Last week I came across a magazine I hadn’t seen before in Paperplus. Called “New Dawn” it purports to be “the No. 1 magazine for people who think for themselves” and covers a range of topics such as the afterlife, psychic healing with pets, astrology and conspiracy theories. Amidst this hodge podge of muddled thinking was an article by Mike Adams (aka the “Health Ranger”), who some readers may be aware of through their reading of other blogs such as Respectful Insolence.
In this article Mike Adams refers to the work of Rupert Sheldrake, who in his book “The Science Delusion”, criticises science. A while back I starting blogging about “The Science Delusion” however, after the first few chapters I gave up as the misrepresentation and misinterpretation of science was doing my head in (I swear I could feel the brain cells imploding in despair). Mr Adams in summarising Sheldrake’s key points at least makes it a less prolonged (albeit a still painful) process to respond to these supposed 10 false assumptions of science, as follows.
1) The universe is mechanical
Adams (based on Sheldrake’s writings) complains that modern science
“believes that the entire universe is made up of “stuff” and nothing else. There is no consciousness, no spirit, no mind and nothing other than mechanical and chemical stuff.”
Of course he (they) have overlooked the existence of energy and the perfectly reasonable assumption that what we experience as consciousness (or mind or spirit) is simply a complex interaction of matter and energy.
2) All matter is unconscious
There is no evidence that matter itself is conscious, but this does not preclude the development of a larger consciousness as I have implied in my response above. Adams argues that
“modern science assumes humans are nothing more than biological robots” and
“the idea that inanimate objects such as minerals or crystals might have some sort of consciousness is considered heresy by most modern scientists”
I think the first statement is incorrect, while the second is correct and rightly so as there is no evidence to indicate to the contrary.
3) The total amount of matter and energy is always a constant
The disagreement with this “assumption” seems to be around the authors need for a creator/ grand designer etc and draws on unclarity around dark matter.
4) The laws of nature are fixed.
Adams refers to early theories (and examples?) about faster than light teleportation and quantum entanglement suggesting that these
“ignore(s) the apparent laws of physics”
The use of the word “apparent” seems quite ironic in that it almost hints that Adams realises, but refuses to acknowledge, that science does adapt its theories and even its “laws” when evidence to the contrary is provided and a better explanation can be formulated. Science is not the rigid framework he attempts to imply (of course if one wants to look at rigid frameworks of belief, one need not venture far from the dubious treatments such homeopathy, reikki and crystal healing that Adams is more than likely to support).
5) Nature is purposeless, with no goal or direction.
Criticism of this “false assumption” is based on the opposing contention that there is a “driving creative force” in nature which the author links to the concept of “spirit” and relies on criticism of Darwinian natural selection and misguided claims that there are no fossils of a “missing link between humans and primates.
Again, I would contend that while nature itself can be viewed as purposeless, sentient creatures, e.g. human beings can create purposes themselves and decide on their own goals and directions.
6) All biological inheritance is material carried DNA
This argument uses epigenetic factors, something well understood by modern science to argue that views of “old school science” that DNA alone controls your health, behaviour, and all your inherited attributes. I don’t know who these “old school science” beleivers are but I am not aware of any scientists who believe that DNA dictates everything around us. It has been quite clear for at least several decades that environment affects us, with epigenetics providing some of the explanation for us.
The trouble with many of those who claim this “false assumption” is that will often carry it too far in the opposite direction claiming that our genetic background has little affect of our health for example, and simple modifications of diet can cure ALL disease.
7) There is no such thing as a mind other than an artifact of of brain function
This is simply a rehash of points 1, 2 and 5. It seems to me analogous to claiming that a computer programme is an artifact of computer function.
8) Memories are stored chemically in the brain and disappear at death
I’d like to see proof that this is not the case beyond the authors suggestion that he is
“convinced that memories are holographically stored across not only the brain matter itself but also in a non-material spirit matrix of some sort which interacts with the brain”
9) Unexplained phenomena such as telepathy are illusory
Evidence please to show the contrary?
10) Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works
This section has some dreadful misrepresentations of modern science including statements such as
“most modern-day scientists do not believe that any vitamin, any mineral or any food has any biological effect on the human body other than providing calories, sugars, protein, fibre and fat.”
Talk about setting up a strawman. It was modern science that showed the importance of vitamins and minerals in protecting against a range of diseases. What I suspect is that Mr Adams has a problem with modern science not being able to support, in good conscience, various claims that high doses of vitamins and minerals can cure all manner of disease.
It then suggests that
“the mechanistic model of medicine is an utter failure for human civilisation”
ignoring the many successes of modern medicine while simultaneously providing no evidence for the successes of “alternative” medicine approaches. If Mr Adams would care to provide evidence for one of his “non-mechanistic” treatments and put it up against the successes of quinine, penicillin and morphine, for example, I’d love to see the comparison.
These 10 “false assumptions” of modern science are little more than poor interpretations and misrepresentations of science. Rather than being the
“dogmatic, permanently pessimistic science”
described by Adams, modern science is, in actuality, creative, thoughtful and adaptive. Rather it is those who push “non-materialistic” treatments such as reikki, crystal therapies and homeopathy with scant evidence to support them who are being dogmatic. Furthermore, ask any scientist an modern science is not pessimistic – it inspiring and fascinating for those who take the time to truly understand what science is all about.