Welcome back to the series “Lipton Meets Sheldrake“. This is the fifth and final installment.
Long time readers will probably have scrubbed from their mind (if they ever tortured their mind by reading it in the first place) a statement in Part 1 by Bruce Lipton, where he was blithering incoherently about having read a book that changed his life and convinced him to quit his job as a tutor in biology, get on the spiritual path, and become a wealthy cancer quack. The book was about quantum physics and was called The Cosmic Code. It was written by someone called Heinz Pagels.
Fans of modern esoteric spirituality can waste a lifetime reading any of the thousand or so books about “quantum spirituality”, without ever discovering that what they are reading has little or nothing to do with actual physics. So it didn’t surprise me at all that an ignorant buffoon like Lipton would get sucked in to this fad as well. Even the book’s title appears prescient of later trends (it was published in 1984, long before the Da Vinci Code, the Moses Code, The (fill in blank)____ Code), and even the author’s name sounds suspiciously New Agey. Heinz is a good German name, and Germany is Grand Central Station of Complicated Pseudo-Science, and Pagels reminds one of Elaine Pagels, the nice person who wrote nice books about early Christianity — all impressive “woo” credentials for the book that convinced the young Dr Lipton that “the field” is in fact consciousness, and that everything he learned in biology is “all wrong”.
I’d never heard of Heinz Pagels before, so I googled him. Surprisingly, Lipton had in fact got both the title and the author correct. (Classical pseudo-scientific methodology strictly insists on shoddy referencing, to make it harder to check sources.) Pagels, it turns out, was indeed married to Elaine Pagels, and died rather tragically in a mountain climbing accident. Unexpectedly, however, he was in fact a genuine, highly regarded physicist.
…So what possessed him to write a pseudo-physics book that convinced the gullible young Bruce that the (non-existent) “field of consciousness” equates with one or more of the various “fields” which physics deals with?
….And — more to the point — why, shortly after writing such a book would Pagels write a strongly worded affidavit for a court case against the Transcendental Meditation movement, rejecting any such idea?
No qualified physicist that I know would claim to find such a connection without knowingly committing fraud.
Fraud? Lipton says that Pagels’ entire book centers on making exactly that claim. Pagels continues:
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.
I suspect that at this point, readers fall into one of two categories:
(1) those who are thinking “Huh? Why did Pagels change his mind? What’s going on?”; and
(2) those who are familiar with the degree of stupidity that Dr Bruce Lipton is capable of.
I often get attacked by Lipton fans who, when challenged, realize they actually haven’t got a clue what Lipton is talking about. Not one of them has ever summed up any aspect of his ideas succinctly. They won’t even try. It’s no surprise that they have trouble understanding him: even Lipton himself gets his own ideas wrong. It is entirely appropriate that such a spectacular career in random senseless blithering and deadly quackery was launched by reading a book he couldn’t make head or tail of, and which in fact said the opposite of what he thought it said.
Here’s my advice to anyone turning to Lipton in search of a cancer cure or hoping to learn something: there’s a good book to read that will rescue you from Lipton’s insane quantum babble. It’s called The Cosmic Code, by Heinz Pagels.
Posted by Yakaru