Mar 17 11 3:24 AM

Tags : :

Rupert Shedrake was raised on the other board and I was reminded he deserves his spot on this board too.

morphic resonance

Morphic resonance is a term coined by Rupert Sheldrake in his 1981 book A New Science of Life. He uses the expression to refer to what he thinks is "the basis of memory in nature....the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species." 


This gives him a conceptual framework wherein information is transmitted mysteriously and miraculously through any amount of space and time without loss of energy, and presumably without loss or change of content through something like mutation in DNA replication. Thus, room is made for psychical as well as physical transmission of information. Thus,

"it is not at all necessary for us to assume that the physical characteristics of organisms are contained inside the genes, which may in fact be analogous to transistors tuned in to the proper frequencies for translating invisible information into visible form. Thus, morphogenetic fields are located invisibly in and around organisms, and may account for such hitherto unexplainable phenomena as the regeneration of severed limbs by worms and salamanders, phantom limbs, the holographic properties of memory, telepathy, and the increasing ease with which new skills are learned as greater quantities of a population acquire them.*"

While this metaphysical proposition does seem to make room for telepathy, it does so at the expense of ignoring Occam's razor. Telepathy and such things as phantom limbs, for example, can be explained without adding the metaphysical baggage of morphic resonance. So can memory, which does not require a holographic paradigm, by the way. The notion that new skills are learned with increasing ease as greater quantities of a population acquire them, known as the hundredth monkey phenomenon, is bogus.

In short, although Sheldrake commands some respect as a scientist because of his education and degree, he has clearly abandoned conventional science in favor of magical thinking. This is his right, of course. However, his continued pose as a scientist on the frontier of discovery is unwarranted. He is one of a growing horde of "alternative" scientists whose resentment at the aspiritual nature of modern scientific paradigms, as well as the obviously harmful and seemingly indifferent applications of modern science, have led them to seek their own paradigms in ancient and long-abandoned concepts. These paradigms are not new, though the terminology is. These alternative paradigms allow for angels, telepathy, psychic dogs, alternative realities, and hope for a future world where we all live in harmony and love, surrounded by blissful neighbors who never heard of biological warfare, nuclear bombs, or genetically engineered corn on the cob.