Posts Tagged ‘Quackery’


Lipton Meets Sheldrake Part 3 — The Mystery of Morning Wood

July 11, 2015

I should have written this post ages ago, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. This post deals with a single sentence about science that Bruce Lipton uttered during his discussion with Rupert Sheldrake, (see the first post in this series). But it was so stupid that I just didn’t know how to approach it. Should I simply post the sentence — it is mercifully short — and abandon the reader to deal with it as best they can, or should I indicate what is wrong with it and wind up writing an encyclopedia length article, only stopping when I run out of expletives? 

I am beginning to think that stupidity is not the polar opposite of intelligence, down the other end of a scale, but rather a creative force that works independently of intelligence. Both these fellows, Lipton and Sheldrake, have Ph.D’s, so they clearly have some intelligence. But if it was possible to measure one’s Stupidity Quotient, they would also both be high achievers.


So for this post, I have decided to call upon our two heroes who appeared in Part One of this series — the cartoon stars, Beavis and Butthead — to help illustrate the stupid, stupid, stupid sentence that Dr Bruce Lipton Ph.D said.


In one episode of Beavis & Butthead, our heroes are told by their teacher to choose a topic and do a science project. 

The boys explain to their teacher that– 

“We’re not going to do it. It sounds too hard.”

Their teacher, Mr van Dreesen, tries to coax them into learning something. “Come on guys,” he says, “this should be easy. There’s mysterious things happening around us every day. For example, this morning, would there anything you didn’t understand…”

Butthead chuckles behind his hand to Beavis,

“Heheheh…..He said morning wood… Heheh.”

Van Dreesen thinks that this was their suggestion, and after considering it, allows them investigate the topic of morning wood, as long as they “approach it from a scientific standpoint.” As we shall see, both Beavis and Butthead demonstrate a better grasp of how science works than Bruce Lipton does.

Beavis: What do you think makes it happen?

Butthead: Uh, I dunno. That’s why we’re doing this, dumbass.

Note how Butthead reserves judgment, and maintains a clear sense of the purpose of the project, as well as a dedication to unbiased methodology.

Beavis: Because I was thinking, like, maybe there’s, like, a Morning-Wood Fairy, you know, like the Tooth Fairy.


In fact, this is not so far away from the kind of answers Sheldrake comes up with. But instead of accepting it out of hand and then interpreting all sorts of results according to it, Butthead recognizes the importance of not succumbing to premature conclusions.

Butthead: Dammit, Beavis, quit screwing around. We’ve got scientific work to do. Besides, there is no such thing as fairies…. Fairies are for dillholes.


The experiment they have designed is deceptively simple. They are going to remain awake all night in front of the TV, and try to avoid getting what Butthead terms an “artificial stiffy”. (He even confiscates a magazine from Beavis which might have spoiled the experiment. — Again, we see these young boys showing more commitment to experimental method than those clowns Lipton and Sheldrake.)

Unfortunately the boys fall asleep in front of the television. They are awoken next morning by the sound of the national anthem coming from the TV. They discover that the phenomenon being studied has already occurred, without the chance to record any data. Their experiment is a failure.


Butthead: Maybe morning wood is supposed to be a mystery. It’s like the secret is too dangerous…

Beavis: I’m just glad it happens.

Butthead: Yeh. I never wanted to be a scientist anyway. Science sucks.

Just like Lipton and Sheldrake in parts one and two of this series, the boys have failed to understand a fairly uncomplicated piece of science, and wrongly declare it a mystery. In two junior high students with learning difficulties, this is an entirely understandable failure. In two people who hold Ph.D’s in the very subject being studied, it is beyond a joke.

Beavis and Butthead have intuited that they are out of their depth and decide they don’t want to be scientists. But this is where the similarity ends. Lipton and Sheldrake have also decided that “science sucks” — a conclusion they base on exactly the same degree of comprehension as our heroes — but unlike our heroes, they have decided that the fault lies with scientific method, rather than with their own stupidity. Beavis and Butthead have managed — like Socrates before them — to admit their own ignorance. Lipton and Sheldrake have not.


Making Beavis and Butthead appear Socratic demonstrates the genius of Lipton’s stupidity. 

And now on to that sentence. (Again I must both forewarn and apologize to readers for transcribing a portion of Lipton’s atrocious verbiage, but I have highlighted the important part for easier reading.)


Over to Dr Lipton — former biology lecturer — to explain scientific method:

….And the joke for me was, that when I finally got to the [sic] awareness and I was already a tenured faculty member, I realized I was teaching religion, er, as much as I was teaching science. 

And that’s because I was just teaching dogmatic beliefs based on what everybody, you know like, show of hands — how many people want to believe in this? Oh that’s enough people, so that’s a rule.”

If science was a person, it could sue Lipton for defamation.

Tell me Dr Bruce, when a surgeon removes an inflamed appendix, was it decided by a show of hands which body part is really the appendix? Do you think that the reason a plane can fly is because scientists took a vote on the laws of aerodynamics? Is the milk in your fridge still fresh because of a consensus of scientific opinion declaring that it must be? 

This is why both Lipton and Sheldrake have contributed exactly the same amount to modern science as have Beavis and Butthead. Like Beavis and Butthead, they are there to be laughed at. However, Beavis and Butthead know when to stop. They have wasted nobody’s time, nor sold anyone a bogus cancer cure.

(Part Four is now complete — “Bruce Lipton Gets His Own Teachings Wrong”.)

Posted by Yakaru


Bruce Lipton: Quack, Creationist, Buffoon, PhD

July 6, 2012

UPDATE April 2020 — A more thorough (and less polemical) critique of Lipton can be found here: The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton: A Final Summing Up

In the previous post on Dr Bruce Lipton, I dealt with the first segment of his short video series Beyond Darwin. Lipton shared his belief that global ecological catastrophe is being caused people’s acceptance of Darwinian evolution. Even more curiously, the solution he proposes is, of all things, his specific form of cancer quackery. 

Really. Don’t take my word for it. Check the previous post!

Anyway, here is my take on the second (and final) part of the talk. I have transcribed Lipton’s words in their entirety, exactly as spoken, because that is easier than trying to edit his appallingly scrambled and inarticulate diction. Thankfully, the talk only goes for two minutes.


He begins:

Every organism is put in place with every other organism to balance some part of the environment…

Put in place by whom?

….Lipton, it turns out, is a creationist. He’s not the highly politicized Christian fundie type, but he clearly believes in some kind of pantheistic Intelligent Designer. No doubt the majority of the world’s population believe something similar, but Lipton has a PhD in cell biology. He should be able to at least make a coherent case for his position. 

Read the rest of this entry ?


Superheroes of the New Age: Louise Hay

November 23, 2010

Cosmetic surgery is obviously a private matter, but I do think it’s reasonable to ask why Louise Hay, who has made millions teaching that cancer can be cured with positive thinking, should decide to get a face lift. Can cure leprosy; can’t get rid of a few wrinkles?

Louise Hay: Affirmations can cure all known diseases…..but can’t cure wrinkles? 

Clearly, Hay decided to go under the knife because she didn’t think affirmations would fix her wrinkles. She didn’t even want to try a few words like

I love and accept my body and its aging processes

to learn to accept herself as she is.

Ms Hay has made millions selling people the idea that positive thinking can cure every single illness there is, without so much as an asprin, to say nothing of surgical procedures. Yet when faced with simple straight forward issue that really can be effectively dealt with by muttering a few positive words at oneself, she instantly capitulated.

Louise Hay was already selling people the idea that all illnesses are caused by thought patterns when she “was diagnosed with cancer”. I put that in quotation marks, as is the usual custom when repeating unsubstantiated information based entirely on hear-say from a party with obvious financial and emotional investments. She “doesn’t remember” which stage it was at, just that it was “incurable” (note quotation marks again). There are no doctors nor any medical records to confirm this story. “It was years ago“, (it was either 1977 or 78, she’s “doesn’t know which”) but luckily for her, her customers have been kind enough to assume she is telling the truth.

Hay “healed” her “cancer” within six months, as was “confirmed” by the “doctors” whose names she has “forgotten”. She claims she managed this feat by forgiving those who “raped” her as a child. Yes — quotation marks again I’m afraid, given the financial interests and dangerous quackery involved. It’s standard woo procedure to weave deeply personal and private details into the fabric of their supernatural claims, so that any expression doubt immediately looks like a sadistic personal attack. She was already selling her first book. Why didn’t she keep the evidence that would back up her claims?

So Louise Hay — who couldn’t use thoughts to come to terms with the fact that humans get older — has made millions telling others that they can use thoughts to cure conditions like leprosy, AIDS, cancer, seizures, stroke, and even being comatose, to name but a few from the 80 odd pages of Heal Your Body. (A book, incidentally, which contains no entry for face lift or aging.)  

She’s careful to tell people to see a doctor as well, so no legal difficulties for her there, but when telling her own story she bullishly explains how she rejected the advice of her “doctors” and went off to cure her “cancer” herself.

How many people have believed her teachings and died as a result? No one knows, and no one ever asks her about it.

All we know is that after the supposed healing miracle of her supposed cancer, her career took off. (As always, thanks, Oprah!) While there is plenty of information on the internet debunking claims like the ones Louise Hay makes, her name is almost never associated with them. That is New Age nirvana – she takes the credit and the cash, others take the rap.

So, in review, Louise Hay may well have invented her cancer scare story and used it to promote herself as living proof for a set of utterly preposterous and dangerous ideas for which there is no basis in human physiology. She received money from millions of people for telling them to avoid surgery, yet when faced with a problem for which her method was actually well suited, she chose to go under the knife rather than put up with any pesky emotions.

For her craven hypocrisy and culpable stupidity, Louise Hay can truly be called a Superhero of the New Age.

See also Louise Hay is a Dangerous Quack.