About

Dr C. Edward Pitt is a full time GP* and spare-time writer. He lives and works in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He is way too busy.

He has been studying and working in the medical profession since 1992. In that time he has gained the qualifications of MBBS (UQ) and the FRACGP. He spent a number of years in hospital paediatrics before getting sick of shift-work and moving into General Practice.

Since attaining his GP Fellowship in 2005, he has gained experience in many and varied areas of medicine including Skin Cancer Medicine, Cosmetic Medicine, Aged Care, Sexual Health and Family Planning, and is a regular question writer and examiner for the Royal Australian College of General Practice.

His work has been published in a number of different spheres.  In the early 2000’s, he was a regular writer for a nationally published Christian magazine, “Alive”.  He published his first book in 2009, “Stress Out”, now in its second edition.  He published a formal rebuttal to the work of Dr Leaf in 2013, “Hold That Thought: Reappraising The Work Of Dr Caroline Leaf”, and in 2015, he published “Fats and Figures”, a short book on heart health.

In early 2016, his first peer reviewed article was published, “Cutting through the Paleo hype: The evidence for the Palaeolithic diet” (Australian Family Physician, 2016 Jan/Feb; 45(1): 35-38)

He is also a husband, father to two rambunctious small boys, coffee connoisseur, try-hard leg spinner, amateur actor and a terrible dancer. Whatever time he has left, he usually wastes it on Facebook!

(* GP is short for General Practitioner, also known as a Family Physician in some parts of the world)

37 thoughts on “About

  1. Thanks for the Understanding Thought blog. I enjoyed it. And I thought you did a good job of a quick explanation of GWT and of our LIDA model. One small correction. We think the cognitive cycling rate is roughly 10 hz, not 20 hz [Madl, T., Baars, B. J., & Franklin, S. (2011). The Timing of the Cognitive Cycle. PLoS ONE, 6(4), e14803.] Also, a LIDA based account of so called unconscious driving can be found in [Franklin S, Baars BJ, Ramamurthy U, Ventura M (2005). The Role of Consciousness in Memory. Brains, Minds and Media, Vol.1, bmm150 (urn:nbn:de:0009-3-1505)]
    Both are available directly online, or at .

    • Professor Franklin, thank you for taking the time to review the post, and for your very gracious complement. It is high praise indeed coming from a man of your vast intellectual stature. I have adjusted the blog accordingly, and I’ll be using the references you suggested to update my book’s manuscript when it’s due for review. Thanks again!

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Dr Leaf’s theories. I heard her speak over the weekend in Sydney and I was grieved to hear her speak about mental illness. I was mortified. Her ‘ministry’ is dangerous and needs to be questioned. Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful commentary.

    • Thanks for the encouragement Simone. It’s much appreciated.

      I agree with you about Dr Leaf’s teaching on mental illness. If I can encourage you, and anyone else who has significant concerns re: Dr Leaf, to respectfully make your concerns known to both your friends, and the national executive for the church organisation you’re a part of. Make your voice heard, respectfully and consistently. If everyone shares their concerns, then it’s more likely that action will be taken by our church leadership.

      Again, thanks for the feedback, and all the best.

      • Thank you thank you thank you! I had the misfortune of hearing Dr Leaf speak today, and I was absolutely appalled at what she said. She was speaking at a church conference and it was disturbing to see about 1000 people slurping up very word she said. As someone who lives with depression, I was enraged at her ideas and claims about mental illness. A quote verbatim “Toxic thoughts lead to dementia and alzheimers.” I am so glad I came across your blog, you have given me some peace of mind (no pun intended). At least I know there are people out there challenging her work.

        Kind regards,
        F

      • Hi Francelle – You’re welcome! I sincerely empathise with how you felt listening to Dr Leaf speak, and the reaction of congregation to her. I encourage you, like I encourage everyone who has had a similar reaction to Dr Leaf’s teaching, to make your voice heard. It’s only by politely but persistently raising our concerns that people will stop taking her claims seriously. So I suggest that you take the time to tell your friends about your concerns with Dr Leaf’s teaching, and also to write to your pastors, the organisers of the conference, and to your National Executive of the church body you belong to. If enough people make their voices heard, then our church leaders will have to relook at Dr Leaf’s teaching, which can only be a good thing. Take care.

  3. I had the priviledge to meet dr Leaf about ten years ago in South Africa. She used to be a leader in her research on neoroscience. Many people was familiar with her name and she was frequently invited to present teaching courses in public- and private schools around the country. I did a course on the Geodesic Information Processing model. It was an excellent course and still use the metacogs in teaching my students. She is always friendly and helpful from what I remember. However, there is a definite shift in her teachings. It seems like she is concentrating more on new age teachings or mystical experience. She has moved away from truthful Biblical teachings towards experiental practice with a divinity out there. Although she is still using scripture as base, it is clear that it is a vehicle for her new age teaching to make it more believeable for Christians. Her teachings are very dangerous. She is a cultural change agent and does not fit the role of objective researcher any longer. Regretfully, I can no longer read her facebook entries or stand her speaking rubbish on her blog.

    • Hi Trix. Thanks for your comment. I think your historical perspective on Dr Leaf is very interesting. I do find her teachings disturbing, and her objectivity and her interpretation of scientific research is certainly open to debate. As for your suggestions about Dr Leaf’s teaching being a vehicle for New Age teaching, and that she is a cultural change agent … I’m not sure if I can speak to that one way or the other. My approach on this blog and in my book is to contrast her teaching to the current scientific research, and highlight discrepancies. I’m not an expert in New Age teaching, and I don’t want to venture beyond my knowledge and training. Whilst I can’t endorse your view, I have published your comment so that others can make up their own mind. Whether her teachings align with New Age teachings or not, I can say with confidence that her teachings are scientifically weak, and for that reason alone, they need to be revised.

      Thanks for taking the time to share.

  4. I have read your critique of Dr. Leaf as well as her husband’s clear and responsible rebuttal.

    Considering your medical credentials, family medicine, many would question YOUR qualifications to judge this very well-respected neuroscientist.

    • Marianne, thank you for your candour.

      You’re welcome to believe whomever or whatever you like, though it’s a shame that your dismissal of my work rests primarily on the baseless assumption that family medicine is a second-rate form of medical care. General Practice is a medical specialty in its own right. To achieve the title of GP, one has to complete nearly ten years of university-level education. Dismissing my work on the grounds that I’m a GP is simply an an ad hominem logical fallacy.

      Secondly, I’m yet to find convincing evidence that Dr Leaf is a neuroscientist. If you know of any university research positions she has held in neuroscience labs, or any journal articles on neuroscience that she has published, then please forward those details to me and I will happily publish a correction.

      Thank you for your feedback. All the best to you.

  5. Your motto includes the word ‘love’ but I can’t hear much love in what you write.
    All the articles I have read are spreading hate about one person whom you seem to be targeting.
    Please reflect on your personal motives. What love and light are you bringing to the world? Why would you want to discourage people from believing that they can take control of their thoughts and that they have unique gifts to share with the world?

    • Jessica, I appreciate your forthright commentary. You make important points that I’m happy to address.

      I admit that Dr Leaf’s teaching is a very common topic on this blog. As background, I have respectfully communicated my concerns about Dr Leaf privately, to Dr Leaf herself (via a proxy), and to various pastors including the National Executive of the Australian Christian Churches. I have also respectfully posted concerns with Dr Leaf’s teaching on her Facebook feeds, but was blocked from posting by Dr Leaf’s censors. And so this blog has become the primary platform for discussion and critique of Dr Leafs writing and teaching, out of necessity. However, I do not limit my writing to just a critique of Dr Leaf, but I also focus on a number of other topics and I critique a number of other pseudoscientific social media memes. Indeed, I have been working on subjects other than Dr Leaf for the last few weeks, hence why there has been a hiatus in my posts. Overall the last time I checked, I blog on Dr Leaf about 50% of the time.

      While you may disagree, I don’t hate Dr Leaf personally, nor am I using this platform to spread hate as you suggest. I clearly disagree with her teaching and the “science” behind it, and I am simply critiquing her work. This is the way science happens, and indeed, this is the way all ideas and knowledge grow. We have a Biblical imperative to test everything and hold on to the good (1 Thess 5:21). Thus, I’m not doing anything that should not have already been done for anyone, Christian or non-Christian, who presents themselves as an expert.

      I have reviewed my personal motives many times in my journey. I do not believe that I am acting in any way outside of my personal values, or Gods values. In Ephesians 4:14-15 we read “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” It’s my aim to speak the truth in love, so that the body of Christ grows more mature. This may seem critical, but central to this point is the question, love for whom? Should I not question Dr Leafs scientific interpretation just so I don’t offend her? What about the thousands of people around the world for whom Dr Leaf’s teaching misleads? Who is standing up for them? “Why would you want to discourage people from believing that they can take control of their thoughts and that they have unique gifts to share with the world?” I suggest you read my book in its entirety, but the short answer is that trying to control thoughts only leads to more psychological distress, while trying to prove anything with faulty science simply leads to false conclusions, and fails to do justice to whatever truth may have been present.

      Dr Leaf had her chance to hear what I had to say in a private forum, but she declined to reply. Instead, her husband chose to arrogantly dismiss my questions and refused my offer to further engage. I have had an open invitation for Dr Leaf to respond to any of my public critiques, but to this day, she has chosen not to. So I will continue to provide an alternative viewpoint to Dr Leafs teaching, until such time that Dr Leaf is willing to review her factual basis for her teaching. My offer remains open – I will publish any response that she wishes to make. I am even willing to go a step further – I will meet with Dr Leaf while she is in Australia later this year, any date, anywhere in the country, if she is willing to meet face to face.

      I said before that no one is above a formal critique, and my work is no different. If I’m factually errant, I will publicly apologise and publish a correction. Feel free to review my work and let me know if my assessment is incorrect. Please cite your sources, I will review them and correct my work as required.

      I understand that many of Dr Leafs followers will dislike me and my work because I have the audacity to critique their hero. I’m sorry if you feel like I’m attacking her. But like I said, I encourage you to look beyond your personal support of Dr Leaf and review the facts I have highlighted. Ultimately you’re welcome to disagree with me, and even dislike me. But please consider the facts I have elucidated before you make your final decision.

      • I’m glad you mentioned “speaking the truth in love” my thoughts exactly and something to think on.

    • Jessica, I’ve spent time reading this blog after briefly watching Dr. Leaf speak on TBN (not a Christian station I endorse or frequent). I intentionally searched for another voice besides Dr. Leaf’s because hearing Dr. Leaf’s claims made me want to know who this person is making such absurd claims. She’s an excellent speaker. But long ago I had to learn just because I can discuss something authoritatively and well, doesn’t make me right. All that is needed to forward error is just a little bit of truth. My reaction to what I have read on this blog differs considerably from yours. I am pleased with Dr. Pitt’s sound reasoning, and more importantly, his tact and kindness is his discussion and responses. Not only is he asking legitimate questions, he is a true gentleman about it. Jessica, I would like to urge you to reconsider your strongly stated reaction to Dr. Pitt’s blog as “spreading hate”. To disagree and challenge another reasonably, politely and in a measured fashion is not hateful. Contrary to what your reply implies, Dr. Pitt is not attacking Dr. Leaf, he is questioning aspects of her teaching and asking for evidence of her knowledge in the area of cognitive studies and experience. I think he is being a responsible modern day Berean, biblically and medically, in questioning Dr. Leaf’s claims. Today’s culture touts the “hate” word anytime there is public discourse and disagreement. Dr. Pitt is asking reasonable questions.

  6. “it’s second edition.”

    I love your blog and the work you’re doing, but I’ve noticed that you have often used “it’s” when you mean “its.” This error occurs above, but I’ve also seen it in several of your blog entries, and some other sites you control. Just a friendly heads up! Your work debunking questionable science is great, so we don’t want any needless distractions like these.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks John. English was never my best subject at school, which is why I’m a doctor not a journalist I guess :) Feel free to alert me to any other proof-reading errors that you happen to find and I’ll try to correct them ASAP. Thanks for your interest and encouragement.

      • Dr. Pitt, I appreciate and respect your humility and grace in every response. Your attitude speaks volumes. According to Dr. Leaf’s theories, you should live a very long and healthy life.

      • Hi Susan. Thanks for your warm encouragement, and for standing to my defence. It’s very much appreciated. Believe me when I say, Jessica was still fairly polite in what she said (there have been much worse comments on my blogs), and ultimately, everyone’s entitled to their opinions. But still, I appreciate your generous encouragement. Please spread the word of your concerns of Dr Leafs teaching to your friends and pastors. Warmest regards, Chris.

  7. It looks like you are a busy man!

    I trust your studies on Dr. Caroline Leaf
    will force us to think.

    My question in a prevous post are any of her ideas similar to the Four Temperament theory linked to the Fruits
    of the Spirit by Dr. Tim
    LaHaye!

    I can say both are fantastic speakers!

  8. God bless you doctor!! I have been looking for intelligent responses to Caroline Leaf I am absolutely dismayed at how churches are spreading her fame. Instead of relying on the finished work of the cross she is teaching new age mumbo jumbo and people believe her. Infuriating.

    • Hi Jaana. Thanks for your feedback. I understand your frustration. The best antidote is to share the concerns you have about Dr Leaf’s teaching with others – talk with your friends about your concerns, and also talk to your pastors and write to the National Executive of the church denomination that you are part of, outlining your concerns. It’s only by voicing our concerns that people will start to take notice and reexamine Dr Leaf’s teachings. All the best to you.

  9. I wrote to Q Commons: Hi folks,
    Great to hear of your event in October. It attracted my attention as I am reading Guinness’s book on the Public square.
    Trust it is a blessing to Christians and our society as a whole.
    With that hope, I’d like to draw your attention to questions about the teaching of Dr Leaf.

    This blog by Dr C Pitt is actually a model of the respectful, constructive conversation you hope to engender. The writer is a medical doctor and Christian. He raises serious questions about the validity of Dr Leaf’s teaching- which are not answered by her husband/spokesperson.
    If you want to advance the cause of Christ in the public square in Australia, please reconsider the platform you are giving Dr Leaf.

    Respectfully,
    G. C. BSc, B Min
    30 years in university ministry, but not speaking for my organisation

    • Hi Gary

      Thank you very much for your affirmation. I’m grateful for your public support, and your willingness to share my work. I hope that more people will follow your example and stand against pseudoscience and for the truth.

      All the best.

  10. Dr. Pitt,
    Brilliant. Just brilliant. Keep up the OUTSTANDING (and gracious) work! Don’t let up! My husband and I came across your blog whilst researching C. Leaf – as we are alarmed & disgusted with her teaching. And even more astounded that the church and alot of influential leaders are lapping it up. We’d like to know “WHO SWITCHED OFF YOUR DISCERNMENT, Church?”. “WE” are NOT the source of our well being, our health, our peace or ANYThING else! There is only One Worthy of that Honor! We are amazed how quickly beloved friends and fellow prayer ministry groups are being sucked into the deception. Especially since it is NOTHING new. Check references Church! Research WHO influenced the “scientists” who come up with this nonsense! And it is: NON-SENSE! IT IS NOT THE GOSPEL. It’s NOT in The Word.

    Super-position and Quantum Thinking, New Thought, Neuroscience mind mapping has been around in New Age and occult for decades. It is nothing new or ground breaking for the 2000’s.
    The church has opened the door to the demonic and is shutting OUT God and Holy Spirit. The church needs to turn and run in the other direction – back to Word and Spirit. There is NO substitute for Jesus! “We” don’t “co-create anything….we get to partake b/c of His GREAT mercy. My family and I are praying for leaders and the church. She (Leaf) came out of no where and very very quickly is teaching the Body of Christ all kinds of rubbish…mixed in with a wee little scripture here and there. But what is truly alarming is the number of mature Christian leaders who oughta know better. It is NOT hard to “debunk Leaf’s teachings and hype” – one doesn’t have to research very long to come up with EXACTLY everything you have written.
    You are spot On Bro! and we appreciate you and are relieved someone has the guts to stand up for The Truth and contend for the faith SO graciously! You shine Christ, and make sense.

    We LOVE the Church and we love the many leaders who have fallen for and promoted this rubbish, GLOWINGLY we might add. As tho they were entranced.
    When they come to their senses and realize how the enemy slipped in right under their noses – we pray that they won’t be crushed but that they would arise in strength and The Word and BE the Bride of Christ.

    This is TYPICAL NEW AGE teaching AND tactics. To us – it is so obvious she is as you say a ‘self proclaimed neuroscientist’. C.Leaf is not the only one in the Church teaching this ridiculous tatt. There are some evangelical, catholic and pentecostals churches teaching the same sort of rubbish, all proudly quoting New Age leaders and atheists as well, not really realizing what they signed up for. or do they?

    We have GOT to be discerning and KEEP OUR ARMOUR ON! 30 years ago in America it was plain that this kind of “stuff” was New Age and occultic and you knew NOT to ‘pick up that book’. NOW; it’s so subtle and mixed up with everything else – it really takes a discerning heart to weed it out. It’s WHEAT and TARES time. And the TARE might be teaching or influencing your Pastor! AND WAIT! WHAT does science have to offer the church? the lost? NOTHING. IT IS NOT THE GOSPEL!!!! It doesn’t ‘prove’ the bible. God Almighty needs ‘proving’ ? Our God, Creator of the Universe, who sent His Son Jesus Christ to redeem us, Who gave The Holy Spirit to help us…and we “need” to buy a 21 day detox for our brain? What an insult to a HOLY GOD! Science doesn’t prove the bible. The bible doesn’t need “proving” – you either believe it or you don’t. You’re either a friend of God or a friend of the world.

    This has really touched a nerve in us. We will NOT let up about this teaching by C.Leaf nor anyone else teaching this total deception. My husband and I pray we are as calm and wise as you have been in explaining the DANGER of this type of teaching – we are thrilled to have found you and that you “see” and “hear” rightly and have the courage to speak out FOR THE SAKE OF The Church and NOT to beat anyone down…we see it. This is very dangerous teaching. It’s NOT The Gospel and it does NOT glorify God but only focuses on ‘self’ and man. We are not even convinced when Dr leaf speaks. She should NOT be teaching the Church of Jesus Christ. Period.
    Let alone our children.

    She may be a nice woman. She may even be a Christian. Only God knows a mans heart. BUT her teaching is wrong. It’s NOT the Gospel. It is New Age whether she realizes it or not. She too is deceived. BUT THERE is Hope, Amen. His Name is JESUS.

    God bless you and yours,

    May you be encouraged and lifted up as you continue in doing good; getting the word out there and informing the people. Jesus warned us about these days when MANY will be mislead. The Holy Spirit EXPRESSLY warns about these days in I Timothy 4:1 “some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons”.

    we too, should warn and prepare the church, those days are HERE.

    Yours in Christ,
    TL

    2 Peter 2

    • Hi TL,

      Thanks for your enthusiastic and passionate support.

      I wholly agree with you about how the church has uncritically embraced Dr Leaf’s teachings. I can’t really comment on any similarities between Dr Leaf’s teaching and New Age teaching, as my expertise is more related to the science, though a number of other commenters have made similar observations.

      I also wanted to encourage you not to throw out science because of one rogue ‘scientist’. Science studies the truth of the natural world. It doesn’t prove the Bible as you say, but it also doesn’t negate the Bible. My favourite quote, which reflects my philosophy in this, comes from William H. Bragg, British physicist, chemist, mathematician and Nobel Prize recipient,
      “From religion comes a man’s purpose; from science, his power to achieve it. Sometimes people ask if religion and science are not opposed to one another. They are: in the sense that the thumb and fingers of my hands are opposed to one another. It is an opposition by means of which anything can be grasped.”

      I encourage you to openly discuss the concerns that you have with Dr Leaf’s teaching with your friends and pastors. It’s through each one of us speaking out that the truth will ultimately shine through.

      All the best to you.

  11. Yes indeed. I agree, you are right. Thank you kindly for that. I admit that after following the research and discovering the influences that influenced CLeaf – we were quite astonished the Church hadn’t picked up on it (yet). Not to mention her list of ‘recommended reading’ – is pretty surprising coming from a Christian (i.e. Tony Buzan, Carl Sagan) +.

    I like the way you say it here. I like William H Bragg too. A very admirable man, as are you.

    Thanks for all you do!
    All the best to you as well, and all your loved ones.
    Standing for the Truth,
    TL/KL

  12. Hey there,

    I stumbled across your blog while doing background research on Dr. Caroline Leaf after yet another friend of mine recommended Dr. Leaf’s books to me. I’ve been reviewing her authorship list. She lists three articles in a publication called “Therapy Africa.” Not PubMed, Scopus nor Google yield any hits for a journal (or publication) called “Therapy Africa.” Have you come across anything about it?

    Thanks.

    AJ

    • Hi AJ. Just quickly, the only PubMed listed articles of Dr Leafs are the three that were published in the South African Journal of Communication Disorders in the late 1990’s. I did a Publish Or Perish search on her a couple of years ago and there were no other hits or significant numbers of citations. I haven’t come across “Therapy Africa” either. If you find any other original articles that she’s written, please send them through or send me the link. Thanks, and all the best.

  13. I’ve only read Dr Leaf’s who switched off my brain? book so I can’t comment on her other works. As I see it, she isn’t espousing New Age principles nor is she deviating from reliance on the Holy Spirit as our source of help as some of the commenters here have said. I don’t see anything wrong or shady with what she wrote. A lot of the argument here is about her not having the credentials to being a neuroscientist and I wonder how someone will not want to describe Bill Gates as a great computer scientist, though he doesn’t have a degree. Truth is, we’re living in the information age and everyone could practically teach themselves to be great at something. On top of that, Leaf doesn’t do away with Jesus, prayer, or the Holy Spirit in her book. In fact she gives much credit to Scriptures. True, the science presented in the book can and may contain errors – I haven’t done my share of personal research – but as it is, I don’t see anything that may negatively affect someone’s faith in God. As I see it, she’s giving us a tangible way of renewing our minds. There’s nothing wrong with her approach. We are taught in the Bible to renew our minds, to eat of Jesus’s flesh (which is the Word), to call those things which are not as though they were, and Leaf gives a way to do just that. It’s not like she’s saying to renew our minds by replacing old thoughts with ‘positive thoughts’ – no, she’s actually saying to renew the mind with what’s in the scriptures. I’m a believer that sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, but I don’t think anyone would disagree with me that we are to consume and meditate on the Word day and night, right? Doesn’t Leaf’s method indirectly put this into motion? Her teaching will not distract me from praying, going to church, bible studies, relying on the Holy Spirit, etc. It just adds to these. Focus less on the scientific details because even if it may contain errors, the process she lays out still can benefit anyone in their walk with God. As a final note, we should focus more on the magnification of God in her work because it’s there.

    • Hi JP,

      Thanks for your comment. I understand where you’re going with it. I agree with your general sentiment, but I think there are a number of specifics which are more important than you realise or acknowledge.

      For example, I agree that Dr Leaf doesn’t deny scripture, and doesn’t dissuade people from praying, going to church, bible studies, relying on the Holy Spirit, etc. However:
      1. Dr Leaf’s use of scripture is misleading more often than not; she regularly paraphrases and takes scripture out of context. And she draws extremely tenuous links with scripture and science. Dr Leaf may not deny scripture, but she doesn’t truely honour it.
      2. Dr Leaf goes further than just providing a tangible way of renewing the mind. Dr Leaf and her Facebook minions regularly recommend her programs as medical therapy, or at least, recommend her programs to people that clearly need professional medical advice instead. She also actively criticises medical and psychological therapies for mental health, specifically anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.

      This is where questions of her qualifications and her scientific acumen are vital. ‘Cognitive neuroscientist’ is a specific academic title, based on the specific field of research that a person does. It denotes specific qualifications and ongoing research in a specific field, which Dr Leaf clearly does not have and does not do. If nothing else, the improper use of the title opens her up to accusations of deliberate dishonesty. Though more importantly, because her claim to be a cognitive neuroscientist has been accepted without question, she now promotes herself, and is promoted by churches as, a mental health expert. This is even further from the truth, but this has not stopped her from making scientifically inaccurate claims about the safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications, which directly put people in danger. You may think that her qualifications or her scientific accuracy aren’t that important, but please reconsider. They have real life implications for the health and life of those who take her at her word.

      I also come back to trust as the other key issue. If her science is grossly inaccurate, then how can she call herself an expert? How can she be trusted to stand at the pulpit and accurately teach a sound interpretation of science? And how can she accurately interpret scripture, in which she has not been formally trained, when she can’t accurately interpret science, in which she has been formally trained?

      One might use the argument, as you have, that living in an information age, one could teach oneself anything. However, the skill is in 1. finding the correct information and 2. applying it correctly. I have patients coming in every day who have consulted Dr Google, found lots of information and tried to apply it, but they have usually found the wrong information, and/or incorrectly applied it. Dr Leaf has got lots of information, but I would estimate that more than 95% is misinterpreted and/or misapplied.

      So, all I can encourage you to do is to continue to review Dr Leaf’s work and mine, and the science that we both cite. If your final conclusion remains unchanged, than that’s fine by me. Personally, I think that vaguely scriptural and 5% correct isn’t adequate, and I think she should be held to a higher standard, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

      All the best to you.

  14. Dr. Pitt,
    I work in the mental health field and I stumbled upon this discussion and although I don’t know much about you or Dr. Leaf and I have not read any books by either of you I am interested in your statement to Jessica:
    “…but the short answer is that trying to control thoughts only leads to more psychological distress, “
    Because II Corinthians 10:5 tells us to: “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”
    Would you please be so kind as to reconcile your statement with the verse in II Corinthians?
    Thank you for your time.

    • Hi Nina,

      Thanks very much for raising this point and requesting clarification. It’s a good question, and I’m more than happy to give you my take on the verse.

      Starting with the verse in it’s broader context:

      “By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ towards you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
      You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.” (NIV UK)

      This is the first half of 2 Corinthians 10, specifically v 1-11. In this context, it appears that this chapter is a specific rebuke to some of the Christians within the church at Corinth, and also a defense against some of the murmurings and accusations that some in that church were levelling at Paul. For example, in verse 2, “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.”

      Verses 3-6 are a specific and authoritative rebuttal against the accusations levelled at Paul, paraphrased as, “You may speak against us and the church, but we have weapons that smash strongholds, and we’re coming to take down those pretensions of yours and take every thought of yours captive to make it obedient to Christ, and punish every act of disobedience …”

      So to me, the text seems to be quite specific in its function, rather than a general command. The “we” in the verses is Paul and his supporters and the “your” in the verses is the Corinthian church to whom the letter is addressed.

      This conclusion is supported by the way Paul writes in verse 6, “And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” If all Christians are meant to bring every thought into captivity, then all Christians should also be punishing every act of disobedience once obedience is complete (which we don’t routinely do).

      The specific nature of the verse is also supported by some Bible commentary: “But how does St. Paul meet the charge of being carnally minded in his high office? “Though we walk in the flesh [live a corporeal life], we do not war after the flesh,” or “according to the flesh,” the contrast being in the words “in” and “according.” And forthwith he proceeds to show the difference between walking in the flesh and warring according to the flesh. A warrior he is, an open and avowed warrior – a warrior who was to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; a warrior too who would punish these Judaizers if they continued their disorganizing work; but a prudent and considerate warrior, deferring the avenging blow till “I am assured of your submission” (Stanley) “that I may not confound the innocent with the guilty, the dupes with the deceivers.” What kind of a preacher he was he had shown long before; what kind of an apostle he was among apostles as to independence, self-support, and resignation of official rights in earthly matters, he had also shown; further yet, what kind of a sufferer and martyr he was had been portrayed.” (C. Lipscomb – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/homiletics/2_corinthians/10.htm)

      Similarly, the translation from the original text is more specific than general. The verb used for “bringing into captivity” is aichmalōtízō, “to make captive: – lead away captive, bring into captivity” which is in the Present Active Participle form of the verb. The present tense represents a simple statement of fact or reality viewed as occurring in actual time. The active voice represents the subject as the doer or performer of the action. The Greek participle corresponds for the most part to the English participle, reflecting “-ing” or “-ed” being suffixed to the basic verb form. Actions completed but ongoing or commands are different verb tenses (see https://www.blueletterbible.org/help/greekverbs.cfm for a better explanation). So Paul wasn’t making a general statement, but a specific statement about what he would do in his present time, not the future.

      So, does the Bible tell us to bring every thought captive into obedience to Christ? Personally, I don’t think so. I’d suggest a verse which better clarifies what God wants for our thought life is Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Both the context, and the form of the verb, suggest that this is an ongoing command. And it makes better sense to me … if we spend all of our time trying to fight against every thought that comes into our head, we’d become exhausted, but we can divert attention to those things that are worthy of our attention. And in many ways, what Paul is encouraging is what would be considered now as simple meditation, which has some science behind it, and I think it also fits with the ACT framework, and mindfulness.

      I’m sorry if my explanation sounds a little pedantic, but I think so often, we read the Bible and see what other people have told us, or sung in a song, or read somewhere in a blog, and not looked at the meaning of the text, hence why I’m going to some pains to justify my position, to show that I’m not just jumping to conclusions.

      I also recognise that I am not a trained theologian, and if someone with better Bible training wants to disagree and point out any flaws I may have in my logic or interpretation, I’m happy to be corrected.

      But thanks for your very important question. I hope I’ve given it the respect it deserves.

      All the best to you.

  15. Instead of bashing Dr. Leaf’s work try working with Dr. Leaf. Offer your expert advise on the issues of the mind / brain and their functions with a Christian base. It is not Christian like to bash someone you are to lift them up. This big world has so many people that need expert advice from a true believer of Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing it would be for brilliant minds to work together for the good of people not to belittle each other. After all there is only one perfect one and is name is Jesus.

    • Hi Loretta,

      Thanks for your concern.

      There are a couple of things that need to be stated here:

      1. To clarify, my purpose here is not to ‘bash’ Dr Leaf, which implies that my intention is personal and malicious. Rather, I write to hold Dr Leaf accountable, and to provide an alternative argument to her teaching. Dr Leaf doesn’t need my praise, she has over 200,000 worshippers on Facebook alone. What she needs is accountability, which SHOULD come from her husband, her pastor, her editor, and the “team of professionals” that she claims to have around her. But clearly they have been derelict in their duty, and so it’s been left to me. I will gladly relinquish the role when those closest to her start doing their job.

      2. For the record, I have been more than willing to offer my expert opinion to Dr Leaf.

      When I first heard her speak, I e-mailed my concerns to the pastor of the church who hosted Dr Leaf, who then forwarded them to her directly. Her husband dismissed my concerns out of hand. They have had my email address since that time, and I have made several public open invitations to meet with Dr Leaf anywhere in Australia or New Zealand, to discuss her teaching and my concerns. She has never taken up the offer, although the invitation remains open, and will do so indefinitely.

      I even tried to be the bigger person when she was last in my hometown, and went up to her to introduce myself after she finished speaking at a local church, only to be blocked by her bodyguards, as though I was either unworthy or unwelcome.

      So I have made every effort to communicate directly to her, all of which so far have been either rebuffed or ignored. The natural consequence is that my critique has been forced into the public sphere, since Dr Leaf has ignored any private olive branch that I’ve offered. Her choice, I guess, but like I said earlier, my offer to meet remains open indefinitely – I will meet Dr Leaf face to face anywhere in Australia or New Zealand if she’s genuinely willing to hear when I have to say.

      Thanks for being bold and open in your willingness to raise your concerns. I appreciate it. All the best to you.

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