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Exclusive interview with author "Rolf Sattler"

Rolf Sattler, Ph.D., DSc (h. c.), FLS, FRSC, is Professor Emeritus of McGill University in Montreal, where he carried out research in plant morphology on the development and evolution of plant form. He published nearly a hundred research papers and several books, including the triple award-winning Organogenesis of Flowers and Biophilosophy. At McGill University he taught courses in plant biology, general biology, philosophy and history of biology, biology, and the human condition. A sought-after speaker, Dr. Sattler has lectured at many institutions and universities around the world, including Harvard University and the Universities of California, Berlin, Zurich, Delhi, Malaya, and Singapore. For the Dalai Lama’s 60th Birthday Celebrations he gave a talk on Life Sciences and Spirituality.

His new book "Science & Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy, Art, and Spirituality" explores some of the misconceptions surrounding science and the consequences these misconceptions can have on our lives. He hopes to show how going beyond science can lead to a more deeply fulfilled, happier, healthier, saner, and more peaceful life and society. Read on for an exclusive interview.


Tell us a bit about your background and experience.

I received my Ph.D. in natural science with summa cum laude at the University of Munich in Germany and then became a professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada where I carried out research in plant morphology that led to nearly one hundred publications in refereed journals and several books. Through this research, I understood the basic principles of science, the limitations of science, and what is beyond. My latest book focuses on both science and what is beyond.


What was your impetus for writing your new book, “Science and Beyond: Toward Greater Sanity through Science, Philosophy, Art, and Spirituality”?

Having much first-hand experience with science, I can see that there are widespread misconceptions about science among the public, government officials, and even among many scientists. These misconceptions have grave and even disastrous consequences, and they obscure what is beyond science. In my book, I wanted to create awareness of these consequences for the sake of our health, sanity, and well-being.


What do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about science?

That science can provide proof, that replication leads to truth (that which is), that science is based only on evidence, and in biology and medicine, that genes and viruses are all-powerful.


How do you think that the way we currently approach science has impacted us as a society?

It has led to much narrow-mindedness, dogmatism, intolerance, aggression, destructiveness, and the impoverished life of many people and society. It has created much imbalance, sickness, and insanity.


If people feel they can’t trust science, what can they trust?

Instead of trust, we need open-mindedness and the recognition that human beings and science may be fallible.


You talk about the need for epiviral medicine.  What exactly do you mean?

“Epi” means around and above. What is around and above viruses? The context of the host and its environment, which in people includes their physical condition, emotions, thought, and spirituality. Hence, to understand the action of viruses one has to include and study their context. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the context was almost completely ignored, which led to enormous suffering, sickness, and death that could have been avoided to a great extent through the inclusion of the context.


What are the main points you want people to take away from reading your book?

Through a better understanding of the principles and limitations of science, we can avoid much suffering and create a more fulfilled, healthier, saner, happier, and more peaceful life and society.


What do you think we can learn from the response to the COVID pandemic?

The response that ignored the context of the virus led to much suffering, sickness, and mortality. If the context of the virus would have been taken into consideration, much of the suffering, sickness, and mortality could have been avoided.

 How does understanding science result in better healthcare?

It shows that genes and viruses do not exist in isolation. They exist and act in a context, which includes the physical condition of people, their emotions, thoughts, spirituality, and the environment. To provide better healthcare, to reduce suffering, sickness, and mortality, one has to take all of that into considerations and direct research to these areas instead of mainly focusing on genes and viruses. In other words, we need a much broader view and investigation of human existence. And we need to focus on health, not only on sickness.

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