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The Lost Symbol, Quantum Mechanics and How Randall Grahm helped me Reconcile Biodynamics

By a country mile as the crow flies over a buried cow horn on the vernal equinox, Biodynamics is the subject I’m most interested in amongst a myriad of conversational issues that compete against each other in the wine business.  Yet, I’ve never been able to square with Biodynamics – the benefits or the bunkum – until now.

When Stu Smith of Smith-Madrone winery and author of the blog Biodynamics is a Hoax said in a recent interview, “It’s a fight between religion and science.  There’s no question about it.  The people that are mostly Biodynamic supporters are post-modernist skeptics of science” I paused and took it in.  Yet, I was also confused about the boundary lines that he drew.

We live in a complicated world.  It seems too tidy to draw boxes and say that BioD detractors are pragmatic and progressive in matters of viticulture who resent the piety of Biodynamic practitioners whilst the BioD folks shrug their shoulders when asked how Biodynamics works, eschewing modern day viticultural practice, gazing at a moon chart.

Meanwhile, as we’re noodling on these neat assignments, let’s also throw in secondary dubiousness with Demeter as the arbiter of standards (and depositor of checks), mix in the Biodynamic father Rudolf Steiner as an alleged charlatan and add a dash of societal convention that relies on burden of proof for outcomes. 

With this heady stew, we now have perfect assignments along with swirling sub-issues that force the interplay of capitalism, spirituality, philosophy and science that is nearly impossible to reconcile amongst even the most reasonable people.

Harrumph.

The problem-solver in me needs to transcend partisan Biodynamic views.  The facilitator in me wants to find common ground. 

I want to know the truth about Biodynamics.  Not necessarily THE TRUTH, but my own truth, a personal reconciliation even if it is: “There’s a lot in life we don’t understand and this is one of them.”

I’m okay with living in the space between so long as I’ve assigned value to the black of, “It’s a hoax” and the white of, “It’s religion.”

Why? Because unlike Smith’s assertion, there has to be more to Biodynamics than accepting the use of BioD practices as an article of faith.

Likewise, Biodynamics can’t be debunked as an article of faith, counter to science.  If so, it presumes that the base of our collective human knowledge is at an end point.  We know everything there is to know and so Biodynamics doesn’t fit because it’s not rooted with a base of empirical proof.

So, what if Biodynamics is neither religion nor science, but rather a hybrid of the two that isn’t fully understood?

After all, by its very definition, Biodynamics relates to:  the study of the effects of dynamic processes, such as motion or acceleration, on living organisms.

That’s what I’ve been exploring.  Undoubtedly, it’s not leading me to THE TRUTH, but it is leading me to a truth different than, “science” “hoax” and “religion.”

Katherine Cole’s new book Voodoo Vintners (see review) does an exceptional job of framing Biodynamics in a balanced manner, yet there’s one chapter that I found sticking with me long after finishing the book.

In Chapter Four titled, “Science … or Sci-Fi” Cole explores the emerging scientific realm of quantum mechanics – the idea that our bodies, minds and physical environment are a symbiotic elements of energy that interact and that our consciousness, our thoughts, can impact our world. Specifically, she cites a book called, The Field:  The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggert.

The framework for Cole’s mention is the notion of “intention” in the vineyard.  The idea that, as she notes and deftly discredits in the paragraph, “The belief is that the preparations aren’t merely herbal treatments for plants; they’re carriers of the farmers’ intentions, which have been swirled into them through the powerful act of stirring.  While it isn’t a requirement for Demeter certification, intention is that little bit of witchcraft that separates the most committed practitioners from the unbelievers.”

Yet, what energy forces and “intention” distills down to is not a rejection of science, but an embrace of the most cutting edge of science.

Randall Grahm, the founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard, is quoted from his blog in the book noting, “The world of wine exists in a non-Euclidean space, and certainly partakes of the quantum universe; there are great discontinuities in what we know or imagine we know.”

With that, I made a mental note to pick-up, The Field.

Later, I read Ideal Wine by David Darlington, which covers some of the some topical area with more insight into the scientific quantum mechanics link and Biodynamics, including Steiner’s founding of the philosophical area of anthroposophy, a pre-cursor philosophy to the more scientifically-rooted, legitimized quantum mechanics.

After I purchased The Field, I noted that it had a cover blurb that said, “The author and science featured in The Lost Symbol.”

The Lost Symbol is author Dan Brown’s follow-up after the wildly successful book, The DaVinci Code.

By now I’m deep into the proverbial rabbit’s hole. The Lost Symbol is a mediocre story, but an incredible mix of historical insight, cutting edge new science in quantum mechanics and its relation to modern day man’s role in seeking spirituality.  And, unlike the DaVinci Code that took some liberties with the line between fact and fiction, Brown is quick to point out in the preface of The Lost Symbol that, “All rituals, science, artwork, and monuments in this novel are real.”

And Brown does, in fact, lean on the ideas in The Field and McTaggert’s subsequent book called, The Intention Experiment whilst the cottage industry of “decoding” The Lost Symbol books gives validation to the basis for the ideas presented.

For the two people that have read this far, all of this is pretty heady stuff and not easily explainable, which might partly account for the obfuscation in Biodynamics and wine.  You have to be really, really intellectually curious to spend the time, but here’s where I’m at and here’s my recommendation if you want to follow a similar path:

Biodynamics isn’t about science vs. religion or “post-modernist skeptics of science” as Smith put it.  The entire conversation is wrong.  It IS about science that isn’t fully understood – quantum mechanics.  In fact, there’s a growing body of evidence that science and religion are one and the same.  This may be pseudoscience to some, but, regardless, the wine and Biodynamics conversation needs to be about whether you believe in the cutting edge of science or whether you need empirical proof in the here and now.  Talking about anything else is bloviating with half-truths from ideological positions. 

Further, anybody interested in wine and trying to understand Biodynamics from a wine perspective is wasting their time by reading about Biodynamics through the lense of the agricultural practices.  Don’t spend any time on Nicolas Joly, or Monty Waldin, or any of the leaders in the field.  You’ll never get past the weird preparations and the attempt at the explanation thereof.

Instead, any attempt at understanding Biodynamics needs to come through a view of the emerging science side.  Get a notebook to take notes.  Read The Lost Symbol first.  Then, read a decoding book about The Lost Symbol.  This acts as an accessible introduction to a number of ideas.  Again, the ideas and facts are real, the story is fiction.  From there, read The Field and skim The Intention Experiment.  Then read Voodoo Vintners and Ideal Wine. 

Once this has been completed, fill in the gaps with internet research on Steiner and some of his history with Theosophy and later Anthroposophy and then wade into Google and Amazon.com searching for, “Quantum physics, God, Consciousness.”  Balance all of this with some quick searching on metaphysics to understand the delta and overlap between science, religion and philosophy.

If, after having done this, you haven’t completely confused the shit out of yourself, you’ll have gained a new enlightenment the least of which will be akin to Oliver Wendall Holmes quote, “Once the mind has been stretched by a new idea, it will never again return to its original size.”

As I mentioned earlier, when seeking a truth, I’m okay with “There’s a lot in life we don’t understand and this is one of them” and that’s where I come down on Biodynamics, but the conversation must not be framed in black and white terms.  Everybody around Biodynamics – the proponents and the detractors are operating in the gray and there is no one particular truth, but, and this is a big but, we might not be too far away from a deeper understanding.

A Partial Journey in Exploring Biodynamics:
image

Other stuff to read:
The science behind The Lost Symbol

Quantum Mysticism

Institute of Noetic Sciences

Space photo credit:  Wired.com



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Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (117) |


Comments

On 09/10, Andrew Smith wrote:

This quote “there’s a growing body of evidence that science and religion are one and the same”  seems to me to be either confused or misinformed.  I’d like a couple of citations of this supposed evidence, and maybe a clarification of what exactly you mean.

On 09/10, Jeff wrote:

Andrew,

You have a blog about religion, wine and philosophy—care to refute?  Otherwise, that assertion is found in the books and ideas that I mentioned in the post.

I’m not trying to be a jerk, but the post is pretty self-explanatory and to indicate that I’m confused or misinformed without adding anything of value yourself can be perceived as arrogant.

Jeff

Jeff

On 09/11, John Kelly wrote:

OK Jeff - I’ve been down this particular rabbit hole a long while now - perhaps longer and farther than you have.

Niels Bohr once said “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood a single word of it.” Frankly I don’t think you have been sufficiently shocked yet. I know I haven’t.

There is a lot in the popular literature that suggests quantum theory implies an infinite number of infinite universes, that time is a misleading construct, that everything that can exist does exist - now.

Take this intuitive line of reasoning far enough and, given infinite certainty, it is certain that we - all of us who simultaneously exist in infinitely overlapping infinities - are already GOD.

Let’s presuppose that in our mundane experience of existence we can somehow interact with all these infinities - an implication of quantum tunneling perhaps.

Would I not then simply need to have the INTENTION to farm and make my wine in total harmony with nature? Simply to hold that concept in focus and let that focus guide my efforts? Why on earth would I need an artificial construct like bio-D?

But I don’t believe it. As I see it there is a problem with the popular understanding of the philosophies arising from this misapprehension of quantum theory.

The point that is missed in all the current discussions I have seen is this: the theory insists on quantum states. As a very simple example, an electron in an atom can only exist at discrete energy levels. And there is NOTHING between those levels. The electron can have THIS e, or THAT e, nothing in between.

Contemplate this for a bit. Kinda fucks with the idea of infinity. Some mathematics says there are an infinity of numbers just between zero and one. But quantum theory insists that there are NOT an infinity of energy levels between quantum states.

And just suppose there are an infinite number of quantum multiverses - by definition quantum theory must be the same in every one. Meaning that infinity is not infinitely infinite - there are big holes of nothing between every quantum state.

So to my current thinking, on a much simpler philosophic level the existence of quantum states suggests there IS no gray. There is that which does exist (white) and that which does not (black).

I feel completely justified when I say I believe science and religion are two discrete states, with no overlap. Bio-D is religion, or it is science. And guess what - it is not science.

On 09/11, Jeff wrote:

Hi John,

Thanks for your very thoughtful comment, I appreciate it.

Undoubtedly, you’ve been down the hole for longer than I.  Quantum theory/physics/mechanics/ mysticism is all very new to me, though the desire to “understand” BioD isn’t.

I don’t have near the depth of understanding that you do, and likely not the intellectual capacity to dive much beyond the accessible quantum books, but I do find it very interesting.

Katherine Cole makes clear, as well, in her book that she doesn’t jive with the psuedoscience.

I’m comfortable ascribing BioD to the “unknown.” That’s a tidier answer and reality for me than “religion” or “science.”  Do me a favor, though.  As I mentioned, The Lost Symbol is a very mediocre book, but the ideas and the ways that the ideas are presented are very interesting in the way it weaves philosophy, legend, science and God, underpinned by what has been corroborated as meticulous research.  Read that book merely as a jumping off point for real life ideas and then lets trade notes.  I’d love to talk over a glass of vino. 

Jeff

On 09/11, 1WineDude wrote:

Dude, Quantum Physics deals with observation changing reality, not intention changing reality. You can argue the shades and it’s certainly not black & white, but if it supports anything it’s that an observer can change reality by the act of observing. Consciousness is one potential candidate for the concept of the observer.  But the intention of the observer changing reality, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t supported by the science behind quantum mechanics, it’s just a further step along the continuum that Buddhism for example takes - a logical next step to some extent, and an exciting field of study, but I doubt there’s much out there scientifically to make any hard links on intention changing reality the way that there is for observation one has a TON of changing reality (that has a TON of evidence in support of it).

On 09/11, John Kelly wrote:

Hi Jeff - I read Lost Symbol so long ago it has long been deleted from my Kindle grin I have sampled McTaggart’s work and found it way too “squishy” to take seriously.

You want a mind-stretcher, read “The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos” by Brian Greene. He’s been studying string theory at Columbia for a while, but his popular writings are very accessible.

I hope we have a chance to share a bottle at some point.

On 09/11, Jeff wrote:

Joe,

I was afraid this was going to happen—I have to defend something that I don’t know much about, when my point is this is the scientific “Great Unknown.”

Though, I would note that observation and intention is a part of our same consciousness. 

I think.  Your mileage may vary.  But, I’m okay with calling BioD a part of emerging science and NOT religion.

On 09/11, Jeff wrote:

John,

Just ordered a hard copy from Amazon.  For some reason, I only like the Kindle for frothy reading.  I need a book to dog ear, highlight and make notes if it’s anything thought-provoking.

Thanks for the recco.

Jeff

On 09/11, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I have found that, in the world of winemakers, there is a constant battle between science and intuition.  I think Bio-D is much better served when discussed in these terms.  Religion is a heavy word that means different things to different people, and I would never call Biodynamics a religion.  Nor would I call it science. 

For me, the most comparable analogy is Michael Pollen’s ideas in “In Defense of Food”.  We can isolate all the vitamins and nutrients in mothers milk to create baby formula, but we can never duplicate scientifically what happens naturally.  Regardless of your knowledge about quantum physics or religion, it is an undeniable fact that certain things simply cannot be measured.

So it is with wine.  That is what makes us love it, obsess over it, include it in our religious ceremonies.  While science plays an important role in winemaking, it only represents part of the whole.  So it is with biodynamics, so it is with wine in general.

On 09/11, Jeff wrote:

Gab,

Thanks for being the voice of reason.

In between you, John and Joe, a representative sampling that lovers of wine are pretty darn smart.

Jeff

On 09/12, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Maybe some would learn a little more by reading up on this guy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg

On 09/12, Lewis Perdue wrote:

As someone who majored in biophysics in college. I’ve got a pretty good grasp of biology and was once pretty good at wrestling the weird math of quantum physics to a standstill.

And I remain unconvinced that biodynamics is anything but cultish marketing hooey.

On 09/12, Jeff wrote:

Lewis,

You and Dan Brown are buddies, no?  I kid, I kid.

Re:  cultish marketing hooey.  The one thing that is not lost on me, regardless of whether its science, religion, philosophical, or all of the above is that it is, at its core, capitalistic because everybody is trying to make a buck—Joly, Waldin, practitioners that use it in marketing, viticultural consultants, prep. creators, Demeter, et al.

To that end, maybe you’re right.

On 09/12, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

1winedude:  An esoteric correction which changes the meaning considerably. Quantum theory doesn’t state that observation CHANGES reality.  This notion is fundamentally Newtonian, ie, it assumes that reality is immutable and that our observations distort reality.

What is mind-blowing about QP is that it says observation IS reality.  There is a fundamental unity between the two that makes them inseparable.  The act of observing and the act of being are the same.

This is sometimes naively interpreted as saying “everything is relative” which is not at all the case (or at least not what QP says). 


Is Schroedinger’s cat dead or alive? It isn’t relative.  The reality of the cat (and the box, the field, etc.) is in the act of observing, and there is no other “real” that matters in the moment of the observation. If I walk up to you just before you open the box and say “psst, the cat is alive!”, the next moment is a new observation. As is the next, when you open the box, and the next when you contemplate whether to bury the body or open a can of food.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schrödinger’s_cat)

On 09/12, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Quack, quack, quack, quack.

On 09/12, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Michael,  before you quack up, you need to be reminded that we are discussing Quantum Physics here (at least I am)—the domain of Einstein, Bohr, Bohm, and other gods of 20th century science. I am not one to worship idols, but these are dyed in the wool hardcore scientists and you and I are but armchair quarterbacks.

To attack Steiner is easy. I will give you credit at least for having the balls to take on Einstein, et al.

For all, if you want a good and convincing explanation of QP, and what it means for everyday living, read David Bohm’s “On Dialogue”. 

Assume Bohm must be a quack?  He was a british physicist who was lauded by Einstein for being the first to mathematically prove Einstein’s special theory of relativity (something even Einstein had failed to accomplish).

On 09/12, Jeff wrote:

Thomas—re:  Swedenborg, looks like he was an early thought-leader in theosophy that Steiner was engaged in before he created anthrosophy and also alot of Swedenborg’s thinking influenced freemasonary, whose principal tenet, as I understand it, is personal development in an effort to find THE TRUTH.  Subject to interpretation, but THE TRUTH can be that man has divine power and, of course, man as divine delves into Quantum mechanics.

These conversations are so tidy, I can’t believe man has wrestled with this for centuries when we’ve just solved it on a wine blog.

On 09/12, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

“These conversations are so tidy, I can’t believe man has wrestled with this for centuries when we’ve just solved it on a wine blog.”

Too funny, Jeff.

I pointed out Swedenborg as a possible example of where such thinking can lead individuals. It seems to me that human beings spend an awful lot of time trying to justify our existence—in the process we create some of the most fantastical stories/situations/belief systems. we are the supreme rationalizing organism, and that is not just an observation, Joe wink

On 09/12, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Come to think of it, the larger question concerning wine, to me, is why PR people continue to believe that I might be interested in some of the “stories” they send to me about their latest, greatest wine or better yet, about the jazz band that they are featuring at the winery.

Is there some sort of metaphysical PR message that i don’t get?

On 09/12, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

@Bob: Biodynamics is unadulterated quackery any an tempt to validate it with QM is doubly so.

On 09/12, Jeff wrote:

Michael,

To each, their opinion is valid.  Thanks for commenting, I think you’re a first-timer.  Don’t be shy in the future.

Jeff

On 09/12, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Michael, you may note on rereading my posts that I said not a word about biodynamics. I was correcting an inaccurate statement about Quantum Physics.

I can hardly fathom biodynamics so I don’t generally offer opinions on it. On the other hand, I have spent considerably time studying QP, so I am not shy about the considerable contributions of QP to the world as we know it.

On 09/12, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

@Bob, My comment were not directed at you but Jeff or whoever is the author of this blog.

Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts nor truth.

Abuse grapes, not science.

On 09/12, Jeff wrote:

Michael,

I’m the author of this blog, yes, it’s Jeff.

Thanks for your comments today.  Diversity in opinion is what makes life a sport.

Jeff

On 09/12, Lewis Perdue wrote:

Anyone who claims to understand quantum theory
is either lying or crazy.
—RICHARD P. FEYNMAN,
winner of the 1965
Nobel Prize in Physics

On 09/12, Lewis Perdue wrote:

From My novel, “Perfect Killer” (http://lewisperdue.com/lewbooks.shtml#perfectkiller)

“The classicists also believe that all action must be local. But entanglement—the
foundation of quantum cryptography now being tested by banks for money transfers—
proves that actions on a particle here can instantaneously affect an entangled particle
anywhere else in the universe.

“Uncertainty and entanglement mean that biological reductionism is about as right
as the Vatican was about astronomy in Copernican days. Quantum physics has trumped
Newton’s classical physics in everything from semiconductors, global-positioning
satellites, and nuclear bombs. Despite this, classicists cling to predictability despite
quantum physics’ proof that uncertainty rules the universe.

“In our quantum world, we cannot even predict the behavior of a single electron or
proton in any atom of your body. We can calculate probabilities of its behavior, but
nothing is certain—not even whether that particle will exist a nanosecond from there.
Thus, classical reductionism falls short because quantum reality prevents it from
determining starting conditions, and this means they cannot forecast actions based on
those conditions. In place of their fantasy clockwork, reality consists of infinitely
nonpredictable sets of mathematical probabilities. In other words, uncertainty is the only thing of which we can be certain.”

“I can’t sit here and let you mislead these people.” Bouvet’s angry interjection
riveted the room. “Your theory is misleading because quantum physics determines science
at the very small levels of atomic and subatomic particles, whereas people and the cellular
structures that govern life and our behavior are many times larger. A biological system is
too large, too warm and messy, for any sort of coherence or quantum phenomenon to
govern it.”

He jutted his jaw at me like the tip of a spear. Eyes flitted from him to me and
finally fixed me with expectations.
“An excellent recitation of the current dogma,” I said, nodding evenly at Bouvet.
“But one rooted in the erroneous belief that biology and physics operate by different
rules.”

Bouvet snorted.

“Biology is not immune to the laws of physics,” I responded. “Every atom in our
bodies obeys the same rules, adheres to the same quantum mechanical properties as every
other atom in the universe.

“Biology is chemistry; chemistry is physics; and quantum mechanics rules
physics,” I said. “Biology may seem like the study of large, messy systems, but all life
depends on chemical reactions: metabolism, cell division, DNA replication—you name it.
Chemical reactions depend on electron bonding orbits, and those are entirely quantum based.
What’s more, every atom in your body is composed of the very same subatomic
particles as those in a doorknob or a distant star.

“Let’s do an experiment. Imagine your head, then visualize your brain.” I saw
some eyes close. “Pick a neuron, any neuron. Then select a random molecule, and from
that molecule, single out one atom. I paused to let people focus as more eyes closed.
“Okay, focus on a particle in the atom—proton, neutron, electron—doesn’t matter.
Particle physics tells us that particle is a wave and a particle at the same time, which says
that even though the results of our experiments allow us to perceive it as one or the other,
it is in reality probably neither. Superstring theory indicates that energy and matter are just
different patterns of vibration from space-time, the basic fabric of the universe. That is the
ultimate weird nature of the reality we must understand in order to comprehend
consciousness and, through that process, come to grips with free will.”

“But you’re still confusing the rules!”
Bouvet interrupted. “Quantum mechanics
applies to the very small, not to biology.”
I gave Bouvet an indulgent smile.

“If you’ll allow me, Doctor?” He slid sullenly
into his seat without replying.

“Quantum effects underlie all processes, even those with large, observable effects
which—”

“Name one!” Bouvet’s temper burned down toward the limits of my patience.

“Well, Doctor, a nuclear bomb fits pretty well. Hard to miss one of those, and yet
quantum processes underlie the whole thing.”

“But—”

“Every biological process including consciousness is rooted in quantum physics,
which carries the inherent uncertainty that makes it impossible to determine the fixed
starting point you and other reductionists and behaviorists need to predict anything at all.
Doctor classical physics is dead. You need to get a grip on that.”

In the front, a slight young man with thinning sandy brown hair tentatively raised
his hand. I nodded at him.

“Doesn’t that just shift the issue of free will around from the tyranny of biological
predestination to the chaos of rolling dice?”
Bouvet smiled at the young man, then shot me a challenging look.

“You might think so,” I said, “if not for some very good published studies into
cognitive behavior therapy—CBT—showing that people with various problems—
depression for example—can create new interneuronal connections through directed
thought. What’s more, the research proves these people overcome their psychological
problems in far more significant and lasting ways than those who pop a pill.”

I looked around the room and, for the first time, saw Jasmine inside the door,
leaning against the far wall nearly hidden in the standing-room crowd. I took a deep breath
and desperately scanned my notes for an intelligent thought. Her hair framed her face like
an aura and created the perfect backdrop for the dazzling diamond studs in her ears. Her
eye shadow sparkled faintly violet, and she wore a bright cornflower-blue polo shirt and
khaki slacks with lots of pleats. A large leather bag hung over her shoulder.

“CBT upsets the reductionists because classical physics offers no provision for
something as ethereal as the mind to act on the physical world. In other words, their
dogma rests on matter creating thoughts, but they have absolutely no intellectual
explanation for thought-creating matter.”

Bouvet squirmed and fidgeted. He was beside himself now, barely able to contain
his growing indignation. Orthodoxy fed such incredible anger, I thought, and it didn’t
matter whether the beloved dogma was religious or scientific.

“How’s this possible?” asked the brown-haired man in front. “Is this your fantasy
or is there a plausible scientific explanation?”

“As a matter of fact, new work in this centers on a small set of nano-capable
structures in every neuron called microtubules. These work on a quantum-level scale,
possibly through a biological variant of a Bose-Einstein condensate in surrounding water
molecules, which enables them to achieve a quantum coherence. World-renowned
physicist Roger Penrose and his colleague Stuart Hameroff theorize that quantum
consciousness may entangle itself in space-time, which means our thoughts may even
permanently alter this basic fabric of reality.”

“So, why don’t we read more about CBT?” The question came from a crowd near
Jasmine. I smiled at her, then said, “Mainly because the multibillion-dollar drug industry
has a vested interest in keeping the truth covered up. CBT research fails to get research
funding because the pharmaceutical companies can’t afford for the world to know their
products are a poor chemical Band-Aid that does not fix the underlying problem and that
their science is based on the buggy-whip science of classical reductionists who do get
funded by these megacorporations. In a real sense, those who are addicted to the big
research bucks are not seekers of the truth, but seekers of grants. And you don’t get grants
by challenging the establishment’s dogma even if it is provably wrong,”

“Bullshit’.” Bouvet’s anger finally overran his self-control. “I’ve had enough of
your insupportable, insulting, and completely unscientific speculation!”

I watched him search the assembled faces for some support. Finding none, Bouvet
elbowed his way toward the door.

Jasmine shifted slightly and nudged Bouvet off-balance. The pompous Frenchman
ricocheted awkwardly off the doorjamb, then disappeared.

I couldn’t tell if she had done it on purpose. Then she offered the room a faint
conspiratorial smile. Mona Lisa again for an instant. Then applause resonated in the small
conference room and spilled from the doorway.

On 09/13, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

i can’t help but notice how much passion and interest this blog post has stirred.  For as much as people have ragged on biodynamics because it is not ‘scientific’, I’m willing to be a blog post about the use of sulfer dioxide in wine would not receive as many comments

On 09/13, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Lewis: Bravo, you have demonstrated a superior understanding of QP grin.

Anyway, Feynman was expressing disdain for those among his peers who wanted to “finalize” QP, wrap it up in a little knowable, observable ball, expressible in language (English, Mathematics, whatever), put it on a shelf and “own” it.  He wasn’t suggesting that one couldn’t comprehend QP, which obviously, he did.  Of course, he comprehended it well enough to realize it remained much more beyond his grasp than within it.

On 09/14, 1WineDude wrote:

Sorry to keep chiming in but maybe it’s a testament to how good this post is that I keep on thinking about it days after reading it!

We know that conscious observation on the Quantum level can, indeed impact reality.  It is a measurable effect that can be predicted and proven by experiment.  That IS science.

Intentionality, while potentially related to that, is not measurable. It cannot be proved or disproved.  That, my man, is faith, and faith is the purview of spirituality and religion.

BioD, to me, seems to have a lot more of the latter than the former.  Nothing wrong with that, just saying that intention is, currently, not scientific.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Joe,

Thanks for the comment.  I think your comment is a nice capstone to what the intention of the piece is/was (no pun intended).

My overall point of the post is that the topic of Biodynamics gets framed in scientific OR religious terms which creates polarity and acrimony. 

BioD, in my estimation, is a weird blend of science AND religion that relates to Quantum mechanics/physics and the unknown.

Specifically regarding your point:  “Intentionality, while potentially related to that, is not measurable. It cannot be proved or disproved.  That, my man, is faith, and faith is the purview of spirituality and religion.”

And my point is:  Intention cannot be proved, but Quantum Mechanics is science and it is working on answering that question.  If and when it does, a tangential outcome of that would be the answer to a lot of spirituality questions that we all have—that’s the religion.  Therefore, BioD isn’t against science, nor is it based on faith.  It’s based on, “We don’t know.”  While, “we don’t know” is a gray area it at least gives common footing to both sides.

If the BioD conversation is framed this way, it aligns the conversation to at least be more hospitable to each other.

Thanks to all commenters for a fun couple of days.  A bunch of really bright people commented here and for that I’m appreciative.

On 09/14, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Chemistry is a science that is fascinating and still has many undiscovered elements. Combine this with Biology and we begin to get an understanding of how life repeats itself. Things grow, rot, are assimilated into the earth and feed things that grow.  I think that throughout history man has used religion to explain the stuff they couldn’t figure out. I believe that good farming practices not voodoo produce good fruit, although buried, manure filled cow horns and midnight dancing are entertaining.
May the force be with us all!

On 09/14, Xochitl wrote:

I read wine blogs every day from hundreds of sources, and I can honestly say I have never read one all the way through to the last comment. I am an extremely busy person, and simply do not have the time for that. I would like to thank each of you for the fascinating perspectives, and I am impressed by your knowledge. This is a topic I have been interested in for most of my life, and while I have read much over the years, clearly I am not as well read as most of you. Like the rest of you, I am obsessed with all things wine. Personally, I have very strong beliefs in the efficacy of bio-D and they are rooted in what I have come to believe over my lifetime, as the “common thread” of the universe. I recently had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Lisa Airey of the French Wine Society after she gave a webinar on biodynamics. She brought up many of the points discussed in this blog and some others that rang true on many levels. Thank you all for the intriguing conversation - I can only imagine how wonderful and exhausting it would be to share an evening of wine and discussion with you all. Cheers!

On 09/14, Lewis Perdue wrote:

Dosage Dog: Biology resolves to Chemistry which, like all other sciences, eventually resolves to Physics which resolves to quantum behavior ... or misbehavior as it seems thanks to its uncertainty and counter-intuitive weirdness.

They are all fascinating disciplines, but truly to understand them requires a trip on the quantum roller coaster.

On 09/14, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

i once spoke with Steve Doerner, who is one of my favorite Willamette Valley winemakers, and has a bachelors degree in chemistry to compliment his masters in Oenology.  He said something to me that I think is relevant to the current thread of conversation:

“If you measure the chemical make-up of a bottle of Lafite Rothschild vs. a bottle of Barefoot Merlot, they are going to have a comparable Ph, a comparable TA, comparable sugar and alcohol levels.  Chemically, they are the same wine.  The difference between these wines is found in something that can’t be measured.”

While I respect science and it’s important role in the winemaking process, the true greatness of a wine lies in something that cannot be measured. Biodynamics might not be the best way to improve that quality, but it does acknowledge the importance of that quality, something many scientists are too dogmatic to admit.  I think somewhere in this concept is the reason this conversation has lasted so long. 

Jeff, I think this has created more comments than a free prize giveaway!

On 09/15, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

1winedude:  At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, quantum physics is absolutely contradictory to your statements about observation impacting or influencing reality. Please reference my top comment above and some of the source material if you are genuinely interested.  No offense intended, but you are fundamentally mistaken in your understanding of QP.

Read the wikipedia link on Schrodinger’s cat. It is short and well-written.  QP doesn’t say that our observation can change the reality of the cat (ie, whether it is dead or alive) but that it is both and neither and more, until the moment we open the box and observe the state of the cat and form a conclusion (and that we could have chosen infinite alternative paths of inquiry, and even more importantly, why didn’t we choose other paths?).

Schrodinger meant to point out what he perceived as an absurdity in QP. Instead he created a powerful meme that illustrates the profundity of QP: The questions we ask and methods we employ dictate the field of possible answers. The answer just DOES NOT exist, except during our construction of it.

So, QP very clearly is based on the supposition that reality and observation do not exist separate of each other. There is no reality separate over there separate from us for our observations to influence or change (distort), and there is no reality objectively to be discerned and determined (if only we could) remove the distorting influence of observations.

The mind-blowing part of QP is that it finally grasps that the historic symbol system we call “science” is itself a scheme of observation that sets and delineates fields of play.

This isn’t a putdown of science. In fact, QP so expanded the possibilities of scientific discovery that it is single-handedly responsible for the rapidly accelerating pace of technological development in the last century.

Not only did QP liberate science from Newtonian determinism, it liberated science from idolatry. Scientific inquiry is a powerful and useful symbol system, not a religion. Nobody in a QP world (not that we truly live in one) can appeal to scientific imperialism, because science is itself a construct of humanity.

Again, this self-reflexivity is a celebration of science, not a sendup. And this is really where QP may come back to BD. Science cannot be the true measure.  Utility is the true measure (and yes, we must unpack and bracket the meaning of “utility” first). Scientific inquiry empowers us to measure utilit(ies).

It may feel like I have led you into an abyss. What now? Utilities? Symbol sytems? Reflexivity?  There is so much work to do BEFORE we even begin to ask questions . . . but that is exactly the point.  Suddenly science is a tool to answer infinite questions instead of a dumb process of what happens if I poke this thing here?

Coming back to Feynman for a moment, this was exactly his point.  “Understanding” is a short hand in Newtonese for “finished”.  ANd the whole point of QP is that usually we haven’t even begun to ask the most interesting questions . . .

Ultimately, this sort of thing is much better off in a narrative, but I will leave that to gifted writers like Lewis Perdue. I can’t do it justice.

On 09/15, David Honig wrote:

Jeff, You’re writing, as always, is brilliant. That said, if you interviewed Schroedinger’s cat as part of this story, he would likely have told you biodynamics sounds like BS to him.

The only relationship between biodynamics and quantum physics is in the inability of the general public to understand either. The relationship breaks down, though, when you get to the experts. A Ph.D. in quantum physics, while at every instant newly surprised by what he knows and what he learns, understands much of it and strives to understand the rest. An “expert” in biodynamics, on the other hand, understands none of it, and wraps the rest in mysticism.

Quantum physics is not actually incomprehensible. It is incomprehensible to those who fail to realize, as a starting point, that their assumptions of the macro world do not hold true at quantum levels. In other words, it’s not that it doesn’t make sense. it’s just that it doesn’t fit our normal perceptions. But when those with sufficient intelligence and training to let go start to study, they can do SCIENCE. In other words, they can create a hypothesis, test it, and reproduce their results. The same cannot be said for biodynamics, and therein lies the difference.

Note, please, I am not attempting in any way to debunk biodynamics. I am, instead, challenging it to be science.

On 09/16, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Biodynamics is like religion in that most practitioners don’t fundamentally understand the relationship between man and God. There are a few who do, and they have been ostracized by those who control said realms.
Biodynamics died when the first practitioner relied on what Steiner said, verses what he meant. This applies to religion, too.
I call Biodynamics a “cargo-cult” religion.

On 09/16, sstorch wrote:

so, let’s weed out the riff-raff…
self proclaimed experts on plant growth and viticulture,
agriculture, soil biology or what-not…
the question is,
from where does a plant grow?
answer this and then we shall continue the conversation on what biodynamics is and what it does and why,what and how it works….

On 09/16, Jeff wrote:

David - thanks for the comment.  In the realm hypothesis, testing, reproducible results, it’s far from conclusive that there is a link from “intention” and quantum mechanics, but there are people that are trying to prove it, hence the science and by virtue of the positive, but inconclusive results, my position of, “we don’t know.”

Greg - there’s a lot of wisdom in your quote, “when the first practitioner relied on what Steiner said, verses what he meant. This applies to religion, too.”

Sstorch - I would need a bowl of mendo purple haze to even begin to answer your question (and, unfortunately, I don’t smoke. anything.)  LOL.

On 10/10, Andrew wrote:

Hi Jeff,

I was the first commenter on this posting - please forgive my brief (and somewhat laconic) comments.  Below is a link to my thoughts on the sort of epistemology of the BD issue as a whole.  I welcome any feedback anyone’s got.  Briefly, I’ll echo what’s been said by some here by saying that it seems intellectually irresponsible to attribute to QP some explanatory power over BD, simply because of the extreme complexity of the theory, in addition and the fact that it’s very current, incomplete, and ongoing science.  Plus, (and this is me ignoring my own advice) the whole inference you make seems like a category mistake: QP can’t really explain BD because quantum theory describes matter at a quantum level, not the level of the interactions between plants and water and sun and soil (i.e. the level at which grapes grow).  To quote a professor of mine, quantum theory is great for describing the behavior of electrons, but useless for describing the behavior of beach balls (or grapes).  Anyway, thanks for the encouragement to put down my thoughts on this issue.

http://theexaminedwine.blogspot.com/2011/10/clarifications-on-subject-of-biodynamic.html

On 10/10, sstorch wrote:

ehem…
why do you suppose it is called a field?
the farmer, in communion with the land,
walks his fields
contemplates his plan
follows his intuition
sets an intention
executes his plan…
thinking, feeling, willing and then action…

be preps:

bd500; horn manure; Earthly forces [field spray]
bd 501; horn silica;  Sun forces [field spray]
bd502; yarrow preparation; potash; Venus
[compost preps ; 502-507]
bd503; chamomile prep; cosmic calcium; Mercury
bd504; nettles prep;  nitrogen, iron, Mars
bd505 oak bark prep; earthly calcium; Moon
bd506 dandelion; silicic acid; Jupiter
bd507 valerian; phosphorous; Saturn
bd508; equisetum; earthly silica; comets [field spray]

so , these preparations make the rock/soil and the silica receptive to the cosmic forces of the universe which is where the information comes from for plants to grow.  by making contact with these forces, with this force field,
we can improve the nutritive value of our produce…
if you do not want to believe it that is just fine, keep eating crappy food…
more good stuff for me….
peace…sstorch

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if you do not want to believe it that is just fine, keep eating crappy food…

On 03/26, sstorch wrote:

Well Jeff it is good to see that you have continued this journey and exploration into our reality.  I have been studying the work of Nassim Haramein for the last few years and his latest information really correlates and potentially clears many of these issues up.  You may find him at the ‘resonance project’ and his presentations on youtube.
In short he eliminates the ‘constants’ in physics which are used to fudge away questionable results from the calculations.  Nassim demonstrates that in an ever expanding and ever creative multiverse that there must be an ever contracting vacuum feeding it.  In essence we exist in a black hole.  But better to let him explain it to you. 
We live in a world that is made up of 99.999999% space.  If you believe the current model of atoms and electrons and all of the quantum stuff.  So this is why the ancients came up with things like feng shui.  The harmonization and organization of space.  In our materialistic world we focus on the .00000001% that is matter!  Let us look at the possibility that the space is what determines the physicality. 
You see, what biodynamics does is address the space.  It harmonizes and reconnects the space to the source.  You can see my description of the preps in my previous post.  Whether folks choose to believe it or not makes no difference to me.  I eat biodynamic food and live on a biodynamic farm and create and treat biodynamic landscapes and was just recently certified by demeter to sell my products under their label.  And for those detractors of certification i would much rather be certified by Demeter that the USdah. 
Also, I had sent a very nice email to Stu Smith and offered to have an intelligent conversation with him in relation to his blatant misunderstanding of the science of biodynamics and have not heard a peep from the fella who seems so loud in his assertions on his blog.  Kind of makes me want to start a blog called ‘Stu Smith is a hoax’;  but do I really care?  Not…

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so, since the last intelligent email from this list there has been some odd comments.  Be that as it may, in the world of energetic farming and consciousness so much haws been happening and shifting.  The quality and intensity of the Sun has really changed and it has gotten whiter and brighter.  It is so beautiful and radiant.  The use of the silica and equisetum field sprays now and through to the easter festival is of primary importance to secure the the energy for this growing season.  Weekly use around the farm or garden in different areas of the barrel compost spray and the horn manure spray will be key to success.
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On 07/29, Bäumchen wrote:

The world of winemakers is in a constant battle between science and intuition.  Religion and symbilism is a heavy word that means different things to different people, and I would never call Biodynamics a religion.  Nor would I call it science.

On 07/29, sstorch wrote:

Båuchen,
biodynamics is a practice based on a deep spiritual-scientific understanding of Nature.  It is steeped in a science of the 21st century that is a new way of thinking about the earth where we live .  An Earth that is sentient and that has its own intelligence.  It is out opportunity to embrace new ideas of conscious co-creation with Nature and that includes Man and all of our social, economic, educational, physical and cultural practices.  Each Human Being valued and cherished and raised up through a process or methodology that produces the most spiritually delicious food that raises awareness and consciousness helping Men to be the best hu-men beings possible.
One day, soon we shall see the folly and error of our ways.  There are many practitioners of biodynamics that have endured ridicule and aspersions, yet they continue on in service to the Earth.  As a group, i think i may speak for them;  that when the time comes we will share our knowledge and joyfully help raise humanity ut of the mire of toxic substance offered as ‘food’.  In Brotherhood.

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