SEVEN EXPERIMENTS THAT COULD CHANGE THE WORLD: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science by Rupert Sheldrake

SEVEN EXPERIMENTS THAT COULD CHANGE THE WORLD: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science

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Change the world? Perhaps not, but Sheldrake hopes that his proposed experiments will change the way science views the relationship of mind and matter. Former Cambridge University biologist Sheldrake (The Rebirth of Nature, 1991) groups his experiments into three categories. The first group (on pets that ""know"" when their owners are due to return home, on homing pigeons, and on the ""group mind"" of termite colonies) is in essence examinations of whether animals have extrasensory perception. A second group (on whether people can detect someone staring at them and on feeling in phantom limbs of amputees) looks at the same question in relation to human beings. A third group questions two fundamental assumptions of science itself: the possible variability of such constants of nature as the speed of light and the possible effect of a scientist's beliefs on the results of an experiment. Each experiment is prefaced with a description of the phenomenon in question; then Sheldrake proposes an experiment (or set of experiments) designed to test the existence of the phenomenon. Most (though not all) of the experiments could be done at fairly low cost by amateurs. While the author does not claim to know what the results will be, he clearly hopes that his experiments will produce evidence that the current scientific worldview has missed something important. Still, the one experiment he claims to have conducted (on pigeon homing) can hardly be called a success. And while Sheldrake presents himself as a genuine seeker after truth, he often appears to be taking potshots at scientific ""orthodoxy"" more on general principles than because he has a viable alternative. It is hard to deny that there are phenomena that current science cannot explain, although much of the evidence Sheldrake presents for them is on the level of anecdote or folklore. Maybe this book will spur someone to settle these questions once and for all.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1995
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Riverhead/Putnam