Biology of Belief? Bruce Lipton Reviewed
The Book, Taking Science Elsewhere
Is Bruce Lipton A Quack?
What seems to bother so many people - while exciting others - is that Bruce Lipton makes claims that go far beyond what we know so far about epigenetics. Life-changing discoveries turn us on, right? Is dangerous to promise too much?
What's challenging here is separating an exciting, new area of research from the questionable claims of its author and considering both honestly.
Recommended on PBS by Wayne Dyer
Because of that, I was excited about this book and read it before I heard anyone refer to Bruce Lipton as a quack.
I bought a copy, written by the former academic epigeneticist with high expectations. What I'd heard about epigenetics suggested breakthroughs as exciting as anything else of current interest in biology.
Briefly, for newcomers, epigenetics is a newer scientific discipline that studies the effects of external factors influencing the proteins that control gene expression. It's sort of like an not well-known driver at the wheel of our lives.
As usual, my choice was an audio book, a great advantage because Dr. Lipton reads his own text as a series of lectures organized, initially, around stimulating ideas about cell biology and genetics.
Sadly, halfway through, he breaks his promise, abandoning scientific objectivity and careening far off track.
His enthusiasm for the the potentials suggested by discoveries in epigenetics ring clear in his voice, with also a nice touch of self-deprecating humor.
Although not considered a leader in the field or the rebel pioneer he portrays himself as, Bruce Lipton was an early theorist and experimenter in epigenetics, a term that means literally that which is "above" or "ahead" of genetics.
His Biology of Belief elaborates on the details before spinning off into the unsupported New Age-style claims that lead so many to call him a "quack."
Bruce Lipton Criticism, The Biology of Belief
Bruce Lipton's science, as explored in The Biology of Belief, is exceptionally accessible for lay readers.
He's good at helping us understand the complex machines that control our cells and has a refreshing sense of wonder at the miracle we know as human life.
Unfortunately, he is not so good at extending his ideas into the new age purveyors with whom he has become closely aligned.
Given a choice, I'd recommend reading the first half of this book and throwing away the rest.
Lipton explains his ideas about how proteins surrounding cells are critical in determining which genes fired in the constant daily activity of replication convincingly.
This frees us from the tyranny of DNA. DNA, in Lipton's view, is nothing more than a set of instructions to be wielded creatively by other forces, not the physically dominant entities of mainstream science.
That said and agreed that, as a novice, I learned a great deal and had my eyes opened by in first half of the book, but I wish Lipton had stopped right there while his credibility was high and his ideas exciting.
Over the remainder of The Biology of Belief, Lipton positions himself as an unyielding determinist (I am tempted to say "quack.") and, then, gets lost trying to position himself as a New Age rock star.
After exhausting his ideas in a series of enjoyable, informative lectures, he turns to thinly disguised shilling for Rob Williams Psych K ideas. If he didn't get paid for what amounts to little more than pitching a product (and doing it badly), he's a fool, and if he did, then he's a fraud for not saying so.
The wheels start to come off when Lipton dives - well, not really head first, maybe wallet first - into theories about the subconscious and what he believes is its inflexible control over our lives.
You'll be shocked, I hope, to learn that your unconscious mind is a "tape player," an analogy repeated with annoying regularity, but you'd be even more shocked to find that the first five years of your life and, maybe, longer were passed in a sort of coma in which your tape players were loaded up with data from the external environment.
You then simply began to play back what you recorded.
Read the book, if you think I'm exaggerating.
No, better yet, don't read or listen to the book. You'll encourage him to write more.
I'm no fan of those who persistently refer to our minds as mechanistic or "wired." That's a reduction loaded with error.
A brain is spongy, pliable and connected in multiple directions at once. When anyone can point out a single wire, metallic and relatively rigid, I'll rethink and stop cringing when I read that stuff in the media.
Dr. Lipton sees, at least your subconscious, as nothing more.
After finishing with the main content of The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton goes on to explain that these internal tape players, known to the rest of us as the "subconscious," are virtually running our lives with little voluntary action from us.
He does allow, however, that there are a variety of obscure remedies and therapies that can set us free. This is where he grabs your nose and drags you into the Psych K pitch.
But if you don't buy the base story, you're not going to bother with the cures. Still, maybe that's just your tape player talking.
(By now, you're probably wondering what the hell this has to do with epigenetics. The answer is "nothing." It's more than likely just an extra wrinkle added to get Bruce Lipton a few more dimes.)
The coup de grace in dismantling his own credibility is when Lipton fires up a sleep-inducing potpourri of claimed connections between, as far as I could gather, intention-influenced proteins that play master to our genes, the tape players, and world peace of a kind even a peace activist like me can't recognize.
The concluding presentation in Bruce Lipton's The Biology of Belief was all over the place and seemingly geared to attract an undiscriminating New Age crowd yearning for a better, more enlightened and loving world.
And toward making Lipton the rock star he failed to be come in academia.A shame that Bruce Lipton, a pioneering scientist with an enlightened approach that defies orthodoxy, would become so lost in fields, such as psychology, in which he is clearly untrained and sounds like the freshman who suddenly discovers quantum physics and believes, with this knowledge, he has obtained the secret for penetrating the deepest corners of reality.
The path is more crowded and heavily traveled than he imagines.
Recommended Reading - Some Legitimate Ways To Learn More About Epigenetics
If you're turned off by Bruce Lipton's New Age speculation, don't let it turn you off to an exciting area of new discovery. Even if it doesn't turn you off, you'll gain by learning even more.
Getting to Know the New Science Objectively
An introduction to the fascinating new field Bruce Lipton tries to exploit through exaggerated and untested claims.
Epigenetics concerns the outer shell proteins that act a messengers to the constantly busy genetics in our cells. We know it happens, but it's still a mystery how.
Bruce Lipton deftly shares his insights in the new science of epigenetics, putting things in easy to understand layman terms.
His claims of being a cutting edge pioneer are dubious, and he errs when he takes the science beyond what we really know into New Age speculation.
He's worth reading though, with some discretion.
© 2011 David Stone