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Professor Buzzkill

Morphic Resonance

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Hello All,

I have recently heard about something called Morphic Resonance (i actually heard about it from watching a re-run of QI with Stephen Fry) which is a theory to explain some of the unanswerable questions in mechanistic science. To me, this theory is amazing. To those of the mechanistic view point (I.e consciousness and memory are stored in your brain like a computer stores information), the theory is deemed unnecessary. Anyway, below is a fantastic presentation from the father of morphic resonance in western science (as this theory is taken for granted in more spiritual places like India). I would appreciate any response in regards to what i consider to be the most important scientific theory in recent history.

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I don't have the time to sit through an hour long lecture, but I have read his book "The Science Delusion". I have to say I was rather underwhelmed by his 'theory'.

He rails against the dogma of materialism (a debatable, but not entirely unreasonable, charge) but his theory of morphic resonance doesn't appear to challenge materialism greatly. If I recall, he believes there is something called a morphic field which we can all tap into to. It's a variation on the 'hundredth monkey theory' - eg, as people (and substances) 'learn' new skills or behaviours, these knowledges become available to all of us through this morphic field. I recall an example he gave about snow boarding - as more people learn this skill, then every new beginner will find this skill easier to pick up. He also claimed this to happen to inanimate materials such as crystals and their formation.

Now, my feelings on this are that if this morphic field is real, it is not a supernatural phenomenon. It would be a very real and 'material' thing. To me, this isn't unprecedented. Electromagnetism is not easily detected without equipment and it's effect could appear quite magical to us. I'm sure there are many other examples. So, morphic field are could be real and part of our material universe. If so, no 'dogma' would deny it's existence as it does not threaten materialism.

But where is his evidence? The best that he can generally produce appears to be anecdotal. If he's so sure about this, he may be best served spending less time writing books and doing lecture tours, and more time doing research to produce this evidence. There's a reason that Sheldrake finds himself on the fringes and viewed as a pseudoscientist. The scientific process has proved very useful for finding out 'what is' and weeding out 'what isn't'.

Sheldrake spends a lot of time bemoaning that the scientific community rejects his ideas, and hides behind charges of 'dogmatism' to deflect from the fact that he has no real evidence. Also, I doubt his motives a little. He's a theist and I think he may be trying to push a spiritual agenda - but this ultimately has no bearing on whether his theory is true or not.

Of course, it's a while since a read his book. If the evidence is stronger now, I'd be interested to read some of it.

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'The most important scientific theory in recent history': I totally agree with you! I watched the video several months ago and it just blew me away. It explains a lot of psychic phenomena that falls into the category of 'can't-be-proven-so-it-isn't-true' ...... even though so many people know it to be true.

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Posted (edited)

I don't have the time to sit through an hour long lecture, but I have read his book "The Science Delusion". I have to say I was rather underwhelmed by his 'theory'.

He rails against the dogma of materialism (a debatable, but not entirely unreasonable, charge) but his theory of morphic resonance doesn't appear to challenge materialism greatly. If I recall, he believes there is something called a morphic field which we can all tap into to. It's a variation on the 'hundredth monkey theory' - eg, as people (and substances) 'learn' new skills or behaviours, these knowledges become available to all of us through this morphic field. I recall an example he gave about snow boarding - as more people learn this skill, then every new beginner will find this skill easier to pick up. He also claimed this to happen to inanimate materials such as crystals and their formation.

Now, my feelings on this are that if this morphic field is real, it is not a supernatural phenomenon. It would be a very real and 'material' thing. To me, this isn't unprecedented. Electromagnetism is not easily detected without equipment and it's effect could appear quite magical to us. I'm sure there are many other examples. So, morphic field are could be real and part of our material universe. If so, no 'dogma' would deny it's existence as it does not threaten materialism.

But where is his evidence? The best that he can generally produce appears to be anecdotal. If he's so sure about this, he may be best served spending less time writing books and doing lecture tours, and more time doing research to produce this evidence. There's a reason that Sheldrake finds himself on the fringes and viewed as a pseudoscientist. The scientific process has proved very useful for finding out 'what is' and weeding out 'what isn't'.

Sheldrake spends a lot of time bemoaning that the scientific community rejects his ideas, and hides behind charges of 'dogmatism' to deflect from the fact that he has no real evidence. Also, I doubt his motives a little. He's a theist and I think he may be trying to push a spiritual agenda - but this ultimately has no bearing on whether his theory is true or not.

Of course, it's a while since a read his book. If the evidence is stronger now, I'd be interested to read some of it.

Admittedly, most of his evidence is anecdotal. But there are no other explanations as to why the "hundredth monkey" will know what to do without being taught, or why some molecules become increasingly easier to make after the first breakthrough. Any materialistic explanation of these events are just assumptions, like the example used in the video of "migrant researchers" spreading the molecules from lab to lab. No evidence is presented to counter this arguement, just assertions that there MUST be an explanation that fits within the current scientific view point.

After all, isn't that what a good theory is supposed to do? (i.e Explain more than any current theory).

Edited by Professor Buzzkill
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I thought it was very interesting. He presented his ideas very well in this lecture.

There are two very important points that need to be emphasized here:

1. Fields are not measured directly, they are inferred through the interaction they have on the surrounding objects.

2. The "morphic resonance" ideas presented are a MODEL. The purpose of a model is to describe observed phenomena, not to necessarily be the "truth".

The abstract nature of the ideas make it very much unbelievable at a glance, but it does make some sense. If a majority of nature can be explained with fields, why not genetics? Again, the model doesn't mean "truth", it's just something that explains our observations. The "hundredth monkey" thing is something that has been observed; the morphic resonance model provides an explanation.

What separates the "morphic field" from other fields (e.g. gravitational, electric, magnetic) is a lack of a well developed model. Before it can be considered a legitimate model, it must be tested properly (which doesn't appear to have been done yet) and it needs to predict something new that other rival models (if there are any) have not predicted.

Very fascinating ideas nonetheless.

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I see it all as progress.

Most of the science I find appealing comes through channeled information. A source in itself that can be considered suspect. Yet the day is coming when real science can reveal the amazing truths about this being we call human.

John

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Posted (edited)

I spent some time with sheldrake at a retreat. Nice guy. I like his ideas because he looks at things differently but that dosnt mean they are right and he would be the first to tell you this. I'm not sure how I feel about morphic resonance. A good theory must predict an effect then the affect must be vatified through experimentation. He has done a few but like usual those who are threatened by his ideas rail against him. Talking with him he has some very good stories about his interactions with dawkings and other militant atheists. This is where I think he is the most valuable. Exposing the materialist pro pseudo skeptical dogma that exist is important if the scientific community is going to shake their influence and progress as it should.

He is doing a pretty good job stirring them up. The more they attack him the more they expose their attachment to their world view. There is a battle going on right now over wiki pages. Militant style pro materialist skeptics will change wiki pages to imeadiatly reflect their position and they will fight tooth and nail not to let anyone edit for a more balanced approache and save criticism for the criticism category. This demonstrates how threatened they are by him.

Notice how shots are taken at him very early instead if waiting for the criticism category. The theme continues through out articles.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake

Edited by White Crane Feather
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Posted (edited)

Hello All,

I have recently heard about something called Morphic Resonance...

It's nothing more than a rehash of the "Akashic Records" pseudo-theory, perhaps with some sciencey language added to make it sound better to today's science-literate, but science-undereducated, population.

There is nothing in his 'theory' which cannot be more easily explained in 'mundane' terms.

I appreciate that orthodoxy should be challenged, good science requires this, but that challenge should include testable, observable, conditions and results - and Sheldrake's idea doesn't.

Edited by Leonardo

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He is doing a pretty good job stirring them up. The more they attack him the more they expose their attachment to their world view. There is a battle going on right now over wiki pages. Militant style pro materialist skeptics will change wiki pages to imeadiatly reflect their position and they will fight tooth and nail not to let anyone edit for a more balanced approache and save criticism for the criticism category. This demonstrates how threatened they are by him.

No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.

-Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder

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Posted (edited)

No, you have to be kidding me. Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful.

Wikipedia’s policies around this kind of thing are exactly spot-on and correct. If you can get your work published in respectable scientific journals – that is to say, if you can produce evidence through replicable scientific experiments, then Wikipedia will cover it appropriately.

What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of “true scientific discourse”. It isn’t.

-Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder

So sheldrake is a lunatic charlatan now? Shouldn't criticism be reserved for the criticism section of a wiki page instead of infused throughout? It's pretty clear its agenda driven. Which is fine, it demonstrates that sheldrake is right about at least one thing now doesn't it?

Edited by White Crane Feather

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But there are no other explanations as to why the "hundredth monkey" will know what to do without being taught,

The "hundredth monkey" thing is something that has been observed; the morphic resonance model provides an explanation.

The "hundreth monkey phenomenon" has been discredited. It is not a recognised phenomenon, but merely an exaggerated account of typical social interaction leading to learned behaviour.

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So sheldrake is a lunatic charlatan now? Shouldn't criticism be reserved for the criticism section of a wiki page instead of infused throughout? It's pretty clear its agenda driven. Which is fine, it demonstrates that sheldrake is right about at least one thing now doesn't it?

His path to legitimate scientific recognition is laid out in Wales' quote. If he can meet the same standards as everyone else, then there shouldn't be a problem, should there?

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Posted (edited)

His path to legitimate scientific recognition is laid out in Wales' quote. If he can meet the same standards as everyone else, then there shouldn't be a problem, should there?

I bet Charles Darwin couldn't have met those criteria until long after his model of natural selection was first proposed

Edited by Professor Buzzkill

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I bet Charles Darwin couldn't have met those criteria until long after his model of natural selection was first proposed

That's usually how it goes. Great idea, no one believes you. You die, then your ideas revolutionize science.

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That's usually how it goes. Great idea, no one believes you. You die, then your ideas revolutionize science.

In reality, how it usually goes is: fantastic idea, no one believes you, you die, everyone forgets you ever existed.

The vast majority of 'out there' ideas stay just there.

To make yours one of those that is revolutionary you need evidence - and lots of it.

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Posted (edited)

His path to legitimate scientific recognition is laid out in Wales' quote. If he can meet the same standards as everyone else, then there shouldn't be a problem, should there?

That's not the issue now isn't it. The scientific validity of his current theories have nothing to do with the imeadiate criticisms that are an obvious game of politics. You are avoiding the real issue. The problem isn't sheldrake ideas or unconventionalist approach, its the immediate threatened response he receives. This is obviously not grounded in scientific thinking.

I have sat and talked with the man. his theories are just theories, he knows that... and there are ongoing experiments proposed, and being fleshed out. Will they be fruitful who knows, he will be the first to tell you that often an experiment that does not go the way the theory predicted it should tells you more than if it did. None if this is the issue. Morphic resonance may be a dead end. The problem here is that he is attempting to explain things with a possible spiritual connection. This is the bane and anthema to entrenched materialist/atheists. Why not let his theories die as they should if they turn out to be false? Why not let peer review deal with any experiments that he comes up with? Why not let the process do its job?

This isn't what is happening. Instead any criticism of the entrenched attitude is met with illogical attempts to discredit off hand. I guarantee you sheldrake could come up with a smoking gun experiment that could not be refuted and the creative cynical wordsmiths would go to work.

Make no mistake Rafterman, non of this is about science. It's about politics and control. A body of people claim authority over what is allowed in science and what is not. What hoops to jump through and who you pay homage to. This is called dogma. Weather sheldrakes ideas are good or not is irrelevant, he offers a descenting voice that obviously threatens the establishment. Their reaction to him proves the point. If he were a "lunatic charlatan" they would pay him no mind. Instead there are gangs of people famous and hidden that go to any lengths to ensure painting the man as they see fit. If you don't believe me, simply try to edit sheldrakes intro on the wiki page to be completely neutra and take out the obvious bias. See what happens. Call it a repeatable experiment ;)

Edited by White Crane Feather
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In reality, how it usually goes is: fantastic idea, no one believes you, you die, everyone forgets you ever existed.

The vast majority of 'out there' ideas stay just there.

To make yours one of those that is revolutionary you need evidence - and lots of it.

Yes but without the dead ends you cannot traverse the maze. No sense in creating dead ends just because you think you already know the path. This will not lead to the actual end of the maze only being lost.

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Posted (edited)

That's not the issue now isn't it. The scientific validity of his current theories have nothing to do with the imeadiate criticisms that are an obvious game of politics. You are avoiding the real issue. The problem isn't sheldrake ideas or unconventionalist approach, its the immediate threatened response he receives. This is obviously not grounded in scientific thinking.

No, the problem is that the results he claims are not testable for the cause he claims.

We can measure a magnetic field. We can measure an electrical field. We can measure fields of gravitation and we can even measure the field Higgs proposed.

We cannot measure a 'morphic field', and so Sheldrake's idea remains unscientific, and the concept of the 'morphic field' remains hypothetical.

Edited by Leonardo

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No, the problem is that the results he claims are not testable for the cause he claims.

We can measure a magnetic field. We can measure an electrical field. We can measure fields of gravitation and we can even measure the field Higgs proposed.

We cannot measure a 'morphic field', and so Sheldrake's idea remains unscientific, and the concept of the 'morphic field' remains hypothetical.

But this does not exclude it from being real and true. :)

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But this does not exclude it from being real and true. :)

There may indeed be things which are real and true which are unmeasureable, untestable and undemonstrable. However, those things will be forever 'mysterious' and unknown, as we have no mechanism by which to describe or define them.

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Yes but without the dead ends you cannot traverse the maze. No sense in creating dead ends just because you think you already know the path. This will not lead to the actual end of the maze only being lost.

My comment was aimed more at those people that are convinced their choice of path is the correct one.

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Posted (edited)

No, the problem is that the results he claims are not testable for the cause he claims.

We can measure a magnetic field. We can measure an electrical field. We can measure fields of gravitation and we can even measure the field Higgs proposed.

We cannot measure a 'morphic field', and so Sheldrake's idea remains unscientific, and the concept of the 'morphic field' remains hypothetical.

So did the Higgs until just recently. Granted through complex mathematics and high energy physics , they already knew it was there. The Higgs was popping out a long time ago, they just needed the LHC to get the margin for error within an acceptable limits. But let's talk about that for a second.

You say we are measuring the Higgs field because we now have the boson? Or rather a detected signature predicted by particle physics.

So we are using quantum field theory. Right? Do you see what I'm getting at. A theory is not unscientific because it has not been totally fleshed out or proven yet. Hell... I think morphic resonance is not going to flesh out. Many theories why like now a days were considered crazy and unscientific before it turned out they were more correct than not. Even the bb theory smacked of creationism so was deeply criticized in its upstart. It did not have an iota of the evidence it has now.

This problem is old news. Any theory that even hints of some sort of spiritual reality or an attempt to include it outside of standard materialist dogma is taboo. That's not science. I can give more examples.

Suskind's cosmic landscape theory is purely a response to the anthropic principal. It's a good one... Even one I may agree with, but the entire motivation and direction of the thinking was to thwart any concept of life being the goal of the universe. To Lenord's credit, he recognizes that the anthropoic principal is much more powerful than most scientists give it credit for, then goes on to creat a very powerful and scientifically accurate theory to explain it. The guy is truly brilliant. Morphic resonance is a theory. To discard it just yet and let dogma do the thinking for us, is really anti science. All paradigm shifts in science went through this same process. If morphic resonance is closer to truth it will emerge so or it will die like countless other theories before it. But to let this age old dogmatic assassination of new ideas that don't fit the current accepted model to continue is not in anyone's best interests, nor is it the way science really works, nor is logical.

The proof in the putting is that we are even having the debate In the first place. I love science, on of the first books I read was "black holes and time warps", the black hole has intrigued me since those days as a young teen. One of the great lessons I learned from all the reading afterward written by many of our greatest minds was the struggle to get new ideas accepted... Many times to fail then come around and grow to fruit latter. The scientific process is much deeper and bigger than this bull**** politics emerging in the world today. This is important because politics and dogma direct the minds if the talented.

It takes people like Dr. Sheldrake to over come this. Right or wrong, it doesn't matter. He is not a dishonest man, quit funny, and charming in a dorky British humor sort of way. But make no mistake, if we were not more civilized somone would have already burned him at the stake. I'm less interested in morophic resonance, I'm more interested in his challenge.

(Hahah I'm sure many of you will find this funny. My auto correct didn't like the word "Morphic", it keeps trying to change it to moronic)

Edited by White Crane Feather

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Posted (edited)

So did the Higgs until just recently. Granted through complex mathematics and high energy physics , they already knew it was there. The Higgs was popping out a long time ago, they just needed the LHC to get the margin for error within an acceptable limits. But let's talk about that for a second.

You say we are measuring the Higgs field because we now have the boson? Or rather a detected signature predicted by particle physics.

No, the Higgs boson is only evidence the field exists as hypothesised. We measure it by determination of the mass of those particles which interact with it.

It's not a prediction, it's a direct measurement.

Could physics be wrong, and the Higgs field not 'real'? Sure, but you'd have to replace it with something which has been experimentally validated and explains more completely why particles have mass.

Your objections are meritless, because none of the 'theories' you allude to have explained any measureable, observable, phenomenon more completely than current theories. Furthermore, they lack experimental validation.

Edited by Leonardo

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Posted (edited)

No, the Higgs boson is only evidence the field exists as hypothesised. We measure it by determination of the mass of those particles which interact with it.

It's not a prediction, it's a direct measurement.

Could physics be wrong, and the Higgs field not 'real'? Sure, but you'd have to replace it with something which has been experimentally validated and explains more completely why particles have mass.

I know Leo. You misunderstood. The Higgs was predicted my the model long before it was verified. That's what makes the model powerful.

My objections are not meritless because I'm not objecting to modern theories. I'm objecting to a psychological group meam.

Field theory is interesting. I'm not sure just what a field is. My bet is a super string or even a type of brain... But just exactly is a field. At the moment we are only talking about mathematical constructs. The reality of which is probably more immense than we are.

Edited by White Crane Feather

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I know Leo. You misunderstood. The Higgs was predicted my the model long before it was verified. That's what makes the model powerful.

Then what is your point?

Are you arguing "it's only a model"?

Which would ignore what the 'model' is built from.

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