Wed 29 Aug 2007
Ervin Laszlo has spun an interesting fable – a way of looking at reality that utilizes an information field to tie together the universe. It is a theory that weaves the fabric of existence from “in-formation”, essentially the instructions to build atoms, suns, dna, life and consciousness. His theory could explain everything.
The problem is that Laszlo has not connected his theory to actual experimental results. He refers to the scientific works of others that peripherally touch on the points he is trying to make, and then makes sweeping generalizations that are not supported by those experimental results. A scientist takes experimental knowledge and builds a theory that fits the facts, he then tests the theory against new experiments to test the validity of the theory.
It is clear that what has happened here is that Ervin Laszlo has built a theory from his knowledge of a number of scientific principles and then sought out related studies and drawn his own conclusions from them. This builds a large body of citations that appear to support the theory, but actually neither support nor disprove it.
When I purchased Science and the Akashic Field, I had hoped that it actually had insights that were meaningful in the context of experiment and established fact. I was very disappointed. Let me give a few examples:
Laszlo uses as evidence of “After Death Communications” the work of psychotherapist Dr. Allan Bodkin, who uses EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in an Induced After Death Communication mode where the patient can resolve psychological problems by establishing an impression that the patient is communicating with persons who have died who are involved with the patient’s troubles. Ervin Laszlo uses his practice, and the appearance of communication between the patient and deceased persons as clear and convincing evidence that actual communications have taken place. Dr. Bodkin’s website is very careful to state “we are cautious to suggest that the experience of feeling a reconnection is the critical activity, without suggesting the source of the perception.” This is anything but convincing evidence of after death communication, as it is part of a theraputic process that leads the patient to seek feeling such a connection.
Michael Behe, the Intelligent Design apologist’s “irreducible complexity” argument is used to “prove” that the number of generations and random variability of mutation is inadequate for mutation and natural selection to have produced the complex structures found in nature, such as eyes. The premise is that such structures are of no value unless specifically configured as they are; Natural selection would not have operated to refine an imperfect eye, since it would not have provided a benefit to the organism.
Where Behe attributes the design to the active participation of a creator, Laszlo attributes the design to the in-formation field. Not only is there no particular reason to assume that any design advance over random or punctuated equilibrium variation comes from an in-formation field instead of Behe’s creator, but the premise that such a mechanism is needed has not been established. Behe’s premise is challenged and refuted by Richard Dawkins and others as nothing more than an unsupported conjecture.
Laszlo uses the creationist’s assertion to support his vision. Not only is Michael Behe’s argument preposterous, but Laszlo’s appropriation of it is really a stretch. Behe’s argument just does not hold water when you consider the power of parallel genetic processing within the biomass of the earth. (I will investigate this further in a future essay) There is plenty of variation to go around when you count all the cells in all the organisms in the world as individual engines of evolution. Natural selection cuts off those that are less successful, and lets those grow that are improvements. Behe, Gould and even Dawkins are off by quite a few orders of magnitude when they calculate the number of actors in evolution.
Another example is Laszlo’s discussion of the mind-brain problem. There has been an age old question of how the human body hosts consciousness. David Chalmer‘s question: How can something as immaterial as consciousness arise from something as unconscious as matter? Laszlo points out that Peter Russell, another consciousness researcher particularly versed in meditation and TM, feels that Charlmer’s question does not need to be solved since consciousness is not divorced from matter, nor is matter divorced from consciousness. I had a terrible time trying to wrap my mind around Laszlo’s leap of faith that this implies that the matter of the brain is coupled to the quantum in-formation of the universe.
There have been scientists who have conjectured that there might be some quantum connection between biological entities, or even to a universal quantum information field. As far as I know, however, there has been no evidence developed to show that there is a quantum information conduit into the brain or other biological component responsible for generating consciousness. Laszlo presents the quantum connection as fact without experimental evidence – a mortal sin to science.
The evidence for Laszlo’s assertion may be around the corner, but it is not here and now. Making this kind of handwaving assertion, unfortunately puts his work outside the bounds of Science, and clearly into New Age superstition.
Laszlo’s concepts may actually have some basis in fact, but that is not in evidence today. Unfortunately, readers with a scientific bent will paint his ideas as bogus, and fail to do the types of research that can validate or disprove the concepts.
Laszlo has done the field a great disservice in making claims as fact that are not supported. His is a new view on an important concept. Hopefully, this book will not serve as a Fleischman-Pons experiment for his ideas.
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