Not persuasion, but secrecy.

Simon Charter, our latest new commenter and Steiner defender has a linked in profile where he says he is currently “teaching adults and young people at Various workshops”, as well as being a designer at Ebb and Flow Ltd. As a prominent member of the Science Group of the Anthroposophical Society of Great Britain, I would describe him as a big cheese in anthroposophy locally.

Ruskin Mill in Nailsworth is the home of the Steiner water features and the workshops.

In a comment here Simon asked a question ;

I have become aware of other movements offering self development that will use powers of persuasion to gain adherents. I have never seen the use of such powers to “convert ” people to anthroposophy or spiritual science. I would be grateful if you could show me where you have seen this. Most children leaving Steiner schools do not have a wish to become involved in it , nor do they wish to reject it, they wish to find their own way of making sense of the world.

As I pointed out in my reply, people are not being converted to anthropsophy, but more subjected to it, without their knowledge. The students at Ruskin Mill have various learning and behavioural difficulties, and their places have been funded by their county council (that’s you and me) more or less as a last resort to find them some sort of education. In my view it is not ethical to involve young people in the rituals of anthroposophy without their knowledge.

Simon, do you consider that by introducing students to biodynamics and its rituals you are letting them “find their own way of making sense of the world”?

I do not. I think you are indoctrinating them. A qualification in biodynamics is useless in the world outside the Steiner community, as some have already found out (see comments on the anthroposophy page).

I consider that you and your collaborators are being deceitful; you say that students and local people are not being persuaded to take part in spiritual science; no, they are being tricked and led into it involuntarily.

How do you describe biodynamics and other Steiner subjects taught to the adults and young people there? Do you explain to them, their parents, and the county council paying the fees that it is all part of Steiner’s belief system and has no basis in science whatsoever?  Do you tell them about the Science Group of the Anthroposophical Society in Great Britain that fails to get work published in the New Scientist, and where “planetary rhythm research” ,”threshholds” and  “reincarnation” are the order of the day?

Some students live in Steiner houses with anthroposophical house parents; their lifestyle one where Steiner habits are the norm.

When planning consent was given the Field Centre was described as a centre for “biodynamic” research. According to your adverts in the newsletter you now run seminars on “Morphological Thinking”, a “Projective geometry workshop for [Steiner] teachers”, and  “Learning to live in space and Counterspace”.

Current projects at the Field Centre include “Art and science of the 12 senses” and a “Foundation Stone eurythmy project”. Nothing to do with biodynamics – except of course it is all anthroposophy. Strangely enough anthroposophy wasn’t mentioned at all at the crucial planning meeting in 2010 before the decision was made.

It is unclear from the minutes how much members of the Development Control committee knew about what goes on in Steiner institutions. If they only read what was in front of them, the answer is very little (except John Marjoram, of course.) It is disappointing to see that a wiki description of biodynamics was used as information for the committee.

Your anthroposophical  science group is beginning a 9 year collaboration with the school of spiritual science at the Goetheanum, much of which will take place at the Field Centre if the rest of the newsletter is anything to go by.

I said this in my most recent letter to the SNJ;

“The Steiner movement has found in Stroud a population ready and seemingly willing to be led into anthroposophy without even knowing what it is. And they are exploiting us to the full.”

So Simon, I agree that the reason we have become a Steiner town is not due to persuasion. It is because of obfuscation and deception; we allow planning permission for buildings such as the Field Centre, and contribute funds for biodynamic farmland because people simply do not know they are supporting anthroposophy.  The projects are dressed up as “sustainable” and “inclusive” to gain respectability.

Spiritual scientists like yourself rely on people not having the time or the inclination to read up on the Steiner belief system, get past the window dressing and see what is really inside the attractive exterior.

Simon, are you another seagull type Steiner commenter who swoops in to drop a disingenuous “Who me?” remark and then disappears? Or will you come back and discuss the issue of why Steiner people do not fully disclose the reasons for what they do to those who need to know and should be told?

My own theory is that it is because potential recruits would run a mile, and I have been told as much by two anthroposophists; one Dutchman, a member of the “First class” and the other a local biodynamics teacher.

But it would be nice to hear your explanation.



  1. Jim

    Out of curiosity I searched New Scientist for references to Steiner. I found two. One was a reference to biodynamic wines in an article by the New Scientist Wine Club ( I’d never before noticed that there was one ).

    The other was a review of a book by Lawrence Edwards called “The Vortex of Life” which starts from observable patterns which occur in nature and goes on from this to the usual Steiner pseudoscience. The review was broadly appreciative of the observation but, shall we say, somewhat less impressed by the conclusions.

    I can only conclude that Steiners science is too profound for New Scientist to grasp.

    • Helen

      “too profound” – yes, that’ll be it.

      According to the science group newsletter I linked to, one of their members

      “…offered an article to New Scientist… They were at first extremely supportive of a ‘new’ science writer, but all that changed when they actually read it”.

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