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Rupert Sheldrake's

Seven Experiments That Could Change the World

Uh, what was the question?

Rupert Sheldrake, a cell biologist by training, knows that new paradigms in science spring up mostly from new data, not vice versa. Data come from experiments, which can be fairly expensive. Sheldrake points out, however, that most research underway today is both prohibitively expensive (i.e., individuals and small groups need not apply) and very conservative (i.e., a further investigation of a fairly well-established area). Seven Experiments That Could Change the World proposes a few inexpensive inquiries that, if pursued scientifically, could yield major leaps forward in our understanding of some yet-unexplained phenomena.


Sheldrake's Seven Experiments
Pets Who Sense When Their Caretakers are Returning How do Pigeons Home? The Organization of Termites The Sense of Being Stared At Phantom Touch The Variability of the 'Fundamental Constants' The Effects of Researchers' Expectations
Sheldrake, Rupert. Seven Experiments That Could Change the World.
New York: Riverhead, 1995.


Terms and Concepts

morphic fields, morphic resonance: " Morphic comes from the Greek work for form, morphe. A morphic field is a field of form, a field or pattern or order or structure. Such fields organize not only the fields of living organisms, but also the forms of crystals and of molecules. Each kind of molecule, each protein for example, has its own kind of morphic field--a hemoglobin field, an insulin field. So does each kind of crystal, each kind of organism, and each kind of instinct of pattern of behavior. These fields are the organizing fields of nature. There are many kinds of them, because there are many kinds of things and patterns in nature. I think our own mental life depends on just this kind of field and through this morphic field theory of organization in nature we can come to a new understanding of the nature of the mind--a field theory of the mind."

Thinking Allowed interview


"....[T]he way morphic fields work, as I explain in my book, The Presence of the Past, is by modifying probabalistic events. Most of nature is inherently chaotic. It's not rigidly determined in the old sense. It's not rigidly predictable. The breaking of wave, the weather patterns, the turbulent flow of liquids, the behavior of the rain--all these things are inherently indeterminate, as are quantum events in quantum theory. With the decay of a uranium atom, you can't predict if the atom will decay today or in 50,000 years. It's only statistical. Morphic fields work by modifying probabilities of truly random events. Instead of a wide spread of randomness, they sort of focus it, so that some things happen, instead of others. That's how I think they work. "

Hootenanny interview

fields "I believe that the most promising approach is to think of the holistic organization of termite colonies in terms of fields. The individual insects are coordinated by the social fields, which contain the blueprints for the construction of the colony. Just as the spatial organization of iron filings around a magnet depends on the magnetic field, so may the organization of the termites within the colony depend on a colony field. To make models without taking such fields into account is rather like trying to explain the behavior of iron filings around a magnet ignoring the field, as if the pattern somehow 'emerged' from programs within the individual iron particles....

....Fields are inherently holistic. They cannot be sliced up into bits, or reduced to some kind of atomistic unit; rather, fundamental particles are now believed to arise from fields.... ...The concept of morphogenetic fields is now widely adopted by developmental biologists, and is used to help explain how your arms and legs, for instance, have different shapes in spite of the fact that they contain the same genes and proteins... Like architectural plans, morphogenetic fields are not reducible to the material components of an organism, nor even to the interactions between those components. The form of the house does not 'emerge' from the interactions between its material components; the components interact the way they do because they were put together in accordance with a particular plan, which existed even before the house was built.

Seven Experiments That Could Change the World, pp.80-82.

Lyall Watson's hundredth monkey principle : There is a certain species of monkey that lives on two different islands. The two groups of monkeys that live on the two islands are just alike, the same species, the same basic environments, and hence, the same basic lifestyles, but the two islands are far apart, and the monkeys don't swim, so there is never any contact between the two groups. One day, on the first island, one of the monkeys somehow makes a discovery that by taking a piece of the fruit which is their main food down to the water and soaking it, it becomes much easier to peel. This is a wonderful discovery, a real breakthrough. Soon, the other monkeys on the island begin to catch on, and learn this helpful new technique. Now, although this species of monkeys may have lived for generation upon generation on these two islands without making this discovery, now that it has been done, by the time the hundredth monkey on the first island has learned it, there will be monkeys doing it on the second island as well.

as described by Ken Weathersby


Rupert Sheldrake's unofficial CV

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