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Science Set Free: 10 Paths to New Discovery Hardcover – September 4, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

 
"Science is ready to evolve beyond materialism and dogma. Rupert Sheldrake is a pioneer who is paving the way for the future of the sciences."  
—Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of War of the Worldviews
 
“This provocative and engaging book will make you question basic assumptions of Western science.  I agree with Rupert Sheldrake that, among other problems, those assumptions hinder medical progress because they severely limit our understanding of health and illness. I will recommend Science Set Free to my colleagues, students, patients, and friends.”
—Andrew Weil, M.D., author of Spontaneous Happiness

“Rupert Sheldrake may be to the 21st century what Charles Darwin was to the 19th:  someone who sent science spinning in wonderfully new and fertile directions.  The only thing that is certain in science is that it will change.  In SCIENCE SET FREE, Sheldrake gives us an inspiring picture of what these changes are likely to be."
—Larry Dossey, M.D. author of Reinventing Medicine
 
 “Science is often portrayed as a paragon of intellectual freedom. It's a quaint idea, but it's not true. Some key concepts in science have hardened into unshakeable, unquestioned dogma. Science Set Free exposes ten of the key dogmas of modern times. If even one is slightly off, then the scientific world is in for a shock, and the aftershocks will have huge impacts on technology, medicine, and religion. Rupert Sheldrake skillfully examines each dogma and argues, with evidence, that all ten dogmas are wrong. After reading this book I am persuaded that he's right. If you agree that science must be freed from the shackles of antiquated beliefs, then read this book. If you don't agree, then read it twice.”
—Dean Radin, Ph.D., author of The Conscious Universe
 
“This is a terrific, engrossing book that throws open the shutters to reveal our world to be so much more intriguing and profound than could ever have been supposed.”
—James Le Fanu, author of The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine
 
“Certainly we need to accept the limitations of much current dogma and keep our minds as open as we reasonably can. Sheldrake may help us do so through this well-written, challenging, and always interesting book.”
—Sir Crispin Tickell, Financial Times
 
“Rupert Sheldrake does science, humanity and the world at large a considerable favor.”
—Colin Tudge, Ph.D., Independent
 
“A fascinating, humane, and refreshing book that any layman can enjoy. . . . Dr. Sheldrake wants to bring energy and excitement back into science . . . He has already done more than any other scientist alive to broaden the appeal of the discipline, and readers should get their teeth into the important and astounding book.”
—Jason Goodwin, Country Life

About the Author

DR. RUPERT SHELDRAKE is a biologist and author of more than 80 technical papers and ten books, including A New Science of Life and Dogs That Know When Their Owners Come Home. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, where he was Director of Studies in cell biology, and also was a Research Fellow of the Royal Society. From 2005-2010, he was the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for research on unexplained human abilities, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, and a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut. He is married, has two sons, and lives in London. His web site is www.sheldrake.org.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Deepak Chopra; 1st edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0770436706
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770436704
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #479,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
SCIENCE SET FREE is an excellent work, well worth the reading. Here are ten reasons why.
1. Good writing. The sine-qua-non of all good books... and the test is that once started it is hard to put down.
2. Personal. One can feel the engagement of the writer in the prose. He is there in light touches of humour: but more importantly, he is there in his conviction, in his willingness to share data and in his reporting of the way his work has been marginalized - not because it is wrong- but because it challenges some of the current assumptions of Science.
3. Coherent Structure. All the chapters follow the same pattern, and this gives the book a special kind of unity. Each chapter begins with a question followed by a historical analysis of how that question has been answered in different epochs, and leading to an up-to-date analysis of the available data.
4. Superb bibliography. Enough reading here for a lifetime.
5. Breaks new ground. No one can tell where research will lead, but an openness to fresh ideas is necessary for progress.
6. Educational. Whether one agrees with Sheldrake or not, SCIENCE SET FREE serves as an introduction to many areas of scientific research. Where the jargon of science is necessary to avoid confusion, he explains not only the meaning of a given term, but its etymology. That is a courtesy to the reader and greatly facilitates understanding.
7. Interdisciplinary. The text moves easily from scientific research to conclusions from ancient and modern philosophy. Also, it is not restricted to one science but ranges from physics to botany, to the experiences of shamans, to telepathy, and yes, to religion somewhat.... Hence we gain a comprehensive picture.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We all have assumptions that frame how and what we know; without them we couldn't think at all much less discover a cure for Alzheimer's. But assumptions can take on a life of their own and choke off the pursuit of knowledge; especially vulnerable are those who sit atop powerful hierarchies for long periods of time. The medieval Church required astronomers to assume that the earth was at the center of the solar system. Science overthrew such groundless imperatives but today seems unable to disenthrall itself from its own long and tautly held assumptions. In "Science Set Free," Rupert Sheldrake names ten of these assumptions and explains, without raising his voice, why science needs to have another look at each one.

His arguments make sense to me. For example, the first assumption Sheldrake takes on is the hypothesis of materialism: the idea that only matter and energy exist and that the cosmos is a machine with no original purpose and a bleak entropic future. Under this assumption, held as an unassailable dogma by science, existence is purposeless, consciousness is an illusion, we have no free will, and God is out of the question. These are not small issues.

"Science Set Free" takes us through the history of materialist theory, showing how it emerged in the Renaissance in a religious context, acquired self-confidence in the deism of the Enlightenment, and in the 19th and 20th centuries attained megalomania, leading to the notions of reality mentioned above. Sheldrake rejects materialism and depicts nature as an organic whole with boundless evolutionary potential. His arguments are based on the sound science in which he is grounded as a Cambridge and Harvard-trained biologist; but what I admire especially is that he is also a man of "scientia sacra," which reveres the poetry and beauty of life and knows that there is more to knowledge than measurement.

"Science Set Free" is readable, fascinating and, no matter what you believe, crucial.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of us who are suspicious of the claims of materialism it's astonishing, and also heartening, to hear a scientist agree that it's a hidebound ideology, dismiss the belief in determinism as a 'delusion' and call on the 'high priests' of science to abandon their 'fantasy of omniscience'.

This all sounds rather rhetorical, but this is as polemical as his language gets; the book certainly has little about religion. For the most part it's a dispassionate expose of materialism's failures, and a plea for scientists to open up to new thinking. Despite his reputation as a heretic, gained from his controversial theory of morphic resonance and his psychic research, Sheldrake has impeccable credentials as a biochemist - Cambridge, Harvard, ground-breaking research and a stint in India helping to develop high-yield crops - that demand respect.

Sheldrake identifies ten core beliefs that scientists take for granted: that people and animals are complex mechanisms rather than goal-driven organisms; that matter is unconscious and human consciousness an illusion; that the laws of nature are fixed; that nature is purposeless; that all biological inheritance is carried via material structures like genes, and so on. Each is the basis of a chapter, in which he draws attention to unresolved tensions, problems and dilemmas. Most scientists think these will eventually be ironed out. However Sheldrake argues they are symptoms of a deeper malaise, and that the failure of the materialist model to make good on its predictions will eventually lead to its demise.

A key idea for Sheldrake is the existence of information fields that act as a kind of universal memory.
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