Talk:Rupert Sheldrake/Archive 13

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Archive 12 Archive 13 Archive 14

Interactions section

The Sokal bit is quite simply not an interaction the way it is currently worded. Please provide the WP:RS's showing Sheldrake involved himself in this article. Similarly, one of the most notable interactions I have come across is ignored:

Sheldrake has reported an encounter with Richard Dawkins as part of Dawkins' 2007 TV series "Enemies of Reason" wherein Sheldrake suggested they discuss the evidence for telepathy. Dawkins allegedly replied "There isn't time. It's too complicated. And that's not what the programme is about," Sheldrake claims to have responded that he wasn't interested in taking part in another "low-grade debunking exercise", to which Dawkins reportedly replied: "It's not a low-grade debunking exercise; it's a high-grade debunking exercise."[1]

I suggest we replace this irrelevant Sokal non-interaction with the Dawkins one. Cheers,Blippy (talk) 07:17, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

You are proposing the above text for the article? Why? What does it mean? It seems to be more about Dawkins that the subject of this article, although a secondary source would be needed to throw some light on what the reader is supposed to infer about Dawkins from the inconsequential exchange. Johnuniq (talk) 08:53, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I am proposing it. Perhaps you can point out where the other incidents in this section satisfy your criteria of having a secondary source throwing light on what the reader is supposed to infer? In any case, how about we modify along these lines:
Sheldrake has been described as having to continually defend himself.[2][3] In one incident Sheldrake encountered Richard Dawkins as part of Dawkins' 2007 TV series "Enemies of Reason" wherein Sheldrake suggested they discuss the evidence for telepathy. Dawkins allegedly replied "There isn't time. It's too complicated. And that's not what the programme is about," Sheldrake claims to have responded that he wasn't interested in taking part in another "low-grade debunking exercise", to which Dawkins reportedly replied: "It's not a low-grade debunking exercise; it's a high-grade debunking exercise."[4]
Cheers, Blippy (talk) 09:01, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, am I to understand that the source for this claim is Sheldrake himself? Or were there other witnesses to his alleged interaction with Dawkins? 76.107.171.90 (talk) 11:38, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
I wouldn't dream of suggesting what you understand 76...90!! ;-) I'm simply reporting what's in a WP:RS. Do you have WP:RS's to the contrary, or are you simply speculating? Cheers, Blippy (talk) 12:47, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
“Simply speculating?” Speculating on what? I asked you if the source for your claim was Sheldrake himself. That is not speculation, it is a question. Are you going to answer it? 76.107.171.90 (talk) 12:55, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
We needn't rely on Blippy -- it's easy enough to check the RS oneself. Interestingly, it unequivocally says (in its conclusion) about Sheldrake, "But he is surely right, with Heisenberg, in insisting that the materialist world view must go." Lou Sander (talk) 13:34, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
the source of the interaction is an editorial in which someone is quoting from Sheldrakes book in which Sheldrake is recounting his interaction with Dawkins. Its a third hand report of a second hand accounting of an exchange that says ....Dawkins doesnt think Sheldrake is worth giving the time of day to? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:57, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Good catch Lou, I don’t know why I didn’t do that sooner. I found the quote in Sheldrake’s book on telepathic dogs. As the source is Sheldrake himself I would argue that it’s not a WP:RS as Sheldrake is only a reliable sources for his own fringe views, and his own sexuality. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 15:07, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

I don't think we can include the Dawkins paragraph, as we have only a primary source (Sheldrake's website). On the other hand, the story is recounted in The Guardian,[1] and in The Skeptic.[2] --Iantresman (talk) 17:30, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Let's not get into second or third hand anecdotes. An actual quote from Dawkins might be relevant if it can be properly attributed to him. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:54, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
I would agree with both of you if Sheldrake's site was the only source, however - by definition - the independent RS's make it both noteworthy and includable. Cheers, Blippy (talk) 21:19, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Sounds fair to me. --Iantresman (talk) 21:48, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is an anti-science author with an anti-science agenda. Why would his personal account of an encounter with Dawkins be regarded as reliable? This whole “there isn't time. It's too complicated” bit is a very feeble attempt to suggest that that Dawkins knows that there’s evidence for telepathy, but doesn’t want do discuss it. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 22:45, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, it doesn't really matter if the Dawkins/Sheldrake exchange was intended to suggest something sneaky, it only matters that it's a relevant bit of data that is supported by both primary and secondary sources. If there are reliable secondary sources and there's a meaningful context for the interaction, then it's relevant and should be included. The Cap'n (talk) 23:16, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
“Supported by both primary and secondary sources”? Sheldrake said it happened, it was corroborated by no witnesses (that we know of), and then others parroted Sheldrake’s claim. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding “secondary sources”, but I don’t see how repeating Sheldrake’s claim verbatim makes it more reliable. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 23:34, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Who are we to question how reliable sources vet what they print? They are reliable sources. We are mere encyclopedia editors who rely on them for the facts that underlie what we say in the encyclopedia. We can't say something without material from a reliable source. Neither are we bound to say everything that every or any reliable source says. But if we are talking about interactions with scientists, this one has a lot more going for it than the Sokal one does (it doesn't seem to involve any interaction). To hell with both of them, but if somebody keeps Sokal, they can't really complain about keeping this one. It is in a reliable source. Repeating: to hell with both of them. Clarifying: Delete the Sokal stuff. Don't replace it with this. Both are from reliable sources, but neither is worthy of being in the article. Lou Sander (talk) 02:59, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm sympathetic to your 'to hell with both of them' sentiment Lou! But I think the Sokal and Dawkins things are qualitatively different. A controversial(?) interaction with a major figure in the field is important - for instance, if there was report that Dr Mundane Notverynotable sexually harrassed Sheldrake I'd say that was trivia, but if it was Einstein it would be a notable interaction. The Sokal business - as far as I understand it - is a) not an interaction (Sheldrake wasn't personally involved) and b) WP:OR based on the fact that Sheldrake has been cited in the Sokal article (I haven't seen any WP:RS secondary refs cited that link Sheldrake to Sokal in this way). So that's why I think Sokal should go and Dawkins should come in. Incidentally, just to be clear, if the report had been Dawkins wanted to discuss evidence and Sheldrake didn't want to it would still be both notable and includable... does anyone know if there's something like that? Cheers, Blippy (talk) 08:27, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

That comment shows why I referred to the need for secondary sources earlier—an editor (Blippy) thinks the reported exchange with Dawkins shows something that warrants recording in an encyclopedic article—but why not take the claimed words at face value: "There isn't time" [perhaps there was not sufficient time]; "It's too complicated" [perhaps the issues are too complex for a brief off-the-cuff exchange in the available time]; "that's not what the programme is about" [perhaps the program was focused on another issue and discussing telepathy would avoid the topic]. What reason is there to believe that what was said is significant? Johnuniq (talk) 09:52, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I think a WP:ANECDOTE is needed. The sexual harassment metaphor is entirely asinine but ironically, "Dr Mundane Notverynotable" is a pretty good description of Sheldrake's early career. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:58, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting we offer any interpretation of the event beyond the one provided by the secondary WP:RS above. How I personally read it is irrelevant, just as your personal interpretation is irrelevant, so it doesn't matter how we take the claimed words. As long as we stick to the RS the reader can infer whatever they like. As for BBB's characterisation of Sheldrake's early career I can only conclude you haven't read the article you're editing. Cheers, Blippy (talk) 11:18, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Lou, you stated three times that it’s from a reliable source as if though the repeated proclamation of that untruth could somehow make it factual reality. Please try to remember that we are talking about Sheldrake here. We are discussing a man who is notorious for asserting that phenotype is determined by magic, and not by gene expression. He can only be considered to be a reliable source for a very limited number of things.

From WP:V:

“Questionable sources are those that have a poor reputation for checking the facts, lack meaningful editorial oversight, or have an apparent conflict of interest.[8] Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional, or that rely heavily on unsubstantiated gossip, rumor or personal opinion. Questionable sources should only be used as sources of material on themselves, especially in articles about themselves; see below. They are not suitable sources for contentious claims about others.”

Sheldrake has totally divorced himself from factual reality, has no oversight, and is functionally the leader of an anti-science hate group. Therefore he is not a suitable source for “contentious claims about others”. And “others” includes Richard Dawkins. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 11:25, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

The Guardian is not a questionable source for reporting Sheldrake's story on Dawkins,[3] especially as we have used the paper as a source in the article over half a dozen times without complaint. I don't consider a story about him meeting Dawkins to be contentious in any way. Your personal comments on Sheldrake I do find contentious, and I don't think they have any place here. --Iantresman (talk) 11:40, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
WP:IDONTHEARYOU, WP:ANECDOTE. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:47, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
In a battle between Sokal and Dawkins for relevance in the tale of Sheldrake, Dawkins wins hands down - the Sokal thing, though funny of itself doesn't really belong in a bio of Shelly. It was just a convenient happenstance for Sokal to use in his joke against poor science - whereas the "Dawkins incident" happened, and is funny, and illustrates the regard in which a mainstream scientist holds Shelly's ideas. Include Dawkins, drop Sokal - that's my opinion. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 11:52, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is a “questionable source” per WP:RS. The guardian repeats what a questionable source says. Therefore the guardian is questionable for purposes of Sheldrake’s anecdote. When the guardian decided to publish Sheldrake’s story they fell into the category of “publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional” and therefore are also questionable (in that instance). 76.107.171.90 (talk) 12:03, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
If the consensus is to drop the Dawkins tale too, then OK, but it would be a shame to lose an easily understood take on the whole thing. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 13:07, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to include Dawkins - he has the ability to be highly quotable - fantastically insightful and succinct at the same time, but unless we get anything from the horse's mouth, I don' think we can unfortunately use it. Barney the barney barney (talk) 13:09, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
  • @Barney please don't accuse me of disruptive editing, it is exceedingly uncivil and not constructive. I gave my opinion and my reasons. We don't have to agree with each other. WP:AGF
  • @76.107.171.90 Sheldrake is a primary source, hence the attribution. I have no reason to doubt his anecdote, just as The Guardian had no reason either. But I would agree that Sheldrake is not an independent secondary source. --Iantresman (talk) 13:20, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
76...90 you really shouldn't selectively quote from WP:RS. Here is the quote complete with it's preceding sentence that you chose to inadvertently omitted:
"Questionable sources are those with a poor reputation for checking the facts, or with no editorial oversight. Such sources include websites and publications expressing views that are widely acknowledged as extremist, that are promotional in nature, or which rely heavily on rumors and personal opinions."
Are you seriously suggesting that The Guardian has a poor reputation for fact checking, has no editorial oversight, or relies heavily rumours? Do you also seriously think that their legal department would let them print something potentially libellous about Dawkins? The tendency to favour personal analysis and WP:OR over WP:RS is common enough, but simply not acceptable. The two simple questions are: Is the Dawkins incident notable? Is it reliably sourced? If it's yes and yes, it goes in. All I see amongst those disagreeing here is a lot of smoke and fury about invented criteria that have nothing to do with WP policies. Is it notable? Is it WP:RSed? Cheers, Blippy (talk) 13:24, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, after sorting through a little confusion, I have discovered the source of the problem. The text I quoted is actually from WP:V, and not from WP:RS. Sorry about that. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 13:46, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
No worries 76...90 - an easy mistake to make. I've adjusted my text above. Cheers, Blippy (talk) 13:50, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, I’m not suggesting anything about the guardian other than that they fall within the scope of “publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional” as described by WP:V when the published Sheldrake’s anecdote. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 14:03, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

I appreciate the point you're making 76...90, but that's not how WP:RS works. If it's a RS, it's a RS - particularly something as prominent as The Guardian. We don't get to choose the bits we think are reliable and which bit aren't. That's why the quote you're using has the preceding line, and the heading Questionable Sources. If it was something on The Guardian forum then you'd be right, of course, but even their blog is probably good enough for our purposes, and this is an article. Sources like The Guardian can't afford to print things that can get them sued, so this article (as with all of their articles) will have been rigorously fact checked. That means we don't have to do it for them. If you can find a retraction or a correction in a subsequent part of the paper/site then you may be on firmer ground, but as things stand this ref is solid. And here[5] is another that chooses to repeat the incident. Cheers, Blippy (talk) 14:17, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

If I may make an analogy: If Paris Hilton says that Brittany Spears is a fat whore, and The Guardian says that Paris Hilton says that Brittany Spears is a fat whore, we would not use The Guardian as a reliable source to add Brittany Spears to a list of “21st Century Prostitutes”.
The “there isn’t time, it’s too complicated” line is Sheldrake putting words into Dawkins mouth. It could be interpreted as an admission that evidence for psi exists by Dawkins. If Dawkins knew that credible evidence for psi exists, yet denied it anyway it could be potentiality disastrous to his credibility. I see little harm in playing it safe, and excluding Sheldrake’s anecdote. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 14:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
76, in your somewhat uncivil post about "repeating untruths", you seem to be confused about Sheldrake as a source vs. newspapers as sources. As far as I can tell, all the sources referenced in the material in question are reliable sources. Other editors seem to regard them as so. If these sources are not reliable, it would be interesting to see your take on that. Many reliable sources do, indeed, regard Sheldrake as something more than you describe him as. Lou Sander (talk) 14:37, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
@76.107.171.90 We're not doing that. We're stating that in The Guardian, Rupert Sheldrake says that Dawkins made a comment. We're not inferring, analysing, or judging anything by those comments. To do so would fail WP:SYNTHESIS. --Iantresman (talk) 14:39, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Quoting Sheldrake through the Guardian would not be a contentious issue if he weren’t talking about Dawkins. If we only said that “The Guardian says that Sheldrake says that dogs are psychic” there would be no problem. However, since questionable sources are not suitable for contentious claims about others (see above) then we shouldn’t let Sheldrake or The Guardian (as it is publishing his claim) make a potentially damaging claim about Dawkins.
I really don’t see how the whole “The Guardian is parroting him directly so it’s no more reliable” thing is not making sense to people. Technically a secondary sources is supposed to contain “an author's interpretation, analysis, or evaluation of the facts, evidence, concepts, and ideas taken from primary sources” so I’m not sure why the proposed edits are even being considered secondary to begin with. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 15:22, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
It's precisely because he's talking about Dawkins that makes it notable and worth including. If he was talking about Mr Nobody Inparticularfilmmaker then it would be trivial and not noteworthy. Remember, it's not Sheldrake publishing his comments, it's The Guardian. If it was just Sheldrake, then we couldn't and shouldn't use it. But because it involves a notable person (Dawkins) and is published by a RS (The Guardian isn't a Questionable Source), then it should be included. Cheers, Blippy (talk) 12:24, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Its the Guardian publishing excerpts of what Sheldrake published stating that Dawkins said something. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:11, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Blippy, a source is not simply reliable or not reliable; it is reliable in certain contexts. The Fanny Farmer Cook Book might be a good source for how to make meringues, but it’s not a good source for the history of meringues, or for the war of the roses. Because the Guardian is giving Sheldrake a platform from which to attack Dawkins the guardian falls into the category of “publications expressing views that are widely considered by other sources to be extremist or promotional” for these purposes. Please argue from policy Blippy. WP:V is there for you to read. Simply asserting that The Guardian is reliable over and over again is not an effective argument. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 13:23, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

And in addition to the being third hand, the content itself is extremely trivial. Sheldrake wanted to get onto Dawkins show and Dawkins said "No". Big whoop.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:47, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Given it's not an interaction, that you've not refuted the WP:OR nature of Sokal TRiPoD, and since the consensus above seems to be in favour of removal I have done so. Note that the big whoop is that Dawkins wanted Sheldrake on his show and Sheldrake said "No" - as an aside, and as I understand it, they had already been filming when Sheldrake asked when he was going to get to the evidence. I also recall that Sheldrake had only agreed to be involved at all if the evidence would be covered and that he'd been given assurances it would be. The Guardian and Huffington Post saw fit to report the incident, so should we. Oh, and 76...90 you sound a bit like any criticism of Dawkins renders the messenger worthy of shooting... he's not the messiah you know  :-) Cheers, Blippy (talk) 08:42, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
I suggest you actually read the sources Blippy: "In the new book, [Sheldrake] records an encounter with Richard Dawkins, when the eminent atheist was making his 2007 TV series Enemies of Reason. Sheldrake suggested they discuss the actual evidence for telepathy." -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:24, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, you’ve been asked to make a policy based argument, and you absolutely refuse to do so. At this point you’ve reached a level of WP:ICANTHEARYOU that makes your comments indistinguishable from trolling.
Your comment about me and Dawkins is both moronic and unfounded. I’m not a Dawkins fan Blippy. Dawkins has a rather unfortunate tendency to use a royal we when he really shouldn’t. As a consequence I’ve met untold bozos who think that because I’m also an atheist with a biology degree that I must share all of Dawkins’ philosophical and political views. No one has worked harder to politicize atheism and turn it into a “movement” than Dawkins, and not all atheists view him favorably because of that. Next time you attack another editor’s neutrality you’d better have a lot more evidence. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 11:41, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Chopra on skepticism in Wikipedia

And he is not amused As you can read here. Note that this may make editing even more difficult.

(C/P: WP:FTN#Chopra on skepticism in Wikipedia)

jps (talk) 17:52, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

The same essay has been repeated, at least in part, at Huffington Post. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 17:36, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

consulting physiologist omission

Vzaak just changed the dates for Sheldrake's time in academia, from ~1959 through 1973 for his university career, and 1974 through 1978 for his industrial research, when he was Principal Physiologist. However, when he resigned in 1979 or whatever, and began writing his first book (published 1981 after the 18 months writing it in the Christian-oriented ashram), I don't think he was resigning from ICRASTI... or whatever that acronym is... he was just resigning from his position as Principal Physiologist, not from the project. Sheldrake worked as a Consulting Physiologist through 1985, which is not in the article at the moment. ...which is not in THE FIRST PARAGRAPH of the article at the moment, apologies about my fixation with the very first paragraph of mainspace, which caused the poor phrasing. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 17:26, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

(( Correction inline, above. The explanation for my poor phrasing is simple... I've given up on getting anything fixed, until we can fix the first paragraph, which says "principal plant physiologist at ICRISAT until 1978.[5] Since then, his work has largely centred [on pseudoscience]" which is very misleading if Sheldrake actually was a commercial research scientist through 1985... and of course the same lead-paragraph says only "[f]rom 1967 to 1973 he was a biochemist ... U.Cambridge" when in fact he became a post-undergrad fellowship-winning academian around 1963-or-so, going on to get a PhD and a Royal Society Rosenheim Research Fellow(ship) for rainforest research. (See how I sayzd 'research fellowship'? even moi can learn, sometimes. :-)   Coupled with the non-reliable-source-based insistence that 'biologist' must never appear in the first sentence, perhaps you can see my frustration, that you went in and deleted scientist, and N books, and all the rest that TRPoD had added, plus left the cut-down utterly-downplayed version of his 21 years of mainstream-scientist-with-highly-respectable-credentials, in the whittled-down to 11 years form, with all special credentials elided. )) 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:06, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
I am working hard to correct the inaccuracies introduced by Blippy, only some of which are described here. What I wrote was absolutely correct, he resigned from ICRISAT and went to the ashram, as his self-published bio says. Some time after the ashram he became a consultant.
The real problem here is that Blippy has introduced two timelines, something I had strongly advised against. We now have a career path described in both Academic career and Background. Now we have a complaint that a certain part of his career -- but not other parts -- described in Academic career is not also mentioned in Background. Following this argument we must copy still other parts of Academic career into Background until we have two full copies of his career in the article. vzaak (talk) 18:12, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Like your revamp, much improved. However, wiki-diff software sucks, if I may be so bold. I kept seeing you delete entire paragraphs, and everything getting screwed up... but then I would look a bit longer, and see you were moving things around, not actually deleting, the diff just rendered it as 'add-n-subtract' rather than 'rearrange'. Good work, even though my arteries did not like my review-process.  :-)
   Agree strongly that a single-timeline is better. It makes no sense that he went to India, unless we say why, or that he returned to Christianity *and* wrote the first book simultaneously. Disagree with the wording about leaving ICRISAT to go live at the ashram; from what I understand, he just resigned his principal-plant-physiologist title, swapping it out for instead the consulting-physiologist title (article says "consultant" right now which is wrong if memory serves). Did he publish any biology papers in the 1980-1985 timeframe? Also, when did he return to the UK, in 1981, or a bit later? It was before 1985, methinks. p.s. Well, Barney and Blippy are currently warring to see who can hit 3RR with the re-insertion of the NPOV tag... and I agree with Blippy unfortunately... see next section. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 17:18, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
You earlier accused me of what I consider to be high crimes: changing dates for Sheldrake's time in academia and deleting parts of his career.[4]
  • From the time of your accusation[5] until the present,[6] the job of consultant plant physiologist has continued to be in the article.
  • Blippy introduced a date error[7] and removed sources, along with a host of other problems mentioned above. Blippy wrote that Sheldrake left Clare in 1974, when the source says 1973.[8] I fixed the error add added back the sources.[9]
  • Regarding Sheldrake's resignation from ICRISAT, I told you that "What I wrote was absolutely correct, he resigned from ICRISAT and went to the ashram, as his self-published bio says. Some time after the ashram he became a consultant."[10]
  • Incredibly, you are still accusing me of misrepresenting Sheldrake's career. I told you what I wrote was correct. I told you which source it was. The source is right there in the article, in the correct place. Sheldrake says in his self-published bio, "I had to leave my job because I was working very long hours and didn’t have time to write the book."[11]
You have indeed found a way to get my attention: make serious accusations which are seriously false. vzaak (talk) 19:05, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Considering this user's aversion to reading sources, I anticipate having to explain this even more, so here is additional context: "I had to leave my job because I was working very long hours and didn’t have time to write the book... I went and lived in [Bede's] ashram for a year and a half ... Then I went on working part-time in my old job...".[12] It's a 12.5-hour commute from ICRISAT to Bede's ashram.[13] vzaak (talk) 19:17, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Let's talk content first, and address battleground concerns at the end. Content: your intuition that I have an aversion to reading *Sheldrake* sources is 100% correct. Your insinuation, that it is because I'm a bloody moron, is not correct. I just consider it a waste of time for *me* to read them, when clearly *you* have already done so, multiple times, during your vast and comprehensive updates to mainspace. The stuff you call "additional context", is in fact the relevant quote aka the money-quote. I thank you for providing it, and, always keeping WP:REQUIRED and WP:BURDEN in mind, suggest it is a good practice that keeps discussions from going round-n-round.
in which I counter vzaak's quote saying had-to-leave-my-job, with a quote of my own saying from-1974-to-1985, and hypothesize how they can both be true
    Given your money-quote, in which Sheldrake says "leave", I have to provide a money-quote of my own, or discuss the context (surrounding paragraphs) that show your money-quote is wrong somehow (cf TRPoD explaining how "something going on" was not what it seemed). In this case, I have an alternative quote which sheds some doubt on your money-quote. In the past, my own skim of the same sources (this is WP:ABOUTSELF territory here but has not yet become challenged-and-thus-controversial) provides me with a different way Sheldrake describes his time as a commercial researcher:

"From 1974 to 1985 he was Principal Plant Physiologist and Consultant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, where he helped develop new cropping systems now widely used by farmers. While in India, he also lived for a year and a half at the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu, where he wrote his first book, A New Science of Life, published in 1981 (new edition 2009)."[14]

So, we have two parts, of the same source, which claim different things, on first glance. Maybe we can resolve the difference. The *best* way to resolve the difference is by using additional sources, which clarify what Sheldrake meant, such as the ICRISAT website, or the publication-list of Sheldrake's mainstream-biology-stuff in 1974 to 1985. However, we can also possibly reconcile what the sources mean, using logic... which is *always* risky for editors to do, we are better off just quoting the sources, but sometimes it can be done, justified as a way to prevent reader-confusion. Now, you have a quote where Sheldrake says "I had to leave my job [circa 1979]" but from the same damn place I have a quote which says "From 1974 to 1985 he [Sheldrake] was... Plant Physiologist".
    My hypothesis -- based on logic only and I am happy to see it corrected by better more convincing logic or by independent external non-self-pub reliable sources -- is that in the first quote, when Sheldrake says leave, he means both depart the premises in terms of working on-site (twelve hours to ashram), and also giving up his job-title. However, he does *not* mean that he stopped being an ICRISAT employee, or halted his employment as a plant physiologist for that matter. In particular my argument is that, circa 1979 Sheldrake moved to the ashram and 'left' his job as Principal plant physiologist. However, he did not 'quit' being employed by ICRISAT, nor 'quit' being a plant physiologist... he merely changed from Principal-to-Consulting in terms of his job-title, and from onsite-to-offsite in terms of his work-location.
    That logic makes both our quotes jive. Maybe you think I'm wrong, or even just think I might not be 100% right, in which case we should not *guess* and stick something maybe-wrong into mainspace. If you disagree with my logic, and have other sources, either from Sheldrake or from ICRISAT or whatever, that resolve the conundrum, that is cool with me, please say so (and paste the money-quote to save all the readers time). Alternatively, if you disagree for whatever reason, but don't have additional sources, then we fall back to the safest procedure: we quote *both* statements in the article, close to each other, so that readers can see that Sheldrake said "1974 to 1985" and within a very few also see "had to leave my job".
    As long as we cite both quotes from WP:RS, we are covered, and neutral. In fact, even if there *are* other sources, in which we discover that Sheldrake in fact left the employ of ICRISAT during the entire year of 1980, we are still safest if we put "Sheldrake says '1974 to 1985'" right into the article. We should describe what the conflicting sources say, not pick the winner and the loser.
in which I discuss *why* this article is a battleground basket-case, and hypothesize how we can fix that, before PhilosophyFellow presses the Big Red Arbitration Button
    Finally, done with content, we can discuss battleground mentality. Did I accuse you of misrepresenting sources? Yup. Was I correct? That depends -- did you read the part where Sheldrake says he was a physiologist from 1974 to 1985,[15] and then later on read the part where he said he had to leave his job,[16] and then decide to IGNORE the first quote, since you preferred the second? If you knew about the first quote, and ignored it because WP:IDONTLIKEIT, then you did a bad thing: you let the sceptic point-of-view color your editing-decision, and instead of improving the lead paragraph, left it misleading. Is there any possibility I was incorrect to accuse you? Well, certainly. There is every possibility.
    I accused you in the first place, because when I skimmed both sources, I only noticed the 1974-1985 quote. I know I've been through both URLs, but if I ever read the had-to-leave-my-job quote, it didn't stick with me. I'm sure you also have prolly read both pages at some point... but that does not mean you necessarily saw (and remembered) both seemingly-conflicting quotes. Therefore, I must really really assume good faith, and therefore assume that you only saw the had-to-leave-my-job quote, which is why you continued to leave out the period from 1981 through 1985 in the first couple sentences, when you were doing your latest revamp. (Hint: if you want to leave the battleground behind, then you also need to WP:AGF in return, and assume I'm telling the truth here: either I never saw, or just failed to remember, the quote from Sheldrake saying he left his job when he moved to the ashram. Or possibly, just interpreted it as physically-left, no more no less.)
    Similarly, when the 'scientist' in the first sentence is cited using the three 'parapsychologist' refs, assuming good faith -- on my part -- requires that I assume you are just using the wrong cites by mistake. Those three cites *used* to be there when the sentence said parapsychologist, so if you were in a hurry, and rushing to achieve some level of talkpage-consensus, you might easily have put 'scientist' in the place where 'parapsychologist' used to be, and figure that somebody else would fix up the cites later. However, in your most recent change, you have made the same mistake again. Please stop making the mistake. We just had somebody named Ken swoop in, who flat-out deleted scientist (and all three refs! ... which seems like a *very* trout-worthy move for somebody who has been here since 2002... back when Jimbo Wales rode around on his dinosaur... and Larry whats-his-face was not yet whining about his crucial crucial role in the days of yore).
    Someday, though, mainspace *will* say biologist, or biochemist, or maybe even the WP:EDITORIALIZING 'compromise' that you invented, which is to generalize and say 'scientist' ... but make sure, if you re-insert 'scientist' ... or even decide to reflect what the reliable sources say and use 'biologist' like the bulk of them do ... please do be careful to make sure that you do NOT attach the three parapsychologist-cites (again) to whatever term you pick. Eliding sources you disagree with is very bad; misquoting sources is what got Bob Raynor in trouble. It is an easy mistake to make, and a very hard mistake to fix, later on down the road.
    Now, if you still insist on seeing this article and this article-talkpage as a battleground, you're free to say how I'm accusing you of this, and accusing you of that, and gather up all your diffs, and take me to the noticeboards, and try to get me banned, again. But I'm trying to tell you, as loudly and clearly as I can, the goddamn *reason* this page is a battleground, is because you and Barney are still insisting on making it one. I bribed Roxy with a dog-biscuit, and TRPoD even put my request for author-of-N-books into the lead, may they live a thousand years. If you want no more battleground, mirror the sources. Don't engage in soft but insistent attempts to drive away those you disagree with about content, and don't stand silently by when 76 is rude to David, or when Barney is rude to Mary. I'm very intransigent on one thing: WP:NICE, which is pillar four.
    David's implacable on pillar two, WP:NPOV and especially WP:BLP. You are being intransigent about "getting the facts right" ... and while I appreciate that is a good stance in real life ... the ruby compiler does not care about *anything* but you getting the code right after all ... wikipedia simply cannot function thataway. Wikipedia has to mirror the reliable sources, no more and no less. Even when those sources fail to get the facts right, we *still* have to reflect what the sources say! You're doing a ton of good editing, and you're trying to keep the readers from having wikipedia feed them something you know is incorrect. I deeply and fully support that goal... but not if we have to cherrypick sources, and drive away editors who think otherwise, to achieve it. Maybe we can have NICE and also NPOV and also WP:The_Truth simultaneously... but only the first two are listed in the five pillars. Hope this helps. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:06, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

heavy and stilted... but complied with fragile consensus

Vzaak, during a ton of otherwise excellent work, has reverted[17] these from the intro:

  1. co-author (semi-anti) (fact)
  2. of fourteen books, (pro) (fact)
  3. who started his career as (semi-anti)
  4. scientist and (semi-pro && semi-anti) (compromiseFact)
  5. originally (semi-anti)
  6. in biology (pro) (fact)
  7. and since the 1980s in the area of parapsychology, (anti) (fact)
  8. a subject on which he also lectures (pro) (fact)

...replacing it all with 'lecturer & [parapsychology]researcher' which is going to re-open the can of worms that ought to be firmly closed by now. TRPoD added the N books (I agree... this is one of the big reasons *why* sheldrake is Notable), re-added the scientist (a key to the fragile consensus is that sheldrake be called a biologist or biochemist in the first sentence... "researcher" is not good enough), and is pretty insistent that parapsychology also be in the first sentence (whereas I'd be satisfied with anywhere in the first paragraph... or even the second paragraph where we explain telepathy-like morphic resonance).

Please put the intro-paragraph back the way it was, or at least, put back the 'scientist'... or preferably actually use 'biologist' since that is what the bulk of the sources say... into the first sentence. Then, let's try and hash out a non-stilted exposition paragraph here on the talkpage, and leave the NPOV tag off in the meantime. p.s. Additionally we need to get the sourcing fixed. There are three cites which all say 'parapsychologist' that are being improperly applied to justify the terms 'scientist' and 'researcher' and similar. We have proper cites, and need to use them methinks, so deleting barewords is less tempting. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 17:36, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Why would Sheldrake not be given his biologist title is beyond me, but to not even reference him as a scientist? Can someone please explain to me how not referencing Sheldrake as either a scientist or a biologist makes this page more neutral or even accurate? 23.241.74.200 (talk) 05:12, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

We've been through this before. The problem is basically twofold. Firstly, he's only notable for being an author. Secondly, he's not doing science i.e. actively participating in the scientific process, which is what real scientists actively do. Are you 74 in disguise? Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:55, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
(1) Sheldrake is not notable for being born in 1942, yet that is the first thing we say: this is a biography. (2) Scientists do more than "participate in the scientific process". Are we going to strip everyone of their title after they have submitted their last paper? As far as I know, Sheldrake is still qualified as a biochemist with a doctorate,[18] and is still actively carrying out scientific research.[19] --Iantresman (talk) 12:07, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
if you want to change the manual of style to remove birth and death from the lead sentence, please make your proposal at WP:LEAD -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:10, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
and he may still be carrying out "research" but as has been shown multiple times, to call it "scientific" research is to put a false label on it. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:20, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
His doctorate says otherwise, as do his peer-reviewed paper published in the last few year (2013)[20] (2012)[21](2009)[22] --Iantresman (talk) 12:46, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
I must have missed something. How does having a doctorate mean that everything that you do (even if what you are doing does not follow scientific standards) is qualified as scientific research? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:30, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
This *is* a key point. If the papers Ian cites, and the Trinity-Perrick grant, and the professorship at LearnDotEdu, and so on, are *not* published in mainstream scientific journals, are *not* mentioned by mainstream scientists (in their papers as cites ... or in their debates with Sheldrake face to face), then it is misleading to call them "scientific research" in the article, unless we have a Reliable Source that calls them that. However, just because some scientist writes a book about Angels, does not mean their PhD is revoked, their fellowships stripped, and their epistemological status *as* a scientist destroyed. They are a special breed: the mainstream scientist, who is now doing borderline-or-across-the-line-pseudoscientific research, and authoring popular books. See professor Hapgood, who got an intro from Einstein, once upon a time.
  p.s. Note that the WP:BURDEN does not fall upon Iantresman, to prove that the recent 2013/2012/2009 papers are scientific research. WP:FRINGE requires that the *challenger* show the journal is actually unreliable entirely, or the particular paper was not peer-reviewed by mainstream scientists, or somesuch argument. TRPoD, can you point me to the talkpage archives, where these three cites were judged non-scientific per WP:FRINGE? 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:24, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Ian, I've commented on your fantastic ability to creatively interpret sources before. They're not research papers, just antiscientific muddled diatribes; Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing looks like an altmed bucket pretending to be a journal (putting the pseudo into pseudoscience) see [23]. Psychological Reports admits to publishing "controversial material of scientific merit" [24] has an impact factor of 0.3 (ouch), but the key test of any idea is not whether it is published but whether it is accepted as valid by the scientific community, and for that it's going to have to be replicated. Barney the barney barney (talk) 13:03, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
I have made no interpretation. I have taken peer reviewed papers available from academic publishers. Period. Surely your not suggesting that you can't be a scientist if your publish in certain journals, research certain "controversial" subjects, or your ideas have not been validated. Editors and a handful of scientists are not the arbiters on whether Sheldrake can call himself a scientist. Peer-reviewed papers and his doctorate do this for us. I have NEVER, EVER seen the suggestion that impact factor affects whether we can call someone a scientist. For the record, I don't know whether Sheldrake's idea are valid or bunkum, but I do know that any scientist can help test them. --Iantresman (talk) 13:38, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Ian, there are certain titles that one might hold as a result as an accomplishment or award such as: medical doctor, registered nurse, Nobel laureate, or registered dietician. There are other titles which are actually just job titles such as: cook, janitor, or chief executive officer. In the same way that Henry Paulson is the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Rupert Sheldrake is a former biologist. Biology is the scientific study of the nature of living things, and a biologist is one who practices biology. While Sheldrake might have a formal education in HOW to practice biology, he has not practiced it in quite some time. Unless you have a reliable source that states that anyone who has ever practiced biology is a biologist for the rest of forever then I suggest that Sheldrake is best described as an author. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 18:38, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake's doctorate in biochemistry says that he is a biochemist, What he practices today is what every scientists does in order to submit papers to peer-reviewed academic journals. Whether he reaches the standard that you and others want, we can argue until the cows come home. Until then, we based it on reliable sources: his doctorate, and his research papers. --Iantresman (talk) 22:46, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

@76 We have to look how others describe him as well as how Sheldrake describes himself. Most sources, even contemporary ones, describe him as a biologist. Sheldrake describes himself as a biologist. The Perrot-Warrick fund describes him as a biologist. Cambridge University lists him as a biologist. Why should Wikipedia hold a unique standard that reliable sources and academic institutions themselves do not? Philosophyfellow (talk) 23:34, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. The University of Binghamton refers to him as a biochemist.[25] He is also referred to as a biologist by the University of London,[26] the University of Arizona,[27] the Open University,[28] Institute of Noetic Sciences, [29] the University of Reading,[30] the BBC,[31][32][33][34] the Daily Telegraph,[35][36][37] National Geographic,[38] Discover magazine,[39] The Independent newspaper,[40] to name but a dozen or so across a variety of reliable sources. --Iantresman (talk) 00:43, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Ian, if you’re so convinced that Sheldrake is a scientist, then I’m a little confused as to why you would be editing his talk page? I had assumed you were here under cover of WP:BLP, but if you, yourself are calling him a scientist then that would seem to suggest that this talk page would fall under the category of “talk pages related to fringe science and physics-related subjects, broadly defined”. Is there something I’m missing? 76.107.171.90 (talk) 01:13, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I see. Your user page is outdated, and links to an old revision of your talk page. I would advise you to change that, as it’s a bit misleading. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 01:41, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
We’ve got reliable sources that characterize Sheldrake’s work as pseudoscience. That would make him a pseudoscientist. If Sheldrake is a pseudoscientist then he is not a scientist (because pseudoscience is not a kind of science) unless he is also practicing legitimate science alongside his pseudoscience. He hasn’t practiced legitimate science in quite a while, so Sheldrake is not a scientist. And because a biologist is a kind of scientist, Sheldrake is necessarily not a biologist. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 03:04, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
We've got reliable sources that characterize Sheldrake as a biologist. On wikipedia, which relies on reliable sources that would make him a biologist. If Sheldrake is a biologist, according to multiple, independent, recent reliable sources we should call him a biologist, with footnotes to the sources, in the lede, in the infobox, and in the biographical portions of the biography of this living person.
"He hasn’t practiced legitimate science in quite a while, so Sheldrake is not a scientist. And because a biologist is a kind of scientist, Sheldrake is necessarily not a biologist." ---> 76: get yourself quoted saying this in an article in a reliable source and I'll put it in the article, right in the lead paragraph to the "Books" section. But until then, an infinite number of IP's and an infinite number of tripods can keep typing such things on infinite iterations of this talk page without their ever amounting to something that belongs in a wikipedia biography of a living person.David in DC (talk) 04:13, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
David is correct. We cannot eliminate the sources that call Sheldrake a pseudoscientist/formerBiochemist/etc... but wikipedia does not pick and choose the winner, we *describe* the conflict. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:24, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
@76.107.171.90 Are you sure? You call someone a pejorative name, and that automatically revokes their qualifications as a scientist! This reminds me of the Monty Python Life of Brian sketch on Blasphemy[41]. So by the same logic, since we have reliable sources of people call parapsychology "pseudoscience", that makes all the scientists in all the universities who research the subject, no longer scientists? I wonder how you practice pseudoscience? How do you know Sheldrake "hasn’t practiced legitimate science in quite a while"? Are you keeping an eye on him? --Iantresman (talk) 09:45, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

You seem to be missing the point David. Characterizing his recent work as science AND pseudoscience is inappropriate because those two categorizations are mutually exclusive in this instance. If we call him a biologist, then we call his work science which contradicts our sources which say that his work is pseudoscience.

It’s been pretty well established at this point that the mainstream view of Sheldrake is that he’s not a legitimate scientist. We shouldn’t use words which could mislead the reader into thinking otherwise. Phrases like “his followers contend that he practices real science” are debatable, but to state that he’s a biologist as if though it were fact is inappropriately legitimizing his work. Unless you’re seriously trying to argue that Sheldrake’s ideas have received mainstream acceptance because some sources offhandedly call him a biologist, then I suggest that you try to remember that fringe is to be presented as fringe. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 05:28, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

76.107.171.90, no I think David has got it pretty much spot on. How many scientists do I need to say that something is pseudoscience, will make it pseudoscience? One? Ten? 10%? Do we just take a vote? None of the editors here want to omit that some scientists have called Sheldrake's work non-scientific or pseudoscience (I added Maddox's opinion to the article myself). No editor here would suggest that we claim that Sheldrake's work has "received mainstream acceptance". It is a fact that some scientists have called Sheldrake's work pseudoscience, and some that have not. WP:DUE requires us to put a description of Sheldrake's work in context to the mainstream view. It doesn't require us to decided for ourselves which view is the correct view, which would fail WP:OR and WP:SYNTHESIS. --Iantresman (talk) 10:01, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

No sane reader of the article, as it stands, could possibly believe Sheldrake's current work is anything but fringe. The biggest problem here is hubris. The phrase "legitimizing his work" is the giveaway. We have no power or authority to legitimize anything. This article satisfies WP:FRINGE and would still do so if the lead listed Sheldrake as a biologist.

I've changed the lead sentence to include the fact that he holds a Ph.D. in biology from Cambridge. That's undisputed in our sources and comes from a review of a later Sheldrake book, written by Maddox, years after his essay with the incendiery headline. I think that circumlocution is unnecessary, but it seems far harder to justify reverting. Anyone edit-warring against that compromise bears a steep burden that cannot, in my view, rest on WP:FRINGE. I think the militant skepticism that fights claw-tooth-and-nail against any effort to treat this living person more gently than we treat his fringe theories and hypotheses bespeaks editorial judgment that is, in the long run, very bad for Wikipedia, a project that we all hold dear. David in DC (talk) 11:42, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

That seems to be both satisfactory and indisputable. --Iantresman (talk) 13:31, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
That would be reasonable what you suggest, David in DC (talk). However, can we clean up the sentence thereafter? It reads a little awkward, do you agree? "Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author, lecturer and researcher who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from Cambridge. From 1967 to 1973 he was a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge ,[4] after which he was principal plant physiologist at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978." I would support a change to read something like "From 1967 to 1973 he was a researcher in cell biology at Cambridge" or something similar. Philosophyfellow (talk) 13:38, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
I would remove the dates, and the repetition about Cambridge which can be detailed later in the "History" section. --Iantresman (talk) 13:53, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Collaboration is good. I'd suggest taking special care that edits to the subsequent sentences implicate prose style only, and do not afford a scintilla of opportunity to be characterized as "tilting" things one way or the other. If the opportunity is there, I'm confident someone will take advantage of it. David in DC (talk) 14:00, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

A few editors here are making arguments that there are sources that pretty much establish x, y, and z about Rupert Sheldrake, but they do not list the sources they are referring to. 76.107.171.90 mentions that sources pretty much clarify that Sheldrake is not a legitimate scientist. Which sources are these specifically? Thanks in advance. Philosophyfellow (talk) 13:42, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. One of the first things that WP:BLP says is that we must "Be very firm about the use of high-quality sources. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be explicitly attributed to a reliable, published source, which is usually done with an inline citation." So over to 76.107.171.90, what sources are you using so that editors can help choose the right words to describe them? --Iantresman (talk) 13:57, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Ian, the sources which support the “pseudoscience” descriptor are already available on the page. Towards the bottom of the page there is a section called “notes” were you can find the sources that support the claim that Sheldrake’s ideas are regarded as hogwash. Alternately, there’s a superscript [a] in the lead which will take you down to the “notes” section. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 17:33, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
After reading through Ian, David, and Philosophyfellow’s tag team text wall I would like to remind you all that this is not create-your-own-novel-definition-of-biologist-to-suit-your-POVpedia. This is not an essay contest on “what does biologist mean to me”. This is not a forum were you can wax philosophical about who can declare Sheldrake a pseudoscientist.
If you don’t like my explanation of what a biologist is, then you can look at biologist which supports my position. Phrases like “Sheldrake's doctorate in biochemistry says that he is a biochemist” are glaring examples of WP:OR. I understand that Wikipedia does not require one to be an expert to edit Wikipedia, but a persistent failure to use relevant terminology in an appropriate manor is a serious WP:COMPETENCE issue. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 19:02, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Your explanation is a fair view. Phrases like "Sheldrake's doctorate in biochemistry says that he is a biochemist" is not my opinion (hence no WP:OR), but is partly derived from a source you have used yourself, Wikipedia, see Biochemist. In addition to Wikipedia, I have offered over a dozen independent reliable sources from the BBC to universities to also support the use of "biologist", again not my opinion, so no glaring examples of WP:OR or WP:COMPETENCE. I just find it hard to accept that the BBC, universities, National Geographic, and various broad-sheet newspapers, would also get it so wrong. You'll also note that I am not questioning anyone's competence per WP:CIVIL --Iantresman (talk) 19:25, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Ian, biochemist’s definition of biochemist does appear to be somewhat at odds with biologist’s explanation of what qualifies one to be considered a biologist. However you’ll note that biochemist still specifies that a biochemist is a kind of scientist. That Sheldrake is a scientist is very much a matter of contention. I would remind you that all biochemists are biologists and that all biologists are scientists and that all scientists follow the scientific method. I suggest to you that your beef is not with me or Red Pen, but with the conventional definition of biologist. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 22:03, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
This does all seem to be open to subjective interpretation, which is why I offered the BBC, universities, National Geographic, and various broad-sheet newspapers as reliable sources. --Iantresman (talk) 10:29, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
I decided to look at generally accepted descriptions of "biologist (see below) Oddly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, did not list "Biologist" as an occupation, and none of the sources lists "parapsychologist" (except OED). The emphasis seems to be more on the "study of", rather than "research" or "publishing papers", or "adhering to the scientific method". --Iantresman (talk) 10:58, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
  • UK National Careers Service: "Biologists study living things like animals or plants, and the world around them"
  • dictionary.com: "a specialist in biology."
  • askdefine.com: "A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of organisms. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment."
  • OED: "An expert or specialist in biology; a student of biology"
All these seem consistent with the description of Sheldrake being a biologist. --Iantresman (talk) 11:08, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Ian, I’m somewhat confused. You’ve listed four sources here, but what exactly are you proposing that a biologist is? Remember, you’re the one arguing for inclusion. I’ve told you how I’ve heard the word used in academia and in the industry, and shown that my explanation is squarely in line with biologist. If you disagree with my explanation then please explain to me what “definition” of biologist you are arguing for. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 16:58, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

How you and I have heard the term "biologist" used is immaterial, we are not reliable sources. On the other hand, the sources that I gave are independent sources. By all means, offer your own sources that describe "biologist" and we'll see which are more consistent. --Iantresman (talk) 20:01, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Ian, do you not see the spectacular disjoint in your comment that basically says that "scientists (such as biologists) do not need to follow the scientific method in order to be scientists". This is plainly ridiculous. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:52, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
I never said any such thing, and that's not what I said about the sources I gave. --Iantresman (talk) 22:13, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney, just because something is "plainly ridiculous" is no reason to keep it out of wikipedia. The rules are, NPOV is defined by reliable sources, *all* reliable sources count, *none* are excluded because WP:IDONTLIKEIT. Wikipedia editors cannot decide whether Sheldrake is a biologist, as some say, or Sheldrake is a parapsychologist, as others say. We have to describe the conflicting-sources. No more. No less. The mainspace article *will* say that Sheldrake is a biologist. The mainspace article will *also* say that Sheldrake is a parapsychologist. It will say (quoting Coyne) that Sheldrake is a pseudoscientist. It will say (quoting whatever sources Ian has mentioned) that Sheldrake is a phytomorphologist, cell biologist, plant physiologist, biochemist, philosopher, author, lecturer, researcher, etc. Does this mean the reader will be confused? No. Does this mean the reader will be told what Reliable Sources say, even though other Maybe Even More Reliable-er-er Sources say otherwise? Yup. Does this mean wikipedia mainspace will contain a description of a conflict, and only one side can logically be correct? Yup. Isn't that plainly ridiculous? Nope -- that is pillar two. HTH. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:42, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Barney objections

For the record, and contrary to the spirit of collaborative editing, Barney the barney barney has indicated that he is considering reporting me for violating an old ban, related to this article. Post --Iantresman (talk) 12:17, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Continued problems with BLP on Sheldrake page. Let's get it together Wikipedia.

Technical problems and warring the Books section intro

Blippy, please look at the paragraph you wrote:[42]. Half the paragraph is in italics, there's a wikilink saying "Natureaccused" [sic], a reference is added which is already in the article, the new redundant ref is just a raw link, and a quote is added which is already in the next section. Worse, you had introduced these same problems earlier and I had fixed them[43][44][45] but now you've reverted my fixes.

I have worked hard to fix many technical problems in your changes (for example here), and warring to put back broken stuff is extremely inappropriate. vzaak (talk) 02:17, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure reverting to the previous version counts as working hard to fix many technical problems :-) But apologies for the problems I introduced inadvertently. I think the book intro needs more context, hence:
Sheldrake's books have received both positive and negative reviews, often accompanied by controversy. Some reviewers are critical of the scientific content of his works with his first book being famously the subject of a critical editorial in the journal 'Nature. Sheldrake described this experience as being "exactly like a papal excommunication. From that moment on, I became a very dangerous person to know for scientists."[49] More recently the deputy editor of Nature accused Sheldrake of publishing books to avoid the peer-review process, and suggested that his books were best "ignored" by scientific journals.[25]
I believe this sets the scene more clearly for anyone who is unfamiliar with the issues - currently there is no mention of controversy and the sub-editor is given prominence for some reason instead of allowing text that helps to provide some of the background within which the books were written. I welcome improvements, not reversions. Blippy (talk) 05:41, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, putting aside all POV issues, there are ongoing technical problems with your edits; competence issues. I've been fixing a lot of your mistakes, only some of which are outlined in this section and above, and it's time-consuming. When you revert my fixes, I have to say something.
Now putting aside the POV issues and technical issues, there is also a social problem. Earlier I had moved the quote in question with comment: Moving "A book for burning?"-related material the section "A book for burning?".[46] I don't understand why a quote related to the book-burning section should be in the preceding section. I believe my change is eminently reasonable. When you revert my change without comment -- while actually duplicating the quote in the article -- that is a social problem. You're behaving in a way that makes no sense to me.
Now with all that aside, let's discuss actual content. The quote in question nicely captures the result of the book-burning affair to Sheldrake personally. I believe it makes the most sense to give the quote after the affair has been described, and in the same section which describes the affair. vzaak (talk) 18:20, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

Section names

I think the Rupert Sheldrake#Background section could be changed to Rupert Sheldrake#Early life and eduction and then the section Rupert Sheldrake#Life and career be changed to Rupert Sheldrake#Career and the text about his personal life would go into a Rupert Sheldrake#Personal life section. QuackGuru (talk) 04:14, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

the organizing principal has been chronology. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:18, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Degree in the first sentence

It's not Wikipedia's style to repeat the Ph.D. in the first sentence (Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Susan Blackmore, Ray Hyman). I've seen no Wikipedia articles which do this. The degree is there in the infobox; there's no need to repeat. The first sentence has to describe why the person is notable, and Sheldrake isn't notable for getting a Ph.D. People aren't notable for getting Ph.D.s unless they are twelve years old. vzaak (talk) 15:13, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

The information does not need to be beaten into the readers head. It’s already available near the top of the page in the infobox. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 16:39, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
As my edit summary indicated, it's a poor substitute made as a concession to the wearisome, incessant and misguided bleating that a Living Person with a Cambridge Ph.D. in biochem cannot be called a biologist in the lead sentence of a Biography about him because a militantly skeptical POV requires beating into the reader's head that the subject of the biography is on the fringe. David in DC (talk) 02:58, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Davy, my boy, I fear the stress of Wikipedia editing is getting to you. It sounds like the talk page is wearing your nerves a bit thin. If the definition of the word biologist is starting to sound like bleating, and you’re having paranoid fantasies of militant skeptics being out to get you, then maybe you need to take some time off. You could take a nice leisurely drive out to the countryside, relax, unwind, unbunch your panties, and take your mind off of Wikipedia for a little while. You may not feel like you need a break, but you don’t want to end up like old Deepak Chopra now do you? I hear Deepak’s paranoia has reached such an extreme that he’s now convinced that a diabolical organization of gorillas, skeptics, and skeptical gorillas has it in for him. So, do yourself a favor and take a little WP:WIKIBREAK, for your own mental health. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 04:22, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your kind concern. It's misplaced but diagnosing another person's mental health by drawing inferences from his wikipedia editing is a notoriously difficult science.
No worries about the panties. I go commando. David in DC (talk) 17:29, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Oh well, psychology isn’t always an exact science you know. But I think you can see how that little rant you posted on your talk page might give some editors cause for concern. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 17:47, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Clairvoyance? You expressed concern about my mental health 13 hours before the posting on my talk page. I had thought your inference was drawn from my post on this page, just above yours. But if it was based on a "rant" not yet "ranted", I think you're providing anecdotal evidence in support of parapsychology. David in DC (talk) 18:26, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
You know David; somehow I just don’t think that this occurrence is going to be the evidence that finally convinces the world that psi is real. Oh, and it would be precognition, not clairvoyance. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 18:38, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
If it makes you feel any better, David in DC, I'm getting continually reverted for trying to say Sheldrake has worked in science at all or that MR is hypothesis (as opposed to some vague nonsense he made up a name for). I think I'd burst into flames if I actually tried to use the term "biologist" instead of just "scientist," which would be pyrokinesis, to keep with the parapsychological theme. The most irksome part of all this is that I don't even really care about Sheldrake or morphic resonance... it's just become a matter of principle to get this article right. The Cap'n (talk) 09:12, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Hello Cap'n. I'm with you. We will get there. Keep calm and carry on, as the old saying goes. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:25, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
gallows humour
   p.s. Just in case, maybe you should set up a video-recording-apparatus near your keyboard? If you do burst into flame, and the recording survives the conflaguration, your username would become a footnote in history. Actually, you better not get out the camcorder, because then people who want to prove pyrokinesis is real, will concentrate their mental energies in your direction. Wait... but if you don't get the camcorder, people who want to disprove pyrokinesis, but also want to keep Sheldrake from being called what a significant percentage of the reliable sources call him, might just risk pyrokinesis getting some popularity, if only they can keep Sheldrake's wikipedia bio from giving him any popularity!
   p.p.s. Hmmmm... we want to keep Sheldrake from getting positive publicity... so we'll blackball his name on wikipedia... which gives him international exposure in the mainstream media... d'oh... the end of high prices!
   p.p.p.s. Dear drive-by ArbCom admin, mandatory disclaimer follows, this entire paragraph is ha-ha-only-serious, nobody here is wishing that the human being -- or in Roxy's case possibly the canine being -- masquerading under the pseudonym The Cap'n will actually catch on fire. You can now resume your vandal-fighting elsewhere. These are not the droids you're looking for. — 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:25, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

NPOV Template

I have placed one, for the first time in my short wiki career (I've been registered since 2008), because the lede is now in violation of this wiki policy. It has been requested that no change is made to the use of those NPOV violating words for one week - so I haven't. Please could somebody who knows tell me what biology Shelly has done in the last thirty years, and why we should call "morphic resonance" a theory. Then I wont have to suggest that we change it back in a weeks time. Thank you. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 12:25, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Gosh, that was fun. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 12:58, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
(Repeated, with a slight addition, from BLP noticeboard) Here are the BLP and NPOV problems. [47]. It took about an hour. Using the words misleads no one and does not violate WP:FRINGE. Deleting them is derogatory toward the Living Person who is the subject of this Biography. Fixing WP:BLP violations does not require consensus. But it's impossible to fix them here, because of determined edit-warring by editors with a skeptical POV. WP:NPOV would be to call him a biologist (or scientist), call his ideas hypotheses (or theories) and use the body of the article to tell the story of his life, including the voluminous (and accurate - I'm not a Sheldrake acolyte) material from reliable sources critiquing the ideas he promotes that are deeply flawed. Adding material opposing the theories is totally justifiable. Derogating the living person by deleting reliably sourced biographical info about him is not. David in DC (talk) 13:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
@Roxy the dog. His writings and research are about biology. He's putting out books about living things like plants and dogs. He's describing a theory that rests on a bunch of hypotheses.
His writings and research are well-critiqued and refuted by other scientists. That doesn't mean he's not DOING biology. Just that his writings about biology are almost certainly wrong.
His ideas are hypotheses and theories. These words lend no credibility to the ideas, they just categorize them. Correctly. Hypotheses can be tested and found wanting. The same goes for theories. That doesn't mean they're not hypothese/theories. It just mean they've been tested by the scientific method and been found wanting. David in DC (talk) 13:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
his "ideas" are "ideas" and can most appropriately be described as "ideas" or "concepts". "Hypothesis" and "Theory" have multiple uses and sometimes very specific meanings. We have sources such as [48] identifying Sheldrakes "ideas" as "virtually vacuous". we do not serve ANYONE other than Sheldrake by using words which might give the reader a misinterpretation when we have absolutely adequate words to use that do not have that chance of being inappropriately misinterpreted. To insist on using words that are in fact likely to mislead our readers is to be pushing a POV and I urge you to drop your stick.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:07, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The source you give above, "So-called "formative causation" - A hypothesis disconfirmed"[49], uses the term "hypothesis", even in its title, at least a dozen times, and the term "idea" never. --Iantresman (talk) 14:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
No answers so far. @David, his writings are books, not research. Research gets peer reviewed. He hasn't done any research. That makes him an Author. Same thing goes with the tag Biologist, it just doesn't apply. Not for thirty years. He used to be a Biologist, not any more. Just to prove I read the drama boards, like Obama used to be a lawyer, now he's a POTUS, except that the difference between a lawyer and a POTUS isn't as great as the difference between a biologist/scientist and a sheldrake. The Lilac Pen Of Doom has adequately dealt with the Theory/hypothesis/notion/ideation thing.
The only reason I didn't directly revert a la Doom was that I didn't have the bottle after the plea to leave it for a week. I do appreciate that DC Dave acts IGF. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 15:03, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The sources provided by TRPoD to Rose's peer-reviewed paper[50] (above) mentions that "Sheldrake's paper claims that the results of the experiment which we jointly planned, and which was conducted by myself and Ms Harrison..." seems to contradict that view, as Rose seems to be aware of both a paper (not a book) that Shreldrake wrote, and an experiment that was conducted with Rose and a Ms Harrison. Prof. Steven Rose is sufficiently qualified and experienced to ensure that their joint experiment followed the scientific method. Although Rose disagrees with Sheldrake's hypothesis (Rose's term), nowhere does he question Shreldrake's science or credentials. This is peer-review in action. --Iantresman (talk) 15:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
you are partially correct. the Rose was written in 1992. so its not been 30 years, its been 20.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:52, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

If he is only writing books and not peer reviewed research, how do you account for this [51] list of a dozen articles published in peer reviewed journals over the last decade or so? Blippy (talk) 23:09, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Tell me about the quality of those journals, the impact factor, and the quality of the peer review? --Roxy the dog (resonate) 23:14, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
(e/c)You mean "Journal of the Society for Psychical Research " and "Journal of Parapsychology" and "Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing"? You are not actually putting them forth as actual peer reviewed journals are you? Rather than being evidence of to support your position, thats just more evidence for the other interpretation.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:16, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
What Doom said. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 23:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Pseudoscience, by its very nature is pseudo - that is it has elements that on first inspection appear to be genuinely part of the scientific process but on closer inspection fall short. These journals are pseudo, and generally peer review is lacking or is not critical. Also, within the scientific process publishing is only a step towards completion of the process, which is acceptance, there is a lot that comes after that. Barney the barney barney (talk) 23:40, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Your breadth of knowledge about these journals is commendable. Sources please. --Iantresman (talk) 23:54, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Am I correct in understanding that you are no longer saying Sheldrake avoids peer review, but that it's just you don't think the peers who reviewed his work are good/prominent enough?? If good/prominent enough reviewers wont read his work (Dawkins for instance?) then how can they ever review it? These journals are WP:RS and are peer reviewed. What beyond this matters for a WP article? You are sounding decidedly POV afflicted in such efforts to shift your own goal posts. Blippy (talk) 00:36, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
completely off topic - not being taken seriously by real scientists and scientific journals is the bed you have to sleep in when you have spent 30+ years of your career as an unrepentant pseudoscientist. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, You are being serious aren't you? You honestly believe those 'journals' represent reliable sources, yes? --Roxy the dog (resonate) 00:58, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Are you going to refute the fact that these journal are peer reviewed or just continue with POV smears? Your claim was that Sheldrake only publishes books. False. You claimed he did so to avoid peer review. False. Do you accept this and wish to move on to discussing the quality of those journals? Blippy (talk) 02:20, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Oh wow. Breathtaking. Demanding that we treat a journal dealing with clear WP:FRINGE issues as something that is peer reviewed due to lack of sources that say it isn't, is entirely the wrong way round. Again, it is wikilawyering with the obvious. We need to assume with WP:FRINGE issues that sources are unreliable unless we have contrary. Anyway, want sources, how about this one on Rivista specifically [52] - the is dealing with its tendency to print creationist papers - another WP:FRINGE issue that is tangentially related. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:26, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Even more breathtaking is your refusal to acknowledge that these journals are peer reviewed - whatever 'you' think of their quality. The accusation was that he only wrote books - do you accept that is false? The other accusation was that this was to avoid peer review - do you also accept that is false? If we can't get intellectual honesty on these basic points, what hope is there to reach consensus on more difficult areas? Blippy (talk) 09:10, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
if you think they are reliable peer reviewed journals, please take them to the reliable source notice board. We will be waiting for you here when you come back smelling of fish. We will be able to plug our noses in time because we will be able to hear the laughter from here. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:01, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

You are trying to compare hard and soft science. That's is not a fair comparison. For example, physics is a wholly different beast to psychology, to parapsychology. This is why universities have specialist departments staffed not by "parapsychologists", but scientists with other qualifications, such as psychologists, engineers, theoretical physics (eg. Princeton's now closed PEAR); psychiatrists and psychologists (U. Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies and U. Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit and U.Arizona's Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health). Unfortuntely it is not up to Wikipedia editors to make a judgement call on these areas of research, the universities and their staff have made that decision for us, and it is our job to neutrally describe their research (per WP:NPOV). But if you have relevant independent reliable sources, by all means, bring them to the table. Prof. Steven Rose's paper mentioned above is good example. Editors here welcome critical material, if it is properly sourced. --Iantresman (talk) 11:55, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake is a biologist. This should appear in the first line of the lead. Consider the following from another wikipedia article - "Samuel B. Harris (born April 9, 1967)[2] is an American author, philosopher and neuroscientist...". Thus, on account of Sheldrake's far superior credentials, academic employment record and publication record he should be described as a biologist. Can use this as a source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-rupert-sheldrake/why-bad-science-is-like-bad-religion_b_2200597.html — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barleybannocks (talkcontribs) 12:09, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Another source "Joan Bakewell explores areas of belief with biologist Professor Rupert Sheldrake. He talks about the relationship between science and religion." BBC - here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b018nsjk/Belief_Rupert_Sheldrake/
And another "Rupert Sheldrake, a biochemist" here http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ted-conference-censorship-row-8563105.html Barleybannocks (talk) 12:38, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake the skeptic

There is a sense in which Sheldrake is a "skeptic", but the term itself is most often used these days to apply to people who generally oppose the content of much of Sheldrake's writings and lectures. (Sheldrake in his own writings uses the term "skeptic" to identify such people as well!) To call him a "skeptic" or an advocate of "skepticism" in the lede is a violation of WP:ASTONISH because it misleads all but the most sophisticated of readers. There may be another term of art which we could use to describe his contrarian position towards mainstream thought, but "skeptic" is too loaded to work well here. jps (talk) 15:59, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

That's what wikilinks are for. The very first sentence here says: "Skepticism, as an epistomological argument, poses the question of whether knowledge, in the first place, is possible. Skeptics argue that the belief in something does not necessarily justify an assertion of knowledge of it. In this, skeptics oppose dogmatic foundationalism, which states that there have to be some basic positions that are self-justified or beyond justification, without reference to others."
Fits the graf it introduced in the lede to a tee. Just how stupid do you think our readers are? David in DC (talk) 23:32, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
David, your point is well-taken (and hilarious), but might border into WP:SYNTH. Do we have a quote where somebody Notable is explicitly saying that Sheldrake is sceptical/skeptical about conservation of dark energy, or something like that? As for the points made by JPS... clearly Sheldrake is in fact taking a position of classic-philosophical-scepticm, in his philosophy-of-science writings. But there are plenty of modern-anti-pseudoscientific-skeptics like Randi/Dawkins/Wiseman/etc who have interacted with Sheldrake over the years. The former groups says to question the foundations of science; the latter group says that to question the foundations of science is heresy. This has always been the case with Sheldrake: even in the 1970s, his ideas were "well-received by classicists/philosophers/etc but laughed at by my peers in the science departments" ... so there is some truth to the notion that readers may be confused. Is there some reasonably-common-nowadays word for 'Skeptikoi'? 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:21, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Focused discussion on the opening sentence

I attempted to leapfrog this issue earlier with the bold edit of "scientist". There have been changes to the first sentence again so I am reopening. In this section please focus only on this issue and resist distractions. As described similarly before, here is the issue at hand:

There have been many new proposals to the lead, but few address the root problem of conflicting sources. Nature, which is arguably the highest-quality source most qualified to judge Sheldrake's status, comments on him twice: calling him a parapsychologist, and in another article calling him a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology. Other such characterizations can be found in other scientific journals, for example New Scientist calling him a biochemist-turned-parapsychologist. Those three references are currently cited in the lead. [Edit: and most recently, "pseudoscientist" in The New Republic.] On the other hand, Sheldrake is sometimes reported in popular media as a biologist.

I currently see four options:

1. Give more weight on the the most informed, highest quality sources; Nature wins on this front.
Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author, lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology. From 1967 to 1973 he was a biochemist and cell biologist at the University of Cambridge, after which...
2. Describe both sides of the conflict. This was my recent proposal:
Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author and lecturer on science-related issues; he describes himself as a biologist researching natural phenomena, while mainstream scientists have described him as a former biochemist doing research in the field of parapsychology. From 1967 to 1973 he was a biochemist and cell biologist at the University of Cambridge, after which...
3. Elide the conflict. This was Barney's proposal:
Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author and lecturer on science-related issues. From 1967 to 1973 he was a biochemist and cell biologist at the University of Cambridge, after which...
4. Encompass both sides with one term, "researcher".
Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author, lecturer, and researcher. From 1967 to 1973 he was a biochemist and cell biologist at the University of Cambridge, after which...

vzaak (talk) 14:34, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

I repeat, I have a-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y- no idea why there is such an allergy to calling him a scientist. ...if you compare Mr Sheldrake's notoriety to Richard Dawkins, HE'S called a 'biologist'....and him and Mr Sheldrake have the same life-experience and BOTH became notorious because of their work and their writing. I almost give up hope that this article will ever be correct:(
Veryscarymary (talk) 15:28, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
....and he writes as a scientist http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/dr-rupert-sheldrake/the-active-voice-in-scien_b_3036438.html I don't think the huffington post would allow him to write for them if he wasn't AND you're ignoring all the links, CURRENT links I gave above from other main-stream editors who use the word 'scientist' or biologist to describe Mr Sheldrake!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Veryscarymary (talk) 15:37, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Veryscarymary (talk) 15:45, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Well Mary, if you don't understand why you should call him Dr Sheldrake, I reckon that anything else on his page is probably a little bit too complicated for you. Anyway, I reckon my master has just turned off the M1, and he should be home in about fifteen minutes. All those scientists observing me are starting to get a little bit agitated, and I don't want to disappoint them, so I'll go and sit by the front door for a bit, and they can get that satisfied look about them. I have no idea why they should be so pleased when I do this, but if it makes them happy, why not. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 15:56, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
@ Veryscarymary (talk · contribs) Richard Dawkins is actually a good example of another former scientist. I'd label him a popular science author and rationalist campaigner, and former biology professor, as AFAIK he is not involved in any primary research any more. Would be interesting to see his publication history. Anyway, we're not discussing that page, we're discussing this one. Also, I realise you were born in 1921, but there's no need for the d-a-s-h-e-s or the exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope this discussion is not highjacked again. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:59, 8 November 2013
I put "focused" in the title; could we please keep the distractions to a minimum this time, preferably to zero. vzaak (talk) 18:02, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

I dispute that Nature is the "most informed, highest quality sources" in this instance. It is an anonymous opinion piece that would not be subjected to the usual peer-review process, that was later attributed to the journal's editor, John Maddox,[53] who doesn't have a Ph.D. It's notable, but Nature does not decide whether people are scientists or not, and I am more than happy to describe Maddox's opinion. --Iantresman (talk) 16:04, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

strange that Sir John Maddox was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and knighted by HM Government though, eh? What's better PhD or FRS, I know which I'd rather have. Being very creative again with out interpretation of sources, aren't we? Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:08, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Ian, look at the sources at the end of the first sentence of the article. Those are the "three references" I mention above. It's not the book-burning thing. vzaak (talk) 16:37, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for clarifying and for the record, I think you are referring to refs [5-7]. It looks like [5]"Overhyped" is also an unsigned opinion piece that says nothing about whether he is a biologist, but ventures that he also researches as a parapsychologist, likewise [6]"When science meets the paranormal" is also an unsigned opinion piece in a popular magazine, and unfortunately I don't have access to the [7]"Telepathic charm seduces audience at paranormal debate", though author John Whitfield appears to have a Ph.D.[54] in evolutionary biology. --Iantresman (talk) 19:51, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Thank you vzaak (talk for opening this up with the sources. That helps, at least to me. I think it would be productive for everyone on the page list the sources for the opening lead regarding Sheldrake's biography to the language they are suggest,i.e. biologist, biochemist, spook hunter, or whatever. It will be much easier for all of us just to compare sources and find the most common primary and secondary sources that are consistent and voila' - we should have an opening sentence that makes sense. Philosophyfellow (talk) 18:12, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

I would prefer that we explain his notability in the first sentence, so how about:
Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author known for his claim that morphological development is directed by telepathy.”
That way the reader knows what Sheldrake’s about right from the get-go. The down side is that other parts of the lead might need adjusted. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 20:02, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
76.107.171.90, are you serious? Do you actually believe Sheldrake claims ontogeny is directed by telepathy? If so, you have zero familiarity with his work. Which brings up the question: what the hell are you doing here? Why are you trying to influence the Wikipedia page of someone about whom you know absolutely nothing? Alfonzo Green (talk) 22:16, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Alfonzo. 76, you are not contributing value here on the talk page, and since the article is semi-protected you won't be contributing to it either. I've warned you on your talk page, and I hope you take the warning seriously. vzaak (talk) 22:27, 9 November 2013 (UTC)


Mr Sheldrake is called 'a scientist' in wikipedia's disambiguation page Sheldrake I rest my case.... Veryscarymary (talk) 20:17, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

"resting your case" on Content in Wikipedia is a very tenuous position to put yourself in. He is now an author on parapsychology and not a scientist at all. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:36, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Which sources are you basing that on, that he is "not a scientist at all"? --Iantresman (talk) 21:26, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
the very same wikipedia redirect page upon which Veryscarymary rested her case that we must include "scientist". (and yes, my claim based on the same not reliable source should be given as much weight as Veryscarymary's)-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:56, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

I am not sure why this is such a problem, but I guess now I see what all the hoopla is about this page and why it's getting attention in the press. Since when does Wikipedia decide to interpret people's biographies based on a few opinions of editors or opinions of a few sources? Since when do we decide to refer to him as a researcher instead of a scientist so as not to offend 3 editors in talk? There is nothing controversial to call Sheldrake what he is, a scientist with his degree in biology. Cambridge University uses this, proper sources such as New Scientist use this, the Perrot Warrick fund which pays for the parapsychology research uses this. If mainstream science does not consider Sheldrake a 'good' scientist, that is irrelevant. If it is relevant, then it needs to be attributed as a quote, not as a way to reformulate a biography in a way that no encyclopedia ever would. From what I have gone through already on this talk page, it's obvious that there is a bias against the man among editors here and that's not what Wikipedia is supposed to be doing. I think it's time we move this into some form of mediation or arbitration, get all the editors with ideologies to promote off this page, and let a neutral team come in here and clean it up. Or delete the page entirely. This is not getting anywhere. If you disagree, then please post the sources below that contradict this with a reasoned argument as to how Wikipedia should hold this unique guideline that no other publisher or encyclopedia would. So far all answers make no sense whatsoever. Philosophyfellow (talk) 19:52, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Because I've said a similar thing to vzaak on my talk page, and because it's been referred to below as a "rant" and evidence of some difficulty with my mental health, I'm reprinting something I typed yesterday:
I doubt Sheldrake would write his bio the way I would. I think if Sheldrake wrote it, alone, it would include more accolades and less criticism of both himself and his work.
If I wrote it, alone, it also might include a better balance of accolades and criticism of Sheldrake, the human being, too. But he'd like my treatment of his work no more than his acolytes would.
If I wrote it, alone, the version I wrote would horrify FRINGE-fighting fanatics and Sheldrake acolytes, alike.
HYPOTHESIS: If I forswore editing the page, and all of its current editors did the same, and 10 totally uninvolved, BLP-savvy editors worked the thing over for a month, it would be both BLP- and FRINGE-compliant.
PREDICTIONS:
Sheldrake still wouldn't like it.
I'd be satisfied with it.
FRINGE-fighters would set about to destroy the finally-compliant article and engage in some or all of the following WP:BATTLEGROUND behaviors: campaign to gut WP:BLP as it relates to living fringe theorists, ridicule the uninvolved editors who'd re-written it, harrass anyone who tried to keep the article stable as re-written, and campaign for sanctions against anyone who was achieving any success in maintaining the re-write.
This business of refusing to allow the word biologist in the lead is fanatacism. Its inclusion would mislead no one, despite arguments to the contrary. The article, as a whole, would more than adequately inform them that he's a biologist whose views do not conform with those of 21st century mainstream biology and that he's waaaaay out on the fringe. But the fanatics wouldn't let biologist in the lead no matter what the consensus was, and no matter what sources say. Just like they think the adjective "mainstream" as a descriptor for "science" violates NPOV. There is no such thing as mainstream science, in their view. Only SCIENCE and quackery. Just like "fundamental tenets of modern science like COE and the impossibility of PMMs" is inadequate to them. "Tenet" is somehow too weak. The word must be "facts", goddammit.
The stubborn, incorrigible refusal to include biologist in the lede, the tenacity of the prohibition of the phrase "mainstream science" and the refusal to accept "tenets" as an adequate synonym for "facts" are all symptoms of a disease. The disease is a danger to wikipedia. I hate saying Chopra's right about anything, I truly do. But his essay from HuffPo is right. The recent counterpoint from The New Republic is wrong. (Albeit funnier and better-written.)
David in DC (talk) 13:39, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Philosophyfellow, your suggestion is well-taken... but it would end with grudges. Also, it would hurt the long-term maintenance-quality of the article. Vzaak and Barney are doing a ton of heavy-lifting here. If they will just stick to mirroring the sources, rather than picking and choosing which sources they like, or abusing the sources (note the *second* sly attachment of three sources which justify calling Sheldrake a 'parapsychologist' to the current okay-you-forced-me-with-your-npov-tag use of the word 'scientist' ... when the slightest bit of WP:GOOG or the sources provided by Mary would correct the problem). But yes, if this is not resolved in a week or two more, then grudges or no grudges, I suggest we get some agreement worked out where everybody is banned from editing (including reverts) in mainspace, except for David of the WP:BLP crowd, Paul_B. of the WP:FRINGE crowd (if they are willing), and Liz of the WP:NICE crowd (if she is willing). I would also think Roxy or TRPoD might be able to act as the representatives in place of Paul_B, whereas IrWolfie and MilesMoney definitely could not. Myself as the rep for WP:NICE, or Lou Sanders, would be conceivable... but not optimal, cf grudges above.
    However, again, this nuke-the-page-and-let-David-start-over is wrong for wikipedia ... we want ALL the folks here NOW to learn how to behave, which means how to *not* drive away other editors, which means how to *not* cherrypick sources, and most especially which means how to *not* abusively broaden WP:FRINGE into an excuse to belittle the religion and the personal background of somebody with which you happen to personally disagrees with about phytomorphological theories. So, much as I agree that David could whip the article(s) into shape with little trouble, and they would be great work... I disagree that we should press the big red nuke-and-start-over-after-we-topic-ban-everybody-button. There is still hope that folks will listen to reason, and ignore the siren-song of rationalizations.
    If you insist that we need to press the button, Philosophyfellow, because of 'external pressures' that are giving wikipedia bad press... well, I disagree, of course... but I'm not unwilling to set a WP:DEADLINE of sorts. How many more days, before the launch-window is officially opened, do you suggest? Either we get everybody here on the talkpage now satisfied by that point, or we hand the reins to David and his chosen band, and everybody else leaves, voluntarily or otherwise, in other words. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 16:35, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm both flattered and horrified at 74's suggestion that I lead a merry band of well-intended editors in an effort to make this article both BLP- and FRINGE-compliant. As I said above, if the current crew of well-intended folk cannot work things out, I think we need the help of previously uninvolved, veteran, savvy editors, whose allegience is to the wikipedia project, as a whole.

I'm waaaaay too emotionally invested in BLP to lead such a group. Also, I'm not previously uninvolved. There isn't even any reason to suspect there's a consensus that I'm savvy. I qualify as veteran, and I trust editors of good will on all sides would concede that I'm well-intended and concerned about the project, as a whole.

What's going on on this page is, depending on your orientation, a mockery of BLP or cluelessness of the importantce of FRINGE. But more importantly, it's becoming a threat to the credibility of wikipedia, overall. It's getting to be time for some sort of intervention. Even mediation or arbitration seem poor solutions to me. Arbitration, in particular, is liable to have unintended consequences, only sharpen grudges and lead to more BATTLEGROUND behavior on a more epic scale.

Please be clear about one thing. I most definitely decline to be considered for the role 74 has suggested I might fill. My appreciation for his trust in me is deep. But my horror at the prospect is even deeper. I'll quote Morris Udall now, when he was asked to lead an ABC (Anyone But Carter) movement in 1980

If nominated, I will run ... for the border. If elected, I will fight extradition.

David in DC (talk) 16:34, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

If I don't know who Paul_B is, could I represent him? I wouldn't of course, but still. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 16:55, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
You cannot represent him, Roxy. He's dead. He doesn't do science any more. David in DC (talk) 23:45, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Roxy, I'm talking about uid Paul_B, who tried to talk some sense into uid Atethnekos, the latter who methinks is quite lost, deep inside the long grass of scepticism, over on the Fringe noticeboard. Wikipedia:FTN#Theories_of_Muhammad_in_the_Bible (about to be archived so check there if you don't see it on the mainpage) Here is the relevant quote by IrWolfie, from that discussion, who skeptics here not familiar with Paul_B might be more inclined to trust -- "a viewpoint like this can be characterised as fringe if either 1. it is a minority position within a specific tradition or some academic discourse 2. it directly impinges on what is under the purview of science with falsifiable claims." For the record, I will note that Wolfie's first claim is flat-out wrong, totally in violation of the 2013 arbcom decision that for any issue (PER field of inquiry) there can be simulaneously the mainstreamView / significantMinorityView / questionableView / fringeView / totallyObviouslyCrapView. (Sheldrake has published in so many fields that he has ideas falling into not one, not two, but all five damn categories.) But the second part, Wolfie's directly impinges part, is the key point. WP:FRINGE is simply not, in any conceivable way, a license to delete sources you disagree with, which is what Atethnekos wanted to do, so as to erase all mention of Mohammed from some article they were warring in. HistoryOfTheTextualInterpretationOfTheBible==Science? No. Therefore, WP:FRINGE cannot apply, there are simply zero claims-directly-impinging-on-any-field-of-science.
    David, your shermanesque statement to the contrary, with the power of morphic resonance I will shape your... oh crap, WP:REQUIRED, I totally forgot! Nevermind. You don't have to do it. You should have quoted Cool Cal: "I do not choose to". That guy knew what wikipedia was all about. But with luck, folks here will let you fix up mainspace, without any admin interference whatsoever. I am pretty convinced, given all the noticeboard dramahz already during the last four months, the next step is not going to be 'mediation' methinks, but rather straight to the top, ending in the reverse of the 2010 transcendental meditation cases. Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Transcendental_Meditation_movement#Peremptory_reversion_or_removal_of_sourced_material Everything in that decision is good advice, here on the Sheldrake article, by the way, as long as those reading the arbcom decision don't make the deep mistake of hearing "SkepPOV" whenever the arbcom folks mention "NPOV" ... which of course would *entirely* change the meaning of the decision! Hope this helps. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 16:14, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, what are you talking about? When in that discussion did I ever say anything about deleting anything? I never wanted to delete anything related to that discussion. Erase all mention of Mohammed? What? When did I ever say that? I never wanted to do that. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 17:44, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Atethnekos, I have replied over on your talkpage, we have enough trouble here without dragging in the question of whether Muhammed's appearance is specifically predicted in the Bible.  :-)   Once we hash it out over there, we can post a summary here, if that helps. Vzaak, Barney, TRPoD, Ken, you are all mentioned over there... but I warn you, it is a wall of text. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.192.84.101 (talk) 02:21, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

I prefer the Passive-agressive approach of Bartleby the Scrivener: I would prefer not. David in DC (talk) 03:05, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Outcome

This has not been a focused discussion; no arguments were offered for the revert of "scientist" after I had added it. On these grounds I have restored "scientist" again. Anyone is free to revert, however discussion is needed upon doing so (WP:BRD). vzaak (talk) 17:36, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

Calling him a scientist in the opening sentence implies that he's mainly known for his scientific work. You wouldn't start an article about Barack Obama by describing him as a lawyer, since he's better known for being the President. The fact that there are sources that call him a lawyer is irrelevant--of course there are, he is one, after all. Sheldrake is mainly known for pseudoscience, not science, just like Obama is known for being the President, not for being a lawyer.
And in this case it's particularly bad because if you call him a scientist, that misleads the reader into thinking his pseudoscientific work is really scientific. It's literally true that he's a scientist even if he's doing unscientific things right now, but no reader is going to interpret it that way. Ken Arromdee (talk) 18:28, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
I respect your point of view that you see Sheldrake in this way, but many sources including the BBC, universities, National Geographic, national newspapers, etc (links provided above) are not consistent with this view, though I recognise that there some people who have described Sheldrake in this way. --Iantresman (talk) 19:56, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
The comparison to Obama is quite apt; part of the *reason* he became POTUS is exactly *because* he was once a professor of Constitutional law, in Chicago. It is not just *literally* true that Sheldrake is a scientist, who sometimes does work which is dubbed pseudoscientific (but not always -- he also publishes about theology, about philosophy, about politics, and from time to time about mainstream science... giving a lecture on axion stuff at his alma mater recently for instance). The key point is that, unless the reader is told that Sheldrake has highly respectable credentials as a scientist, and twenty years of beyond-undergrad research experience in the mainstream of science, it is impossible to otherwise grok how his telepathy-like ideas became so popular.
  Just like the Constitutional-lawyer-in-Chicago credentials *explain* Obama's Notability, the scientist-credentials-in-Hyderabad *explain* Sheldrake's Notability, plus *explain* why he became successful as the author-or-co-author all those books. (No morphic-theory sans science PhD, no book-sales sans science PhD, no militant-sceptic-warfare sans science PhD. :-) Wikipedia editors do not get to delete reliably-sourced materials, which are literally true, as part of some misguided quest to keep the poor gullible reader from thinking that Sheldrake's work which is borderline-or-over-the-line-pseudoscientific is identical with mainstream science. There is a difference between describing the *specific* things which Sheldrake has done, as themselves being specifically called-pseudoscientific-by-Reliable-Source-$foo-in-year-$baz ... and *purposely* misleading the reader about the literal truth, whilst saying we do it so as not to mislead them! Wikipedia must reflect the sources, never *correct* the sources. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 03:27, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
It's true that Obama being a lawyer helps explain how Obama became president.
It's *also* true that we *don't* start the Obama article by saying "Obama is a lawyer." We describe him as the president. Oh, we do mention being a lawyer in the article, but it's not so prominent in the lead. See WP:LEAD on "relative emphasis".
Just like we don't start the Obama article by saying that he's a lawyer--even though being a lawyer helped him become president--we shouldn't start the Sheldrake article by saying that he's a scientist--even though being a scientist helped him get an audience for his pseudoscience. Sheldrake is not mainly known for acting as a scientist, despite being one, and calling him one not only is bad relative weighting, it also misleads the reader into thinking his pseudoscience is science. Ken Arromdee (talk) 15:28, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Ken Arromdee, I understand your concern about opinions of Sheldrake, but it's not our role to create a page that warns readers about how they're supposed to interpret the content. Every incarnation of the lead has prominently figured statements that described Sheldrake as outside accepted scientific norms, so it's bordering on blatant bias to further change terminology that certainly applies (the man has done biochemical research, thus he's a scientist) just because we think giving him any credibility could lead people to listen to him. The term "scientist" is not the make-or-break of Sheldrake's legitimacy, but it is definitely applicable and belongs here. The Cap'n (talk) 06:45, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
i have swum in the ocean. that does not mean that describing me as "a Swimmer" is the best reflection of what and who i am. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 07:01, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The difference being that you didn't spend the better part of a decade swimming, nor identifying yourself in all your literature as a swimmer, nor called all of your work swimming. The man calls himself a scientist, he's done scientific research, written scientific books, how is this an issue? And the word "hypothesis" simply means a proposed idea, which is what MR is. How and why does that not apply? Please address these issues before reverting to a version that effectively says "that wacky nonsense this crackpot Sheldrake calls an idea." I'm trying to respectful as I've always been a fan of your work, TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom, but it'd be nice to meet you halfway. The Cap'n (talk) 08:24, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The difference is that you're not known for being a swimmer. If you have a Wikipedia article as, oh, a mathematician, that's because you are known for being a mathematician.
Sheldrake is known for being a pseudoscientist. He's not so well known for being a scientist.
The difference being that you didn't spend the better part of a decade swimming
The fact that he spent many years as one doesn't matter, since it's not what he's best known for--I'm pretty sure Obama spent more years as a lawyer than as a president.
he's done scientific research, written scientific books, how is this an issue?
He did those things, but that's not what he's famous for. What he is famous for is almost the opposite of those things. Ken Arromdee (talk) 22:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is known by a small number of people for being a pseudoscientist. Other sources know him for his challenging and controversial scientific hypotheses. If we check some independent secondary sources, you'll find that few mention him as a pseudoscientist. See for example, Scientific American (2005)[55] Financial Times (2012)[56] (2013),[57] Skeptical Inquirer (2000),[58] Times Higher Education (2012)[59] Discover Magazine (2002)[60] The Guardian (2012)[61] BBC (2012)[62]. --Iantresman (talk) 23:05, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Those sources generally don't use the word "pseudoscience", but they clearly indicate that he's not acting as a scientist when he does the things he's famous for. When his scientific activities are mentioned, it's to contrast those with the nonscientific activities that he's best known for. So although you could argue that the exact word "pseudoscientist" shouldn't be used, it's still true that whatever the right word is, it isn't "scientist", and he shouldn't be referred to as a scientist. Ken Arromdee (talk) 21:57, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I read some criticism, but the best I could find is that Sheldrake "is known for his controversial theories" (see below). I think that if you want to support your interpretation, you'll need to offer a quote and citation, as the ones that I found, are consistent with my original description:

  • Scientific American (2005) "Sheldrake, a botanist trained at the University of Cambridge,"[63]
  • Financial Times (2012) "An experienced scientist, Rupert Sheldrake is a robust and eloquent defender of science and the crucial role it plays in modern society"[64]
  • Financial Times (2013) "Sheldrake, 69, has written more than 80 scientific papers and 10 books and is known for his controversial theories"[65]
  • Skeptical Inquirer (2000) "Sheldrake’s hypothetical .. Sheldrake has conducted new experiments"[66]
  • Times Higher Education (2012) "Sheldrake is not sceptical enough. He's against scientific "laws" but convinced of the permanence of scientific "facts" "[67]
  • Discover Magazine (2002) "Sheldrake earned the righteous scorn of his fellow biologists for suggesting that pets communicate telepathically with their masters by way of invisible morphic fields. But some physicists think he may be onto something"[68]
  • The Guardian (2012) "he seems more like the Cambridge biochemistry don he once was, one of the brightest Darwinians of his generation, winner of the university botany prize, researcher at the Royal Society, Harvard scholar and fellow of Clare College."[69]
  • BBC (2012) "Joan Bakewell explores areas of belief with biologist Professor Rupert Sheldrake"[70]

--Iantresman (talk) 23:09, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

The lines you quoted do call him a scientist, but for cases like the Skeptical Inquirer you are taking those quotes out of context--they are mentioning he's a scientist and they describe his scientific work in order to contrast it with the nonscientific work for which he is best known. They are not saying that he is acting as a scientist when he is doing that work.

You're also including a number of quotes from sources that do really call him a scientist but where it's outside the source's area of expertise. The Guardian is not an expert on whether someone is a scientist, and should not be quoted to settle that issue if there is any dispute about it. Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:14, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

The Guardian is as expert as it needs to be on determining whether someone is a scientist. Indeed, it's hard to imagine what greater expertise anyone/thing could have. That is, determining whether someone is a scientist is not itself some scientific (or any in any way complex) question that requires years of specialist education to understand. By contrast, it's just a basic fact about the world, easily determined, and determined in this case in the affirmative. There is also no dispute about whether he is scientist - at least none outside wikipedia - because, as noted, it is simply a fact. That's why the Guardian, and all the other sources listed above, state it so plainly. And that's why it should be in the article as part of the basic biographical details about the man. Barleybannocks (talk) 16:30, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Ken, we don't start Obama with "is a lawyer" because the bulk of reliable sources call him POTUS. It's not a *logic* decision, it is a *sourcing* decision. Bulk of reliable sources call Sheldrake either an "author and biologist" or more commonly "biologist and author". This matches what Sheldrake calls himself... though he prefers to be called "biologist and world-renowned author".  :-)   The whole vague 'scientist' thing was an attempted temporary compromise, between people that do not want to reflect the bulk of the sources (for the entirely honorable reason that they do not want to mislead the readership), and people that insist pillar two is *defined* purely by sources, and reject the ability of editors to pick and choose the 'winner' amongst the sea of reliable sources. Anyways, I agree saying biologist-n-author is not the end of it, and have suggested the compromise phrase of "biologist[4]-and-now-parapsychologist[5], author/lecturer, etc". How do you like that alternative? 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:54, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I've been reverted several times after adding the descriptor "scientist" into Sheldrake's opening sentence. Here's my issue and argument that none of the people reverting me have addressed. If A) the dictionary definition of a scientist is someone who is an expert in one of the natural or physical sciences, and B) Rupert Sheldrake has a Phd in biochemistry and is known to have done botanical research, and C) 8 reputable sources choose to describe Sheldrake as a scientist/biologist, then D)uh, how is this a controversial decision? I'm not being rhetorical, someone please answer me.
Sheldrake is an acknowledged scientist, and the justification I've heard that he's only notable for opposing science is specious. It's true most of his publicity comes from his wacky hypothesis, but no one would care anything about that if he didn't have a reputation as a scientist to contrast it with. The fact that the word "scientist" has been reverted over & over as "not notable enough" but "lecturer" remains is utterly unreasonable; he's able to lecture because he has a reputation as a scientist with fringe theories. If Sheldrake weren't a scientist, he'd just be some crazy dog person swearing his pet can read his mind, no one would care, there'd be no WP article and we'd all have dozens of hours of our lives back. But he is, he may be, we do, there is and we don't. If anyone can explain how anything about Sheldrake is relevant without his scientific background, I'll drop it, but until then I'm going to keep pushing (but not warring) to make this article sensible. The Cap'n (talk) 01:53, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is an acknowledged scientist by tens of reliable sources, mostly journalists; but, simultaneously, he is an acknowledged pseudo/former/not-a-scientist by at least four rock-solid reliable sources, mostly scientists or science-specialist-journalists. The root cause of the problem, is that a handful of editors here are very concerned that the public know The Truth About Sheldrake... and are confused about how broad the scope of WP:FRINGE/WP:GEVAL/WP:REDFLAG/WP:VALID actually is. They think, if somebody is called fringe *once* by some medium-important scientist, that means it is open season to downplay academic credentials, delete reliable sources they disagree with, and slap the "pseudo" label on the BLP's religious beliefs, philosophical concepts, even their recognized mainstream work. Anyways, this has been going on since July, but we are finally coming to the end of it. Either everybody will figure out what blowback means (gracias to David for coming up with the correct term), or somebody with a very large ban-hammer will show up, and everybody on this talkpage will get a strong discretionary-sanctions-lashing. I prefer the former outcome. Hope this answer your question; thanks for improving wikipedia. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:37, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Capn: Sheldrake's scientific background is relevant, but being relevant only means mentioning it in the article, not putting it in the lead. Putting it in the lead implies that he is mainly known for being a scientist. He's not, and putting it in the lead implies that the pseudoscience that he is mainly known for is science. Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:20, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Most of the reliable secondary sources list below disagree. They note he is a scientist/biologist, and that he is known for his controversial work. Please provide some alternative reliable secondary sources that suggest otherwise. --Iantresman (talk) 16:45, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Degree in the first sentence

It's not Wikipedia's style to repeat the Ph.D. in the first sentence (Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Susan Blackmore, Ray Hyman). I've seen no Wikipedia articles which do this. The degree is there in the infobox; there's no need to repeat. The first sentence has to describe why the person is notable, and Sheldrake isn't notable for getting a Ph.D. People aren't notable for getting Ph.D.s unless they are twelve years old. vzaak (talk) 15:13, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

The information does not need to be beaten into the readers head. It’s already available near the top of the page in the infobox. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 16:39, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
As my edit summary indicated, it's a poor substitute made as a concession to the wearisome, incessant and misguided bleating that a Living Person with a Cambridge Ph.D. in biochem cannot be called a biologist in the lead sentence of a Biography about him because a militantly skeptical POV requires beating into the reader's head that the subject of the biography is on the fringe. David in DC (talk) 02:58, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Davy, my boy, I fear the stress of Wikipedia editing is getting to you. It sounds like the talk page is wearing your nerves a bit thin. If the definition of the word biologist is starting to sound like bleating, and you’re having paranoid fantasies of militant skeptics being out to get you, then maybe you need to take some time off. You could take a nice leisurely drive out to the countryside, relax, unwind, unbunch your panties, and take your mind off of Wikipedia for a little while. You may not feel like you need a break, but you don’t want to end up like old Deepak Chopra now do you? I hear Deepak’s paranoia has reached such an extreme that he’s now convinced that a diabolical organization of gorillas, skeptics, and skeptical gorillas has it in for him. So, do yourself a favor and take a little WP:WIKIBREAK, for your own mental health. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 04:22, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your kind concern. It's misplaced but diagnosing another person's mental health by drawing inferences from his wikipedia editing is a notoriously difficult science.
No worries about the panties. I go commando. David in DC (talk) 17:29, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Oh well, psychology isn’t always an exact science you know. But I think you can see how that little rant you posted on your talk page might give some editors cause for concern. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 17:47, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Clairvoyance? You expressed concern about my mental health 13 hours before the posting on my talk page. I had thought your inference was drawn from my post on this page, just above yours. But if it was based on a "rant" not yet "ranted", I think you're providing anecdotal evidence in support of parapsychology. David in DC (talk) 18:26, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
You know David; somehow I just don’t think that this occurrence is going to be the evidence that finally convinces the world that psi is real. Oh, and it would be precognition, not clairvoyance. 76.107.171.90 (talk) 18:38, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
If it makes you feel any better, David in DC, I'm getting continually reverted for trying to say Sheldrake has worked in science at all or that MR is hypothesis (as opposed to some vague nonsense he made up a name for). I think I'd burst into flames if I actually tried to use the term "biologist" instead of just "scientist," which would be pyrokinesis, to keep with the parapsychological theme. The most irksome part of all this is that I don't even really care about Sheldrake or morphic resonance... it's just become a matter of principle to get this article right. The Cap'n (talk) 09:12, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Hello Cap'n. I'm with you. We will get there. Keep calm and carry on, as the old saying goes. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:25, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
gallows humour
   p.s. Just in case, maybe you should set up a video-recording-apparatus near your keyboard? If you do burst into flame, and the recording survives the conflaguration, your username would become a footnote in history. Actually, you better not get out the camcorder, because then people who want to prove pyrokinesis is real, will concentrate their mental energies in your direction. Wait... but if you don't get the camcorder, people who want to disprove pyrokinesis, but also want to keep Sheldrake from being called what a significant percentage of the reliable sources call him, might just risk pyrokinesis getting some popularity, if only they can keep Sheldrake's wikipedia bio from giving him any popularity!
   p.p.s. Hmmmm... we want to keep Sheldrake from getting positive publicity... so we'll blackball his name on wikipedia... which gives him international exposure in the mainstream media... d'oh... the end of high prices!
   p.p.p.s. Dear drive-by ArbCom admin, mandatory disclaimer follows, this entire paragraph is ha-ha-only-serious, nobody here is wishing that the human being -- or in Roxy's case possibly the canine being -- masquerading under the pseudonym The Cap'n will actually catch on fire. You can now resume your vandal-fighting elsewhere. These are not the droids you're looking for. — 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:25, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Bio needs more on Sheldrake's ideas

Since I've opined on a couple noticeboards generally, thought I should read the article and opine more specifically.

  • Section: Selected books - intro not really necessary and looks like it's just a battleground, noticing edits just while I was reading the article.
  • "Morphic resonance is discredited by numerous critics on many grounds." Critics don't discredit, especially in an article that only alludes to the arguments made; they criticize, challenge or whatever.
  • Overall there does need to be more description from WP:RS of what his books are about. (And of his critiques of mainstream science.) I'm aware of details of some of his work but this article does little to remind me of what his theories are or why they get others so excited. So new readers must be even more mystified. Putting the section "Origin and philosophy of morphic resonance" before the books as a description of his views would help.
  • Any unnecessarily duplicative and/or low quality criticism should be removed.

My bias: I do believe that there is some sort of organizing intelligence as the basis of reality, but I doubt it can be proved scientifically. The "organizing intelligence" is just too unpredictable to be scientifically proved, so it has to be an article of faith. (Some dogs are just more psychic than others; two we had in a row - thus didn't influence each other - knew when Daddy was leaving work and ran to the window in those 20-30 minutes before he got there; the third one and I didn't know and didn't care.) I think it's more important to debunk alleged scientific truths that try to explain such reality with scientific precision. However, anecdotal evidence is fun to play with intellectually and, more importantly philosophically/metaphysically. CM-DC surprisedtalk 03:13, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

per WP:VALID the more detail we present about his ideas, the more we have to include about how the mainstream academics see them as hocum.
you should let Sheldrake know about your psychic dogs so that he can set up some experiments that he can send to peer review. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:41, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
I was going to post the following at CM-DC's talk but I think it may be useful here. While an editor may have observed a psychic dog, it is nevertheless important to acknowledge that reliable sources do not support the notion that dogs have psychic powers. Accordingly, no matter how convinced an editor may be that their dogs are psychic, they should not attempt to use Wikipedia to "debunk alleged scientific truths". Since we are exchanging personal observations, rather than thinking my dogs have magic powers that I do not, I would prefer to think that my pets are sufficiently intelligent and caring to pick up subtle cues about what I am likely to do next. Science is more interesting than hocus pocus—saying "they're psychic" explains nothing and predicts nothing, while working out how Clever Hans did arithmetic is much more useful. Johnuniq (talk) 05:06, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Glad you are entertained. Laughter is the best medicine. Or as Gandhi (disputed) said: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Anyway, re: dog anecdotes, maybe it's just that dogs can tell time. Geez, I should have studied if the psychic one got confused in her predictions when daylight savings time happened.
Anyway, good luck to those who agree with my suggestions. Feel better; this article only insults his scientific methodology; I've had much more severely messed with BLPs to deal with before; like maybe 1/2 my time editing Wikipedia. Sigh. CM-DC surprisedtalk 05:23, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Happy to drop the book intro - but I thought it was a good place to try and capture some of the frisson that erupts each time he published something. That seems to be lacking from the article to me. This BLP seems to be deserving of a controversy section given so much of his notability arises from these. I've moved the Origin and Philosophy section per your suggestion. I think the Sokal stuff is ridiculous WP:OR, and the refusal to include a significant encounter (covered by at least 2 RS's) with Dawkins is truculent. Blippy (talk) 08:19, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, your repeated assertion that the article " needs a controversy section" is flatly against the NPOV policy WP:STRUCTURE and for which we have a specific NPOV clean up banner {{controversy section}}. Please explain how the fuck creating a blatant NPOV violation would in any way help to resolve POV issues in the article? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:05, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
While I disagree the expletive is needed, I am also against a controversy-section. We already have the interactions-with-other-scientists section. Blippy, explain a little more about what you are trying to achieve here. Are you just saying that the article should not be point-counterpoint style? Because *that* is a good thing. But having an explicit 'controversy' section means WP:EDITORIALIZING that we prolly do not want to do. Editors here think that whether Sheldrake has his PhD is controversial... but the Reliable Sources tend to use the word *very* sparingly, except UsaToday and such. Rather than suggest vaguely that article-deserves-a-controversy-section, please be specific about what you would move into that controversy-section, and why. Vzaak already has the article organized mostly chrologically, which *is* pretty standard for a BLP. Why split the chronology into 'not-controvery' stuff, and on the other hand, 'controversy-stuff'? Thanks. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 01:57, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Inclusion of the Sokal stuff is nor OR, and the Dawkins thing is an unreliable anecdote that Dawkins doesn't think Sheldrake is good enough for attention. Given the Gandhi quote above, it suggests that Dawkins doesn't think that Sheldrake even merits ridicule because he's irrelevant. However, on the OP, yes, we do need more content from Sheldrake's ideas. Unfortunately, since they don't make much sense, it is very difficult to summarise them. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:17, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Criticism sections generally frowned upon, especially when criticism galore already integrated throughout the article. Also note: Wikipedia:NPOV#cite_ref-1 and its linked WP:Criticism essay Here's the tag if you need it {{Criticism section|date=July 2013}}
Coincidentally I happened to turn into an interview with Dawkins on AlJazeera this week, who I just knew was some sort of determinist/materialist. I was surprised that he just kept making snotty comments about people who believe in God, instead of making rational arguments, of which there are many. (Were his selfish genes too tight? ha ha) If he did in fact debate Sheldrake, and WP:RS covered it, should have a sentence or two.
As for summaries, there is no doubt it helps if editors actually write material that is needed. If the article is overwhelmed by partisans of any side who constantly discourage such editing, it may get discouraged. Can't say from experience if that's true here... but people should write it if they think it needs to be there. CM-DC surprisedtalk 16:23, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I accept the general frowny nature on controversy sections, but it seemed a reasonable mechanism to allow such content to be included given the polarity of editors here. I've tried to incorporate such content e.g.

Sheldrake has been described as having to continually defend himself.[6][7] In one incident Sheldrake encountered Richard Dawkins as part of Dawkins' 2007 TV series "Enemies of Reason" wherein Sheldrake suggested they discuss the evidence for telepathy. Dawkins allegedly replied "There isn't time. It's too complicated. And that's not what the programme is about," Sheldrake claims to have responded that he wasn't interested in taking part in another "low-grade debunking exercise", to which Dawkins reportedly replied: "It's not a low-grade debunking exercise; it's a high-grade debunking exercise."[8][9]

However the argument back has been that The Guardian and Huffington Post aren't RS's!! Farcically, in the same "Interactions with other scientists" section a piece of WP:OR about Sokal keeps getting put back! Sadly for many things Up is Down, Left is Right, Black is White, WP:OR is WP:RS, and WP:RS is meaningless on this article. Blippy (talk) 00:56, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

blippy get it through your head when a reliable source says that an unreliable source said "X" that does not make "X" a reliable fact. All the reliable source does is verify that the unreliable source said "X". You have given us generally reliable sources (and nothing is always a reliable source) that verify the Sheldrake has said that Dawkins has said something. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 02:24, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Umm... TRPoD, if a Reliable Source is found, which says that some Unreliable Source said quote X unquote ... that is the definition of WP:NOTEWORTHY. It is irrelevant whether or not X is a fact; what *is* a fact, and therefore belongs in wikipedia, is the Reliably-Sourced sentence fragment "In 2013 it was reported[1] that Alice said X" with the cited Reliable Source in the brackets. We do *not* thereby imply that X is a fact, and moreover, if some *other* Reliable Source is published in which a mainstream scientist asserts not_X, then we are careful to describe the conflict, and say which side is mainstream. But we don't have pillar six, that everything written in wikipedia must be objectively factual... all we have is pillar two, that everything challenged must be Reliably Sourced, to prove Noteworthy/Notable, and Verifiable. Blippy's source seems fine, if the *factual validity* of the Guardian story is your only argument. Plenty of stuff that Hannah Montana says is also bogus, and *much* more widely reported, not because she speaks facts, but because she is a Notable/Noteworthy celebrity. Sheldrake is in the same category, more or less, just a biologist-and-now-also-parapsychologist, versus a teevee-star-and-now-also-musician. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 03:42, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
uh, no, wikipedia is WP:NOTNEWS. What we have is partisans in opinion pieces stating that Seldrake says that Dawkins invited RS on his show to talk about cupcakes. RS said "I want to talk about steaks." Dawkins replies "my show is about deserts so if you want to talk about steaks i am not going to have you on my show". There is nothing there. if it was actually news, the reliable sources would have at least contacted Dawkins to get his version of what happened. the editorialists didnt. there is nothing there. if you are somehow claiming that Chopra is a big enough opinionista that his opinions should be included, then we have "Chopra thinks that Dawkins should have allowed Sheldrake to appear on Dawkins show to talk about telepathy and he thinks Dawkins refusal is an example of the ' unsavory side of defending science,' " or "Sheldrake complained in his book and to his friend Chopra that Dawkins should have let him on his show to talk about telepathy and Chopra published Sheldrakes complaint in an op ed in the Huff Post ," in the first case its pretty much out of bounds on BLP grounds - Chopras opinions about Dawkins are clearly inappropriate in the Sheldrake article. The second case just makes Sheldrake look whiny. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:50, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Agree that wikipedia is notnews... but the correct guideline here is WP:NOTEWORTHY. If some reliable source, e.g. the Guardian, saw fit to quote some BLP doing some partisan whining... which happens all the time in politics and in hollywood as you prolly already know... and if said BLP already has enough WP:N that they have their own wikipedia article... then wikipedia can have a sentence or a sentence-fragment saying what happened.
Sheldrake says he debated Dawkins in private[1]. The show did not include Sheldrake[2]. Chopra says what a shame[3]. Dawkins made no comment on this situation, but elsewhere said $foo about Sheldrake[4].
Those are facts. Of course, alone -- by themselves -- these gossipy 'facts' do not justify creation of a Brand New Article in wikipedia, per WP:NOTNEWS... but all participating parties are already in Wikipedia, so that makes these quotations WP:NOTEWORTHY facts, which do belong, in the appropriate article(s). In this situation, the quotes belong specifically in the Sheldrake BLP article, *because* Sheldrake spends quite a lot of time complaining about the politics-of-science, whereas Dawkins to my knowledge has *never* bothered to complain publically (in a WP:RS) about Sheldrake, or if he did, it was just passing mention. (Contrast with Wiseman, who complains specifically about Sheldrake all the time, at length, in depth.)
  At the end of the day, this talkpage-tiff over the Dawkins-vs-Sheldrake incident is just a symptom of the larger problem, which is deleting reliably sourced materials that disagree with Coyne/Maddox/Randi; see talkpage sections below. Wikipedia editors cannot pick-n-choose amongst reliable sources: either the source is reliable *per* WP:RS, or it is not. Newspapers judges noteworthy-or-not, wikipedia editors *reflect* their choice. Cherrypicking means, keeping sources & sourced-sentences you agree with, deleting sources & sourced-sentences you disagree with. Iantresman is not cherrypicking. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 15:01, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the key *visible* problem here is cherrypicking. But the underlying problem, is the idea that, if what one WP:RS says conflicts with what another WP:RS says, then us editors get to pick the winner. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 02:02, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Dawkins (again, like everything else on this talk page)

Sheldrake partisans writing editorials in which they criticize Dawkins based solely on Sheldrake's version of a conversation is not something that should be included in the article, first based on NPOV issues in that the original and the repetitions in the opinion pieces do not give Dawkin's version of what happened, second because they record NOTHING. Sheldrake wanted to talk about issues that Dawkins didnt want to cover in his show and so Dawkins didnt include him in the show. BIG FUCKING DEAL. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 06:12, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

NPOV Template

I have placed one, for the first time in my short wiki career (I've been registered since 2008), because the lede is now in violation of this wiki policy. It has been requested that no change is made to the use of those NPOV violating words for one week - so I haven't. Please could somebody who knows tell me what biology Shelly has done in the last thirty years, and why we should call "morphic resonance" a theory. Then I wont have to suggest that we change it back in a weeks time. Thank you. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 12:25, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Gosh, that was fun. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 12:58, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
(Repeated, with a slight addition, from BLP noticeboard) Here are the BLP and NPOV problems. [71]. It took about an hour. Using the words misleads no one and does not violate WP:FRINGE. Deleting them is derogatory toward the Living Person who is the subject of this Biography. Fixing WP:BLP violations does not require consensus. But it's impossible to fix them here, because of determined edit-warring by editors with a skeptical POV. WP:NPOV would be to call him a biologist (or scientist), call his ideas hypotheses (or theories) and use the body of the article to tell the story of his life, including the voluminous (and accurate - I'm not a Sheldrake acolyte) material from reliable sources critiquing the ideas he promotes that are deeply flawed. Adding material opposing the theories is totally justifiable. Derogating the living person by deleting reliably sourced biographical info about him is not. David in DC (talk) 13:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
@Roxy the dog. His writings and research are about biology. He's putting out books about living things like plants and dogs. He's describing a theory that rests on a bunch of hypotheses.
His writings and research are well-critiqued and refuted by other scientists. That doesn't mean he's not DOING biology. Just that his writings about biology are almost certainly wrong.
His ideas are hypotheses and theories. These words lend no credibility to the ideas, they just categorize them. Correctly. Hypotheses can be tested and found wanting. The same goes for theories. That doesn't mean they're not hypothese/theories. It just mean they've been tested by the scientific method and been found wanting. David in DC (talk) 13:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
his "ideas" are "ideas" and can most appropriately be described as "ideas" or "concepts". "Hypothesis" and "Theory" have multiple uses and sometimes very specific meanings. We have sources such as [72] identifying Sheldrakes "ideas" as "virtually vacuous". we do not serve ANYONE other than Sheldrake by using words which might give the reader a misinterpretation when we have absolutely adequate words to use that do not have that chance of being inappropriately misinterpreted. To insist on using words that are in fact likely to mislead our readers is to be pushing a POV and I urge you to drop your stick.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:07, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The source you give above, "So-called "formative causation" - A hypothesis disconfirmed"[73], uses the term "hypothesis", even in its title, at least a dozen times, and the term "idea" never. --Iantresman (talk) 14:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
No answers so far. @David, his writings are books, not research. Research gets peer reviewed. He hasn't done any research. That makes him an Author. Same thing goes with the tag Biologist, it just doesn't apply. Not for thirty years. He used to be a Biologist, not any more. Just to prove I read the drama boards, like Obama used to be a lawyer, now he's a POTUS, except that the difference between a lawyer and a POTUS isn't as great as the difference between a biologist/scientist and a sheldrake. The Lilac Pen Of Doom has adequately dealt with the Theory/hypothesis/notion/ideation thing.
The only reason I didn't directly revert a la Doom was that I didn't have the bottle after the plea to leave it for a week. I do appreciate that DC Dave acts IGF. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 15:03, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The sources provided by TRPoD to Rose's peer-reviewed paper[74] (above) mentions that "Sheldrake's paper claims that the results of the experiment which we jointly planned, and which was conducted by myself and Ms Harrison..." seems to contradict that view, as Rose seems to be aware of both a paper (not a book) that Shreldrake wrote, and an experiment that was conducted with Rose and a Ms Harrison. Prof. Steven Rose is sufficiently qualified and experienced to ensure that their joint experiment followed the scientific method. Although Rose disagrees with Sheldrake's hypothesis (Rose's term), nowhere does he question Shreldrake's science or credentials. This is peer-review in action. --Iantresman (talk) 15:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
you are partially correct. the Rose was written in 1992. so its not been 30 years, its been 20.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:52, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

If he is only writing books and not peer reviewed research, how do you account for this [75] list of a dozen articles published in peer reviewed journals over the last decade or so? Blippy (talk) 23:09, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Tell me about the quality of those journals, the impact factor, and the quality of the peer review? --Roxy the dog (resonate) 23:14, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
(e/c)You mean "Journal of the Society for Psychical Research " and "Journal of Parapsychology" and "Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing"? You are not actually putting them forth as actual peer reviewed journals are you? Rather than being evidence of to support your position, thats just more evidence for the other interpretation.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:16, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
What Doom said. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 23:20, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Pseudoscience, by its very nature is pseudo - that is it has elements that on first inspection appear to be genuinely part of the scientific process but on closer inspection fall short. These journals are pseudo, and generally peer review is lacking or is not critical. Also, within the scientific process publishing is only a step towards completion of the process, which is acceptance, there is a lot that comes after that. Barney the barney barney (talk) 23:40, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Your breadth of knowledge about these journals is commendable. Sources please. --Iantresman (talk) 23:54, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Am I correct in understanding that you are no longer saying Sheldrake avoids peer review, but that it's just you don't think the peers who reviewed his work are good/prominent enough?? If good/prominent enough reviewers wont read his work (Dawkins for instance?) then how can they ever review it? These journals are WP:RS and are peer reviewed. What beyond this matters for a WP article? You are sounding decidedly POV afflicted in such efforts to shift your own goal posts. Blippy (talk) 00:36, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
completely off topic - not being taken seriously by real scientists and scientific journals is the bed you have to sleep in when you have spent 30+ years of your career as an unrepentant pseudoscientist. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Blippy, You are being serious aren't you? You honestly believe those 'journals' represent reliable sources, yes? --Roxy the dog (resonate) 00:58, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Are you going to refute the fact that these journal are peer reviewed or just continue with POV smears? Your claim was that Sheldrake only publishes books. False. You claimed he did so to avoid peer review. False. Do you accept this and wish to move on to discussing the quality of those journals? Blippy (talk) 02:20, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Oh wow. Breathtaking. Demanding that we treat a journal dealing with clear WP:FRINGE issues as something that is peer reviewed due to lack of sources that say it isn't, is entirely the wrong way round. Again, it is wikilawyering with the obvious. We need to assume with WP:FRINGE issues that sources are unreliable unless we have contrary. Anyway, want sources, how about this one on Rivista specifically [76] - the is dealing with its tendency to print creationist papers - another WP:FRINGE issue that is tangentially related. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:26, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Even more breathtaking is your refusal to acknowledge that these journals are peer reviewed - whatever 'you' think of their quality. The accusation was that he only wrote books - do you accept that is false? The other accusation was that this was to avoid peer review - do you also accept that is false? If we can't get intellectual honesty on these basic points, what hope is there to reach consensus on more difficult areas? Blippy (talk) 09:10, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
if you think they are reliable peer reviewed journals, please take them to the reliable source notice board. We will be waiting for you here when you come back smelling of fish. We will be able to plug our noses in time because we will be able to hear the laughter from here. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:01, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

You are trying to compare hard and soft science. That's is not a fair comparison. For example, physics is a wholly different beast to psychology, to parapsychology. This is why universities have specialist departments staffed not by "parapsychologists", but scientists with other qualifications, such as psychologists, engineers, theoretical physics (eg. Princeton's now closed PEAR); psychiatrists and psychologists (U. Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies and U. Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit and U.Arizona's Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health). Unfortuntely it is not up to Wikipedia editors to make a judgement call on these areas of research, the universities and their staff have made that decision for us, and it is our job to neutrally describe their research (per WP:NPOV). But if you have relevant independent reliable sources, by all means, bring them to the table. Prof. Steven Rose's paper mentioned above is good example. Editors here welcome critical material, if it is properly sourced. --Iantresman (talk) 11:55, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake is a biologist. This should appear in the first line of the lead. Consider the following from another wikipedia article - "Samuel B. Harris (born April 9, 1967)[2] is an American author, philosopher and neuroscientist...". Thus, on account of Sheldrake's far superior credentials, academic employment record and publication record he should be described as a biologist. Can use this as a source http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-rupert-sheldrake/why-bad-science-is-like-bad-religion_b_2200597.html — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barleybannocks (talkcontribs) 12:09, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Another source "Joan Bakewell explores areas of belief with biologist Professor Rupert Sheldrake. He talks about the relationship between science and religion." BBC - here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b018nsjk/Belief_Rupert_Sheldrake/
And another "Rupert Sheldrake, a biochemist" here http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/ted-conference-censorship-row-8563105.html Barleybannocks (talk) 12:38, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake the skeptic

There is a sense in which Sheldrake is a "skeptic", but the term itself is most often used these days to apply to people who generally oppose the content of much of Sheldrake's writings and lectures. (Sheldrake in his own writings uses the term "skeptic" to identify such people as well!) To call him a "skeptic" or an advocate of "skepticism" in the lede is a violation of WP:ASTONISH because it misleads all but the most sophisticated of readers. There may be another term of art which we could use to describe his contrarian position towards mainstream thought, but "skeptic" is too loaded to work well here. jps (talk) 15:59, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

That's what wikilinks are for. The very first sentence here says: "Skepticism, as an epistomological argument, poses the question of whether knowledge, in the first place, is possible. Skeptics argue that the belief in something does not necessarily justify an assertion of knowledge of it. In this, skeptics oppose dogmatic foundationalism, which states that there have to be some basic positions that are self-justified or beyond justification, without reference to others."
Fits the graf it introduced in the lede to a tee. Just how stupid do you think our readers are? David in DC (talk) 23:32, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
David, your point is well-taken (and hilarious), but might border into WP:SYNTH. Do we have a quote where somebody Notable is explicitly saying that Sheldrake is sceptical/skeptical about conservation of dark energy, or something like that? As for the points made by JPS... clearly Sheldrake is in fact taking a position of classic-philosophical-scepticm, in his philosophy-of-science writings. But there are plenty of modern-anti-pseudoscientific-skeptics like Randi/Dawkins/Wiseman/etc who have interacted with Sheldrake over the years. The former groups says to question the foundations of science; the latter group says that to question the foundations of science is heresy. This has always been the case with Sheldrake: even in the 1970s, his ideas were "well-received by classicists/philosophers/etc but laughed at by my peers in the science departments" ... so there is some truth to the notion that readers may be confused. Is there some reasonably-common-nowadays word for 'Skeptikoi'? 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:21, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Per the talk page

Whatever the justification for this edit is, it's surely not the one given in the edit summary. Practically the only thing this talk page establishes is that a few FRINGE-warriors refuse to listen to the editorial judgment of those who disagree with them. The talk page establishes no consensus to ban the words scientist or biologist. Maybe it's per WP:FRINGE, or per WP:OWN, or per WP:TENDENTIOUS. But it's surely not "per the talk page". David in DC (talk) 23:27, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Indeed, I collected some reliable independent secondary sources, which seem to suggest that he is NOT known for being a pseudoscientist, but for his controversial theories. I have requested some reliable independent secondary sources that suggest otherwise. These are the ones I have:
  • Scientific American (2005) "Sheldrake, a botanist trained at the University of Cambridge,"[77]
  • Financial Times (2012) "An experienced scientist, Rupert Sheldrake is a robust and eloquent defender of science and the crucial role it plays in modern society"[78]
  • Financial Times (2013) "Sheldrake, 69, has written more than 80 scientific papers and 10 books and is known for his controversial theories"[79]
  • Skeptical Inquirer (2000) "Sheldrake’s hypothetical .. Sheldrake has conducted new experiments"[80]
  • Times Higher Education (2012) "Sheldrake is not sceptical enough. He's against scientific "laws" but convinced of the permanence of scientific "facts" "[81]
  • Discover Magazine (2002) "Sheldrake earned the righteous scorn of his fellow biologists for suggesting that pets communicate telepathically with their masters by way of invisible morphic fields. But some physicists think he may be onto something"[82]
  • The Guardian (2012) "he seems more like the Cambridge biochemistry don he once was, one of the brightest Darwinians of his generation, winner of the university botany prize, researcher at the Royal Society, Harvard scholar and fellow of Clare College."[83]
  • BBC (2012) "Joan Bakewell explores areas of belief with biologist Professor Rupert Sheldrake"[84]

--Iantresman (talk) 23:48, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

A few more secondary sources:

  • BBC (2002) "modern maverick Rupert Sheldrake"[85] (2005): "Biologist Dr Rupert Sheldrake"[86] (2005): "Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author"[87] (2012) "scientist Dr Rupert Sheldrake"[88]
  • New Scientist (2004) "biochemist-turned-parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake"[89]
  • The Times, Anjana Ahuja. "Science Notebook" Times [London, England] 3 Dec. 2007: 16. "Rupert Sheldrake, an independent biologist and author". Mark Henderson Science Editor. "Theories of telepathy and afterlife cause uproar at top science forum." Times [London, England] 6 Sept. 2006: 22. "Rupert Sheldrake, an independent biologist"
  • The Daily Telegraph (2012) "Alternative scientist Rupert Sheldrake"[90] (2004) "Dr Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist and author"[91] (2005) "psychic scientist Rupert Sheldrake"[92]
  • The Independent (2013) "Rupert Sheldrake, a biochemist"[93]
  • Nature (2004) "Rupert Sheldrake, a former biochemist and plant physiologist at the University of Cambridge who has taken up parapsychology"[94] (2006) "a parapsychologist .. the researcher, Rupert Sheldrake"[95]

Academic

  • Open University "Rupert Seldrake is a biologist and writer"[96]
  • Binghamton University, Ask a Scientist "Rupert Sheldrake, a biochemist"[97]

--Iantresman (talk) 14:16, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Ian and David, the underlying cause is the deeply-held belief that NPOV *equals* SkePOV. Once you make that deep mistake, you can only see sources that *agree* with SkePOV as reliable sources, because disagreeing with NPOV==SkePOV must mean the disagreeing-cite is *pseudo*. This in turn leads to infinitely expanding the power of WP:FRINGE and also WP:REDFLAG ... if you have *one* source which says "this particular part of the morphic stuff is pseudoscience" (and there are in fact four perfectly reliable sources for such that I know of), that means you can say the rest of morphic stuff is pseudo, the inventor of morphic stuff is pseudo, the academic credentials of the inventor are pseudo, the spirituality of the inventor is pseudo, et cetera ad infinitum.
    This is the only explanation that explains how one can discount the BBC as a reliable source methinks. It also explains why certain parts (anything not SkePOV) of the article-talkpage can be discounted. TRPoD means to say, per the valid parts of the talkpage. But do not be too hard on them; they *are* the one who helped *get* the initial temp-compromise of 'scientist' into mainspace. They are on the fence. But until we get beyond the assertion that NPOV==SkePOV, no sustained progress will be possible. We have a ton of sources that say 'biologist' ... but because those sources are not SkePOV, they cannot count as 'reliable' because one REAL scientist one time said Rupert was "pseudo", and mainstream==sceptic==NPOV! This is a good-faith mistake; folks are trying to protect the readers from being misled... but to do so, they are trying to keep the readers from being led away from the sceptic point-of-view, under the mistaken impression the SkePOV is identical with wikipedia's (N)POV.
    For each field of inquiry, biology/physics/philosophy/theology, there are mainstream/alternativeMinority/questionable/fringe views. WP:FRINGE claims by a BLP in parapsychology-based physics, does not permit editors to hop the field-of-inquiry-fences, and downplay the BLP's mainstream biology work, his spirituality, his philosophy-of-science, his politics-of-science, and so on. I continue to assert there is no skeptik konspiracy... our trouble is an emergent phenomena that wikiCulture has so far failed to fix... but positively there is a SkePOV, or there is positively, if you prefer. As David hilariously pointed out, Sheldrake holds the sceptic stance, towards conservation of dark energy.[98] Ninja-reverted, of course. Blasphemy! That *former* scientist was banished from the tribe, Nature said so in 2004, and they *cannot* be a sceptic, they don't even subscribe to ReasonDotCom SkepticMag! Sigh. — 74.192.84.101 (talk) 00:06, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Eloquently put 74. You have framed and nailed the issue precisely. This is how leading media outlets can be dismissed as unreliable and blogs trumpeted as RS - and interestingly, this is exactly the phenomenon Sheldrake himself has written about, what I like to concatenate to sketpimentalism. Fundamentalism of all sorts warms the cockles of one's heart because having access to the truth allows everything else to be weighed and judged accordingly. Radical skepticism of Sheldrake's sort provides little succour in this regard. So I fear the triumph of SkePOV over NPOV will imPOVerish us all. Blippy (talk) 00:28, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. NPOV does not equate to any particular POV. NPOV is a writing style that neutrally describes different points of view. The idea that a particular POV (such as a particular scientific point of view) represents the actual truth, has been consistently rejected by the community.[99]WP:TRUTH --Iantresman (talk) 00:47, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
So what to do? How does a page get wrested from the devout grip of the skeptimentalists? Perhaps it is early days, but the discussion on the BLP Noticeboard seems to have ground to an inglorious halt. Is the only option to to let them have their shiny unblemished way? Surely such things are a dagger at the heart of the WP project...? Blippy (talk) 05:28, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Let's just wait and see what secondary sources are presented. --Iantresman (talk) 08:50, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

There is a principle on Wikipedia: when there is a controversy try to find a consensus. In this case, it is clear that those who want to see Sheldrake labeled a "scientist" in the lede without qualification are going to be opposed by those who think that such would be misleading. The basis for the second group is that much of what Sheldrake has done in the last thirty years or so is criticized by mainstream scientists as not being science. On the other hand, there obviously exist sources which describe Sheldrake as a scientist because at some point in his life he was participating in the mainstream scientific community. So where to go from here?

My preference would be to leave it out simply because I think it is easier to remove the word than it is to explain why there may be some controversy over the word (and there is indeed controversy because we have many secondary sources which explicitly call Sheldrake's work "pseudoscience", so WP:NPOV would demand that we not label him a "scientist" without acknowledging that this is, at the very least, controversial.)

All the sources are in the article already. There is no reason to wrangle them here. We have sources which are laudatory and some which are not. The most reliable sources are the ones that basically dismiss Sheldrake's recent forays as pseudoscience, but further than that there is not much more we can say about sources. The question is, how do we get to a consensus knowing that this controversy exists?

jps (talk) 18:54, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Dismissing Sheldrake's recent forays as pseudoscience does not mean that Sheldrake is not a biologist. It just means he's a biologist (because he is) whose work has been criticised by some as pseudoscience. There seems to be quite a bit of equivocation going on here which would be little different from saying that Damien Hirst shouldn't be called an artist because some people say what he does isn't art. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/9168804/Damien-Hirst-should-not-be-in-the-Tate-says-critic.html Barleybannocks (talk) 19:09, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
"recent forays" ????? Clear competency issues here. What should not be overvalued are his "youthful indiscretions" in actual science.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:30, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Pretty much. Yet another SPA who turns up complaining about this article, apparently willingly following the WP:IWONTLISTEN approach with regard to policies. Oh how I wish we had the German approach to such nonsense. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:07, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
I did listen. I read the policies. Unfortunately, for you, as noted by numerous editors above, they support what I am saying. Thus you might want to reread them yourself. Nothing in there about creating such an ambience of untrustworthiness that readers might legitimately wonder whether Sheldrake himself exists. He's a biologist, get over it. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:16, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) Your behaviour indicate you haven't, but here is another one - WP:NOTAVOTE. Consensus amongst pro-Sheldrake faction here is irrelevant because the community consensus is that WP:FRINGE applies, and you can't get round that without a wider discussion of how to deal with fringe issues, however many WP:SPAs or rambling IPs turn up here and try to back up each other's ridiculous viewpoints. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:31, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
My behaviour? What, disagreeing with you is forbidden by policy. I think not. The simple fact is that Sheldrake is a biologist. Numerous high quality sources describe him as such, most probably because it's a well known fact. As for the fringe guideline, that applies to his ideas and not his basic biographical details. If I'm wrong then cite the section in question that says biologists can't be called biologists if their work is controversial to the point of being considered pseudoscience. I looked, no such policy/guideline, nor nothing like it, exists. As I said, he's a biologist, get over it. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:55, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
@Barney, please don't be incivil to new users per WP:BITE. Please do not dismiss editors outright that disagree with you, it is not constructive. WP:FRINGE is a guideline, trumped by WP:NPOV, a core policy. All editors here welcome criticism in the article, but it is not truth per WP:TRUTH (a core policy). I do not see editors that disagree with you, trying to push their own viewpoints, that would contravene WP:OR and WP:SYNTH. Editors describe reliable secondary sources, of which there are many. I'm still waiting to see yours. --Iantresman (talk) 21:18, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Quite so. If I were a bully/coward/zealot, I'd use this as a pretext to collect a bunch of similar past statements by Barney, assemble a posse and try to get him banned! How fortunate that most editors on this page are not bullies/cowards/zealots. Ben Finn (talk) 12:13, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
and lets all stay focused on the content and the sources. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:33, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Hmmm- Lantresman listed a reference which referred to Sheldrake as an 'independent biologist'. That may be the way to resolve this. By stating he is an independent biologist, or even an independent scientist - it allows for him to both have his proper credentials and show that he operates outside of the mainstream. I would support that edit. Philosophyfellow (talk) 19:33, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Further, the sources above have no problem describing him as a scientist who "is known for his controversial theories", allowing us to put his credentials in context. I am still waiting to see those secondary sources that question his status a scientist/biologist. --Iantresman (talk) 19:48, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
I like the independent biologist/scientist solution. Blippy (talk) 02:12, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Sheldrake's status seems somewhat like that of James Lovelock, who is often described as an 'independent scientist', perhaps by himself too. Ben Finn (talk) 12:09, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Look, nobody is arguing that he's never done any science in his life. What they are saying is that he's not a scientist in the context of doing the things for which he is best known. The things that he is best known for are not science (but have a large contingent who wants to call them science).

Whether he has biology credentials is irrelevant. Obama has lawyer credentials, but we don't start the article on Obama by saying "Obama is a lawyer...". His most well known activities don't involve practicing law, and likewise, Sheldrake's most well known activities don't involve him practicing science. Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:29, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Nearly all the reliable secondary sources listed above, disagree. What alternative secondary sources should we be looking at. --Iantresman (talk) 16:40, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
His biology credentials are highly relevant. That's because Sheldrake is the biologist whose work in the general field of biology caused an uproar on publication. The reason Nature reviewed it at all (and so harshly) is straightforwardly because it was from one of their own brightest young things. That some have since decided that it is better called pseudoscience is of no real consequence. All that means is that he is a biologist (as opposed to a non-biologist or a layman) whose work, on biology, is considered by some to be pseudoscience. This contrast - the contrast between Sheldrake and, say, von Daniken - needs to be made. And it needs to be made also because, as noted in various sources, it is precisely the fact he has such impeccable scientific credentials that gets up many people's noses and makes him notable in the first place. This is why,for example, he features in so many broadsheet newspaper articles, and why there are documentaries about him on BBC. And this in turn is why we have an article on him here. Thus the fact he is a biologist is central to his notability.Barleybannocks (talk) 16:48, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
He had scientific credentials 30 years ago, but he threw them away and has not had any scientific credibility for most of his career. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:04, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
No, he didn't throw them away. You can't actually throw such things away. He has them still and will have until the day he dies - unless, eg, the awarding body decides to revoke them, and even then.... Thus your argument is quite wrong on that factual score. Perhaps the reason you are misunderstanding this is because you are conflating credentials with credibility and then taking his lack of credibility as a lack of credentials as if they were one and the same thing. They're not. His credentials, not credibility, are a significant part of what all the fuss was/is about and this fuss is why he is notable. Barleybannocks (talk) 18:16, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
He has his degree, but a degree alone does not ="credentials". And scientific credentials is a thing that he does NOT have.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:35, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
No, he does have scientific credentials. He has, eg, numerous degrees up to and including a phd in science subjects. He has various scientific research postings at various universities. He has a scientific employment record within various scientific and scientific-business institutions. And he has an extensive scientific publication record in peer-reviewed scientific journals. This is how he differs from, eg, von Daniken, and this is in large part why he's notable. This is why all the sources call him a scientist/biologist. And all of these things are why the article should not conceal this fact from the reader.Barleybannocks (talk) 19:58, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
No, he does NOT have scientific credentials, no matter how many degrees he holds. People with scientific credentials dont get their TED talks yanked from the the mainspace distribution and paced with a disclaimer on the blog. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:51, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes he does have scientific credentials. TED has absolutely nothing to do with this particular question. You seem to be making up all manner of stuff as you go along. The guy's a biologist, however much you would like it to be otherwise.Barleybannocks (talk) 10:18, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
An independent reliable secondary source disagrees with your characterisation of the issue, and still described Sheldrake as a biochemist.[100] I am not aware of any sources that corroborate whether TED gets to decide whether people have scientific credentials, suggesting your description is WP:SYNTH. It is also worth noting that while TED gave their reasons for removing Sheldrake's talk,[101] the TED Scientific Board subsequently had to retract their Statement.[102] --Iantresman (talk) 09:48, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Iantres: Those "reliable secondary sources" fall into two categories:
  • Sources that call him a scientist for the purpose of contrasting to his current nonscientific/pseudoscientific activities, and
  • Sources that actually do call him a scientist, but are not reliable sources for this information--newspapers have no expertise in determining whether someone is doing science and the fact that they call a pseudoscientist a scientist doesn't make them reliable sources for him being a scientist in anything other than a historical sense
Ken Arromdee (talk) 18:31, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Ken, you write as if determining whether someone is a scientist is a tricky scientific question of its own. A question requiring a doctorate or some such thing to answer. It isn't. The Guardian, the BBC, etc etc etc, are absolutely qualified to determine whether someone is appropriately called a biologist. There is nobody/nothing in the world more qualified than those typo of highly reputable news sources - not least because there are no formal qualifications, nor any complex to-be-learned method, for determining the answer to this (very simple) factual question. Thus we have numerous reliable sources for this basic piece of biographical information and nothing but a few peculiar arguments from editors here going against them. There is no dispute in the wider (beyond wikipedia) world. The guy is a biologist. And since he is noted as such in the sources, that really should be the end of that.
It is also highly relevant for the reasons set out just above.Barleybannocks (talk) 18:41, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Determining whether someone is a scientist is not a scientific question, but it certainly can be a tricky one. jps (talk) 19:30, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
It's not tricky at all. Sheldrake is a scientist in a perfectly straightforward sense of the term. Perhaps with other senses of the term there might be grey areas that are difficult to resolve, but thankfully, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, such determinations are completely made for us and therefore we don't need to concern ourselves with them in the slightest - we just go with the (now copious) sources.Barleybannocks (talk) 19:36, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Whether he "is" or "is not" is not really the actual question/issue. It is whether that terminology is the best way to describe him or if there are better terminologies that more accurately reflect how he is viewed by the mainstream academic community. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:55, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
I think in a biography the facts about the man are important. Even if that wasn't obviously true, however, the second question you ask has been answered for us by the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, New Scientist and all the other top quality sources cited above. That's how he is described everywhere else and so that's how we should describe him. How the scientific community judges his work is a separate issue and is dealt with at length elsewhere in the article. You seem to be struggling to distinguish basic factual details about the man from scientific judgements on the merit of his work. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:06, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
BBC, the Guardian, the Independent are the high quality end of the popular press, but they are not mainstream academic view. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:46, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
This isn't a mainstream academic question though. I mean, which academic departments do you suppose investigate whether people are scientists? Barleybannocks (talk) 20:51, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
We present EVERYTHING through the mainstream academic view WP:VALID "There are many such beliefs in the world, ... even plausible but currently unaccepted theories should not be legitimized through comparison to accepted academic scholarship. We do not take a stand on these issues as encyclopedia writers, for or against; we merely omit them where including them would unduly legitimize them, and otherwise describe them in their proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the greater world." and Wikipedia:VALID#Good_research "Good and unbiased research, based upon the best and most reputable authoritative sources available, helps prevent NPOV disagreements. Try the library for reputable books and journal articles, and look for the most reliable online resources." and Wikipedia:RS#Some_types_of_sources "Many Wikipedia articles rely on scholarly material. When available, academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs, and textbooks are usually the most reliable sources. ... Try to cite present scholarly consensus when available, recognizing that this is often absent." Here, it is present. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:34, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
You're mistaken. Even if only for the simple reason that there is no mainstream scientific view of Sheldrake's academic credentials. That is, it is not a scientific hypothesis, nor even a pseudoscientific hypothesis, nor any kind of hypothesis at all, that Sheldrake is a biologist. Quite the contrary, it is simply a plain fact. It is basic biographical information that should be stated plainly in his biography. As I said above, you are confusing the man with his ideas. They are not the same thing at all. Sheldrake is a biologist. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:50, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Something's being a scientific hypothesis or any hypothesis is not a necessary condition for that something being a mainstream academic view. Spinoza espoused rationalism. That's not a scientific hypothesis etc., but it is still the mainstream academic view. That is, if you open up books published by reputable academic presses, issues in reputable academic journals, etc. which focus on the topic of Spinoza or rationalism or intellectual history generally, this view will be well-attested, but its contradiction will not be well-attested. The same process can be employed for Sheldrake and a result can be obtained: Either a consensus that he is a biologist without qualification, a consensus that he is not a biologist, or no consensus. If the first is the case, then this article can simply say that he is a biologist. If the second is the case, then the article can simply say that he is not a biologist. If the last is the case, then all significant views have to be presented without prejudice. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 02:11, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake isn't well enough known to be a subject studied at university. There won't be textbooks on the scientific study of the Sheldrake. There is no academic in the world investigating whether he is a scientist - except if there are some on this page doing it here, now. There is no debate on this issue. He is a biologist. His theories are what are debated/argued over/rejected, not his credentials, nor his date of birth. Barleybannocks (talk) 02:36, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is plenty well enough known to be studied if anyone wanted to. There will not be textbooks on the scientific study of the Sheldrake because that can all be debunked in about 6 pages, 7 if you are verbose. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:39, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
How are you going to debunk Sheldrake himself? Are you now claiming he doesn't really exist? Are you saying there is some dispute over whether he's a real person?Barleybannocks (talk) 10:07, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
The process can be employed regardless of whether the person is a subject studied etc., or not. For example, Graham Priest is a logician. How can this description be justified? With that process: You go through those such reliable sources, and you can see that the description is well-attested, but the contradiction is not well-attested. Say someone comes to the Graham Priest article and writes that he is a biologist, another person challenges this description and removes it. How could that dispute be resolved? The same process could be employed again: Survey those sources and see what they say. To depend on whatever one judges to be "simple fact" is dangerous: One person's "simple facts" are another person's "contested opinion". The better course, and the only one that is within policy for this encyclopedia, is to just represent exactly what the reliable sources say without prejudicing any significant viewpoint. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 04:19, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
And the reliable sources say he is a biologist. And there is nobody/no sources at all say he isn't.Barleybannocks (talk) 10:07, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is regularly invited by universities to give lectures such as Cambridge,[103] University of London,[104] University of Surrey,[105] his books are found in reputable insitutions from London's Natural History Museum,[106] to Arizona State University,[107] to the Smithsonian Institution,[108] and he is considered a research interest by several academics,[109] and is also the subject of academic papers,[110][111][112] and books.[113]--Iantresman (talk) 10:23, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

So by my count, we have over a dozen independent reliable secondary sources, based on similar sources we have access to, who have decided to call Sheldrake a scientist/biologist, and just two that call him a parapsychologist. We do not ignore the academic view, it's just not the world view. --Iantresman (talk) 20:52, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

NPOV tag

Do not remove the NPOV tag until the administrators noticeboard NPOV dispute has been resolved.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view/Noticeboard#Bias_in_the_Rupert_Sheldrake_article Alfonzo Green (talk) 22:12, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

Please do not add the {{POV}} tag until you've actually explained with reference to policy, why the article is not reflecting scholarly consensus on this issue. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:49, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I would imagine it's because you, amongst others, have included stuff that is inappropriately/inadequately sourced and rejected stuff that is more than appropriately/adequately sourced. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:52, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow, are you psychic Barleybannocks (talk · contribs)? There's a mechanism for that don't you know. Specifics please; and references to policy. No weaselling that there's not scientific consensus on this issue, please, it's extremely duplicitous. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:59, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Biologist. Exceptionally well sourced - excluded because some here don't want it to be true. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:03, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
(e/c) ::::::from the article "From 1967 to 1973 Sheldrake was a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University,". Its right there in the lead section, first sentence of the second paragraph. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:09, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Okay, so you have no objection to calling him a "English biologist, author and lecturer" the way it's done across the whole rest of wikipedia as far as I can see? You seemed to be arguing above that we shouldn't say this. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:12, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Also this sentence "Scientists and skeptics have described morphic resonance as pseudoscience because of a lack of evidence that supports it and its inconsistency with established scientific theories" is a bizarre non-sequitur. Maybe someone actually said that and maybe they didn't, but it's currently unsourced and completely wrong. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:07, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
"non-sequitor" is not POV violation. If you want the mainstream views expanded and moved up to the first mention of MR, we can do that.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:15, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
My point was not merely that it was a non-sequitur. It's more that it's unsourced. And given how stupid it is, I doubt it will ever be sourced. That is, I can't imagine that anyone ever actually said such a thing. But if sources can be found... 23:19, 16 November 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barleybannocks (talkcontribs)
In the various editings, a long sentence source with the group note got split into two sentences and the group note went along with only the second sentence. I have re-added it to the first sentence as well. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:38, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
You appear to have run many different sources together into one sentence that doesn't make sense. Did anyone actually say the nonsense that's currently in the article or did you just make it up?Barleybannocks (talk) 23:46, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

The article says that "scientists and skeptics have described as pseudoscience"[114][115]

  • This fails WP:WEASEL "Numerically vague expressions", suggesting unanimity when it is not.
  • The sources [8]-[13] given are misleading or unreliable. (1) Ref #8 is a book on Foreign Policy by economist Ruchir Sharma (2) Ref #11 by Rose says the opposite "Granted its scientific"[116] (3) Ref #13 by Jones says only that Sheldrake "gives it a proper pseudo-scientific name 'the morphongenic field'", and then notes the opposite, that it is "a scientific theory [..] he suggests a variety of scientific experiments"
  • It further fails WP:SYNTH, WP:LABEL and WP:GRAVEVINE per my comment above.[117] --Iantresman (talk) 23:48, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
It is a WP:REDFLAG claim to assert that there is not near universal unanimity within academic world that morphic fields as anything other than pseudoscience. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:31, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
And i cannot believe that you are so blatantly misquoting Rose again!! He is NOT stating ""Granted it's scientific." his full clause is "Granted its scientific and philosophical implausibility,..." You are either incompetent or trolling. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:33, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
You seem to be using the word "pseudoscience" almost interchangeably with terms like "wrong", "false", "lacking in evidence", "silly" etc. These are all quite different and to lump them all together and claim "near unanimity" on this very specific point is a stretch at best. Moreover, as was argued above, many of the people on your list have quite specifically said the idea was scientific (even if they did think it was wrong, or even crazy) and thus we have good reason to think (proof positive in fact) that there is no near unanimity within the scientific community on this specific point. What there is near unanimity for is that Sheldrake's hypothesis is not accepted by the scientific community, or dismissed by the scientific community, but there seems no unanimity for the term "pseudoscience". Barleybannocks (talk) 00:43, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
show that there is any measurable level of support / agreement /consideration that MR is a valid idea within the academic community -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:00, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I didn't say there was any real level of support for the idea. Indeed, I said the exact opposite - I said it had been "dismissed". But near universal dismissal does not entail the stronger claim that the idea is almost universally considered pseudoscience. That would appear to be merely your take on things and not something supported by the various quotes from the various sources. Barleybannocks (talk) 01:06, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney (and to a lesser extent TRPoD) have refused to admit that the relevant policy is the very first sentence of WP:NPOV. All the reliable sources. Nothing has changed; this is the same argument, repeated ad infinitum. BarleyBannocks hit the nail on the head: oneIdeaSheldrakeHadOnce==WP:FRINGE, therefore *everything on the BLP page is fringe, pseudo, factually_false, illogical... any source can be elided, if it disagrees with this approach. Sigh. Tag mainspace with the fails-to-be-NPOV-tag? Why, when SkePOV==NPOV? Deep-double-sigh. 74.192.84.101 (talk) 02:46, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
see, you have may have put your finger on the pulse of the problem if you are only reading the first sentence of the policy. because the policy goes on for quite a ways beyond that first sentence. it gives specific instructions and guidance on how to deal with fringe topics and and pseudo science topics. You should read them. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:53, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't see anything in that policy suggesting we should lie about, or otherwise conceal in any way, basic biographical information in case the reader gets the (wrong) idea that the person might know what they're talking about. Barleybannocks (talk) 11:52, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Who has been suggesting that we put lies in the article? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:36, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
You, and others, have been suggesting that the basic biographical details about the man be finessed, to speak euphemistically, so that people do not get the idea that he might know what he is talking about. Thus, eg, there is an objection to calling him a biologist lest anyone think better of his theories on account of it. And this type of consideration appears to underlie almost all the discussion on this page. Barleybannocks (talk) 15:46, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
No. Sheldrake undoubtedly uses misleading language to misrepresent his scientific career (as detailed on Rational wiki). He might know what he's talking about but the acid test in science is acceptance by your peers. Everyone's brain is fallible - and a minority suffer from fallibility problems - but collections of brain can broadly agree which of the minority are suffering from fallibility problems. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:36, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
If you want to make potentially libellous comments about Sheldrake misrepresenting his scientific career/credentials, or being in some sense mentally ill, then you're going to have to do a whole load better than Rational Wiki. The best course of action, however, imo, would probably be to delete/cross out (TED fashion) your last comment.Barleybannocks (talk) 17:45, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Let's not get into legal threats. The big problem with this approach is that Sheldrake would have to prove in a court of law, I claim fair comment, and I expect to be able to call a number of senior professors to support me as expert witnesses, and Sense About Science have shown how they can galvanise support. Not scared by legal threats - the article should accurately reflect scholarly consensus. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:08, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not making legal threats. I'm telling you that if you want to make wild allegations about mental illness and fake credentials then you had better have something better than (ir)rational wiki at your disposal. Barleybannocks (talk) 18:13, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Didn't discuss mental health (although there a few hints, there's no reliable public medical diagnosis). Not fake credentials either - just misrepresenting his real credentials to make his academic career appear more notable than it was. Also, not relying on rational wiki, I'm confident of support of the scientific community if Sheldrake does want to sue. In fact, did you read ANYTHING I just said, or did you just ignore it and insist on telling me a bunch of misrepresentations of what I'd just said? Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:40, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I did read it. You made some pseudoscientific points about a "fallible brain" that you suggested Sheldrake suffers from, and now you are making allegations about serious academic impropriety on Sheldrake's part. I'm just pointing out that nothing even remotely like that will be going into the article unless it can be uber-sourced (ie, not to some extravagant rational wiki story-telling).Barleybannocks (talk) 18:49, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Fallibility means being wrong - look it up in a dictionary, you might learn something. You don't have to be mentally ill to hold a belief that is wrong. Also, not serious academic impropriety (which implies fraud, which historically has been rife in parapsychology but let's not go there), Yes - minor issues in which he avoids lying but makes himself look better than he is - especially to those who are easily confused, like many people here it would seem. More misrepresentations of what was said. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:54, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I know what fallibility means, and if all you meant was that he was wrong then why put it in such a pseudoscientific/quack way as if this was some physical condition of the brain. That made it sound like you were suggesting mental illness. And as regards your second point, what you said sounded like you were suggesting serious impropriety rather than just what pretty much everyone does. If that's all you meant then why put it in such grand, and potentially libellous, terms. Barleybannocks (talk) 19:01, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Hi Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) - just to clarify, I did not accuse Rupert Sheldrake of being mentally ill. I do believe however he is wrong, and this view is shared by all bar one of the scientific sources that I can find. You took a word and misinterpreted it - I allowed you the opportunity not to understand it, but if you say you did, I am left with the conclusion that this understanding was not due to incompetence on your part. Please stop. You are doing your case no good. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:22, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
It's not up to editors to decide whether in their opinion, someone's theory is falsifiable, scientific, or whatever. It is also not up to editors to judge someone else's description of Sheldrake's work, and decide whether in their opinion, it is a description of science, pseudoscience or whatever. This has to be explicitly stated in the source, that is what secondary sources are for. --Iantresman (talk) 19:42, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Ah yes, these mythical "secondary sources". The surveys of the scientific community - oh wait we don't have any of those, so must be wrong. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:22, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

The lead says "Morphic resonance is rejected by numerous scientists as psuedoscience and magical thinking"[118] still uses a weasel word "numerous" (this is a simple concept to understand), and is not supported by the sources where we have the odd couple of people who mention pseudoscience (including a book on Foreign Policy, mentioned above), and the rest inferred by editors through WP:SYNTH in violation of WP:LABEL and WP:GRAPEVINE and WP:BLP. No editor is suggesting that we exclude the description by some scientists that they personal believe is work to be pseudoscience, but this is not the same as what is written in the introduction. --Iantresman (talk) 18:28, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

We have Sheldrake himself as a source in his continual complaints about the "dominant orthodoxy" of the "mechanistic" world view leaving his morphic resonance in the distinct non orthodox ultra minority.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:02, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
You'd think that Sheldrake's supporters would be agreeing with Sheldrake that the scientific community's view is "dogmatic", and "institutionalised -ism" against his ideas. We do need to include Sheldrake's responses to criticism - he deos have a right of reply. Heaven forbid though we actually use this page to discuss how to improve the article rather than how to disimprove it by obfuscating sources, and using deliberately misleading language. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:26, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
No, Sheldrake does not have a right to reply in the article. We have the responsibility of placing comments in appropriate context, but within the framework of WP:VALID and Wikipedia:NPOV#Balance and WP:PSCI . -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:46, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
No-one disputes that Sheldrake's hypotheses are in the minority. No one disputes that science rejects Sheldrake's hypotheses. But that is not how the introductory paragraph describes it. --Iantresman (talk) 20:28, 17 November 2013 (UTC)