[Paleopsych] Re: Paleopsych

Val Geist kendulf at shaw.ca
Sun May 22 21:38:58 UTC 2005

Dear Howard,


Steve in a recent posting pointed to Dr. Bruce Lipton's work and book on the Biology of Belief. And Stephen is right in judging this an important development. I have not read the book, but opened up Lipton's website, read an essay and heard an interview, and I think I understand what Lipton is all about. Three cheers for his emerging - however, I found absolutely nothing new in principle, only in particular. He is in a line of brilliant "epigenetisits" to emerge, and he has apparently gotten much the same treatment eminent epigenticists before him have received. And that is what I want to deal with first. 


I was disappointed looking into his list of readings that none of these eminent men were cited be they Richard Goldschmidt, C. H. Waddington (who coined the word epigenetics over half a century ago) or more recently Soren Lovtrup. All challenged the conventional wisdom that heredity is deterministic, all challenged the conventional Neo-Darwinian wisdom - most shamelessly championed currently by Richard Dawkins - and all suffered severe rejection by Evolution's elite, none more than Richard Goldschmidt (1942).  When I looked for that book, having heard all along how terribly mistaken Goldschmidt was, I could not find it in my universities library. I discovered that his books had been systematically removed. That this should happen to one of the centuries truly great cytogeneticists, was puzzling. At that time I suddenly ran into a fresh edition of Goldschmidt's book, reprinted at the behest of Stephen J. Gould. It is highly instructive to read from his pen just how the great Richard Goldschmidt was suddenly shunned. It boils down to three young turks going after him and destroying him: Ernst Mayr, George Gaylord Simpson and Bernhard Rensch. The means of destruction was ridicule using phrases out of context. There was little attention paid to the possibility that a great mind using his enormously rich experience and background at the end of a long life and prolific publication record was struggling trying to tell us something that he considers vitally important, but which clashes with conventional wisdom. To expedite matters: Goldschmidt's denigration robbed all but a few of us of the idea of flexible gene expression controlled by environment as fundamental to understanding speciation and thus evolution. And without that, there is no way that flexible environmentally controlled gene expression could enter into other fields - such as medicine! 


Next in line to be denigrated was the great embryologist, scholar of evolution and during WWII father of operations research on behalf of the British defense establishment C. H. Waddington. That's the father of Epigenetics. Note the title of one of his books: 1957 The Strategy of the Genes. If my memory serves me right, he was haughty and did not mince words and was openly contemptuous of Neo-Darwinism where Goldschmidt tried to be polite.  When during a conversation with Enst Mayr  I mentioned Waddington, Mayr became irritated, in fact noticeably so and dismissed Waddington as someone who would not fit in. That is remarkable as Mayr cites Waddington repeatedly in his own magnum opus, but in a remarkably limited way. The huge irony is that Mayr then writes in one of his last books on the Great Synthesis that, tragically, the embryologists have been left out of this great evolutionary synthesis. Having read Waddington, Ernst Mayr, a mind not to be trifled with - but also Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould could not see what Waddington saw, namely that phenotype plasticity was profoundly important to explain much of evolution that neo-Darwinism did not. I am totally puzzled by that conceptual blindness.


Next in line is the great Swedish epigeneticist Soren Lovtrup. He wrote 1974 Epigenetics: A Treatise on Theoretical Biology and The Phylogeny of Vertebrata(1977), and Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, (Sören Lövtrup, Soren Lovtrup) 1987 Croom Helm
ISBN 0-7099-4153-6, 469 pages. He is a vociferous, but highly substantive opponent of Neo-Darwinism, and it totally ignored! I had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times and spending together nearly a fortnight in South Africa and Botswana's Okavango Delta. He has given up trying to communicate with the older generation, pinning his hope on the younger - which is also ignoring his excellent scholarship - see Bruce Lipton! Unfortunately, Lovtrup is not the best communicator, as well as being a very angry old man. However, taking time and effort to read him is rewarding. 


Lipton is a re-discoverer of epigenetics, as was I. He is dead on, but his discoveries are in principle not new and it's a pity he does not integrate his discoveries with earlier findings, strengthening his case and given due credit where credit is due. As I age I see again and again the same wheels being reinvented under different names - and Lipton is a case in point. I was delighted to hear that he in the are of health identified some of the same processes that I did and reported on in my 1978 Life Strategies.. book. After all the subtitle of that book is: Towards a biological theory of health. Independent re-discovery greatly strengthens the case for epigenetics, as this concept is played out with different facts. And I am delighted that Lipton pulled this concept into the area of health. In short: bring epigenetics into our understanding of Paleopsychology and quality of life.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: HowlBloom at aol.com 
  To: paul.werbos at verizon.net ; paleopsych at paleopsych.org 
  Sent: Saturday, May 21, 2005 9:51 PM
  Subject: [Paleopsych] Paul--is this yours?

  I ran across the following today while doing research for a national radio show--Coast to Coast--I'm about to do in 70 minutes (2am to 5am EST the night of 5/21 and morning of 5/22).  It's exciting and sounds like the space-borne solar array you were talking about in an email several days ago.

  Is it one of the projects you've helped along?  Howard

  Modules of the USC School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute (ISI) proposed half-mile-long Space Solar Power System satellite self assemble with what the researchers call "hormonal" software,.funded  by a consortium including NASA, the NSF, and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

  Howard Bloom
  Author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 21st Century
  Visiting Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; Core Faculty Member, The Graduate Institute
  Founder: International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic of Evolution Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The Big Bang Tango Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, Academy of Political Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International Society for Human Ethology; advisory board member: Youthactivism.org; executive editor -- New Paradigm book series.
  For information on The International Paleopsychology Project, see: www.paleopsych.org
  for two chapters from 
  The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History, see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
  For information on Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century, see www.howardbloom.net


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