The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.
The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.
But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :
1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.
2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.
Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.
This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.
Friday, 29 November 2013
While I have a rather more optimistic view of the human situation than the one at which Will Storr arrives in this book, I think he sets a very good example through his approach to investigating deviant belief systems. He has also written a supremely entertaining book, at times very funny and at other times disturbing. He has a fine sense of ironic detail when relating his encounters with the heretics and also those who might be viewed as orthodox, but who are capable of their own absurdities.
If we genuinely wish to support reason in the world, it is not enough for us to know what is reasonable. We also have to know why other's beliefs do not conform to what we believe to be reasonable. The quest to find the answers to this question may shake us to the core, because anyone who tries to address a problem in the world but does not view themselves as part of that problem is deluding themselves. Everything is connected.
Storr comes to the conclusion that there is a general human characteristic which makes us view the world via a filter through which we appear to be the heroes and certain others the villains. His own self-image is so riddled with doubts that he is able to open up to the people he examines without immediately casting himself as hero in relation to them. And this is necessary if he is to learn something important about what makes them tick.
Personally, I think this hero-maker tendency varies from person to person. All of us are neurotically insecure to a different degree. If we are very insecure then we can't accept the idea that we might be wrong about something. As very young children we didn't have this need to recast our view of the world to fit the belief system in which we had invested ourselves, because we had not yet invested ourselves in a belief system, nor had we learned to repress our emotions and our drives in a way which made us neurotically inflexible. We had no character armour. The thing about character armour is that it is defensive and thus the more our worldview is attacked the more likely we are to cling to it. Storr finds this happening again and again with the individuals he interviews. But this is why I'm more optimistic than he is. If we learn to practise unconditional self-acceptence then our self-esteem will not rest on being right. Then we will not be locked into wrong-headed thinking as a matter of pride as is the case now. As for others, we can see that what is needed for them to move away from an unfounded belief system is not to have it argued against but for it to be accepted, not as our belief system but as theirs. I don't believe that the earth is only six-thousand years old, so why would I have a problem with the fact that someone else believes that. It is viewing such a belief as a threat which makes it a threat, because people dig the trenches, and start putting a major effort into trying to enlist others, to support such a belief only if others are fighting against it. View it as a harmless eccentricity and it becomes irrelevant.
Each extreme in the world is maintained and fed by its opposite. Creationism and proselytising atheism keep each other in business. There is an interesting example of this in the opening chapter on Creationist John Mackay. Mackay's father was strongly pro-evolutionist and anti-Christian and Mackay was following in his path until, at sixteen, he read a book about evolution which contained a chapter about why there is no God. Quite rightly, he viewed this as propaganda which didn't belong in a science book. This led to him reading the Bible and going the whole other way. Perhaps it was partly a rebellion against his father. But, apocryphal or not, this anecdote provides an example of how excesses on one side of a conflict inspire and strengthen the opposition. Bigoted atheists reinforce the faith of fundamentalists in just the same way that bigoted religious leaders drive some away from religion into atheism. And yet the bigotry of all has its roots in a buried lack of self-acceptance. Those who can accept themselves also accept all others. Anyone who doesn't accept anyone doesn't accept themselves. Not that accepting someone need entail accepting their behaviour, but accepting what underlies someone's behaviour helps us to restrain it where necessary. For instance, if someone wanted to murder me, the best starting point to trying to prevent them from doing so would probably be to accept that they have good reason for wanting to. To do otherwise would be to impose my world view on theirs.
What drew my attention to this book was a conflict between Rupert Sheldrake, a prominent scientist specialising in psychic phenomena, and self-proclaimed sceptic James Randi. Sheldrake, along with a number of other individuals, have accused Randi of lying and using his fame as a tool to wage a close-minded ideological war against researchers into psychic phenomena amongst others. Storr has a chapter on each of these individuals. He finds Sheldrake to be very reasonable, but he can't overcome his own disinclination to believe in the phenomena Sheldrake studies. And Storr does seem to catch Randi out in some lies. But then at least Randi is honest enough to admit that he is not always truthful.
The chapter on David Irving, the historian who reckons Hitler might not have been such a bad guy after all, is particularly entertaining, with Storr going undercover amongst a group of Nazi sympathisers on a sightseeing tour. Here again one wonders whether any danger Irving poses hasn't been created by viewing him as a danger. His ideas on Hitler have been pretty much universally dismissed by other historians, so wouldn't those ideas have less power to inflame disenfranchised misfits if he were not made into a persecuted hero figure through book banning and jail terms? But perhaps we need to act against villains like him in order to fool ourselves that we are heroes.
Homeopathy and its opponents also come in for coverage. Storr talks to a woman whose cancer went undiagnosed by conventional doctors until it was, apparently, terminal. After hearing this from them she took a course of homeopathic medicine and recovered her health. Of course an isolated case doesn't prove the effectiveness of a treatment which defies common sense, but I bet if you had had the same experience you would swear by it. The placebo effect is the most likely explanation, but if we can recover from a serious illness simply because we think we will why should be care that we were tricked into it? Opponents of homeopathy place a great deal of emphasis on cases were someone may have not received effective treatment because they placed too much faith in a folk remedy. But is fighting against the folk remedy the best way to address that problem. In most cases it isn't that serious. If someone has a headache and they buy a homeopathic headache treatment either their headache will go away more quickly (most likely from the placebo effect) in which case they achieved the desired result and will probably continue to do the same thing, or it won't work for them, in which case they won't buy it again. The sceptics Storr finds fighting against homeopathy are not terribly sensible. Some admit to having never actually examined any of the evidence even though they are arguing that matters be decided on evidence. And James Randi leads them all, sheep-like, in a mass "overdose" on homeopathic remedies. Now think about it. Does taking many times the recommended dose of a substance prove that it is ineffective? No. It only proves that it is very very safe. I have no reason to believe that homeopathy succeeds through anything other than the placebo effect, but I'm sure that those who do believe in homeopathy were not worried by this demonstration, which appears to be founded on the belief that homeopathic remedies are reputed to work in the same manner as pharmaceutical medicines, many of which are highly poisonous and therefore can be overdosed on. The demonstrators, like so many of us in this divided world, were preaching to the converted. But, then, perhaps saving the world is less important to them than maintaining their self-perception as heroes.
I won a copy of this book. It wasn't quite what I expected. The title suggested to me that it was a refined narrative of the author's experience with depression. It is actually a two year diary covering the years 1997-1999, during which she experienced a depressive breakdown.
Diaries are generally not written to be read by anyone other than the diarist. There can be advantages and disadvantages when they are made public. On the plus side, they are often uniquely honest. On the negative side, some of what they contain may not have the kind of interest for others that it does for the individual doing the writing. They may also be poorly written. Christina Taylor's diary comes across as starkly honest, it is mostly interesting and, in places, is well-written. Some of the poems, in particular, are powerful.
The raw honesty here may be a test for some readers. I often found myself horrified. "What a selfish, cruel, dishonest, whiny bitch!" I found myself thinking as she related the ins and outs of her on-again-off-again relationship with her boyfriend Aaron. But I'm glad I kept reading as, when she goes through her breakdown and pours out the troubling story of how she came into the world and how it effected her relationship with her mother, I was able to see her behaviour in a more sympathetic light. It may be an uncomfortable read, kind of like watching a slow motion car wreck, but it can be rewarding.
And I did wonder a bit how some of the other people written about in the diary may have felt about having such intimate aspects of their lives exposed.
The book's title also gave me pause. As a person who suffered a great deal from depression and mental breakdowns from my mid-teens until my mid-forties, I don't think of my survival of those horrible times as a case of courage. Depression brings with it a lack of courage. It filled me with fear. I survived because I had help and because there was no other option except suicide. I made a couple of half-hearted attempts at that. But are those of us who survive more courageous than those who end up killing themselves? I don't think so. I would have ended it if I could have done so with a painless pill, but slashing my wrists would have required more courage than I had at my disposal. When we are depressed, even little things require a great effort. A lot of the people we think of as courageous are people whose psychological character makes it possible for them to do relatively easily things the rest of us might feel were nigh on impossible. Perhaps the author's concept of courage comes from the idea that the depressed individual fights a inner-battle which requires as much strength from them as climbing a mountain does from the mountaineer we call a courageous hero.
Depression is a kind of black hole in the heart arising from a lack of self-acceptance. It doesn't affect only those of us who are diagnosed with it. Each of us tries to fill that black hole with something - drugs, material consumption, sex... During the period covered by this diary, Christina tried to fill it with the sexual or romantic attentions of young men, among other things. But mental health and healthy relationships can't be built on shifting sand. The key to mental health is unconditional self-acceptance. If our acceptance of ourselves is dependent on whether someone else loves us, our school grades, whether we drive a flash car, etc., then it will always be tentative and the black hole of self-doubt will continue to sap our energy, creativity and joy in life. Replacing faulty coping strategies with the habit of accepting ourselves unconditionally can take practice, but it is the long-term cure for depression.
Can this book help those who suffer from depression and those who wish to help someone who does? I think it can, because it provides an example of the kind of thinking which is the substance of the depressed state, and it helps to break the silence about the darkness within. Most of us, whether diagnosed as depressed or not, live lives of quiet desperation but put on a brave face. This means that each of us feels alone with our craziness or our despair or our bitterness. When someone bravely lays themselves bare, it helps to break the ice for the rest of us. And if the selfishness Christina exposes shocks us it may be because we have a blind spot to our own. After all, selfishness is the natural self-directedness of the suffering individual. Hit your thumb with a hammer and it will be hard to think about anything else but your thumb. To blame ourselves for being selfish is to keep the black hole open. We might try to feed the black hole with the thought that we are courageous, but if our courage breaks we will condemn our self as a coward. If we learn to accept ourselves and each other as we are now, warts and all, then we have the basis for mental health and healthy relationships.
Friday, 25 October 2013
We view science as a winnower of dogmas - evidentially unfounded belief systems. When it works well this is what it does, but no human institution can be truly free of human weaknesses. Many scientists also cling to dogmatic beliefs and their work is hindered by this. Materialism (the belief that everything can be explained in terms of matter and known forms of energy), reductionism (the belief that complex phenomena can be understood by reducing them to their constituent parts) and mechanism (the belief that living systems can best be understood by analogy to machines) are dogmas. These are a priori assumptions not based on any evidence. Enquiries undertaken on the basis of these assumptions have sometimes provided useful information, but they have also hindered open-minded exploration.
Sheldrake looks at ten specific dogmas which may be holding back the progress of science. Most of them arise from a tendency to cling to the concept of materialism. Dogma is a barrier against free thought. The key that opens the door to free thought is the question, and so it is appropriate that Sheldrake examines these dogmas through a series of questions : "Is Nature Mechanical?", "Is the Total Amount of Matter and Energy Always the Same?", "Are the Laws of Nature Fixed?", "Is Matter Unconscious?", "Is Nature Purposeless?", "Is All Biological Inheritance Material?", "Are Memories Stored as Material Traces?", "Are Minds Confined to Brains?", "Are Psychic Phenomena Illusory?", "Is Mechanistic Medicine the Only Kind that Works?". Even if we don't agree with Sheldrake's own views, he raises many questions which need to be answered.
Of course Sheldrake has his own position on these questions. Back in the late Seventies he came up with the theory of morphic resonance. This is a theory which posits that the forms of nature can be understood as habits or accumulating memories connected by a resonance of similarity which is not limited by time and space. At first this seems crazy. It is so far outside of our conventional ways of viewing reality. But those ways of viewing reality are based on what we have been taught. I can't see that this theory is any stranger than some of the theories of quantum physics. And there is evidence for it. It takes a while for new compounds to form into crystals, but when they do the same compound in other parts of the world will be able to crystallise very quickly. And when rats learn a trick in labs in one part of the world, rats in other parts of the world will be able to do it as well. Morphic resonance might also explain why results from intelligence tests are increasing - the more people who take the tests the easier they become for people generally. It would also back up Carl Jung's theories for a collective unconscious and provide an explanation for the strange relationship between many identical twins who have been separated at birth. When it comes to the question of resonance itself, Sheldrake points out that the porn industry wouldn't exist without it - to get erotic pleasure out of simply watching someone else have sex there has to be some form of resonance between us and them.
Sheldrake is also a researcher into psychic phenomena, from the ability of animals to predict earthquakes or their owner's arrival home to the ability to predict who is on the other end when the phone rings or sense that someone is staring at the back of our neck. I've never been a believer in these kinds of phenomena. I can't remember having had such experiences myself. I experience what Jung called synchronicity - a coincidence between something external and what I'm thinking - quite frequently, but that is not the same as a psychic connection with another person or an animal. But I find Sheldrake's presentation of the evidence for such phenomena compelling. The evidence is strong outside of the laboratory - e.g. large populations of animals migrating several days before an earthquake or tsunami and individuals with an apparent ability to transmit information telepathically with a loved one when there is a strong need to do so. In laboratory experiments the results tend to be significantly over the level of chance, but people will still tend to get things wrong more than right. These more modest results can be explained by the fact that the tests are done with strangers and there is no great emotional impetus to form a connection. But how can the greater than chance results be explained if one takes the opposite view? These studies have often been subjected to intense scrutiny by skeptics. Sometimes they can point out flaws in the experiments. When they can't they often just assume there are flaws that they can't identify. Sheldrake gives examples of critics who have simply refused to look at any of the evidence. He tells the story of how Richard Dawkins wanted to interview him for his documentary program Enemies of Reason and quite explicitly stated he had no interest in looking at Sheldrake's evidence. Often when we set out to do battle with someone in the world we are doing battle with the projection of our own disowned self. Such, I would suggest, is the case with Richard Dawkins. He quite rightly criticises the irrational dogmas of religion, but the driving force behind his crusade is his own unwillingness to face the fact that he himself is a dogmatist, wedded to materialism and not interested in even looking at the evidence against his "religion". If Sheldrake's research is unfounded then there is no danger involved in taking a close look at it. The only real danger for the materialist lies in not being able to rationally discredit it.
Each of the chapters places its discussion within the context of the history of science and is full of remarkable information. Did you know that there is a single-celled organism that can learn? Did you know that humans have less genes then rice plants? Did you know that a pharmaceutical company got caught out faking reports on the effectiveness of its drugs and paying scientists to present those reports as their own work and get them published in peer reviewed journals?
This is an important book. If one agrees with Sheldrake then it is a brilliantly articulated critique which could become a rallying point for those who want to see science set free to pursue a truly holistic understanding of natural phenomena. If one disagrees with Sheldrake and views him as a practitioner of pseudoscience then it will be the alternative answers to the questions he raises in this book which will be the key to discrediting him and those like him. At the end of the book he talks about the value of scientific debates. I would love to see a live debate on the issues raised in this book between Sheldrake and Dawkins. I won't hold my breath.
|The book has a different title in the U.S.|
Thursday, 3 October 2013
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Book Review : Spontaneous Evolution : Our Positive Future (And How to Get There From Here) by Bruce H. Lipton, Ph. D. and Steve Bhaerman
"There's good news, and there's bad news. The bad news: civilization, as we know it, is about to end. Now, the good news: civilization, as we know it, is about to end."
We find ourselves at a strangely schizophrenic moment in our history as a species. Never have we had such understanding of the workings of our world, and yet we appear to be propelling ourselves inexorably towards our own extinction through a combination of exponential population growth, an economic system which is dependent on an ever-increasing addiction to the consumption of unnecessary material goods and an unsustainable food production system which is emptying the seas of fish and removing vast tracts of forest which act as our world's lungs, replenishing the air we need to breathe. Many of us are also at war with members of our own species. How is it that we are, at one and the same time, the smartest of species when it comes to knowledge and the stupidest of species when it comes to behaviour?
Just as a computer is only as capable as its programming, the human mind is dependent not just on the accuracy of the information it has to work with but also the integrity of the conceptual framework with which it seeks to associate and draw conclusions from that information. Maybe some of what we "know" is wrong? Is it possible that our self-destructive behaviour can be traced back to what Lipton calls the "Four Myth-Perceptions of the Apocalypse"?
1. "Only Matter Matters"
There has been a tendency in science towards reductionism (an attempt to understand things by reducing them to their constituent parts), mechanism (making analogies between living things and machines) and materialism (a denial of the relevance, or in some cases the very existence, of consciousness or spirit). Personally, I like to think of this trend as an attempt to avoid considering the importance of relationship. Reductionism denies the importance of the relationship of parts in a functioning whole. Mechanism denies organic interrelatedness, trying to replace it with the simple inflexible workings of a machine. And materialism looks at things but not at their relationship to each other.
While there are advantages to breaking things down into their constituent parts, making analogies between living things and machines (if only because we can make more effective machines by copying the superior technology of nature) and considering forms of matter in isolation, each of these approaches falls far short of the apprehension of reality we can achieve when we take an holistic approach. And the denial at the heart of materialism can no longer be maintained now that we know that, when we look at the subatomic structure of matter, there is nothing there but relationship.
One of the major effects of this "myth-perception" on society is the tendency to over-emphasise the material aspects of our relationships to each other. Is it about whether we communicate with each other in a loving way or is it about whether or not we wear Armani designer clothes?
2. "Survival of the Fittest"
Lipton has a lot to say about theories of evolution. Natural selection is only one aspect of evolution. It was first written up in a scientific paper by Alfred Russel Wallace. Charles Darwin, who'd been thinking along similar lines but not yet written a paper, became a co-presenter of the theory and then, in writing it up in The Origin of Species, became the figure who sold the idea to the general public. In the process, the focus changed somewhat. Wallace's theory was that evolution progressed through the elimination of the weakest. While Darwin was not the originator of the term "survival of the fittest" (philosopher Herbert Spencer used the term in reference to Darwin's theories and then Darwin adopted the term himself in the fifth edition of The Origin of Species), the distortion of reality which it represents is attributable to his articulation of the theory of natural selection rather than to Wallace's.
Natural selection takes place through the survival of the fit, not the fittest. There is no advantage to being "the fittest" only to not being unfit, and thus eliminated. There is more cooperation than competition in nature. Predator/prey relationships between species are not competition but cooperation. By eating the weakest of an antelope herd, a pride of lions is helping that species to remain within the carrying capacity of its ecosystem and thus avoid the mass die off which would happen if there were too many antelopes and not enough grass. Within species there is some competition for food or for mating opportunities but, compared to human conflicts, these are relatively trivial. Stags may butt antlers to establish dominance, but what is being decided is no more than whether they get to pick the most appealing mate or the second most appealing mate. The major eliminations of species occur based on inability to adapt to environmental changes. It is less "survival of the fittest" and more "survival of the most adaptable". And "most adaptable" tends to mean "most able to cooperate with members of one's own species and with other species".
A social impact of this "myth-perception" is the idea that we need to fight our way up the "ladder of success". When we live our lives from this perspective we are so keenly focussed on the next rung above us, that we miss the opportunities to enrich our own lives and those of others which surround us right were we are now. In a "survival of the fittest", even if a few might "win", the majority will always be losers.
3. "It's In Your Genes"
Lipton is a geneticist, so this is one question on which he has a lot to say. This is another area where there is an attempt to deny the importance of relationship. In the "nature/nurture" debate, "nurture" is all about our relationships to each other and our environment. Clearly our genes provide us with certain physical tendencies and they probably have some kind of impact in the complex interactions of our emotional life. But they also are the perfect scapegoat if we wish to deny the importance of our relationship to each other or our environment. If you get caught being unfaithful, don't worry, you can blame it on the "cheater's gene". If you end up feeling defeated and depressed by your futile attempts to climb that "ladder of success", its not because the cultural expectation driving your life is faulty, its because you have a genetic pre-disposition to depression.
Genes tell our cells what kinds of proteins to make, but our genes take orders from their environment. The genes are not the "brain" of the cell. You can remove the nucleus of a cell, where all the DNA is stored, and the cell will continue to function in a healthy way until it dies from lack of proteins. The "brain" of the cell is the receptors in the cell-membrane which transfer information from the cell's environment. And a major part of the information which effects how our body operates is information which comes from our mind. The problem is that most of what goes on in our mind is subconscious. We know about the placebo effect in which the mind tells us we are going to heal and we do. But Lipton emphasises that there is also an opposite kind of effect, which he calls the "nocebo" effect, in which telling someone they have a genetic predisposition to cancer may be the very thing which causes their body to malfunction in this way. Stress has been shown to be a major factor in making the human body prone to all kinds of illness.
To embrace our power to replace faulty beliefs, to chose our actions and to build a basis for our health in loving community and responsible lifestyles doesn't preclude taking full advantage of the advances in pharmaceutical medicine and gene manipulation in those rarer instances where we can benefit from doing so. But to view our genetic make-up as destiny or excuse is an unrealistic form of disempowerment.
4. "Evolution is Random"
Recent experiments have shown that living organisms can evolve quickly to adapt to changing environments. Environmental stress can trigger a response which speeds up the cycle of reproduction while making the reproduction of genetic material "deliberately faulty" in such a way as to generate mutations which may prove a better fit to the new environment. This backs up Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge's theory of punctuated equilibrium, which views evolutionary change as something which happens in bursts with long periods of stability. It also shows that Jean Baptiste Lamarck's original theory of adaptive evolution is at least as relevant as Darwin's and Wallace's later theory of natural selection to a complete understanding of the evolutionary process.
The key insight of Lipton and Bhaerman's book is that we can be conscious agents of our own evolution. They make a comparison between human beings and cells. Each of us experiences our self as a single human being, but we are really a community of cells operating autonomously but cooperatively, the self-interest of each requiring the survival of the whole. Now we stand at a comparable evolutionary threshold to that which separated single-celled organisms from the first multi-cellular organisms. For certain single-celled organisms there was a survival advantage in grouping together in communities. Eventually these communities developed a membrane around them and became a multi-celled organism. Originally all of the cells were the same. Later the specialisation of cells within the community of the organism allowed for more complex development. As human beings we are grouped together as members of a society, but we are still working, to some degree, at cross-purposes. When these communication problems are solved we can work together, like our cells, as a single organism pursuing not just survival but "thrival" as Lipton terms it.
This is a very important book which I would recommend to anyone. There are aspects of it which many may not like, from its folksy tone full of cheesy puns (many care of Bhaerman's alter ego Swami Beyondananda) to what could be viewed as its America-centric view of politics to the enthusiastic presentation of experimental evidence for the power of prayer. None of these things put me off. I'm hardly one to complain about bad puns. While Lipton talks a lot about the virtues of the Founding Fathers, and even more about the Native American culture they emulated, this doesn't seem out of place when one considers that he is using these as examples of a tendency away from the oppressive monarchism dominant in other parts of the world at the time. He certainly is not slow to criticise his own country in most other ways, so I don't think this is a cultural bias. And when it comes to scientific studies in the healing power of intention and such like, I find myself increasingly able to keep an open mind. I won't place belief in these things without seeing a good deal of evidence, but I ask myself "Why do I believe in the existence of Black Holes?" I've never seen one. I don't even understand the theory of how they are supposed to work. If I believe they exist it is because a significant bunch of scientists say so. I have tentative faith in those scientist's perceptions. But, as Lipton shows clearly, the majority of scientists in a field can be wrong for quite some time. I could say "I don't believe in prayer because it doesn't make sense." That is to pre-suppose that we live in a world in which communication can only happen through easily detectible channels. We can't presume the non-existence of something invisible. There is a longstanding cultural belief in the power of prayer. I needn't take that as evidence, but there is something very arrogant in assuming that "the great unwashed don't know their arse from their elbow". An interesting problem arises when it comes to scientific testing in this area. Skeptics will accuse researchers of bias and may try to replicate the results, but, if psychic intention really does effect outcome, the results for the skeptics will necessarily show a negative result because that is their intention. So I'm happy to leave that as an amusing dispute for those who care about it.
However, it would be foolish to reject this book on the basis of any one aspect of it, or even a handful of aspects, because what it offers as a whole is tremendously valuable, the way that it brings together the threads of disfunction in our society - scientific, economic, political, religious, medical - and offers a constructive way of addressing them at their roots. Even if one doesn't agree with his viewpoint, the questions he raises are ones which will not go away. If we are going to come together into a single organism, it will not happen through a victory by one side or the other in any of the conflicts going on in our society, but through a process of attraction away from those conflicts to a unifying vision which sees a place for all. This is the kind of vision Lipton and Bhaerman (and others like them) are articulating. Maybe one day you'll join it, and the world will be as one.
Sunday, 25 August 2013
|Glossy insert used to promote A Species in Denial in Australian newspapers|