Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 62 (Epigenetic inheritance as a tool for childrearing)

June 30, 2019

Sigh… The next chapter begins.

Chapter 7


Um……………………………………………………………………….. What???????

Lipton hates genetics because he thinks it is entirely based on the notion of genetic determinism. It isn’t, of course. He’s simply made a hilariously stupid mistake. But why he is now mentioning genetic engineering in relation to parents is beyond me. I have no idea where that is pointing. What a strange title.

Parents Matter

No doubt you’ve heard the seductive argument that once parents bestow their genes on their children, they take a back seat in their children’s lives — parents need only refrain from abusing their children, feed and clothe them, and then wait to see where their preprogrammed genes lead them.


Has anyone heard that argument? Anyone?

Lipton is saying that thanks to geneticists, there is a widespread belief that children do not learn. The rest of this chapter, I assume, will be devoted to attacking this non-existent “position” about childrearing.

This notion allows parents to continue with their “pre-kids lives” — they can simply drop their children off at daycare and with babysitters. It’s an appealing idea for busy and/ or lazy parents.

This is stupid. Behaviourism — the idea that behaviour is *all* learned conditioning and no genetics — led to babies being stuck into feeding boxes in boxes in hospitals, away from their mother. It ignored the instinctive (i.e. genetically predicated) need for touch and loving attention, as well as food. A behaviourist — the opposite of a genetic determinist — would be happy to hand off childrearing to the state. As J.B. Watson famously put it in 1930:

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.” –Behaviourist J.B. Watson

This is essentially the same view that Lipton has stated in the book so far. Only he extends this period of malleability into adulthood and old age as well, only now internalised through the use of affirmations.

In other words, it doesn’t follow that a hypothetical genetic determinist parent would ignore their child’s needs in this way at all. They might do a far better job of recognising their child’s needs than a parent who, like Lipton, sees the child as an empty vessel, devoid of propensities, inborn needs, and individual character, and into whom experiences must be poured.

Lipton has ascribed a position so extreme that absolutely no one holds it. Even the most extreme and insane racist would accept that children learn. On the other hand, Lipton doesn’t realise that his own position is so extreme at the other end of the scale that not even the most fanatical behaviourist would hold it. But unless he has his straw-man to attack as a counter-balance, his readers might realise how silly and dangerous his claims are.

Anyway, the attack continues.

It’s also appealing for parents like me, who have biological children with radically different personalities. I used to think that my daughters are different because they inherited different sets of genes from the moment of conception— a random selection process in which their mother and I had no part. After all, I thought, they grew up in the same environment (nurture), so the reason for their differences had to be nature (genes).

Well, strictly speaking they didn’t grow up in the same environment — one had an older sibling, one a younger; one had less experienced parents, the other more; etc. But ok, we can let the loose terminology pass. (Lipton is only a biologist with a Ph.D afterall.)

So what is his explanation for the difference in his children?

The reality, I know now, is very different. Frontier science is con- firming what mothers and enlightened fathers have known forever, that parents do matter, despite best-selling books that try to convince them otherwise….

We can cut Lipton short here. He quotes more of the kind of research which he says biologists never carry out because of their Newtonian dogma, thereby demolishing that stupid claim yet again.

The research is about the way events during embryological growth affect later development — of course now a well researched and routinely accepted area of developmental physiology these days, that has especially been aided by the use of the kind of technology that Lipton also says biologists refuse to use because it’s not based on 17th Century chemistry.

These complex, small creatures have a pre-birth life in the womb that profoundly influences their long-term health and behavior: “The quality of life in the womb, our temporary home before we were born programs our susceptibility to coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and a multitude of other conditions in later life,” writes Dr. Peter W. Nathanielsz in Life in the Womb: The Origin of Health and Disease. [Nathanielsz 1999] Recently, an even wider range of adult-related chronic disorders, including osteoporosis, mood disorders and psychoses, have been intimately linked to pre- and perinatal developmental influences. [Gluckman and Hanson 2004]

Should it really be a surprise that illnesses during embryological growth should be detrimental to later health? It was difficult or impossible to research this previously, so it was impossible to gauge such influences, so it’s also not surprising that the possibility was not taken seriously enough previously. But that’s changed now, and there is impressive research in mainstream science.

Moreover, what has this got to do with why Lipton’s children have different characters?

Recognizing the role the prenatal environment plays in creating disease forces a reconsideration of genetic determinism.

No it doesn’t. Lipton himself just said that the extreme genetic determinist position would say not to abuse your children or it will damage them. Well, this research actually supports that extreme position.

In other words, Lipton can’t even find a counter-argument against his own straw-man! This isn’t going well for Lipton so far.

One thing he has managed to do though is find a reaearcher, this Dr Peter Nathanielsz who, regardless of the merits of his research, seems to have the same bee in his bonnet about genetics as Lipton.

Nathanielsz writes: “There is mounting evidence that programming of lifetime health by the conditions in the womb is equally, if not more important, than our genes in determining how we perform mentally and physically during life….”

And I will stop Nathanielsz there because that statement is meaningless. It is far too broad. Which conditions? Which genes? Which measurements? Goodbye Dr Nathanielsz.

Lipton is keeping everything extremely vague here, and conflating the influence of illnesses with “parental influence”.

…..All of which he then conflates with epigenetics….. which he then conflates with the titular genetic engineering….

The programming “mechanisms” Nathanielsz refers to are the epigenetic mechanisms, discussed earlier, by which environmental stimuli regulate gene activity. As Nathanielsz states, parents can improve the prenatal environment. In so doing they act as genetic engineers for their children.

Which he then uses as a launching pad for one of the most spectacular non sequiturs of the book, which he follows with an even more spectacular one.

The idea that parents can transmit hereditary changes from their life to their children….

Where the hell did that come from? One moment he is talking then “nurture” of childrearing, then about fetal illnesses, then parental influences during fetal development, then suddenly the transfer of epigenetic markers to children. WTF???????

This is not only a massive non sequitur, it’s also a massive misunderstanding. But it is also a very popular misunderstanding, so in that Lipton is at least not entirely alone.

Epigenetic instructions for cell growth, responsible for things like extra growth in muscles that get trained, don’t get passed on from parent to child, as they only appear in specific parts of the body, and are not transferred to the gametes — which are separated off from the rest of the body during embryological development. (Lipton already got this wrong a few dozne posts ago.)

They don’t usually last that long in the body anyway — stop training a muscle and it will switch back to its normal growth program.

However, in cases of extreme stress, it has been found that these little epigenetic instructions can indeed be passed on from parent to child. (The famous example is of children born after the post WW2 famine in the Netherlands.) Because of this singualr example, many have been excitedly leaping to the conclusion that it must be widespread, and children can indeed inherit acquired characteristics from their parents.

Two things here. One: geneticists have discovered the markers. They know what it looks like when it happens, and they haven’t found any others since then. Two: this is a good thing. Children get a mix of unspoiled genes from their parents. The sins of the fathers do not fall upon the sons, not even in the first generation. Yes, smoking during pregnancy will damage your child’s health. No, the child will inherit your crappy lungs.

Why is it that the same people who deny all possibility that genetics (which they conflate with heredity) plays a role in development, are the same ones desperate to insist that epigenetics does?

We are about to find out the answer to this question. The sentence continues…

The idea that parents can transmit hereditary changes from their life to their children is, of course, a Lamarckian concept that conflicts with Darwinism.

Lipton started off attacking genetic determinism as having a horrid influence on parenting, but has replaced it with epigenetic determinism. Obviously, this would have exactly the same influence on “lazy parents”, wouldn’t it.

What an idiot.

And while there are a couple of isolated examples of it in the animal kingdom, the effects wear off in every case after a generation or two, and therefore cannot affect evolution. So it doesn’t conflict with Darwinism at all.

And what in God’s name does Darwinian evolution have to do with raising a child?

And most importantly — and this utterly demolishes his already completely stupid argument — if his children inherited the same epigenetic markers as each other, then why did they turn out so differently?

To sum up: Lipton thinks that epigenetic changes in the cells in various parts of your body can be inherited by your children. Wrong. And you can therefore profoundly determine your children’s personality traits and health in this manner. More wrong. And that this non-existent process renders genetics completely ineffective, disproves Darwin, and explains why his children are different from each other.

And he seems to think this is all more powerful than socialisation in childrearing. That is, the most powerful effect on the character and health of your children is epigentics. therefore, the most effective way to raise your children is to alter the epigenetic markers in various parts of your body before having a child.

Yes, he really did say all that.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 61 (The end of Chapter 6)

June 23, 2019

This will be a short post and will get us to the end of Chapter 6. After that I’ll try to get a few posts up on other subjects that I’ve been working on.

Experienced readers will probably have already intuited that Lipton is about to launch into another one of his copy-and-paste lecture notes reveries. Of course he is, and of course it’s going to be irrelevant to his central thesis but will simply bury his readers again under an avalanche of pointless detail before reverting to his badly thought out, illogical and often contradictory speculations.

This time we can skip it entirely, though I will indicate what he was trying to do.

As we’ve seen, he thinks that events in the nervous system are the product of billions of individual cells deciding of their own free will to understate one course of action rather than another. He fails entirely to realise that such things are better looked at at the level of larger structures like nerves and organs. This like a mechanic examining your car at the atomic level to try to find out what that tapping sound is. Or a football coach explaining player positions using latitude and longitude.

Anyway, he continues, with a new subheading.

The Biology of Homeland Defense

In multicellular organisms, growth/ protection behaviors are controlled by the nervous system.

Okay, occasionally he gets some things right. Yes, indeed, the nervous system controls behaviour. What’s next — the sunrise is controlled by the appearance of the sun over the horizon?

But unfortunately, the nervous system doesn’t control growth. Not even growth if you define it like Lipton does to include digestion — for heaven’s sake.

It is the nervous system’s job to monitor environmental signals, interpret them, and organize appropriate behavioral responses. In a multicellular community, the nervous system acts like the government in organizing the activities of its cellular citizens. When the nervous system recognizes a threatening environmental stress, it alerts the community of cells to impending danger.

Recall, of course, that Lipton thinks the brain somehow communicates with *individual cells* rather than organs, nerves, muscles, etc.

The body is actually endowed with two separate protection systems, each vital to the maintenance of life. The first is the system that mobilizes protection against external threats. It is called the HPA axis. which stands for the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis.

We can cut this short. You know Lipton is setting up another one of his copy-and-paste lecture notes specials. Again, he provides plenty of technical details and cites plenty of studies, but none of it — absolutely none of it is relevant to his thesis, and none of it relates to the way individual cells supposedly take their decisions.

So we can ignore the next few completely irrelevant pages and simply skip to the part where he tries to relate it back to his thesis.

The HPA axis’ effect on the cellular community…

By “cellular community”, of course, he means the body.

…mirrors the effect of stress on a human population.

That’s it. That’s all he’s got to relate this to individual cells. The link here is grammatical, not physiological: the verb “mirrors”.

Then he babbles on with analogies about people during the Cold War who are fearing a nuclear attack being “like cells” that supposedly somehow “know” that the body they are in is being chased by a mountain lion.

Like cells in a multicellular organism, the members of this Cold War society

He continues on like this at length, saying the 9/11 attack was “like” a danger threatening cells in a body, and the president was “like” the nervous system calming them down.

His entire case and the effectiveness of his cancer cure depends entirely on his success in demonstrating the existence of those connections between the nervous system and individual cells. And he fails to do this completely. He merely switches to metaphor, which allows him to vastly exaggerate — or rather hallucinate — the “powers of the mind” over individual cells, all 37 trillion of them.

I remember people back in the early 1990s talking about each person being a cell in the living organism of the earth, always with the idea that by getting your life in order you are helping put the whole earth in order, etc, so you should go to the Harmonic Convergence, and check out the babes or meet the man of your dreams while chanting AUM which also means means Amen and Jesus lived in India where he sold Turin shrouds for a living….

Um… Where were we? Oh yes. Then the chapter ends with this ridiculous and effectively meaningless assertion.

If we can control our fears, we can regain control over our lives.

How does he think we lost control over our lives? By believing the lies of Newtonian biologists and profiteering pharmaceutical companies who tell you that your genes control your biology.

And that’s the end of the chapter. For those wondering whether the next one can possibly be any stupider or more dangerous than what he’s served up so far, Chapter 7 is titled Conscious Parenting. I think I need a holiday.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 60 (Lipton invents his own extremely unusual theory of physiology)

June 22, 2019

I do not believe that anyone at all has read this far into this book and stayed awake. Even the editor seems to have been struggling — for the first time ungrammatical sentences began appearing in the text in the previous chapter. None of Lipton’s fans and none of the New Age teachers who lined up to write a blurb for this book realised that he declares that the whole of alternative medicine is nothing more than a placebo. This would be quite funny if it wasn’t such a successful and deadly fraud.

The main reason for Lipton’s success however (apart from his ability to evade comprehension) is his status as a scientist. His readers glance at all the technical jargon he babbles out and they assume it must be science, and they assume that whatever this incoherent babble is, it definitely must lead logically to the conclusions he occasionally blurts out — “affirmations cure cancer”, or “you aren’t a puppet of your genes”, etc.

Anyway, we have now finally reached Chapter 6, on page 145.

Chapter 6


Ah, well that explains the bizarre claim that suddenly appeared at the close of the last chapter, that “belief” is somehow responsible for “growth” — even though that is utterly stupid and he hadn’t even mentioned growth previously. Now it’s clear he was trying to prepare the ground for this chapter.

Evolution has provided us with lots of survival mechanisms. They can be roughly divided into two functional categories: growth and protection.

What a strange thing to say…

These growth and protection mechanisms are the fundamental behaviors required for an organism to survive. I’m sure you know how important it is to protect yourself. You may not realize though that growth is vitally important for your survival as well— even if you’re an adult who has reached your full height.

Um, Dr Bruce, growing up is not a survival mechanism in evolutionary terms. Not unless you want to go back a few billion years.

Every day billions of cells in your body wear out and need to be replaced. For example, the entire cellular lining of your gut is replaced every seventy-two hours. In order to maintain this continuous turnover of cells, your body needs to expend a significant amount of energy daily.

Oh this is just stupid. Calling the ability to digest your food “growth” and a “survival mechanism” is just stupid.

By now you won’t be surprised to learn that I first became aware of how important growth and protection behaviors are in the laboratory where my observations of single cells have so often led me to insights about the multicellular human body.

Lipton has failed to include the intervening 3 billion years of evolution into this reckoning. Evolution is about change. We have changed during the last 3 billion years. We are more complex now than we were back then. This is not difficult.

When I was cloning human endothelial cells, they retreated from toxins that I introduced into the culture dish, just as humans retreat from mountain lions and muggers in dark alleys.

What can I say? The man is mad…. No, humans do not retreat from mountain lions “just as” a cell recoils from a poison. It is a totally different process, carried out by a being that is trillions of times more complex than a single cell. He complains about Descartes seeing the body as a machine, but he uses cloned endothelial cells as a model for human behaviour.

They also gravitated to nutrients, just as humans gravitate to breakfast, lunch, dinner and love.

I never want to encounter Bruce Lipton in a restaurant or any other public place. We have a brain, Dr Bruce. Cells don’t.

These opposing movements define the two basic cellular responses to environmental stimuli. Gravitating to a life-sustaining signal, such as nutrients, characterizes a growth response; moving away from threatening signals, such as toxins, characterizes a protection response. It must also be noted that some environmental stimuli are neutral; they provoke neither a growth nor a protection response.

Dr Lipton, the reason why Tolstoy never wrote any great cell behaviour novels was not because he didn’t have a microscope.

My research at Stanford showed that these growth/ protection behaviors are also essential for the survival of multicellular organisms such as humans.

This is just terrible writing. Why did he divide growth and protection into two categories only to run them together for ever after?

And more importantly, he even gets his own research wrong. It did not consider how the ‘behaviour’ of cells affects human survival. More importantly, it didn’t even look at cell behaviour — not the way he defines behaviour.

But there is a catch to these opposing survival mechanisms that have evolved over billions of years.

What? Why are they ‘opposing’? How does growth oppose protection?

It turns out that the mechanisms that support growth and protection cannot operate optimally at the same time. In other words, cells cannot simultaneously move forward and backward.

What is he doing? So now for some reason he’s suddenly switched his definition of ‘growth’ to mean moving forwards, and ‘protection’ moving backwards. He doesn’t mind baffling people with avalanches of irrelevant technical detail, but then oversimplifies things people could easily understand to such an absurd degree that it just doesn’t make any sense..

The human blood vessel cells I studied at Stanford exhibited one microscopic anatomy for providing nutrition and a completely different microscopic anatomy for providing a protection response. What they couldn’t do was exhibit both configurations at the same time. [Lipton, et al, 1991]

Why should that be surprising? What does it have to do with human behaviour? Does he mean we can’t grow and run away from something — backwards?

In a response similar to that displayed by cells, humans unavoidably restrict their growth behaviors when they shift into a protective mode. If you’re running from a mountain lion, it’s not a good idea to expend energy on growth.

Ah, this at least explains why he is babbling this nonsense. If he knew what he was talking about he would have said that in order to run away from a mountain lion our physiology has so evolved that it will switch off digestive processes and switch instead to the swift production of energy for running.

Instead Lipton claims we stop growing for the duration of the flight from the mountain lion.

In order to survive— that is, escape the lion— you summon all your energy for your fight or flight response. Redistributing energy reserves to fuel the protection response inevitably results in a curtailment of growth.

This is what happens when you redefine digestion as growth.

Inhibiting growth processes is also debilitating in that growth is a process that not only expends energy but is also required to produce energy. Consequently, a sustained protection response inhibits the creation of life-sustaining energy. The longer you stay in protection, the more you compromise your growth. In fact, you can shut down growth processes so completely that it becomes a truism that you can be “scared to death.”

Again, Lipton fails to point out the well researched problem of stress in the modern world. The system that evolved to switch off digestion in mammals as they flea a predator is for us switched on when our boss yells at us or we find ourselves in debt. the problem is that as the perceived threat doesn’t pass as swiftly as they do in the wild. The system remains on high alert and keeps pumping out stress hormones, to the detriment of our health.

The power of the mind really can be used to great effect here, even in times of extreme stress. He could have written a fine book about the biology of belief and the way perception can alter physiological functioning. Yet the term ‘parasympathetic’ doesn’t even occur in the book.

He chooses instead to claim that death from fear occurs so often that it’s a truism to say scared to death.

Thankfully, most of us don’t get to the “scared to death” point.

Most of us??? What is he talking about? People don’t just drop dead when they get very scared. This is a pity really, I guess, as it would save people from all kinds of horrors, but it just doesn’t happen. But for someone always babbling about evolution, he should have realised that dying when you get scared wouldn’t be an evolutionary advantage, now would it? Where does he get his information?

Unlike single cells, the growth/ protection response in multicellular organisms is not an either/ or proposition— not all of our 50 trillion cells have to be in growth or protection mode at the same time.

He really thinks that our behaviour is a collective effort of individual cells all striving together towards a common goal. As if individual cells in the adrenal system are in a panic when they have to produce adrenaline. They aren’t. They’re just doing their job. Or an increase in the heart rate being driven by cells in the heart panicking and running about yelling at each other.

If you think he’s just talking figuratively and I’m being too harsh, read on.

The proportion of cells in a protection response depends on the severity of the perceived threats.

This would come as news to every single person who has ever studied mammalian physiology. Or all but one — the exception being Lipton, the only person who thinks physiology works like this.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 59 (Lipton unwittingly proclaims that alternative medicine has no effect beyond the placebo)

June 20, 2019

We will get to the end of Chapter 5 today.

This current section on placebos is probably the strongest and most coherently written passage in the book. Unfortnately for Lipton, this sudden attack of relative coherence involves unwittingly demolishing several more of his own arguments, contradicting the theoretical basis of every form of “energy medicine” he advocates, and conceding to skeptics their most devastating criticism of pretty much the whole of alternative medicine. Instead of insisting that various ‘energy medicine’ modalities like homeopathy or acupuncture are better than a mere placebo, Lipton proclaims that reaching the placebo effect is good enough in itself.

He admits — indeed proclaims — that the whole of alternative medicine is no more effective than a placebo.

But on with the show.

Having just accused mainstream medicine of failing to research the placebo effect, he lists a string of studies by mainstream medicine into the placebo.

He claims that the entire “placebo effect” is in every case caused by the mysterious ‘power of the mind’, and sees the deduction of this “effect” from the results of studies as proof of the refusal of Newtonian bio-medical researchers to acknowledge its power.

There are several things wrong this.

The “placebo effect” is not really a thing like Lipton thinks it is. There isn’t a single placebo effect, and therefore not a single cause underlying them all. Each placebo is specific to each study that uses a placebo control, and the factors involved vary too from case to case.

One study, for example, might test a cough remedy. A myriad of psychological and contextual factors can affect the way a person deals with the impulse to cough. (Anyone who has done a meditation retreat with other people will be acutely aware of this.) Some participants in the test might be less likely to react to the cough reflex simply because they relax at the idea of having taken a remedy, and this will *inflate* the success rate of the remedy.

To avoid this error, the participants can be divided into two groups, one of which will receive a placebo. Ideally, the division will be done randomly to avoid selection bias, and those who interact with participants will also be prevented from knowing who is in the control group, to avoid them unwittingly communicating this knowledge to participants. The sham treatment is referred to as a placebo, and any decrease in coughing in this group that received it can be called the placebo effect.

Lipton thinks that this is mysterious and baffling to researchers, and evidence of “energy” of the mind affecting the body via wavelength frequencies and non-local quantum effects. He is furious at researchers for deducting this “effect” from the statistics, because he doesn’t realise it is actually *reducing* the claims for the effectiveness of the remedy.

He could, perhaps, in this hypothetical example, argue that more research should be done into the psychological factors involved in the cough reflex, but that’s not what he’s arguing. Rather he wants to replace the whole of with that “effect”. The whole of medicine.

He says he is angry about research that tries to detect people who are more suggestible and exclude them from studies.

In fact, I was recently chagrined to learn that drug companies are studying patients who respond to sugar pills with the goal of eliminating them from early clinical trials. It inevitably disturbs pharmaceutical manufacturers that in most of their clinical trials the placebos, the “fake” drugs, prove to be as effective as their engineered chemical cocktails. [Greenberg 2003]

He thinks this is more proof of the denial of mind over matter, but it is clearly acknowledging this very factor, and trying to avoid mistaking its effect for those of a drug.

I believe the reason the mind has so summarily been dismissed in medicine is the result, not only of dogmatic thinking, but also of financial considerations. If the power of your mind can heal your sick body, why should you go to the doctor and more importantly, why would you need to buy drugs?

Firstly, he hasn’t provided a single example of “the mind healing your sick body”. He hasn’t mentioned the extensive research into the effects of stress over the last 80 years, whereby failure to (psychologically) manage stress can indeed exacerbate already existing or latent health problems. Conversely, such illnesses can indeed be improved by the power of the mind learning to deal with stress more sensibly. Lipton ignores all this, I suppose because the research doesn’t mention quantum physics.

Furthermore, the only cases that Lipton claimed the mind healed a sick body so far have been one undocumented report from the 1950s where the original diagnosis can’t be confirmed, and a case in 1850 when a man supposedly drank poison and survived. That’s it. For such a spectacular healing force, that is really not particularly impressive or encouraging is it?

Secondly, if there is indeed this vast conspiracy why would researchers even bother setting up control groups?

Thirdly, if the power of the mind is such a powerful power why is the placebo effects in all the studies always so low?

Lipton then reports a study where people even got sham knee operations and reported reduction in pain. But perception of pain is strongly influenced by psychological factors. This is well researched.

And this brings us to the most serious defect and deficiency in Lipton’s entire case. There is a class of health problems that are not able to be studied using sham operations. This is so obvious that it pains me even to say it. There are no studies on, for example, sham operations for appendicitis.

According to Lipton such sham operations would have at the very least an identical reported success rate as the genuine appendectomies.

He is making rather bold claims, and I guess he would be right if he were to say that medical science refuses to carry out such experiments.

He mentions a string of other studies that suggest that the medical profession is too quick to prescribe drugs for conditions like depression which might be better treated differently, but again, these are studies carried out by mainstream medicine, which he claims refuses to conduct such studies.

Ultimately, there is a very great deal to criticise about the pharmaceutical industry the conduct of medicine in general, including the problems of misdiagnosis, financial conflicts of interest and open fraud among a host of other problems. But every single one of these problems is present and in heightened form in the alternative medicine industry, where there there are no controls or mechanisms in place to redress them.

Medicine in general could be fairly criticised for paying too little attention to psychological factors that influence health, as well as for failing to include emotional needs of human beings. But Lipton says nothing about this either.

Lipton has decided that the same ‘placebo effect’ that might make you perceive a reduction in the pain of a headache — regardless of any psychological alterations — is the same “force” that cures cancer or repairs a burst appendix.

He has also proclaimed that whatever level of improvement a placebo control group attains is good enough for the whole of medicine. This is by definition a lower standard than any cough remedy or any heart transplant.

As mentioned earlier, he has also declared that the whole of alternative medicine has no effect above the placebo. I would criticise any skeptic who stated that as being too harsh, yet here is Lipton himself saying it openly, and being embraced by the alt med community who clearly can’t make head or tail of his actual teachings

But even that is not his most spectacular own goal in this chapter. His idea that the entire multitude of placebo effects is caused by the power of belief directly contradicts the theoretical basis of nearly all of the “energy medicine” modalities he has name checked and promoted so far. Acupuncturists don’t say it works by belief, but rather chi flowing through supposed meridians in the body. Homeopaths say they have a form of medicine every bit as deterministic as the hated ‘allopathic’ medicine.

Here is the final passage of the chapter.

Learning how to harness your mind to promote growth is the secret of life, which is why I called this book The Biology of Belief.

Excuse me? Growth??? WTF?

Of course the secret of life is not a secret at all. Teachers like Buddha and Jesus have been telling us the same story for millennia. Now science is pointing in the same direction.

What? I thought science was in denial of this. Now it proves it?

It is not our genes but our beliefs that control our lives. . .Oh ye of little belief!

Affirming again that he doesn’t understand genetics, or belief for that matter.

That thought is a good entree into the next chapter, in which I’ll detail how living in love and living in fear create opposite effects in the body and the mind. Before we leave this chapter, I’d just like to emphasize again that not only is there nothing wrong with going through life wearing the proverbial rose-colored glasses.

I wonder how he defines delusion.

In fact, those rose-colored glasses are necessary for your cells to thrive. Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a happy, healthy life. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your habits
Your habits become your values
Your values become your destiny

One might note at this point that Gandhi’s beliefs and ideas were profoundly anti-scientific; his habit was to sleep next to naked children in his bed to check if he was still celibate; his values included racism, enforcing the caste system and prohibit  Untouchables from visiting temples, exploiting the Japanese war on the British for his own ‘pacifist’ revolution and promoting the partition of India; and his destiny was to be assassinated. I’ve never understood why fans of the law of attraction are so keen on him.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 58 (Leveraging the placebo effect)

June 14, 2019

We left Lipton last time expressing his dismay at the refusal of his colleagues to agree that cloned endothelial cells have a brain, a mind, and free will. Even the analogy he invented to illustrate his point wound up disproving it. Nevertheless he decided his colleagues were just blinkered dogmatists, and that his career had been foiled by Sir Isaac Newton.

Bio-scientists are conventional Newtonians — if it isn’t matter, it doesn’t count. The “mind” is a non-localized energy and therefore is not relevant to materialistic biology. Unfortunately, that perception is a “belief” that has been proven to be patently incorrect in a quantum mechanical universe!

Lipton does not know that Newtonian physics uses mathematics. It is not a belief. It applies mathematics to actual events in the real world, and stands or falls to the degree that it accurately predicts or maps these events.

Lipton also does not know that quantum physics does exactly the same. Thus, it has not “patently proven” that the mind is a “non-localised energy”. How could it have? What is the mathematical equation for this? What could such an equation even look like?

But we must drop this cascade of errors and follow Lipton as he pole-vaults to his next subheading. Alas, this will be our subject for today: it is dull and he’s got it completely wrong.

Placebos: The Belief Effect

And Lipton also doesn’t know what a placebo is either.

It is, of course, a sham treatment that’s deliberately designed to detect any false positives. This quantity is then subtracted from the results of the treatment being tested. A successful treatment has a success rate, or rather a measured effect, that is higher than what the placebo attained.

If what’s left is the same (or in bad cases, below) the placebo, then the treatment doesn’t work. It doesn’t freaking work! It’s useless! It’s a waste of money! Throw it away!

Sadly, a great many practitioners of alternative medicine don’t like the idea of subtracting anything from their successes, especially when it takes away all of their successes. So they think the placebo effect must be a worthy treatment in itself, and medical science is in a vast conspiracy to suppress it.

In fact, it covers a few different “effects”, none of which are mysterious, and all of which are best disregarded from statistics. For example, a headache sometimes goes away by itself, so that can be excluded. Sometimes, the perception of the pain of a headache can alter simply through the positive expectation of it being reduced by a treatment, so that can go too. Stress or high blood pressure can also be reduced by relaxation induced by positive expectation of imminent improvement. Such effects might be fine and valuable in themselves, but we don’t want them muddying the results of medications.

I don’t mind scoring a point for the alt-med team though, by noting that the whole of medicine should be a bit — or a LOT — more personable.

(The dermatologist whose laser treatment probably saved my life last year was such a horrible person that I wound up yelling at her and tearing up the note for my next appointment and scattering it all over her office. Another insulted me, another spent the whole time screaming at her assistant while driving a scalpel into my face with blood spurting everywhere, another was speeding on some kind of drug and kept running in and out of the room while talking to me, another was dead but his secretary made an appointment anyway. I could go on….)

Um, anyway, back to Lipton.

Every medical student learns, at least in passing, that the mind can affect the body.

Well that didn’t last long. Two sentences ago he said biologists refuse to deal with the mind at all, because

“the mind is not an acceptable biological concept”

Despite all his attempts at inflammatory rhetoric, the only arguments Lipton ever demolishes are his own.

They learn that some people get better when they believe (falsely) they are getting medicine. When patients get better by ingesting a sugar pill, medicine defines it as the placebo effect.

What a hilariously incompetent baboon.

My friend Rob Williams, founder of PSYCH-K…

This is called cross promotion. What will follow is uncritical promotional blabber about “what a great person” this Rob is, and how great the work is that he has been doing. And wow, founder of PSYCH-K. He must be important. Um, wtf is PSYCH-K?

Well it’s…

…an energy-based psychological treatment system…

…And I bet, without even checking, that by an enormous coincidence, he promotes Lipton’s products as well. And by an even greater coincidence, would bet that they both make the same string of idiotic mistakes, all of which just happen, by coincidence to be of the sales-enhancing kind.

Anyway, this Rob

suggests that it would be more appropriate to refer to it as the perception effect.

He calls it that Dr Bruce, because like you, he is an ignoramus.

I call it the belief effect to stress that our perceptions, whether they are accurate or inaccurate, equally impact our behavior and our bodies.

Factual error. It’s a false positive. Rob Williams has based his entire product on relabeling a false positive. If a medical practitioner did this it would be called fraud. (The immortal Salty Droid coined the term frauduct for this kind of thing.)

I celebrate the belief effect, which is an amazing testament to the healing ability of the body/ mind.

Factual error. It is not a testament to any such healing ability, but a rather unspectacular statistic which is usually has a “success rate” of less than a third. This is way below the extravagant claims for effectiveness that alt med fanatics routinely make for reiki, acupuncture or homeopathic wolf’s milk.

However, the “all in their minds” placebo effect has been linked by traditional medicine to, at worst, quacks or, at best, weak, suggestible patients. The placebo effect is quickly glossed over in medical schools so that students can get to the real tools of modem medicine like drugs and surgery.

Factual error. As an “effect” it doesn’t exist, so it is indeed ignored, but as a statistical artefact it is carefully included in virtually every study, and carefully calculated.

This is a giant mistake. The placebo effect should be a major topic of study in medical school.

It already is, you dumbass! It’s their failure score. To achieve it means your product doesn’t do anything.

I believe that medical education should train doctors to recognize the power of our internal resources.

You mean “hypothetical” power.

Doctors should not dismiss the power of the mind as something inferior to the power of chemicals and the scalpel.

Factual error. They don’t. The whole idea of measuring the placebo is to avoid this “power of the mind” leading to over-prescription. This is important point is missed by every single placebo-based quack.

They should let go of their conviction that the body and its parts are essentially stupid and that we need outside intervention to maintain our health.

………….You dumbass.

And of course, homeopathy, acupuncture and all the other stuff Lipton promotes in this book are themselves “outside interventions”.

The placebo effect should be the subject of major, funded research efforts. If medical researchers could figure out how to leverage the placebo effect, they would hand doctors an efficient, energy-based, side effect-free tool to treat disease.

This is like me saying that if only I could leverage the “standing up effect” I could fly.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 57 (Lipton, the fool, blows up his own argument yet again)

June 13, 2019

We’ve just been told that perceptions control behaviour; then that perceptions are beliefs, justified with a convoluted and ridiculously stupid line of reasoning involving snakes and the claim that reflexes like the knee-jerk reaction are learned behaviours. Then this morphed into the idea that “beliefs control behaviour”, and then further again into the claim that therefore “beliefs control biology”.

This portentous conclusion may sound rather baffling and meaningless, but it isn’t finished yet. He has already “established” that the activity of receptors on a cell membrane can be called perception. And perception is belief, therefore cells have beliefs (they have brains too, don’t forget). And what a cell does can be called behaviour, and beliefs control behaviour, therefore everything a cell does is controlled by its beliefs.

…And therefore cancer is caused by a cell’s beliefs.

I am not misstating any of that. I am not exaggerating or distorting the claims or the failed logic used used to connect them.

The next heading:

How the Mind Controls the Body

With this he announces that the conscious mind can over-rule all the supposed beliefs that supposedly govern supposed reflexive behaviours. Or, to put it another way, he is about to explain how to tap dance on quicksand.

My insights into how beliefs control biology are grounded in my studies of cloned endothelial cells, the cells that line the blood vessels.

One of the most common cliches about scientists is the idea of a lab coated researcher observing rats and blindly extrapolating all the results onto humans. All of Lipton’s fans would immediately recognise this image, and would probably feel some degree of condemnatory rage about the medical profession.

Yet for some reason, they don’t realise that Lipton is attempting to do exactly that. And he’s not using rats — who at least are mammals. Instead he is using cloned endothelial cells.

Cloned endothelial cells.

Cloned endothelial cells with brains.

With brains which have perceptions that turn into beliefs, which control their behaviour. Beliefs which can be wrong, but which can be corrected by a non-material “conscious mind” which can somehow, he doesn’t say how, connect to them.

Go on, Dr Bruce.

The endothelial cells I grew in culture monitor their world closely and change their behavior based on information they pick up from the environment.

What Lipton describes here is a classical ‘stimulus-response mechanism’. Input leads to output. Environment determines behaviour. Or, to put it another way, the exact opposite of ‘beliefs controlling biology’.

How is he going to turn this around so that it supports his hysterically stupid argument?

When I provided nutrients, the cells would gravitate toward those nutrients with the cellular equivalent of open arms. When I created a toxic environment, the cultured cells would retreat from the stimulus in an effort to wall themselves off from the noxious agents.

Again, straight forward stimulus-response, external control.

My research focused on the membrane perception switches that controlled the shift from one behavior to the other.

This is of course Liptonian “perception” — when a molecule briefly locks into a cell’s receptor and dumps a bunch of chemicals into the cell. Even as a metaphor it fails instantly, but Lipton thinks it’s literally true.

Now some copy-and-paste which is way above the technical level of any of his readers, and utterly irrelevant to his main argument. As always, it’s designed to intimidate his readers into thinking he knows what he’s talking about.

The primary switch I was studying has a protein receptor that responds to histamine, a molecule that the body uses in a way that is equivalent to a local emergency alarm. I found that there are two varieties of switches, H1 and H2, that respond to the same histamine signal. When activated, switches with H1 histamine receptors evoke a protection response, the type of behavior revealed by cells in toxin-containing culture dishes. Switches containing H2 histamine receptors evoke a growth response to histamine, similar to the behavior of cells cultured in the presence of nutrients.

I subsequently learned that the body’s system-wide emergency response signal, adrenaline, also has switches sporting two different adrenaline-sensing receptors, called alpha and beta. The adrenaline receptors provoked the exact same cell behaviors as those elicited by histamine. When the adrenal alpha – receptor is part of an IMP switch, it provokes a protection response when adrenaline is perceived. When the beta-receptor is part of the switch, the same adrenaline signal activates a growth response. [Lipton, et al, 1992]

And still a straight up stimulus-response mechanism. Where is he going with this?

All that was interesting, but the most exciting finding was when I simultaneously introduced both histamine and adrenaline into my tissue cultures. I found that adrenaline signals, released by the central nervous system, override the influence of histamine signals that are produced locally.

Still a straight up stimulus-response mechanism…..

………Please….. Please don’t tell me Lipton is going to stop it right there and claim that this is a case of a cell “deciding” something. Surely he can’t be that stupid. Surely. He knows this isn’t what happened. He’s just said it himself:

adrenaline signals override the influence of histamine signals

They’re his own words. Surely he can understand what he just wrote himself. This is his own research! He must know what it means! Surely! Please!

This is where the politics of the community described earlier comes in to play.

Oh my sweet bingo-playing muffin-eating Jesus. He is doing it.

Suppose you’re working in a bank. The branch manager gives you an order.

I am glad I am at home and not writing this in a cafe. I have just spent several minutes staring at the computer screen with some kind of expression frozen onto my face, and my forehead itching for a slap that the cells in my hand can’t bring themselves to deliver.

……..Ok………. So the branch manager is a histamine molecule. He is external to you, and you are a cloned endothelial cell. He is a molecule, you are a cell.

The CEO walks in and gives you the opposite order.

Oh man…. Ok…. The CEO is an adrenaline molecule, and you are a cell.

Which order would you follow?

If you are going to act like a cloned endothelial cell, you will, 100% of the time follow the order of the CEO/adrenaline molecule, even though it is far less complex than you are. You will act like a brainless robot, according to the rules of chemistry.

In other words, you will act exactly like a straight forward stimulus-response mechanism, and blow up the entire argument that Lipton was hoping to make. And he still hasn’t realised it.

If you want to keep your job you’ll snap to the CEO’s order. There is a similar priority built into our biology, which requires cells to follow instructions from the head honcho nervous system, even if those signals are in conflict with local stimuli.

Oh you stupid idiot. You stupid idiot, Dr Lipton. You stupid stupid idiot.


aND HE#S EVEN SCREWED UP THE FREAKING METAPHOR:::… (Whoops, I left caps lock on, sorry.)

He’s suddenly switched the CEO from being an adrenaline molecule into being the entire nervous system. He should have had the CEO sending an email or something, to play the part of the adrenaline. He even ruins his own mistakes. What a joke.

I was excited by my experiments because I believed that they revealed on the single-cell level a truth for multicellular organisms—that the mind (i.e. acting via the central nervous system’s adrenaline) overrides the body (acting via the local histamine signal).

Incredibly, that can stand as a statement of fact. He did “believe” that, didn’t he. What’s missing is the recognition that “I got it wrong and have just demolished my own stupid argument.”

I wanted to spell out the implications of my experiments in my research paper…

You mean “supposed” implications, Dr Bruce. But not only were they non-existent, they were also wrong. Even by your own dim lights, they were wrong.

….but my colleagues almost died from apoplexy at the notion of injecting the body-mind connection into a paper about cell biology.

You said yourself, Dr Bruce, that this supposed “mind-body connection” was a BELIEF. That was your word in your previous sentence. A belief about non-existent implications that did not imply what you believed they did.

I guess Lipton’s poor colleagues, a Dr K.G. Bensch and a Dr A.M. Karasek, didn’t think that cells have brains.

So I put in a cryptic comment about understanding the significance of the study, but I couldn’t say what the significance was.

Factual error. ‘Cryptic’ does not mean ‘has meaning to only one psychotic person who is incapable of communicating to anyone else.’

My colleagues did not want me to include these implications of my research because the mind is not an acceptable biological concept.

Factual error. Your colleagues, Dr Lipton, did not feel that your research established that cloned endothelial cells have a mind. It was A research paper. Research papers only focus on the thing that was being researched.

Bio-scientists are conventional Newtonians — if it isn’t matter. . .it doesn’t count.

He’s not letting go of this. Newtonians? Really? Drs Bensch and Karasek didn’t let him write it because of Newton????

The “mind” is a non-localized energy…

Wrong. ‘Non-local’ is a term from quantum physics that has nothing to do with psychology. Lipton has added an ‘ized’ to the end of to imply that something has been done to the mind to make it non-local, and then added the meaningless word “energy” to it and called it a definition.

...and therefore is not relevant to materialistic biology.–

What???? Of course the mind is relevant to biology. Lipton has clearly never heard of psychology or the study of animal behaviour. He is baffled as to why nothing like that ever turned up in his studies of cloned endothelial cells.

Unfortunately, that perception is a “belief” that has been proven to be patently incorrect in a quantum mechanical universe!

Factual error. Quantum physics did not prove that the mind is relevant to biological studies. That has been clear since at least the time of Aristotle. Lipton is at least 2500 years late — a comparatively trivial error, by his usual standards.


Bruce Lipton’s ‘Biology of Belief’ – Annotated With Facts: Part 56 (Slithering snakes)

June 12, 2019

Lipton has just told us that all reflexive behaviours, even including the knee-jerk reaction, are learned. Therefore we can consciously decide not to do them. He claims that they are triggered by our perceptions, and that our perceptions are beliefs. Now he needs a practical example to illustrate this. Of course what he comes up with is not only ridiculous, but winds up demolishing the argument he was trying to make.

If I included as a bonus in this chapter a slithering snake that pops out of this page right now, most of you would run from the room or throw the book out of the house.

Factual error. If the snake was slithering, it wouldn’t be popping, would it? This is the kind of thing an editor would pick up if she wasn’t already sleeping soundly, no doubt with visions of sugar plums dancing in her head, or something equally normal. However, the idea of books with snakes in them is one of the most plausible ideas Lipton has come up with so far. It is at least physically possible.

Whoever “introduced” you to your first snake may have behaved in such a shocked way as to give your impressionable mind an apparently important life lesson: See snake. . .snake baaad!


Unsurprisingly, Lipton is unaware that this area has already been extensively studied. …

Fear of snakes, it turns out, appears to be both learned and ‘instinctive’, at least in other primates. One classic study of this demonstrates how ‘instinctive’ reactions are often latent until combined with learning. A lab raised monkey will not immediately display a fear of a (rubber) snake; but will display fear once it has seen footage of an adult monkey reacting to avoid one. However, if the footage is altered so that the adult monkey appears to be reacting to a large flower or a rabbit, the lab reared monkey does not “learn” this avoidance behaviour after all.

A great deal of human behaviour probably falls somewhere close to this category. Sexuality springs to mind as one consisting of a barrage of half-formed ‘instinctive’ drives and responses permeating pretty much our entire psychology and physiology, yet also profoundly influenced by culture, early experiences, not so early experiences, etc etc etc.

More obviously, regardless of how humans respond to snakes, any human would jump if anything at all suddenly springs out of anywhere. Lipton is a fool.

And of course the idea of Lipton’s book containing a deadly poison is more than symbolic.

But what if a herpetologist were reading this book and a snake popped out? No doubt herpetologists would not only be intrigued by the snake, they would be thrilled with the bonus included in the book. Or at least they’d be thrilled once they figured out that the book’s snake was harmless. They would then hold it and watch its behaviors with delight. They would think that your programmed response was an irrational one, because not all snakes are dangerous.

No, but all snake oil salesmen are.

Further they would be saddened by the fact that so many people are deprived of the pleasure of studying such interesting creatures. Same snake, same stimulus, yet greatly different responses.


Can we stop all this nonsense with the snakes please, Dr Bruce? Is this really the best example you could come up with?

Our responses to environmental stimuli are indeed controlled by perceptions…

Really. You don’t say. Well I never.

…but not all of our learned perceptions are accurate. Not all snakes are dangerous!

Listen you idiot, if a freaking snake springs at you out of nowhere, not even a freaking herpetologist is going to check its identifying markings and geographical distribution before deciding whether or not get away. And getting bitten by a non-venemous snake is also no fun. It hurts, and the snake hasn’t cleaned its teeth since its last feed of rat.

Yes, perception “controls” biology…

This is what Lipton thinks he has just established. But this statement is still just as meaningless as it was on page one.

…but as we’ve seen, these perceptions can be true or false. Therefore, we would be more accurate to refer to these controlling perceptions as beliefs.

Having defined the knee-jerk reflex as a learned behaviour, Lipton now defines perception as belief. And before doing that, he even managed to surreptitiously redefine a perception as a “controlling perception”.

Beliefs control biology!

Here we go…

Ponder the significance of this information.

Okay. It’s flat wrong, meaningless, stupid, and an assertion that has not been supported by any of the arguments provided.

We have the capacity to consciously evaluate our responses to environmental stimuli and change old responses any time we desire. . .once we deal with the powerful subconscious mind…

Recall that Lipton has already set an enormous trap for himself with the ‘subconscious mind’ here. He claims it is “millions of times more powerful than the conscious mind”, and is thus responsible for all the failures people experience when they try to cure their cancer with affirmations. He called such people “positive thinking drop-outs”.

So how are we to deal with this pre-emptive excuse for the inevitable failure of his atrocious quackery?

…which I discuss in more depth in Chapter 7.

Ah yes. Still waiting for this.

We are not stuck with our genes or our self-defeating behaviors!

We are not stuck with our genes?????? WHAT???????

Why is he talking about genes all of a sudden? He didn’t say anything about that in the lead up. And that inexplicable non sequitur is going to be followed by another block of copy-and-paste lecture notes, so I will simply stop this post here. Good night.