Rupert Sheldrake (1942 – ) is a former Cambridge biochemist raised in a British Methodist family. His work aims to integrate science and spirituality.
In Seven Experiments Which Could Change the World (1994), Sheldrake outlines low-cost experiments that readers are encouraged to perform.
One experiment deals with ESP perception as a form of “looking.” Sheldrake asks why we sense somebody looking at us from behind or even at some distance (e.g. through a window). He suggests that some type of intuitive instead of conventional perception is involved. This idea is followed up in Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999).
In keeping with this hypothesis, his subsequent book was called, The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (2003).
Sheldrake conducted controlled experiments on telephone precognition. He found significant results suggesting that people knew when others were about to call them on the telephone, with a sample size of 63. A similar kind of precognition was also found with an e-mail experiment, with a sample size of 50.
In 2009, at the time of the last update of this entry, his website asked: “Have you thought of someone who then sends you a text message?” inviting visitors to report their observations through the web.
Sheldrake continues to publish books containing his interviews and dialogues with other notables in the New Age / Holistic Health circuit. He also replies to critics who say he’s lost touch with recent theories in neurobiology and, indeed, abandoned science in favor of so-called magical thinking.
However, not all scientists are at odds with his views. The late physicist David Bohm said Sheldrake’s ideas are in keeping with his own about an “implicate and explicate order.”
More recently, Sheldrake critiques scientists for being authoritarian and narrow-minded in his 2012 publication The Science Delusion (Science Set Free). Wikipedia notes:
In the book Sheldrake proposes a number of questions as the theme of each chapter which seek to elaborate on his central premise that science is predicated on the belief that the nature of reality is fully understood, with only minor details needing to be filled in. This “delusion” is what Sheldrake argues has turned science into a series of dogmas grounded in philosophical materialism rather than an open-minded approach to investigating phenomena. He argues that there are many powerful taboos that circumscribe what scientists can legitimately direct their attention towards.:6–12 The mainstream view of modern science is that it proceeds by methodological naturalism and does not require philosophical materialism.
Sheldrake questions conservation of energy; he calls it a “standard scientific dogma”,:337 says that perpetual motion devices and inedia should be investigated as possible phenomena,:72–73 and has stated that “the evidence for energy conservation in living organisms is weak”.:83 He argues in favour of alternative medicine and psychic phenomena, saying that their recognition as being legitimate is impeded by a “scientific priesthood” with an “authoritarian mentality”.:327 Citing his earlier “psychic staring effect” experiments and other reasons, he stated that minds are not confined to brains and remarks that “liberating minds from confinement in heads is like being released from prison”.:229 He suggests that DNA is insufficient to explain inheritance, and that inheritance of form and behaviour is mediated through morphic resonance.:157–186 He also promotes morphic resonance in broader fashion as an explanation for other phenomena such as memory.¹
Sheldrake’s website currently offers a telephone telepathy test and a joint attention test, research anyone can participate in.²
² The telephone test is limited to those with the required technology and geolocation.
Related » Wim Kayzer