The science disillusion

 

Ever wanted to know why sometimes you know who is calling you before picking up the phone? Or why dogs seem to “know” when their master is approaching before seeing or sensing him? Well there are people interested in a more serious approach to the field of extrasensorial phenomena than the age-long blamed New Age pack. Among them the respectable Rupert Sheldrake a botanist who earned a doctorate in biochemistry from Cambridge University and later studied at Harvard University, Mr. Sheldrake has earned an international reputation for applying scientific method to quasi-scientific subjects. (Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/apr/23/20070423-122814-3170r/#ixzz2FcWpayN9 )

You do not need any special powers to realize that I am a complete amateur and quite foreign to the much respected area of science in general (I am not a scholar to put it bluntly and frankly) let alone the one the guy is specialised in.

I have stumbled upon his site and the blog thanks to another guy pointing to him a guy whose blog I am following and who gave a link to a discussion he has had recently with Mr Sheldrake. I am a sucker for things and ideas that are a little controversial and “morphic fields and morphic resonance” surely fit the criteria so here I am.

Those interested in a scientific approach to unexplained human and animal abilities can find out more about it following Mr Rupert Sheldrake work and opinions on the subject. He wrote a successful book, among others, with a pretty self-explanatory title “The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry”.

With an increasing number of my acquaintances attracted to the subject of paranormal but wary of the plethora of amateurs out there I thought that this can be a starting point for a challenge. Any thoughts just leave a message. Any way you like.

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8 Responses to The science disillusion

  1. fitzythird says:

    I appreciate your sharing of this article….I did follow the link. It’s great to see science and people like Sheldrake apply scientific measures towards what many may think is extraperception when in fact it is always there in a more than natural state. Given your interest in this area I would advise you to look up dowsing and try it out. I am not a New Ager but at the same time I dont dismiss a lot of them. Dowsing in my estimation extends into the fields Sheldrake is talking about with simple things found around your house ie…making dowsing rods out of simple coat hangers. I have seen my daughters do it ages 5 and 11 and they just think it’s normal. Give it a shot and some practice. Liked your piece and the suggestion for the article.

    • sam says:

      Thanks for the visit and the comment. My mild interest for extrasensorial has an explanation in my background, my coming from a quite religious family of Pentecostals; while not being a practicing one, I am still drawn to this kind of things.
      Thank you for the suggestion on dowsing. To be honest I have never heard about it until now so I had to look it up. I will hopefully follow up with more articles related to this one and perhaps find a place for this subject too.

      • fitzythird says:

        I suggest it only that now you can do practical applications/experiments in your own lab, that being your house, yard etc. I have worked with construction guys who use it to detect gas lines, water pipes, electrical etc. You will see it was used in Vietnam to search out enemy tunnels and munitions. Has been around since the dawn of man in order to put them near a water source. Keep me posted…..note….most people can dowse….just don’t know it so just let it happen.

  2. alteritas says:

    When I was younger [and restless] I was also very interested in this kind of things, a believer. While the interest remains, today I find myself at the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m a skeptic. I spent a few hours reading about Mr Sheldrake and I ended up writing a rather log comment.
    I think Mr Sheldrake’s interest in the less explored areas of human [or animal] psyche is admirable, but this is where my admiration stops. Despite his “top-notch scientific credentials” the man is on a crusade against science itself, a delusion, in his own words. His main argument against the scientific establishment seems to be: conventional scientific theories cannot explain certain phenomena. Which is true. But this is not the weakness of science, it’s its strength. Unlike [some] religions, science never claimed that we have all the answers and everything is explained. Science only assumes that everything is explainable [in a natural way], even if we don’t know [yet] that explanation. The same way the ‘God of the gaps’ is not a valid explanation, we don’t really need a ‘[pseudo-]science of the gaps’. And my problem with Mr Sheldrake is not that he attempts to research and present hypotheses on some border subjects, but the fact that his explanations/theories are fanciful. When someone talks [in the scientific community] about universal memory, cosmic consciousness, nature’s laws as evolving habits of the universe, etc you would expect to see an overwhelming amount of evidence to backup his assertions. In Carl Sagan’s words: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Of course, Mr Sheldrake can’t prove such things. And this is, I believe, the source of his rants against science. By far, the scientific community is not perfect, frauds and hoaxes are exposed all the time, but it has a self-correction mechanism: the scientific method. And the scientific consensus is not a dogma, it’s the guarantee that no idea is taken for granted, all data is analyzed, all results are scrutinized. Maybe all great ideas are controversial at some point, but not all controversial ideas are great.

    • sam says:

      I won’t go in details in my reply because as I said I am a novice and it is not the scientific scent that attracts me to this kind of approach but the speculative side which is very often dismissed or overlooked at best. My being a non-scholar I can afford to speculate leisurely because I enjoy it. At the same time I am aware of the dangers associated with this “sport” especially when it comes with endorsement from science people as Sheldrake or others of similar calibre. One thing that cannot be ignored is the popularity of the pseudo-science, (or to be more gentle the alternative science) in every field, among laymen. This aspect is what’s drawing toward it me now and again, and I hope I can clarify my position better in future posts on related themes.
      I agree with you in principle but I will concentrate on the impact in the life of ordinary people, myself included.
      Thank you for letting ,me know your position.

      • alteritas says:

        I agree, speculating is enjoyable. Speculative reason is an essential part of human pursuit of knowledge. But one can speculate without presenting his conclusions as “science” and then dismiss the conventional science as delusion for not accepting his theories. That’s the problem with Sheldrake.
        If you want a more elegant example of speculation in the same area, think of C.G. Jung. Through concepts as collective unconscious, archetypes and synchronicity, he explored the same ideas [with less fancy names] as Sheldrake.
        It’s true that ‘alternative theories’ are more seductive than ‘regular science’, maybe because they appeal to our adventurous side, using a more popular approach [see Sheldrake’s do it yourself at home or online experiments], and without any educational or critical thinking pre-requisites.

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