“If you believe you can, or if you believe you can’t, – you’re right.” Henry Ford
Review Of 'The Biology of Belief' by Bruce Lipton
This is a curious book in many ways - its a kind of part personal monograph (touching on difficult but ultimately important things in his life like giving up being a Professor to become a failed Rock Concert Promoter... getting divorced... professional issues et al). The central core of the book is about Epigenetics of Cell Biology (no not as dull as you might think lol) but it ends with a chapter on Conscious Parenting. It somehow manages to weave all these together although it's perhaps his likableness and a lifetime relating what happens at a cellular level as part explanation, part metaphor for life at large that manages to tie these diverse things together.
Nevertheless it is a major work and most readable (providing you are not one of those people who "switches-off" when faced with some scientific terms). Naturally he perhaps falls into the trap of all iconoclasts of erring on the side of perhaps overstating his case and understating the 'opposing' view - nevertheless he lands some telling blows and the consensus view needs to move a long way (if not the whole way) in his direction.
I will use some quotes to show his major ideas:
[p26] "By that time I was an unabashed proponent of a "new" biology. I had come to question not only Darwin's dog-eat-dog version of evolution, but also biology's Central Dogma the premise that genes control life. [My italics here:MB] That scientific premise has one major flaw - genes cannot turn themselves on or off. In more scientific terms genes are not 'self-emergent'. Something in the environment has to trigger gene activity."
[p48] "I didn't know it at the time, but I now believe that another reason for my students' success was that I did not stop at praising cells. I praised the students as well. They needed to hear they were first-rate students in order to believe that they could perform as first-rate students in order to believe that they could perform as first-rate students... so many of us are leading limited lives not because we have to, but because we [i]think we have to... I was well on my way to an understanding of the New Biology, which leaves in the dust the defeatism of genetic and parental programming as well as survival-of-the-fittest Darwinism"
[p49] "I will never forget a piece of wisdom I received in 1967, on the first day I learned to clone stem cells in graduate school. It took me decades to realize how profound this seemingly simple piece of wisdom was for my work and my life... He [Lipton's Professor] told me that when the cultured cells you are studying are ailing, you look first to the cell's environment, not to the cell itself for the cause."
[p50] "Even Charles Darwin conceded, near the end of his life, that his evolutionary theory had shortchanged the role of the environment... he wrote:
"In my opinion, the greatest error which I have committed has been not allowing sufficient weight to the direct action of the environments, ie food, climate etc independently of natural selection... When I wrote "Origin", and for some years afterwards, I could find little good evidence of the direct action of the environment; now there is a large body of evidence."
Scientists who follow Darwin continue to make the same error. The problem with this underemphasis on the environment is that it led to an overemphasis on "nature" in the form of genetic determinism - [MB italics] the belief that genes "control" biology"
[p52] "When a gene product is needed, a signal from the environment not an emergent property of the gene itself, activates expression of that gene". In other words, when it comes to genetic control "It's the environment stupid". "
[p65] [Following much contrary to the idea/concept/metaphor that the nucleus is the cells brain (Lipton suggests actually the membrane is more like that and that the nucleus is more like the cells hard-drive and gonads (for reproduction - he makes a good joke about not surprising that male cell biologists mistake a cells gonads for its brain lol)] Following enucleation, many cells can survive for up to two or more months without genes. Viable enucleated cells do not lie about like brain-dead lumps of cytoplasm on life-support systems. These cells actively ingest and metabolize food, maintain coordinated operation of their phsyiologic systems (respiration, digestion, excretion, motility etc), retain an ability to communicate with other cells, and are able to engage in appropriate responses to growth and protection-requiring environmental stimuli."
[p67] "Epigenetics: The New Science of Self-Empowerment
Genes-as-destiny theorists have obviously ignored hundred-year-old science about enucleated cells ... epigenetics, which literally means "control above genetics" profoundly changes our understanding of how life is controlled. In the last decade, epigenetic research has established that DNA blueprints passed down through genes are not set in concrete at birth. Genes are not destiny! Environmental influences, including nutrition, stress and emotions [MB: ie those elements that are under "our" conscious control....], can modify those genes without changing their basic blueprint....
...Since the late 1940s, biologists have been isolating DNA from the cell's nucleus in order to study genetic mechanisms. In the process they extract the nucleus from the cell, break open its enveloping membrane and remove the chromosomal contents, [MB italics] half of which is made up of DNA and half of which is made up of regulatory proteins. In their zeal to study DNA, most scientists threw away the proteins, which we now know is the regulatory equivalent of throwing the bay out with the bathwater...
...In the chromosome, the DNA forms the core, and the proteins cover the DNA like a sleeve. When the genes are covered their information cannot be "read"... How do you get that sleeve off? You need an environmental signal to spur the "sleeve" protein to change shape, ie detach from the DNA's double helix, allowing the gene to be read... As a result, the activity of the gene is "controlled" by the presence or absence of the ensleeving proteins, which are in turn controlled by environmental signals."
[p69] "Studies of protein synthesis reveal that epigentic "dials" can create 2,000 or more variations of proteins from the same gene blueprint."
[p83] "[Cell membrane protein] Receptor "antennas" can also read vibrational energy fields such as light, sound and radio frequencies. The antennas on these "energy" receptors vibrate like tuning forks. If an energy vibration in the environment resonates with a receptor's antenna, it will alter the protein's charge, causing the receptor to change shape [and hence function/'message']... [MB italics] because receptors can read energy fields, the notion that only physical molecules can impact cell physiology is outmoded. Biological behaviour can be controlled by invisible forces, including thought, as well as it can be controlled by physical molecules like penicillin, a fact that provides the scientific underpinning for pharmaceutical-free energy medicine." [MB I would have liked to see him give more evidence of this contention (after all its key to energy medicine/homeopathy etc etc]
[p90]"The [cell] membrane is a liquid crystal semiconductor with gates and channels.... "A [microprocessor] chip is a crystal semiconductor with gates and channels""
[p103] "This reductionist model suggests that if there is a problem in the system, evident as a disease or dysfunction, the source of the problem can be attributed to a malfunction in one of the steps along the chemical assembly line. By providing the cell with a functional replacement part for the faulty element ... the defective single-point can be repaired and health restored. This assumption spurs the pharmaceutical industry's sacra for magic-bullet drugs and designer genes.
...Biomedical scientists have been particularly confounded because they they do not recognize the massive complexity of the intercommunication among the physical parts and the energy field that make up the whole... Cellular constituents are woven into a complex web of crosstalk, feedback and feedforward loops".
[p104/5] "Clearly, biological dysfunctions can result from miscommunication anywhere within these complex pathways. When you changes the parameters of a protein at one point in such a complex pathway, you inevitably alter the parameters of other proteins at innumerable points within the entangled networks... underscores the dangers of prescription drugs. We can now see why pharmaceutical drugs come with information sheets listing voluminous side-effects that range from irritating to deadly.
Complicating the drug side-effect issue is also the fact that biological systems are redundant. [MB italics] The same singals or protein molecules may be used in different organs and tissues where they provide for completely different behavioural functions [quite a lot follows on this point in more detail - the same protein/chemical may have oppsoite impacts in different organs/places]"
So thats the key lines from a cellular level. This is about half way through the book. Its then a case of him explaining multicellular organisms and the role of the mind in creating the chemical environment for each cell etc etc. I wont spoil the story for any potential readers and it does get less "biological" from this point on and ends with "conscious parenting" (so a long way from the cell nucleus lol). Eg...
[p128] "When it comes to sheer neurological processing abilities, the subconscious mind is millions of times more powerful than the conscious mind, If the desires of the conscious mind conflict with the programs in the subconscious mind, which "mind" do you think will win out? You can repeat the positive affirmation that you are lovable over and over or that your cancer tumour will shrink. But if, as a child, you heard over and over again that you are worthless and sickly, those messages programmed in your subconscious mind will undermine your best conscious efforts to change your life."
[p144] "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"
Anyway its a seminal book and a load of value for ~$25. It really does show that even at the genetic/cellular level the organism process is more driven top-down (ie ultimately 'beliefs') than it is bottom up. We are not prisoners of our genes (quite a lot on the anti-genetic-determinism/scientific-over-simplification/reductionism/commercial-needs-of-pharma-companies-skewing-scientific-paradigms etc line) rather we are Masters of Our Own Destiny - whether we acknowledge it or not.
Highly recommended and I hope you found this of value
Peace to all