June 13, 2010

Here’s an interesting example of what Rudolf Steiner extols as the truth for our material world.  Please remember that the following quote and others are bases upon which Biodynamic farming is founded.

As an aside, let me say, how perplexed I am about my own industry.  I think of my fellow vintners as educated, enlightened, erudite, sophisticated, worldly people and yet some of my associates are embracing a philosophy of farming which I consider consistent with the uneducated ignorant peasant farmer of the Middle Ages.  If I was a biodynamic vintner and I read the following passage (or from my June 4 post) I would be embarrassed and humiliated that I had been duped into accepting Biodynamics into my work life.  I wonder if most Biodynamic vintners have read Steiner’s actual words – I doubt it?

From  “Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of AGRICULTURE” by Rudolf Steiner, published 1993 from the Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc. – page 41- 42, lecture 2, originally given on June 10, 1924:

 “Thus, if we look at an animal with regard to its shape and coloration, and also the structure and consistency of its substance, we see the effects of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars as we proceed from the animal’s nose toward its heart, and the effects of  Venus, Mercury, and Moon as we move beyond its heart toward its tail.

      People who are interested in these things should really develop their knowledge of how to observe form.  It is really extremely important to develop this capacity.  Go to a museum sometime and look at the skeleton of any mammal, and the following in mind as you do: The primary influence at work in the formation of the head is the radiance of the Sun, the direct radiation of the Sun as it streams into the mouth.  And depending on other conditions, which we will discuss later, one animal exposes itself to the Sun differently than another; a lion exposes itself differently than a horse, and it is this exposure that determines how the head and adjacent parts are formed.  So, at the front end of the animal, we are dealing with the direct action of the Sun in the forming of the head.  Now, you will recall that sunlight also approaches the Earth in another way, by being reflected by the Moon.  We have to take into account not only the direct sunlight, but also the sunlight reflected by the Moon.  This reflected sunlight is quite ineffective when it shines on an animal’s head.  But light reflected by the Moon becomes highly effective when it falls on an animal’s hind end.  Look at the formation of the hind end of an animal skeleton and its characteristic relationship to the form of the head.  Cultivate a sense for these contrasting forms, for the way the thighs are attached, the way the lower end of the digestive system is formed, in contrast to the opposite poke, which is formed from the head inward.  There, in an animal’s front and hind ends, you have the contrast between the Sun and the Moon.”

 “If you follow this up, you will find that the Sun’s influence extends right up to the heart, stopping just short of it – and that Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn work in forming the head and the blood – and that from the heart backwards, the influence of the Moon is supported by Mercury and Venus.”  Bold and underlining added

As a parent I would not allow this to be taught in my children’s schools and I suspect that most educators would agree with me, so why would serious wineries embrace such nonsense?  If it shouldn’t be taught in our schools then it shouldn’t be used in our vineyards.

 While this passage deserves an A+ in Creative Writing 101, it completely substantiates that Rudolf Steiner was either delusional or an outright fraud.   I also submit that because of statements like this, all credibility for Biodynamics is lost.  How on earth can supporters of Rudolf Steiner defend this passage?  

Stuart Smith



June 10, 2010

 The world is full of anecdotal accounts, offered up as proof, for what people think they know to be true.  For most, there is no real knowing if these beliefs are causal or incidental.  A very simple for instance–while it’s true that every person who eats carrots today will die, eating carrots will not be the reason that those folks  die.  Hopefully most of these carrot eaters will live long into the future, but the causation of death will  likely be the normal ones, such as cancer, heart failure, accident, etc.

 With this in mind, there are many wonderful wines from world famous estates which are biodynamically farmed, but so what! It means absolutely nothing to this discussion unless you can prove a causal relationship between Biodynamic farming and wine quality. I believe that any relationship between biodynamic practices and wine quality is incidental at best, anecdotal claims by their followers to the contrary.  

 There are wineries that make great wines that are Biodynamically farmed and there are wineries that make great wines that non-Biodynamically farmed.   Great wines have been around for hundreds of years, whereas biodynamically farmed vineyards are relatively recent.  It’s not only possible, but likely, that vineyards producing great wines in the past will continue to produce great wines into the future whether they are biodynamically farmed or not.   The defining element (causation) is not whether the vineyard is biodynamically farmed or not, but whether the vineyard is located on the right soils, has the right exposure, the right micro-climate and is grown by a competent and caring farmer.

 As we’ve seen with the recent political campaigns, people make all sorts of assertions with little or no connection to the truth and Biodynamics is no different.  Where are the controlled studies that limit soil, vine health and wine analysis to only the biodynamic paradigm?  Are there good isolating controls established, are variables accounted for, is organic, sustainable and traditional also being tested under the exact same controls and are the trials results replicable in other regions and climates and are the results the same or do they differ?  Lastly, will the experiments and test results stand up to peer review?  

 I have seen nothing from the biodynamic community offering any proof for their outlandish claims of superiority. Until such rigorous studies are completed and I am proven wrong, I will continue in my belief that Rudolf Steiner was a fraud and Biodynamics is a hoax. 

Stuart Smith

U.C. Davis

June 8, 2010

The California premium wine industry has gone from a tiny industry 60-70 years ago to world pre-eminence because we ignored European reliance on tradition and embraced science.  U.C. Davis, staffed with scientists such as professors Winkler, Amerine, Singleton, Lider, Cook, Olmo, Kleaver et al, did the basic scientific research to find the truths of Enology and Viticulture. They used science and the scientific method to test old assumptions and new theories and then offered up their results for peer review. They taught their students what they had learned in their research and as importantly they taught their students how to think critically.  California wine quality soared, and progressive, enlightened and open-minded European winemakers were soon coming to California and Davis to learn that which they could not learn in Europe. I am grateful and proud that I am a product of that educational system.   

I admit to being biased and U.C.-centric.  Go Bears!

Stuart Smith


June 4, 2010

The following excerpt is from page 11 of Rudolf Steiner’s book AGRICULTURE, which is a collection of all the lectures and discussions given in June 1924 upon which Biodynamics is based.   I chose to include the unbroken section so that you the reader can get a true picture of Steiner’s beliefs.

           “People nowadays don’t even know how human beings and animals are nourished, let alone plants.  They think nourishment consists in our eating the substances that are around us.  First these go into the mouth, and then into the stomach.  Then some of them are deposited in the body and some of them are excreted.  Next the deposited portion is used up and also gets excreted, after which it is again replaced.  People conceive of nutrition in the most superficial fashion.  But the fact is that the foodstuffs taken in through the stomach do not build up our bones, muscles, and other tissues – they only build up our head.  Everything that enters the body by way of the digestive organs, and is then metabolized and distributed, only provides materials to be deposited in the head, in what belongs to the nerve-sense system.  On the other hand, the substances we need for building up our limbs or our metabolic organs – the long bones in our legs or arms, or our intestines, for instance – those substances do not come from the food taken in by way of our mouth and stomach; instead they are absorbed from our whole environment by means of our breathing, and even via our sensory organs.  Within each human being, the following process is continually taking place:  What is taken in through our stomach streams upward and is put to use in our head, while what comes from the air and the rest of our surroundings is taken in through our head – our nerve-sense system – and then streams downward to build up the organs of our digestive system or our limbs.  So, if you want to know what kind of substance your big toe is made up of, you must not look to your food.  On the other hand, if you ask where the substance of your brain comes from, then you do have to look to your food.”   Bolding and italicizing added,     If this isn’t  hippie, dippy, wacky commune back to the Earth zeitgeist what is?

 Steiner’s own words couldn’t make it any clearer that his beliefs and reasoning are both fictional and fraudulent and yet this is the basis of Biodynamic farming, which is growing with an ever increasing number of wineries proudly proclaiming that they are Certified Biodynamic grape growers.    BTW, Steiner never explains the origins for his unorthodox beliefs.  He never says that his beliefs are because of this research or that experiment that he conducted he has come to these beliefs; because I believe he never did any and created them out of whole cloth.

 To those of you who believe in Biodynamic farming, please explain and/or defend Steiner’s utterly unique view of biology. 

Stuart Smith


June 1, 2010

Welcome to “Biodynamics is a Hoax.”  I created this blog to offer an alternative view to Biodynamics and to engage the Biodynamic community in debate over the merits and efficacy of Biodynamic farming.  I challenge any Biodynamic farmer or supporter to defend the writings of Rudolf Steiner.  I submit that if you believe in science you cannot believe in Biodynamics, and the corollary is just as true, if you believe in Biodynamics you cannot believe in science.  As you can tell by the title I believe that Biodynamics is a hoax and deserves the same level of respect the scientific community has for witchcraft, voodoo and astrology.

Austrian Philosopher Rudolf Steiner gave a series of lectures and discussions on Agriculture in June 1924 to a group of several hundred of his anthroposophical followers in Koberwitz, Poland.  Steiner had never been a farmer, yet he delivered these lectures on Agriculture which became the foundation for Biodynamics.  In recent years Biodynamics has been embraced by an ever widening group of vineyardists and wineries around the world.  Some of the world’s most renowned wineries farm Biodynamically and many consider Biodynamics to be the “Rolls Royce” of organic farming.

Yet, after reading Steiner, I conclude that Rudolf Steiner was a complete nutcase, a flimflam man with a tremendous imagination, a combination if you will, of an LSD-dropping Timothy Leary with the showmanship of a P.T. Barnum.  His books, writings and lectures should be catalogued under “science fiction” because there is not a scintilla of truth in any of his writings.  Reading Steiner is tough sledding because it makes no sense in our real world, yet when viewed as  “science fiction” masquerading as some sort of Jim Jones new age cult you are forced to admit that Steiner was extremely clever and creative in actually making this stuff up.  Unfortunately, it is quite sad that someone—anyone—would actually believe in this hoax and profoundly disturbing that the Biodynamic movement is gaining ground.    Future postings will endeavor to expose Biodynamics as the hoax and fraud that I believe it to be.

Stuart Smith

Note:  This is an introductory post and comments are closed. Please feel free to comment on recent posts. – -Stu