A question posed to me via Twitter – so here’s some resources:
- Firstly, the Skeptic’s Dictionary is always a good start – Bob Carroll has got a number of newsletters and here’s the morphic resonance article and the N’kisi & the N’kisi Project correspondence.
- Newsletter from 1998 by the NTSkeptics, on the claims of Sheldrake – “The amazing ideas of Rupert Sheldrake” by John Blanton, with one of the illustrations from The Presence of the Past, on morpho-genetic fields.
- Michael Shermer writes in the Scientific American – Rupert’s Resonance: The theory of “morphic resonance” posits that people have a sense of when they are being stared at. What does the research show?
Now, that’s the research that I first learned about via a presentation by Dr Richard Wiseman at one of the Amazing Meetings;
We believed that the results of our study did not support the dog’s alleged ability, and published our results in the British Journal of Psychology. You can read this paper here.
- Both Wiseman and Sheldrake have come across each other a few times, such as addressing some of his claims this paper – Of two minds: Sceptic–proponent collaboration within parapsychology:
For several years, the second author (a sceptic about the existence of psychic ability) has collaborated with the ﬁrst author (a proponent of evidence for such abilities) on a systematic programme of joint sceptic–proponent experimental work within parapsychology (Wiseman & Schlitz, 1997, 1999). This research has involved jointly conducted experiments exploring the possible existence of a commonly reported phenomenon, the ‘sense of being stared at.’ This paper describes our latest joint study. Surveys suggest that 70 to 90% of the population has experienced an uneasy feeling of being stared at, only to turn around and discover somebody looking at them (Coover, 1913; Braud, Shafer, & Andrews, 1993a).
- Marks, David F. and John Colwell (2000). “The Psychic Staring Effect An Artifact of Pseudo Randomization.” Skeptical Inquirer. September/October.
- Neurologist Dr Steve Novella discusses the work of Dr.Rupert Sheldrake on this podcast: The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe – Podcast 339 – 1/14/2012.
- Thanks to James Machin via Twitter: The Science Delusion – Steve Marshall talks to Rupert Sheldrake about dogma and delusion in contemporary science in the Fortean Times.
- And there’s a number of criticisms about the details in the Sheldrake TEDx talk that features on the Jerry Coyne blog over here, as well as other blog entries: The Guardian touts Sheldrake again: pigeons find their way home, ergo Jesus and other posts here, here, and here.
Addition – thanks to Adam Rutherford: A Book for Ignoring via The Guardian:
Former Nature editor John Maddox questioned (and then rejected) the notion of burning “A New Science of Life”. This firebrand comment backfired as it was seized upon by the publishers and repeated whenever they could. Maddox then reviewed second edition. His incendiary remark now adorns the new third edition, but I can tell you that Nature will not be reviewing it.
A book exists to be read, so a far, far worse punishment for Sheldrake’s crimes against reason would be to simply ignore it. Incidentally, I recognise the irony in writing an article suggesting we should deny him the oxygen of publicity. Nevertheless, here’s my final word: don’t read this book, it will make you stupider.