Pseudoscience is not a valid educational choice

6:00 pm - July 23rd 2009

by Unity    

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Anyone who’s passionate about science, as I am, cannot help but be seriously concerned by the growing extent to which anti-scientific ideas, and the groups and organisations that promote them, are increasingly creeping into public life and attracting mainstream political support.

While it’s easy to ridicule the purveyors of anti-scientific ideas when they’re to be found at the lunatic fringes of mainstream politics, and one thinks immediately of Nadine Dorries’s ridiculous claim that ‘Tridents aren’t weapons of mass destruction’ and David Tredinnick’s expenses claim for astrology software, the kidding around has to stop when one finds sizeable sums of public money are being routed to organisations that promote pseudoscience as a matter of public policy.

To make matters worse we’re not just talking about the healthcare sector and NHS funding for pseudoscientific nonsense (i.e. and other so-called ‘alternative therapies’ but an altogether more sensitive field – education.

By 2011, a little over £1.4 million of taxpayers’ money will have been blown, by the NHS, on setting up and bailing out the ‘Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council’ (aka OfQuack) , a supposed voluntary ‘regulator’ for practitioners of ‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ – one that’s already shaping up to be just about as useful as that other notable paragon of voluntary (non) regulation, the Press Complaints Commission. Whatever the CNHC might claim about its proposed role as regulator of the CAM sector, in reality its has no more authority than a bog-standard trade association and all the appearance of being yet another example of the state pandering to the increasing eccentric personal foibles and vanities of the Quacktitioner Royal. That said, pissing £1.4 million down the drain on Chuck the Hippy’s latest vanity project pales into relative insignificance when set against the sums that anti-science groups have managed to extract from the public purse through the government’s academies programme, where a capital bung of £20-25 million per academy plus running costs of anything from £2 million to £7 million a year seems to be about the going rate.

The most notorious examples of anti-scientific thinking gaining a foothold in state-funded education via the academies programme, to date, have been the three academies run by Peter Vardy’s Emmanuel Schools Foundation, in Middlesbrough, Gateshead and Doncaster, where significant concerns have arisen in relation to the teaching of creationism but, more recently, and with relatively little adverse publicity, proponents of pseudoscience have succeeding in opening a new front in their ongoing war on reason and rationality by securing £16 million in capital investment from the DCSF to support the creation of a publicly-funded Steiner Academy in rural Herefordshire, which opened (as a state funded school) only last year, against the wishes of local residents and Herefordshire Council.

The Academy No one Wanted

The circumstances in which the Hereford Steiner Academy came to be afforded state investment and revenue funding, look, to say the least, more than a little dubious.

Unlike other academies, which have been set up to replace failing state schools in, primarily, inner city areas, the precursor of the Herefordshire Steiner Academy was a fee-paying Steiner school, which was set up in 1983 in the distinctly rural Herefordshire village of Much Dewchurch, which has a population of around 250 residents and, since last year, an academy which provides 330 school places.

Objections to the academy project raised by both local residents and Herefordshire Council, which is badly strapped for cash and facing the prospect of making a raft of unpopular decisions on school closures in order to rationalise school in the county, appear to have been dismissed in a rather high handed fashion. According to Dr Eddie Oram, a retired former Director of Education in the County who was enlisted by local residents to help with the campaign against the academy project, he was informed by a ’emissary’ from the DCSF’s Academies Unit that:

“though the council’s view would be listened to, disagreement would not be allowed to frustrate the government plans to meet its intentions under the diversity agenda.”

It seems that the DCSF now has a rather curious working definition of ‘diversity’ which now includes funnelling public money to an occult society that derives it ideas on childhood development from a thoroughly bastardised fusion of Edwardian occultism, quasi-Christian Gnosticism and badly re-written Hindu mysticism and its idea of what constitutes science from the otherwise long-discredited work of the author of Faust, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the German Counter-Enlightenment.

Despite their carefully cultivated (and heavily sanitised) public image as a haven of faintly hippyish liberal arts education rooted in an absurdly over-romanticised view of childhood, Steiner Schools (also known as Steiner-Waldorf and Waldorf Schools) are, in reality, just one arm of an occult society founded in the second decade of the 20th Century by Rudolf Steiner – The Anthroposophical Society – which actively espouses and promotes a fundamentally unscientific world view.

Crap Science

I’ve already covered some of the background to both Steiner’s self-coined ‘philosophy’, which he termed ‘Anthroposophy’, over at the Ministry and some of the quite significant concerns that former Steiner School pupils (and their parents) have raised in regards to both academic and pastoral standards in Steiner Schools (usual cautions apply – it’s long, covers a lot of varied ground and could really have done with a sub-editor). It has to be said, however, that even that article is just the tip of a pretty sizeable iceberg, one in which I’ve either omitted entirely, or barely touched on, a range of notable oddities which include:

–  Anthroposophical beliefs about disabilities, which are regarded as ‘karmic choices’ made by individuals in order to learn a particular ‘karmic lesson’,

Biodynamic Agriculture, which liberally mixes conventional organic farming practices with sympathetic magic and astrology, and

Anthroposophic medicine, for which the most apt description is ‘homoeopathy with even less science’*.

* A couple of years ago, Prof Edzard Ernst (co-author of ‘Trick or Treatment’ with Simon Singh) attempted to carry out a systematic review of all randomised clinical trials of Anthroposophical medicine as either a sole or adjunctive treatment for any illness or condition, but failed to find a single study that met the inclusion criteria after running seven separate literature searches.

But what really concerns me, so far as this article goes, is what one discovers on digging into the nature of so-called ‘Goethean science’ as it’s practiced within Steiner Schools.

Goethean Science is somewhat difficult to describe in simple terms, largely because answers to the question ‘what is Goethean science?‘ are almost invariably wrapped up in copious layers of cod philosophy and psychobabble, but it is possible to get something of a flavour of how it differs from real science from this statement.

The idea is that the Goethean does not need to superimpose a rationalistic or reductionistic explanatory mechanism over top of the observed phenomenon, but rather simply takes the intuitive imaginative experience at face value.

A philosopher would call that a phenomenological approach. A scientist would call it ‘making shit up’ – and that’s pretty much the size of it. So-called Goethean ‘scientists’ simply disregard all the proven tools provided by the scientific method, i.e. logic, reason and evidence, in favour treating their own imaginings and subjective impressions as an alternative form of ‘scientific truth’.

One can easily see the kind of nonsense that this form of spurious reasoning generates in that passage from a paper entitled ‘Doing Goethean Science‘ by Craig Holdrege:

In a college botany course I learned why plants that grow in shady places have broader and larger leaves than plants that grow in full sunlight. The reason given is that plants growing in shade don’t receive as much light to do photosynthesis. Therefore they grow larger surfaces with which they can capture more light and produce more organic matter via photo­synthesis. Plants have developed this strategy to survive and reproduce in shady habitats. This is a typical functional explanation that makes perfect sense-until you think the matter through a bit further. The larger the surface area a plant creates, the more substance it needs to build up and sustain its larger body. Wouldn’t it be just as effective for the plant to stay very small with narrow leaves? In this way it wouldn’t have to do so much photosynthesis since it could stay small. Both explanations make sense. I have yet to find a functional explanation of a phenomenon for which one couldn’t find equally plausible alternatives.

Holdrege glibly dismisses what is a standard evolutionary explanation for the predominance of broad leaved plants in shady conditions on the basis that he imagines that bonsai pine trees might prove to be just as effective as solution to the challenge of plant survival in such conditions and that’s all the ‘evidence’ he needs to conclude that the Darwinian account of plant evolution is in error. The fact that the shadier corners of a typical deciduous forest simply aren’t heaving with bonsai pine trees and, therefore, provide no evidence to support his imaginings is completely irrelevant.

As you might well expect, whenever you find an attempt to fashion an alleged gap in Darwinian evolutionary theory, the idea that life is product of some kind of supernatural special creation won’t be following too far behind and, as the noted science education Eugenie C Scott notes in her 1994 article ‘Waldorf Schools Teach Odd Science, Odd Evolution‘ this is certainly true of the account of evolution taught in Steiner schools.

The [Steiner] Waldorf version of evolution is especially concerned with the relationship of humans to animals, but this relationship is quite different from that of mainline evolutionists. “It becomes apparent that man is a compendium of the animal kingdom; alternatively expressed, that the animal kingdom is the human being spread out.” The human “essence” passed through a number of “spiritual states” on the way to becoming human, which was a relatively recent event. “Dr. Steiner considers animals to be the by-products of human development. Man has been involved from the beginning but not in a physical form. Man existed spiritually and the animal forms represent physically incarnated soul forces which the human being had to dispense with in order to mature sufficiently to receive the ego. … As in life … we are trying to overcome the lower passions to evolve to something higher, so throughout evolution, the passions were separated out from man and these were incorporated as animals.”

For our final example of the kind of rubbish that passes for ‘science’ in Steiner education we’ll leave the biological sciences and turn to a delightful account of a middle school physics lesson as related by Christian Smits in a paper entitled “A study of the element ‘Water’“.

Yes, even before we look at of the content of the paper, there’s a pretty obvious problem to be addressed.

From chemistry we know that there are 92 naturally occurring chemical elements plus something of the order of another 25 or Transuranic elements that scientists have managed to create, artificially, within nuclear reactors, none of which are actually water…

… or air, fire and earth, all of which Steinerians consider to be elements as well. Aristotelian dogma is, sad to say, alive and well and still being taught as ‘science’ in Steiner schools.

That said, the subject at hand is physics and what Smits’ paper provides is an account of the teaching of some of the physical properties of water to a class of 12 year olds in a Steiner school which includes this absurdly florid attempt to account for the spherical shape of water droplets…

In beautiful water drops that shine while falling, we see the globular tendency. Yet we also see the potential for water to collect in a round globe in the huge formations of the oceans of the world. Also solid materials do as water-they join in the globular form. All erosion and disintegration tend to create globes. The fact that materials pack together from every direction and build a globe appears as primeval phenomena in the shape of a water drop. These observations result in what we normally call gravitation. Phenomenally all of the parts of physical materials trying to collect in a common globular form…

…A water level is also a globe, or more correctly defined as part of a globe. If you build a house anywhere on the surface of the earth, the level will follow the surface of the earth, Gravity causes this effect. It collects everything into a middle point. But fluids have the ability to pull back into themselves. Because of gravity they can form globe within and of themselves.

Conclusion: globular tendency = gravity.

We can say that solid bodies are individualized in their ability to pull together-they individualize gravity-while liquids collect in a unified gravitational form. In other words, liquids, when they are as small as a drop, can break free from the power of gravity and create their own world.

Talk about filling kids’ heads with rubbish!

Water droplets take on a spherical form due to surface tension which arises from intermolecular forces, not gravity – gravitational forces between atoms/molecules are simply too weak in a small water drop to cause it to coalesce in such a fashion and are overridden by the stronger intermolecular forces, and as for solids ‘individualizing’ gravity, that’s just complete and utter bollocks as is the suggestion that liquids ‘break free from the power of gravity and create their own world’ when in droplet form.

Little wonder then that, only last year, Stockholm University chose to discontinue its teacher training course in Steiner education on the grounds that Steiner science literature contains ‘too much myth and too little fact’.

The DCSF’s ‘Diversity Agenda’ in action

Now you may well wonder, having read all that, just how the hell the DCSF managed to overlook all this in arriving at the decision to foist an unwanted Steiner Academy on the residents of Much Dewchurch?

First, the DCSF commissioned a research study into Steiner Education in England from a small group of academics who are active proponents of so-called ‘alternative education’. Phillip and Glenys Woods, co-authors of the report along with Martin Ashley, are also the authors of a book entitled ‘Alternative Education for the 21st Century‘, the publisher’s promotional blurb for which states:

This is a unique collection of leading examples of education grounded in alternative philosophies and cultures – from initiatives to create more democratic schools, through Quaker, Buddhist, Islamic, Montessori and Steiner/Waldorf schools, to Maori and First Nations education in Canada and Palestinian Jewish schools in Israel. Aimed at educational practitioners, leaders, and policy-makers in all types of educational settings, as well as academics and researchers, the book is a resource to help educators think creatively about education at a time when the need to find new ways to nurture spiritual and holistic growth and democratic citizenship has never been greater.

Fostering democratic citizenship is, of course, no bad thing in itself but the assertion that there is any kind of need to find ‘new ways to nurture spiritual and holistic growth’ is an altogether more questionable matter, not least in the sense that none of the so-called ‘alternative philosophies’ cited above are actually new and only one of them, the Montessori method, has any solid foundations in science and rationalism. At this point, its also worth noting that Glenys Woods, who appears to have been the principle investigator on the DCSF commissioned study, not only gives her ‘foundational interest’ as an educational researcher as ‘spiritual awareness’ but also has an interesting sideline as an ‘angelic reiki healer’ that she omits from her academic profile.

Once one realises that the authors of the ‘Woods Report’ are anything but impartial in their opinions of so-called ‘alternative education’ it comes as no great surprise to find that what should otherwise have been treated as serious and well-founded concerns about the nature and character of science ‘education’ in Steiner Schools are, in fact, glibly dismissed in a matter of two paragraphs:

A more fundamental challenge for Steiner education is also posed by Jelinek and Sun, who identify as problematic Goethe’s scientific world view. They suggest that, whilst Steiner schools’ science education in many ways is shown to be better than that in mainstream schools, [Steiner education] “should disregard Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy as the source of accurate scientific concepts”. They also draw attention to what they see as the unwillingness of some Steiner educators to countenance correction of the curriculum in the light of advances in scientific knowledge, or clarification of basic errors.

However, it is important to note that Steiner educators would emphasise that much of the science teaching in Steiner schools is based on training the pupils to observe and come to their own conclusions rather than proving someone else’s theory. To the extent that they are successful in this, pupils brought up on Steiner principles would be encouraged to critically question all theories, including those of Rudolf Steiner himself.

That may have satisfied policy wonks at the DCSF, but it’s nowhere near enough for me, so I took the time to dig out Jelinek and Sun’s full paper to see exactly what they had to say and whether it differs, to any significant extent, to the interpretation of its findings given in the Woods Report.

What Jelinek and Sun actually found

Well, the good news for Steiner educators is that Jelinek and Sun did find some evidence that the heavy emphasis on observation and subjective interpretation in Steiner Schools does give rise to some measurable benefits in terms of a more rapid development of non-verbal inferential reasoning skills in children educated in Steiner Schools as against those in mainstream education. However, as the authors note, their findings are tentative given the small size of the study and the lack of a control group:

The overall effect of all 3 tasks (non-verbal logical reasoning, verbal logical reasoning, and magnets) leads to a tentative conclusion that Waldorf students’ scientific reasoning and problem solving skills appear to be at or slightly above those of their counterparts in mainstream educational settings. A more extensive investigation, with large numbers and a control group, is encouraged.

The bad news, which the Woods Report massively underplays, is perhaps best illustrated by unwinding the reports brief exercise in quote mining and placing the reference to dropping Steiner’s works as a source of accurate scientific concepts in its full context and as it appears in a discussion of what would need to be done to enable Steiner schools to offer a viable science education.

As a first step Waldorf should disregard Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy as the source of accurate scientific concepts. The basis for this recommendation is that Steiner’s teachings do not pass the tests of empiricism (a,b,c and d)*, are not testable by anyone (e), have not changed much, if any, since Steiner introduced them (f), and rely on paranormal statements that cannot be verified (g). Accepting many of Rudolf Steiner’s scientific indications in light of the absence of empirical evidence violates the core premises of the scientific paradigm. The anthroposophical argument is that Rudolf Steiner applied empirical investigations in the spiritual world where he garnered higher spiritual truths, but even if this turns out to be accurate it must be discarded as scientifically valid because it cannot be replicated by anyone. If and when the scientific paradigm can ever be overturned with an anthroposophical paradigm because a preponderance of empirical evidence demands it, anthroposophists will have reason to celebrate; but there is little in the current paradigm to suggest this is likely.

*Lettered references refer to an outline of the scientific paradigm which immediately precedes these conclusions in Jelinek and Sun’s paper.

In short, what Jelinek and Sun actually concluded was that the apparent benefits of Steiner Education’s methodological approach to science education are routinely and systematically squandered on the teaching of pseudoscientific nonsense, a view emphasised in a subsequent section of the paper which addresses the question of what else Steiner Schools need to do to develop a viable approach to science education after dumping Steiner’s ideas from the curriculum in their entirety:

Waldorf needs to come to terms with the five defining theories of modern scientific thought (Wynn & Wiggins, 1997) — the five “Big Ideas” of Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology, and Biology. A “Big Idea”, according to Wiggins (2001), has: lasting value; can transfer to other inquiries; serves as a “key concept for making important facts, skills, and actions more connected”; summarizes “key findings/expert insights in a subject or discipline”; and requires “uncoverage” (i.e., It has many layers and nuances that are not obvious to the naïve or inexperienced person and is often misunderstood and prone to disagreement. Therefore one must dig well beyond the surface to grasp it, and in so doing begin to gain a “depth and breadth of insights into the subject”).

The Big Ideas that Steiner Education can’t handle.

So what are these five ‘big ideas’ that Steiner Education has yet to come to terms with?

Well, in physics the big idea is the atom, which Steiner education disregards on the grounds that it is not directly observable and that atoms are “…merely models (imaginations) that constitute an intermediate virtual concept that is constructed mentally in order to ‘explain’…”.

In chemistry the big idea is the Periodic Law and the chemical properties of atoms, which Steiner Education, at best, relegates to a matter of minor interest due to its dislike of ‘reductionism’, not to mention its penchant for Aristotelian dogma.

In the realm of Astronomy, as you may have already guessed, its Big Bang Theory that appears to get short-shrift despite Jelinek and Sun noting that Steiner education’s preference for observational/inferential teaching is actually quite well suited to this field of study where conventional approaches may too readily dive in abstract theory without building an observational foundations – astronomy is, after all, founded on observation. The problem that the report identifies here is, however, a familiar one…

If “penetrating the realities” includes “penetrating the Big Bang Theory” then Waldorf’s approach to astronomy is really quite educationally sound; in fact, it is a step above many mainstream approaches that de-emphasize direct observational experience and prematurely delve into abstract theories. On the other hand, if Waldorf chooses to avoid this theory in lieu of alternative explanations then it ignores a theory that, since Hubble’s discovery in 1923 of another galaxy outside of our own, has substantiated existence of billions of expanding galaxies which, if mathematically calculated in reverse, would theoretically meet at “zero-time”, the “Big Bang”, some 15 billion years ago.

No prizes for guessing what ‘alternative explanations’ means in this context.

In Geology, the big idea is plate tectonics which labours both under Steiner education’s over-reliance on outdated ideas and failure to keep up with recent scientific development and it preoccupation with mythology. Jelinek and Sun did find one account of theory of continental drift in a Steiner booklet on Geology…

Kolisko (1945,1978) discusses Wegener’s theory of Continental Drift in the Waldorf booklet Geology, but he does so in the context of arguing for the existence of the ancient continent of Atlantis, which split, then sank down into the “flood”. “If we imagine also that a continent splits in the middle, and moves, it is no longer astonishing that the coast lines fit into each other. The continent splits, the flood breaks in, and because the continents are movable, displacements happen. Wegener’s theory of the Continental Drift, brought into connection with all the facts mentioned before, leads immediately to the conception that there must have been an Atlantic Continent (p. 32)”

…Wegener’s theory does no such thing, of course, unless you’re the kind of nutball who believes that Atlantis was actually a real place in first place.

Finally, the big idea in biology that Steiner education cannot deal with adequately is, of course, Darwinian evolution, of which little can said that hasn’t already been well aired in disputes with other devout believers in supernaturalism.

Against this weight of evidence that Steiner educations teaching material include copious amounts of nonsensical pseudoscience Woods offer only the spurious counter argument that the Goethean methodology should operate as a self-correcting mechanism by encouraging children to question these ideas, an argument for which she offers no supporting evidence whatsoever, an assumption for which she offers no supporting evidence. If this amounts to anything at all then it looks for all the world like an attempt to blow off Jelinek and Sun’s criticisms without adequately addressing them and without raising suspicions that might prompt detailed scrutiny of the content of Steiner ‘science’ education in the UK.

Bending the Rules

Armed with the Woods report, the DCSF went on to strong-arm the local education authority into accepting a Steiner academy on their patch and pretty much waive any requirements that might place educational standards at the school under significant external scrutiny.

No SATS at age seven – not that this would help as Steiner schools don’t bother with reading at this age.

No Ofsted report prior to conversion – in fact no evidence that the school has ever been inspected by Ofsted other than in terms of its nursery/kindergarten provision.

Oh, and don’t ask too may questions as to where the money the Steiner Fellowship has to put up came from, because they’re not saying – all that has been reported is that two unnamed donors put up the £1.5 million float that the school needed to convert.

In short, almost no scrutiny of the proposal at all.

It’s also worth noting that the Hereford Steiner Academy is tied into a research network operating out of Plymouth University, which offers the UK’s only degree course (a BA) in Steiner education.

The network’s homepage throws up a couple of interesting names and connections. Christopher Clouder, one of main contacts for this research group, is also the CEO of the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship and the Director of the European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education in addition to moonlighting as the founder and international director of the Alliance for Childhood, which seems to have a considerable number of links to the Steiner movement, while Graham Kennish is, amongst other things, the science advisor to the University’s Steiner Education course and a member of the Anthroposophical Society’s ‘science’ group.  So far as the prospect of obtaining any kind of valid, unbiased, research out of this network goes, the chance of that looks to very much on a par with the chance of Paul Dacre developing a worthwhile sense of journalistic ethics at any point in the foreseeable future.

Digging around the membership of this science group turned up another rather interesting name – Nicholas Kollerstrom – who appears to be yet another anthroposophist, not to mention – since last year – one of the UK’s better known holocaust deniers and conspiraloons, which rather serves to emphasise the point that if you believe the kind of crap that the Steiner movement peddles as ‘science’ then you’ll believe anything, even to the extent of claiming that Auschwitz was a Nazi version of Butlins.

Enter the Tories… to make things even worse.

New Labour’s overweening obsession with ‘choice’ and ‘diversity’ in education is bad enough as its manifested here – £16 million pissed away on state-funded Steiner Academy without any hint of adequate scrutiny of the obvious and well documented shortcomings of the Steiner movement’s approach to science education, or rather, pseudoscience education as it should more accurately be called.

However, if a recent statement by Shadow Education Minister, Michael Gove, is anything to go by the things are set to get even worse if, as many expect, the Conservatives win the next general election.

Under the Tory proposals, new schools entering the state system would be free from the constraints of the statutory national curriculum.

Mr Gove believes many parents think the particular teaching styles “and atmosphere of the environment” at Montessori and Steiner schools would suit them and their children.

“They are educational movements that explicitly want to do things differently,” he said. “They engage the passions of teachers and parents. They tend to have the results in the end, both in character and ability, that parents would want to see in their children.

“If we are about enabling choice and diversity it is only right to allow both movements to become essentially state-funded schools.”

Now as I see it, if you’re also at all about providing a good education education and improving standards, particularly in the natural sciences, then the very last thing that any politician should be considering is bringing Steiner education into the state system.

Montessori schools are, for the most part, a very different matter. There’s a solid body of research evidence to support the claimed benefits of the Montessori method and only difficulty parents are likely to encounter is a touch of caveat emptor – the Montessori name is not a trademark and, in some instances, the extent to which schools operating under the Montessori name can be rather variable with an attended loss of academic and social benefits in those schools that fail to adhere closely to the Montessori method.

Steiner schools, as we’ve seen, teach the most abject pseudoscientific crap as science and, as such, no amount of appeals to ‘parental choice’ and ‘diversity’ can reasonably justify pissing taxpayers’ money down the drain on funding schools that teach utter rubbish in place of established scientific fact.

Will the real Michael Gove please stand up?

Adding a further twist to this story, only last week Gove stood up in the House of Commons to criticise the standard of science teaching in mainstream education in what was, for the floor of the House, fairly strident terms:

I also congratulate the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Gedling (Mr. Coaker), on being appointed Minister for schools and learners. He is a member of the NUT, and I am delighted that his union endorsed our proposals yesterday, calling them “imaginative” and in the interests of pupils. It is good to have his support, and I look forward to more of it. The Minister is also a member of the Socialist Education Association, which is committed to equality. Like me, he will be disturbed by the fact that barely 2 per cent. of pupils eligible for free school meals sit physics or chemistry GCSE, with under 4 per cent. sitting biology. Such pupils are 25 times less likely to sit any of those subjects than their wealthier peers.

While the numbers of poor children getting competitive qualifications are declining, so are standards. This will be of interest to the Secretary of State: in the latest GCSE biology paper, students are asked if we sweat through our kidneys, liver, lungs or skin. Was not the Royal Society of Chemistry right to suggest that Government changes to the science curriculum had been “a catastrophe”? Is it not true that the poorest pupils are being hit hardest?

While, in an op-ed piece in the Yorkshire Post (June 2008) Gove advanced this argument in favour of raising standards in science education:

Universities say that A-levels are no longer preparing children properly for university degrees in maths and science. Physics departments and chemistry labs are closing.

Employers say that our education system is not delivering the skills we need.

What makes it worse is that there is a growing gap between standards for richer families and the rest.

Just six per cent of pupils in state schools took a combination of biology, chemistry and physics GCSE, compared with 26 per cent of pupils in independent schools. In some parts of Britain, not a single state school pupil sat biology, chemistry or physics GCSE in 2005-6.

There are whole boroughs where no state school children can get the qualifications which will enable them to compete properly for jobs in medicine, science or technology.

And the divide between the richest and the rest is set to become deeper. Independent schools, worried that the current GCSE isn’t rigorous enough, are moving to a different exam, the international GCSE, which is tougher and a better preparation for further study.

For the same reason, many independent schools are also moving away from the A-level to a new exam called the pre-U. The Government does not let state schools count results on these exams in league tables, so state schools, worried about their league table status, do not offer these rigorous qualifications.

There is a real danger now that our society will become less equal and less open to talent as privileged children in private schools sit the rigorous exams which universities and employers really value, while the majority of our children sit exams that don’t command the confidence they should.

If that’s what Gove genuinely believes, and by all accounts he’s a strong advocate of a liberal, knowledge-based education when he’s not being rooked by the likes of William Rees-Mogg, then why the hell would he even consider promising state funding to schools that teach children that ‘Lemurian’ and ‘Atlantean’ are valid geological ages, that earth, air, fire and water are elements or that water droplets ‘break free’ from the power of gravity?

For once that’s not a rhetorical question – I really would like an answer, and I’m pretty sure Sunny would quite happily publish a response from Gove if one were forthcoming.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Reader comments

1. Shatterface

Wow – this is by far the best thing you’ve written in months.

‘…A water level is also a globe, or more correctly defined as part of a globe. If you build a house anywhere on the surface of the earth, the level will follow the surface of the earth, Gravity causes this effect. It collects everything into a middle point. But fluids have the ability to pull back into themselves. Because of gravity they can form globe within and of themselves.’

My brother teaches physics – I can’t wait to show him that!

I can’t help but wonder if the Tories would now embrace the kind of educational methods they dismissed as loopy/lefty/hippy a couple of decades ago, under the mantle of choice. It seems the choice agenda extends to parents being able to choose between their child learning properly, and learning complete nonsense.

That is – well, erm, fooking madness!

5. Planeshift

Question: How do advocates of vouchers deal with the above?

The logical position is that if parents want to spend state vouchers on choosing this kind of loopy school for their child, then they should be able to. Decentralisation of the curriculum and diversity of schools being one of the alleged plus points of vouchers.

6. Shatterface

There’s a difference, I think, between decentralising school in the sense of removing the curriculum from centralised state control, and removing it from reality.

Science teaching should be subject to pier review, not left to the whims of politicians or crackpots.

7. Shatterface

Peer review, obviously. 🙂

Pier review just seems so much more apt, Shatter, 😉

9. AnonyMouse

it does strike me that too many people seem to believe in absolute nonsense. I think the problem is that they didn’t study enough science etc when they were younger and haven’t bothered since. Hence why people believe in homeopathy and all that nonsense…..!

lucky children in these Steiner (Waldorf) schools get to see a very special ‘spiritual’ anthroposophical doctor
This almost makes homeopathy look sane. But not quite.

(recovering from personal outbreak of “we’re not worthy” upon finishing reading the article – “post” just doesn’t begin to cover it, really, now does it?)

Bloody hell.

Fantastic piece of work.

Anyone know what the notorious-for-their-love-of-woo Green Party (English, of course, our lot up here are only after promoting the Homeopathic hospital in Weegieland, which isn’t good, but could be a lot worse), who quite a few folk round here were supporting in the euro elections, have to say on Steiner blurblings?

The article by Unity is understandable from a polemical secular humanist perspective, rooted in anti-Waldorf campaigns of a small American fringe group that started out as a failed campaign to spread secular humanist at the grass root level in the Bay area some ten years ago –

As such it is natural that it gives a clearly twisted picture of Steiner Waldorf education. For a more well founded description, including a survey of research on it, see

See also and

For some comments on just some few examples of the polemical argumentation by Unity, regarding how light and the elements of nature are approached in Steiner Waldorf education, see

Do Steiner Waldorf schools teach the pupils that “Lemuria” and “Atlantis” are “geological ages”? Of course not. Do they not teach the pupils about the big five ideas of natural science, as might be concluded from the study by Jelinek and Sun, focussing on lower and middle grades in US Waldorf schools, mentioned by Unity?

Most of them, focussing more on the humanistic subjects in the lower grades, probably do it quite well in the upper grades, where Steiner Waldorf schools teach what otherwise is taught much earlier in public schools in terms of present day natural science, giving the pupils a more balanced education as a whole than today mostly is the case, which probably is one of the most important reason parents put them there

For some comments by and examples of some of the Waldorf parents and pupils through the years, including Kenneth Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express, former Waldorf student (Waldorf School of Garden City), Diana Kerry, sister of former Presidential candidate John Kerry about the time she went to the Rudolf Steiner School in Berlin in 1954 (at age 7), Russell Schweickart, Apollo 9 astronaut, NASA Astronaut Technical Advisor, California Energy Commission, former Waldorf parent, Albert Watson, International fashion photographer, former Waldorf student at the Rudolf Steiner school in Edinburgh, Jennifer Aniston, Actress, former Waldorf student, Hans-Dietrich Genscher (former German minister of foreign affairs), Harrison Ford, Harvey Keitel, Helmut Kohl (former German chancellor), see and

“post” just doesn’t begin to cover it, really, now does it?

I’ve had one or two people call me an essayist on occasions, which invariably gives me an attack of the ‘not worthy’s’ as my idea of an essayist is George Orwell.

Question: How do advocates of vouchers deal with the above?

Well, for starters, opening up education to a range of different pedagogies doesn’t necessarily entail giving carte blanche to fucknuts. Even under a voucher system, the state is still entitled to exercise a degree of quality control and insist that certain basic standards are met by schools.

As for the national curriculum the answer is, I think, that it could and should be retained for certain subjects, such as mathematics and the natural sciences, where there’s a clear core of empirical content that has to be taught in students are to gain any grasp of the subject at all. In the sciences its perfectly reasonable to specify, at a national level, the core content that needs to be taught – what needs to be removed is the overbearing micromanagement of both content and teaching practice that’s in the current curriculum.

In short, if you want a physics curriculum, you chuck out the politicians, bureaucrats and ‘educationalists’ and ask physicists to decide what needs to go in it at each level up to the point of entry of university, and you define the content is broad non-prescriptive terms.

So, for example, it should be enough to specify for a GCSE that students should understand Newton’s laws of motion and be capable of solving basic problems in mechanics and leave teachers to decide how best to go about teaching that using the various resources and pedagogical approaches at their disposal. It’s not like there’s any room for dispute over whether Newtonian mechanics should be part of a physics curriculum, so all you need do is put it in the specs and let teachers get on with doing the teaching.

In reality, its not like there wasn’t a de facto national curriculum in the sciences before government took it over, anyway, its just that it was determined by the examining boards and the content they required students to master to gain qualifications rather than by Whitehall.

Oh, I did forget to mention that the Anthroposophical Society has a fairly active astroturfing operation on the go, which is coordinated by its press officer, so you will get a few people cropping up to post links to very carefully sanitised accounts of Anthroposophy.

Sune (‘TheBee’) is one of the more active astroturfers, not to mention the de facto gatekeeper of articles dealing with Anthroposophy and Steiner education on Wikipedia. He’s also quite careful not to link directly to his other website, which you’ll find here…

To give you an idea of what you’ll find, this is a short excerpt from one of his articles, in which he’s talking about the homoeopathic process of ‘potentizing’…

While the potentizing process “de-spaces” substances and carries them from space over into time, into a state of pure life, the radioactive decay of matter implies a “de-timing” of substance, a death process of matter that instead completely carries it out of time over into space, thereby necessarily leading to an “atomizing” of the substance.

All complete and utter bollocks, of course, but then what do you expect…

There’s an aweful lot of bullshit around. And scum who’ve been wasting public money teaching it should be required to pay it back. And if they don’t they should go to prison.

Unity writes about me:

“He’s also quite careful not to link directly to his other website, which you’ll find here…

I have no problem with linking to my personal site. I just did not think it was central in connection with this article. For some reason Unity is careful not to link to a paper I wrote many years ago, trying to analyse and outline some of the basic aspects of scientific thinking and research in a way that also makes it understandable how anthroposophy stands in this this context.

Do I take the importance of science and scientific thinking lightly. No. That’s why I find anthroposophy to be such an interesting challenge as a balance to a purely natural scientific thinking, focussing on the potential material-spatial aspects of reality and using mathematics as the central tool in describing it, with a perspective that takes its starting point in the dynamic aspects of reality and using human language as the central tool to describe it.

Only a synthesis of both aspects – in my view – do reality justice in a way that can be called anthroposophical in the encompassing sense.

Is anthroposophy in a more narrow sense taught at Steiner Waldorf schools? No, one reason being that it does not belong there, more than as a background and frame for the outline of the education and the educational methods used in the schools, as already pointed out by Steiner himself as the founder of Steiner Waldorf education.


This rational US blogger got the measure of Sune – Thebee -


Waldorf schools through the grades try to mediate an understanding of the development of humanity. In the lower grades the teacher builds an understanding of the “elements of nature”, the basic dynamic aspects of matter, corresponding to an historically earlier perspective on human beings and nature. The Greeks are a major emphasis of Grade 5, and the Four Elements of the Greek philosophers would be taught at this time. [from Waldorf elements]

Why the hell are they wasting kids’ time teaching them this? Heart breaking.

It was bad enough being taught the Bohr Model.

Some of you are making the assumption that this is about whether parents will be allowed to choose to send their children to this school. In practice the right to choose to which secondary school you send your 11 year old offspring is highly constrained. In practice there may only be one reasonable school within acceptable travellng distance that isn’t oversubscribed (though I do know of cases where there are no schools that meet these criteria). It may therefore mean that parents are in practice forced to send their children to this school even of they have doubts about it.

It would be interesting to know more about how “choice of secondary” school will work in this particular case. What other choices will be available? Will some children be forced to accept places at this school? What will happen if there are spare places at this school and other schools in the area are full, but parents say that they don’t want to send their children to this school and demand places at other schools? What happens if parents start compaining after they have sent their chidren there? Can the “sponsor” be removed if it doesn’t work out? (These are all questions that still have to be answered about the Academy model in general, but seem to apply particularly about the cases where there is a clearly non-mainstream philosophy.)

“It was bad enough being taught the Bohr Model.” Hah! That was pretty bad – especially since our teacher kept pointing out it wouldn’t be any use later on.

BTW: That astroturfer sounds remarkably like the kammbot.


All complete and utter bollocks, of course, but then what do you expect…

Waldorf Word Salad?

Dear Unity,

A wonderful post!

In reference to whether Thebee aka Sune does or doesn’t link to his or her website.

I have noticed on many sites that fewer and fewer people are writing under their own names. After spending a fair amount of time on earlier in the year, I proposed that as many of us as possible should write under our own names. The suggestion was not received very well for several reasons; many people thought anonymity gave then freedom to say what they liked; many were also well known by their net names; some felt they might be targets of violence; some were worried about their jobs; some were concerned their families/friends/community would disown them and some pointed out that ‘real’ names can be made up as easily as net names.

My view is that if one attempts to avoid risk entirely, change doesn’t really happen. I’m also of the view that writing under your own name lends symbolic credence and additional voracity to a point of view because one is making oneself more visible.

I was, though, persuaded that my attitude was old fashioned and that the content of the comment was more important than the authorship. Nevertheless, I’m inviting writers here to comment on the idea. By the way, many on the Dawkins site thought it insulting that I made the suggestion on the basis that I somehow thought myself more worthy than others. But my intensions are really political inasmuch as I’ve always thought ‘stand up and be counted’ is more effective than anonymity; net fora thus become quasi petitions – a good thing politically. Imagine if all the left/green/rationalists sites were ‘signed’ by ‘real’ people and all the rest were ‘signed’ by pseudonyms and avatars! Anyway, I’d be interested to know what you think.

Best wishes


I am actually not too worried about a few kooky ideas getting in at the margins of the state school system. In fact, I am not sure what is worse in a straight match-up between the official “21st century” GCSE science curriculum and what Steiner will actually teach on the ground (which might well include at least SOME actual science).

What I am far more worried about is the choice agenda being elided with this strategy of foisting “academies” on areas where there are no willing parents. Choice is meant to be all about allowing families to escape the decisions of government, not face state santioned “diversity”.

Dear all,

Sorry my last post went off-topic – clean forgot to say what I started out to say and got side-tracked.

The scale of the Steiner project is truly scary and the Goethean and Theosophical elements make Anthroposophy a dangerous right-wing ‘Blood and Soil’ cult as far as I’m concerned.

A list of UK Steiner organisations can be found at:

I dread to think how long a world-wide list would be. Clearly, the pool of people available for fascist purposes is growing and growing and it is frightening to think that the Nazis looked as ‘benign’ when they started out too.

One pro-active thing that we can all do via our favoured political party or community group would be to actively denounce Steiner and Anthroposophy in as many public ways as possible. As a Green voter, I’m attempting to do just that through my local Green Party, particularly in reference to Steiner’s racism:

“On the one hand there is the black race, which is the most earthly. When
this race goes toward the West, it dies out. Then there is the yellow race,
in the middle between the earth and the cosmos. When this race goes toward
the East, it turns brown, it attaches itself too much to the cosmos and dies
out. The white race is the race of the future, the spiritually creative


and if you think that’s bad, there’s loads of this stuff throughout the
Steiner world.

There are many alternatives to the Anthroposophical way that are non-racist and non mystical. Greens might publicly support Bill Molison’s Permaculture instead of Steiner’s Biodynamics; the Cooperative Bank instead of the Anthroposophical Triodos Bank; Montessori schools instead of Steiner Schools and so-on. Working with your respective party’s Science Policy Team, it is essential, in my view, to support the existing laws of mathematics, physics, chemistry and natural selection. Steiner schools teach children that science, as we know it, is wrong. This is incredibly damaging scientifically, ethically and morally and is a long-term political disaster waiting to happen – in fact, as Unity’s piece shows, it’s beginning to happen already.

Finally, I am not suggesting that any system with the slightest hint of racism or mysticism should be banned or exposed; given colonial history that would be impossible. But we should distance ourselves from systems to which racism and mysticism are intrinsic. Take mystical racism away from Anthroposophy and one is not left with anything attributable to Steiner. In contrast, take racism away from Darwin and you are left with the Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection, good science, like good politics is a rational exercise or it is nothing.

Best wishes


For some reason Unity is careful not to link to a paper I wrote many years ago, trying to analyse and outline some of the basic aspects of scientific thinking and research in a way that also makes it understandable how anthroposophy stands in this this context.

The fact that you apparently think this ridiculous piece of nonsense makes you look better is just hilarious.


Are you sure Triodos are linked to this stuff, and how heavily?

I’ve just been to look at their website to see what they invest in, and I see they have given a loan to one Steiner school. However, if that’s it, that’s not really a big enough link. Co-op might well do the same thing, given that as far as I’m aware Co-op members only decide what they won’t invest in, not who they will invest in.

I don’t have an account with Triodos as I don’t have anything much in the way of savings and prefer to use a local credit union, but my impression always was that even Co-op and Triodos were likely to invest in some things I’d disapprove of, but either much less than your average bank.

27. From Germany with love

“Thebee” is the guy who manipulated English wikipedia.

This is why he advertises his work, quote:

“As such it is natural that it gives a clearly twisted picture of Steiner Waldorf education. For a more well founded description, including a survey of research on it, see

Dear Tim,

Indeed, I recently applied to Triodos for some business funding and only found out a few weeks ago, by accident, that it was an Anthroposophical organisation. (By the way, I have no idea if they approved my application or not because they haven’t yet replied, so I’m not a disgruntled customer). Andrew Bibby writes:

” Triodos’s roots (like the UK bank Mercury Provident which it took over in 1995) are in the anthroposophy movement. The term refers to the ideas of the Austrian spiritualist thinker Rudolf Steiner who died in 1925 and whose interests included education, ‘biodynamic’ agriculture, eurythmy (movement as art) and therapeutic medicine. Triodos Bank’s statutes committed it to anthroposophical principles until 1999 when this formal link was dropped, and in recent years the bank under its current head Peter Blom has embarked on a policy of reaching out beyond Steiner adherents and of broadening its appeal. Nevertheless Triodos’s origins are reflected in the fact that most of the Dutch directors come from within anthroposophy, and Triodos continues to be the banker for many Steiner-inspired projects.

The bank describes itself as a ‘transparent bank’ and spells out in detail all the UK ventures in which the bank has given overdrafts or loans in a sixteen-page brochure ‘Inspiring Change’. However Triodos has to overcome something of a problem of transparency in its own structure. Behind the single Triodos brand is a parallel legal structure in the Netherlands: Triodos Bank NV is legally separate from Triodos Holding NV, which operates as an international fund manager, provides microcredit in developing countries, and runs a significant venture capital operation in the Netherlands. The two companies are ultimately both controlled by Foundations, with strong roots in anthroposophy and with overlapping membership. The Bank’s Foundation issues dividend-earning but non-voting ‘depository receipts’ which are held partly by private investors but also by a number of Dutch commercial companies. ”

the above two paragraphs from:

Last week, I acessed an official page from a Triodos website that explained their anthroposophical position. I note now that it does not seem to come up in searches. I expect it has been removed. But until Triodos publically denounce Steiner as racist mystic nonsense, I would assume that they still have a Steiner agenda. It is most worrying to think that many of the fine and supportable clients have their banking controlled by people who believe in Anthroposophy – it’s the kind of leverage any other religious or political movement would surely love to have.

Best wishes



ok, found a similar page to the one I accessed before:

“Steiner’s philosophy – anthroposophy, or wisdom of the human being – can be applied to many areas of life. Triodos Bank itself has strong anthroposophical roots, but has developed a much broader remit – to support any positive enterprises that benefit people and the environment. Sharing a similar philosophical background makes the relationship between Triodos Bank and Kings Langley that much more special.”


So they let slip that Steiner’s philosophy is at the root and imply that their clients are positive by virtue of similarity – a scarily devious tactic designed to bring many mainstream organisations into the Steiner fold; such as Oxfam, Amnesty International etc.. Has the world gone completely mad? Well, yes.

Best wishes


a very interesting site in german:

“Nachrichten aus der Welt der Anthroposophie”

Thanks, Nick. Interesting and concerning. Delving a bit deeper it looks like some of the health organisations they’ve funded specialise in homeopathy, too.

I’m not sure it puts Triodos completely beyond the pale as they clearly invest in a number of worthy projects and it is possible for savers even at the lowest level to specify what areas they want their money invested in (so if I ever was to open an account with them it’d be clear that neither education nor health should not be one of those areas). I’m not sure what you mean in terms of “leverage” – how could Triodos influence, say, a housing co-op or housing association by lending them money? (Genuine question.)

32. The Polecat

Paraphrased from a posting on Unity’s MoT…….

thedrone (which I prefer to thebee) is Captain Control Freak of anthroposphy.
thedrone, Sune Nordwall, is a bizarre bloody smorgasbord indeed, with one of the GREAT and unique websites.
It starts with the proud exhortation that he has spent 35 years trying to understand and investigate anthroposophy. 35 years!?!? Highly commendable, old boy. You must be headed for a long-service felted gnome from the incubus of Racist Rudolf the Raving! 35 years fecking years!?!?! 3 minutes was more than enough for my polecat-sized brain to decipher the most concentrated amount of mumbo-jumbo, verbosity, drivel and irrationality dressed up as educational science. Your shite ain’t gonna do any good for educational science, drone. And, drone, I don’t want to get too personal but;you seem to have some serious problems with women (later!). Let me go into a clairvoyant trance;ah, yes….you remind me of the sociopathy of our delusional war-criminal PM, Gordon Brown, an idiot savant with the soul of a nodding Jesus and the wisdom of buffalo bollocks.

Notwithstanding his bonkers website, it seems that Sune is a cyberstalker – redolent with Anthrobabble – with a default position of vexatiousness if he cannot win arguments on forum sites. I gather he appears on sites often under a female guise and stalks anti-Steiner posters (usually women) and posts interminable doctrinal links. thedrone (and/or his legal flea Percy Bratt) then threaten legal bollocks against the site and ALL discussion is terminated and traces of the forum are destroyed. Jolly unsporting, I say!

So, let us raise any number of fingers in salute to thedrone, the idiot savant of Anthros and Anthrobollocks.

Too many children and parents have suffered for too long with this deceptive and dangerous ersatz education. The Anti-Steiner movement is gathering pace and the House of Steiner needs to be razed to the ground!!!

Sharpening my claws and smelling blood
The Polecat


If Triodos did not like your criticism of Steiner, they could recall the loan early and put you out of business.

Imagine the world in 10 to 30 years time – peak oil is over and oil is in rapid decline; governments are all in hoc; the banking sector – other than the ethical banking sector – is in terminal meltdown. Being risk-averse, the ethical banking sector becomes The Only Reliable Banking Sector. If a political cult can control banking and thus everyone’s money, you either can be nice to the cult or suffer the consequences.

Conventional banks, wedded to Capitalism and Consumerism do that sort of thing all the time and though they might be just as unethical as Steiner and much more unethical than Triodos (at the moment), they don’t have an insane dead guru at the helm. Adam Smith may have been wrong about a few crucial things, as was Marx, but compared to Steiner they were intellectual giants – compared to most of us come to that.

I was happy being fooled by Triodos – I’ve recommended them to many people over the years. Anthroposophists are intellectually dishonest. Capitalist usually are quite open about their capitalism and so one knows where one stands. The Steiner project is, by contrast, busy denying that it thinks what it thinks.

Hey! found an internal Triodos doc on the net from May this year:

” Information from the Board
Philip Martyn’s tenure comes to an end this year
and he is not seeking reappointment. Over the past
few years, Philip has provided a uk perspective to
the board; personal input that is backed by
consider able banking knowledge and experience.
He has strong ties with anthroposophy, which also
inspired the founders of Triodos Bank, and which
linked him to Mercury Provident Plc, the predecessor
of the uk branch of Triodos Bank. The Board is
very grateful for Philip’s contribution as member of
the Board of saat.:”


Best wishes



“was NOT happy being fooled” Doh


Good points, and fair enough. At any rate, I would rather have my very limited savings in a Credit Union over Triodos, because that way rather than going to some middle-class person’s pet project (however worthy) my money is likely to be used to assist people on low-incomes in my community & stop them having to visit loansharks on an emergency basis. Plus I think it’s good to have a diversity of ethical & risk-averse financial institutions in the banking sector rather than a couple of big ones.

36. Shatterface

‘As a Green voter, I’m attempting to do just that through my local Green Party, particularly in reference to Steiner’s racism:’

Enjoying your posts Nick, but as a Green voter how active are you in tackling your own party’s attachment to pseudoscience?

There are many of us with Green sympathies who recognise the party’s contribution to environmentalism and in spearheading the fight against climate change and admire their attempts to move away from hierarchical organisation but find ourselves gasping at their crankier policies (‘alternative’ medicine, objections to genetic research, etc).

37. From Germany with love

Sune, aka “Thebee”, is manipulating English wikipedia.

This is what he says himself:

“Ich lese nur RSL inzwischen. Die letzte 12 Monate war ich hauptsächlich mit d editieren d Artikeln über Steiner, Anthroposophie und Waldorfpädagogik auf d englische Wikipedia beschäftigt, als Thebee.



“I only read RSL (“Rudolf Steiner Liste”) by now. [During] the last 12 months I was mainly occupied editing articles about Steiner, Anthroposophy and Waldorf pedagogy on the English Wikipedia, as Thebee.



A very good point and I entirely agree. None of us have done enough over the years to create an atmosphere of calm rationality within the Green Party. I joined what was then the Ecology Party a long time ago and was not hugely active. I had a few disagreements over issues such as the reasons to be either for or against nuclear power (I felt many of the Green Party reasons ‘against’ were spurious and technically incorrect and thus too easy to knock down) and I was inactive then until the 1980s when I re-joined. I worked hard for Lambeth Green Party for two years and helped with the TOES project (a very worthwhile economics project that turned into the NEF a few years later) but got fed up with many Lambeth Greens turning up for meetings stoned out of their heads.

I then gave up somewhat on the Green Party; In the 1990s I worked as an environmentalist full time (for money!) and steered clear of political activity somewhat to ensure I was able to get funding from Governement for various projects, and still had reservations concerning Green nuclear policies and economic policies.

In retrospect, I was wrong to have dipped in and out because the general direction and overall value system has been, and still is, absolutely correct. perhaps I should have stuck with it. I have recently re-joined the Party in response to their official stance on steady-state economics and the fact that over the past few years the quality of their policies has improved out of all recognition in breadth and depth. It was, I think difficult for many technical people to sign up to some of the locally driven policies (many were simply technically inept) but now that national and international policies are worked through centrally by people who have calculators and aren’t scared of numbers, things are vastly improved.

However, it is still vital that political people in all parties push for greater accountability in terms of rationality and scientific probity – all the main parties are not brilliant in that respect. If I have an excuse for not pushing harder (not much of an excuse in all honesty) it is that I find it hard putting my name to, and supporting, ideas in which the mathematics don’t add up and/or are fudged beyond rational limits – in that respect I’m not suited to politics at all. In my view the Green Party is now the only party that understands what’s required and how it might be delivered; all the rest are still attempting to prop-up a failing system.

Best wishes


Nick Nakorn,

I’m with you on the “this is the real me on t’internet” business.

But then I’m a damned fool, as most of my posts probably demonstrate.



Andy Gilmour

I had not planned to write much more than I have in this discussion. But maybe some further comments are motivated.

At times allegations of racism in anthroposophy are published in secular humanist campaigns against Steiner Waldorf education. The purely ideologically motivated allegations, that have litte to do with actual Steiner Waldorf education, usually use out of context and argumentation “quotes” from one or other transcribed lecture by Steiner to substantiate them.

Do Waldorf schools foster racist pupils, something one would expect if anthroposophy was racist and imbues all teaching at Waldorf schools, as alleged at times in criticism of Steiner Waldorf education?

There are two empirical studies related to this that I know of.

One was done some years ago by a prof. of education at Karlstad University (in Sweden). While he can be described as an anthroposophists in some sense, the study was reviewed by two independent prof. of education, one in Karlstad and one in Stockholm and a prof. emeritus at the University of Karlstad.

The study among other things compared several hundred Waldorf students (grade 9 and 12) to corresponding students in public schools. (For a summary, see Among other things the research showed that the majority of the pupils in both types of school repudiated Nazism and racism.

However, the proportion of pupils who suggested anti-Nazi and anti-racist solutions, i.e., solutions that involved counteracting or stopping Nazism and racism was considerably greater among the Waldorf pupils (93%) than among pupils at municipal schools (72%).

Another study, done in Germany some years ago by an independent criminological research institute at the request of the German parliament, to find out among other things how wide spread racism is among German school pupils comes to similar results.

It showed among other things that the proportion of xenophobic pupils, hostile to foreigners, was by far the lowest among Waldorf pupils, 2.8%, compared to “Gymnasien” (High schools) 8.3%, “Gesamtschulen” 16.5 %, “Realschulen” 17.4 % and “Hauptschulen” (main schools) 24.7 %.

So the empirical studies (known to me) that have been done on the subject don’t seem to support the possible suspicion that Steiner Waldorf schools produce racist or anti-Semitic pupils.

How about the quotes, such as the one given in another posting, taken from a polemical stew not unlike similar compilations by anti-Semites in campaigns against Jews?

Does the cherry picked stew (that for example in its description of one source leaves out that Steiner tells that he considers the mixing of people from different ethnic backgrund to have contributed to lifting humanity to a higher level of development historically, by leading to an extinction of instinctual clairvoyance of the past and the increasing development of a more individual intellectual thinking) make Steiner’s view on the subject justice?

Just some few examples to give a perspective on it, from the extensive published works of Steiner (some 350 volumes of 90.000 pages mostly more or less reliable transcribed lectures)

In 1894 he argued:

“Anyone who judges people according to generic characters gets only as far as the frontier where people begin to be beings whose activity is based on free self-determination.”

In 1897 he argued:

“Value should be attached solely to the mutual exchange between individuals. It is irrelevant whether someone is a Jew or a German … This is so obvious that one feels stupid even putting it into words. So how stupid must one be to assert the opposite!”

In 1901 he argued:

“Anti-Semitism is not only a danger for Jews, it is also a danger for non Jews. It arises out of a way of thinking that does not seriously strive for sound, straightforward judgments. Anti-Semitism promotes this way of thinking. And anyone who thinks philosophically should not just observe that passively. The belief in ideas will only return to prevalence if we oppose the contrary unbelief in all areas as energetically as possible.“

In 1904 he argued:

“qualities which … have to be combated [on the path of spiritual development] are … the making of distinctions in human beings according to the outward characteristics of rank, sex, race, and so forth. In our time it is difficult for people to understand how the combating of such qualities can have anything to do with the heightening of the faculty of cognition. But every spiritual scientist knows that much more depends upon such matters than upon the increase of intelligence and employment of artificial exercises.”

in 1905 he argued:

“It is the task of the spiritual scientific world view to in truth and reality develop this unified soul of all of humanity. This is expressed in our first principle: to found a band of brotherhood across the world as a whole, without concern for race, gender, color and so on. That is the recognition of the soul, that is common to all humanity. All the way into the passions, the purification must take place that makes is self evident, that the same soul lives in your brother [as in yourself].”

In 1908 he argued:

“everything that exists today in connection with the [different] races are relics of the differentiation that took place in Atlantean times [Cenozoic time in the expressed view of the late Steiner]. We can still speak of races but only in the sense that the real concept of races is losing its validity.”

In 1914 he argued:

““We can sense that the principle … of working without any distinction between race, color, nationality and so on is fundamentally so closely bound up with the deeper being of our Movement that anyone who agrees with the profound seriousness of spiritual-scientific truths must realize that it would be nonsensical not to stand up for this first principle.”

In 1917, during WWI, he argued:

“… someone speaking today of the ideal of races and nations and of tribal affiliation speaks of decadent impulses of humanity. And if such a person imagines that with such ideals he is placing before humanity ideals that are progressive, then this is not true. Because through nothing will humanity be brought more into decadence than if the ideals of race, nation and blood continue to hold sway.”

In 1919 he argued:

“… as regards … what is independent of our bodily makeup we are all individually made; each one of us is his or her own self, an individual. With the exception of the far less important differences that show up as racial or national differences … but which are (if you have a sense for this you cannot help noticing it) mere trifles by comparison with differences in individual gifts and skills: with the exception of these we are all equal as human beings … as regards our external, physical humanity. We are equal as human beings, here in the physical world, specifically in that we all have the same human form and all manifest a human countenance. The fact that we all bear a human countenance and encounter one another as external, physical human beings… this makes us equal on this footing. We differ from one another in our individual gifts which, however, belong to our inner nature.”

In 1922 he argued, in response to a question by a construction worker during a morning caffee break about why blond people were becoming ever more rare, (answering the question between the lines by the worker at the time regarding “Aryans” being more intelligent than others) that while there might be physiological arguments for a connection between blondness and blue eyedness and what he referred to as an instinctual cleverness, blond and blue-eyed people do not constitute a “race of the future” but a perishing race of humanity, and bodily based (instinctual) “intelligence” ever more into the future needs to be replaced by an intelligence that is not based on the qualities of the body but as something purely spiritual.

And in 1924 he argued:

“The first thing Europeans should learn is that they must not just carry their knowledge to Asia; they should learn very attentively what the Asians know. Then they would know, for example, what Tibetan wisdom is. So then they would not tell the Asians things in the old way but in the new way, making use of what Tibetan wisdom is. By respecting the culture of the others they would achieve something. This is what Europe must learn.”

“Seeing how Europeans carry on over in Asia really makes one sweat blood. What they do destroys everything Asia has and leads absolutely nowhere. The real trouble of course is that Europe itself is in trouble and that it is difficult to imagine how Europe will ever be able to get out of this trouble. The great trouble is that Europe itself is in decline and that it cannot get away from all the cultural damage in which it is stuck if people do not make up their minds to take on a genuine culture of the spirit. Many people still do not believe this. And this is how it has come about that everyone coming to Europe from Asia has reached the conclusion: These Europeans, they are really all barbarians.

“… They have reached this conclusion because so much of the ancient wisdom of the spirit and the ancient knowledge of the spirit has still been preserved in Asia; because of this, what Europeans know appears to Asians to be childish. All the things so much admired in Europe appear terribly childish to people in Asia!

“… In spiritual culture Asians are today still ahead of Europeans. And if we in Europe cannot find anything better than what the Asians already have by way of a spiritual culture, then why should one take missions and suchlike to Asia in the first place? They are not needed there!”

And also in 1924 on what he considered increasingly in the future will characterize people who, in the spirit of our time, make themselves free of their bonds to nationality and “race”:

“It will be said: Where does that person come from? He does not belong to one people, he is not from one race. He is as if he had grown out of all races and peoples.”

It indicates the complexity of the issue in Steiner’s works and still just scrathes on the surface of the issue.

For some detailed comments on the allegations and the complexity of the way Steiner used the term “race” at different times in different contexts some 100 years ago, in addition to the pages mentioned above, see

The Anthroposophical Society in America has published a description of its view of diversity that it applies in its work:

“We explicitly reject any racial theory that may be construed to be part of Rudolf Steiner’s writings. The Anthroposophical Society in America is an open, public society and it rejects any purported spiritual or scientific theory on the basis of which the alleged superiority of one race is justified at the expense of another race.”

The Anthroposophical Society in GB, as also all other anthroposophical societies world wide probably apply a similar policy in all their work, and a similar investigation of the attitudes of the attitudes of all members of anthroposophical societies worldwide and of the coworkers at all anthroposophically based organizations and companies world wide would probably give a similar result as the study on Steiner Waldorf pupils in Germany.

One of the main promoters of the racism allegations in connection with anthroposophy is a Peter Staudenmaier, who increasingly fulfills a similar role to “Waldorf Critics” as David Irwing to antisemites as an at present graduate student at Cornell since 2004, after he had played “historical scholar” for a number of years in polemical discussions of anthroposophy, based on a B.A. in German literature.

Checking his writings against the published historical sources he has referred to as sources for what he writes has shown that he repeatedly and unpredictably gives unreliable and untruthful descriptions of the published historical sources he refers to and that he, when he has been exposed exposed – instead of admitting he has been careless or wrong in describing them – has started to play different arrogant word and mind games about it.

This is something that should never be the case with people who claim historical scholarship. It has permanently deprived him of any normal credibility expected from scholars by making it unclear to his readers what actually is true and what is not in his well formulated writings until you yourself have checked the sources he refers to down to the last comma, before you can know what to think about it.

For an analysis and comments on some of his writings, see

45. Andreas Lichte

Rudolf Steiner’s books are racist

confirms „BPjM“, Germany’s Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons


The “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”) examined 2 books by Rudolf Steiner for “racist content” and decided that the content of the books IS racist. To understand the BPjM´s importance and function here’s its self-portrayal:

“General information about the BPjM (Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons)

We are an official administrative authority of the German government called “Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien” (BPjM) (”Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons”). Our task is to protect children and adolescents in Germany from any media that might contain harmful or dangerous contents. This work is authorized by the “Youth Protection Law” (Jugendschutzgesetz – JuSchG).

Media monitored by us are, among others: videos, DVDs, computer games, audio records and CDs, print media and internet sites.

Objects are considered harmful or dangerous to minors if they tend to endanger their process of developing a socially responsible and self-reliant personality. In general, this applies to objects that contain indecent, extremely violent, crime-inducing, anti-Semitic or otherwise racist material. (…)”

The 2 books examined by thr BPjM are:

– „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde”

– „Mission einzelner Volksseelen im Zusammenhang mit der germanisch-nordischen Mythologie”

The 2 decisions differ from one another only with regard to which particular statements by Rudolf Steiner the BPjM considered to be racist. As stated in the respective decisions on i) „Geisteswissenschaftliche Menschenkunde“ and ii) „Die Mission einzelner Volksseelen“, decisions page 6:

„Der Inhalt des Buches ist nach Ansicht des 12er-Gremiums in Teilen als zum Rassenhass anreizend bzw. als Rassen diskriminierend anzusehen.”

„The content of the book [by Rudolf Steiner] is, in the opinion of the board of 12 representatives, considered in part as an incitement to racial hatred, respectively as discriminating on grounds of race.“

This is followed by a definition. I only translate the most important part:

„Ein Medium reizt mithin zum Rassenhass an, d.h. stellt Rassenhass als nachahmenswert dar, wenn darin Menschen wegen ihrer Zugehörigkeit zu einer anderen Rasse, Nation, Glaubensgemeinschaft o.ä. als minderwertig und verächtlich dargestellt oder diskriminiert werden (Ukrow, Jugendschutzrecht, Rn. 284).”

“A medium incites racial hatred, that is, depicts racial hatred as worthy of imitation, if human beings are represented as being inferior or contemptible or are discriminated against, due to their affiliation to another race, nation, religious community or the like.”

Thebee once again tries his best to defame Peter Staudenmaier, who is a graduate student at Cornell university (

Peter regularly contributes to the waldorf critics discussion list on yahoo, and I’m sure he’d be happy to answer any questions anybody might have regarding his work.

I recommend everybody to read his article Race and Redemption, published by periodical Nova Religio

See also his articles in Communalism:


Already addressed.

48. The Polecat

Whilst once again congratulating Unity on another wonderfully researched and coruscating article on just about the world’s worst educational system, a couple of observations….

To thedrone…This OCD really does you no favours at all? But then I guess you haven’t heard of The Streisand Syndrome? Maybe you need to consult with a professional psychotherapist – but clearly not the deluded Anthro Dr Richard House!? If you don’t, perhaps you ought to get out more……shag the odd reindeer, maybe?

To Zooey, my first and revered Twitter follower…..
How about considering passing on this site’s weblink to the Prof Staudenmaier with regard to…..“One of the main promoters of the racism allegations in connection with anthroposophy is a Peter Staudenmaier, who increasingly fulfills a similar role to “Waldorf Critics” as David Irwing (sic) to anti-Semites…”
The eminent Prof might think about a chat with a libel lawyer?

Best to Nick Nakorn.

Teaching my Polekittens well,
The Polecat

Thebee, “Already adressed” is not what I would call it. I don’t know what on earth it is you’re trying to adress, but it seems to me it is your own fantasies and imaginations.

The Polecat! It’s an honour!
Yes, I will post about it on the critics list (have posted a link to the blog already, but will point specifically to thebee’s recent contribution), although by now Peter S is pretty used to the crap that Thebee is hurling his way. Thebee has been on the case for a decade or so. The reason he can continue–with the anti-semite/hate-group/forgery etc stuff–is that neither Peter nor anybody else have done anything about it, legally ie. I suppose most people don’t think it’s worth the fuss.


Odd things about the Anthroposophical Apologists.

There are several odd things about the Anthroposophical Apologists defence of Steiner in respect of racism and mysticism.

The first is to accuse those critical of Steiner of Cherry-picking racist and anti-Semitic comments as if such an action was cheating the public or in some way unfair. In my view, a person who addresses anti-racist remarks to one audience and racist remarks to another is simply a racist political opportunist; I’m reminded of work colleagues who excel in their performance in an employee-led Equality and Diversity workshop yet continue to propagate racism, sexism and homophobia when it suites them, in quiet corners of the office and with their similarly minded friends at the pub. Lets us be absolutely clear; people who are not racist do not think such things, say such things and certainly do not write them down as part of their political philosophy or their religious or spiritual opinion.

Secondly, Steiner’s concept of Karmic progression, of blondness and of the mutable character of spiritual development is intrinsically race-depended according to Steiner, not simply according to his critics. If one chooses to believe in Karma, there are plenty on non-racist Buddhist traditions to study or one could invent one’s own non-racist version.

Thirdly, if one is not a racist, one does not support writers and philosophers for whom racism is an intrinsic mechanism of spiritual improvement. It is interesting that Steiner supporters don’t attempt to distance themselves from Steiner’s racism and re-brand their own ‘version’ of Steiner, they defend Steiner’s racism as some kind of vaguely worrisome anomaly that doesn’t really represent Steiner.

Fourthly, none of Steiner’s ideas have respect for rationality. When he does appear rational he is merely repeating and re-packaging ideas that were already in the public domain at the time. Furthermore, the pro-Steiner camp attempt rational argument to overturn rationalists’ objections even though Steiner’s own philosophy values mysticism over and above rationalism.

Fifthly, a legitimate defence might be that Steiner started out as a racist and later changed his mind. Yet researches have shown that not to be the case; indeed some of his more elaborate racist offerings were produced later in life.

Sixthly, as Steiner thinks some people with darker skin colour to be less than human and spiritually deficient, any claims he makes concerning equality and fairness are null and void as many people are left out of his descriptions of what it means to be fully human – many of us do not fall into Steiner’s human family to which he ascribes and suggests equal treatment.

And finally in this post, Steiner supporters give the distinct impression that exposing racism is somehow an unworthy activity; they talk of humanitarian conspiracies as if being humane was wrong or that it requires a conspiracy to approach life with a rational outlook. Even if that were true, the same would have to apply to any opinion unless some mystic power or sensibility is brought to bear on the argument.

Best wishes


Our qualities as individuals are primary to all other qualities we have, gender, ethnicity, religious or non-religious affiliation of world-view, social position. Everything else than what we are as individuals is of secondary importance to what we are as individuals.

That is the core of anthroposophy and perspective out of which all comments by Steiner need to be seen and the probably reason for example so little racism is propagated or comes out of Steiner Waldorf education (or other anthroposophically based work and institutions) as views by Steiner Waldorf pupils, as that is the way the probably absolute majotiry of all Steiner Waldorf teachers view both themselves and their pupils.

Best regards,

Individual, yes. People should know, though, that when anthroposophists speak of “individuals” they are thinking of something other than what non-anthroposophists would mean using the same word. It is indeed true that there are individual soul “properties” which are, as it were, independent from the physical human being. Thus, it is possible, in the scheme of sequential incarnations, that a human soul gets to live in different types of physical vessels, i e, can change “race” or gender from one incarnation to another.

This does not magically transform anthroposophical doctrines and make them non-racist, even though anthroposophists strangely think so. The “possibility” for a an African to reincarnate as an Aryan is supposed to be seen as non-racist. The point is still that the most advanced souls are incarnated in Aryans. This is the goal towards which souls work their way upwards.

This kind of mobility of individual souls over multiple incarnations is hardly an aspect that exculpates anthroposophy.

Anthroposophists don’t regard themselves as racists, but sometimes that has to do with how they construe the concept of racism. This way, they can view themselves as anti-racists. They don’t understand what other people mean by racism. They don’t understand that to other people, spiritual racism is just as problematic as other kinds of racism.


What in Steiner’s view increasingly in the future will characterize people who, in the spirit of our time, make themselves free of their bonds to nationality and “race”:

“It will be said: Where does that person come from? He does not belong to one people, he is not from one race. He is as if he had grown out of all races and peoples.”

That is the way of “the most advanced souls”.

54. Tom Norris

The point of this article is: do we want the state to fund this crap taught to children. Don’t know who you are, Thebee but I wouldn’t want your ranting in any classroom, aimed at any child. ‘The most advanced souls’? What planet are you on? I wouldn’t even need to be a humanist to find you creepy & offensive.

Comment 42 refers to a Swedish study from Karlstad University. This study by Bo Dahlin, a member of the anthroposophical society (which, yes, makes him an anthroposophist “in some sense”), was financed and controlled by an anthroposophical trust.

This study was *not* quality controlled and reviewed by independent any other academic body before it was brought out to convince people of the greatness of waldorf. The study is severely flawed at that.

Anthroposophists commissioned it. Karlstad university press printed it. Stupid I think., because it gives it more credibility than it deserves.

Here’s a critical take on the Dahlin report Further information may be found by searching the archives of the walodrf critics discussion list.


56. Andreas Lichte

@ Tom Norris

You write: “I wouldn’t even need to be a humanist to find …”

in fact:

German _ A U T H O R I T I E S _ judged Steiner to be racist, see comment 47.

Now, let’s all take a moment and savor the absolutely brilliantly anthroposophic reply in comment 55.

I have nothing to add, really. I’m just very happy that many waldorf/steiner teacher aren’t *quite* as weird as the commenter in question.


An interesting fact: Anthroposophical endeavors are self accredited.

A Waldorf school that calls themselves an “accredited” Waldorf School might sound very impressive to the naive parents, who may not think to ask accredited by whom?

If you are an accredited Waldorf school in the USA, it merely means 80% of the teachers are Anthroposophists and the school is led by Anthroposophists. (The teacher’s are Anthroposophical Nuns.)

What about academics? What does being a Waldorf teacher mean?

Steiner teacher training colleges in the USA are unaccredited and solely dedicated to the endeavors of Anthroposophy. These colleges certify their own Waldorf teachers, with the only measure of success being if the grads are now Anthroposophists. In the USA, naive parents think the teachers touting their qualifications are state credentialed *plus* Waldorf certified. And this is just what they want the parents to think. Anthroposophy is dishonest by invention and Waldorf is a miseducation at best. It’s an indoctrination into Rudolf Steiner’s wacky belief system. If you send your child to a Waldorf school, he/she will be an Anthroposophist. All without the parents knowledge or consent.

This group makes up it’s own rules and then sanctions them. Uh huh. They make up their own esoteric definitions for everyday words and unless you have read Steiner and his ilk, and understand their language, they can even sound rational sometimes. Not often, but sometimes.

We need more articles and we need to keep speaking up until Anthroposophy and it’s proponents are honest about their real motives and back away from the public coffers. Religions should live or die on their own merit, not by government welfare.


“What in Steiner’s view increasingly in the future will characterize people who, in the spirit of our time, make themselves free of their bonds to nationality and “race”:

“It will be said: Where does that person come from? He does not belong to one people, he is not from one race. He is as if he had grown out of all races and peoples.”

That is the way of “the most advanced souls”.”

as exemplified by Barack Obama, who stands out as one of the most outstanding examples of people who point the way into this future.


“Now, let’s all take a moment and savor the absolutely brilliantly anthroposophic reply […].

I have nothing to add, really. I’m just very happy that many waldorf/steiner teacher aren’t *quite* as weird as the commenter in question.”

Ok. Barack Obama has an “advanced soul”. He may be black, but his soul is so advanced that he may, unlike the rest of us wretched nobodies, point humanity into the future.

Do you have any idea how bizarre this is? “Advanced souls”? And to persuade us anthroposophy is non-racist, race-obsessed anthroposophist goes searching for a black man who meets the ideals of advanced soulhood?

Does anybody else notice that he’s passing judgement on other human beings’ souls? Accounting for the skin colour in the process, apparently?

Anthroposophy for you on a plate.

Bizarre. Truly bizarre.

“advanced souls” is your choice of words, not mine.

Obama is not black, he’s mixed. That’s the way of the future.

“If you send your child to a Waldorf school, he/she will be an Anthroposophist.”

Nothing that I know of indicates that going to a Steiner Waldorf school has turned Kenneth Chenault, former Waldorf pupil (ttp:// and Chairman and CEO of American Express, Jennifer Aniston, or the present Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, son of a former Minister of Foreign Affairs into “anthroposophists” in any obvious sense, though they all have expressed appreciation of their schools.

This is also the case with the present Swedish Minister for the Environment, Andreas Carlgren, though he’s son of a well known anthroposophist and Waldorf pioneer in Sweden. Next time I meet him, I’ll ask him.

Still race obsessed? Why on earth does it matter if the future is black, white or mixed? Only in the minds of deluded people.

And if you don’t think it is about advanced souls, why do you keep talking about advanced souls?

Why do you think celebrities’ views on waldorf are worth more than the views of non-celebrities? Who cares what Jennifer Aniston et al think?

I bet Jennifer Aniston has no idea how and why anthroposophy influenced her education.

I’m delighted to hear you’re meeting with politicians. I certainly hope Carlgren is wise enough not to listen to you.

Maybe just some few more comments.

Unity, aka Dave(?) writes about me that I am “the de facto gatekeeper of articles dealing with Anthroposophy and Steiner education on Wikipedia.” According to the edit history of the articles, I have made few edits of the two articles the last two years ( resp. and – one resp. appr 15 edits), the last year only three peripheral ones. After an arbitration some years ago, strict rules have been implemented for allowed use of sources for the articles. “Critics” don’t like that.

Dave(?) also quotes from an article on homeopathy at my site, that I wrote appr. 30 years ago –

“While the potentizing process “de-spaces” substances and carries them from space over into time, into a state of pure life, the radioactive decay of matter implies a “de-timing” of substance, a death process of matter that instead completely carries it out of time over into space, thereby necessarily leading to an “atomizing” of the substance.”

and comments “All complete and utter bollocks, of course, but then what do you expect…”

That may be completely correct.

However, what is quoted is not written as an intended statement of fact, but as a possible bold conjecture out of an analysis of some basic aspects of the potentiation problem.

Homeopathy may be complete nonsense. My approach was, clearly homeopathy is not based on chemical interactions between substances in the alleged homeopathic remedies and the patient’s bodies, when administered or self-administered in some way. However, IF something possibly interesting actually takes place in interactions between homeopathic remedies and living organisms, as somehow could seem to be indicated by the basic research on the subject the last 100 years (, HOW could this be understood if you try to approach it from both a basic natural scientific and an anthroposophical perspective.

The research listed is in the article is what I found during one year of non-military (civilian) service under a physician who was doing his PhD research at the time at Huddinge Hospital (later made into part of the Karolinska University Hospital) through “Socialstyrelsen” (The National Board of Health and Wellfare), that handled conscientous objectors.

This possibly inquiry, and a formulation of some of the basic research problems that I think need to be looked at more closely before any serious progress can be made in researching the subject experimentally to raise it from close to zero level is what is described in the article. It was a preliminary inquiry, not more. Regrettably, I did not have or find the means to pursue the problem further.

Critics don’t like what anthroposophists do on wiki, no. That includes you and a number of other anthroposophists. You’re by no means the only one, although you are the most extreme. A few edits? Right. If this wasn’t getting tedious and repetitive as it is, I’d think you’re “few edits” on wiki would be worthy of attention. Lots of people know what you’re up to, and you’re crazy to try to deceive people like this. You’re clinging to the hope that perhaps somebody who reads this will buy your nonsense about “few edits”.

It pleases me to hear that it is hard to find funding for homeopathy “research”. I had imagined civilian military duty was somewhat more meaningful than looking into homeopathy.

66. Northernrefugee

Thanks you Unity for such a thorough piece introducing the Steiner Bollux Autumn Collection. I see thebee is pushing his impossibly resistible form of burlesque and raising the heights of Steiner fallacy to new levels. It makes a change from his hounding of mothers on parenting forums, or apparently using “chilling effect” to gag free speech. It would be hilarious if real children and real families weren’t involved. Or if public money wasn’t being used to fund a school based on anthroposophy.

Hereford Steiner Academy is sponsored by the Steiner Waldorf School’s Fellowship, which is the umbrella movement for UK Steiner schools. One of their representatives, Jeremy Smith, recently said on a blog

“Many Steiner teachers are anthroposophists, though the proportion in most schools is much lower than I personally would like.”

Later, on the counterknowledge website he stated

“It is quite true that Steiner’s insights came as a result of his clairvoyant, intuitive consciousness – I am sorry that this may come as shocking and unacceptable news to some people, but there it is. I suggest you open a bottle of good biodynamic wine and try to get over it.”

How preposterous is that? At least it is officially acknowledged that these schools are rooted in clairvoyant “insights”, and that their representative would like more anthroposophists, (more supernatural hokum, more karma, more irrational gobblygook?) in schools.

Perhaps these are little anthroposophical amuses bouches, to tempt the interested to find out more; of course, there’s so much to discover it’s hard to know where to dive in.
Karma, reincarnation, race, skin colour ,higher worlds, Atlantis, evolution not involving Darwin, etheric forces, Lucifer, angels, gnomes….. Steiner’s “truths” are a hot and heavy breath away from complete madness.

No wonder they’re cagey about the content of their teacher training reading list. No wonder they don’t mention anthroposophy on so many schools websites. No wonder they won’t enter into discussion about the occult science which guides the teaching of the children. Their lack of transparency is so , transparent.

Thebee’s websites are linked to by the Steiner Waldorf School’s Fellowship, Association of Waldorf Schools in North America and the European Council of Steiner Waldorf Education. His sites represent the public face of Steiner waldorf education, the face they want seen. In effect, they sanction thebee in all his glory.
Add an angelic reiki healer writing the report for the government this makes a frightening inversion of rational thinking. In the extreme it’s dangerous.
There are holocaust deniers and those who discuss racial hierarchy among anthroposophists. There are some currently trying to revoke someone’s academic degree in Germany, on the basis that he neglected to consult higher worlds in writing a history of anthroposophy. There are doctors giving public talks at Rudolf Steiner House in London in which they say people choose their illness, and that people with learning difficulties choose this due to what happened in their last life.

This spiritual science, occult science, anthroposophical experiment, should have nothing to do with the education of children or the care of those with learning difficulties; it has a resonance which reaches far beyond the classroom, and imo it is messing with children’s minds.

I thought Nick Nakorn’s latest post was great btw.

Northernrefugee aka Cathy has added a comment to this discussion.

It is already mostly addressed above at the linked to pages. (closely followed at the probably absolute majority of all Steiner Waldorf schools)

Who was this strange guy behind Steiner Waldorf education, who lived 100 years ago?

And did he really only or primarily build Waldorf education, today practiced at some 1000 schools world wide on the basis of “clairvoyant, intuitive consciousness”?

Of course not. He was (probably very) well read up on the pedagogical theories of his time to an extent that has made some accuse him of simply plagiarizing the educational philosophy of Herbart (, and started teaching already his fellow students at school, continued to work as a private tutor in a family during his younger years, and then worked as a lecturer on history, literature, the art of speaking, and the sciences at the Berlin Workers’ Training School, founded by the Social Democrat Wilhelm Liebknecht, before he – among many other things – supported the founding of the first Steiner Waldorf school in 1919 and led it up to 1924, when he got ill and passed on some monts later.

Why did not only a former Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thorvald Stoltenberg, put a son, the now Prime Minister of Norway in a Waldorf school, or Helmut Kohl (former German Chancellor), Hans-Dietrich Genscher (former German Minister of Foreign Affairs), or Heinz Galinski (Former Head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany), but also the present Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, put one or more of their children in a Waldorf school – – ?

Somehow it seems improbable that they did it because they thought they’d get an irrational education, or that they (like the present Prime Minister of Norway or the Swedish Minister of Environmental Affairs) actually got an education that made them into irrationalists.

Today, a number of Steiner Waldorf schools are state supported in the U.S. and Europe. That is not strange but natural. Their continued integration into the public school system, like in the U.K., is a continued natural development.

68. Andreas Lichte

Rudolf Steiner – you mean the guy that is just plain nuts?


That is what Waldorf student Ansgar Martins says about Steiner:

“Ravagli, die “Rassen” und die Rechten”

see comment 42. Ansgar Martins | Juli 23, 2009 at 5:01

“Ich bin vollkommen überzeugt, dass Steiner einen an der Waffel hatte. Das hat nicht nur Fritz Beckmannshagen sehr schön herausgestellt, es fällt auch bei der Lektüre von “Mein Lebensgang” auf.”


“I’m absolutely convinced that Steiner was insane. Not only Fritz Beckmannshagen proved that in very neat way, but it strikes one as well reading Rudolf Steiner, “The Course Of My Life – An Autobiography” [GA 28].

69. Andreas Lichte

Rudolf Steiner – you mean the guy that is just plain nuts?


That is what Waldorf student Ansgar Martins says about Steiner:

“Ravagli, die “Rassen” und die Rechten”

see comment 42. Ansgar Martins, Juli 23, 2009 at 5:01

“Ich bin vollkommen überzeugt, dass Steiner einen an der Waffel hatte. Das hat nicht nur Fritz Beckmannshagen sehr schön herausgestellt, es fällt auch bei der Lektüre von “Mein Lebensgang” auf.”


“I’m absolutely convinced that Steiner was insane. Not only Fritz Beckmannshagen proved that in very neat way, but it strikes one as well reading Rudolf Steiner, “The Course Of My Life – An Autobiography” [GA 28].

Yes, we know that celebrities and politicians put their children in waldorf. What’s that supposed to prove?

My parents put me in waldorf, apparently without being aware that waldorf equals irrationality. And my parents are far more intelligent and educated than some–if not most–of the people on those celeb lists.

During the time I’ve actively participated in waldorf criticism, I have met one bright and knowledgable parent after another–and they all fell for the superficial charms of waldorf.

Do you somehow think that all these people are more stupid than Jennifer Aniston and Andreas Carlgren?

Do you think these outspoken rationalists and secularists are more gullible, more likely to fall for irrationality, than actresses and politicians who were raised by anthroposophists?

Or isn’t it more like this: waldorf makes an effort to hide its irrationality. Some people, the brighter ones, I’m sure, detect this after while. Some others never catch on.


71. Northernrefugee

thebee wrote
“Northernrefugee aka Cathy has added a comment to this discussion.”

Are you proving to everyone your obsession with following and naming mothers on internet forums?
Or are you trying to scare and intimidate me?
You could link to the pages you publish comparing me to Hamas, a terrorist and anti semite who uses quotes from the Talmud (which would be bizarre considering my husband is Jewish/Arabic and other mixed).

Or the page where you publish my full name and the (small) town where I live, with my young family.

Just as you did at Mumsnet, even after I repeatedly begged you to not to because my children still had friends they saw from the Steiner community. But you talked about my maiden name, and where I lived, which just proves that you must have been cross referencing and following me around.

What you never do say, of course, in you ranting tirades about terrorists and “twisted hate campaigns” is that the reason forums close discussions, and messages are deleted , is because they are bombarded with masses of emails threatening legal action. Justine at mumsnet posted some of the emails they were receiving. Steiner Waldorf supporters seem to like this technique; I think it’s called “chilling effect”.

I only used a nick name to try and escape from being followed; and to protect my children from repercussions. But I imagine that you, thebee have probably contacted everyone you can think of; Jeremy Smith from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship certainly quoted you almost verbatim on a blog, asking if my maiden name was what he guessed; he also said I wasn’t a “bona fide parent” whatever that was meant to mean, (as a mother of three children who spent approx a collective 9 yrs at a Steiner schooI). I still cannot quite believe how extraordinarily unprofessional this was coming from someone representing the movement in UK.

In the past you have apparently contacted Peter Staudenmaier’s university, who were puzzled and non plussed.

You say at some point that the quotes Steiner made about race are used to “shock”. But the point is, they are shocking. His belief about reincarnating through races is central to how his cosmic world view pans out, and the things he says about skin colour are repellant. These beliefs crop up right until the end of his life and in much of his work.
But much of anthroposophy’s “truths” and”laws” are shocking to those of us with a rational outlook. If only there had been transparency and disclosure from the start.

I just wondered, by the way, why you think it’s legitimate for you to use a nick name, sometimes a female one on mothering boards for instance?

72. Margaret Sachs

The Bee asks why certain well-known people sent their children to Waldorf schools. The answer is simple. The schools did not come clean about Anthroposophy and its role in Steiner “education.” That’s why I sent my children to a Waldorf school. Before doing so, I asked some crucial questions. I asked if the children are taught Anthroposophy or exposed to it in any way.” The answer was “No. The teachers are Anthroposophists but there is no Anthroposophy in the classroom.” I said “Good, because I wouldn’t want my children to be taught a religion I didn’t know anything about.” The answer I got to that was that Anthroposophy is not a religion. Never having been lied to at any other school about their programs and their educational philosophies, it never occurred to me I was being lied to.

As time went on, my husband and I noticed more and more religious activities at the school, including a reincarnation ritual, but we shrugged our shoulders and figured that it was harmless. We made the mistake of ignoring red flags because we liked our children’s class teachers. There was also a certain amount of brainwashing going on. It was always being pointed out to us why the way various things were done in a Waldorf school was superior to the way they were done in other schools. Parents want to believe they’ve made the right school choice for their children, so it is easy to fall for the constant explanations as to why Steiner education is superior to all others, even if one doesn’t buy into all of it. It took an incident in which teachers broke some laws and we found out about the mishandling of situations involving pedophiles for us to say, “Whoa! Something’s not right here.” We got on the Internet and bingo! There’s a lot that’s not right about Steiner schools and thank God (or Al Gore or whomever you want) that we have the Internet now so parents have the opportunity to discover the truth before committing their children to an education that is quite different from what its PR makes it out to be.

So, if a male teacher at our Waldorf school had not inappropriately touched our daughter and some other girls, we might never have gone hunting on the Internet for other people who had bad Waldorf experiences and we might never have learned that Waldorf schools are really Anthroposophy schools. We would still believe our children’s Waldorf school was the innocent, charming place we were brainwashed into believing it was. In the ensuing years, I’ve come across so many Waldorf horror stories, and none of them are surprising to me because I can find parallels in events and behavior I witnessed or heard about at our Waldorf school.

Thanks for your article, Unity. You have done good deed.


73. Margaret Sachs

Sorry! I meant to say, “You have done a good deed.”

Thebee – why did you publish the name and address of Northernrefugee? Was it an attempt to intimidate and to encourage others to send hate mail?

The fact that numerous politicians sent their children to Rudolf Steiner Schools is, as you point out, and indication, that they did not think that they would receive “an irrational education.” Do you think that proves anything else? Do you think that it’s proof that the Steiner system of education is “rational”? It’s an indication the views of the politicians/public figures in question, it proves nothing about the quality of the education they or their children received.

What about the fact that a number of Steiner schools in the US and Eurpoe are state supported? Evidence of the efficacy of the Steiner system? I think not. Do you think that the fact that a large number of state schools in the US teach “creationism” is evidence that this idiotic collection of pseudoscientific nonsense has any validity?

Since you obviously have only a very shaky understanding of the use of the subject – predicate propositional form as a means of logical reasoning I shan’t bother to enter into a critique of the actual ideas underlying Steiner education but, it must be said, you don’t seem to have presented many in your posts, preferring to rely on the argument that ” the Norwegian Prime Minister’s son is in a Steiner school, therefore they must be good.” Fantastic.

“Thebee – why did you publish the name and address of Northernrefugee? Was it an attempt to intimidate and to encourage others to send hate mail?”

No. I did not find out in what city she lives until long after the discussion in the public forum she refers to ( She had published a letter to the editor at one time where she told it.

When I started posting in the forum to address the promotion of the repeatedly untruthful writings of to try to badmouth Steiner Waldorf education, using a female pseudonym, Zooey, who is a female who uses a male pseudonym (literature figure), immediately joined and told my name. She was then joined by other WCs from the WC mailing list ( who repeatedly used both my first and my full name and told and discussed my personal qualities in the discussion as conscious harassment. My first name is still published 247 times in the forum, 14 of them with my full name.

When I got tired of it, I started to address Northernrefugee with her very common first (not full) name too, that she uses on the mailing list of the WC-group, in addition to her pseudonym. When she complained about this, I suggested that she change it on the public WC mailing list with its public archives, which she then did.

“I shan’t bother to enter into a critique of the actual ideas underlying Steiner education but, it must be said, you don’t seem to have presented many in your posts …”

I still harbour the faint hope that people read the pages I have linked to.

“… preferring to rely on the argument that ” the Norwegian Prime Minister’s son is in a Steiner school, therefore they must be good.” Fantastic.”

Not the Norwegian Prime Minister’s son. The Norwegian (Labour) Prime Minister is a former Steiner Waldorf pupil like the Swedish Minister for the Environment.

Was it fantastic? When the Prime Minister celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this year, he told that he, born abroad, had to struggle hard with the Norwegian language. He did not learn to read and write properly untl the fourth-fifth grade (starting first grade at seven), but the school let him be a child for many years. He never experienced that as a problem and told he is very grateful for the school.

As for the present Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, he has told that he’s happy he has put (or had) his children both in the public and a Steiner school (state financed).

76. Interested German Public

@ Thebee

why do you try to defend Steiner, an insane person?

Would like to discuss that with Ansgar Martins and the German public?
You may speak English, of course. We´re waiting for you here:

“Ravagli, die “Rassen” und die Rechten”

A. Martins, translated: “I’m absolutely convinced that Steiner was insane. Not only Fritz Beckmannshagen proved that in very neat way, but it strikes one as well reading Rudolf Steiner, “The Course Of My Life – An Autobiography” [GA 28].

I’m not here to discuss in detail the pros and cons of Steiner Waldorf education in this comments section (or to what degree Steiner was sane or insane), but just to slightly address the article by Unity and somewhat more fully some of the allegations by others.

I think one point in what you write is interesting, though, Richard.

“Do you think that the fact that a large number of state schools in the US teach “creationism” is evidence that this idiotic collection of pseudoscientific nonsense has any validity?”

No, not as such. But I think the primary task of the school in the upper grades not is to tell the pupils what to think on different issues, but to help them learn to think for themselves.

Teaching the pupils what is commonly thought today is one task, but only then also telling them about contrary views on the issues, such as evolution, and engage them in thinking and analysing the pros and cons of the different positions in some detail supports what they need: to learn to analyse arguments and think for themselves as a basis for coming to their own personal judgements, and building their own basis in life on this ability.

78. Interested German Public

@ Thebee

you write: “I’m not here to discuss in detail the pros and cons of Steiner Waldorf education in this comments section (or to what degree Steiner was sane or insane) …”

Ansgar Martins, Waldorf student, created his “Waldorfblog”

to solve the most urgent issues of Waldorf pedagogy and you do escape from a discussion with Waldorf students?

“Waldorf teacher leave the kids alone …”

Dear All,

While it is very worrying that senior ministers of a nation state such as Norway are advocates of Anthroposophy, it should not be assumed that advocates of irrational systems of thought lend their support because they are stupid. One of the most common assumptions made by critics of powerful and undemocratic regimes is that intelligent people can’t support bad ideas; sad to say, they can and frequently do.

Power, when combined with a quasi-familial and supportive cohort, is an intoxicating mix for people unable to cope with uncertainty. Hierarchical and fascist regimes also appeal to those with a sado-masochistic nature; to be rigidly controlled allows an extension of child-like dependency and to rigidly control others provides instant gratification, an illusion of responsibility, status within the cohort and political and financial opportunities.

But to stay within such regimes requires that the intelligent person subjugates their own sense of rationality in favour of the dictates of the regime. In short they have to lie. Not only to they have to lie to themselves to prevent themselves from facing up to their own under-developed adulthood, they have to lie to those of us who are on the edge of the cohort – as critics, as neighbours as ex-members or as concerned observers.

Nearly 20 years ago, I became hugely interested in Steiner education as a possible option for my daughter and for several years attended events and open-days, summer parties and school functions at the Kings Langley Steiner School. I was on their Volunteers list and, at the time, was in a vulnerable psychological state. That my mental health was poor (and often still is) made me an ideal candidate for inculcation into the Steiner machine. But poor mental health doesn’t necessarily interfere with one’s rational brain function and in conversations with Steiner staff I came to the conclusion that they were madder than me.

An example of such a conversation happened after I had attended a story-telling session for the younger children in which the words ‘natural’ were used a great deal. At the end of the session, I asked the teacher,

“I’m interested to know what you mean by ‘natural’, can you tell me how you teach concepts of naturalness and how that relates to play?” The teacher replied,

“We believe that every child should, in their early years, only use natural toys, be surrounded by natural objects and surfaces. That’s why we don’t like felt tip pens, and prefer wooden toys and candle light.” The teacher beamed, as if he had revealed some great inner truth. I replied,

“But everything is natural. Humans do what humans do in the same way that birds do what birds do. Why is a wax crayon, made from petroleum products any more natural than a felt tip pen made from petroleum products? And, anyway, both are products of organic chemistry. Oil is a natural material surely?”

“No,” said the teacher, “wax crayons are natural because they are not made of chemicals.”

“Everything is made of chemicals.” I replied, “if you have some notion of only allowing toys and games that meet a particular aesthetic, why not just say so.”

“All our toys are natural”, the teacher continued, “we don’t allow mad-made objects to corrupt the children – you see all these toys are wooden.”

By this time the teacher’s beaming smile had transformed into a fixed and ghastly grin.

“But who made the wooden toys?” I asked. “And why are they varnished? I thought you said you liked natural surfaces. None of this makes sense at all. I’m trying to get to the bottom of what you mean by ‘natural’ because if it is simply a pre-defined aesthetic or a substitute for the word ‘good’, the children are going to grow up with a very weird idea of how the world works, how to use language and how to distinguish between categories.”

At this point, the fixed grin was replaced by an aggressive, legs-planted, arms folded stance. “Look mate,” He said, unfolding his arms and poking me in the chest with his finger, “I’ve explained it to you and you’re just trying to make trouble. We know about you, you’re the one who’s been asking questions about television aren’t you?”

“Well, yes. Do you have a television?”

“Of course not! My wife and I only have a natural home and we don’t allow such pollution!” With that, he switched back from aggressive to smiling mode, picked up a small child from the floor and, shielding the child’s head as if from imminent danger, walked out of the room, leaving the other toddlers effectively on their own. My partner and I stayed in the room until another teacher arrived, at which point we left to see older children make things in the metal-work shop.

At the end of the day, we were going to our car when we noticed the original teacher leaving in a brand new Audi.

‘Vorsprung durch technik’ as they never say at Steiner.

Best wishes

PS all deconstructions and implications gratefully received.

Thebee wrote:

“No. I did not find out in what city she lives until long after the discussion in the public forum she refers to ( She had published a letter to the editor at one time where she told it.”

Then this is the deal: since Northern has asked you, begged you, that you discontinue naming that village, you’re an asshole if you don’t stop doing it.

Where you got the name of the village from is irrelevant.

It’s a matter of decency. You naming the village has, moreover, nothing to do with your claims, whatever they are. A name of a village is unimportant.

You are very well aware that what you are doing is stalking and intimidating.

The statement/question you put to Unity a few comments was of the same nature. You wrote “Unity (David?)” in order to force the writer into making an “admission”… you show the person “I know who you are!” and this has been your method of operation for years. For some reason you think you can persuade people they should keep silent by showing them you can release private information about them. Or just intimidate them by appearing to be on a personal/private level of interaction with them.

It is sinister and it is cowardly.

“When I started posting in the forum to address the promotion of the repeatedly untruthful writings of to try to badmouth Steiner Waldorf education, using a female pseudonym, Zooey, who is a female who uses a male pseudonym (literature figure), immediately joined and told my name.”

Oh, you are such a slimy creep. You called yourself Eva, pretended to be a mother, talking to other mothers. You are a middle aged childless man, for dog’s sake. You used the alias Eva because you thought you could get away with it. Nobody wanted to do anything, because people are damned afraid of your sliminess. They know you report people and have them banned from discussion boards. You do that to me all the time.

What the fuck does it matter if I’m male or female? I don’t go on discussion boards pretending to be a mum, or anybody else that I’m not. I always use the same pseudonym, unlike you who uses half a billion different, all depending on the situation. If you’re on a mothering board, being female seems to suit your purposes, so that’s what you do. Eva. Yes.

You’re being a creep, and you know it. You have been stalking mothers and former waldorf students for the past 10-15 years. Don’t pretend you are the victim here.

“When I got tired of it, I started to address Northernrefugee with her very common first (not full) name too, that she uses on the mailing list of the WC-group, in addition to her pseudonym. When she complained about this, I suggested that she change it on the public WC mailing list with its public archives, which she then did.”

You shouldn’t have done it!!!!!!!!!! Even if you could do it, you should’ve stopped yourself, when she told you you were hurting her. You must be totally oblivious to other people.

Do you remember why you started attacking Northern and referring to her by her name, trying to intimidate her? You started to do that right after I had outed you on mumsnet. You tried to get back at me, but you couldn’t find a way. Northern had NOT named you. I had. I got pissed at you for taking it all out on her instead of me. Then you realized that by naming her and trying to out her village and everything else you could about her, you didn’t only hurt and harm her, you upset me because I care for her. And you upset all the rest of us who know what it is like to be in a vulnerable position. That’s why you set up a website about Northern, detailing her private life and beliefs, because you knew she was perhaps the best symbol you could find. You knew we all felt for her and her children.

But remember, I was the one naming you on mumsnet. Northern did not. I was the one who came on the mumsnet board back then, when you were calling yourself Eva, and I told everybody what a creep they were dealing with. Of course Northern and several other knew it already, but they did not name you before I did it. They were longtime members of mumsnet. I registered to set things straight. Then you went after Northern, not me. I registered under the pseudonym I always use. I told the forum who I was, I told them I was no mother, I told them I was an ex-student, I told them the adress of my blog and all other details that were relevant.

I NEVER tried to use my pseudonym in order to appear to be someone other than who I am every other day on the internet. That is the difference, and you know it. Dishonesty is just your preferred mode.

Celebrities and politicians, it’s ridiculous. We are people with brains, we don’t need politicians and celebrities to guide us in our choices of beliefs and opinions.


81. Northernrefugee

I should imagine most people have dropped of the edge by now they’re so filled up with links.

Oh come now thebee, you’re steeped in denial.
You’re not on the nursery slopes of cutting edge dialogue here.

You started mentioning my “maiden” name on mumsnet long before that. You boastingly posted “I see you everywhere” as if you thought it was some kind of intimidating game.

I live in a small town, where I wrote a letter to a tiny local newspaper about local biodynamic farming. How on earth did you find it if you weren’t looking?

One of my children found the pages you’ve made with those things comparing me to a Hamas terrorist , just after the Israeli attacks. We are a family. We share a computer. They were upset and worried.

Along with creepy anonymous emails from anthroposophists, and pictures of axe men, and other stuff addressed to me, it doesn’t look good for the anthroposophical image. You are so busy protecting your belief system, or perhaps fulfilling your “task” for this St Mich-a-el epoch, you seem to forget you are dealing with real families and children.
Jeremy Smith from the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship parroted what you’d written too.
Heaven only knows what you write to people in your capacity as “webmaster of waldorf answers”.
What worries me is that people like you, Smith and Steiner teachers, herberts of the highest kind, have come on forums (appaently using nick names too on occasion) and are representing schools who have the care and education of children.
You use a variety of different nick names, you post your sanitised version of this so called education on blogs about Steiner schools. One teacher couldn’t find anything wrong with some race belief from Steiner… another teacher talked about how difficult it was “educating parents”. Frankly, there’s so much that is worrying it’s eye-poppingly spectacular.

The difference with you though thebee, is that half the time you proudly proclaim yourself as “webmaster” of all your websites, with your full name and address.

Families who have left are often desperate; there’s so much to take in; often they’re shunned by the community, or have left because they have realised how far reaching the implications of anthroposophy in their child’s life has been. Steiner schools often imply their experience is isolated, one poor teacher, one unusual case of bullying. Of course this isn’t the case. Parents talk on forums to share these episodes. If we and many others, had known the truth about anthroposophy before paying for our children at a Steiner school, we wouldn’t have gone near it.

And then there’s the little point about floods of emails threatening legal action when Steiner’s quotes about race for example, are posted.

Or even when this article is posted, which for me is one of the most telling. Ray Mcdermott has since written a piece to justify what he wrote, but this is an article at the waldorf library, by a man who who loves Steiner education.

Links to Peter Staudenmaier’s work usually get deleted too.

Anthroposophy and Ecofascism

and Race and Redemption

Is his work too near the bone?
Time for disclosure; why won’t anthoposophists publicly disassociate themselves from Steiner’s reincarnation beliefs?

82. Northernrefugee

Crossed posts Zooey.
Thanks for that.
Thanks for your support.

And Nick, I love it!

I always thought that- everything is chemicals. i wish I’d been there.
I recognise the scenario – big time!

We had miriad “awkward” moments with teachers.. awkward questions, about changing our daughter’sleft hanedeness, about labelling them with certain temperaments… about why a particular class mate “attracted” bullying….why they ignored things……

You must be totally oblivious to other people.

Funnily enough, I know a couple of people who are products of Steiner “education”, and that’s a perfect description of both of them.

Hi Northern,

What is most despairing is perhaps knowing that he’ll move on to another stalking object, and then another, and another… It’s not always the person he’s most angry with.He seeks out those he thinks he can intimidate, although I’m sure he’s often mistaken about the strength and weaknesses of others. He probably understands, though, that that fake familiarity thing creeps most people out. Even bystanders.

It’s astounding that waldorf school organisations and other parties involved in waldorf/steiner education allows him to be the only person speaking in favor of the movement on bulleting boards and blogs. It seems they are unable to speak out and announce that thebee’s behaviour on behalf of the movement is plainly unacceptable. I think at least some people know it is unacceptable and feel quite ashamed.


85. Northernrefugee

Hi Zooey, yes, it is worrying, I know you have been hounded by thebee.

And that the world wide Steiner movement keeps quiet about his antics, or even uses him when they want to- like Jeremy Smith copying what he’s written, and all those organisations like the Steiner waldorf Schools fellowship, American Steiner Waldorf and European too.
You’d have thought that “the fastest growing education system in the world” would have a reasonable spokesperson, but apparently not.

Dunc I agree, they’re often oblivious to the fact that there are real people.
I found that – a kind of vacant inability to relate; it goes with karma and guardian angels too I Ithink. and gnomes, and other worlds and …clairvoyance…’s being “good and spiritual” on steiner planet.

86. The Polecat

To thebee/thedrone…….

Hang your head in abject shame!

For once I’m lost for words.
Really appalled,
The Polecat

88. Valerie Walsh

Dear Unity,

It may be that Gove is under the impression that Waldorf schools, being primarily independent schools, do provide an education and/or skill set that “employers and universities really value.”

This is a farce. Thebee and Val representing waldorf/steiner once again.

90. Valerie Walsh

“Moreover, perceptions of quality are rather one sided. During a survey of employers and what institutions they perceived as producing better candidates (2006), Morley explains that most employers “tended to favour graduates from universities which had the highest and most rigorous selection process. Conversely it was found that universities with the most diverse student bodies, for example, the newer universities were not favoured by employers”.

This common perception; that elitism is synonymous with quality, a situation, Professor Morley explains arising from the pretext “that the indicators of quality are based on reputation built over the centuries”. flies directly in the face of education access and widening participation, and, more importantly, undermines any policy based on equality formation. The direct correlation therefore that Professor Morley makes between education equality and a candidate’s future economic potential is associated not on quality matters per se, but to a common antiquated perception of quality’s exclusivity on behalf of employers.”

Would you care to explain what that’s supposed to mean in this context, ie waldorf education?

That people say waldorf’s low quality because they have not changed their conceptions of quality to encompass pure crap, like that which is taught in waldorf? But employers and universities are now *wanting* crap and think crap is quality? And politicians have not understood this yet, and changed their school policies to meet those demands?

Waldorf will save the world?


Where I live, the Steiner school is sometimes called: “The Gardening School,” I certainly felt like that title was suited, when at the age of 9 I left, illiterate and only able to “do math” because of my amazingly patient father. But, I did know how to cut up a Jerusalem artichoke and pick potatoes. I’m not trying to knock gardening but well, gardening is not my forte: the words of my Steiner gardening teacher.

And as for critical thinking; an assistent teacher (helping with ‘handwork’) who had children at the same Steiner school recently told my parents what she’d noticed about me at that time: “He stopped asking questions because the answers were never near adequate. He became very quiet and seemed to accept things without the healthy scepticism he once had.” The idea of critical thinking being… nurtured or what have you in Steiner ‘schools’ is laughable, illustrated by arguments with friends of mine abandoned in the same ‘school’, most of which end in unprintable and explicit language.

The school I am at now, a recovery ground for ex Steiner students among other brilliant things, really does teach critical thinking, it’s secular and without dogma.

Critical thinking, no not much of that in waldorf/steiner. Not independent thinking either. Most of the time, it seems, it’s about preventing children from learning. Frankly, not a great idea for a school. Unless you’re happy with knitting and watercolour painting–of course, all done without thinking, uniformly, imitating, repeating. Utter boredom.

But as a child, you don’t know what school *could* be like, and you give up because you can’t do anything about the situation anyway.


Dear Northern,

Many thanks for your kind words. It has been fascinating to watch the discussions here on this wonderful site in (almost) real time. Given the nature of cults, it is hardly surprising that bullying persists. In my view, there is not much point in arguing with cult members; each of their arguments have, built into them, layers of irrational rhetoric designed to cover every objection with conflicting and contrary mystical re-definitions of accepted semantic progressions.

Like surely teenagers, Anthroposophists gather their attitudes and opinions into rhetorical categories in which there is always some overriding mystic principle able to encompass various sets of conflicting ideas. Rational argument and discussion is a pointless exercise if terms can not be agreed and, for cults, the only acceptable terms of reference are their own. The circular, self referential nature of Anthroposophy ensures that one either accepts it or rejects it but, because so many segments of the circle touch upon existing belief systems, it is easy for the unwary to be tempted in. Most of us who see the danger have, at some point, been tempted by mysticism and irrationality and so we are aware of its seductive power. But we are also aware of its weaknesses, it can not stand up to rational analysis and evidence. In the face of evidence it is especially weak and its only defence is to lie and try to bully its way out.

So if rational argument is pointless, we must concentrate on rational analysis and the provision of evidence. What can we do? In my view, we must keep writing and keep exposing these charlatans for what they are; write to newspapers and magazines, to TV companies, to local and national politicians and to your local councils and continue to contribute to sites like this. We must tell our stories and not attempt to enter into heated discussions with people who mean us harm. We must, if not in actual physical danger or under threat, write under our own names and then, in all fairness, name the bullies and expose their connections, their organisations methods and opinions. For people already in the public arena such as Sune Nordwall, it is disgraceful that they hide behind multiple personalities. We must be better. We must, whenever possible, let it be known that we will not be bullied or ostracised into accepting their power and their assumption that they are better than everyone else. Anthroposophy is a dangerous cult that is infiltrating many of our most valuable institutions and support systems including education, healthcare, community groups, NGOs, religious organisations, banks, businesses large and small and even governments.

In my view, supporters of Anthroposophy who continue to support the cult in the knowledge that the doctrine is based upon racist principles are themselves racists. Sune Nordwall’s comments on this site and elsewhere only confirm that he is a racist. Why, for instance should he say “Obama is not black, he’s mixed. That’s the way of the future”? It is because such a statement exactly fits the Anthroposophists view of Karmic progression from blackness to whiteness and in which an advanced soul can choose its parents. If Anthroposophists such as Sune Nordwall wish to show us we are incorrect, all they have to do is to publically admit Steiner’s schema is intrinsically racist, publically apologise for supporting it all these years and disassociate themselves completely from Anthroposophy. Meanwhile, I for one will assume that those following racist doctrines know what they are doing – their excuses are unacceptable.

In solidarity

Best wishes,


Thank you for a brilliant comment Nick.I so agree with your first passage, about the futility of trying to discuss with some people. Of course, thebee is an extreme case, most anthroposophists *are*, in fact, more reasonable, in my opinion. Or, at least, I still hold the hope that they are. It’s just a pity that they leave it all up to thebee and a few of his friends.


Thanks for your support. I agree to an extent that many Anthroposophists are more reasonable than others. My recent experiences here in Devon, however, lead me to believe that their reasonability lasts as long as challenges to unreason are hypothetical. When actions are required to follow up reasoned and reasonable requests, it’s a different story; such requests are sidelined, ignored, belittled and argued against to avoid change and protect the cosy cohort.

Mystics adore their adoring fans and fans hate to be seen to have been fooled; thus the social cache of accepting mysticism becomes a passport to one’s validity: Community Chest Pays you £50!

Rational analysis? Go Straight to Jail, do not pass GO, Do Not Collect £200!

Naturally, mystics prefer the dice to be loaded heavily in their favour with an everlasting supply of get-out-of-jail-free cards born by flocks of biodynamic angels.

Best wishes,


I think you’re right about that Nick, reasonability is in a way superficial. After encountering thebee online, though, you might find your local Devon anthros to be wonders of reason…!

Thank you for another excellent article.

Having lived in a Steiner community I very much sympathise with many of the posters here.

Once challenged followers of Rudolf Steiner (anthroposophists) can turn very unpleasant, in our case so unpleasant that we had to move home.

Whilst trying to understand some of their extreme behaviour I spoke with a specialist in cults, he was very familiar with Steiner Waldorf and explained how the true victims of these movements are usually the very last to know.

Those busy standing up for anthroposophy presently lack the critical faculties to question exactly what it is they are defending. Some should and do know better, some don’t want to get better as many have rejected old family and friends in order to fully ingratiate themselves into these Steiner communities. People can achieve quite high positions of authority in these places that wouldn’t be available to them on the outside and parents looking for advice and support are only too willing to hand over some of that power.

I understand this as I was briefly a follower once, they are very ‘intoxicating’ places, fetishising nature as a sort of spiritual bling, green = good. What the movement doesn’t tell you is where anthroposophy came from, what main belief underpins the whole movement and what its ultimate mission is. Many followers depending on how far up the spiritual ladder they are won’t have any idea what they have signed themselves and their children up for. It is only slowly revealed when you are deemed ready and invited to an anthroposophical ‘study group’.

When family and friends showed concern I too argued that they didn’t understand, I had found the perfect school! That is until we came up against one of anthroposophy’s main teachings ‘karma’. My child was hit very violently backwards off a bridge, as I held her, the parent whose child hit did nothing, the child who hit my daughter did nothing and the teacher who witnessed it did nothing. I was later told it was her karma.

In addition to these schools being anti-scientific, they are dangerous, there are many experiences similar to mine and worse, unfortunately you won’t be able to read the many testimonies from parents and children as they have disappeared off the net, they have disappeared due to repeated intimidation and legal threats from the poster Thebee and anthroposophical lawyer Percy Bratt based in Sweden.

Steiner Waldorf schools shouldn’t receive public funding. Anthroposophy is a highly secretive and dangerous occultist sect. They have no place in the classroom. If parents are genuinely seeking alternatives I recommend Montessori, Human Scale and Democratic Education.

99. Valerie Walsh

“According to Prof Heppell, getting children interested is always the key to success in the classroom. ‘It doesn’t matter what the idea is, it’s the active engagement of the children that’s the secret,’ he says. ‘When children are engaged with the process of learning, their attitude changes; being a good learner is becoming cool, rather than being the child most likely to fall off the chair or the most disruptive in the class.’ ”

100. Interested German Public

@ Valerie Walsh

you quote: “It doesn’t matter what the idea is, it’s the active engagement of the children that’s the secret:”

May I conclude that you think it‘s perfectly alright to engage children in the nutty teachings of Rudolf Steiner?

Would you like to discuss that with Ansgar Martins and the German public?
You may speak English, of course. We´re waiting for you here:

“Ravagli, die “Rassen” und die Rechten”

A. Martins, translated: “I’m absolutely convinced that Steiner was insane. Not only Fritz Beckmannshagen proved that in very neat way, but it strikes one as well reading Rudolf Steiner, “The Course Of My Life – An Autobiography” [GA 28].

101. Valerie Walsh

Dear Interested German Public,

You may conclude whatever you like but keep in mind some conclusions are more engaging than others.

Here is another quote from the article:

According to Professor Stephen Heppell, an education policy adviser and professor of new media innovations at the University of Bournemouth, the reason why such diverse approaches work is simply because almost anything is better than the factory schooling that preceded it. ‘When teachers do things differently, the alternative is always better and more successful than traditional methods, because the earlier model of education wasn’t built around the best way children can learn, but the best way to organise learning.’

102. Interested German Public

@ Valerie Walsh

Fräulein Walsh could you please answer my question, instead of SPAMMING this blog:

May I conclude that you think it‘s perfectly alright to engage children in the nutty teachings of Rudolf Steiner?

Would you like to discuss that with Ansgar Martins and the German public?
You may speak English, of course. We´re waiting for you here:

“Ravagli, die “Rassen” und die Rechten”

A. Martins, translated: “I’m absolutely convinced that Steiner was insane. Not only Fritz Beckmannshagen proved that in very neat way, but it strikes one as well reading Rudolf Steiner, “The Course Of My Life – An Autobiography” [GA 28].

103. Valerie Walsh

Dear Interested German Public.

Respectfully, I have answered your question and further have no desire to discuss, with Ansgar Martins and the German Public, your conclusion regarding what I may or may not think.

Valerie Walsh, may I call you Isenhart7 or do you prefer Val2160?

“I would rather hold a racist ideology, if there is such a thing, than display the bigotry evidenced daily on the Waldorf Critics list”.

I care very much what you and your movement may or may not think and the damage you wreck on hundreds of families.

Any desire to comment on the above?

105. Valerie Walsh

I suggest that you address me by my given name since I have provided it so that you may do so.

You want me to call you by your true name?


107. Andreas Lichte

Fräulein Valerie,

wo haben Sie sich denn mit Steiner angesteckt?

– in der Waldorfschule?

– oder war es bei der Gehirnwäsche in der Waldorflehrer-Ausbildung?

– …?

108. Valerie Walsh

Relevant to Unity’s article and your question perhaps, I read recently that bacteria is one of the most successful of all organisms.

Val is a master of nonsense replies. She and thebee complement each other. After seeing this happen a couple of times now, I conclude that thebee call on Val when he needs help. Not because Val ever posts anything meaningful, or even pro-waldorf, but because she occupies threads with irrelevant crap.

111. The Polecat

Two weeks of my Anti-Steiner posts have been maliciously removed on Twitter this afternoon!
I WILL repost them ALL over coming days.

Sharpening my claws and smelling racist, lunatic Steiner blood.
The Polecat

A quick word re the list of Anthroposophical organisations listed on my blog ( Any of them on that list has arrived there as a result of meeting definitions of what an Anthroposophical organisation is – the definitions used in course of my research can be found on the blog’s research pages.

There’s been some mention of Triodos here, primary proof of Triodos being Anthroposophical came from documents lodged with Companies Registration Office in Ireland. In Triodos Bank’s own Articles of Association it is stated:

“The Anthroposophic movement and the movement for religious renewal, The
Christian Community, were the sources of inspiration for the people who founded
Triodos Bank. Triodos Bank is — in all freedom — associated with the non-physical science initiated by Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy, which therefore forms an important basis for the work of Triodos Bank”

I did make available online a full report of my first phase of research into the UK Anthroposophy movement via an action group I had been heavily involved with. The group folded, the research doc became unavailable online. There’s all sorts of info about the entire Triodos Group of companies in it and the rest of the Anthroposophy movement’s organisations (Camphills, Steiner schools etc) too. I’m now well into a second phase of research…I’ll stick a copy of the first phase results up on my blog asap, seems more and more people might find a use for it. There’s a small section of the research doc given over to mortgage links between recorded Anthroposophical organisations. Needless to say Triodos figures heavily in that.

Re the Green Party, last time I delved into their policy documents they were very much pro-Steiner schools.

I’m a bit knackered right now having just returned from archaeological field research but if any of you have any questions about links between the various recorded Anthro orgs give a shout here or email me offlist or via the blog whatever.

Thanks to Unity for giving us a cracker of an article,

Dear Mike,

many thanks for the information and context; it’s appreciated.

best wishes


Thanks Nick,
the full report on the first phase of research into the UK Anthroposophy movement should now be available on my blog via a boxnet widget thingy on the sidebar…it seems to be working. I’m aware of some flaws in the methodology but criticism/feedback is always welcome if you spot anything or would like to comment on it.

I’ll be posting a few bits and bobs to the blog over the next day or so. Nothing major I doubt, just enough to keep things ticking over whilst I get on with the main thing (the second phase of research).

all the best, Mike

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  6. Thetis

    @schoolduggery anyone for pseudoscience?

  7. Thetis

    @edballsmp anyone for pseudoscience? Steiner Waldorf ed time to do some reading!

  8. Thetis

    @OchoHa Steiner schools: pseudoscience! it’s your karma, sunshine. Imagine exposing children to this

  9. Thetis

    @schoolduggery anyone for pseudoscience?

  10. Thetis

    @edballsmp anyone for pseudoscience? Steiner Waldorf ed time to do some reading!

  11. Thetis

    @OchoHa Steiner schools: pseudoscience! it’s your karma, sunshine. Imagine exposing children to this

  12. Thetis

    @cypnow anyone for pseudo-science?

  13. Thetis

    @cypnow anyone for pseudo-science?

  14. Lovely Horse

    @edballsmp Steiner-Waldorf movement – urgent investigation needed

  15. Lovely Horse

    @TimesEducation Steiner-Waldorf movement, urgent investigation needed. Look

  16. Sarah Raphael

    RT @lovelyhorse Steiner Waldorf movement, urgent investigation needed. Look

  17. Lovely Horse

    @edballsmp Steiner-Waldorf movement – urgent investigation needed

  18. Lovely Horse

    @TimesEducation Steiner-Waldorf movement, urgent investigation needed. Look

  19. Sarah Raphael

    RT @lovelyhorse Steiner Waldorf movement, urgent investigation needed. Look

  20. Sarah Raphael

    @jonronson thanks- it certainly needs looking at

  21. Sarah Raphael

    @jonronson thanks- it certainly needs looking at

  22. Lovely Horse

    Pseudoscience is not a valid educational choice Mr Gove

  23. Lovely Horse

    Pseudoscience is not a valid educational choice Mr Gove

  24. Lovely Horse

    @RickAlanRoss Steiner Waldorf also growing problem in UK

  25. Lovely Horse

    @RickAlanRoss Steiner Waldorf also growing problem in UK

  26. Thetis

    Ophelia adds(in news) 'a definition of ‘diversity’ includes funnelling public money to an occult society' re @Unity_MoT

  27. Thetis

    @josswinn sadly, time to read this and take it seriously before you go any further: & #Steiner

  28. Lovely Horse

    @timesed Pseudoscience is not a valid educational choice Mr Gove #Steiner #Waldorf #Anthroposophy #voteschools

  29. Charlie Barton

    And for balance, the comments beneath this critical page on Steiner schools include responses from supporters:

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