Another of this summer’s non-fiction reads that flirted with the idea of maximizing human potential was The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton. Lipton is a traditionally trained biologist (PH.D) who, through a series of eureka moments related directly his research on the structure and function of cells, has come to a more radical position within biology: that our thoughts, at an energetic level, directly affect our genes.
Lipton provides tantalizing justification that is convincing–at least to an intelligent layperson like me. Somehow he had me finally getting a grip on the one science that most alluded me in high school, and he got me there with an evolutionary approach that is simple and yet mind-blowing: have you every thought of yourself as a conglomeration of specialized cell colonies? Lipton wonderfully pulls the rug out on the illusion of the fixed, stand-alone physical “self” in a way that is very, well….Buddhist.
One of the most important gestures of the book, however, is how Lipton attempts to loosen the fatalistic grip genes have on popular culture:
“Since the dawning of the Age of Genetics, we have been programmed to accept that we are subservient to the power of our genes. The world is filled with people who live in constant fear that, on some unsuspecting day, their genes are going to turn on them…What about all those headlines trumpeting the discovery of a gene for everything from depression to schizophrenia? Read those articles closely and you’ll see that behind the breathless headline is a more sober truth…Scientists have rarely found that one gene causes a trait or disease.”
In the end, Lipton develops an hypothesis of empowerment and leaves the reader with a sense of personal responsibility. Not exactly a piece of candy…more like a potent dose of fiber. Read more at Lipton’s homepage.