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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.

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Another ‘Berlin’ post: Arthur Koestler & the story of his great novel Darkness at Noon

February 10, 2019

The author, journalist and multifaceted thinker Arthur Koestler (1905-83) lived, on and off, in Berlin from the mid 1920s until 1932. I studied his work when I was at university, reading many of his books except, including his great anti-communist novel, Darkness at Noon (published in 1940).

I was deeply affected by pretty much all his works: his account of his life as a (Jewish) communist in Berlin during the rise of the Nazis, his incarceration under a death sentence in one of Franco’s prisons. But I was also profoundly affected by his ideas: his struggle to free himself from the mid-forged manacles of communism and cultish thinking in general; his philosophical explorations trying to make sense of human nature…

I forgot about him for a couple of decades, but began re-reading him a few years ago. Living as I was at that time in Berlin, I suddenly realised that not only had his ideas influenced me far more deeply than I had expected, but also that many incidents from his life story occurred in parts of Berlin that I knew well. His work had always seemed extremely real – something that very few people manage to do when writing about the Nazis, but this added a dimension for me.

But despite having written one of the great novels of the twentieth century, there are no memorials or plaques to Koestler in Berlin. In the red brick buildings of the artists’ colony in Bonner Strasse where he lived, there are plaques memorialising many of the anti-Nazi activists, but none noting the domicile of one of the most important authors of the twentieth century.

The buildings housing the artists’ colony in Bonner Straße where Koestler lived until 1932

Plaque commemorating one of the artists — none for Koestler

Koestler’s undeserved non-fame in Germany is, in fact, easier to understand in the light of the extremely unusual history of his most famous book.

Arthur Koestler (probably in the 1930s)

Koestler had conceived of Darkness at Noon amidst tumultuous events of one of the most tumultuous times in world history. Having witnessed the rise of the Nazis, he had also just evaded a death sentence during incarceration in Spain. He escaped to France, but the Nazis soon invaded, forcing him to flee Paris to southern France. His partner, Daphne Hardy, had managed to translated the novel into English and send it to London before they had to flee again as the Nazi invasion rolled southwards.

Unfortunately in the chaos of this flight Koestler left the manuscript — the only copy — on the kitchen table. The translation thus effectively became the original.

And, it should be noted, the original translation had been further hampered by the fact that Hardy, was a sculptor, not a writer. The sharp edge of German communist terminology was often lost in a clunky transliteration, or simply skipped over. Other times she added elements to text that were not in the original. Her task was made even more difficult by Koestler’s highly strung nature, already exacerbated by the circumstances.

Yet Hardy’s translation and, above all Koesatler’s searingly insightful and tragic narrative, were sufficient for the book to be ranked No. 8 in the US Modern Library’s list of the Top 100 English language novels of all time.

In 2016, in an extraordinary twist of fate, a German doctoral student (Matthias Weßel) was reading through the contents list for a box of Koestler’s papers in a Swiss archive when he came across a listing for a manuscript titled Rubaschow — known to be the working title of Darkness at Noon. Incredibly, the manuscript that Koestler had left on a kitchen table in France had somehow landed in this archive and sat there for decades undiscovered.

In September of 2018, it was published for the first time in German.

Finally published in September 2018 (Koestler’s working title was Rubaschow. Translator Daphne Hardy suggested the English title.

Not many books become classics 78 years before they are published! And, I suppose, this also means it’s no longer a great English language novel.

Darkness at Noon dropped like an intellectual bombshell in 1940, upon many whose sympathies for communism had been heightened by a loathing for Nazism. When translated into French, “it was one of the primary reasons the Communist Party never came to power in France, a real possibility at the time”. This claim may sound exaggerated, but Anne Applebaum (the author of the this quote) is not given to hyperbole, and is not the only historian to reach this conclusion.

A German edition, (reverse translated with Koestler’s help) was published for that country in 1946.

Printed in London in 1946 for distribution in Germany but suppressed by the Allies! (Not a museum exhibit: my copy bought on Amazon for €1)

Like so much in Koestler’s life, there is a bizarre story attached to this event: the Occupying Forces in Germany, wanting to appease their new ally Joseph Stalin, suppressed the book and prohibited its distribution. (To add yet another layer of absurdity to this, Koestler’s application to emigrate to the US was rejected due to his communist background.)

In the novel, a communist leader, Vladimir Salmanovich Rubashov, has been arrested and is about to be tried for treason. His interrogator, Ivanov, (an old friend of Rubashov’s) has just told Rubashov he must sign a confession of treason or face execution. Rubashov asks,

“Why actually do you people intend to have me shot?”

Ivanov let a few seconds go by. He smoked and drew a few figures with his pencil on the blotting-paper. He seemed to be searching for the exact words.

Listen, Rubashov,” he said finally. “There is one thing I would like to point out to you. You have repeatedly said ‘you’, meaning State and Party, as opposed to ‘I’ – that is, Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov. For the public, one needs, of course, a trial and legal justification. For us, what I have just said should be enough.”

Rubashov thought this over; he was somewhat taken aback. For a moment, it was as if Ivanov had hit a tuning fork, to which his mind responded of its own accord….

Rubashov immediately recognised the error that had crept into his thinking. His great personal weakness: he could not prevent himself from considering the perspective of others. He had begun to hesitate and reflect rather than carry out orders: revealing unacceptable doubts about the inexorable course of history that the Party embodied. He had begun to feel guilt — a petit bourgois sentiment entirely foreign to historical necessity. Either he would decide that his tendency towards self-reflection was correct and thus betray the Party; or he must recognise his fallibility and maintain his faith in the Party.

Koestler himself had internalised communist logic that the interrogator Ivanov so deftly expresses. As a brilliant thinker of rather unstable personality, communism no doubt gave him a structure he could accept and submit himself to. As a Jew in Berlin in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he, quite accurately, saw the Party as the most powerful opponent of Nazism.

But for Koestler this it wasn’t just Realpolitik. He ultimately highlighted three characteristics of communism that made it especially persuasive: the way it used idea that the end justifies the means as a way of evading ethics; communism as a kind of religious faith; and that it carried a built in mechanism for disabling all criticism of Stalinism, and all self-reflection. These are of course, all interrelated.

He quotes, in Darkness at Noon, a declaration from a 15th century bishop:

“When the existence of the Church is threatened, she is released from the commandments of morality. With unity as its end, the use of every means is sanctified, even cunning, treachery, violence, simony, prison, death. For all order is for the sake of the community, and the individual must be sacrificed to common good.”

Koestler has Rubashov struggling with his doubts in his cell:

The ultimate truth is penultimately always a falsehood. He who will be proved right in the end appears to be wrong and harmful before it.

But who will be proved right? It will only be known later. Meanwhile he is bound to act on credit and sell his soul to the devil, in the hope of absolution.

(Incidentally, the incongruous phrase ‘sell his soul to the devil’ is not in the original German — an example of an addition by Hardy.)

Later Rubashov, compares his own own strength of conviction to that of the leader of Party (clearly based on Stalin).

No. 1 has faith in himself, tough, slow, sullen, unshakable. He has the most solid anchor chain of all. Mine has worn thin in the last four years… The fact is: I no longer believe in my infallibility. That is why I am lost.

The context in the novel is the tumultuous years of war and, within Russia, the attempted transformation of an agrarian society into an industrial super power at high speed. History was, so to speak cutting a destructive course through tens of millions of lives, regardless of which side was right or wrong.

Rubashov realises his self-doubt not only sets him outside the Party, but even prevents him from criticising the Party decisively. No one who doubts themselves believes they will be proven right by history. He ultimately goes to his execution still suspecting that No. 1 may be right after all.

Koestler himself, however, was able to extricate himself from this mental prison and clearly perceive the true nature of Stalin’s purges:

It is a logical contradiction when with uncanny regularity the leadership sees itself obliged to undertake more and more bloody operations within the movement, and in the same breath insists that the movement is healthy. Such an accumulation of grave surgical interventions points with much greater likelihood to the existence of a much more serious illness.

In Spain in the mid 1930s, Koestler had witnessed Stalin’s betrayal of Spanish communists. But his encounters with fascism also began to sow seeds of doubt about. He had decided to remain in Malaga to as the only journalist to report on the fall of that city to Franco’s troops in 1937, when he was arrested. Managing to evade summary execution, he was transported to Seville where he was incarcerated for 90 days in solitary confinement. Franco had signed an order for his execution.

Koestler’s mugshot upon his arrest in Malaga 1937

His status as foreign journalist working for an English newspaper seems to have delayed his execution long enough for Hardy and some English diplomats to successfully petition Franco for his release.

It wasn’t his so much his own apparently imminent execution that challenged Koestler’s communist beliefs — his ideological training had prepared him for that. And the amount of suffering and death he had witnessed in the preceding years had inured him to self-pity. Koestler later estimated that several thousand prisoners must have been executed in that prison during the period of his incarceration in Seville. As a communist he could have marked this up in the historical ledger as a fascist war crime. But he could not help but recognise an appalling reflection in the actions and mentality of Franco’s army. He could no longer use the exigencies of supposed historical necessity to cloak his conscience.

But something else happened to Koestler too during his incarceration that, as he later put it, demolished the foundations of his communism at a subconscious level.

To explain it, he borrowed a term from William James: the oceanic experience. Having lost everything except his own consciousness, and despite the agonies and deprivations he was being subjected to, he seems to have experienced intervals of profound peacefulness, or bliss. He didn’t quite realise it at the time, but it propelled him out of the ideological trap he had so deliberately entered.

His communist training — his conception of consciousness as the product of the economic substructure — simply had no place for this experience.

His extraordinary prison diary, published as Dialogue With Death, recounts his arrest and internment in a manner that is infused with this light. He writes of his own pain and terror in a way that is oddly neutral or non-emotional, yet vivid in detail. His horror and disgust are often palpable in his writing, but the sense of ‘drama’ that is usually to be found in accounts such as these, is entirely absent. In fact, this peculiar light imbues all his autobiographical writings, as well as Darkness at Noon.

His obsession in later life with pseudo-science is also largely a product of this, and I think he has been a little too harshly judged by history for this weakness.

That Darkness at Noon would end with Rubashov’s execution was intimated from the beginning of the book. But its unforgettable final passage is drawn from an incident in Spain. Koestler, being held after his arrest in a police station in Malaga was being forced to watch the brutal treatment of other suspects. The young soldiers seemed to be from elsewhere, but an older police officer doing paper work was probably, he surmised, a local. Koestler began surreptitiously observing this man for his reactions — he had probably lived and worked here all his life and must be shocked to find himself swept up in these events. The officer eventually noticed Koestler watching him, and at one point when another victim was being dragged out, he half-looked at Koestler and gave a barely perceptible shrug of his shoulders.

Thus, the final passage of Darkness at Noon — the moment when Rubashov is executed — somehow manages to contain an echo of both the oceanic feeling and this man’s helpless indifference:

A second smashing blow hit him on the ear. Then all became quiet. There was the sea again with its sounds. A wave slowly lifted him up. It came from afar and traveled sedately on, a shrug of eternity.

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Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 48 (Lipton switches the laws of physics for the laws of grammar)

February 6, 2019

And so, back to Lipton. Sigh. Sharp objects removed from table.

We left Lipton flailing about in the 17th century and inviting us to join him. He continues:

The reality of a quantum universe reconnects what Descartes took apart.

Nope. As we saw last time, Descartes argued that the soul was non-material but could act directly upon the (material, physical) body, by transmitting its will to the pineal gland. That is, Descartes in fact argued that the two are indeed *connected*. That was the whole point of his philosophy here.

Yes, the mind (energy) arises from the physical body, just as Descartes thought.

No. Descartes explicitly did NOT think that. In fact he staked his life on NOT thinking that — in order to avoid the Inquisition.

Moreover, NO ONE in the 17th century thought anything like that! Lipton is a fucking idiot.

And even more moreover, he is on the wrong track completely with his unsupported assertion (as usual stated bluntly as if it has already been established as a fact by someone or other), that the mind is “energy”. This is a simple straight forward categorical error. If anything, mind is information — dependent on the way matter is organised — not energy. What the brain DOES involves energy, but the subjective experience involves information — the particular *configuration* of that energy. Otherwise your fingernails growing is also a mindful experience.

(The distinction is important. Energy can’t be destroyed, but ‘information’ in this sense can be increased, deleted, altered without being conserved.)

However, our new understanding of the Universe’s mechanics shows us how the physical body can be affected by the immaterial mind.

No it does not.

Thoughts, the mind’s energy…

Rather a lot of things, which have already been conflated with other things, are now being conflated with each other here.

Two sentences ago Lipton conflated the mind itself with energy. Now thoughts are that energy, and are connected to this mind, not by the laws of physics as Lipton claims he can manage, but by the laws of grammar — in particular a possessive pronoun.

So the ‘non-physical’ mind (some kind of non-physical energy) ‘has’ thoughts (some kind of sub-order of energy or something)… Okay, what about it?

Thoughts, the mind’s energy, directly influence how the physical brain controls the body’s physiology.

Well, um, we now the brain does control many aspects of physiology — the pineal controlling sleep patterns, the pituitary controlling a bunch of other glands, etc. But does thought “directly influence” this? And if so, in what ways, when? Or, WTF is Lipton talking about exactly?

Thought “energy” can activate or inhibit the cell’s function-producing proteins via the mechanics of constructive and destructive interference, described in the previous chapter.

God’s Third Law of the Divine Possessive Pronoun has now decreed that it is the thoughts themselves that “have” the energy. Ok, I’m fine with that. Did Einstein say something about that? Or was it Lamarck…

And it “activates or inhibits” the “function-producing proteins” of a particular cell. And what are function-producing proteins? This video will explain it every bit as well as Lipton does. (Joke.)

That’s right — it’s another Lipton-invented term masquerading as a “believe me — I have a PhD and this is real science” term. He offers absolutely no evidence for whatever the fuck he is talking about here. And it’s a central claim of this book. He is selling this to his readers as a cancer cure. He has offered many dozens of citations: often extremely complex biochemistry papers to support irrelevant points. He offered quantum physics and gave us grammar. He offers a cancer cure and doesn’t even bother to give anything at all.

Despite the discoveries of quantum physics, the mind-body split in Western medicine still prevails.

And he even gets this completely wrong, even journeying all the way back to the 1700s to do it.

Scientists have been trained to dismiss cases like the boy above who used his mind to heal a genetically “mandated” disease, as quirky anomalies.

A baseless, unsupported, absurd, slanderous and hilariously stupid and ignorant assertion. It demonstrates that Lipton was paying as little attention in his biology classes as he was when he was trying to read Ryle, or that poor physicist Heinz Pagels whose book “changed his life” when he completely misunderstood what it said.

I believe, on the contrary, that scientists should embrace the study of these anomalies.

Every research paper ever published is concerned in one way or another with studying an anomaly. It is not an understatement to say that Lipton has entirely misunderstood the entirety of science.

Buried in exceptional cases are the roots of a more powerful understanding of the nature of life— “more powerful” because the principles behind these exceptions trump established “truths.”

Fine, but “exceptional cases” are useless to science unless the raw data has been accurately and rigorously collected. A badly reported anecdote of a case in 1950 is of little to no scientific value. Is that all Lipton has got? Yep. That and the magical grammar of possessive pronouns…. And of course the usual assertion-as-fact method of frauds everywhere:

The fact is…

Nope. Let’s reword this to accurately reflect what Lipton has actually offered up here.

“The assertion-presented-as-fact, and only supported by a cheesy anecdote from 1950 is…”

…that harnessing the power of your mind can be more effective….

CAN BE? CAN BE? He hasn’t even established that!

…than the drugs you have been programmed to believe you need.

Are Lipton’s really duped into believing what he wants them to believe here? That there is precisely as little evidence for “drugs” as what he has just presented in support of his case?

Clearly they are duped by this, though they were put to sleep first while having each trigger word or buzz word whispered into their ear with not-so-subtle product placement.

Of course, it is Lipton who programs his readers to believe they don’t need modern medicine because their thoughts send energy waves that amplify or inhibit the waves that emanate somehow from their “function-producing proteins”.

Maybe not quite certain how this sounds to his readers, Lipton assures them:

The research I discussed in the last chapter found that energy is a more efficient means of affecting matter than chemicals.

No — it asserted that just as stupidly as done here, and didn’t bother to even try to explain how “thoughts” “also” “affect” the supposed “energy waves”.

After bucket loads of irrelevant technical bluster, either totally wrong, totally irrelevant, or both, Lipton has given up and is just making blunt, stupid assertions. His case is collapsing, or rather, not even being made. Worse, he doesn’t seem to know what his case would be if he did try to make it.

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Another comment from a Reader — the standard Louise Hay fan

February 3, 2019

Note to Louise Hay fans: please read my comment policy and re-consider whether or not the comment you want to leave is really your own. Here is the latest example of dozens of the identical comment left here over the years by Louise Hay’s fans. Here it is in full, after which I will respond, either by simply quoting from my Comment Policy, or personally.

Yakuru,
You are quite the judgemental person, which honestly sucks more for you then for anyone else. To tear down a person who recently died and who has positively impacted millions and millions of people’s lives is beyond sick, it’s even more sick that you find joy in this. Louise has positively impacted my life as well as many I know through the application of manifestation, affirmations and and positive thinking. I hate to tell you there is no cure for cancer, I study and practice medicine and this is a huge area where allopathic medicine fails… let me tell you that the way we think, feel, and act all influence the state of our immune system and this is our largest natural defense against cancer. We constantly are producing the cytokine TNF-alpha which targets and destroys cancer cells, so there is some validity in her reasoning, however there are pieces missing such as the other factors that are causing the cancer in the first place (poor diet, environmental toxins, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, hormonal dysfunction, and cognitive dysfunction amongst many others). Have you positively influenced millions of people’s lives? Definitely not. Should you keep you negative uneducated opinions about cancer to yourself? I vote a strong yes.

Okay, so let’s start.

Yakuru,

Firstly, my name is spelled Yakaru. It is my spiritual name, and believe it or not, it is a part of my identity, even more so than my birth name is. I use it here for two reasons: because part of my spiritual path is to speak the truth as I see it, regardless of my fears of being judged or habits of fake politeness that still haunt my social life; and because it is my way of affirming my political belief in religious and spiritual freedom. I understand it’s unusual, and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest when people spell it wrong, but if you follow it up with insults, you don’t get any Brownie points.

You are quite the judgemental person, which honestly sucks more for you then for anyone else.

From the comment policy:

Before Commenting —

Please do not do any of the following:

  • Judge me for being “judgmental”

 To tear down a person who recently died and who has positively impacted millions and millions of people’s lives is beyond sick

From the comment policy:

Also, before commenting about your “positive experiences” with a particular teacher, please ask yourself if it really in fact addresses my criticism. Unless I have explicitly argued that no one has ever had any positive experiences with a teacher, then your comment is likely to be irrelevant. Feel free to share it if you must, but it would be polite to apologize for going off topic. (Note: having “helped people” does not automatically cancel out your favorite guru’s criminal activities nor the damage they have done.) 

it’s even more sick that you find joy in this.

From the comment policy:

Please do not do any of the following:

  • Attempt to analyze my motives rather than addressing my criticism

–Louise has positively impacted my life as well as many I know through the application of manifestation, affirmations and and positive thinking

See above, and also realise that this is a baseless assertion. Events which you perceive as ‘positive’ have followed certain practices and you assert there is a cause and effect. Applying such labels to one’s own life is fine of course, but when you start asserting it in public, you need to have more to back it up that snootily saying ‘It simply is so and now pay me.”

I hate to tell you there is no cure for cancer

Really? Well the laser treatment on my skin cancer did work and saved my life. Had I followed Louise Hay’s advice I would currently be in a painful end phase of my life.

And instead of telling me this, you should have told Louise Hay not to write her book where she claimed she cured her own cancer that the doctors couldn’t cure. And you should tell her millions of desperate cancer sufferers who visit her website having searched for “Louise Hay cancer cure“. Get on the New Age forums and tell her fans there that she doesn’t have a cancer cure, and stop lecturing me — I already know she has none. Off you go.

I study and practice medicine

An appeal to authority, or an attempt at one. So you’re an MD? What of it? Or are you just trying to fluff up some flaky ‘healer’ status? Either way, your tone is self-aggrandising and odd.

and this is a huge area where allopathic medicine fails…

In fact, as everybody including you with your whatever-qualifications should know, medicine has made tremendous progress and is continuing to — unlike quackery where the only ‘progress’ to be seen is in alterations to advertising material. And ‘allopathic’ is an attempt at a pejorative term invented by homeopaths who have also made no progress whatsoever in the last 200 years.

let me tell you that the way we think, feel, and act all influence the state of our immune system

No I won’t let you tell me that because I already know it. It’s been entire field of medicine since the 1930s at least — the study of stress. There was even a Nobel Prize for it. It has been, and is being thoroughly researched.

and this is our largest natural defense against cancer. We constantly are producing the cytokine TNF-alpha which targets and destroys cancer cells, so there is some validity in her reasoning

Nope. There is no evidence that stress reduction prevents cancer. And “some validity” is not what she has been selling and is not what makes desperate people flock to her. And the way you are throwing around a fancy chemical term in isolation suggests to me that you have not studied medicine and are only borrowing such terms to try to sound authoritative.

however there are pieces missing such as the other factors that are causing the cancer in the first place (poor diet, environmental toxins, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, hormonal dysfunction, and cognitive dysfunction amongst many others).

For some reason you didn’t mention genetic predisposition, the discovery of which and ever increasing ability to detect are among the most spectacular achievements of medical science. Louise Hay’s biblical teachings have continuted absolutely nothing to this.

Have you positively influenced millions of people’s lives?

Nope, but according to comments people have left, I have played a role in getting them to seek proper treatment rather than trust Louise Hay. I have also provided some comic relief to people who felt insulted by having been told that they created their cancer themselves with their “negativity”.

Louise Hay has convinced millions of people that they have been “positively” affected by her, but no one knows how many have died because they followed her advice — and died in misery believing they had failed to clear out their own negativity and thus let down their children and their loved ones, who have also commented here with their stories and expressed a hope that my words exposing this fraud my help save a life. That means a tremendous amount to me, but I would write what I write anyway.

Definitely not. Should you keep you negative uneducated opinions about cancer to yourself? I vote a strong yes.

My “negative” opinions about cancer will just cause more cancer, won’t they. There is nothing “positive” about paranoia.

Let me tell you something. It is psychologically unhealthy to divide the world, events, thoughts, emotions up into “positive” and “negative”. The whole idea was invented by Christian fanatics and is where Louise Hay, also a Christian fanatic (member of the Christian Science cult) got it. That’s why her blue book includes an entry for ‘leprosy’, (for heavens sake). Try some Eastern mysticism like Buddhism or Taoism instead of this Christian hellfire and divine punishment stuff. Events are just what they are. Don’t interpret everything according to your short term egotistical value judgments. And don’t think that you’ve “manifested” the money you’ve scammed out of people with this deceitful and deadly scam.

 

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Comment From a Reader

January 31, 2019

I received an interesting comment from reader Valerie, who tried to send it as an email but the address didn’t work, so she posted it to the comments in the ‘About’ page (sidebar top right). I was happy to get it, not only because she took the time to share some personal experiences, but also because she noticed that I am not blindly hostile to ‘spiritual’ things, which is something I am often accused of (by Louise Hay fans).

I don’t do anything at all to promote this site, because it is aimed, above all, towards people who are interested in some ‘spiritual’ product but have asked themselves ‘Is this real?’ (I also appreciate those couple of dozen or so people who read here regularly and those among them who comment — I doubt I would do any of this without that, and it also makes me want to take care and try to maintain some standards. And it is an important experience for me to learn to express my thoughts and feelings without concerning myself with what the neighbours will think of me.

Anyway, I thought that many who read here will find plenty of resonance with much of what Valerie shares here (posted of course, with her permission). Please feel free to share your own experiences here too…

Hi..your email comes up as not valid, so I am just going to paste it here instead;

Dear Mr. Y;
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, which I just stumbled upon last night after being given a copy of Mutant Message by a well meaning friend. I decided to google author Marlo Morgan, since it looked like another one of those white lady as indigenous savior tales..and pretty much was. (Fun read, though!)
I’m particularly thrilled that you can spell and write well,….that always gets my attention on the interwebs! Your observations are really interesting and, I think, very helpful to anyone with an open mind. Plus I love exposing frauds.

As I read your observations about Marlo Morgan and a few others, I was impressed by the fact that although you have a critical and discerning approach, you don’t rant on and on about what jerks these people are, or really look down on the people who follow them..and it’s clear that you are knowledgeable about numerous traditions. You don’t condemn the message as much as the deceptive messengers.
I myself was formerly of two minds about much of this stuff. I converted to Tibetan Buddhism 24 years ago..Nyingma School. I have also been a Tarot reader for about 30 years, something that runs in my Scottish family for several generations, and something I do not charge money for. I wanted to grow up to be Thomas Merton.
But I also feel that the New Age movement is just ridiculous and is mostly large white, middle aged ladies who wear lots of scarves and men who want to start their own cults. People who want to use potential mystical experience as a drug..something to get high on and entertain themselves with.

I studied with my Lama for 3&1/2 years.. and watched my love of the dharma be turned into some sociopathic, narcissistic man’s sex cult..because “Tantra”! I left. I tried studying with HIS teacher, who arrived here after we all busted our guy..but it was the same girl in a different dress as it were. I still do some of my practices, but steer clear of teachers now, though I did study for a time after that with a very ethical Pure Land monk whom I liked a lot, just to experience another Buddhist tradition.

I am also a breast cancer patient for the past 3 years and have been on the receiving end of all the ‘create your own reality’ crap that is out there. “Stay positive!” “Eat only this, don’t eat that!” and on and on. When people tell me to “stay positive”, or “you’ll be fine!” I tell them to go fuck themselves. I know tons of “positive thinking” women who are just as dead as anyone, and that’s just an easy way for a healthy person to imagine that THEY will never be in my position, because they do their stupid affirmations or whatever. Making cancer a “choice” as it were, is the worst kind of victim blaming and causes a lot of suffering among patients. I’ve always been a happy soul, am thin, exercise, don’t smoke..and here I am..all cancer-y. (I’m not a huge fan of regular oncology medicine either, but I did subject myself to the basics in addressing my cancer, while refusing some treatments due to extreme side effects.) All these purported “natural” cures and protocols just make us poorer.. and feel like WE have somehow failed when they don’t work. Forget the toxic environmental problems we all face..cancer is because we don’t think right, or ate some candy!

5 years ago I was introduced to a Native American couple who host a local pow wow and who introduced me to a lovely Grandmother/Elder who has taught me some things. I asked if she could give me a few teachings because Buddhism is very focussed on getting out of here and never coming back..nature is just something to transcend. I work in animal rescue and humane education and liked the NA respect for the natural world..but here again.. she and NA’s in general attract lots of white people, who want to play make believe and live at a sort of “spiritual buffet”. This week it’s angels, next week find your spirit animal and learn to be a shaman in only three days, and oh look, a Medicine man is visiting, so let’s all vision quest! (Not to mention the two Lakota medicine men the grandmother hosted turned out to be the usual sociopathic narcissists in holy person’s clothing and really screwed over this lovely old woman.) So I’m out of there as well and now just see Grandma privately at her house.

All this to say that I think the human impulse to connect with the All That Is, the Mystery, is a universal one and very valid..but I no longer feel that teachers and the parent/child dynamic have any value, leading as they do to very human abuses of power, and learned helplessness on the part of seekers. This doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other, or that people do not have things to teach that are valuable..but in the final analysis, spiritual practice is between the individual and Spirit itself. There are no prizes for it, a chosen path is not some pink cloud. It can be, and should be, difficult as one digs deeper, and outside validation means nothing. When I was younger I longed to be “seen” somehow..for someone to recognize my sincerity..but consider myself so fortunate that my Lama turned out to be a shitty person, because it cured me of this in record time. Now, halfway through my sixties, it pains me to see people fall for things that are not sincere or real in their quest for communion. So I really like the things you have to say!

Lately I am very taken with the writing of Elaine Pagels…just finished her new book “Why Religion?’ She is the theological scholar who translated the Gnostic Gospels from Coptic, in case you aren’t familiar with her. If you haven’t read the book, you might find it interesting.
In any case, I thought it would be fun to write to you..it was! and I will now be checking in on your blog with interest!

Thanks and be well!

I can’t help but note that not only have I found Elaine Pagels’ work valuable, but that the work of her late husband has also been featured here. He was a physicist who wrote a book which Bruce Lipton read and completely misunderstood. I covered it in a post called The Book That Changed Bruce Lipton’s Life (this is really stupid!).

 

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Three academics launch a vague attack on science and propose a vague solution of some kind

January 27, 2019

Here is a brief critique of a truly awful and vague attack on science. I just saw it mentioned on Jerry Coyne’s website and decided to look at it.

It is written by no less than three academics. It’s called The Blind Spot, but the title in the URL gives a bit more detail ‘the blind spot of science is the neglect of lived experience’. Many will already be able to guess what their argument is going to be at this point, and the same number will also find it hard to nail down exactly what it’s all about. They will get no help from the authors.


Before starting, I want to note that I think there is a case to made for the idea that there are some things which can only be experienced or decided subjectively. Do we see green all the same? is an obvious one, (which usually first occurs to 8 year old children, and is swiftly forgotten as being insoluble). A more pressing one is the question whether or not others feel pain. I can only surmise that they do, based on their reactions and statements. I could of course remain skeptical and start hitting people with hammers when I feel like it, but it would quickly cease to be an abstract philosophical issue, and would ruin my life and the lives of those who got hit.

That example is clichéd and ridiculous, but it illustrates the point where these science-can’t-really-know-anything arguments fall down. They only seem compelling or substantive as long as they remain hypothetical, and as long as nothing is riding on the answer.

Well, let’s see how their particular argument pans out.

They start off talking about the difficulties in thinking about the beginning of the universe, and note the same problems that occur to the average 8 year old: “We can’t step outside the box in order to look within, because the box is all there is.” Ok, but what about within the box?

Many of us like to think that science can give us a complete, objective description of cosmic history, distinct from us and our perception of it.

For me, this is a bit too vague. Which “many of us” think this? At least one name would give me a pointer to the kind of thinker they are referring to. Such a view would barely rank as a caricature of scientists whose work I’ve read or studied. Before even hitting the math, quantum physics confirms that the our mammalian perceptual system evolved in a way suited detecting the things that most immediately impinge upon survival. These limits are completely obvious from the point of view of evolution, not baffling, as the authors imply.

But this image of science is deeply flawed. In our urge for knowledge and control, we’ve created a vision of science as a series of discoveries about how reality is in itself, a God’s-eye view of nature.

But what about the approach summed up so succinctly in Karl Popper’s term ‘falsifiability’, which limits science to that which is testable. Narrow as this strikes some people, it does not preclude speculation. All it does is insist that speculations be clearly labeled as such.

Science can appear authoritarian, dogmatic and unimaginative if one picks a science text-book — so many blunt statements of fact. But that is because it is for the most part only blunt statements of fact that make it into the text books — that’s why they’re text-books. Scientific research, on the other hand, is all about identifying gray areas and pursuing unanswered questions. Facts are used as a basis for speculation. Theoretical understanding based on the apparent facts sets the parameters and helps guard against wasting time. Speculations are clearly labeled as such, before the researcher tries to back them up with facts. Facts are what scientific progress is built upon.

This is not a “God’s-eye view”. Quite the opposite. Mythology or religion, on the other hand, does try to give a God’s-eye view of reality, by trying to make a home in the universe for the human psyche. But science is committed to leaving such a home half built at best. If the facts aren’t there to construct a roof on it, it stays without a roof. All there is a sign saying “No one knows what goes here.”

Instead of ‘truth’ or ‘fact’, a better word might be ‘certainty’. There are things which we are so certain of, it would be a waste of time to check them again. I can’t know for a fact that this cup will fall if I let go of it, but I am certain of it. I don’t know for a fact that God didn’t create the world 5 minutes ago, (complete, as Bertrand Russell put it, with Englishmen with holes in their socks), but I live my life as if it existed much longer than that.

Such an approach not only distorts the truth, but creates a false sense of distance between ourselves and the world.

This is an unfounded assertion, made with no attempt to support it.

That divide arises from what we call the Blind Spot, which science itself cannot see. In the Blind Spot sits experience: the sheer presence and immediacy of lived perception.

Ok, so the eye cannot see itself. But it can see; and it can see other eyes; and the brain it belongs to can recognise that it has an eye that sees. I reject this vague notion that this somehow “creates a false sense of distance between ourselves and the world”. Rather, it creates a fairly realistic sense of that distance. There is a distance. When I die, it just won’t be the same, at least from my perspective — for me that is an important distance between me and the world.

And what is “lived perception”? And what does it have to do with this supposed distance?

Behind the Blind Spot sits the belief that physical reality has absolute primacy in human knowledge…

They are already leapfrogging away with this “Blind Spot” stuff, but they haven’t shown why it is especially ‘scientific’; why it has bad consequences; why it detaches people from reality; or how it can be overcome by some kind of non-science.

….a view that can be called scientific materialism. In philosophical terms, it combines scientific objectivism (science tells us about the real, mind-independent world) and physicalism (science tells us that physical reality is all there is).

As noted above, science takes what we can be certain of, and tries to use it to gain a better understanding of what we aren’t certain of. There are cases where what we are certain of not only tells us about what is, but also what is not. We know that all the non-genetic theories for reproduction are wrong, for example…

The authors note that science can check its hypotheses–

But these tests never give us nature as it is in itself, outside our ways of seeing and acting on things.

Again, 8 year old children get this, note how odd it is, and move on. But these authors don’t. Instead, they add another vague and unsupported assertion:

Experience is just as fundamental to scientific knowledge as the physical reality it reveals.

What are they talking about? Who knows. I doubt they do themselves. But what they have achieved with this move is to equate “experience” (that is, “lived perception”) with scientific knowledge. And instead of trying to back up this deceitful and extraordinarily stupid claim, they leapfrog to the next point.

The second problem concerns physicalism. According to the most reductive version of physicalism…

Note that they use the “most reductive” version, but continue as if this represents science.

…science tells us that everything, including life, the mind and consciousness, can be reduced to the behaviour of the smallest material constituents. You’re nothing but your neurons, and your neurons are nothing but little bits of matter.

As always when spiritual folk pull this trick, just cross out the entirely anti-scientific “nothing but”.

Here, life and the mind are gone, and only lifeless matter exists.

They speak as if ‘life’ is an independent thingy of some kind. There are good reasons why biologists dropped the idea of vitalism: after searching for the life force for 300 years, the concept bore no fruit. Instead ‘life’ can be clearly defined and identified: it involves an imperfectly replicating molecule that is capable of undergoing evolution.

Consciousness is of course much harder to pin down, and it is not uncommon for scientists to be a bit bold here. But the authors use this as a launching pad for asserting that consciousness disproves that ‘physical reality is all there is’, because consciousness can’t be explained by the physical sciences.

Again, this assertion is left unsupported. The authors don’t realise they have wandered into Maybe/maybe-not’s-ville. In this village of the damned, science becomes a mediocre branch of speculative philosophy, and we can all sit about in armchairs and talk about how ‘our intuitions are an inner path to understanding objective reality which is isn’t objective anyway.’

The authors mention a few philosophers, while retracing the steps that Fritjof Capra took more deftly but just as fruitless in his 1975 book The Tao of Physics — which also placed speculation on the same level as fact; and also ended up sitting in the same armchair that Aristotle was trying coax Plato to get up from and look at the nature he found so dull and second-hand.

The only new thing from these authors is labeling it The Blind Spot. They conclude:

To finally ‘see’ the Blind Spot is to wake up from a delusion of absolute knowledge.

Again they repeat that science is unaware of perception; is hindered by this failing; and that becoming aware of it will somehow rescue the supposedly blind from their supposed “delusion”, whose existence has merely been asserted.

It’s also to embrace the hope that we can create a new scientific culture….

Yes, to do this thing that scientists supposedly haven’t done, is to embrace a hope. Very nice.

…in which we see ourselves both as an expression of nature…

Another baseless and completely unsupported assertion. We are a product of nature. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you know. Thinking you’re an “expression” of nature sounds like something a Romantic like Schelling might have said (and far more coherently), but Schelling could at least point to Goethe as proof. All these guys have got is Rupert Sheldrake and Deepak Chopra.

…and as a source of nature’s self-understanding.

Well that’s a nice way of reframing it, though also not exactly new. Would it surprise any biologist to hear that they are a product of nature, and that as such, a portion of nature understands part of itself? I doubt it.

In fact, all this speculation-presented-as-fact that we are “expressions” of a nature which is seeking “self-understanding” is exactly the kind of theoretical guff that detaches people from the natural world and the present moment, preferring instead to speculate about how in the golden future a non-Blind-Spotted New Science will be when it finally arrives.

Their great conclusion:

We need nothing less than a science nourished by this sensibility for humanity to flourish in the new millennium.

Uhuh. That would be good, wouldn’t it. Whatever it is.

Posted by Yakaru

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Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 47 (Lipton gets wrong spiritual ideas wrong again)

January 19, 2019

I really do have some posts on other subjects in the works which will be up “soon”. I just noticed that this post is my 200th post here. It is also, I’m a little embarrassed to note, the 47th on Bruce Lipton. In my defense I can note there is no other critical coverage of this dangerous quack beyond the occasional single post from skeptics who rarely get past a cursory glance and statement that his work is flawed, before backing away from it slowly and then bolting for the exit.

Again, we will only get through a couple of sentences today. Unfortunately Lipton gets himself in such a muddle that I will have to step in and explain the idea that I think he is trying to explain, before turning to the string of bizarre and baffling statements he makes on the issue.

Lipton wants to say that in the 17th Century, Descartes declared that the body is a machine. Humans have a soul that exists in a divine realm that is entirely non-material. Animals, having no soul, are mere machines, and nature is a realm that is utterly separate and alien to the divine. Similarly, Newton’s theory of universal gravitation conclusively demolished the old Aristotelian idea that the heavens were governed by different laws than those on earth. Such explanations made it possible to conceive of a universe where God played no active role in the day to day running of things. They had effectively banished God, or ‘the divine’ from nature.

From there it was but a small step to deny the existence of God or any divine or supernatural forces altogether.

It was not that the existence of divine beings or ‘supernatural’ forces had been disproven by science, but rather, there was simply no place for them in the world conception wrought by Descartes and Newton. The instruments of science are simply too blunt, it is argued, to detect the presence of anything divine.

That is what Lipton, as far as I can tell, has been trying to say.

And now, to his attempt to say it. I will quote the next passage, and then go over it step by step by misstep by pole-vault from the back of a motorbike into toxic sludge.

The non-physical mind envisioned by Descartes was popularly defined as the “Ghost in the Machine” by Gilbert Ryle fifty years ago in his book The Concept of Mind. [Ryle 1949] Traditional bio-medicine, whose science is based on a Newtonian matter-only universe, embraced Descartes’ separation of mind and body. Medically speaking, it would be far easier to fix a mechanical body without having to deal with its meddling “ghost.”

Lipton displays a truly remarkable gift for conciseness here. Few people — and I mean this sincerely — could manage to pack so much error and confused misunderstanding into such a tightly worded statement.

But Lipton is also doing something really weird here. Ryle did indeed publish The Concept of Mind in 1949, and did indeed coin the term “ghost in the machine” to describe Descartes’ conception of the soul. But Ryle argued that this conception was wrong. In other words, that mind and body are not separate. And medical science seems, in general, to have agreed. In other words, medical science did not “embrace Descartes’ separation of mind and body” as Lipton weirdly claims. And nor, as Lipton implies, did Ryle.

Having wrongly stated that medical science embraced Descartes’ ghost in the machine, in the very next sentence, he says medical science rejected it.

I’m tempted to write “Go figure”, but that would be a lazy capitulation. Instead, I will make the assertion that Lipton is simply babbling randomly about half-remembered ideas that he has picked up from somewhere.

Then he accuses medical science of rejecting this idea (which they also embrace) purely out of laziness and dogma. Coming from a lazy, dogmatic and irresponsible numbskull like Dr Lipton, this is really a bit much.

The second sentence:

Traditional bio-medicine, whose science is based on a Newtonian matter-only universe…

We can calmly note here:

Factual error #1: the ridiculous term “traditional bio-medicine” is meant sarcastically by Lipton — he means to imply it is based on dogmatism. (Of course, if it really was based on tradition, like Chinese Medicine, he would be praising it.)

Factual error #2: Newtonian physics was not “matter only”; at least not in the sense Lipton means it. It was Descartes, not Newton, who had a theory of matter that saw atoms as being kind of “matter only”, like billiard balls cannoning randomly off each other; all reactions depending on the dynamics of direct contact. But Newtonian gravitation occurs without any need for direct contact of the kind prescribed by Descartes. For this reason , this ‘spooky action at a distance’ was roundly rejected by adherents of Descartes’ physics.

Moreover, in what ways does Lipton think modern medicine is “based” on Newtonian physics? Does he mean medicine is based on gravity? I’d count that as a plus, personally. Does Lipton object to the wave theory of light, or the use of calculus? (Or maybe the reflecting telescope has upset him — who knows?)

Newton was also a fanatical Christian, at least in private, and thought that God intervenes in the universe to give the solar system a push or a knock when it starts to get out of whack. In short, Newton used a ‘God-of-the-gaps’ to take care of the anomalies in his calculations for planetary movements. I doubt Lipton would object this approach, given how often he uses it himself.

And the sentence isn’t finished yet:

…[traditional bio-medicine…] embraced Descartes’ separation of mind and body.

This is especially stupid from Lipton. Firstly, Descartes’ did not talk about ‘mind’, but rather, a disembodied, non-material and immortal *soul*. Descartes designed his entire system to accord with Catholic philosophy, while also trying to keep a door open to science in a manner that wouldn’t get him burned at the stake. I really don’t think Lipton means to imply that modern medicine believes that the soul is immortal. But this is what he has wound up saying.

Medically speaking, it would be far easier to fix a mechanical body without having to deal with its meddling “ghost.”

Does he mean that medicine accepted the existence of this ghost and then decided to ignore it? He clearly hasn’t bothered to check anything or even to try to get his story straight before starting to babble.

All I can do here is just repeat that science did not embrace Descartes’ dualism; rather it demolished it. And quite swiftly. Descartes said that the pineal gland is supported by fine threads, which enable to buzz and vibrate according to the ‘winds of the spirit’, a little, perhaps, like a spider in the middle of its web swaying in the breeze. But anatomical studies had already demonstrated that the anatomy of the pineal is not like that at all. Descartes just hadn’t been keeping up with the research, and was a poor anatomist himself.

Likewise, Descartes said only humans have a pineal and therefore only humans have a soul. Had he looked a little more carefully he would have found what others swiftly detected: many animals have a pineal gland.

Furthermore, the conception of billiard-ball-like atoms cannoning randomly off each other was quickly supplanted by the foundational ideas of modern chemistry. Atoms were found to be not inert and reactive as Descartes imagined, but possessing forces and properties of their own — an idea whose origins could be found in alchemy.

It is in fact Lipton who has adopted not only the mind/body split inherited from Descartes, but even the atomic theory of Descartes, that was never widely accepted, and was swiftly rendered untenable by science at least 300 years ago.