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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the so-called 'skeptics' look silly again, June 24, 2003
This review is from: The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (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. Those readers interested in this will want to read Sheldrake's best and most important work, The Presence of the Past.
Where this explanation of ESP in terms of fields may falter is that all of the other fields recognized by physics decline with distance. Parapsychology experiments have demonstrated that ESP is not affected by distance, or by shielding of any sort. Explanations of ESP in terms of electromagnetic fields, for example, have been convincingly falsified by such experiments. Morphic fields, if they exist, must have very different properties from the known fields if they are to explain ESP. Some physicists feel that the non-local quantum mechanical effects that have been corroborated in physics experiments may more plausibly explain ESP. If there is any shortcoming to this book, it is that related profound issues - such as the mind/body problem or the implications of quantum mechanics - are dealt with only briefly. Again, this is not true of Sheldrake's masterwork, The Presence of the Past.
So, readers who wish to delve more deeply into Sheldrake's theories know where to look. Sheldrake is a bold scientist, one who never lets convention or dogma interfere with his explorations.
As Sheldrake writes in the Introduction,
"I believe it is more scientific to explore phenomena we do not understand than to pretend they do not exist. I also believe it is less frightening to recognize that the seventh sense is part of our biological nature, shared with many other animal species, than to treat it as weird or supernatural."
Sheldrake is a daring and imaginative theorist, and his ideas deserve to be taken seriously. This is an important work, well-worth reading.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 2, 2007 4:37:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 2, 2007 4:39:30 PM PDT
G. Girard says:
You are absolutely correct. A trans-morphic field can easily be mapped via a linear algebraic matrix to an 11-dimension brane utilizing the elegant and well accepted in the scientific community mathematics of string theory resulting, if you will, in a rather humdrum example of paired quarks engaged in "spooky action at a distance." This author's work is a fundamental basis in the foundation of a true TOE melding string theory with quantum gravitation theory. It should be required reading in all physics curricula.
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