Shelving Sheldrake

Anthony Freeman (editor). Sheldrake and His Critics: The Sense of Being Glared At. Imprint Academic, 2005. (Journal of Consciousness Studies Volume 12 number 6)

This special issue of the JCS takes Rupert Sheldrake's claims that people can sense when they are being stared at by some unknown processes as an example of how science deals with 'heresy'. Freeman notes that it is the 'magical' nature of Sheldrake's claims which cause most scientific discomfort, and that it is precisely these magical views associated with Gnosticism that were among the first to be denounced as heretical. Heresy also implies betrayal by an insider.

Sheldrake here is pitted against his critics, and it is perhaps not surprising that those favourable to paranormal claims are inclined to be favourable to his evidence, and those sceptical of paranormal claims to be sceptical of the same evidence, as always you pays your money and takes your choice. Even the parapsychologists however show little enthusiasm for his attempts to revive pre-modern theories of vision.

However if you think that Sheldrake's ideas of rather strange, they are nothing compared to those of something called 'biological naturalism' which appears to hold that the entire perceived world is inside the skull, and your real skull must lie beyond the bounds of the perceived horizon. Not surprisingly this has as few takers as Sheldrake' s theories. -- Peter Rogerson., from Magonia 91, February 2006.

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