Thursday, December 10, 2009
Headline of the Week
The Huffington Post: "Does Death Exist? New Theory Says 'No'" by Robert Lanza, M.D./12.8.09
Dr. Robert Lanza humbly refers to himself as "one of the leading scientists in the world" in his HuffPo bio, and while that amusingly sweeping designation may read like something from a bad 50s sci-fi movie he actually is smarter than all of us put together. That said, the "new theory" that Lanza is trumpeting -- something called "Biocentrism" -- was actually his own creation, something he neglects to directly mention in the piece this headline links to. As it turns out, his theory that death doesn't exist first came to him in the moments after seeing his sister laid out in a morgue, the victim of a car accident. He took one look at her and apparently reached the conclusion that she wasn't actually dead. I don't pretend to be a scientist or even have the IQ required to become one, but that sounds like an incredibly suspect way to come up with a scientific theory negating death that you'd like others to take seriously -- when your judgment is unquestionably compromised by your emotions.
As much as I love the Huffington Post and respect the opinions of its staff and management -- I do write for them after all -- there's no doubt that a lot of what passes for science on the site's "Living" page is basically celebrity-advocated, philosophy-meets-pseudo-science. Arianna buys heavily into this kind of thing and, once again, there's nothing especially wrong with that, as long as you recognize going into it that Deepak Chopra isn't really an expert on anything other than his own self-promotion.
Case in point: Robert Lanza is obviously a brilliant man, but from a common sense perspective you'd be a fool not to at least question the somewhat arrogantly obstinate theory he's offering -- one which seems to be borne more from grief and a lack of acceptance of the inevitable than anything else. Like a lot of holistic pseudo-science, it traffics in what we'd all like to believe -- hormones stave off menopause, properly expressing yourself alleviates thyroid issues, vitamins stop post-partum depression, Jenny McCarthy can cure autism -- but not necessarily what we should believe. Yes, Lanza's theory is just that -- a theory and nothing more -- but it's one I'd imagine you really need to take with a grain of salt and a whole lot of "second opinions."