DisinfoCast 37: Rupert Sheldrake, ‘Science Set Free’

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Dr. Rupert Sheldrake joins the DisinfoCast to discuss Science Set Free, a new book challenging ten assumptions held by orthodox science. Are the mind and the brain the same thing? What happens when we die? These and many other topics discussed on this episode of the DisinfoCast.

40 Comments on "DisinfoCast 37: Rupert Sheldrake, ‘Science Set Free’"

  1. bobbiethejean | Dec 12, 2012 at 11:51 am |

    1.) Sheldrake calls people in my camp “dogmatic” and “rigid” We’re NOT! If we see REAL evidence for mind-brain dualism or ghosts or afterlives, or whatever else, we will spin on a dime! We’re not going to cling dogmatically to our “science-religion” (as he calls our adherence to the actual PRINCIPLES of science). We will change our minds if we find out we’re wrong because that’s what science does! Right now, I and many others do not feel the burden of proof has been met. If it can not be tested, if it is not predictive, if it is not falsifiable, it CANNOT be considered science. This is not my opinion-it is what makes science SCIENCE. Maybe we can’t know the supernatural (if it exists) through science. Maybe we will need to understand it through some other means. But trying to shoehorn science and the supernatural together isn’t working. It has yielded nothing! Think of all the wonderful things science has brought us. Are you imagining air conditioning, clean water, cars, life-saving medical procedures, the internet…..? Good. Now think of all the wonderful things “the supernatural” has brought us. *cricket cricket* Exactly.

    2.) The idea of mind brain dualism gets smarcked down pretty hard here: (P1:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS4PW35-Y00 (P2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZTCK8ZluEc

    3.) James Randi keeps moving the goal posts The one time I’ve heard of him “moving the goal posts” was because someone wanted to take the challenge showing off his “breatheranianism” skills. Randi decided that was too dangerous and he thenceforth added clauses to his challenge that forbade potentially self-destructive challengers. But let’s say you’re right…. that shouldn’t matter. If supernatural powers exist, they should able to hit the goal posts wherever he puts them! Supernatural powers, by their very definition, would trump any blocks Randi could come up with.

    4.) Science is done by building up a consensus through replication? Precisely. And that right there is EXACTLY why we “hardcore science-types” don’t believe claims of the supernatural presently.

    5.) Is the mind confined to the brain? See number two.

    In closing, we’re not close-minded and we’re not dogmatic. We just have very high standards of evidence.

    • Matt Staggs | Dec 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm |

      I don’t have a dog in this fight, but there are plenty of people who have pointed out problems with Randi’s challenge. http://dailygrail.com/features/the-myth-of-james-randis-million-dollar-challenge is just one of them. There are wonderful scientists doing work that casts doubt on – or rule out – the possibility of parapsychological phenomena, but Randi simply isn’t that guy. He’s an entertaining showman and educator, but there are a million and one reasons why someone might not want to entertain his challenge. The “we” versus “them” stuff isn’t of interest to me.

    • Thad McKraken | Dec 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

      Your brain can do a bunch of shit that we intentionally program it not to do. This is fact. Traditional science refuses to study this and increasingly insists it has no value. When I say that this is fact, I mean what I say. Things like LSD and DMT can make the brain do crazy ass shit. Fact. One study has been done thusfar on DMT. Yeah, totally, science solved that mystery by not studying it. Same deal with near death studies. How many studies have we done on this? Basically zero, because we don’t like the implications. Same deal with DMT. The one study that managed to get through was abandoned by the researcher because he couldn’t deal with the implications. Straight up.

      Hey, let’s do a study to prove that sex is better when you’re high. Simple study to do. Except, it’s never been done because of the drug war. You’re operating on the premise that science has studied these things extensively and nothing has come from it. Pure ignorance. Factually, people have tried to study these things and are met with an insane wall of resistance by the traditional academic community. Timothy Leary – kicked out of Harvard. John Mack – put on academic probation at the same institution for his studies of supposed alien contactees. I tried to study these things as an undergrad and was told: I couldn’t, because there’s “nothing to see here”. I had a psychology textbook, in college, that literally said that “no recognized works of art had ever been created under the influence of psychedelic drugs”. This was again, a college textbook.

      Trying to pretend that there isn’t a bias against anything that implies humans can understand the higher functionality of our brains (if you must insist it’s just our brains) is like trying to pretend that racism doesn’t exist. What about dreams? Science openly admits that it has no idea what dreams are. It offers materialistic theories about them, but willingly admits it doesn’t have a clue. Think about that one.

      • bobbiethejean | Dec 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

        Traditional science refuses to study this If it can’t be tested, if it isn’t predictive, and it can’t be falsified, traditional science CANNOT study it. You can’t science something that is incapable of being scienced!

        I had a psychology textbook, in college, that literally said that “no recognized works of art had ever been created under the influence of psychedelic drugs”. No offense but I flat out do not believe that. I would be more inclined to think you misunderstood the words than to think a college textbook would say that. Then again, if it was one of those conservative revisionist textbooks…. possibly.

        Otherwise a lot of what you’re saying is just patently untrue. These things have been studied for centuries. I absolutely believe these things should be studied and they HAVE been! There’s a reason nothing has ever really been turned up- because there is probably nothing to turn up!In short:

        • Let it rest bobbie. Many of the people on this website want “magic” in their lives. It’s quite sad to see really.

          • bobbiethejean | Dec 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm |

            I can’t just let it rest. I believe the magical thinking that presently pervades this world is extremely dangerous. They cheerlead afterlives and mind-brain duality but the truth is that they really just don’t want to face the ugly truth that when we die, in all likelihood, that’s it, ovah, the END in all caps. Maybe if we stop treating life like it just goes on forever after we die, we could start treating it as the precious, finite commodity that it really is. Then maybe we would really be able to move forward as a species. No?

          • Did we just listen to the same podcast?

          • bobbiethejean | Dec 12, 2012 at 7:21 pm |

            Admittedly I found him a bit difficult to understand because he was horribly muffled….. and also boring. But I definitely heard the part complaining about “militant atheists” and James Randi and the mind not being limited to the brain.

          • I feel like I am in the twilight zone, talking to you about this.

          • OK, you didn’t really catch what he was saying, but you are absolutely sure that the video you posted categorically refutes what he was saying. So how does that work?

          • Matt Staggs | Dec 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

            Yeah, it was by international call. I prefer Skype, but…

          • give it a rest, you condescending little prick

          • Matt Staggs | Dec 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm |

            Ray, take it down a notch.

          • She shouldn’t have to let it rest. It’s great to be passionate about how we know the world. Curiousity is what drives science more than anything, and encouraging such curiousity to thrive in the thinking of others is certainly a strong normative grounding to defend science. However, what does that curiousity imply? To me it implies a constant dissatisfaction with what we are told, because such curiousity directly contradicts the tendency to rest on our laurels about how we understand the world. Science as a meta-project of our species understanding of the world has been and always will (most likely) remain incomplete–for that’s what defines the transient nature of our minds.

            Conceiving of how something can be ‘scienced’, in the same respect, should not elevate ‘prediction’ as a desirable quality for understanding. This may seem counterintuitive, since it is from the constant conjunctions that occur through experiment that we may formulate laws to represent observed patterns; but, we shouldn’t be satisfied with the ‘predictive’ power of our theories. That’s detrimental to the mindset we will need in the future to suitably alter them in accordance with more recent data. This neo-rationalist, homogenous ‘scientific Method’ is a cultural myth developed around the role of science in assisting the development of the state-industrial complex. Science has been deemed objective and progressive because there have arisen certain nationalist ideologies surrounding its practice (they’re on the cusp of being exposed here in the West; but for an interesting analogue, consider Lysenkoism of the USSR); and, we have reaped great material rewards from the technology institutionalized science has brought into being. In other words, institutional science has thrived due to the mass emotional resonance of the nation-state and bribery of the public. But this is just an argument about the fallacious nature of science as objective–it’s meant to strike at the emotional resonance (anger or dismay at so-called ‘non-scientific thinking’) in your arguments and others on this forum.

            However, as far as studying mind-body dualism, morphogenetic fields, bigfoot, UFOs or whatever ‘pseudoscience’ topic, there are plenty of people going about such studies in earnest privately. They don’t receive funding, because their topics have been stigmatized. The acting of placing a stigma on something is not rational, and deviates directly from the purported ideals of science to always remain open to debate. Stigmatizing something is a social issue; not an epistemological one. That much should be clear, if the sentiments surrounding the ‘protection’ of science from being tainted with the ‘crackpots’ can be dropped. It seems very difficult to do so, however, because there are careers, funding, egos and many other social factors (again, not pure epistemology here) militating against that. Yet, the memory of modern scientists seems rather short, as it was less than 500 years ago that natural philosophy, itself, was stigmatized.

            These arguments we get into on this forum are not about epistemology at all; they are about social values. We need to be clear on that. There are comfort levels that are being violated with certain topics, that’s why the neo-rationalists lash out as much as they do. I mean what’s really at stake on issues of knowledge? How can the way one person thinks about the world affect you or others? The underlying issue is what we do with those ideas–and institutional science has had a murderous track record compared to other belief systems in the world.

          • bobbiethejean | Dec 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm |

            Beautifully, eloquently put.

            I laud curiosity, especially curiosity that extends into areas that I am harshly critical of. If someone wants to study the “paranormal,” by all means, please do. The idea that bigfoots are really quantum beings popping in and out of existence, sure, study that. Mind brain-duality? Study away! But don’t expect me to believe these things until I can see, for myself, some kind of practical application, evidence, or even a spurious hint of a reason to consider thinking about even beginning to take these ideas seriously. And if I am proved wrong, I will spin on a dime. I hold no believe or disbelief so dear that it would shatter my very being and break who I am to discard it.

            The ONLY reason I do not believe these things is because my standards of evidence have not been met. I do not fear the possibility of souls. I have absolutely no stake in quantum bigfoots existing or not existing. However I do have stake in the scientific process. I try, whenever I can, to correct people when I see them abusing, misusing, or neglecting it. I think that if we as a society came to understand the scientific process better, we could move forward at lightning speed.

            Imagine what the world would be like if everyone thought critically and approached such subject matters from a rational standpoint? I’m not saying we need to science EVERYTHING. Sometimes I just want to enjoy a damn activity and not think about it. Everyone does. Sure, great. But imagine the implications for technology, education, government, politics, and business if people tried to approach matters more logically? I could go on all day listing implications but I’ll just say this- my aim isn’t to just fight with random people on the internet. I want to change minds….. however absolutely futile that may be is a wholly different matter.

          • I laid a dime out for you. You didn’t turn on it. The dime in question is that Rupert Sheldrake is not asserting any of the things your youtube video refutes.

            He is referring to waves and fields, and the ten dimensional model of time and space, not ectoplasm. He’s made testable, falsifiable predictions and they have been tested and its been shown there is someting to it, such as the sense of being stared at.

          • What I am really asking is this: Is it inherently unscientific to postulate the human brain has capabilities at times similar to a radio and able to transmit and recieve some types of waves?

            I mean radios aren’t voodoo are they?

            Does the brain posess some type of magnetism that extends beyond the body?

            None of these questions have anything to do with the so-called “supernatural”

          • bobbiethejean | Dec 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm |

            No, that is not unscientific at all. In fact, it would be a wonderful subject for study. However, until there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support the position that the human brain is capable of this, or certain human brains are capable of this, I see no reason to believe it. You keep insisting that this isn’t a discussion about the supernatural yet they are the ones who brought up mind-brain duality, James Randi, materialism, and atheism.

          • Believe it or not that is how he approached it! And he did study it and test it! And the tests were conclusive! The correlations were way higher than chance. People can tell when they are being stared at. You just are uninformed about them! I think you have emotional reactions to various hot button words and phrases, which is what he said in the interview.

          • bobbiethejean | Dec 15, 2012 at 10:13 am |

            The mind fields are not the only thing he discussed. James Randi was discussed as was atheism and several accusations towards rationalists which I object to.

          • bobbiethejean | Dec 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

            I didn’t call what he was describing mind-brain duality, HE DID. He also dissed on materialists and “militant atheists,” which, by the way, is a ludicrous notion. How the hell does one militantly not believe in god? That’s absurd.

          • Militant about the ten dogmatic assumptions he listed that have a foundation in 19th century science.

    • That video you posted before, about Mind/Brain duality simply attacks straw men arguments, People like Sheldrake aren’t making. For example, it attacks something like “ectoplamsm” and not fields.

      • bobbiethejean | Dec 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm |

        No it doesn’t. He refutes mind-bran dualist claims categorically and explains why those claims do not meet the burden of proof. A strawman is when you purposefully mischaracterize an argument then defeat the mischaracterization. Qualiasoup does not at any point mischaracterize anyone’s stance on anything.

        I recommend watching his other videos, btw. You may find them very enlightening.

        • There seems be some barrier to communication here. You are aware Sheldrake is talking about the mind having properties similar to magnetism, with a type of influence that extends past the skull. Right? You got that part or not?

          He is not talking about a “non-physical subtance” or a “stuff that exists beyone science”

          Radio waves are “beyond science?” You can’t see how this video begins with a complete straw man?

          • In the interview Matt asked straight out “what is the medium for these fields?” And Sheldrake’s answer what not “Why Philogistin, of course!” nor “Ectoplasm, obviously!” As a matter of fact, he pointed out that scientists originally believe that things such as radio waves were supported by “aether” which is no longer the case. He talked about the fields supporting themselves and talked about the Ten dimensions of space.

          • Is Ted short for “Tedious”?

  2. This was a real treat Matt, to hear this Guy. Thank You!

  3. Sheldrake has written and spoken about “telephone telepathy” My question for people reading this is -Has anyone experienced “internet telepathy” ?

    The distinct impression, when off-line that somebody has responded to one of your tweets, blog posts, forum comments, etc. also along with the impression of weather it is a positive or negative comment and at times a name will pop into your head.

    It happens to me? Anyone else? I am sure there is.

    • One interesting angle to his research, that has always fascinated me, is that famous people and celebrities lose the plot a bit because people are reacting to their work around the world all the time. In other words they get the “internet telepathy” you’re talking about all the time.

      Personally I screen these possibilities out of my reality tunnel. If it’s true it has got the potential to f. you up a bit I think!

      Enjoying your comments btw.

      • Thanks, I’ve been enjoying your articles. Yeah, there probably is a point of no return, like in the case of celebrities. I mean if I had 100,000 twitter followers that hung on my every word, there would be more of a need to shut out this background noise than to tune into it.

        Probably the sense of being stared at is the same way, when, say, you get up on stage.

    • BuzzCoastin | Dec 12, 2012 at 9:27 pm |

      email (among other things) is internet ESP
      in which you read the thoughts of another almost instantly

      generally people tend to limit the definition of ESP to something they perceive as miraculous
      when in fact
      ESP is an everyday part of our collective unconscious consciousness

  4. Matt Staggs | Dec 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm |

    So far, so good on the comments here. I know these can be controversial topics and talk can get heated, but let’s try to keep things civil.

    • What fun would that be?

      • Matt Staggs | Dec 13, 2012 at 9:36 am |

        Seeing a thread not devolve into “Fuck you!” “No, fuck you!” would be awesome, and save a lot of time for me to which I can devote to mining the ‘tubes for weird content for us all to argue about in the first place. 😉

  5. BuzzCoastin | Dec 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

    status quo is the bane of science
    Sheldrake’s contributions to science are hundreds of years ahead of his time

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