he is talking about real quantum physics.

He does not mention mathematics at all. That should already be a red flag for his audience, but there is an entire industry of New Age “quantum physics” that keeps away from math entirely. They can read any number of thousand or more such books without ever encountering any real physics…. But Lipton gets even this New Age version wrong.

And of course, just being bafflingly complex does not make something quantum physics. And the level of complexity that baffles Lipton is far less complex than a bus timetable.

To avoid any miscomprehension or pure disbelief at how ignorant and above all utterly stupid he is, Lipton supplied his readers with two diagrams. I will repeat them here from the previous post.

He accuses biologists of being stuck in “linear” thinking — even though biology largely consists of studying the interrelationships between complex systems.

And for some reason he thinks this “linear” thought is a result of their being mired in Newtonian physics — which they aren’t. And if they were (which they’re not) it wouldn’t have anything to do with Newtonian physics, which is not “linear”.

And the “complex” thinking that he accuses biologists of being incapable of is of course something they do routinely; and, even more of-coursely, has nothing whatsoever to do with quantum physics

This (below) is the kind of thinking that he thinks was impossible until the advent of quantum physics. I have no idea why he thinks this.

Bafflingly complex Liptonian Quantum thinking

We continue boring into these compacted layers of factual errors.

Biomedical scientists have been particularly confounded because they do not recognize the massive complexity of the intercommunication among the physical parts and the energy fields that make up the whole.

Factual error #1: The study of biology, and especially biochemistry, consists almost entirely of the study of the way complex systems interact with each other.

Factual error #2: “Energy fields”????? It may be true that not very many biologists study the laws of physics at the subatomic level while studying, say liver function, but why on earth should they? Lipton gets lost each time he tries to switch between scales. And this is what Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg says about quantum physics in biology:

“It’s difficult enough to use the equations of quantum physics to calculate the strength of the binding of two hydrogen atoms in the simplest hydrogen molecule. The special experience and insights of chemists are needed to deal with complicated molecules, especially the very complicated molecules encountered in biology, and the way they react in various circumstances.”
(Dreams of a Final Theory, Chapter 1.)

Lipton continues:.

The reductionist’s perception of a linear flow of information is a characteristic of the Newtonian universe.

Factual error.

Not even Newton limited himself to “linear thinking”.

In contrast, the flow of information in a quantum universe is holistic.

Factual error.

Lipton has got this exactly backwards — quantum physics is the ultimate in reductionism. And he’s got it doubly wrong, as he also thinks relativity theory — which very unholistically obliterates “absolute” space and time — is quantum physics.

Newtonian physics, on the other hand, demonstrated that the heavens and the earth are governed by the same physical laws. And the Newtonian universe presupposes very nice holistic absolute values for space and time.

He then continues to ridiculously describe all the “complex pathways” in his stupid diagram (see above) of “holistic” “quantum” “physics”.

I wanted to skip over the following explanation of what that second diagram illustrates — it is a dull hypothetical example of the kinds of thing that biologists are supposedly baffled by, and can only be comprehended by those who have mastered “quantum physics”. But unfortunately he builds another layer of non sequitur stupidity on top of it, which explains why he is doing all this.

Lipton explains:

Cellular constituents are woven into a complex web of crosstalk, feedback and feedforward communication loops (see illustration [above]). A biological dysfunction may arise from a miscommunication along any of the routes of information flow. To adjust the chemistry of this complicated interactive system requires a lot more understanding than just adjusting one of the information pathway’s components with a drug. If you change the concentration of C for example, it doesn’t just influence the action of D. Via holistic pathways, variations in the concentration of C profoundly influence the behaviors and functions of A, B, and E, as well as D.

Are any of Lipton’s readers really honestly so dumb that they don’t realize that biology routinely deals with stuff as complex and far more complex than that? Or are they just too mentally exhausted from the previous 103 pages to emit any howls of rage or derision?

Lipton follows that utter rubbish with a non sequitur that exposes exactly what his game is with all this “quantum” stuff.

Once I realized the nature of the complex interactions between matter and energy….

Why is Lipton speaking as if that diagram and his description has anything at all to do with “energy”?

(Sadly, we already know why he is doing it. He knows that Relativity Theory mentions “energy”, and he thinks that Einstein was talking about the “subtle energies” that esoteric people are always talking about. And of course, he thinks that relativity is part of quantum physics.)

In other words, Lipton has graduated from making erroneous claims about the current state of biological knowledge, to making erroneous statements about one of his own (already erroneous) diagrams.

Factual error #1: Nowhere in that diagram or that explanation is “energy” represented.

Factual error #2: Nowhere in that diagram or explanation is an interaction between “energy” and matter represented.

Factual error #3: And if by “energy” he is referring to the kind of energy field from actual quantum physics, he is wrong to represent it as a single point in Newtonian space.

…Once I realized the nature of the complex interactions between matter and energy, I knew that a reductionist, linear (A>B>C>D>E) approach could not even come close to giving us an accurate understanding of disease.

Factual error #1: Lipton seems to be saying here that any chain of causality that only uses elements made of matter is “linear” and Newtonian; and that by including elements of “energy”, it now becomes “quantum” and “holistic”. But the explanation of the diagram doesn’t mention “energy”. So what on earth is he talking about?

Factual error # 2: There is nothing inherently or exclusively “reductionist” about a linear chain of causality.

Factual error #3: And of course, his supposedly “holistic” diagram of supposedly “complex” interactions is just as reductionist as the linear one.

While quantum physics implied the existence of such interconnected information pathways…

Factual error #1: Why is Lipton talking about “information pathways”? That term comes from genetics and relates to the flow of genetic “information”, i.e. sequences of DNA code inscribed in chemical structures. He isn’t talking about that here. Or is he? Who knows? (Lipton certainly doesn’t.)

Factual error #2: Nothing whatsoever in quantum physics “implies” the interconnection of “information pathways”.

Quantum physics is all about fields and wave functions. It is Newtonian physics that is all about fixed points and trajectories. Lipton is a goose.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 31 (Liptonian Quantum Physics — in two diagrams)

February 16, 2018

Having spent the last ten pages or more attacking and ridiculing biologists and medical practitioners for their supposed ignorance of quantum physics, and failure to use it, Lipton is about to finally tell us what he thinks it is and how it should be used.

At this point, we can probably guess this is not going to go well for Lipton. However, even I was not prepared for the two diagrams that Lipton used to clearly and succinctly sum up his views.

We pick up the action on page 103 where he continues his clueless attack on modern medicine:

In seeking knowledge of how the body’s mechanisms are “controlled,” researchers have focused their attention on investigating a large variety of physical signals, classified into discrete chemical families, including aforementioned hormones, cytokines, growth factors, tumor suppressors, messengers and ions. However, because of their Newtonian, materialistic bias, conventional researchers have completely ignored the role that energy plays in health and disease.

Factual error #1: Lipton, having failed each of his five attempts at saying “E=mc2”, is now claiming that E=chi (or life force).

Factual error #2: Likewise, he is claiming that E=chi is what Einstein really meant when he said that E=Ec2, or E=m (where M=matter), or E=(mc)2, or whatever that very nice thing Einstein said about Energy was.

Factual error #3: Lipton is claiming (or would attempt to if he was capable) that mass times the square of the speed of light plays a role in health and disease. What does that mean?

Factual error #4: Lipton is also therefore claiming that things like homeopathy or acupuncture “work” because chi equals mass times the square of the speed of light.

Factual error #5: Lipton thinks E=thingy is part of (or all of?) quantum physics.

Factual error #6: He is also claiming that “conventional researchers” are ignoring whatever it is he is talking about because they don’t know quantum physics. If they were ignoring it, it would be because they found no evidence for any such thing after 250 years of looking.

Factual error #7: Researchers have most definitely not “completely ignored” the idea of the life force. If anything they are far too indulgent of it, given the aforementioned history. Here in Germany, as with elsewhere in Europe, it is difficult to find a GP who doesn’t practice homeopathy or some other form of evidence-free ideological medicine.

Factual error #8: Medical practitioners do not seek knowledge about how the body’s mechanisms are “controlled”; rather they try to understand how they function, and what influences their function.

Factual error #9: Medicine does not have a “Newtonian” bias. They routinely use quantum physics in medical imaging and diagnosis. And incidentally, Lipton’s hatred of supposedly “mechanistic” medicine explains why he never uses the term “quantum mechanics”.

In addition, conventional biologists are reductionists who believe that mechanisms of our physical bodies can be understood by taking the cells apart and studying their chemical building blocks.

Factual error #1:

Darwinian evolution — the great fact at the heart of all biology and the defining characteristic of life itself, is most certainly not reductionist. Evolution is only visible when one takes a step back from the details and views the interacting systems of a whole ecosystem. (The term ecosystem was coined by the great Darwinian biologist Ernst Haeckel in the 1870s.)

No one would ever have found natural selection by looking only at the smallest details. Even genome research would only have revealed networks of commonalities, but would have been unable to discover the cause.

Factual error #2:

Reductionism is in fact what Lipton was doing with all that nonsense about cells being a computer.

They believe that the biochemical reactions responsible for life are generated through Henry Ford-styled assembly lines: one chemical causes a reaction, followed by another reaction with a different chemical, etc.

Factual error.

Biologists don’t believe this. Life would never have arisen at all if chemical reactions were a production line. Life requires imperfect copying of a replicating molecule, or no variation (and hence no evolution, and no life) could arise.

The linear flow of information from A to B to C to D to E is illustrated on the following page.

Here is the first of Lipton’s two diagrams. This is what Lipton thinks modern medicine is.

Modern medical conception of physiological functioning, according to Lipton

This reductionist model suggests that if there is a problem in the system, evident as a disease or dysfunction, the source of the problem can be attributed to a malfunction in one of the steps along the chemical assembly line.

Factual error. A huge and utterly disgraceful one.

Modern medicine does not work anything like this. This is just stunning ignorance.

Ignorance and utter hypocrisy.

Lipton will soon be appearing at a chiropractic conference. Chiropractic assumes that all diseases have a single cause: a misaligned vertebrae. He is published by Hay House — Louise Hay thinks all diseases have a single cause: negative thoughts. the kinds of quackery that makes his money by supporting are nearly always based on a spurious “hitherto undiscovered” or “discovered and suppressed” single cause for diseases.

This linear approach is also why quackery is easy to sell; and also why it fails so atrociously.

By providing the cell with a functional replacement part for the faulty element, by prescribing pharmaceutical drugs for example, the defective single point can theoretically be repaired and health restored.

Factual error.

Sometimes illnesses do in fact have a single cause. And sometimes providing a functional replacement can be life saving or crucial to daily life. Does Lipton use glasses? Or brush his teeth? Would he get a hip replaced if he couldn’t walk?

And anyone whose doctor has suggested a dietary change or more exercise will know that Lipton is flat wrong about the rest of it.

Now we get to his second diagram. I am not kidding. Lipton thinks this is quantum physics!

Liptonian Quantum Physics

Really dude? That’s it???? That is what you’re selling???

Factual error #1:

“Quantum” means the exact opposite of “holistic”.

Factual error #2:

That diagram has nothing whatsoever to with any part of quantum mechanics at all.

However, the quantum perspective reveals that the universe is an integration of interdependent energy fields that are entangled in a meshwork of interactions.

Factual error #1:

Quantum physics has to do with interactions between particles at the atomic or subatomic level, which it predicts to the most insane levels of accuracy. It has nothing to do with a few randomly chosen elements interacting randomly with each other at an undisclosed level, and then projected onto undisclosed medical occurrences.

Factual error #2:

Entanglement in quantum physics refers to specific particles under specific circumstances. It does not refer all things in the universe collectively; nor does it refer to anything that gets tangled.

Factual error #3:

Interactions immeasurably more complicated than this stupid diagram drawn up by this extremely stupid man can easily be dealt with not by using quantum mechanics, but rather with plain boring old math, or maybe calculus — invented by Newton.

Factual error #4:

Lipton is seriously claiming that his hypothetical chart is only made possible by quantum physics. He is, effectively, claiming that getting of an underground train and catching a bus is only possible thanks to quantum physics.

Factual error #5:

Lipton is seriously claiming that medical science can never come up with something like this:

Functional mapping of genes and proteins (Source)

Factual error #6:

He is of course still claiming that the reason biologists can’t come up with this kind of work is because they are all ignorant of quantum physics.

Lipton has so far kept his perfect record, of getting every single thing that he claims to be a fact important to his argument hilariously and unbelievably wrong.

I’m up to 31 posts from just the first 103 pages, and there are still 100 pages to go. I keep hoping that his mistakes will start repeating and I can skip through it quicker, but so far he just keeps on bringing out new an extraordinarily rich compounds of compacted errors.

Plus, I keep finding errors I hadn’t thought of initially. Like the fact that his beloved Lamarck believed in pre-formationist embryology — which would exclude all possibility of his beloved epigenetics.

I will try to get through the next 100 pages a bit more quickly, but I don’t know how. Stuff that looks irrelevant suddenly emerges again later as part of an argument, and summarizing his ideas requires not only putting his ideas into some kind of logical order, but then also trying to convince readers that he really did say that.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 30 (The attack on modern medicine begins)

February 13, 2018

Lipton is going to use quantum physics (or what he thinks is quantum physics) to attack modern medicine (or what he thinks is modern medicine), which he thinks is based on Newtonian physics (or what he thinks is Newtonian physics).

His version of history has physicists in the early 20th century opening their minds to a new universe with the advent of quantum physics (which he wrongly equates with relativity theory); while all biologists (except for him) continue blindly along the same track that Newton supposedly set them on 350 years ago.

His attack on modern medicine is going to be extremely stupid and, unfortunately, extremely dangerous.

Worst of all, Lipton will be tapping into the bizarre, often fanatical loathing many spiritual people have for modern medicine. Many such people will gleefully cite Lipton’s Ph.D status, but absolutely none of them — literally none — will ever explain exactly what Lipton’s ideas are. This is, of course, because none of them have ever been able to make head or tail of anything Lipton says, apart from “I have a PhD.”

The attack begins:

The awareness that such profoundly different mechanics control the structure and behavior of matter should have offered biomedicine new insights into understanding health and disease.

Lipton seems completely unaware that medical technology already uses quantum physics in medical imaging. This has revolutionized the way many diseases are both diagnosed and treated. I don’t know why he hasn’t noticed this.

He has mentioned previously that a physics professor in 1893 had arrogantly said that physics was nearly complete. Had he read a bit more widely than just Gary Zukav, he might have learned that the first discovery that woke physicists from such complacency was the discovery of X-rays in 1895. X-rays were of little practical consequence to physics, but the resulting technology had a vast impact on medicine. Does Lipton really not know this, or has he just failed to think long enough about it?

…even after the discoveries of quantum physics, biologists and medical students continue to be trained to view the body only as a physical machine that operates in accordance with Newtonian principles.

There are a lot of assumptions packed into that; all of them wrong. As this kind of claim is extremely popular among spiritual folk, I will try to unpack at least part of it.

The idea that medical practitioners treat the body as a machine is widespread among spiritual people. There is some real historical background for this, but I am not sure where Lipton got the idea of blaming Newton for it.

The ‘mechanical philosophy’ of Rene Descartes did indeed see all living organisms (except humans) quite literally as machines. Although Descartes granted humans a soul, (making them machine-body + soul), some of his followers later discarded it and saw humans as mere machines.

For this they were roundly criticized. Apart from being just intuitively repellent, the ‘mechanical philosophy’ didn’t even attempt to address the question that Descartes’ contemporaries were beginning to seriously posit: What exactly is life?

From the 17th to the 19th century it was quite reasonable to suspect that life itself might be the product of a life force, similar to the newly discovered forces of magnetism or electricity. Vitalism, as this view came to be called, was eventually discarded, not because it didn’t fit with “mechanistic dogma”, but because the concept failed to produce any useful or meaningful results.

(It is always worth noting that not only was the vitalism, so beloved of spiritual folk discarded, but so too were thousands upon thousands of mechanistic ideas discarded for the same reason. There was no witch hunt in science against non-mechanistic ideas.)

Furthermore, it was never common in biology to consider the body as a machine in such crass terms, and the mechanical philosophy remained a relative outlier from the time of its inception.

Descartes’ work did, however, lead to significant advances in the study of anatomy. It was the first time that the body had been conceived of as a largely self-contained, autonomously functioning purely physical system, acted upon by naturalistic forces rather than supernatural ones.

As it happened, this approach eventually combined very nicely with an idea from alchemy, conceived of by Paracelsus 150 years before Descartes, which conceived of the metabolism as being something like an alchemist’s laboratory. This idea would have seemed alien and mystical to Descartes, but it is closer to modern biochemistry than the clunky mechanical physics that Descartes believed in.

Oddly (or rather, stupidly), Lipton seems to be ascribing Descartes’ mechanical philosophy to Newton. Lipton has gotten this completely wrong.

Descartes thought particles interact only by bouncing off each other; the various actions and reactions of chemicals being caused by the odd shapes of the particles. The particles themselves were inert. It is inconceivable that such ball-bearing-like atoms (in Lipton’s terminology) could organize themselves into complex forms.

Descartes had, therefore, postulated that the whole universe had been created and set in motion by a (ultimately Platonic) demiurge (whom he identified as the Christian God). All particles are simply clunking and cannoning their way about, having been wound up like a clock by God.

(It is true that some of Descartes’ later followers excluded the ‘god’ part of this equation, but came up with no alternative answer about how it all started.)

Newton’s universal law of gravitation, on the other hand, had gravity acting at a distance, without contact. This disturbed those enamored of the mechanical philosophy, and has baffled plenty of others since; but the math worked.

Thus, it was not quantum physics but Newtonian physics that contradicted, and eventually overturned the ‘mechanical philosophy’.

In any case it is this the “ball-bearing universe” of Descartes that Lipton thinks biologists believe in. But it was never widely held by scientists — not even in the 1600s, to say nothing of today.

Furthermore, the “ball-bearing view of atoms” was ultimately demolished by chemistry long before quantum physics. In particular, the notion of atoms being dynamic substances, capable of combining to make new substances, is an idea originating in alchemy. Chemistry, of course, developed out of alchemy, with alchemist-chemists like Robert Boyle freely considering, testing, and rejecting or transforming its mystical, fanciful and speculative ideas.

But where biology discarded the ball-bearing model of atoms, Lipton and many spiritual believers today are still using it!

They still consider it baffling how atoms can organize themselves into an orderly fashion complex enough to embody life. (This is exactly the objection that was justifiably leveled against Descartes in 1650.) It can’t just be random chance, they implore. There must be a higher organizing principle.

And indeed there is — it’s called the laws of physics and chemistry.

Modern science, including biology and medicine, happily accepted ideas from alchemy where these bore fruit. Spiritual believers and alt med practitioners who attack science as “materialistic” and “mechanistic” have instead clung to the original ideas like those of Paracelsus, and refused to accept that some of these were adopted and developed by science. 

It is weird to see people demanding that science consider ideas that science has in fact already considered, thoroughly investigated and in many cases even adopted. It is even weirder to see the same people denying that the original ideas that appear so spiritual today did in fact make important contributions to science and human well being.

Such people complain about biologists not keeping up with quantum physics, but they haven’t yet made it out of the 1600s thhemselves.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 29 (Lipton gets confused: is it E=Ec2, or E=m [where m=matter], or E=mc and then squared?)

February 5, 2018

New Age spiritual people use the word energy, and so do physicists. So New Agers think they are all talking about the same thing. Only they think they can do it better because they can use their intuition. (If it’s fancy cryptic symbols you want, there are enough of those in alchemy.)

We are about to pick up the action again, immediately after Lipton has just surprised Trekkies by claiming that energy signature is a term from quantum physics — not sci fi, and then picked up by New Agers and filtered through a marketing and promotional department (before being declared ancient mystical wisdom that smells of incense).

There is no matter, they say, only energy. Matter is an illusion.

In the previous post, when I was trying to elucidate the problem with that idea, I wrote the following:

“The air is also invisible, but we can feel it when it moves. But no one would say that the wind is an illusion just because you can’t see it.”

I must now admit that with this, I made a factual error.

It turns out that there is indeed one person in this universe stupid enough to say that the wind is an illusion because you can’t see it.

That person now continues:

If it were theoretically possible to observe the composition of an actual atom with a microscope, what would we see? Imagine a swirling dust devil cutting across the desert’s floor. Now remove the sand and dirt from the funnel cloud. What you have left is an invisible, tornado-like vortex….

Factual error.

What you have left is air; not an “invisible tornado-like vortex”, but a real tornado made up of real air molecules. Time to stop mowing the lawn.

A number of infinitesimally small, dust devil-like energy vortices called quarks and photons collectively make up the structure of the atom.

Factual error.

Again, Lipton’s peculiar use of “energy” is a clue that the term “energy vortex” is not likely to turn up in a physics text book or any of the long list of academic references at the end of his book. Nor will you find one, even, in a hadron collider. The best place to find one, it seems, is Arizona.

These friendly Sai Baba followers explain.

“The vortexes in Sedona are swirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. The vortex energy is not exactly electricity or magnetism, although it does leave a slight measurable residual magnetism in the places where it is strongest.”

Lipton compounds his error when he tries to describe what you would see if you could see an atom:

You would see nothing. In fact, as you focused through the entire structure of the atom, all you would observe is a physical void. The atom has no physical structure — the emperor has no clothes!

Factual error.

Atoms have a physical structure, at least in terms of physics. Or what does Lipton mean by “physical” here? And again, he messes up an analogy — what he is actually saying is that there is no emperor, only clothes.

Remember the atomic models you studied in school, the ones with marbles and ball bearings going around like the solar system?

This will be a revelation for those beastly linear thinking reductionist biologists — the universe is not made out of ball bearings.

….atoms are made out of invisible energy….

Factual error #1 atoms have mass, not merely “energy”.
Factual error #2 if atoms were made of invisible energy, those photons Lipton just mentioned would not do anything visible, would they now?

But the sentence isn’t done yet.

….not tangible matter!

Factual error #3: atoms, if you can get a few of them to stick together, are tangible. If you can get a few to explode that can also be tangible.
Factual error #4: By any sensible definition of matter, atoms are made in part of matter; i.e. particles that take up space.
Factual error #5: Even by an extremely stupid definition of matter, like the one Lipton is about to use below — equating it with mass — matter is tangible.

So in our world, material substance (matter) appears out of thin air.

Factual error.

I think readers can be trusted to spot this one unassisted.

Matter can simultaneously be defined as a solid (particle) and as an immaterial force field (wave).

Factual error #1: “solid” is a meaningless word here. Is a photon, having no mass, solid?
Factual error #2: there can be a wave of matter, but matter cannot be defined as nothing but a wave.
Factual error #3: “matter” is not “immaterial”, because it is, surprisingly enough, matter.

When scientists study the physical properties of atoms, such as mass and weight, they look and act like physical matter.

Factual error.

Well, admittedly the scientists do indeed look and act like physical matter, as the sentence literally says; but being true, it is not what Lipton meant. (He does have a proof reader, but I can forgive her for being a little dazed by this point.) 

Lipton meant of course, that weight is a “physical property”, which it isn’t. It is, rather, a measurement of the force exerted by gravity on something. But at least this is proper high school physics he is getting wrong here, rather than advertising material from Sai Baba followers.

The fact that energy and matter are one and the same is precisely what Einstein recognized when he concluded: E = mc2.

Factual error. An incredibly stupid one even by Lipton’s standards.

Had Einstein wanted to say that energy and matter are one, he would have stopped at E=m. No one makes this mistake… Okay, obviously Lipton just made it. But no one else. Ever.

Simply stated, this equation reveals: Energy (E) = Matter (m, mass) multiplied by the Speed of Light (c)….

Factual error #1: that is not simply stated; it is wrongly stated.
Factual error #2: m stands for mass, not matter; not even if you capitalize the M in matter. Does any other scientist apart from Lipton not know this?

And the sentence isn’t finished yet.

….and then squared.

Factual error #3: if you multiply m by c and then square it you get the wrong answer.

Lipton dedicated this book, incidentally, to Albert Einstein.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 28 (The illusion of the illusion of matter)

February 3, 2018

Onwards. It starts with a new subheading.

The Illusion of Matter

Once I finally grappled with quantum physics…

Given that Lipton has a PhD, and seriously believes he is contributing to a new science of biology, we are entitled to take him seriously here. “Grappling” can only mean sitting down with a university level physics text book and plowing into it. Maybe he will also be attending some lectures and talking to colleagues in the physics department…..

….Nope. Instead he starts this section by quoting a 1980s book, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by the New Age author Gary Zukav, who never even studied physics. I’m not having that. So let’s start this section again.


Once I finally grappled with quantum physics…

I’m calling that a factual error.

Under no sane rules of grammar or syntax does reading a book by Gary Zukav equate with “grappling with quantum physics”.

Correction. “Grappled” not grappling. The past tense indicates that Lipton has ceased grappling and now thinks he understands it.

So I think we also need to go right back to the start, to that subheading, and pull the emergency brake right there. It is already clear which cliff Lipton is aiming for, so we can just go straight to it on our own without all his detours.

The Illusion of Matter

The reason that physicists don’t talk like this is the same reason why biologists don’t get into arguments about whether or not horses are big. It’s the same reason why chemists don’t have a column in the periodic table for “invisible”, or “smelly”, or “yikes”.

Saying that matter is an illusion does not mean anything scientifically. It assumes that human perception as an objective measure — an idea that predates the “outdated” Newton by about 2000 years, incidentally. Lipton really needs to keep up.

Furthermore, just because “matter” is made up of atoms, and we can’t see atoms, does not make matter an illusion. I can feel the pressure of my body against the seat I am sitting on. Is that an illusion? (Just as I can feel the regular slapping of my palm hitting my forehead while I am reading this book. Is that also an illusion?)

The air is also invisible, but we can feel it when it moves. But no one would say that the wind is an illusion just because you can’t see it. So why would anyone say that about matter?

More importantly, what does Lipton mean when he refers to “matter”? It’s not a scientific term. Scientists are either very specific about which particles they mean, or they use a term like “stuff” to refer to anything that you are likely to find drifting about on its own or in a clump anywhere in the universe. It could be a subatomic particle or a cloud of dust.

But were someone to say that “stuff is an illusion”, it would immediately be apparent that they are talking nonsense. Which I guess is why Lipton has gone with “matter”. It sounds like it’s scientific; it sounds like it refers to some level of reality; and if you say it is an illusion, it seems to mean something.

And now back to the book. Lipton says that Gary Zukav says that in 1893 a professor of physics said something wrong. Having thus demolished the dominant paradigm, he says that by the early twentieth century:

physicists abandoned their belief in a Newtonian, material universe because they had come to realize that the universe is not made of matter suspended in empty space but energy.

Boom. There it is. So that’s why he is using “matter” — to set it up as a polar opposite to “energy”. (Or maybe a “straw-polar-opposite.”) Matter is made up of atoms, but atoms can be taken apart into ever smaller particles. So there is no matter, “only energy”.

By this logic, we can say that people who learn about bricks cease to believe in buildings.

And need we note that E=mc2 does not say that everything is energy? If it did, it Einstein would have just said E.

Where is Lipton heading with this non-definition of “energy”? All he has said is that energy is not “matter”. He continues:

Quantum physicists discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating…

There is something missing there, isn’t there. You might find a vortex in a body of water, that is traveling at a certain speed. That speed could be referred to (and measured) as “energy”. But Lipton is referring to “energy” as if it is the thing in which the vortex is to be found.

I know it is dissatisfying to say that we don’t know what atoms are made of, or particles are made of, or ultimately anything is made of. But deciding to call it “energy” instead of “matter” doesn’t solve anything. Instead it adds a problem. Energy is mass and velocity. Lipton has just left out mass.

As always, having made this kind of error, Lipton has now earned the right to add another one to it, which he promptly and efficiently does.

….each atom is like a wobbly spuming top that radiates energy. Because each atom has its own specific energy signature (wobble)….

Factual error.

Lipton’s definition of energy signature is unusually specific by Lipton’s standards. But Lipton, despite being in some admirable company in using this concept, is the only one using this particular definition. And this is not the only respect in which he is the outlier.

Figure 1 (see below) shows a kind of energy signature for the term “energy signature” — in this case, the frequency of its usage.

Fig. 1 Energy signature frequency (Source)

Here is one usage sample from the relevant literature:

“It appears to be a highly focused aperture in the space-time continuum. Its energy signature matches that of the temporal fragments we observed earlier. However, it is approximately 1.2 million times as intense. I believe this may be the origin of the temporal fragmentation.”

To state it completely clearly, this concept that Dr Bruce Lipton Ph.D has been “grappling” with does not come from quantum physics, but rather from Star Trek.

The concept was further developed in the 1970s and 80s, making intermittent appearances in shows like Stargate and Star Trek TNG, until it was advanced enough to make the transition into the promotional literature of New Age people who read auras.

I suppose that is where he got this idea from.

And now he is trying to insert it into quantum mechanics. To be honest, I don’t think this is going to work very well for him.

….assemblies of atoms (molecules) collectively radiate their own identifying energy patterns. So every material structure in the universe, including you and me, radiates a unique energy signature.

Factual error….. Or something…..

Maybe I need to figure out a new category for this kind of mistake. I wasn’t expecting it. I really don’t know where this is headed. And we are not even half way through the book yet.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 27 (No quantum physics yet)

February 1, 2018

Before starting, a request to anyone reading this — please be especially prepared to correct or improve anything I write about all this, no matter how trivial. I’ve been quite out of my depth with the biology so far, and am only covering it because Lipton has made such an appalling mess of it. With physics I am not only out of my depth, but wandering about on the ocean floor, being scared by jelly fish. (And thank you for reading!)

Lipton spends a few pages talking about why he didn’t study physics at university. Then he says,

It wasn’t until 1982, more than a decade after I had finished graduate school that I finally learned how much I had missed when I skipped quantum physics in college. I believe that had I been introduced to the quantum world in college, I would have turned into a biology renegade much earlier.

Forgive me, but I think it is far more likely that had Lipton studied physics he would have crashed out because he failed to comprehend the math, rather than becoming a “renegade biologist”. But he will have his chance to make me eat those words in the course of this chapter.

He continues:

But on that day in 1982….

This leads to a story about him sitting on the floor of a warehouse, when the phone rings and… That’s right, Lipton has decided that it’s not enough to tell people about physics; he also has to tell another rags to riches conversion story about how it entered his life. We can skip this one.

After a few more pages of his story, we get this explanation for the pointless excursion:

welcome to my unorthodox lecturing style! For the linear-minded, we’re officially back to quantum physics….

He appears to mean by this that his lecturing style mimics the apparent irrationality of some aspects quantum physics. If you find him hard to follow, it’s because you’re too intellectually sluggish.

And for the benefit of the “linear minded” let me point out that I didn’t skip anything important. We are not “back to quantum physics” at all because he hasn’t said anything about it yet. He seems to have gotten himself so worked up that he hasn’t realized that.

….[we’re officially back to quantum physics], through which I was delighted to learn that scientists cannot understand the mysteries of the Universe [sic] using only linear thinking.

That seems to confirm it — he really does think his “non-linear” lecturing style aids the comprehension of reality.

Then suddenly a new subheading appears out of nowhere.

Listening to the Inner Voice

And the story that had been rattling on and on pointlessly starts up again. A few pages later the story reaches its climax, as he buys a book and starts reading it. This is The Cosmic Code by Heinz Pagels, the guy who Lipton doesn’t realize went to court to call people like Lipton frauds, (as mentioned in the previous post). Using the authority of Pagels, Lipton says that “hyper-rational” biologists have limited themselves to Newtonian physics.

Physics, after all, is the foundation for all the sciences, yet we biologists rely on the outmoded, albeit tidier, Newtonian version of how the world works. We [biologists] stick to the physical world of Newton…

Factual error.

Lipton reported earlier that he used an electron microscope in his research, which is not Newtonian. He should have noticed that medical technology has advanced considerably since the time of van Leeuwenhoek.

….and ignore the invisible quantum world of Einstein…

Factual error. Quantum physics is routinely applied in medical imaging.

…in which matter is actually made up of energy and there are no absolutes.

So does this mean we can discard all those blocks of highly technical Biology 101 cut-and-paste stuff that Lipton has been overwhelming his readers with? Pity, so far those stodgy cut and pastes were the only parts of the book where Lipton hasn’t made a complete fool of himself. (Literally, the only parts.)

At the atomic level, matter does not even exist with certainty; it only exists as a tendency to exist.

We will have to wait for Lipton to explain the relevance of this for those of us who exist above the level of the atom.

All my certitudes about biology and physics were shattered!

Indeed, that does appear to have happened.

Medical science keeps advancing, but living organisms stubbornly refuse to be quantified.

Aside from the cliched nature of this rhetoric, this seems an odd way to approach quantum physics, where everything is quantified to degrees of accuracy that are unthinkable for our “Newtonian” perceptual world.

Where is Lipton going with this anti-mathematical approach?

Discovery after discovery about the mechanics of chemical signals, including hormones, cytokines (hormones that control the immune system), growth factors and tumor suppressors, cannot explain paranormal phenomena.

Ah– that’s where this is heading: into paranormal phenomena….

He continues, giving a list of “paranormal phenomena” that he claims “Newtonian biology” “can’t explain”. Of course, Newtonian physics usually deals very swiftly paranormal claims — false positives, selection bias, post hoc reasoning and misreporting all fit easily into the Newtonian world.

He offers not a shred of evidence for their existence and — notably — without saying how quantum physics can explain them.

Spontaneous healings

This term does not belong in anything purporting to be a science book. Spontaneous remission (or -regression) would be better, though even that is vague.

psychic phenomena

There has never been a single well documented “psychic phenomenon”, let alone a plural of it.

amazing feats of strength and endurance

Lipton might be surprised to learn that “amazing” is not a scientific term. You need to quantify it, establish it happened, and argue that it’s “impossible” under the known laws of biology.

the ability to walk across hot coals without getting burned

This is a specific claim at least, but that also makes it extremely easy to categorize as a factual error. As this article points out: 

“If you walk briskly across a short distance on a substance that is a poor conductor of heat you are likely to survive unscathed. If, on the other hand, you attempt the same feat on a good conducting surface you will end up in the serious burns unit. Charcoal or wood embers are poor conductors and ideal for firewalking.”

acupuncture’s ability to diminish pain by moving “chi” around the body

Factual error #1 acupuncturists do not claim that it “moves chi around the body”.
Factual error #2 chi is not a scientific concept, as there is no evidence for its existence.
Factual error #3 despite regular claims to the contrary and a plethora of poorly conducted studies, there is no good evidence that acupuncture diminishes painor helps with anything else.

Lipton continues:

Of course, I considered none of that when I was on medical school faculties. My colleagues and I trained our students to disregard the healing claims attributed to…

Why did he train his students to “disregard” these things? Why not to understand them and consider the evidence? My guess is because he did not know how to do such a thing, and hasn’t learned it since. He continues his list:


Again? We had this literally two sentences ago. Did he proofread any of this?


This is a deadly dangerous and bogus form of treatment based on the entirely unsubstantiated claim that supposed misalignments of the vertebrae are the cause of all known diseases. It might surprise some people to learn that having your neck violently jerked about or your spine twisted can be dangerous.

massage therapy

Factual error #1 There is nothing in massage therapy that “can’t be expained by Newtonian physics”.
Factual error #2 It is of course a perfectly normal, well studied, well supported, and therefore frequently utilized therapy. Lipton should know this.


This doesn’t work. That was demonstrated by the very Goddy and usually anti-scientific Templeton Foundation, which carried out the only large scale and properly conducted study on intercessory prayer ever undertaken. the only measurable effect was that some patients actually seem to do worse f they think someone is praying for them.

We denounced these practices as the rhetoric of charlatans because we were tethered to a belief in old-style, Newtonian physics.

Anyone who denounces massage therapy as the “rhetoric of charlatans” is an idiot. The other things don’t work, but are often pursued by charlatans but also by well meaning people who don’t understand the placebo effect or false positives or confirmation bias.

The healing modalities I just mentioned are all based on the belief that energy fields are influential in controlling our physiology and our health.

Factual error. Again, massage therapy is not based on such an idea. What a stupid claim Lipton is making there.

All this came under the heading “Listening to the Inner Voice”. Why?

So far this has been a bit dull, even by Lipton’s standards of dullness. And we still haven’t had any quantum physics yet, but maybe that will come under the next sub-heading: The Illusion of Matter.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 26 (Liptonian Quantum Physics — preliminaries)

January 31, 2018

We are now on page 94 and ready to begin Chapter 4. Everyone knows by now that this train will be heading straight for the nearest cliff, but already just the title makes me want to slam on the emergency brake.

Chapter 4


So let’s stop here and clear up a few things before going any further.

The biologist Jerry Coyne recalled once (somewhere on his website) that he was at a conference which included a panel discussion with various speakers. One panel member, who was intent on accommodating spiritual ideas into a scientific context, started off on the kind of rant that spiritual teachers love to use.

“Reality is not what it seems. We all think that this table is solid, but according modern physics…..”

But before he could say that “matter doesn’t really exist” and that “everything is really just energy”, the physicist Lawrence Krauss, who was also on the panel, climbed up on the table and started pounding on it, shouting–

“It is solid!!! It is solid!!!”

This extremely simple physics lesson should be remembered at all times when dealing with spiritual teachers who talk about quantum physics.

And here is my short list of commandments for non-physicists who feel compelled to lecture people on this subject.

  1. If an idea can’t be expressed mathematically, it does not belong in the canon of quantum physics.
  2. Just because physicists are kind enough to translate their knowledge into verbal language, doesn’t mean that you can apply the laws of grammar to it and produce new facts.
  3. If you haven’t at least mastered higher mathematics you shouldn’t be talking about quantum physics.
  4. Unless you’ve mastered calculus, you shouldn’t be spouting off about Newtonian physics either.
  5. A special one for Lipton: if you are incapable of correctly using straight forward concepts like “homolog”, or don’t even understand what an optical illusion is then stay away from physics altogether.

Let me get something else out of the way too before we go any further. Lipton is about to tell us about the book that changed his life and converted him to mystical biology. It is The Cosmic Code, by Heinz Pagels, from 1982. (I’ve already covered this a few years ago.)

Pagels somehow managed to convince Lipton to reject what he understood as “nucleus-centered biology”, and to change him from a godless scientist to a believer in the kind of transcendental mysticism he promises to talk about in the Epilogue.

It is from Pagels that Lipton learned of connections between biology — and above all consciousness — and quantum physics. And now Pagels is probably best known to the public for the role he played in Lipton’s “conversion”.

I haven’t read Pagels’ book, but this is one thing he wrote about connections between quantum physics and consciousness:

“No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud.”

The statement is from an affidavit he wrote for a court case against the Transcendental Meditation Movement. He went on:

Individuals not trained professionally in modern physics could easily come to believe… that a large number of qualified scientists agree with the purported connection between modern physics and meditation methods. Nothing could be further from the truth….

The claim that the fields of modern physics have anything to do with the “field of consciousness” is false….

To see the beautiful and profound ideas of modern physics, the labor of generations of scientists, so willfully perverted provokes a feeling of compassion for those who might be taken in by these distortions.

Fraud? False? Distortions? …..But Lipton says that Pagels wrote an entire book to make exactly that claim. It changed Lipton’s life. What is going on?

Clearly, there are two possibilities here.

Either Pagels wrote a book about the mystical dimensions of quantum physics and afterwards had a drastic change of heart;


Pagels wrote a perfectly normal book about physics, and Lipton didn’t understand it.

I doubt anyone has to think too hard about these two options.

Pagels was even prepared to state before a court of law that it is fraudulent to claim that quantum physics supports New Age spiritual teachings. But now Lipton is about to go to great lengths to tell us that Pagels said the exact opposite.