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The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Unexplained Powers of the Human Mind Paperback – March 16, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400051290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400051298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,772,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Extending the line of thought propounded in his Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, Sheldrake continues his investigations of perceptions that don't seem to correlate to our known senses. It's a project that carries risks of which he is well aware ("[t]o go against this taboo involves a serious loss of intellectual standing, a relegation to the ranks of the uneducated"), and is careful to base his arguments on sustained research. Using a database of more than 4,500 case histories of "apparently unexplained perceptiveness by people and by nonhuman animals," Sheldrake investigates a wide range of psychic phenomena, organizing his inquiries by specific media. One chapter covers "Telephone Telepathy," whereby one can be thinking of a person who then calls or can "actively induce" someone to call. He also covers cats who rush to the phone when it is their owner on the line, but of particular interest are the studies and anecdotes presenting evidence of other sorts of telepathic or psychic communication between children and parents, as well as the tales of dreams and visions that seem to have predicted the tragic events of September 11. Some of the material fails to convince (such as the woman who says her husband can sense the correct Trivial Pursuit answer if she thinks about it), and some readers may wish that Sheldrake had more fully dealt with selective memory and retrospective narration where details are unconsciously embellished. Nevertheless, the title chapter is extremely convincing, dealing with those moments in which we "know" someone is looking at us, and turn around to find it to be so: Sheldrake has data on response rates that differ as to place, gender and type of gaze (curiosity, sexual desire, anger, etc.), and goes on to devote a whole chapter to "Surveillance and Wariness."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Sheldrake proposes that the mind extends beyond the conventionally recognized parameters; that "detectable effects" of this extended mental field can be measured in several phenomena associated with vision; and that there is a biological and evolutionary basis for telepathy. The author describes experiments that have tested the existence of the mental "morphic field" and briefly but convincingly refutes some of his critics by showing the flaws in their experiments. He outlines several projects that readers can undertake to investigate such questions as e-mail telepathy, silent calls to pets, and, of course, the sense of being stared at. A significant number of pages venture beyond the rigors of experimentation to include an excellent discussion of how various cultures view the "evil eye," many colorful anecdotes drawn from surveys, and occasional leaps of thought that seem to omit necessary connections. Sheldrake's trademark juxtaposition of fantastic subject matter with practical scientific discipline is highly entertaining and should prove irresistible to inquiring minds. For teachers and discussion groups, there are challenges galore for the curious, the credulous, the skeptical, or the anti-intellectual-and some invaluable examples of how science can work to reveal surprising aspects of our world.
Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. He was among the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013, as ranked by the Duttweiler Institute, Zurich, Switzerland's leading think tank. He studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honours degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize (1963). He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow (1963-64), before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry (1967). He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge (1967-73), where he was Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology. As the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society (1970-73), he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells in the Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge University. While at Cambridge, together with Philip Rubery, he discovered the mechanism of polar auxin transport, the process by which the plant hormone auxin is carried from the shoots towards the roots.

From 1968 to 1969, as a Royal Society Leverhulme Scholar, based in the Botany Department of the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, he studied rain forest plants. From 1974 to 1985 he was Principal Plant Physiologist and Consultant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, where he helped develop new cropping systems now widely used by farmers. While in India, he also lived for a year and a half at the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu, where he wrote his first book, A New Science of Life, published in 1981 (new edition 2009).

Since 1981, he has continued research on developmental and cell biology. He has also investigated unexplained aspects of animal behaviour, including how pigeons find their way home, the telepathic abilities of dogs, cats and other animals, and the apparent abilities of animals to anticipate earthquakes and tsunamis. He subsequently studied similar phenomena in people, including the sense of being stared at, telepathy between mothers and babies, telepathy in connection with telephone calls, and premonitions. Although some of these areas overlap the field of parapsychology, he approaches them as a biologist, and bases his research on natural history and experiments under natural conditions, as opposed to laboratory studies. His research on these subjects is summarized in his books Seven Experiments That Could Change the World (1994, second edition 2002), Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (1999, new edition 2011) and The Sense of Being Stared At (2003, new edition 2012).

In his most recent book (2012), called The Science Delusion in the UK and Science Set Free in the US, he examines the ten dogmas of modern science, and shows how they can be turned into questions that open up new vistas of scientific possibility. This book received the Book of the Year Award from the British Scientific and Medical Network.

In 2000, he was the Steinbach Scholar in Residence at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. From 2005-2010 he was the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge University. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut, and a Fellow of Schumacher College in Devon, England.

He lives in London with his wife Jill Purce. They have two sons, Merlin, a graduate student in Plant Sciences at Cambridge University and a research fellow at The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Cosmo, a musician.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Hakuyu on July 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
As ever with topics of this sort, opinions tend to be polarised. Sheldrake's supporters tend to be 'up-beat' about his ideas, the sceptics - well, they'll just have to remain sceptical. If you haven't read this book - it is certainly worth looking at. For his own part, Sheldrake claims nothing - that is not already there, waiting to be acknowledged.He would be the happiest of all, if you discovered the basic truth of what he is saying, in your own experience, without pre-meditation.

It strikes me that many people are predisposed to recognise or experience - what Sheldrake is getting at. In common parlance, it used to be called 'sixth sense' - with a kind of tacit understanding that it is more marked, in some people. The title of this book (The Sense of Being Stared At) - was selected because it is a sensation which almost all of us have felt, at some time. For any perceptive person, it is probably a daily occurrence (not to be confounded with paranoia, owing to a sense of shyness). Needless to say, the obvious way to 'test' the theory - is to tackle it in the active, rather than passive sense. Try staring at someone's back on the tube or bus, and see how long it takes before they turn their heads, in the direction of the gaze. Eight times out of ten, it 'works' within 90 seconds. The strange thing, is that it also works, if you focus on a person's image reflected in a train/bus window, the curious thing being that they look in the direction of the gaze, as mediated by the reflection. It is as if they pick up a node of energy.

Of course, the whole point here, is that if minds operates with 'fields' - that there is kind of 'extended mind,' it has all sorts of dimensions, ramifications and implications.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Dean Radin on August 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sheldrake's genius is taking commonly reported tales of human and animal abilities that challenge accepted scientific wisdom and developing simple ways of testing those claims under scientifically valid conditions. As with any series of experiments, especially those investigating controversial topics, they gradually evolve into ever-more sophisticated designs to eliminate possible flaws. Sheldrake has done this for the "feeling of being stared at," and the evidence he and others have amassed is persuasive, if reviewed without prejudice.
I do not agree with his theoretical explanation for the "staring effect." In Sheldrake's view it suggests a mind that literally extends through space. I think there may be other explanations that better fit the data. But I heartily applaud his proposal of such a theory. Great advancements in science always encounter initial hosility and knee-jerk dismissals because they run counter to accepted wisdom. But without scientific mavericks unsettling the dogma of existing theories, science would rapidly congeal into religion. Indeed, for some hyper-rationalists, "scientism" is already such a religion, with its own set of doctrines, saints, and blasphemers.
Sheldrake is a living reminder that by applying conventional scientific methods to unconventional ideas one can sometimes seriously challenge prevailing dogmas. Sheldrake's research and books, including this one, is science at its cutting-edge best.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Carter on June 24, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Renegade biologist Rupert Sheldrake analyzes in depth an experience that many of us have had at some point - a strange compulsion to look up or behind, only to see someone staring intently at us. In his latest installment Sheldrake discusses a variety of anecdotal and experimental evidence that establishes the reality of the phenomenon, and attempts to explain it with his theory of the 'extended mind' - the idea that our minds are not confined to our brains, but may extend into our environment. Needless to say, Sheldrake's work is a challenge to scientific orthodoxy, making Sheldrake the modern equivalent of a heretic. Shortly after publication of his first book, Nature magazine, one of Britain's leading scientific periodicals, called it "the best candidate for burning there has been for many years." In an interview broadcast on BBC television in 1994, John Maddox, the former editor of Nature, said: "Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy."
However, Sheldrake follows an impeccable scientific approach. The writing in this book is very clear, and the evidence for the reality of the phenomenon is very impressive. The empirical sections of the book are the most persuasive. His theoretical explanations will likely generate the most controversy among those scientists and philosophers who are willing to drop their prejudice and concede the reality of the sense of being stared at.
Sheldrake combines his theory of the 'extended mind' with his idea of morphic fields - regions of influence not currently recognized by mainstream physics, but (it is argued) necessary to explain the growth and regeneration of organisms.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By "dakini63" on July 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In The Sense Of Being Stared At Rupert Sheldrake publishes more results of investigations announced in Seven Experiments That Could Change The World (1994). His New Science of Life (1981), in which "morphogenetic fields" function as the organizing primal material principle in a novel theory of evolution, promotes the idea of an oak seed developing into an oak tree (rather than into something completely different) out of mere habit. Thus Sheldrake endows the material world with an intelligence that keeps alive by projecting memories of itself into the future, claiming by the same token that the laws of nature are neither eternal nor immutable but rather acquired and in constant process of adaptation.
Sheldrake's tenets hit the world of the hard sciences like a bombshell, and he has been busy providing proof for his thesis of interwoven memory fields ever since. Thus he became involved with pets and others animals, subjects he is particularly fond of since their perceptions are incorruptible. Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (1998) lead him to a series of other applications, where a projection of the senses into the future was involved. The mental sensor seemingly responsible for these feats he calls the "seventh sense" or "extended mind". The result of his latest research does not only encompass a discussion of telepathy but also of the human eye and its unchartered perceptions. Analogous to Albert Hofmann?s sender-receptor conception of reality, the exchange of energy and information reaching and leaving the eye are paramount to visual activity. Or why would most of us feel when we are being stared at?
Some further questions are: do you know who it is when your phone rings? Do you wake up before your alarm clock sounds?
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