Pseudo-Wissenschaft: Wilhelm Reich

Als Abgrenzungsproblem hat Karl Raimund Popper die Frage diskutiert, wo Wissenschaft aufhört und für ihn: Metaphysik anfängt. Statt Metaphysik kann man auch Spekulation oder Phantasie einsetzen. Die Grenze, die Popper gezogen hat, verläuft bekanntlich entlang der drei Kriterien der empirischen Prüfbarkeit, der Falsifizierbarkeit und der intersubjektiven Nachvollziehbarkeit.

Martin Gardner hat in den 1950er Jahren ein Buch mit dem Titel “Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science” geschrieben, in dem er diejenigen Versuchen bespricht wissenschaftlich zu erscheinen ohne wissenschaftlich zu sein. Wir zitieren aus einem Kapitel, in dem er sich Wilhelm Reich und dessen pseudo-wissenschaftlichen Konzept des Orgons widmet.

“WILHELM REICH, the discoverer of orgone energy (or ‘life energy’), was born in Austria in 1897. He received the M. D. in 1922 from the University of Vienna Medical School, became a private protégé of Freud and for the next eight years rose rapidly in psychoanalytic circles. […]

Politically, Reich was active in the Austrian Socialist Party until he broke with them in 1930, and moved to Berlin where he joined the Communists. Arthur Koestler, in his contribution to The God that Failed, 1949, reveals that he and Reich served in the same Party cell. ‘Among other members of our cell’, writes Koestler, ‘I remember Dr. Wilhelm Reich, founder and director of the SexPol (Institute for Sexual Politics). He was a Freudian Marxist; inspired by Malinowski, he had just published a book called The Foundation of the Orgasam, in which he expounded the theory that the sexual frustration of the Proletariat caused a thwarting of its political consciousness; only through a full uninhibited release of the sexual urge could the working-class realize its revolutionary potentialities and historic mission; the whole thing was less cock-eyed than it sounds”.

Reich failed, however, to convince the comrades of the revolutionary importance of his views.[…]

Whatever the correct explanation may be, there is no doubt about the great turning point in Reich’s career. It came in the late thirties when he discovered, in Norway, the existence of ‘orgone energy’. […]

Exactly what is orgone energy? According to Reich it is a non-electro-magnetic force which permeates all of nature. It is the élan vitale or life force, of Bergson, made practically accessible and usable. It is blue in color. To quote from one of Reich’s booklets, ‘Blue is the specific color of orgone energy withing and without the organism. Classical physics tries to explain the blueness of the sky by the scattering of the blue and of the spectral color series in the gaseous atmosphere. However, it is a fact that blue is the color seen in all functions which are related to the cosmic or atmospheric or organismic orgone energy’. Protoplasm, says Reich, is blue with orgone energy and loses its blueness when the cell dies. Orgone also causes the blue of oceans and deep lakes, and the blue coloration of certain frogs when they are sexually excited. ‘The color of luminating, decaying wood is blue; so are the luminating tail ends of glowworms, St. Elmo’s fire, and the aurora borealis. The lumination in evacuated tubes charged with orgone energy is blue”. (Garnder, Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science, S.250-253).

Dass die Vorstellung von Orgon Energie keines der drei oben genannten Kriterien, die Wissenschaft von Metaphysik unterscheiden, zu erfüllen im Stande ist, hat letztlich dazu geführt, dass Zeitgenossen Wilhelm Reich nicht mehr ernst genommen haben.