Rudolf Steiner

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Rudolf Steiner (February 25, 1861–March 30, 1925) was an Austrian born in what now is Croatia (part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in those days) and was educated at the Vienna Institute of Technology. He also lived in Germany and Switzerland. Early in his life, he was the scientific editor of an edition of Goethe's works; later he was a writer and lecturer on primarily philosophical and spiritual topics. His lectures also included some scientific themes treated from a 'spiritual' point of view. He is most famous for his role in the foundation of the spiritual path of anthroposophy. Anthroposophy teaches that people reincarnate in a 500-year cycle. Nearly a thousand schools have adopted his philosophy of education, which promotes use of the imagination as well as analytical skills, and which do not encourage reading until age 6-7. Steiner was a pseudoscientific polymath of sorts, working in the fields of education, medicine and farming.

Early nuttery[edit]

In the early 1900s, Steiner published a book promoting the theory of lost continents Lemuria and Atlantis,[1][2] which at the time before plate tectonics was widely accepted — it would not have in-and-of-itself been considered pseudoscience.[3] However, given that Steiner relied exclusively on the pseudoscientific anthroposophic Akashic Records,[3] Steiner's claims were and are a lot of nonsense.

Waldorf education[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Waldorf education

The Waldorf education concept was developed by Steiner, and first implemented in 1919 by Emil Molt, CEO of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory.[4] Modern Waldorf schools may be crank magnets. In particular, they seem to attract antivaxers, with vaccination rates as low as 8%.[5][6][7] The attraction for antivaxers is likely Steiner's view that bouts of childhood disease were spiritually beneficial.[8]

Anthroposophical medicine[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Anthroposophy

Steiner created the philosophy called Anthroposophy, and its allied field of Anthroposophical medicine. Anthroposophy attempts to bridge the gap between science, art, and religion by connecting the soul in the individual and in society to that in nature. It was derived from Theosophy.

Anthroposophical medicine is a mixture of real medicine with various quackeries from alternative medicine. Anthroposophical doctors are real doctors who have gone through medical school but who often prescribe herbal and homeopathic products.[9] While not entirely opposed to vaccinations, Anthroposophical medicine is often reticent to prescribe them, making them borderline antivax.

Steiner also invented Iscador, a quack cancer treatment derived from European mistletoe, Viscum album.

Biodynamic farming[edit]

The original organic farming movement is called biodynamic agriculture. It began in 1924 and was based upon Steiner's.[10] Biodynamic agriculture is still practiced, primarily in Germany, but is much less common than modern organic farming.[11]

Biodynamics eschews usage of synthetic chemicals, and views farming as a holistic process that integrates soil fertility, plant growth and livestock care.[12] In addition to now-standard organic farming practices (crop rotation, polyculture/intercropping, cover cropping, minimizing tillage, use of manure and compost, pesticide avoidance methods), biodynamics also includes spiritual/mystical aspects including sympathetic magic,[13] astrology,[14][15] alchemy, homeopathy, menhirsWikipedia to "cosmic energy and radiant fields through geo-acupuncture", "pest ashing" (burning offending pests and scattering the ashes), and "sensitive testing" ("image-forming practices variously called biocrystallization, capillary dynamolysis, morphochromatog- raphy, sensitive crystallization, and the Steigbild method").[14]

Although claims have been made about the effectiveness of biodynamics, these are for the most part untestable and hence unfalsifiable.[14][16]


Though many deny it, and to the embarrassment of modern Anthroposophists, Steiner held views on race prevalent in his time. To wit, he held the white race as the highest, with the others inferior in different ways. Naturally, as an occultist he added that this was also in spiritual not just physical ways, and that their characteristics were related to various cosmic forces (skin color especially). He claimed black people were childish, Asians stagnant etc. In his view, both the black and Asian races had absorbed too much "light" without giving it back-naturally, only the whites give back enough. He believed only whites invent things, with Asians simply adopting them (a hilarious claim after seeing technological development in Asia since his time). Steiner claimed that the races should not move from their origin places, because this will lead to extinction, with him going on to assert that Malays were already becoming extinct because of it. He also believed Native Americans were going extinct, as a supposed offshoot from the black race in the "wrong" part of Earth. Only the white race, again, were the exception to this. Steiner held they alone were capable of fully evolving into humanity's potential (both spiritually and physically, since he views both as interlinked). He clearly felt the white race would be the one to evolve into the next and higher stage Steiner held existed.[17] Steiner also felt the Jews had distinct characteristics from other people, and recycled some antisemitic claims of the time. However, he is more even-handed toward them, praising Jews somewhat, while not supporting anti-Jewish laws (despite the claims that he saw the future, Steiner here shows no inkling that Jews are in any way endangered, dismissing a need for Zionism, saying World War One-which recently occurred when he lectured on this in 1923-was the 20th century's greatest disaster, unaware that a second world war, let alone the Holocaust, were coming within a couple decades). He felt the Jews' purpose had been to introduce monotheism, and since that was past they should be assimilated into the wider world, ceasing to exist as a people.[18] These lectures were left out of English-language translations when Steiner's works had been collected. It is not hard to see why.

External links[edit]


  1. Aus der Akasha-Chronik by Rudolf Steiner (1904/1905). Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag am Goetheanum
  2. Unsere atlantischen Vorfahren by Rudolf Steiner (1909). Philosophisch-Theosophischer Verlag.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Submerged Continents of Atlantis and Lemuria: Their History and Civilization, Being Chapters from the Âkâshic Records by Rudolf Steiner, translated by Max Gysi (1911) Theosophical Publishing Society.
  4. Who was Rudolf Steiner? Waldorf Answers
  5. Waldorf/Steiner Schools and Low Vaccine Uptake Rates (July 08, 2011) I Speak of Dreams
  6. 2010 Immunization Status of Kindergarten Students, California In schools with 10 or more kindergarten students enrolled
  7. Here's What Some of California's Least-Vaccinated Schools Have to Say for Themselves. "If we attract people who choose not to immunize, it's not because we recruit them." by Rebecca Cohen (Feb. 23, 2015 7:00 AM) Mother Jones.
  8. Rudolf Steiner's Quackery by Roger Rawlings (July 23, 2012) Quackwatch.
  9. Rudolf Steiner's Quackery by Roger Rawlings (revised on July 23, 2012) Quackwatch.
  10. Power of Narrative in Environmental Networks by R. P. Lejano et al. (2013). MIT Press. p. 155. ISBN 9780262519571.
  11. Organics Olympiad 2011: Global Indices of Leadership in Organic Agriculture by John Paull (2011) Journal of Social and Development Sciences Vol. 1, No. 4, pp. 144-150.
  12. "Overview of organic agriculture" by Paul Kristiansen and Charles Mansfield (2006). In Organic Agriculture: A Global Perspective, edited by Acram Taji Paul Kristiansen & John Reganold CSIRO Publishing. ISBN 0801445248.
  13. "Blut und Bohnen: Der Paradigmenwechsel im Künast-Ministerium ersetzt Wissenschaft durch Okkultismus" by Peter Treue (2002) Die Gegenwart Nr. 61, S. 12 (archived from April 17, 2003).
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 The Science Behind Biodynamic Preparations: A Literature Review by Linda Chalker-Scott (2013). HortTechnology 23(6):814-819.
  15. The Planting Calendar Rhythms Bio-Dynamic Association of India
  16. The Myth of Biodynamic Agriculture: Biodynamics is a scientifically sound approach to sustainable management of plant systems" by Linda Chalker-Scott
  17. Color and the Human Races Note that this source is from the Rudolf Steiner Archive, only recently posted (in 2016).
  18. Star Wisdom: Lecture III: The Characteristics of Judaism From the same Anthroposopist site.