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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Science Delusion



The Science Delusion
By Steve Marshall
Millions of people around the world claim personal experience of unexplained phenomena, which can be as simple as ‘knowing’ who is calling them when the telephone rings. Mainstream science can provide no explanation for this, other than dismissing it as mere delusion. Rupert Sheldrake, after many years of investigating telepathy, the unexplained powers of animals and human precognition, believes that he can. Sheldrake claims that his theory of ‘morphic resonance’ not only explains these widespread phenomena, it also shows how simple organic forms can self-organise into more complex ones, as an addition to Darwin’s process of Natural Selection. According to Sheldrake:
 “The formation of habits depends on a process called morphic resonance. Similar patterns of activity resonate across space and time with subsequent patterns. This hypothesis applies to all self-organising systems, including atoms, molecules, crystals, cells, plants, animals and animal societies. All draw upon a collective memory and in turn contribute to it. A growing crystal of copper sulphate, for example, is in resonance with countless previous crystals of copper sulphate, and follows the same habits of crystal organisation, the same lattice structure. A growing oak seedling follows the habits of growth and development of previous oaks. When an orb-web spider starts spinning its web, it follows the habits of countless ancestors, resonating across space and time. The more people who learn a new skill, such as snowboarding, the easier will it be for others to learn it because of morphic resonance from previous snowboarders.”
There is far more to morphic resonance than this, but I’m not the one to explain, as I have to admit I don’t understand all of its many aspects. Sheldrake believes that memories are not stored in the brain but somewhere outside of it; the brain recalls them not as a hard drive does, by playing back physically-stored electrical signals, but more like a television that tunes into transmitted signals and decodes them as memories. It does this by morphic resonance. Here, there are strong similarities with Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and archetypes. Jung’s ideas were accepted (if rather half-heartedly) by many scientists of his day; although Sheldrake does get support from some of his peers, it tends to come privately. His explorations into the liminal areas of science are particularly unpopular with dogmatic sceptics, who regard the work as ‘pseudoscience’ and “outside the scope of scientific experiment’.