The BBC’s Enchantment With Woo
Above: Sheila Dillon, Producer of The Food Programme
In a tribute to the late great Derek Cooper, BBC Radio 4 has been airing a tribute programme that comprise clips from The Food Programme over the years http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0414dzc. I’ve been listening to Cooper’s velvet tones for as long as I can remember and I’ve always trusted the factual information he has presented even if his somewhat fanciful style has sometimes grated. Yet it never occurred to me that he might be uninterested in facts and that he would uncritically take a meal with the Anthroposophical Camphill Community.
Anthroposophy is a cult based upon the nonsensical writings of the racist spiritualist Rudolf Steiner and for those readers not familiar with the problems surrounding the vast Steiner-Waldorf empire I can recommend the three-part piece on Dr. David Colquhoun’s excellent blog at http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3528 by Steiner critic Melanie Byng.
I have before contacted the BBC about their promotion of Anthoposophy and their replies show a scant disregard for the strong anti-science rhetoric for which Steiner is famous and his vile racist spiritual hierarchy that makes his ‘spiritualism’ very different from many other similar versions of Karma and reincarnation on offer from the other religions and cults around the world.
The Camphill Communities are residential homes for adults with learning difficulties. Care for the residents is based, like other Anthroposophical organisations, upon the views and writings of Steiner and, because Steiner believed that people are reincarnated in a form that is a reward or outcome of their previous lifetime/s, it is not hard to see why vulnerable people should not be exposed, directly or indirectly to such dire ideas.
On the surface, Camphill Communities present themselves well as can be seen here http://www.camphill.org.uk/ But, as Andy Lewis points out on his Quackometer blog:
The physical body that you are incarnated into will depend on karma. That is, the beneficial or harmful effects you have on the world will revisit you as you reincarnate and determine the sort of physical existence you have. Steiner believed there was a hierarchy of existence that souls could inhabit, driven by karma.
Nearer the bottom of the spiritual hierarchy we can find animals such as fish and reptiles. Those animals with good karma will progress to become apes, Indians and finally Aryans - white and fair Germanic-Nordic humans.
Given that many Camphill residents might be suffering from a variety of disabilities, it would interesting to know what Steiner thought about disability. Here is Roger Rawlings selection of Steiner’s views on health and medicine – your jaw will drop reading this stuff. https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/steiners-quackery
In short, Radio 4′s love affair with Steiner, and the use of a Steiner organisation to end the tribute to Derek Cooper, as if somehow that visit was the pinnacle of his career, is a disgrace.
Below is my letter to the programme’s producer Sheila Dillon at the BBC via their complaints web-page.
Dear Sheila Dillon,
I have been listening to The Food Programme for many years and have always trusted and very much enjoyed the show. It is very sad for Derek Cooper’s family, friends and colleagues to have lost such a loved-one and I hope they accept my condolences. Yet it is also very difficult for PoC or people with disabilities to hear that the last piece of the tribute to Mr. Cooper was an uncritical and loathsome endorsement of Camphill Communities.
In addition to Steiner’s dangerous views on medicine (see https://sites.google.com/site/waldorfwatch/steiners-quackery ) and his views on race (see http://www.dcscience.net/?p=3853 ) there is the general presumption by Anthroposophists that disability is the result of errors in a past life.
It might seem unsympathetic to complain about a programme at this sad time but for PoC and the disabled, Steiner’s attitude is as unacceptable as it gets. It seems to me that the BBC has used Mr. Cooper’s sad death to promote the disgraceful values of Anthroposophy on the basis that no one would dare complain. But I am sure that if Mr. Cooper’s family knew what was being promoted in his name, they would understand my concern.
It’s so sad that a groundbreaking programme such as The Food Programme is so eager to embrace anti-science nonsense and promote inherantly racists ideologies – does that mean that all the other ‘facts’ they have broadcast over the years are equally suspect? It seems now that we are supposed to accept the ravings of a mad man as easily as we might accept proper peer-reviewed science. Sheila Dillon’s profile on the BBC is really outstanding http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnx3/presenters/sheila-dillon and I sincerely hope she simply didn’t know what Camphill was all about; we need voices about science we can trust.
Lets hope we get a reply.
It seems Sheila Dillon approves of Anthroposophy because, in response to me informing her about this blog piece on twitter, she has tweeted that she does indeed understand Steiner. I hope she is mistaken and that she in fact doesn’t understand – at least then she could retract her support. Here is an examples of recent Twitter activity around the issue I’ve raised.
As Dr. Calquhoun notes, Ms. Dillon should care about this. For more information about Camphill not written by Anthroposophists or their supporters, see: http://ukanthroposophy.wordpress.com/?s=Camphill
I sincerely hope that senior staff at the BBC respond having read some of the many critiques of Anthroposophy available to them.