Talk:Rupert Sheldrake/Archive 15

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Archive 14 Archive 15 Archive 16

stuff that doesn't make much sense

There are various passages in the article that don't make much sense. This, eg:

"Scientists and skeptics have labelled morphic resonance a pseudoscience, citing a lack of evidence to support the concept and its inconsistency with established scientific theories."

This is like saying 'critics have labelled X a burglar, citing red shoes and a packet of cigarettes'. Do we have a source making this specific claim or has this been cobbled together out a variety of sources making a variety of points?

Also this:

"However, where Jung had assumed a physical explanation for the collective unconscious, Sheldrake rejects any such explanation involving what he terms "mechanistic biology""

This is sourced to A New Science of Life - which passages, page numbers etc, are being cited here? Can the source material for this be presented please.Barleybannocks (talk) 15:25, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

I guess it makes sense if this article were written as an opinion piece - but considering it's supposed to be an encyclopedic article I believe you are correct - it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and makes it look like some editors are slipping personal commentary and OR into the article. Philosophyfellow (talk) 17:14, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Stop pretending sources don't say what they plainly say. They say it's pseudoscience. They explain why it's pseudoscience. Pretending they don't say this won't make them stop saying it. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:18, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney, you miss the point. I am not complaining about the word "pseudoscience" above, I am asking for clarification for the nonsensical reasons given in the remainder of the sentence. Is there a source for this or is this simply (very bad) OR by editors here. I suspect the latter, this I request a source. Barleybannocks (talk) 17:35, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
@Barney. Another editor said it quite well: "The "pattern" on my clothing may match the "pattern" on your clothing but to assign any type of meaning to that is ridiculous because I am wearing a plaid shirt to imitate Elmer Fudd hunting and you are wearing a plaid kilt because you are a member of Clan Campbell." ( TRPoD)[1] In other words, just because people describe something that looks like pseudoscience to YOU, is not reason to force your interpretation on everyone else. Just because an idea is rejected, doesn't make it pseudoscience. --Iantresman (talk) 17:41, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow, that's a remarkable example of illogic. You are trying to argue that it shouldn't be seen as pseudoscience; though the relevance of the bizarre analogy to support this particular claim is obscure to me, it is nevertheless irrelevant to the legitimacy of the quoted passage in question, which merely says that it is 'has been construed as such by "scientists and skeptics", and gives their reasons why. You would need another source to say that these reasons are incorrect. The second passage about Jung is, however, different. One could make a case that it is SYNTH to link to a primary source to disprove an interpretation of that source. This is a moot point, since it depends on the extent to which the use of the primary source in this way constitutes an interpretation in itself. Paul B (talk) 20:36, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow, you likewise miss the point. I am not disputing that some have called Sheldrake's work pseudoscience. Nor am I disputing that people have said that it is inconsistent with other established theories. Nor am I saying that they haven't said it lacks evidence. What I am saying is that I'd like to see sources for the view expressed roughly the way the article currently has it because the way the article currently has it is nonsensical. Thus I suspect that the cobbling together of these views into one is the work of editors here which likely misrepresents the sources. I may be wrong, and will happily accept the point if sources can be found in which these reasons are offered for saying Sheldrake's ideas are pseudoscience. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:53, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Wowzy wow, you don't get the point of indentations, do you. My comment replies to Iantresman's statements, not yours, so your reply doesn't even address the specific point, let alone miss it. Paul B (talk) 22:30, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
The editor's quote I mentioned, suggests to me, that just because something looks like X, it doesn't mean it is X, and could be Z. ie. even though it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and lives in water, it doesn't make it a duck, it could be a goose. My argument is that, although a few scientists have described Sheldrake's work as pseudoscience, it is misleading to suggest that "scientists and skeptics" do. Does it mean ALL scientists and skeptics, or a FEW scientists and skeptics. The phrase is misleading. I have provided several sources to scientists that have described Sheldrake's work as such, and we should include attributable inline citations. --Iantresman (talk) 00:12, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

It's hard to discuss two things at once (I wish people would start two threads if they want to discuss two things), but I'll talk about the first quote. This is a quote from the WP:LEDE, which is meant to summarise points made in the body of the article. The lede does not need citations, as they are given when the points are made in full in the body. There are three main parts to the quoted passage: (a) pseudoscience, citing (b) lack of evidence and (c) inconsistency with established science. (a) appears only twice in the body of the article. The first time, we hear David Jones, in The Times, link it with (b). The second time we hear Jerry A. Coyne, in The New Republic, talking about this very article but not really (c). So the points I think worth making about this passage in the lede are, (1) Is this a fair summary of a significant part of the article? (2) Are the two quotes sufficient to warrant the phrase "Scientists and skeptics"? (3) Is the part (c) really a summary of any actual, well-cited, part of the article? I think there is room for improvement in all three areas. Perhaps someone who knows the topic better than I would like to suggest a better summary about the leading claims of pseudoscience to replace the one quoted? Note: Saying that other stuff exists, but it's not in the article will not work, as the lede only gets let off citing sources if it is summarising things that are in the article. I hope this analysis helps focus this discussion onto improving the article. --Nigelj (talk) 22:07, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

comment from the peanut gallery: in general, non-contentious content in the lead does not need citations if it is cited in the body. However given the subject matter and the participants, EVERYTHING is considered contentious and cites in the lead help everyone make sure that we are all at least blathering about the same content and the same sources etc. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
It's contentious inasmuch as it is nonsensical, and I therefore doubt anyone, except some of the editors here, has ever said such a thing. Is there a source for these claims and their particular connection as portrayed in the article? Barleybannocks (talk) 22:27, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
yes it is nonsensical to try and present him as anything but a psuedoscientific huckster, but that hasnt prevented his fans from filling up 9 archive pages trying to do otherwise. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:44, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Just the sources saying the nonsense in the particular was it appears in the article will suffice. This is not the place to air your irrelevant opinions about the subject matter of the article. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:06, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
"Scientists and skeptics" is a "Numerically vague expression" per Weasel word. No dispute that a handful of people may believe it, but I'm sure I could find a handful of scientists that believe in UFOs or even telepathy. I think we need multiple reliable secondary sources, before we give the impression that "Scientists and skeptics" have a particular point of view. "Particularly harsh criticism should be attributed" per WP:FRINGE, and "Quotes that are controversial or potentially misleading need to be properly contextualized to avoid unintentional endorsement or deprecation" also per WP:FRINGE --Iantresman (talk) 22:28, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
if you have any evidence that "numerically vague representing nearly all" is not an appropriate representation please bring it forth. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:13, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I did, in the link to weasel words. I could also ask several editors for their estimates, and see whether they all agree on teh same magnitude. --Iantresman (talk) 00:57, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
TRPoD, it's clear from your vitriolic language ('psuedoscientific [sic] huckster' etc.) you have a strong anti-Sheldrake personal point of view. Are you quite sure you are able to edit this article objectively, without imposing your own opinions on it? Ben Finn (talk) 10:08, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
TheRedPenOfDoom (talk · contribs) is an excellent editor. His "anti-Sheldrake" bias isn't anti-Sheldrake it's pro-wP:NPOV pro-Wikipedia, pro-WP:FRINGE. Your views and views of certian other editors are pro-Sheldrake, anti-WP:NPOV and anti-WP:FRINGE and anti-Wikipedia. One "side" has policy on their side, the other doesn't. What do you expect, Wikipedia to not highlight criticism of every piece of nonsensical crap someone thinks up? Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:06, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't see these "Sheldrake fans" and "pro-Sheldrake editors" you refer to constantly. I don't see, eg, anyone arguing MR or MF are true, and that Sheldrake and his ideas should be accepted by all right-thinking people. Instead, I see people who have explicitly stated they don't accept Sheldrake's views, but who are nonetheless trying to provide a reasonable summary of the man and his views. What I also see, however, are people so against Sheldrake that they are unable to discuss the man in non-abusive terms, and often engage in defamatory attacks on Sheldrake and anyone who supports him to the extent that they won't even acknowledge the scientific credentials of either Sheldrake or anyone who offers him any support in any way whatsoever. Moreover, some of these editors have stated that they are even afraid to read his work in case it affects their physical/mental health! I think with regard to all this Bfinn makes a reasonable point.Barleybannocks (talk) 11:28, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I echo Barleybannocks in expressing irritation at being labeled a "Sheldrake fan" or "pro-Sheldrake." I do not endorse Sheldrake's theories nor do I feel they should be portrayed as fact, and I feel that trying to craft a balanced page is being "pro-WP" more than anything. The editing of this page is not a matter of 2 sides warring, but a group of relatively intelligent people working to find a rational consensus. My participation is a matter of following the principles of WP, not promoting my personal opinions (which are as skeptical as anyone's on this page). The Cap'n (talk) 19:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Paragraph two---why is panpsychism not mentioned?

To be more fair to Sheldrake I think the second paragraph should include his endorsement of panpsychism, otherwise it leads the reader to assume morphic resonance isn't compatible with any more widely known philosophies, whether you agree with them or not. I propose something like this "Sheldrake also argues that science has become a series of dogmas rather than an open-minded approach to investigating phenomena,[10] and questions the idea that all reality can be explained by materialism. Sheldrake is a proponent of panpsychism, the view that mind or soul is a universal feature of all things. This philosophy is gathering more attention because of recent interest in the hard problem of consciousness. Sheldrake also questions accepted scientific assumptions with respect to the conservation of energy and the impossibility of perpetual motion devices.[10][11] He accuses scientists of believing that the nature of reality is essentially understood and suggests they are susceptible to "the recurrent fantasy of omniscience".[7] Shaynekori (talk) 03:01, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

If it is to be in the lead, it first must be in the main article, properly sourced. Lou Sander (talk) 04:08, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, I've not come across panpsychism. I have come across animism, mysticism (Eastern mysticism and Western mysticism) which would all be better high value links. Doesn't mean it's wrong of course. Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:54, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Panpsychism and Sheldrake. It's only MIT Press though, rather than a blog, so unsure if it can be used here.[2] It's also in a chapter entitled "Scientific Perspectives", and in the section entitled "Recent Scientific Interpretations" but, as noted, it's only MIT Press. Barleybannocks (talk) 11:48, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Thank you Shaynekori (talk) for making this distinction. I believe this was raised before. Panpsychism as well as Extended Mind are two philosophical concepts Sheldrake basically seeks to create a scientific framework for - and I absolutely agree, his criticisms of Scientific Materialism reflect a centuries old philosophical debate. I think the issue on this page specifically is that discussion of these philosophical ideas in a scientific setting is raising issues of pseudoscience - putting editors in an awkward position of actually taking philosophical sides using Wikipedia policy. It makes the page look uninformed otherwise, misleading to interested readers. While there is no scientific evidence ( I assume) for panpsychism, it's quite a mainstream academic concept these days. I support this edit. Philosophyfellow (talk) 14:54, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

"philosophical concepts" which Tumbleman (talk · contribs)/Philosophyfellow (talk · contribs) thinks are "quite a mainstream academic concept these days", he should note that others think his philosophical views are based on "someone [taking] a philosophy text book, cut it into lots of tiny little pieces, and then [sticking] them back together at random", which seems to be a fairly accurate representation of this. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:22, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney, where does that description of Sheldrake's work come from? Barleybannocks (talk) 14:55, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
That's a description of Tumbleman (talk · contribs)'s views (see rationalwiki). Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:22, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
What's its relevance here in a discussion of Sheldrake?Barleybannocks (talk) 15:35, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow. Just wow. I read elswhere here that it is normal to strike through edits by socks on talk pages, but I've not seen it done. Thoughts? --Roxy the dog (resonate) 17:26, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Sources for Sheldrake and panpsychism - The URL is subscription based, but Sheldrake has a copy on this website for anyone wishing to read it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shaynekori (talkcontribs) 23:51, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Did Another Editor Get Blocked/Banned On This Cursed Page?

Not related to improvement of this article. vzaak (talk) 21:11, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

I saw that Philosophyfellow has been blocked as being a sockpuppet of Tumbleman. For one thing, I am still uncomfortable with the way that Tumbleman's banning went down, but is this case I'm more than a little uneasy with how this most recent blocking was justified, considering the slew of warnings of blocking to various people editing this page. Was there a Checkuser done or are we blocking people based on hunches now?

I'd normally take these procedures for granted, but there've been threats of banning for a lot of people (including myself) who have been arguing for some of things that Philosophyfellow was espousing. I'm concerned there's a pattern developing that punishes participation on the Rupert Sheldrake page. The Cap'n (talk) 19:34, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

What troubles you Cap about the way Tumbleman got dealt with? In my opinion, it should have happened about a month sooner, and for being a troll rather than a sockpuppeteer, but what troubles you? Do you think he should still be around to disrupt? I agree that it would be a nice to actually know what the checkuser finding was, rather than just "I have banned" Phillopopososophy fellow the sock. Was it based on the comparison provided, or on technical goings on. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 19:50, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
It was the same factors in Philosophyfellow's banning that I disliked in Tumbleman's, which were finding the most expedient, if not entirely supported method to ban someone. If Tumbleman was being disruptive that's what he should have been banned for, but it seemed like that was too hard to prove so the charge of sockpuppetry was pursued. Even the arbitrators acknowledged it was not a clear case of disruptive sockpuppetry, but he was banned anyway with a split decision. That's fine, I'm not getting into the decision here, but I feel that if someone is so disruptive as to be a troll it should be easy to present that disruption as evidence. If there's not enough evidence then perhaps they aren't disruptive enough to ban.
As far as Philosophyfellow, the reason I feel uneasy about this case is that it comes closely on the heels of almost a half-dozen threats of banning against a variety of editors, the only commonality between them being that they've advocated a minority perspective on the Sheldrake page (with the sole exception of barney). I get uncomfortable when there are a bunch of anonymous threats to stop editing the page or else, then see the people editing the page getting banned. The fact that he was banned for the same easily levelled/difficult to disprove charge that ran Tumbleman out of town is enough to make a man curious. The Cap'n (talk) 20:25, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Don't be ridiculous. The sockpuppetry evidence is voluminous, which alone was more than enough for Tumbleman's block. The Philosophyfellow evidence is even more extensive (probably too much WP:ROPE). Even putting the sockpuppetry aside, additional behavioral problems lead to the WP:SOUP ban, which was with the unanimous consent of six administrators. vzaak (talk) 21:11, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

As a naive user, how enforceable is the do not modify warning on the above section, as placed by vzaak? Genuine question. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 21:37, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Overview of outstanding issues

The recent BLPN thread was initiated by a sockpuppet of a user that was previously blocked for sockpuppeting as well as other problems. The NPOVN thread lacked a credible case and has since been ignored. This leaves us with:

The alleged Dawkins quotes

The reason given for including the alleged quotes involves the fact that the quotes were reproduced in a newspaper editorial, and therefore some kind of reliability status is conferred upon them. This appears to reflect a confusion between a newspaper editorial and a hard-news article held to journalistic standards. The fact that alleged quotes appear in an editorial do not make them any less alleged or any more suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia. Moreover, it is not even clear what "It's not a low-grade debunking exercise; it's a high-grade debunking exercise" is supposed to mean.

Wikipedia self-reference

There still appears to be no argument proffered to sufficiently overcome WP:SUBJECT, "A mention of Wikipedia by a notable person is unlikely to justify a mention in their Wikipedia article. To avoid self reference, a mention needs to reflect its importance in their overall body of work."

Mentioning "biochemist" in the first sentence instead of the second sentence

An RfC was proposed to specifically address this matter, but no supporters of putting "biochemist" in the first sentence stated their case in it.


The discussion has become dormant in all cases, and further, for some it still remains unclear what the issue is. According to the {{NPOV}} instructions, the tag may be removed under these conditions, as it "is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article".

In the past there have been problems with editors not following the {{NPOV}} instructions. Here they are:

Place this template on an article when you have identified a serious issue of balance and the lack of a WP:Neutral point of view, and you wish to attract editors with different viewpoints to the article. Please also explain on the article's talk page why you are adding this tag, identifying specific issues that are actionable within Wikipedia's content policies.

An unbalanced or non-neutral article is one that does not fairly represent the balance of perspectives of high-quality, reliable secondary sources. A balanced article presents mainstream views as being mainstream, and minority views as being minority views. The personal views of Wikipedia editors or the public are irrelevant.

vzaak (talk) 17:27, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

The case for calling Sheldrake a biologist/biochemist has been made numerous times. The basic reasons are: a) it's true; b) it's extraordinarily over-sourced to high-quality reliable sources; c) the precedent from the rest of wikipedia clearly shows this should be included; and d)there are no counter sources at all. Thus it should be in.Barleybannocks (talk) 18:07, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
But it's not true is it Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) - show us where Sheldrake has either (a) published anything biochemistry-related in the past 20 years (b) held any biochemistry-related academic position within the last 20 years. Apart from not being true, the insertion of "biochemist" is an attempt to give him a false air of legitimacy, which he patently lacks, and thus violates WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE. How many times do these facts have to be repeated to you before you'll get this? Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:13, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney, your arguments are irrelevant. There are copious top-quality sources that call Sheldrake a biologist. It's not up to you to right what you see as a great wrong. Just go with the sources or find some significant sources that specifically say Sheldrake is not a biologist.Barleybannocks (talk) 18:18, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

A further issue is the problem, noted above, of misrepresenting the views of a very few scientists and other commentators as the overall view of the academic community, while at the same time not acknowledging or downplaying the academic/scientific support for Sheldrake (more in terms of the scientific integrity of his work than in its truth) which is based on an almost equal number of sources.Barleybannocks (talk) 18:18, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

edit conflict multiple times The word biochemist is in the second sentence, I'm sure I've seen it there. Isn't that enough? I'd also be very happy to consign the rest of this talk page, apart from this thread, to the archives. Further discussion ought to centre around the areas identified by Vzaak, though I agree there is little further to say atm. I've volunteered to remove the NPOV tag in the past, and even done so, only to have it restored by woolly thinkers. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 18:20, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Barleybannocks, you have just replaced "researcher" with "biologist" in the first sentence, and made "biologist" the first descriptor. A wide-open offer to state your case has been standing for a week, but you have not participated. Nobody wanting "biochemist" in the first sentence has participated in the RfC proposal. The proper route to getting the changes you want is to engage with the discussion offered to you, not warring. vzaak (talk) 18:23, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I did insert biologist for the reasons stated above numerous times including the copious sources supporting it. Have you sources suggesting it should be removed that refer beyond this page?Barleybannocks (talk) 18:26, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

@Barney. I am not familiar with your description for being a biochemist/chemist. Per the template above, "The neutral point of view is determined by the prevalence of a perspective in high-quality, independent, reliable secondary source", and per WP:FRINGE "it is of vital importance that they simply restate what is said by independent secondary sources of reasonable reliability and quality."

Using reliable secondary sources, we find that The University of Binghamton refers to him as a biochemist.[3] He is also referred to as a biologist by the University of London,[4] the University of Arizona,[5] the Open University,[6] Institute of Noetic Sciences, [7] the University of Reading,[8] the BBC,[9][10][11][12][13][14] the Daily Telegraph,[15][16][17][18] National Geographic,[19] Discover magazine,[20] The Independent newspaper,[21] Scientific American,[22][23] Science,[24] Financial Times,[25] New York Times,[26] and in various academic/university textbook,[27][28][29] peer-reviewed journals, Trans. Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 37, No. 1 (2012)[30] --Iantresman (talk) 18:44, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

I think the argument against is based on a news item in Nature[31] (which doesn't say he is not also a chemist/biochemist/scientist) and also a New Scientist article.[32] Coyne[33] et al are primary sources. While Nature certainly has weight, I think the consensus is in favour of him being described as a (bio)chemist. I have no problem including attributed descriptions from others elsewhere in the article in order to satisfy all sides. --Iantresman (talk) 19:28, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Given the overwhelming number of secondary sources that describe Sheldrake as a biologist or biochemist, he must be labeled as one or the other in the opening sentence. I think we should go with biologist for the simple reason that he no longer researches in the field of biochemistry. In fact morphic resonance is specifically designed to bypass biochemistry, to explain ontogeny without recourse to the chemical properties of the egg. Alfonzo Green (talk) 19:46, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

I note that 19-year-old Taylor Wilson is described as a "nuclear scientist". No degrees. No papers. But one assumes he is doing research in good faith with those goals in mind. --Iantresman (talk) 20:09, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, but perhaps Taylor Wilson is following the scientific process? How can you endorse someone as a "scientist" when it is clear that he isn't doing science? No matter how many sources you dig up, this simply isn't true. And demonstrably so. What you are suggesting is we lie to the reader in order to soften the tone of the article. This isn't compatible with WP:NPOV or WP:FRINGE. It's also not the case that he's doing biochemistry now, and he's not notable for the biochemistry he did in the past (failing WP:PROF). He's notable for the new age woo. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:34, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
It might be clear to you Barney, but a huge number of reliable sources from actual scientists, to scientific journals and magazines, to academic texts, to academic institutions, to reputable media, to websites all agree that he is a scientist. Perhaps the wider world (beyond this page) is the place to make your argument and then, if made successfully, we can adopt your thoughts on the matter via some sources that actually make the point. Until then I say we go with the dozens of sources.Barleybannocks (talk) 20:43, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake's work is at odds with ideological materialism, not science as a metaphysically noncommittal methodology for obtaining knowledge. Setting aside whether or not morphic resonance is real, that it's logically coherent and testable is a simple fact. We can describe it as a hypothesis or a theory, but "concept" will not suffice. Also, only a few scientists and "skeptics" have referred to it as pseudoscience. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:32, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow Alfonzo Green (talk · contribs) - do you think you could squeeze any more understatements, misconceptions and plainly demonstrable untruths in three four sentences? Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:41, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
There are actually sources that make that very point. That is, eg, "Rupert Sheldrake is a robust and eloquent defender of science and the crucial role it plays in modern society. " [34] Barleybannocks (talk) 21:44, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Managed to dig this up: a 1988 review (written 7 years after Sheldrake's book was published) from New Scientist on A New Science of Life. A couple of quotes caught my eye. "Sheldrake's continued emphasis on empirical proof has helped to keep him scientifically respectable, despite the radically unorthodox character of his thought." and "Whatever one's conclusions about morphic resonance, however, books such as this are the life's blood of science." [35] Barleybannocks (talk) 00:28, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Another biologist reference. "Dr Rupert Sheldrake, the biologist, author and parapsychological researcher" - The British Psychological Society, 2012 [36] It also includes this: "Sheldrake remains committed to science and wants to see it liberated from current dogmas: “I am in favour of scientific reason as long as it is scientific and reasonable.” When he suspects that science is neither, he has the intellect and the courage to question it." Barleybannocks (talk) 00:38, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Lots of interesting quotes if one looks for them:
  • "The kind of controversy that Sheldrake’s ideas bring is healthy for biology,” adds Janis Roze, biology professor at the City University of New York."[37]
  • "he is a scientist himself, through and through: a botanist with a double first from Cambridge"[38]
  • "Rupert Sheldrake is a robust and eloquent defender of science and the crucial role it plays in modern society."[39] --Iantresman (talk) 00:47, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

RfC work in progress

This needs some filling-in and other editing before being proposed for real. David or someone should fill in the "TO DO" parts. Anyone is free to edit any section below, provided that care is taken to be concise as possible. After this is hashed out, it may turn out that an RfC isn't needed. vzaak (talk) 23:20, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

David won't be filling in anything. David in DC (talk) 01:18, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
can we cover both Pt 1) AND Pt 2) in the same (or even concurrent) RfC, or does that just get too messy? Take one and weigh the community consensus on that and then address the other (if needed)? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 02:16, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes looking at this again it seems messy. The biochemist question seems the most important. Trimming. vzaak (talk) 04:29, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

It seems to me that most of the controversy has been over calling him a biochemist (or any sort of scientist) in the lead, not whether he should be called one at all. Calling him one in the lead implies that the work for which he is best known is his biochemistry work, which is obviously false.

The question of whether to call him one in the middle of the article raises different issues, about exactly what it means to be one. Is "non-practicing biochemist" a type of biochemist, or a type of non-biochemist? Does biochemist status stick around even if you no longer act as one? Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:04, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I think the main point of contention about the "biochemist" appellation is the use in the lead, particularly in the lead sentence. (at least that is MY major concern.)
I am now wondering however, if it might be a better first step to get the community to address whether WP:FRINGE/PS "2. Generally considered pseudoscience: Proposals which have a following, such as astrology, but which are generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community may properly contain that information and may be categorized as pseudoscience." applies to morphic resonance. If that is settled once and for all, I think that shapes the other discussions.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 02:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The body of the article doesn't pause to comment on how Sheldrake is contemporaneously viewed by others. Sheldrake is called "Sheldrake" in the article, not "the biochemist" or "the former biochemist". I don't mean to sound sarcastic, I just don't see this being an issue.
I can't imagine "2. Generally considered pseudoscience" being in contention. The question is how that informs other issues. vzaak (talk) 05:40, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
see Iantresman et al contesting of the descriptor "widely considered pseudoscience", but, i was just throwing it out there. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:56, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand why people are arguing about a phrase that is no longer in the article, but que sera, sera. vzaak (talk) 13:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Barleybannocks, you are misunderstanding something. It is already stipulated that, "From a raw tally of sources, it is likely that Sheldrake is more often called a biochemist or a biologist." The RfC needs to be as concise as possible; there is no need to list websites and such. You've also repeated the same information already in the RfC. vzaak (talk) 19:17, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Barleybannocks, you are also misunderstanding "Findings of fact". It's absurd to put "he is a biochemist" there, as you did. The point of the RfC is to address what Sheldrake should be currently called. Additionally, I had separated them into point/counterpoint, but you combined them again. Please don't do that again.
If you read what this particular finding of a fact is supposed to be about, it is about what he has been called by scientists, science journals (and academic institutions), and not what he definitely is. It is therefore preposterous to say that it is not a fact that he has been called a biologist etc, since the sources (the ones you deleted) call him that. Even more preposterous though, is to include all the other negative descriptions and list them as facts. That is, they are either all facts, and should all be listed, or none of them are facts and they should all be deleted. Barleybannocks (talk) 19:45, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Did you look at #2? It stipulates everything you want: "Sheldrake is often called a biochemist or biologist in popular media, including in scientific magazines, websites, and other publications. From a raw tally of sources, it is likely that Sheldrake is more often called a biochemist or a biologist." vzaak (talk) 19:49, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I think the Findings of Fact should show (a) which are primary/secondary sources (b) the approximate numbers of such sources (ideally it should give links to all that we are aware of, and dates (c) There should also be a link to the ArbCom decision, so editors can ascertain whether there are conditions. --Iantresman (talk) 20:04, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Whether there is one RfC with two questions or two RfCs with one question is something to be decided after the positions are hammered out. The 3 to 1 ratio mentioned below is this to this. vzaak (talk) 11:00, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

vzaak, because Sheldrake explicitly rejects biochemistry as a means of obtaining a general understanding of ontogeny, to label him a biochemist would be misleading. "Former biochemist" is adequate. As to his status as a biologist, I think part of the confusion here is that Sheldrake is acting more like a physicist. As physicist Walter Elsasser pointed out, biologists never propose high-level theories, and this failure, according to Elsasser, has stifled progress in biology. Imagine if Newton had tried to explain the movements of planets according to the properties of their constituent particles. Instead he proposed that gravity is a general property of nature, and all those planetary movements were explained in one fell swoop. Sheldrake proposes that memory is a property of nature that, like gravity, operates at a distance, though of course over time rather than space. Morphic resonance is a well-defined, testable mechanism of natural memory. In conjunction with this proposal, he adopted the field concept to explain coordination of the parts of an embryo and the members of a hive. Sheldrake's boldness in bypassing traditional channels of biological theory goes a long way toward explaining resentment toward him among other biologists. Nonetheless he's a biologist promoting a testable theory, even if that theory is way too high-level for most biologists to stomach, and this is his prime source of notability. The fact of its testability means it should be described as a theory or hypothesis rather than merely a concept. I favor "hypothesis" for the simple reason that "theory" implies a large body of supporting evidence, and the evidence in favor of morphic resonance, while interesting, falls well short of the evidence supporting, say, evolution by natural selection. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:47, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


  1. Should Sheldrake be called a biochemist, or should his status be that of a former biochemist (which is currently stated implicitly in the article, "until 1978 he was a biochemist at Cambridge")?
  2. Should "morphic resonance" be called an "hypothesis", or should this term be avoided?

Argument: former biochemist

This position is based upon the policy Neutral point of view: Fringe theories and pseudoscience as well as the ArbCom decision on pseudoscience,

Arbitration Committee Decisions on Pseudoscience

The Arbitration Committee has issued several principles which may be helpful to editors of this and other articles when dealing with subjects and categories related to "pseudoscience".

Four groups

The ArbCom decision on pseudoscience grants editors discretion in identifying pseudoscience and characterizing it as such. Wikipedia aims to be a serious encyclopedia with a scientific focus. Scientific opinion and expertise found in high-quality scientific journals are afforded special importance. The degree to which dog-human telepathy relates to the field of biochemistry is a scientific question.

Scientists and scientific journals have called Sheldrake a parapsychologist, a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology, a biochemist-turned-parapsychologist, and a pseudoscientist. Taking these views seriously -- which includes the view of Nature, arguably the most prestigious scientific journal -- is consonant with Wikipedia's policies on science and pseudoscience.

By a ratio of 3 to 1, the number of Google Scholar hits of "Rupert Sheldrake" that mention neither "biologist" nor "biochemist" outnumber the hits that mention either "biologist" or "biochemist". (The ratio is much higher for regular Google web hits, though these results are not as interesting.) In any case, I would argue that such source-counting is a questionable practice, especially when it comes to scientific matters. The article on Evolution was not informed by counting the number of reliable sources, in scorecard fashion, that either support or deny evolution.

Further, the lead is about describing why Sheldrake is notable. Overwhelmingly, he is notable for being an author, lecturer, and proponent of "morphic resonance". Calling Sheldrake a biologist would be misleading since biologists are understood to be WP:PROFs or otherwise involved in biology. Sheldrake is neither.

Remember that this is only about what Sheldrake is presently called in the first sentence of the article. No effort has been or will be made to erase Sheldrake's position as a Cambridge biochemist until 1973, as described in the second sentence of the article.

Argument: biochemist

Scientists, scientific journals and magazines, academic institutions, popular media and websites have referred to Sheldrake as a biochemist or biologist.

Sheldrake's Ph.D. has not been revoked, so he should be called a biochemist.

Argument: avoid the term "hypothesis" to describe "morphic resonance"

The status of "morphic resonance" falls under 2. Generally considered pseudoscience in the ArbCom decision on pseudoscience. As such there is no requirement to use scientific language in describing it.

Argument: use the term "hypothesis" to describe "morphic resonance"

Not calling "morphic resonance" an hypothesis is a BLP violation. (TO DO: explain why.)

The Presence of the Past

The section in the article about Sheldrake's book, The Presence of the past, currently allocates around 7.5% of the words to explaining what the book is about (around 17 words), around 9.5% of the word to a positive review (around 20 words), and around 83% of the words to criticism of the book (around 180 words). I'm not sure that's an appropriate balance in an article about Sheldrake. Barleybannocks (talk) 02:43, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

How is it not representative of the reception and critique the book and its ideas have received? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:48, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not saying there should be no critique, but at present there's virtually no book and only critique. That is, <8% about the book and >80% critique. If there's any point in having a separate section about this book, then we should explain in a little detail what's actually in it before we list all the nasty things some have said about it. Otherwise we should just call the section "Criticism of Presence of the Past" and be done with it. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:57, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

only the details

I amended the introduction [40] so as not to misrepresent Sheldrake's view of the fallacy of omniscience. The introduction is therefore now aligned with the section on Science Set Free (and Sheldrake's actual views). Here's the source. p.6 [41] Barleybannocks (talk) 13:40, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

New Age

Since my last edit has been questioned, let me quote from the work cited from:

"Sheldrake is admired by many New Agers because they believe him to have given scientific credibility to the theory of critical mass and thus to the idea of a sudden transformation of society. The connection made by his followers is, however, not shared by Sheldrake himself. With respect to popular New Age theories of critical mass, he seems to be a sceptic rather than a believer."

The original statement was that "Despite the response to his work from the scientific community, Sheldrake has garnered some support."

This is so vague as to be meaningless, if not downright misleading. 'some support' - from whom? You have to be specific. I read it as saying that Sheldrake has 'some support' from the scientific community. Perhaps that is true, but when I looked at the page cited, I could find nothing to back it up. The only thing resembling a statement of support is the one above - that he is admired by New agers. So I put that in. It's clearly supported by the citation.

We should only use citations which support statement made. If the source does not support it, don't say it, or find a source that does. I can find nothing on that page which suggests he is supported by the scientific community.

I did consider including the point that he does not himself agree with the New Age views. I just couldn't find a way of making it a good sentence. If anyone can manage that, I encourage them to try.

This is not about taking sides: it's about the fact that we should not include statements that are vague or misleading. --Rbreen (talk) 14:24, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

My understanding is that this was Vzaak (talk · contribs)'s attempt to pacify some of the pro-Sheldrake editors. He does have a few "supporters" but they tend to defend his right to free speech, and/or call for more research, more than they agree with what he's saying. We need to get that nuance correct. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:29, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Above there is a list of about 20 sources that have given Sheldrake some support - most, as noted, are simply supporting the idea he is doing science rather than supporting the veracity of his theories. Approximately ten of these, however, are scientists. The current introduction badly misrepresents Sheldrake's support by counting, eg, a Nobel Laureate in physics as a new age devotee.Barleybannocks (talk) 14:35, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
The problem is that the Nobel laureate is a new age devotee. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:42, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Hardly, he believes, as many do, in various phenomena that others reject for a priori reasons, but that hardly makes him a new age devotee. We also have all the other scientists as well though, so the article is still a gross misrepresentation of the truth of the matter, and the sources.Barleybannocks (talk) 17:19, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Well he apparently believes in psychicism, homeopathy and various other things that are rejected by science for not being demonstrably true. This puts him far outside the scientific mainstream, and as a source, we should not be misrepresenting him or his views as mainstream. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:28, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Nobody is suggesting we represent his views as the view of the mainstream. He is, however, a scientist/academic. As are many others who have supported Sheldrake in one way or another (see the sources above). Thus I am arguing they should be represented honestly in the article, rather than misrepresented and/or suppressed to suit the views of editors here. Barleybannocks (talk) 17:42, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Like criticising Isaac Newton for his studies of the occult (exorcised from his Wiki biography), and Einstein's belief in the Pole shift hypothesis (not mentioned in his Wiki biography)? Association fallacy? --Iantresman (talk) 17:46, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Is the Nobel Laureate you are referring to Brian Josephson? Where is the evidence that he believes in homeopathy? --Iantresman (talk) 18:00, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
I think he has suggested there may be mechanisms by which water might "remember" under certain circumstances. Others, however, know a priori that it cannot. Barleybannocks (talk) 18:12, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
But that's not the same as accepting homeopathy, it's a what-if. --Iantresman (talk) 19:22, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Nor is it dismissing ideas a priori - ideas are dismissed because of a lack of evidence and lack of a plausible mechanism. In those respects, homeopathy is very similar to "morphic resonance". Barney the barney barney (talk) 00:00, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

"Granted its scientific and philosophical implausibility"

I stand corrected on TheRedPenOfDoom's interpretation of this statement in Rose's paper[42]. I genuinely misread it as if though it had a comma after "scientific", and only now after reading it again for the umpteenth time, do I see that I was wrong. My apologies for disagreeing with him on this point. I still stand by my other sources where they state Sheldrake 'is' scientific, and of course I am still happy to mention the sources I included stating it is pseudoscience.--Iantresman (talk) 19:06, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Is the neutrality of the article disputed?

Yes. Barleybannocks (talk) 19:16, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Yes! Tom Butler (talk) 19:30, 2 December 2013 (UTC)


Please identify what content is not appropriate per WP:NPOV -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:50, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Yes. eg. "Scientists and sceptics have labelled morphic resonance a pseudoscience" per ambiguous quantity. All of them? --Iantresman (talk) 21:34, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Pretty much. There has been no evidence presented that would indicate that any measurable fraction do not consider the nonsensical promulgations anything other than utter hoohah. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:39, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
You can not provide evidence of "do not consider". The fact concerns those who consider his work pseudoscience, so our onus is to quantify it. --Iantresman (talk) 22:35, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
per WP:REDFLAG the onus is on you to show that there is any measurable portion of academia that believes in this magic. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:41, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think anyone is arguing that there are many within the scientific community who believe in the truth of Sheldrakes theories. Rather, what is being argued, and has been shown conclusively,is that there is support for the fact that Sheldrake is doing appropriate science. And this distinction between believing the theory to be true and believe it to be science is key - it is made in a number of the sources. Thus I think to understand what people here are arguing you need to come to grips with this distinction. There are more than two options: true, or pseudoscience. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:12, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
1. Misrepresentations (strawman presentations) and suppression of Sheldrake's views (eg, singling out one particular dogma and supporting point in the intro, and not even in the manner Sheldrake discusses them, and the Presence of the past section discussed above which is, at the moment. simply a front for unbridled criticism with no real attempt to describe the content of the book). 2. Misrepresentation of critical views (falsely claiming many more critics have said pseudoscience than actually have, and making the nonsensical claim, still in the intro, about it being pseudoscience for reasons that wouldn't make it pseudoscience even if true). 3. Suppression and misrepresentation of supporting/non-negative views (Sheldrake's support is entirely cast in the intro as if it comes from new age followers when we have numerous academic sources discussing his work in a serious academic manner). 4. All Sheldrake's critics are given the grandest introduction they can be given, while his supporters (when mentioned at all) are described in the lowliest manner they could be. Compare, for example, the descriptions of Jerry Coyne and Brian Josephson. 5. Suppression of the fact Sheldrake is a biologist according to around 30 top class sources.
And while this all sounds very bad, it doesn't actually need an awful lot to fix it. It just needs gone through and made much more balanced.Barleybannocks (talk) 20:04, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
again, the declaration that simply a front for unbridled criticism with no real attempt to describe the content of the book is NOT what NPOV requires is just nonsense. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:41, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
And the attempt to add the NPOV tag does seem to be an attempt to "warn" readers that what follows is not compatible with WP:NPOV, which is just not true.
But anyway, perhaps Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) would like to elaborate on his explanation, perhaps on a separate statement. Regarding sources, if pro-Sheldrake sources can be provided, from scientists or philosophers, we should include these. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:33, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
There are around 20 new sources which have been found from academics/scientists supportive, in one way or another, or which discuss Sheldrake in academic terms, which are currently nowhere to be seen in the article. 23:52, 2 December 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barleybannocks (talkcontribs)
Great, thanks Barleybannocks (talk · contribs)(please remember to sign!). How about we start with those one at a time? Have a look at who says it and what they say? Are any of them peer reviewed papers testing morphic resonance-related hypotheses? Barney the barney barney (talk) 23:58, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
You miss the point. The point is not that morphic resonnace is accepted by anyone, the point is that many (see above) have defended Sheldrake in principle as a scientist doing appropriate, even if wrong, science. That is, they have rejected much of the wilder (non-peer-reviewed) criticism which is currently misrepresented as the mainstream scientific view (the mainstream view that currently makes no appearance in the article fwiw).Barleybannocks (talk) 00:09, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure I do really. I thought you had some supportive sources that we could include in the article to add a bit more "balance" if you like. But you seem to be trying to claim that this isn't a fringe topic. The former is fantastic - actually improving the article. The latter is somewhat awkwardly trying to cross the red line of WP:FRINGE and that shall not be crossed. I think my suggestion of going through the sources one at a time and adding them makes sense. You are correct that the "wilder" comments aren't peer reviewed, although they are sourced to those with appropriate credentials and appropriate publications, and the lack of peer review would no doubt change if any morphic resonance experiments were published in PR journals. What you seem to misunderstand is that "bad science" is bad for a reason, and if those reasons are fundamental (such as vagueness and unfalsifiability), then bad science and pseudoscience are essentially indistinguishable. But please if you didn't mean this, and did have some sources for us, please elaborate and we'll have a look at them. Barney the barney barney (talk) 00:26, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
And the rejections are sourced to people with appropriate credentials. Thus I, as in me personally, am not arguing with you about pseudoscience. There are Nobel Laureate's and a reasonable number of other top-notch scientists who have done that and, given even the most cursory reading of Wikipedia rules, their views should be included. Barleybannocks (talk) 00:35, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Well it does appear to be Nobel Laureate (singular). Maybe we could try to get more of his viewpoint in. But meanwhile, and I don't think this is unreasonable - I think we need the sources. Url or newspaper reference, whatever. I'm sorry if they've been posted before and I've missed them. Please just specify what these sources are, because they deserve to be included. Barney the barney barney (talk) 00:43, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
The sources have been provided above about 10 times. Iantresman produced a big long list.Barleybannocks (talk) 00:48, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

" at a time," This is just Stonewalling. I think most of the alternative sources have been previously presented and still we have a consolidated front of editors insisting on one point of view with no apparent willingness to compromise for consensus. Tom Butler (talk) 00:19, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

No really Tom Butler (talk · contribs) - it isn't. If there are sources that describe how Sheldrake's work is scientific, how his critics are wrong to criticise it, then please present them. There are apparently over 20 of them, so one at a time isn't too bad a suggestion. We can deal with one, then move through them until we get to the 20th. The consensus is that WP:FRINGE applies. WP:LOCALCONSENSUS cannot be established contrary to this, however hard you try. We don't compromise on WP:NPOV. Barney the barney barney (talk) 00:26, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Barney - the Shelly supporters seem a little reluctant to have their sources examined properly, having provided them about 10 times above apparently. Would it help if I trawled through the dross and try and find them one at a time, present them here for discussion and inclusion? I'd be happy to do that to improve the article, if the ones proposing it can't be bothered. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 05:47, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Here's the first batch. These are a number of scientists who argue Sheldrake is doing science rather than pseudoscience and have offered support in various ways.
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. [43]
These four all signed an open letter to TED that was published in the Huffington Post [44] and which should be detailed in the section on the TED controversy. (Links to their credentials can be found above on a previous post.)
Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics and the Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University
Stuart Hameroff, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, Director, Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona
Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital
Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) Beth Israel Medical Center - Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.
Here's one who also explicitly rejects the accusation of pseudoscience in a letter published in nature:
Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics.[45]
And here's an academic who argues, amongst other things, that books such as Sheldrake's, whatever you ultimately think about morphic resonance, are the "life's blood of Science" (thus not pseudoscience).
Theodore Roszak, Professor Emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay [46]
Here's a scientist who worked with Sheldrake in developing some of his theories.
David Joseph Bohm FRS - "American theoretical physicist who contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. He is widely considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century." [47]
Now, it seems clear that Sheldrake has some small support in academia both in terms of the appropriateness of his work in scientific terms, and the possible veracity/utility of it. This is clearly not the mainstream consensus view - which is that Sheldrake's speculation are unnecessary (ie, the problems of morphogenesis will be solved in the future within the current framework) - but this does warrant note at various places in the article including the introduction which falsely claims Sheldrake's support is entirely from unspecified new age devotees and then cites a Chopra quote about religion. Barleybannocks (talk) 10:00, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
OK, well they don't seem to be textbooks or scientific papers, or indeed tests of morphic resonance, and I'm not sure there's 20 of them, and some of them are in the article already. But taking the one at a time principal, which one do you want to start with, Barleybannocks (talk · contribs)? Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:34, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure it's a case of one at a time. The point here is more that Sheldrake has received some support form the academic/scientific community. That is, we currently have a whole load of non-peer-reviewed stuff, of exactly the type I just listed, quoted at length and referred to throughout the article without any indication that anyone disagrees with that assessment. Thus the intro should probably say something like, eg, "Despite the critical reception from the scientific community at large, Sheldrake has received some small degree of scientific support for his work (sources above - and we even have a source saying this very thing), as well as having attracted a following within the new age community. (source already in the article)" That would sort out that particular section in the introduction.Barleybannocks (talk) 10:48, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Here's another on Sheldrake as scientific. "Now, it should be said that Sheldrake is totally committed to the scientific method." [} And from the same source, here's an interesting take on Sheldrake's critics from sceptic Chris French "In my opinion, many of the attacks on Sheldrake's work have been unfair and uninformed". Barleybannocks (talk) 22:20, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Here's a source (Sue Blackmore) making almost exactly the point many here have been making "Sheldrake is scientific – at least in many respects – but his theory is wrong." I therefore think there is little doubt now that a significant number of commentators regard Sheldrake's work as scientific irrespective of their views about its ultimate veracity. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:34, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Here's an interesting link. [48] The Guardian newspaper asked four commentators to write articles specifically on the question of whether Sheldrake's ideas were science or not. The word "pseudoscience" only appeared once in any of the articles and it is in reference to Intelligent Design, not Sheldrake. It's clear, then, that: a) in virtue of even asking the question the Guardian feels the answer is not immediately clear (ie, there is a question to be asked); and b) that none of the commentators answering that question describe his work as pseudoscience (several quite the contrary, they say it's science). Given this, and all the other sources listed above, the article here should be clearer that by no means all agree that Sheldrake's work is pseudoscience (even if most think it is wrong).Barleybannocks (talk) 22:51, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Another example of bias in the current article

Here is the introductory paragraph about Sheldrake and media coverage.

"Sheldrake has received popular coverage through newspapers, radio, television and speaking engagements. (neutral framing, 12 words, 18%) The attention he receives has raised concerns that it adversely affects the public understanding of science. Some have accused Sheldrake of self-promotion,[24] with one commenting, "for the inventors of such hypotheses the rewards include a degree of instant fame which is harder to achieve by the humdrum pursuit of more conventional science." (critical summary, 53 words, 82%)

Note that this is a section solely about Sheldrake's media coverage. Why it would need to have over 80% of the introduction to such a section devoted to criticism is anyone's guess. It can't seriously be the consensus view of the scientific mainstream qua consensus view of the scientific mainstream, that there is something badly amiss about Sheldrake's media coverage. Rather, we have a vanishingly small number of people who have complained about it in sociological rather than scientific terms, and they are given extraordinary free reign in a non-scientific section of the article for no other reason than to do down Sheldrake yet again for some perceived crime. 82%! Barleybannocks (talk) 10:18, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the assessment Barleybannocks (talk · contribs). Can you suggest two things (1) how is this not compatible with WP:FRINGE? And how would you improve the article? Can you find any other comments on Sheldrake's media appearances? Perhaps someone saying how he well he speaks, or what a good job standing up for his research? Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:53, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
WP:FRINGE is about fringe science qua fringe science, whereas this section is about media coverage of Sheldrake. Where scientific claims are made in that section, then, the mainstream view should prevail, but there in no mainstream scientific view qua mainstream scientific view on media coverage of Sheldrake - it is not a subject of scientific study, and there is no consensus view of it held by scientists qua scientists. Barleybannocks (talk) 11:03, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Well the mainstream view is that Sheldrake favours self-promotion over experimentation (Rose), and he that self-promotion may be more "rewarding" than doing real science. Everything in this article is covered by WP:FRINGE - that's locked in, you can't get out of it. So where are the other comments on his media appearances? Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:12, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
With regards the first point, no, that's the sociological opinions of some mainstream scientists, but it is absolutely not the mainstream scientific consensus qua mainstream scientific consensus. The mainstream scientific view of things is easy to find - it's what's in scientific textbooks an peer-reviewed journals by the dozen. Thus there is no reason, regarding your point about FRINGE, when non-scientific points are discussed in the article to pretend that media coverage of someone's work qua media coverage of someone's work is a fringe scientific claim of any kind qua fringe scientific claim of any kind which needs to be overwhelmed with the non-scientific views of some disgruntled scientists qua social/political animals. Barleybannocks (talk) 11:18, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
And I've not said there are any other comments on his media appearances. I've not looked. The point here is simply that there is way too much space given in the introduction to this section to the critical views of a few people as if this is a scientific claim of some kind being made and thus Fringe is central. Fringe is not central here - no fringe claims qua fringe claims are being made and thus there is nothing fringe to contrast with anything mainstream. Most of the criticism therefore should be removed and replaced with one short sentence stating the basic concerns..Barleybannocks (talk) 11:25, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think so. To understand a fringe topic you need to look at the sociology. WP:FRINGE is non-negotiable - if you try to negotiate it, which you are trying to do, then there's very little chance of this discussion progressing, and highly likely it will spiral into an argument in which one side has policy and precedent and the other overuses the word "qua". If you're able to present other commentary, then we can use that other commentary. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:31, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not trying to renegotiate it. The policy/guideline is clearly about the portrayal of fringe science qua fringe science against the mainstream scientific consensus qua mainstream scientific consensus. Sheldrake's media appearances qua media appearances are not a fringe scientific claim - they are not a scientific claim of any kind, and there is no mainstream view qua mainstream view of any kind. There are, instead, a few non-scientific opinions from a few scientists qua social/political animals. If this really was the consensus view of mainstream science then there would be copious textbooks, journal articles etc stating it - there would be experiments done, theories proposed, and findings published all over the place? None of that exists in this case because we are not, in this instance, discussing a scientific issue of any kind. Barleybannocks (talk) 11:46, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
To understand WP:FRINGE: suppose I found a source somewhere that claims that Sheldrake's ideas are based on a misunderstood role of homeobox proteins and other morphogenetic factors (Wnt included :)) which can diffuse between cells (even in a very unexpected, non-standard way for the former). I could not introduce and describe all his theories in terms of that source, because it would be a fringe idea about what Sheldrake is saying, from the perspective of covering those ideas. You can have fringe ideas even when they are factually based and concern a work of fiction, when they don't represent the balance of coverage in the literature about the subject. Wnt (talk) 19:50, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Barney the barney barney continues with his increasingly desperate appeal to WP:FRINGE. So let's take a look at what Wikipedia actually says on the matter. "Fringe theory in a nutshell: To maintain a neutral point of view, an idea that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight in an article about a mainstream idea." Thus WP:FRINGE would apply if we tried to characterize morphic resonance as the generally accepted mechanism of memory or inheritance or ontogeny, but this is not an article about a mainstream idea. "More extensive treatment should be reserved for an article about the idea, which must meet the test of notability." Since this is an article about Sheldrake, and his chief source of notability is morphic resonance, we are free to discuss this idea in this article. "Additionally, when the subject of an article is the minority viewpoint itself, the proper contextual relationship between minority and majority viewpoints must be clear." This means we must make clear in the article that Sheldrake's idea is the minority viewpoint. However, this point is already emphasized to the point of overkill, and for this reason we need to pare back critical commentary to give some breathing room to the idea ostensibly under discussion.
The irony of Barney bludgeoning us with WP:FRINGE is that it applies to his own inflexible approach to this article. Given that the vast majority of secondary sources treat Sheldrake as a scientist, refusing to allow him to be labelled a scientist in the opening sentence is a violation of WP:FRINGE. We are not allowed to let a fringe view dictate how we treat the subject of an article. We must also be clear that the pseudoscience label represents a small minority of opinion. Therefore we cannot simply say, "Scientists and sceptics have labelled morphic resonance a pseudoscience" since this implies a majority viewpoint. In keeping with WP:FRINGE we must modify this sentence so as to eliminate this false implication. Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:32, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Alfonso, I'm actually not that bothered by saying/implying the majority think it pseudoscience. I don't think that's too big a deal. It should be made clear though than many disagree and consider him a scientist, even a good one, even if wrong. It is the suppression of these other views (now sourced to many, many sources) which I think is unacceptable. Barleybannocks (talk) 00:47, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
We don't have the sources to back up the claim that the majority of scientists view his work as pseudoscience. The consensus seems to be that his theory is wrong, not that it's unscientific to begin with. Incidentally, here's another example of bias in the article. Of the two sources following Sheldrake's professions, one says he's overhyped and the other says he seduces people through telepathic charm. Talk about POV pushing! Alfonzo Green (talk) 01:01, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I kind of agree, and the article really should have that sentence the other way round. That is, it should say rejected for a variety of reasons (lack of evidence etc.) first and then say some have also labelled it pseudoscience. The sentence as it stand also makes no sense, and when I questioned this nobody would provide the sources they were using (at least none that made the point that nonsensical way round). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barleybannocks (talkcontribs) 01:08, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Good point. By the way, it turns out there's no Overhyped article. It's not in the issue of Nature referenced in the citation and it's not in any other issue or any other journal for that matter. The second article is inaccessible except to Nature subscribers and seems to have been chosen just for its belittling title. This isn't just POV pushing, it's a hatchet job. Alfonzo Green (talk) 01:38, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I think you guys ought to examine your counting system. Hint : we have progressed beyond "one, two, three - Many" --Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:18, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, many. About twenty. Ten of them are cited above. We actually have, fwiw, far more sources saying Sheldrake's work is scientific than we do for the claim that it is pseudoscience. BTW, I think your last edit makes a mockery of Wikipedia in that the wording is completely out of keeping with how an encyclopaedia should be written - grateful if you could self revert. Barleybannocks (talk) 01:25, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your suggestion, I have made the phrase more encyclopaedic. HTH. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:43, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

Some recent edits

Alfonzo Green, I have to bring attention to some recent edits.

  1. In this edit, you removed sourced material about Jung while asserting "No source cited for claim about Jung". If you had clicked on the link in the citation, you would have found the Jung reference.
  2. Your removal of "various parapsychological claims involving" in the lead, with your comment, "Memory, perception and cognition do not fall under the heading of parapsychology".[49] But the article text does not say they fall under the heading of parapsychology. Sheldrake's parapsychological claims involve memory, telepathy, perception and cognition, as the article text says and as the refs support. For instance the Tomorrow's World experiment on perceiving hidden pictures.
  3. You changed "Scientists and skeptics have labelled morphic resonance a pseudoscience" to "A few scientists..."[50] This grossly misrepresents the status of morphic resonance in the scientific community. Please see WP:PSCI and WP:FRINGE.
  4. Your removal of the point that Sheldrake is criticized for publishing scientific results outside of peer review.[51] Your edit comment says, "Rutherford does not claim Sheldrake is avoiding peer review", but in the source Rutherford is making the point. One could argue that the article text could be phrased differently, but that is no excuse for outright removal of important sourced material.

There are still more edits to look at. vzaak (talk) 02:54, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

The article currently grossly misrepresents the views of a few people as the views of the scientific community at large. That is, Sheldrake's ideas have been rejected/not accepted by the scientific community, this is a clear fact, but the further point that it has been rejected as pseudoscience is based on taking only a handful of sources that make that particular claim and ignoring completely a greater number of similar quality sources that, while often fully acknowledging the lack of acceptance, have explicitly stated that Sheldrake's work is scientific, if unorthodox. Barleybannocks (talk) 09:40, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
vzaak, thanks for your input. The first edit corrected a factual error. Jung did not claim that collective memory has a physical basis. Though the source for this claim was Sheldrake, what Sheldrake actually said was that Jung believed the archetypes have a genetic basis. With your help, we now have a clear and accurate passage. This shows what editors can do when we work together to improve an article. The second edit removed a reference to parapsychology from a sentence sourced to Sheldrake despite the fact that Sheldrake does not use that term in conjunction with memory, perception and cognition. Though he mentions in passing that parapsychology involves telepathy, memory of past lives, clairvoyance and precognition, he deals only with telepathy, and his treatment of ordinary memory, perception and cognition is strictly in the context of morphic resonance, not parapsychology. The third edit reflects the fact that only a handful of scientists and "skeptics" have accused him of pseudoscience. The vast majority of cited scientists dispute only the theory itself, not its scientific status. To characterize scientists in general as viewing his work as pseudoscientific is inaccurate and reveals clear anti-Sheldrake bias, which is unsuitable for an editor working on his biography page. The fourth edit corrected the false impression that Rutherford accuses Sheldrake of avoiding peer review. First of all, Sheldrake has published extensively in peer reviewed journals, including many in the last ten years. So even if Rutherford did say this, he's simply wrong. To Rutherford's credit, however, he does not make this claim, merely noting that books are not peer reviewed prior to publication. Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:17, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


  • You say "Jung did not claim that collective memory has a physical basis". The source says, "Jung tried to explain the inheritance of the collective unconscious physically". If you had thought the wording was wrong, the natural step would be to fix it. Instead, you deleted the entire thing, claiming, "No source cited for claim about Jung". If in fact you looked at the source and found Jung, then you shouldn't have written in the edit comment that no source was cited for Jung.
  • The Parapsychology section in A New Science of Life mentions not only telepathy but memories of past lives and other psychic phenomena. I understand Sheldrake's view that paranormal should eventually be called normal, and supernatural be called natural, but in terms of communicating to the reader what these claims entail, in a single sentence, the use of "parapsychological" is the best descriptor. We can't describe the nuances of Sheldrake's philosophy in the lead. It's also difficult to be the Perrott-Warrick director while disavowing the terms associated with it. The deletion of "parapsychological" is not a big problem, just one that leads to less clarity and potential confusion.
  • The sentence in the lead about pseudoscience was carefully crafted and has been stable for a while. Please look at the sources backing it up. Additionally, see WP:FRINGE, WP:PSCI, and Arb/PS.
  • Rutherford makes an important point about peer review, and if you thought it was worded improperly, the natural step would be to fix it. Outright deletion of sourced criticism is unlikely to be beneficial to the article. Deletion of any sourced material should usually be discussed first.
  • I've only looked briefly at the Rose edits, which appear to be more deletion of sourced criticism.
  • In my last edit I linked to the RfC proposal regarding "hypothesis" and "biologist", and asked you to make your case there. You have not yet done so. These issues have been ongoing, and the RfC proposal aims to address them. Please participate in the process that has already been laid out.
  • You made some bold changes. I explained the problems I saw in those changes in this thread, and linked to the explanation in my revert. The article has been fairly stable, and significant changes require discussion. Please read WP:BRD. Instead of pursing the bold-revert-discuss cycle, you are now warring again. This is contrary to how Wikipedia was intended to function. Please use this talk page to convince others that your changes should be made, instead of warring to get them in.

vzaak (talk) 03:42, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

  • The key word is inheritance. Jung proposed a physical basis for the inheritance of archetypes within the collective unconscious. The passage I deleted had Jung asserting a physical basis for the collective unconscious, something Jung would never have claimed, nor did the source (Sheldrake) attribute this claim to him. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
  • The Parapsychology section does not mention ordinary memory, perception or cognition. To imply that Sheldrake considers these things paranormal is misleading in the extreme. Sheldrake states that any real phenomenon should be called normal not paranormal. He has never claimed that supernatural be called natural. His work has no basis whatever in supernatural claims. I have no problem with referencing parapsychology in the article, so long as it doesn't encompass topics that nobody, including Sheldrake, considers paranormal. If you want parapsychology in the lead, you'll have to figure out another way to work it in. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
  • To state that scientists view his work as pseudoscience is to imply consensus among scientists. For that claim, you need a source. Instead the only sources we have that specify pseudoscience are people expressing their own individual view, not asserting a consensus. Therefore without a modifier such as "a few" or "some," the material is unsourced and cannot stand. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
  • The passage looks fine it's now written. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
  • The Rose section had way more of Rose than Sheldrake. I hope I've brought balance to it, and I'd like to know if you agree. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Who's warring? I would say neither of us. We have disagreements, and through the process of editing and discussing, we're beginning to make progress. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I disagree that the sentence in the third paragraph[52] on "pseudoscience" is "carefully crafted", and we need to pay more attention to WP:FRINGE:
  • "Scientists and skeptics have labelled" is numerically vague. It gives the misleading impression that ALL "Scientists and skeptics have labelled". Since the vast majority of scientists and skeptics have not commented, I think we have to qualify it as "Some scientists and skeptics have labelled". See WP:FRINGE/IPA
  • "citing a lack of evidence" suggests to me a reference to a peer-reviewed paper. The only peer-reviewed paper I am aware of is that by Rose, in which case we should provide attributions and inline citation, in order to provide the appropriate context. See WP:FRINGE "Sourcing and attribution" and WP:FRINGE Inline attribution --Iantresman (talk) 13:32, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
These indications are in the references that have been given to you. By trying to claim that "only some" of the scientific community rejects him, you're trying to weasel out of the undeniable fact that his work has not achieved scientific consensus, and attempting to mislead readers that this isn't the case. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:00, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney, you are using a false dichotomy. You are treating rejected/not-accepted as being the same as pseudoscience. It isn't. Thus, while Sheldrake has certainly not been accepted by the scientific community (nobody disputes this), there is no reason to make the further claim that the vast majority consider it pseudoscience. Indeed, we have numerous sources that, as you must be aware, make this very point/distinction. Barleybannocks (talk) 14:09, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
This is simply not true. The sources show it's pseudoscience, and explain why it's pseudoscience. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, let's not pretend it isn't a duck by pretending that "not enough" sources claim it is. This is patently absurd. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:33, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
It is obviously true. We have unanimous agreement that Sheldrake's ideas have been rejected/not accepted but significant disagreement about whether it is pseudoscience. That is, a small group of people (including some scientists) have said it is pseudoscience and a small group of people (including some scientists) who say it is not. Thus the article should reflect the rejection/non-acceptance as the view of the scientific community and not misrepresent the further views of a tiny number of people as the universal view while altogether ignoring an equal number of (similar quality in terms of sources) further views to the contrary. As I said, you are using a false dichotomy, and you are then ignoring all the sources which demonstrate the falsity of your answer to that false dichotomy. Barleybannocks (talk) 14:49, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) - because a few sources don't explicitly call it "pseudoscience" but either describe pseudoscience without using the word, or use alternative wording such as "bad science", "nonsense" "completely wrong" or similar, doesn't mean that those authors think that Sheldrake's work is "science", or that they think Sheldrake's work isn't pseudoscience. You are trying to weasel the sources and attempting to get the article to deny what the sources plainly say. This isn't conducive to Wikipedia and it isn't in line with policy or common sense. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:53, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Barney, firstly, I am not denying that some sources call it pseudoscience. I fully accept that point. As does everyone here. However, you are ignoring, and denying the existence of, and refusing to allow the article to reflect the views expressed in, numerous high-quality sources that explicitly say that Sheldrake's work is not pseudoscience. The New Scientist review, cited above eg, says that books/ideas such as Sheldrake's are the "life's blood of science". Thus, as noted, you are using a false dichotomy, and giving a misleading answer to that false dichotomy by ignoring all the sources that disagree with your particular take on this issue. Barleybannocks (talk) 15:01, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Barney: Every editor supports noting that some scientists have called Sheldrake's work pseudoscience, and most scientist reject it. But I utterly reject that because YOU interpret a rejection as worded in such a way that MAY be consistent as pseudoscience, then that is what was meant.

  • WP:FRINGE: "Wikipedia is not a forum for original research... it is of vital importance that [editors] simply restate what is said by independent secondary sources of reasonable reliability and quality."
  • WP:FRINGE: "articles should not contain any novel analysis or synthesis"
  • WP:SYNTH: "Do not [..] reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources."
  • WP:GRAPEVINE: "Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced; that is a conjectural interpretation of a source"
  • WP:LABEL: "The prefix pseudo- [..] Use these in articles only when they are in wide use externally (e.g. Watergate), with in-text attribution if in doubt."
  • WP:PRIMARY: "Do not analyze, synthesize, interpret, or evaluate material found in a primary source yourself; instead, refer to reliable secondary sources"

--Iantresman (talk) 15:19, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

What amazes me Iantresman (talk · contribs) is your constant citing of these (ignoring the inconvenient WP:FRINGE), while applying exactly what it says not to do to these sources to try to minimise criticism in this article. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:04, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Let's take a look at one example above, WP:SYNTH. If we consider any source which rejects Sheldrake, WP:SYNTH tells us not reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated. Concluding that rejection, for whatever reason, amounts to pseudoscience would clearly fail WP:SYNTH, and contradicts your comment. Please spell it out for me, with specific examples and quotes if you wish to make a case. --Iantresman (talk) 17:58, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
The most egregious case is the attempt to claim that "just" because "only a few" sources explicitly say it's pseudoscience, while others express views that are essentially indistinguishable by any plain reading, then we should not mention the p-word. In other words, what the sources directly say. Yet, this is the most important link in the entire article. Without it we cannot explain the background to what is and isn't science. The key to this is pretending that the sources don't support what they plainly do support. No amount of whining about the sources will get you out of this. The purpose of the lead is to summarise the contents of the article. Summarising, i.e. compressing, is allowed. Lying about sources isn't. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:14, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I think one of the problems, Barney, is your "essentially indistinguishable! claim that you are using to allow you to use a very specific term "pseudoscience" to stand for any number of other claims such as "lacking evidence" or inconsistent with other hypotheses" or "rejected" and such like. Moreover, even if we granted that false equivalence (which we should not), there are just as many other sources, equal in authority, which explicitly say Sheldrake's work is not psuedoscience. Thus you are misrepresenting various views as one view and ignoring all the contradictory views completely. Barleybannocks (talk) 18:38, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
No. These claims are also made (check the sources), and they explain why this is pseudoscience. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:02, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Not all of the critical sources say it is pseudoscience at all. And even if many/most of the critical sources did say that (they don't), we still have an at least equal number of sources that explicitly disagree. Thus the article does not accurately represent the diverse views on the scientific status of Sheldrake's work. All agree it has been rejected/not-accepted, but there is significant disagreement whether it is pseudoscience. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:13, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
None of the reliable, critical sources deny that it is pseudoscience. That is the heart of the matter; your wishful thinking that a source that doesn't use the word "pseudoscience" but uses some alternative description (such as "bad science" "not scientific" "very wrong" etc), while maintaining the same general opinion, by way of a false dichotomy therefore describes Sheldrake's work as not being pseudoscientific and therefore being scientific. Wave your magic wand and poof! A source which is clearly critical by any fair reading now turns into a positive endorsement! Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:19, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
Plenty reliable sources explicitly say that Sheldrake's work is scientific. Thus, firstly, we should not pretend, as you wish to do, that these sources don't exist; and, secondly, only go with those sources that say pseudoscience (or something that could be construed as pseudoscience if one construes sloppily). And I'm not saying the negative sources are positive. I fully accept they are negative. They just don't say explicitly what you imagine they do. Moreover there are plenty sources, as noted, that while acknowledging the lack of acceptance praise Sheldrake for remaining true to science. These are the sources I am saying are positive about the scientific status of his work, and these are the sources you are pretending don't exist. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:24, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Alfonzo Green, don't split up people's comments; it needs to be clear who said what. I've moved your comments below mine.

  • You've misunderstood my point about Jung. Your edit comment said, "No source cited for claim about Jung", however there was in fact a source cited for Jung. If your problem was with the wording in the article, then you should have changed the wording instead of deleting the material entirely. You haven't responded to the point I made: If in fact you looked at the source and found Jung, then you shouldn't have written in the edit comment that no source was cited for Jung.
  • A similar thing happened with the Rutherford comment. You found a place where you disagreed with the wording, and instead of making an appropriate fix, you deleted the material.
  • Both the Jung part and the Rutherford part have now been changed to your satisfaction. The process of arriving at this result should have not involved you repeatedly deleting material.
  • There is no question that the claims Sheldrake makes fall into the field of parapsychology. He was the Perrott-Warrick director. He has published in parapsychology journals. The purpose of the article is to communicate to the reader what kind of claims these are. The article can later explain the nuances of how Sheldrake wants terminology to be used, but that level of detail is not necessary for the lead. Re supernatural, I was merely referring to the "natural, not supernatural" statements that Sheldrake makes with regard to psychic phenomena.
  • Re pseudoscience, please see WP:FRINGE. Under the requirements you appear to be imposing on calling something pseudoscience, it would seem that nothing could be called pseudoscience. The references in the article provide more than enough support for the article text.
  • Re "Who's warring?", you are continuing to war, imposing your changes without convincing others of them. This is not the normal editorial process or the expected standard of behavior. Please read WP:BRD, and use this talk page to convince others that your changes should be made, instead of warring to get them in.

vzaak (talk) 17:46, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

The source cited for the Jung claim did not make that claim. Therefore no source was cited for the Jung claim. The attribution to Rutherford was also inaccurate, so I deleted it. You have now changed the wording so that it's no longer inaccurate, and that's fine. Sheldrake's primary claim is about biology. Where his central claim is extended to include telepathy, then this and only this also falls under the heading of parapsychology. This has no bearing on his treatment of memory, perception and cognition. Sheldrake does not argue that these phenomena fall under the heading of parapsychology, so using him as a source is flat-out wrong. For you or any other editor to place these phenomena under the heading of parapsychology is a clear example of WP:OR. Please stop reverting my attempts at correcting this passage. As to pseudoscience, I recognize that a few people have accused Sheldrake of pseudoscience, and I see no reason why this can't be included in the article. I merely insist that we make it clear that only a few scientists apply this label to him. We have no sources for the claim that the scientific community in general views his work as pseudoscience, only that the scientific community believes Sheldrake's hypothesis is wrong. I've made no attempt to determine what can and cannot be called pseudoscience, as this would obviously be WP:OR. I am trying to eliminate inaccurate, unsourced material. You are persistently restoring it without convincing anyone. Again, who's edit warring?
One more point. The conservation of energy is a law, and if you don't believe me, look it up on Wikipedia. It cannot be referred to simply as a fact because it cannot be directly observed. Conservation of energy means that energy is always conserved in the course of transactions, and we cannot observe every single instance of this law, past, present and future. To label it a fact is to imply that at certain times the conservation of energy has in fact been observed. In other words, you're trivializing this principle. This is a disservice to science, and it will not stand. Alfonzo Green (talk) 21:32, 29 November 2013 (UTC)
The Law of Conservation is directly observed via Noether's Theorem to be a factual aspect of our reality. Any claim to the contrary is simply ignorant. jps (talk) 02:59, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • The point about Jung and Rutherford is that you took what you considered a technical inaccuracy as a license to delete sourced material. If you think criticism in the article is not properly worded then you should change it rather than delete it. Removing criticism is not a good practice and, especially with repeated removals, is disruptive.
  • There's no doubt that Sheldrake knows that he studies phenomena that are classified as parapsychology, and there's no doubt that that's the most accurate category to communicate to readers. If I understand your argument correctly, we merely need more citations explicitly mentioning parapsychology, such as his papers published in parapsychology journals.
  • Have you looked at the sources regarding pseudoscience? Also see WP:FRINGE.
  • You are still continuing to war, even after I twice asked that you follow WP:BRD and discuss these edits. The current article has been relatively stable, and you should focus on convincing others of these changes instead of warring.
vzaak (talk) 01:03, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Nothing wrong with deleting inaccurate material. If another editor wants to restore it, that's fine by me so long as it's been fixed. While telepathy falls under the heading of parapsychology, to portray the study of ordinary memory, perception and cognition as parapsychology is simply bizarre and reflects badly not just on the Sheldrake article but on Wikipedia in general. Same goes for reducing the status of the conservation of energy from a law to a mere fact. This is a simple issue of competence. Are you competent to edit articles on science? Alfonzo Green (talk) 20:24, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
There is nothing innaccurate in the article, despite these assertions, Alfonzo Green (talk · contribs). Please stop pretending you have consensus here when the consensus is that WP:FRINGE applies. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:57, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Please read the above discussion before commenting. Vzaak agrees the Jung and Rutherford references were incorrect but says I should have fixed them instead of deleting them. As to WP:FRINGE there's no consensus here for the very simple reason that it doesn't apply. According to WP:FRINGE, "A theory that is not broadly supported by scholarship in its field must not be given undue weight in an article about a mainstream idea..." This is not an article about a mainstream idea. It's an article about Sheldrake and his idea, which must be presented fairly in accord with WP:NPOV.
In pargraph 3, the article says "Sheldrake .. advocates questioning various underlying assumptions and modern scientific facts"[53] I can't see the references mentioning him question any "facts". The first reference [12] is to Sheldrake's own book, but no page number is provided, so it is difficult to check, and the second reference [13] doesn't mention Sheldrake at all. Can you help clarify? --Iantresman (talk) 22:51, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Energy which is measurably conserved in a closed system is not a law but a simple fact. Sheldrake does not question that conservation of energy has been observed many times in many different settings. What Sheldrake questions is specifically the lawfulness of energy conservation, the idea that it must be conserved in every instance, past, present and future. He is not questioning observable facts, and the disputed sentence needs to reflect that. This is exactly the sort of problem that crops up when editors unfamiliar with the subject-matter try to impose their view. Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:36, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
This is just plain wrong. The fact that energy must be conserved in every instance past, present, and future is the result of deep symmetries in nature that exist (specifically, time symmetry). To the extent that microphysical laws work the same forward and backward in time, energy is conserved. That is the essence of Noether's Theorem. If anything is a fact, this is something that is. To deny it is to deny something fundamental about all of physics: that is to say to deny the lawfulness of the Law of Conservation of Energy is to claim either that the models of physics are wrong or that there is an aspect of microphysics which is not time reversible (note that you cannot hang your hat on the Boltzmann H-theorem for this because that is an emergent quality of macroscopic systems: it does not work for the fundamental laws of physics). Those who argue otherwise are profoundly ignorant of physics. And that's all there is to say about that. jps (talk) 03:06, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Alfonzo, you continue to war, imposing your edits without consensus. The article has been fairly stable, and it's your job to convince others of your changes on this talk page. The article text is properly supported by the sources, and you must explain where you disagree, citing sources, without providing interpretive original research. You have not participated in the RfC; the "hypothesis" argument is still blank. Changes described in the RfC should only be done after the RfC is completed. I strongly suggest we follow Guy's advice in Talk:Rupert_Sheldrake#The_way_forward, items 1 to 7 in particular. vzaak (talk) 00:20, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, there is no consensus for your preferred version, and the only reason it appeared "stable" was because of the ongoing blanket reverts without discussion for any change at all. I made a significant number of changes today, and yet, without discussion, you simply undid all of them. Please explain what you take issue with as regards my edits. Thanks. Barleybannocks (talk) 00:37, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
For you to say there is no consensus it bordering on dishonesty. I welcome Vzaak returning the page to some sort of balance. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:06, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

The way forward

I think we should establish some points of common ground, and some ground rules.

My thoughts are thus:

  • WP:BLP is important. When writing a biography we must be accurate and fair. That does not mean we must be sympathetic. See Andrew Wakefield (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views) for a biography that is scrupulously accurate, but clearly not sympathetic.
  • WP:FRINGE is important. In matters of science, Wikipedia reflects the scientific consensus view, because in science that is the neutral point of view - it necessarily and by definition encompasses all significant views.
  • This article covers two subjects: Rupert Sheldrake and his conjecture of morphic resonance.
  • The sources robustly support the fact that morphic resonance is pseudoscientific and lacks rigour.
  • The sources robustly support the fact that concepts such as conservation of energy and thermodynamics are scientifically accepted as facts, to the point that any observation seemingly contradicting them will be investigated until the inevitable experimental error is located.

My personal view is that Sheldrake's insistence that these are mere dogmas springs from his own dogmatic refusal to accept that the contradiction of his own conjectures by these facts, indicates that his conjectures are wrong. But that is my personal view.

To make progress the following seems to me to be necessary:

  1. Proposed changes should be discussed before implementation, to reduce the edit warring.
  2. Proposed changes should be specific:
    1. What is wrong
    2. What change should be made
    3. On what basis, by reference to reliable independent sources
  3. The basis for changing content should be how we would represent these facts in the absence of Sheldrake's conjectures. For example, in our articles on conservation of energy and perpetual motion, how do we describe them? Do we represent any significant dissent from the consensus view?
  4. Discussion should be specific and not based on the abstract.
  5. The scientific consensus is that Sheldrake's ideas are wrong. If your argument begins from the premise that Sheldrake is right, then do not make that argument because it will not be accepted and will only stoke the fires.
  6. The consensus of independent sources is that Sheldrake is wrong. If your argument begins from the premise that he is insane, a fraud, a liar or whatever, then do not make that argument because I will personally wield the banhammer.
  7. A valid Wikipedia biography about Sheldrake will be seen as fair by any dispassionate observer. Sheldrake is, by definition, not a dispassionate observer. Whether or not he likes the article is, and must be, irrelevant, what is important is that we are accurate and fair.

That's my view. For the record I think David in DC has made some sensible suggestions and has sound instincts, I know he has said he has left this article but if people can work with him and reach agreement then that indicates that things are being done right. Some other editors are not helping. I invite them to find something else to do and leave this to others. Anybody whose edits relate solely or primarily to this article, should be careful. We know that there is off-wiki solicitation to promote a particular POV, we have been there many times. Single-purpose advocacy accounts face a low bar to removal. Guy (Help!) 13:17, 30 November 2013 (UTC)

Above you say "The sources robustly support the fact that morphic resonance is pseudoscientific and lacks rigour". This is wrong. The sources support the idea that morphic resonance has not been accepted by the scientific community and that some have gone further and said it is pseudoscience, while (an equal number of) others have said that it is science, some have said good science, even if wrong. This distinction seems not to be understood, and thus the constant conflation of wrong/rejected/not-accepted with pseudoscience is one of the main stumbling blocks to progress. That is, there are at least three views of Sheldrake's work: right, wrong and science, wrong and pseudoscience. Nobody is arguing the first, many are arguing the second, while others see no difference between the second and the third.Barleybannocks (talk) 13:50, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
You also suggest that morphic resonance is the only aspect of Sheldrake's work this article is about. That is false. Thus we must be careful not to lump all the views of Sheldrake and his work together as if, eg, Science Set Free, was a book primarily about morphic resonance and any criticisms of one automatically carry over into every aspect of any of his other work.Barleybannocks (talk) 13:59, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
The first time I heard of Sheldrake was in relation to this discussion. There is no real room for doubt that morphic resonance is pseudoscience. That particular ship has already sailed. It's not god science because it is unfalsifiable and because the reslts apparently depend on how Sheldrake decides to interpret them. The test of good science is explanatory power, and the insights obtained when others build on it. There is no explanatory power and few if any have built on it.
So, you're arguing about The Truth™, and that is not going to help. I don't care how passionately you believe in Sheldrake's theories, they are bunk, as far as the scientific community is concerned. We won't change what we say about that until the scientific consensus changes, and that won't happen because instead of trying to persuade them through science, Sheldrake instead chooses to cast doubt on conservation of energy - an approach which more or less guarantees ridicule.
All this is perfectly normal in a new editor who has arrived solely to Right Great Wrongs, but it's not going to work, I'm afraid.
Any specific errors of fact you'd like to point out in the article? Guy (Help!) 15:55, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
When you say there is no real room for doubt, that's your opinion, and as such, irrelevant. The sources, are split on the question of pseudoscience wjile agreeing that Sheldrake's ideas have not been accepted. Unclear why this is so difficult a point to grasp. As for your appraisal of my purpose here, you are quite wrong. I am endeavouring to improve the article by accurately representing the sources (ie, Sheldrake not accepted but dispute over the scientific status of his work), as opposed to ignoring them. Barleybannocks (talk) 17:34, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
It's my judgment of the facts, speaking as a seasoned Wikipedian, administrator, email response volunteer, and long time WP:BLP patroller. And your opinion is yours as a single purpose account whose only input to Wikipedia has been in support of a fringe point of view. I think I know whic of us has a better grasp of how this fits with Wikipedia policy and practice. But you miss the point - see above. Guy (Help!) 19:02, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
@Guy TED, originally called his work pseudoscience, but then retracted.[54] Since you seem to be basing your opinion on the original TED source, there is now doubt. I have no problem including TED's original opinion, and retraction. There are more sources that also described some of Sheldrake's work as pseudoscience (I included one in the article myself)[55], and we should include them, but to suggest that this is WP:TRUTH is not reflected by other sources, which do not concur (many reliable secondary sources provided above). Also for your own benefit, I do not support morphic resonance (I'm not aware of suffient evidnece supporting it), and I am not aware of any evidence that sufficiently supports telepathy. --Iantresman (talk) 19:04, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Whatever it is, science it ain't. So, to get tot he substantive point, the article as-is more or less correctly reflects the facts, and changes should be focused, organic and based on references to independent sources. The existing debate that goes to fundamental disputes over whether his views are valid science or nonsense is sterile and unproductive, becaue the ocnsensus is clearly that his views are nonsense. Read the comment from quantum flapdoodler par excellence Deepak Chopra. Sheldrake's ideas are mysticism dressed up as science, and that's how scientists view them. Actually scratch that: most scientists completely ignore him because his ideas have no explanatory power, are unfalsifiable, and provide nothing that scientists can use in any context. Guy (Help!) 19:19, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Guy, when you say, "science it ain't" there are a large number of reliable scientific sources that disagree with you. And when you say it is unfalsifiable, there are a large number of scientific sources that disagree with you. And when you say it is of no use in any context, there are a large number of sources that disagree with you. How does your opinion get to override all these solid scientific, and other, sources? Barleybannocks (talk) 19:24, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, there is no dispute that some scientists have criticised Sheldrake's work as pseudoscience, non-scientific, lacking evidence, etc, and there is no doubt that we should include these facts in the article. I am sure we are in agreement there. But we have reliable secondary sources that do not concur. That is not my opinion. It does not mean I support Sheldrake, or his work, or that I think the other sources are correct. But the demarcation problem tells us that it is not necessarily clear cut, WP:NPOV tells us to describe these views neutrally, and not as WP:TRUTH. --Iantresman (talk) 19:53, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Iantresman, and that's pretty much my view. I have always said that the fact some have called his work pseudoscience should be in the article, but I also think that other sources, which dispute this, should be covered. There is no dispute that Sheldrake's work has not been received well, but the further point about pseudoscience is clearly not simply a matter of fact. This contrasts with, eg, Sheldrake being a biologist, which is a fact, and a fact supported by around 30 sources of every conceivable type. Yet that, I notice, is still excluded from the article's introductory line in a way that clearly breaches wikipedia precedent. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:03, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
But these are not scientific sources, they are philosophical. That is the important point. Guy (Help!) 22:39, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Guy, which sources are you referring to? --Iantresman (talk) 22:44, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Here are six scientists who argue Sheldrake is doing science rather than pseudoscience.
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder [56]
Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics and the Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University [57]
Stuart Hameroff, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, Director, Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona [58]
Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital [59]
Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) Beth Israel Medical Center - Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York [60]
Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics.
And there are about ten more listed above at various places on this talk page. Why are these sources being overridden by editors' opinions? Barleybannocks (talk) 23:04, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. We know about Josephson. Most of the rest seem to be Deepak Chopra's alternative medicine buddies; that's OK, but it isn't mainstream. Berkoff is more on the weird environmentalist perspective, but he doesn't support Sheldrake's ideas either, just argues that they shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Let's not be silly and pretend that these sources are mainstream, or say he's doing science. Barney the barney barney (talk) 23:33, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
Nobody is claiming these scientists support the veracity of Sheldrake's ideas. The point, which has been made over 20 times now, is that they reject the accusation of pseudoscience against Sheldrake. Thus the article should reflect the sources on this point and not merely the opinions of editors here. Also, whether these people are friends of Chopra is of no consequence - they have excellent scientific credentials, and thus they count clearly, easily, without dispute, as scientists (your opinion to the contrary notwithstanding). Barleybannocks (talk) 23:45, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
And, Barney, your claim that these people are all primarily altmed supporters (who can therefore be dismissed) would seem to have been cut from whole cloth. Sigh. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:57, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, changing tack Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) - going back to the start of this thread. Jzg (talk · contribs) says (paraphrasing) "do not be so stupid as to attempt to dispute that this article is Fringe". Your response? "But please, it isn't fringe, here's a sidetrack". It is really begging for the inevitable topic ban. So some "scientists" sign a letter. Answer this question: Where is the research they are doing with respect to this groundbreaking theory? Science is a collective process, where's the research? Barney the barney barney (talk) 00:06, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Your last post is complete fiction from start to finish. Barleybannocks (talk) 00:09, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
As for the research, Iantresman produced a list of academic books and articles that discuss Sheldrake's theories in a srious academic manner. But, even if there were no sources like that, all that would show is that scientific community have not taken on board Sheldrake's ideas. It in no ways shows it is pseudoscience. That, as has been noted numerous times, is just your refusal to distinguish between ignored/rejected/not-accepted and pseudoscience. Thus you have to twist the sources you do have to make them say something they don't and ignore completely all the sources that contradict your vision for the article. Barleybannocks (talk) 00:13, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
It's all in the sources, Guy. You and several other editors are totally convinced that morphic resonance is unscientific, but that's not the consensus in the secondary material. As long as certain editors impose a view of Sheldrake that does not match what the sources actually say, this conflict will continue. If you're going to try to fix this problem, take the time to do it right and familiarize yourself with the source material. Iantresman has kindly put together the following list: [61][62][63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73] Academic books: [74][75][76][77][78][79][80][81][82][83] Sources describing him/his work as a pseudodscience: [84][85]
Bottom line: widespread rejection of Sheldrake's findings does not equate to a consensus that his work amounts to pseudoscience. Alfonzo Green (talk) 01:48, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
There are so many things wrong with the opening statement in this section:
  • "...the scientific consensus view, because in science that is the neutral point of view" - few people really believe there is no momentum in what is considered correct amongst scientists. I doubt that any veteran scientist would serious argue that the scientific community is neutral and does not have "sacred cows" on which some have based their reputation.
  • "The sources robustly support the fact that morphic resonance is pseudoscientific and lacks rigor." only the sources that state this are being allowed. All others are not accepted because they are not considered reliable by some editors.
  • "...conservation of energy and thermodynamics are scientifically accepted as facts." Conservation of energy is a useful principle when considered in a closed system, but anyone who is familiar with the Hypothesis of Formative Causation will know that it includes the assumption that one must consider an open system, or at least a system in which entropy is influenced by conscious intention. This is a hypothesis that only makes sense if the research in psi functioning and the influence of intentionality on a hypothetical subtle energy field is considered--which is not allowed here because it is 'fringe." The arguments posed here by the skeptical editors ignores the context of the hypothesis. Without the psi research, editors here are probably right in scoffing at they hypotheses ... but then, Sheldrake probably would not have developed the hypothesis without that prior research.
I submit that most of the editors here are simply insufficiently informed to do anything more than to report the facts in a neutral way. Statements about the validity of the hypothesis are simply not appropriate, as this is not a peer-reviewed journal and we are not peers.Tom Butler (talk) 17:18, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. Wikipedia has continually rejected the idea that articles are written from the Scientific Point of View(q.v.). That doesn't imply that Wikipedia/editors are anti-science, or support alternative points of view, only that we properly describe the scientific point of view, and point out the consensus scientific point of view, and other points of view if appropriate. The Neutral Point of View is a writing style, not any specific point of view. Describing any particular point of view does not imply support, veracity or credibility. That applies equally to significant points of view like the Big Bang, and to lesser points of view, such as morphic resonance. --Iantresman (talk) 17:39, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Would it make sense to say something like, "Within the context of psi research ..."? I would have to go looking for references, and then I would probably need to start an arbitration to get them used here, but all that aside, is there a way to couch discussion of Sheldrake's work in terms that limit their applicability? Tom Butler (talk) 17:51, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
Isn't that the very reason we attribute contentious information, as it frames it? For example, stating that "morphic resonance is inherent in nature" is contentious, and would require multiple secondary sources. But as soon as we say that "Sheldrake states that morphic resonance is inherent in nature", that is not contentious, especially when we also state that Maddox, the then-editor of Nature, has called it pseudoscience. --Iantresman (talk) 19:43, 1 December 2013 (UTC)
It is like the Enlightenment never happened. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 00:15, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

The neutrality of this article is disputed

No rational observer would ever think the neutrality of this article is not being disputed. So please leave the tag up until more consensus has been established. Tom Butler (talk) 01:59, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Yes, but Tom Butler (talk · contribs), you're not being rational - that's exactly the point. Barney the barney barney (talk) 13:49, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Barney, this statement towards a fellow editor is inappropriate. --Iantresman (talk) 14:13, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
No, it's a fairly accurate assessment of what's going on here. A few fans of Sheldrake claim the article is biased. This is not rational in two ways. Firstly, it is not rational with regard to Wikipedia policies. Secondly, Sheldrake's work is not rational with regards to rationality. Those who believe that pseudoscientific nonsense is true - a group which seems identical to those that think this article is disputable, are not being rational because they are not accurately assessing Sheldrake's work in its claimed scientific context. This isn't a personal attack, it's an observation. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:26, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think Sheldrake's theories are true, yet I think the article is very unbalanced. For example, the section on the book, The Presence of the Past, has over 80% of the total words devoted to critical reviews and less than 8% of the total words devoted to covering what the book is actually about. It hard to imagine one would have to be a "Sheldrake fan" to understand the problem with that. Barleybannocks (talk) 14:30, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
Please read WP:VALID. Yes, the nonsense of the contents of the book receives little ink in the article. Precisely as the NPOV policy REQUIRES. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:41, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
The article is about Sheldrake and his views. This is the subject matter. Sheldrake's views therefore, if discussed at all, should be explained clearly. Something that can be done easily without lending them any more credibility than they have. That's the skill of writing a balanced article, as opposed to the nonsense that's currently there. (I also think you should read/reread WP:VALID yourself since it's perfectly obvious you don't understand it in the slightest.) Barleybannocks (talk) 19:14, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
@TheRedPenOfDoom according to WP:NPOV, "Editors, while naturally having their own points of view, should strive in good faith to provide complete information, and not to promote one particular point of view over another." Sheldrake's views, regardless of what you or any other editor thinks of them, must be presented alongside critical response to those views. Right now the section on Presence of the Past is badly skewed in favor of the anti-Sheldrake POV, and this is just one more bias that needs to be corrected in the article. Alfonzo Green (talk) 19:30, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
ABSOFUCKINGLUELTY NOT. - pseudoscientific nonsense believed by a non-measurable portion of the mainstream academic community must be presented as pseudoscientific nonsense with the mainstream views presented in appropriate proportion: "describe them in their proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the greater world." Sheldrakes pipedreams do NOT get to be artificially promoted so they "must be presented alongside" the criticism. no no no no no no no. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:53, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
The article is about Sheldrake and his pipe-dreams. Thus they must feature so people at least know what particular pipe-dreams are being criticised. What you are advocating is possibly correct for an article called "Pipe Dream" where you can go to town. This is not that article. Moreover, established scholarship on the question of morphogenesis - the established mainstream scientific view that conflicts with Sheldrake and which appears in dozens of textbooks and journal articles - is nowhere to be seen in the article at present. I have argued it should be included alongside, and often instead of, what we currently have.Barleybannocks (talk) 00:04, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Two things. First, "morphogenetic fields" have bugger all to do with the valid scientific concept of morphogenesis, second, feel free to come up with a good source discussing the difference, that would be helpful. Guy (Help!) 20:35, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
When the subject of a sentence is "you", then it is personal. WP:NPA describes this quite well. I don't know any editor here who has said that they "believe" in either pseudoscientific nonsense, or even accept some of Sheldrake's more contentious hypotheses, so I don't know why you would even suggest it. --Iantresman (talk) 14:36, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
WP:NPA provides some guidance: "Insulting or disparaging an editor is a personal attack regardless of the manner in which it is done. When in doubt, comment on the article's content without referring to its contributor at all." Lou Sander (talk) 14:41, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
@Iantresman there is no doubt that there are those who believe in pseudoscientific nonsense editing this page. You obviously haven't been paying attention to what is written here. I second Barney's accurate assessment of what is going on. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 15:36, 2 December 2013 (UTC)
In which case you'll have no problems providing diffs. --Iantresman (talk) 16:25, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Let me make it easy for Barney and Roxy since they seem to prefer to snipe at editors rather than addressing the issue. I have a great deal of respect for any scientist who is willing to put his or her carrier on hold to propose what is unavoidably a controversial hypothesis. I am not a scientist, and at my age, have no dog in the fight for the veracity of his hypothesis. Even so, I have attempted to see if his Hypothesis of Formative Causation can help clarify concept associated with the Survival Hypothesis. The hypothesis does help. I also know that Sheldrake, himself, is seeking ways of testing they hypothesis.

With that said, as an engineer, it is deeply engrained in my psyche to base belief on objective understanding, and as of this moment, Sheldrake's hypothesis can only remain a conjecture for me. The idea has legs and I will only know if it has merit if more good minds feel safe enough in their careers to study it.

Below, is a statement I think any honest scientist would agree to as a guiding principle. All I am asking here is that editors accept the same view of open inquiry. As it stands now, Wikipedia is seen as a public forum which, intentionally or not, effectively stops scientists from publicly exploring novel concepts.

Sheldrake's hypothesis is an attempt to make sense out of an observed phenomena, which to this day, mainstream scientists have failed to explain. As far as I can tell, all of the efforts to explain cellular morphogenesis have been poorly received or simply proven inadequate. In such an theoretical vacuum, one must consider more novel explanations. This, Sheldrake has done and no one here is in the position to say he is sienctifically out of line. From the American Association for the Advancement of Science, In THE NATURE OF SCIENCE: Scientific Ideas Are Subject To Change "Science is a process for producing knowledge. The process depends both on making careful observations of phenomena and on inventing theories for making sense out of those observations. Change in knowledge is inevitable because new observations may challenge prevailing theories. No matter how well one theory explains a set of observations, it is possible that another theory may fit just as well or better, or may fit a still wider range of observations. In science, the testing and improving and occasional discarding of theories, whether new or old, go on all the time. Scientists assume that even if there is no way to secure complete and absolute truth, increasingly accurate approximations can be made to account for the world and how it works." Tom Butler (talk) 18:14, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Delete or separate theory from biography

I think it is time to seriously consider making this into two articles. There is precedence for this. Future history will either ignore Sheldrake or at least mention him amongst the people contributing to our understanding of evolution. In fact, I am a little shocked his Hypothesis of Formative Causation is not included in the Lamarckism article. Two of the main players in evolution are of course Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Charles Darwin. Both of their biographical articles appear to be balanced, even though for a time, Lamarck was discredited.

In the same way, both the Evolution and Lamarckism articles appear to be well-balanced, again, even though Lamarckism is not considered valid today.

Treatment of the Sheldrake article is confused by the conservative editor's desire to show that the Hypothesis of Formative Causation is wrong, resulting in a very probable defamatory treatment of the still-living man. This is an untenable situation for Wikipedia, which all of this edit warring should prove.

I propose that we take a different tack:

  1. Delete the article and do no more
  2. Move Sheldrake's hypothesis and research into new articles and away from his biographical article.
  3. Continue as is
  4. Delete the biography article and keep the hypothesis article

I further propose that we give this a week and then close the vote and either go with #3 or act on #1 or #2. I would caution that a new article for the hypothesis should be titled Hypothesis of Formative Causation with Morphic field and Morphic resonance redirected to Hypothesis of Formative Causation.

Please vote on this here:

Number 2 - It is time to align this subject with the treament of similar subjects in Wikipedia. Tom Butler (talk) 19:10, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

Not happening Tom Butler (talk · contribs). Although Sheldrake is not notable as a scientist, the coverage he received his is notable as something else, so he'll fail AFD (try WP:AFD if you like). Meanwhile, morphic resonance might have its own article if there is as a bare minimum a small number of peer reviewed scientific articles testing the hypothesis. I am not aware of any. My prediction, btw, is that future history will ignore Sheldrake, mostly because they're ignoring him now. As Jzg (talk · contribs) says above this is a red line that you shouldn't be arguing. Also, WP:CONSENSUS is WP:NOTAVOTE.
Please feel free however to perhaps draft in your sandbox, the two separate articles you propose, one on Sheldrake's personal life and religious beliefs, and the other on his big "scientific" idea. If you think it will work, try to demonstrate how you think it can work, rather than just arguing. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:29, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Separate. Trying to lump the idea and the creator into one article is ridiculous. It's like handling the theory of relativity in the article about Albert Einstein, or more appropriately, describing the plot of Carrie in the article about Stephen King. The status of the ideas as pseudoscience, how to describe them, can be discussed at that article. I think it is pseudoscience, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't cover it and take it seriously. This is the Age of Bitcoin, when things don't have to have value to be valuable. Just like homeopathy, people will be passing this idea on and making money on it in centuries to come, long after Sheldrake is out of the picture. (There may be more than one article spun off handling different ideas he's espoused separately, though some might go in discussions of other things like perpetual motion) Wnt (talk) 19:33, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
If Morphic Resonance and Theory of Relativity were in any way comparable you might have a point. But they are not. TOR was pretty quickly recognized and accepted into mainstream science and studied and written about by multiple other eminent scientist. Morphic Resonance, on the other hand in over 30 years has not. In fact, some of the other original proponents now state "My initial belief was wrong, I concluded, and so I changed my mind and became sceptical. Sheldrake has not changed his mind, and goes on believing in telepathy. " -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:09, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
TheRedPenOfDoom do you really think Sue Blackmore is a reliable source to talk about such things as science, pseudoscience, telepathy and morphic resonance etc? Barleybannocks (talk) 21:17, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I think Sue Blackmore is an excellent source. She understands telepathy and the psychology of it very well, and she represents the scientific mainstream. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:28, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm glad you agree that Blackmore is a perfectly reasonable source Barney, and that you think she "represents the scientific mainstream". I just wanted to make sure of that so there would no arguments after citing the first sentence from her article on Sheldrake: "Sheldrake is scientific – at least in many respects – but his theory is wrong." (my emphasis) And so here we have a representative of the mainstream making exactly the point we've been making (scientific but wrong), and which you've been rejecting. I trust we need labour this point no further. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:13, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I presented Blackmore purely to show how the analogy of MR to TOR was not a good analogy. While TOR started with a single individual, it gained rather quickly a following amongst the mainstream of the scientific community. MR on the other hand in thirty years has not gained followers in the scientific community, but lost some of the initial followers who thought for a time at its inception it might be a promising idea. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:25, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
That's fine, I don't think the analogy with TOR was much good. My point here though is that Blackmore acknowledges Sheldrake is scientific, even if wrong. And, fwiw, Blackmore hasn't been a supporter of MR and then turned away, she's talking about psi powers. In any event, at least we have one acknowledged representative of the mainstream saying exactly what we've been arguing. I'll add her to the list of people who think Sheldrake is doing science. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:31, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
(ec) Honestly, I don't see how belief/nonbelief in Sheldrake's ideas makes any difference. I made a point above to give an example for both clear fact and clear fiction to make it clear we split articles in both cases. If you need a closer interpolation, consider that Samuel Hahnemann is separate from homeopathy (an article which covers mostly his notion), Scientology is separate from L. Ron Hubbard, and even MMR vaccine controversy is separate from Andrew Wakefield!
In case you are curious - my vote is not based on this - I should note that I am pretty heavily skeptical of Sheldrake because I am open-minded to all sorts of things: for example I am open minded toward obvious rational (recognize infrasound from far away - after all I know I do) and paranormal (perhaps dogs experience precognition) alternatives to Sheldrake's ideas; and while it is quite unlikely, in broad outline his concepts can be an interesting philosophical exercise since we have reason to suspect physics as we see it is not the 'ultimate truth' (holographic event horizons, etc.) Wnt (talk) 22:27, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
But in all of your examples the "concept" itself has received widespread coverage without specific identification with the creator/lead cheerleader, and the creator has received significant notability outside of that "concept". Not really the case here. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:37, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Sometimes it gets loose; in any case, that's too strict a standard. I mean, we have articles on Kzin and Pierson's Puppeteers! This is absurd - there's no excuse needed to split an article if its contents are starting to get cramped, as long as there's some rational line of division so people can figure out which article is most appropriate to add a new fact to. Wnt (talk) 22:45, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
That WP:OTHERCRAP has not been appropriately dealt with is not convincing and this article reached the length where spinning off because of length is required. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:07, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Hmmm, actually, looking over [86], it's not all technically pseudoscience. The claim that a person crystallizing a compound in one laboratory for the first time will make it easier for anyone anywhere to crystallize it afterward is absolutely falsifiable, and however unlikely the experiment should be, at least, entertaining, for the sheer audacity of the claim that humans can tromp their muddy boots in the realm of Platonic form. Rival protein crystallographers should love this one, and might be a source of useful data! Wnt (talk) 19:45, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
  • we don't need two articles about the same thing - there is no one doing morphic resonance other than Sheldrake and there is nothing that Sheldrake is notable for other than his books pimping morphic resonance. "separate" articles will just result in the same content twice with the same WP:VALID placement of Sheldrakes morphic resonance as ludicrous pseudoscience by mainstream academia twice. Pointless duplication. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:40, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
A quick search finds a paper at the University of Northampton that suggests otherwise,[87][88] and a researcher at the University of Newcastle,[89] --Iantresman (talk) 21:50, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Aside from how much I detest TRPod and Barney's tone, I think this thread is worth continuing. I have, however, added Option 4: to delete the article titled Rupert Sheldrake and only have articles about the theory articles.
It is clear some editors here only want the article so that they can discredit Sheldrake, so as you vote, please be sure you are voting for the best solution for Wikipedia. Tom Butler (talk) 22:20, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, we are not here to "discredit Sheldrake" - he has done that himself. And per WP:BLP we report on the reaction of his continued pimping of his pseudoscience has brought from the mainstream academia. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:46, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
we're trying to re;pport on that. But you keep refusing to acknowledge that many in mainstream academia regard his work as scientific. Even your source above, Sue Blackmore, said it right up front at the start of her article. I should also point out that the article is primarily an article about Sheldrake and his work. That is, the title is not: "Critical Responses from the Academy to A.R. Sheldrake".Barleybannocks (talk) 22:57, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
did you read her article? or even the whole sentence? "Sheldrake is scientific – at least in many respects – but his theory is wrong." "This analysis [of data that Sheldrake says supports MR] was far from clear-cut and the results did not, in my opinion, support the theory. Nor have results since then. ... My initial belief was wrong, I concluded, and so I changed my mind and became sceptical. Sheldrake has not changed his mind, and goes on believing in telepathy." That is not an endorsement of Sheldrake as a scientist. It is the complete opposite identifying how scientists are persuaded by the evidence and Sheldrakes complete immunity to being persuaded by the lack of evidence even after 30 years. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:05, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I did read her article. It makes the point that many here have been making and you have been vehemently disagreeing with. That is, many here have been arguing that, even if wrong, Sheldrake's work is scientific. That's what Blackmore says too. She says it in one of the sentences you quoted. No mention of pseudoscience in her entire article. Just a rejection of his theory. And we already know his theory is not-accepted/rejected by the mainstream - nobody, not even Sheldrake, is arguing otherwise.Barleybannocks (talk) 23:09, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
No, in toto she says that he dresses up his parapsychology work on telepathy in scientific garb - attempts to give scientific credence to non scientific work - pseudoscience, not actual science. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:13, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
No, she doesn't say that at all. That's just your (mis)interpretation of the article. Blackmore was free to use the word "pseudoscience" and she did not. She used the word "scientific" instead (see above). And while she thinks the evidence is not clear cut, and while she changed her mind about psi, there is no requirement for every scientist in the world to agree on how best to proceed from evidence that is "not clear-cut". And it's not just Blackmore, we have dozens of sources saying Sheldrake's work is scientific. These should be included in the article rather than suppressed.Barleybannocks (talk) 23:17, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Barleybannocks (talk · contribs)- trying to claim a difference between really bad science and pseudoscience is just splitting hairs. They are essentially indistinguishable. 23:19, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not trying to claim that difference (although there is one - bad science is still science - pseudoscience isn't). But even if we accept your claim to the contrary, there are plenty sources (including now Blackmore - an "excellent source" according to you, and a "representative of the mainstream" according to you) which say that Sheldrake is doing science. I listed many of them above for you, but you stopped commenting on them. They're still there.Barleybannocks (talk) 23:24, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
I have no real issue with one article or more. My main concern is the quality. The article could, imo, be made into a very good one quite easily since Sheldrake is a very interesting character with some very interesting ideas. We just need to accurately reflect the sources and balance the article a bit more so it is in line with them whilst covering Sheldrake's work in addition to the criticisms of it (so readers will know, rather than have to guess, what his ideas are all about). Barleybannocks (talk) 22:39, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Point of order: it isn't actually up to the talk page of this article to figure out whether a hypothetical new article is a good idea or not. We can't evaluate an article that doesn't exist. If someone wants to take on the task of splitting out an article about one of Sheldrake's concepts, people will have to go there and see it before they decide on AfD or merge discussions. Wnt (talk) 23:14, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
Barleybannocks, in a perfect world, I would agree with you, but the reality of it is that the contested interpretation of NPOV is going to assure this article will remain unstable. We can all go away, and sooner or later, someone will come along and make changes one way or another to either further discredit the man or make the article more neutral. There are just too many people out there with strong feelings about the idea (and I hope, therefor, about the man). In my opinion, this would not be the case if we separate the man from the theory. In that case, the skeptical community would likely not feel the need to discredit the man as a way of making his ideas look silly.
Wnt, again, in an ideal world, that makes sense. The problem is that this article has become a bone of contention which is going nowhere without some agreement of the editors. Consensus is always what some editors insist we need to make changes, so this is an effort to make a consensus. Sandboxes are awfully lonely places if no one cares about them. Tom Butler (talk) 23:25, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
The article as it stands now is a travesty. I never thought I could align myself with Tom, but I cannot see the article becoming stable with it being a BLP. Split the article into two, one for Shelly's ideas and the other a biography. The bio would soon become a stub for deletion without the ideas in it for notability, and the pseudoscience guff could be given the treatment it deserves. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 08:26, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

Ditch the 'notes'

One item that jumps out on the WP:BLP front is the "notes" section which lists various derogatory phrases and references for each. On closer examination it is apparent that many of these numbers are actually repeated, but it exaggerates the appearance that the whole world is condemning the guy. Come on! I say replace the "notes" with an ordinary, simple list of the references, once citation for each. Include a Wiki source comment string citing the original notes table in case future editors want to wade into the dispute. The thing must be the scar of some past epic battle, and it's ugly. Wnt (talk) 23:21, 3 December 2013 (UTC)

I agree, it's just a cheap shot intended to do unchallenged rhetorical work.Barleybannocks (talk) 23:28, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
The "notes" are in part an legacy of a previous version of the lead when a succinct description of the mainstream analysis of his work stated something along the lines of "Morphic resonance has been rejected by scientists and sceptics as pseudoscience and magical thinking because of the lack of evidence, its inconsistency with established scientific theories, being overly vague and unfalsifiable, having been conducted with experimental methods that were poorly designed and subject to experimenter bias." Being potentially contentious content about a living person, the multiple sources for each portion of the claim were clearly laid out without the link clutter of 20 cites in one sentence. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:38, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
That was a particularly good version of the lede IMHO. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 23:55, 3 December 2013 (UTC)
@TheRedPenOfDoom Simple lack of evidence does not make a hypothesis pseudoscience. Lack of evidence doesn't even mean a theory is wrong, much less incoherent or untestable. "Inconsistency with established scientific theories" is simply vacuous. There's literally nothing there. The charge of being vague and unfalsifiable is itself vague and unfalsifiable. And the final charge is just whining from researchers who don't like the results of certain experiments. The notes are indeed yet another indicator of how the article has degenerated under the influence of editors emotionally committed to a pseudoscientific materialist ideology. Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:46, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
The assessment is correct. "Morphic resonance" (or magic) as an explanation contradicts theories in genetics and developmental biology that explain how an organism develops from the turning on and off of its genes, by other genes. These are very well supported theories, and it's in Sheldrake's modus operandi to claim that they're not supported. This is in the critical commentaries. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:35, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
The idea that genes constitute a blueprint or developmental program was overturned by the discovery that a wide variety of organisms, from insects to people, share roughly the same set of developmental genes. The key factor isn't so much the genes themselves but when they are activated and deactivated, a process controlled by proteins known as epigenetic tags. There's currently no testable hypothesis in mainstream science for what determines the behavior of epigenetic tags (though it's generally assumed that genes somehow regulate the proteins regulating them). For all we know, epigenetic tags operate on the basis of morphic resonance, mimicking the activity of their counterparts in ancestral organisms. In other words, there's no conflict. That said, if a secondary source claims a conflict, we are free to include that in the article. As to devoting a section of notes to sources critical of Sheldrake, I think it contributes to the appearance of bias. It's especially inappropriate in a biography. Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:55, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Or on the same level of plausibility as morphic resonance, fairies could be popping in and waving their magic wands or aliens from the planet Gizunthobar are sending plytoplaszomic rays via the phogensophere. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:47, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
It's this kind of bias that makes you unsuitable to edit the Sheldrake biography. Alfonzo Green (talk) 23:07, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Thats not bias, thats responding to the incessant nonsense on this page with the level of snark it deserves. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Alfonzo Green (talk · contribs) - please, if you want to start commenting on scientific theories, please go and first read a basic primer in biology, in particular genetics and developmental biology. Epigenesis does not contradict theories in genetics and developmental biology - it is part of them. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:42, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Again with the insults. As I stated above, despite the elimination of genetic reductionism in its original form, theorists generally assume that genes are somehow still in control. Alfonzo Green (talk) 23:07, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I took a stab at getting rid of the section here. I can't really reduce the reference lists more than that because so many of the sources are inaccessible, but my feeling is that more of them could be struck from the second section as marginal with some examination. Wnt (talk) 05:27, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

War over the POV tag

I was originally intended to protect the article for a day or two due to the war over the POV template but given User:Barleybannocks' latest edits I'm going to AGF and hope that you can move past the POV template conflict and actually discuss and address the issues. However a general warning, if edit warring continues (whether there are also other edits or not) there will be sanctions, such as full protection, blocks or revert restrictions under discretionary sanctions. Please talk about the issue, not about the template. Thank you, Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 00:54, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

I am very much just a sideline observer of this page right now. IMHO, it would help greatly if editors would more carefully stick to commenting on the content, not the contributor, per WP:NPA. Lou Sander (talk) 17:09, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
The POV tag is amply justified, for now. Guy (Help!) 12:30, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

How many scientists and critics?

Further to our previous discussions above (permalink) on the numeric ambiguity of the clause starting the third paragraph, "Scientists and sceptics..."[90] I brought this up at WP:RS Noticeboard "How many scientists and critics?" (permalink). I am now happy to fully agree with Barney that (a) "the majority of authorities on a particular subject will simply ignore it", (b) "a small number of authorities have spoken against a particular view, and yet a small number of others have also spoken in favour of it."

It seems quite proper to prefix our clause "A small number of scientists and sceptics..." to reflect our joint understanding of this view.--Iantresman (talk) 16:26, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

It's not my understanding. You're deliberately ignoring the ignorers in order to try to present a misleading view of the scientific consensus on this issue. This is disingenuous and not compatible with policy. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:51, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
If the majority have ignored it, and a small number have been heavily critical, and a small number somewhat supportive, then why don't we just say that. Why pretend we know what the ignorers think/would think and attribute out intuitions/desired position to them as if it's fact? Barleybannocks (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:58, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure Barney is not claiming to know the opinion of a group of people, about something they are unaware (because they ignore it)? --Iantresman (talk) 17:05, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
We've been through this before Iantresman (talk · contribs) - the hypothesis would begin to show wider acceptance by scientists citing Sheldrake's work in their peer-reviewed papers, or by permitting Sheldrake's papers through peer review. This is WP:REDFLAG on WP:FRINGE. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
What's the extraordinary claim supposed to be here? All we're talking about is many people ignoring Sheldrake's theories (that's not extraordinary), some people being heavily critical of Sheldrake (that's not extraordinary), and some people being somewhat supportive (that's not extraordinary). What's REDFLAG got to do with any of this? Nobody is suggesting the articles suggest Sheldrake's theories are true and/or widely accepted - quite the contrary.Barleybannocks (talk) 17:21, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) but did you actually read WP:REDFLAG? (hint it's #4). Sheldrake has made several extraordinary claims. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:38, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Barney, I did read it, did you? There are no extraordinary claims being put forward with respect to this particular issue. See my comment above for details. Barleybannocks (talk) 17:47, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
"Hypothesis", yes good word. I actually disagree with you here. There are always going to be some hypotheses which people just ignore, or whose time is not right. A good example, is Kristian Birkeland's 1908 theory that auroral currents are derived from solar charged particles. Birkeland's ideas were generally ignored in favour of an alternative theory from British mathematician Sydney Chapman.[91] It took over 70 years for satellites to find evidence that was actually consistent with Birkeland. Imagine if Wikipedia has dismissed Birkeland, and incorrectly gave the impression that this was unanimous, when it was just some British scientists. Likewise Hannes Alfven was largely ignored,[92] despite going on to win the Nobel Prize in physics. --Iantresman (talk) 17:32, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
In which case, Iantresman (talk · contribs) we have to wait until an idea is accepted by the scientific community before giving the impression to readers that it is actually accepted. Before then it's misleading, and you know it. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:38, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Barney, absolutely nobody is saying we should give the impression to readers that Sheldrake's views are accepted. See virtually every section above (including this one) and in the archives. Barleybannocks (talk) 17:45, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Agree totally, and have never said otherwise. We do not pretend that Sheldrake's hypotheses have any more credibility, veracity or verifiability, than we a attribute to sources. Just because we state that he has a hypothesis, has done tests, have had his results published, is not to imply any of these. It is our basic use of prose that allows to state these facts neutrally per WP:NPOV. That dogs are telepathic: very contentious and subject to all the requirements for multiple reliable source. That Sheldrake suggests that dogs are telepathic, not contentious, because we're not claiming any veracity for his hypothesis. Isaac Newton believe in the occult. No big deal. --Iantresman (talk) 18:01, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

In the Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard: Scientists with unconventional beliefs unreliable source?

The question: "How do we determine if we can use a scientist with unconventional beliefs, as a reliable source, or is this just an Association fallacy?" by Barnabypage (talk)

The last, and to the point reply was:

"I'll try answering the original question in a slightly different way. The beliefs of authors are not things we should judge on Wikipedia. We know we can cite an author about subject X when that author is considered reliable outside Wikipedia for subject X. But concerning subject Y, we have nothing to say unless we are talking about subject Y, and then we also look at what people outside Wikipedia think of the author and subject Y. We try to reflect what is in publications. It is possible for a person to be considered a lunatic by experts in one field and a genius in another, at the same time. It is not for us to judge that, just to work out what the published experts say in each field.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 20:18, 4 December 2013 (UTC"

This should provide guidance in reevaluating the reliability of sources, especially the numerous psychologists, mathematicians and physicists commenting on a subject in biology. Tom Butler (talk) 18:05, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

This makes sense, otherwise we could claim prejudice because someone "believes in a god", or argue that no republican or democrat could edit the article on democrats, because they would both have beliefs to prejudice the article. As has been mentioned Isaac Newton believe in the occult, but it doesn't prejudice our views on his work on gravity. --Iantresman (talk) 18:16, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
The sources are reliable. What none of you is considering is that the sources quoted are effectively acting as spokespeople for the scientific community. Iantresman (talk · contribs)'s original proposal is a pathetically transparent attempt to represent these views as individual views rather than the prevailing mainstream consensus. The latter requires per WP:FRINGE that it is properly identified as the mainstream view. No pretending that it isn't, or that there isn't a mainstream view. Last time I checked, Brian Charlesworth, Steven Rose and Lewis Wolpert were all biologists. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:20, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Nonsense. Sheldrake published his hypotheses. We simple frame this fact in context. Rose said he repeated the experiments but did not come to the same conclusion. Other scientists rejected Shreldrake's hypotheses. Josephson disagreed with some of them. Maddox wrote in Nature that he thought it was pseudoscience. Nobody would think we are trying to promote Shreldrake, or claim any credibility or veracity. --Iantresman (talk) 18:27, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
If so, why do you insist on trying to create the impression that these scientists aren't presenting a mainstream view despite the WP:REDFLAG that indicates they are? Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:50, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
That Rose did experiments and published in peer review is part of the mainstream. Other scientists are part of the mainstream, and give their views. The views they offer must all be mainstream. If you want to be sure, state "The then editor of Nature, John Maddox wrote....", and the "prof. of biology, Rose stated...". --Iantresman (talk) 19:41, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Barney, now you must show where someone like Gardner, M. (1988). The New Age: notes of a fringe-watcher. Prometheus books. "Almost all scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's theory consider it balderdash." [93] has been voted as a spokesman.
Gardner was a well-known skeptic and had a vested interest in being right as one (COI). he was also trained as a mathematician and holds no apparent qualifications as a biologist. Yet, his 1988 comment about what other scientists thought of Sheldrake's work is used as one of the many references to discredit the still-living man.
Some of the references are obviously appropriate, but some also need to be removed as being unreliable sources base don the admin's comment. Tom Butler (talk) 19:50, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
WP:REDFLAG the burden is on those who wish to imply that the extraordinary claims of Sheldrake have any type of measurable support in the mainstream academic world. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:01, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Yep, we can see through our own policies that WP:REDFLAG, that Gardner's assessment is clearly correct, and no reasonable person could deny it. Note that Gardner isn't stating his own personal view, he's stating an observation of the reaction of the scientific community. He could be a supporter of Sheldrake and make the same, accurate, observation. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:06, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

You are both just expressing opinion. Show me where the burden of proof is on one party or another. in fact, the admin made it clear that the content of the statement and training of the speaker was the test of reliability.

Show me! Tom Butler (talk) 20:16, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Er Tom Butler (talk · contribs), you might have missed it but I think TheRedPenOfDoom (talk · contribs) and I both referenced the policies at length they're at WP:REDFLAG, and WP:FRINGE. If you disagree with those policies, arguing about them here isn't the place to get them changed. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:21, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Er Barney, neither of those apply unless you are referring to Gardner as a fringe source. Tom Butler (talk) 20:37, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Erm Tom Butler (talk · contribs), the policies are quoted with regards to "morphic resonance" which is Sheldrake's big idea. As a clear statement of fact, it doesn't really matter how Gardner is viewed. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:09, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

No-one is claiming that morphic resonance is true. We are stating the verifiable fact that Sheldrake has put forward a hypothesis concerning morphic resonance is true. There are dozens of sources, from both critics and a few supporters that ALL agree that he has done so. This has nothing to do with WP:REDFLAG. There is no contentious claim. --Iantresman (talk) 20:42, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Re Iantresman's point. Consider the moon-cheese theory. Most scientists completely ignore it. A few people advocate it, a few rebut it. We write a biography of a* proponent. According to Iantresman's theory, our treatment of the casein theory of lunar geology in that article should say "a few scientists and skeptics dispute it".
The sources we now have establish the fact that Sheldrake's ideas are comprehensively rejected. They reflect the consensus. If there were evidence of significant independent study of morphic resonance among biologists or any other scientists then Iantresman's argument might stand. In science, a valid idea is one which can be tested and developed by others. Ian, do you have evidence of any significant publications building on Sheldrake's work in the peer-reviewed biological literature? Independent replications of his proposed experiments in high-impact journals, for example? Guy (Help!) 20:57, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, but the moon cheese theory was not put forward by an expert on the moon, nor supported in various ways by multiple moon experts and other scientists. There are no solid sources suggesting, for example, that the moon cheese theory is the "life's blood of science". There are no Nobel Laureates who support it. There are not regular articles offering some support for the theory or the person who put forward that theory. In this and many other ways, then, the analogy fails, and as such should not determine how we treat the theory that forms one part of this article, nor indeed the remainder of the theories/views by the person who the article is about and which are not specifically related to the theory for which the moon cheese theory was a (dis)analogy. Also, nobody is saying the theory is valid. We are saying that it has some small degree of support in addition to the criticism which dominates a huge chunk opf the current article. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:10, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
You know what, Brian Josephson would probably support that as well, he's supported pretty much every other piece of pseudo-scientific crackpottery going. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:18, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
That is the fallacy of appeal to authority. How do you know my moon-cheese proponent was not a former NASA geologist? Do you want me to find examples of eminently qualified people advancing bonkers ideas? There's no shortage. How about a professor of biology who advocates biblical creationism? Guy (Help!) 21:24, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps, but since he's Nobel Laureate, I'm more inclined to give weight to what he says than I am to someone who has very little familiarity with the issue under discussion. That's not to say he is right, but he's also not the only one. David Bohm, eg, did some work with Sheldrake, and above there are a list of multiple experts who feel Sheldrake's work is worth paying attention to. Be that as it may, this is not the place to discuss our own views of the merits of Sheldrake's work. Here we are supposed to go with what the sources say and not with our own particular take on the issue. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:27, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Again, the appeal to authority. Ever heard of the "Nobel disease"? Nobel laureates have advocated all manner of batshit craziness, including eugenics. Guy (Help!) 21:38, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure they have. But some As have been wrong, therefore this particular A is wrong, is far more fallacious than the appeal to authority you imagined I made. Moreover, Wikipedia content is absolutely based on authority. That's what all the stuff about reliable sources is about. Thus to reject an authority if one doesn't like what they say (and to reject inclusion of the mere fact they said it) is to reject the core principle of the encyclopaedia. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:55, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
You don't seem to understand how science works. It's never about who says a thing, always about how well supported their idea is. Josephson has an extensive history of advocating complete nonsense, to the point that if he did advocate Sheldrake's ideas (I haven't checked) it would be a point against, not for, Sheldrake. But we don't even need to have that discussion: we have no need to head off down the rabbit hole yet again. I refer you to my points made earlier: propose specific changes and the sources that support those changes, minimising your personal opinion, or you're wasting everyone's time. Guy (Help!) 22:11, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't arguing about how science works. I was arguing about how Wikipedia works. It works on the basis of sources. And we have multiple reliable sources, and their content, being suppressed because some editors here dislike what those sources say. Thus I think you should revert your edit which seriously misrepresents Sheldrake's support as only coming from those in the new age movement - something you know, from the many sources cited here, to be false. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
If Sheldrake were promoting ideas related to superconductivity, you might have a point, Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:40, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
So we should throw out Maddox's views then? We also have Bekoff (biologist) and numerous neuroscience experts, consciousness experts etc etc., offering a degree of support for Sheldrake's theories in those fields. Th article really should cover what the sources say and not what you'd like them to say. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:59, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I can cite a professor of biochemistry who advocates biblical creation. I can cite several others who discuss his advocacy in calm tones. His views remain lunatic fringe. With ideas as wide ranging and (if valid) profound as Sheldrake's, the fat that only a tiny handful of people even discuss them is significant in itself. Their discussion is useful in describing Sheldrake's views, no more. We have good sources for the insignificance of support for his views. So, instead of arguing that we've got it all wrong, an assertion for which you've failed to attract meaningful support, instead suggest specific and actionable changes, with good sources. Guy (Help!) 22:19, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm not arguing that you have it all wrong. I'm citing sources which show you are wrong, and which show your edit changed information which is true to information which is false. In BLPs this should concern you, but clearly your own views on the matter are taking precedence over everything else. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:35, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

The point I am trying to make is that Gardner is not qualified to say anything about Sheldrake's hypothesis other than as his opinion which carries no weight in this article. Unless someone can show me where he has been elected as a spokesperson for people who do have the authority, he needs to be removed as a reference. Tom Butler (talk) 23:52, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

You are joking, aren't you? Martin Gardner was one of the best-known authorities on fringe and crank ideas, his book Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science is a foundational text of the rational skeptic movement, and he was a contributor to the Skeptical Inquirer for years. This is one of the least contentious sources in the article! Guy (Help!) 12:29, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

I've corrected the disputed passage so that it matches what the sources say. The sources cited are Lewis Wolpert and Adam Rutherford. Neither explicitly labels morphic resonance pseudoscience. They both bring up the term but in reference to other beliefs. However, I think it's reasonably clear that they regard morphic resonance as pseudoscientific, so I think it's okay to say that this view is implied. Neither of them says anything about Sheldrake contributing to public misunderstanding of science, so I've deleted that part of the passage. Now the problem is that even though we now have a fully sourced statement, it might be too detailed for the opening section. Alfonzo Green (talk) 20:32, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

For values of "corrected" that encompass the incorrect. Don't do that again, please. Guy (Help!) 21:59, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Morphogenesis v. morphogenetic fields

Up there ↑ it's stated that we should have more on the concept of morphogenesis, which conflicts with Sheldrake, and less about his imagined concept of morphogenetic fields. I think it would be interesting to contrast the valid with the nonsensical in this way, but obviously we cannot blaze the trail. My Google-fu is clearly weak as I am having a great deal of difficulty finding any reliable sources where experts in morphogensis point out hos it conflicts with Sheldrake, or indeed mentioning him at all in conjunction with the valid concept. Anyone have any suggestions for content here? Guy (Help!) 20:38, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

You seem to have very strong opinions on the matter, but your opinion is in conflict with many notable scientists and multiple reliable sources. Does your status as an administrator on Wikipedia allow you to overrule sources in this way? The scientists in question are listed above, as are many articles discussing Sheldrake's ideas in a way far more reasonable that the article currently has it. Grateful if you could explain what the role of sources are re wikipedia if not to determine content? Thanks. Barleybannocks (talk) 20:47, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
This is due to sampling error. See my comment above re the moon-cheese theory. When virtually the entire relevant professional community completely ignores an idea, it tends to be because it is abject nonsense. Morphic resonance is exactly that. Reliable sources reviewing the reaction to it, establish that beyond doubt. The few people who don't reject it out of hand as completely lacking any valid basis in fact, are useful for describing the theory, but not to establish its legitimacy.
Remember, if morphic resonance were true, it would necessitate a wholesale revision of all of biology and also of significant areas of physics. It has much in common with psychic phenomena: the existence of scientific discussion and open-minded investigation is asserted by believers to be evidence of validity, but it isn't. Guy (Help!) 21:05, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
You seem not to understand the issue under discussion here. Nobody is trying to claim the theory is legitimate, or has been accepted widely. This point has been made literally dozens of times at almost every stage of almost every discussion. The point is simply that it does have a small degree of support - as you acknowledge above - and yet you have just edited that fact out of the article contra multiple reliable sources.Barleybannocks (talk) 21:16, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
(ec) Yes, I understand the issue. I have read through the debate and archives, it took me a long time. The pro-Sheldrake editors want to minimise the degree of marginalisation of Sheldrake's ideas and advance his attempts to use philosophical rhetoric in place of scientific rigour. I have seen this may times before in other fields where absolute self-belief collides with empirically testable fact. Any reference to Kuhn is a dead giveaway! Guy (Help!) 21:33, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
No, you're wrong. The neutral editors (eg, me) want to include a brief statement in the introduction detailing what we know to be the case in virtue of multiple reliable sources and other are intent on keeping that well-sourced information out of the article for some reason. And the part you specifically misunderstand is the difference between the theory being widely considered valid and it having a small degree of support. Thus you argue against the former as if it was the same point as the latter. It isn't. As the above, and the archived, discussion, and multiple reliable sources clearly show. Thus the article currently has false information, where previously it had true information, and all without any consensus here either. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:39, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
As long as you are determined to portray your own bias as neutrality, you are wasting everybody's time. Guy (Help!) 22:20, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't have any great bias as regards Sheldrake. This can be seen, eg, in the way I am able to talk about him in a clam manner without each post being charged with emotion and full of invective. I perfectly well understand that his ideas have gained almost no traction in the scientific community and that a few people have issued strong denunciations. This seems to contrast me with others here who cannot speak about him without abusing him, and cannot even admit that a number of top-quality scientists have supported his ideas in one way or another, and are editing the article so that it excludes that support entirely and/or misrepresents it.Barleybannocks (talk) 22:42, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
So you say. But you're a single purpose account whose edits all seem to get reverted, and I'm an admin and email response volunteer with a long history of working on contentious biographies and dealing directly with article subjects' concerns.
You could always try, as I keep saying, suggesting specific changes with the reliable independent secondary sources that support them. You don't seem to have quite got the hang of that: saying that text noting limited scientific support for Sheldon can be supported by primary sources and the woo-monger Chopra is a case in point. If you can find a sentence in the MAddox commentary that says he has limited support among scientists, that would be completely acceptable. Can you see the difference? In one case you're deciding who is reliable and counting them to see if they are many or few, in the other an authority in the field of science is presenting a conclusion about the level of support within science. And of course if someone else reliable says there's massive support for Sheldrake we can use that too, but I am pretty confident that isn't the case. Guy (Help!) 12:24, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
One of the problems with trying to achieve consensus here is that all the neutral editors have been bullied away and will no longer participate. See here [94], here [95], here [96], and here [97]. Barleybannocks (talk) 12:38, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
So you admit to not being neutral then Barleybannocks. I suppose that growing self realisation is a start. Also worth noting that the claims of bullying were not supported by the Powers here either. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 12:43, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
No, I don't admit to that. I have likewise been bullied away inasmuch as I am no longer allowed to edit the article. And the claims of bullying were neither supported nor rejected - it was felt that the current powers were sufficient to deal with the problem. Be that a it may, your lack of concern that four editors with no axe to grind feel they were bullied away with constant attacks on their motives etc, by a small element fiercely opposed to Sheldrake, tells us all we need to know about your neutrality. Barleybannocks (talk) 12:51, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
"The pro-Sheldrake editors ... Any reference to Kuhn is a dead giveaway!" Usually I hate txteze, but the only thing I can say to that is LOL. Oh yes, that evil pseudoscientist Thomas Kuhn, promoting his woo. Anybody who has an understanding of philosophy-of-mind, Chalmers thru John McCarthy, they are ALL WOO-MEISTERS! Guy, you have seen this all before, you say. Did it ever occur to you, that the world is not as full of woo-meisters around every corner as you might think? Did you ever consider that maybe NPOV means sticking to the RS, that maybe UNDUE means sticking to the RS, and that maybe when Barleybannocks says they see neutrality problems here, and I say the same, and David_in_DC says the same, and in response *you* tell us that only the skeptic POV is truly neutral, that possibly *you* might be mistaken?
  I note that Vzaak is also a one-purpose-account, just like Barleybannocks, but I don't see you giving him trouble about it. Please recall that we welcome people here that are just interested in one topic-area, they tend to be experts. "As long as you are determined to portray your own bias as neutrality, you are wasting everybody's time." That is excellent advice, Guy, please take it yourself... or explain how following what the Reliable Sources say is Bad And Wrong And Offensive, without referencing WP:MAINSTREAM please. Anyhoo, apologies you feel alone Barleybannocks, but as you point out, neutrality has left the building. But it's not dead, it hasn't left the county; do your best to stick to the sources, and keep to the moral high ground, follow pillar four like a rock. Correction: be WP:NICE you dern woo-meister sheldrake-fanboi, you, is what I mean to say.  ;-)   Sigh. (talk) 22:50, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  p.s. Roxy, and Barney (and welcome back TRPoD), since you are all largely convinced that JzG and jps are correct, and that anybody who believes the currently article is non-neutral must be a Sheldrake-fanboi, I'll keep this short and sweet. By lumping good BLP-oriented perfectly-NPOV editors like David_in_DC into the same pile as *actual* Sheldrake fanbois, you are shooting yourselves in the foot. Make sense? I hope so. p.p.s. By the same token, the longer the war goes on, to pretend that SPOV==NPOV in at least the Sheldrake mainspace if not the rest of the project, the more famous Sheldrake gets out in the real world. Is scepticm best served, by downplaying the man's credentials, and his ever-so-mild amount of success, here on wikipedia? WP:RS==NPOV, and Barleybannocks is trying to stick to the WP:RS, not wiggle out of them by using "adminstrative experience" to divide them into two piles, one "serious" and the other "virtually". HTH. (talk) 22:50, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

(ec)Normally, morphogenesis has a number of mechanisms, some really weird. For example, a protein might be produced at one end of a cell, the cell divides into many, and the different cells know they have various fates based on how much is present. That's the classic Drosophila egg model, but it is actually a very unusual system even for insects. More commonly, a factor (morphogen) is secreted into the space around the cells, different cells see different amounts, and react to it. But why doesn't it wash around randomly and lead to random results? Well, there's some very careful chemistry going in in the extracellular matrix - cells are coated with strands of heparin and similar sugars, and some factors seem to stay stuck within them. Others stay anchored to one cell and only affect those it touches. But is that all? Not hardly. It turns out that cells produce narrow little filopodia that can reach around and poke others, or exosomes that carry little bits of the cytoplasm around. And they stick to other cells by gap junctions that let proteins move back and forth communicating information. And then there's the weird stuff from the literature you don't know what to make of, like homeobox transcription factors somehow making it through cell membranes on their own by some quirk of protein chemistry. Sometimes something mechanical matters - it turns out that situs inversus is avoided by some aspect of the current flow around a primary cilium that rotates always in one direction, letting the organism figure out which way is 'left'. And cells each have cell polarity so they know which way they themselves are facing. And... well, anyway, here's the real point: all these mechanisms are really, really, really specific. Morphogenesis doesn't work on platitudes, it needs a plan. I'm not familiar with Sheldrake's work, but he really has some explaining to do to communicate to us how one specific instruction to bend this way or that, divide or not, gets to one specific cell, not its neighbors that are supposed to do something else. As you search, look for these specifics (something akin to his claim that a new crystal would affect crystallization rates anywhere in the world - cosmos??) and then you'll get more direct comparisons. Wnt (talk) 21:28, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Misrepresentation in a blp

I propose we change the current text in the intro which misrepresents Sheldrake support as only coming from followers of the new age, when we know, given multiple reliable sources, that Sheldrake has received support from some within the scientific community. I therefore suggest we say something like, "despite the largely critical reception to his work from the mainstream scientific community, Sheldrake has received a small degree of academic support for his ideas, as well as attracting a following from supporters of the new age movement." The main advantage this has over the current version is that: a) it is true whereas the current version is false, or deceptive, or both; and b) we can source it to multiple reliable sources rather than having to suppress them. All important stuff, I feel, in a BLP.Barleybannocks (talk) 22:56, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Here's a list of sources (once again) which support the above edit.
These are a number of scientists who have offered support for Sheldrake in various ways.
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. [98]
These four all signed an open letter to TED that was published in the Huffington Post [99] (Links to their credentials can be found above on a previous post.)
Menas C. Kafatos, Ph.D., is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor of Computational Physics and the Director of the Center of Excellence at Chapman University
Stuart Hameroff, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology and Psychology, Director, Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona
Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard University, Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital
Neil Theise, MD, Professor, Pathology and Medicine, (Division of Digestive Diseases) Beth Israel Medical Center - Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.
Here's one who also explicitly rejects the accusation of pseudoscience in a letter published in nature:
Brian Josephson, Nobel Laureate in Physics.[100]
And here's an academic who argues, amongst other things, that books such as Sheldrake's, whatever you ultimately think about morphic resonance, are the "life's blood of Science" (thus not pseudoscience).
Theodore Roszak, Professor Emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay [101]
Here's a scientist who worked with Sheldrake in developing some of his theories.
David Joseph Bohm FRS - "American theoretical physicist who contributed innovative and unorthodox ideas to quantum theory, philosophy of mind, and neuropsychology. He is widely considered to be one of the most significant theoretical physicists of the 20th century." [102]
Here's [103] an entire issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies devoted exclusively to Sheldrake's work. That would appear toi fulfil the requirement for academic discussion of his work. Especially when taken in tandem with all the other academic books and article Iantresman and others have cited above. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:47, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
And here's the list of sources that support the current version

Barleybannocks (talk) 23:07, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

its covered under "The move and framing prompted accusations of censorship," probably overcovered as 4 voices represent a non measurable fraction of the scientific community. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:19, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
It isn't covered by that at all. There are multiple ways that particular policy/guideline would have to be misread to suggest that it does. And, given the article is actually about Sheldrake, and the specific section is about his support, it clearly warrants mention. Plus there are more than 4 - there are 6 listed above, and there are numerous others in many posts in the talk page and archives. I do note, though, that there probably only about 4 who have called his work "pseudoscience" yet that minority view is currently portrayed, falsely, as the view of almost every scientist in the world, while the mainstream science view is completely absent.Barleybannocks (talk) 23:29, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
The mainstream view is thus: "Rupert who?". Guy (Help!) 23:52, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Those who say "who" can't have been engaged in any criticism as the article currently falsely claims/implies, otherwise they would know who. In any event, we now have even more reliable sources including a whole issue of a peer-reviewed journal devoted to his work, which shows the current article to be even more obviously false than it already was. Barleybannocks (talk) 23:57, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
I think Barleybannocks' point is that this is not an argument about the validity of the hypothesis, but it is about a balanced representation of the hypothesis. If you insist on including a critique of the hypothesis in this BLP, then it is necessary to be very careful not to be seen as pilling on. Observers of this editing fiasco have expressed dismay on a number of occasions that the hypothesis is not separated from the BLP in the first place.
I see a lot of authoritative pronouncements about the validity of the hypothesis from editors here. Unless you are willing to submit your statement as a verifiable reference in the article, it has no standing.
Finally, please stop insisting that anyone who does not agree with you is ignoring the need for NPOV. What many of us are saying is that your understanding of it is simply incorrect (we can read the policy too). It is reasonable to say that the hypothesis has received some support but has been generally rejected by the majority of scientists who have evaluated it. Then provide one or two references for both side ... end of subject. Once you begin a list of pro and con references there really is no end to what will need to be added with each new study. Tom Butler (talk) 00:19, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I just looked at all the citations up above. I previously only really looked at those in the article. I have to say that my view of The Rupester is changing from "he's a whacky-thinking outlier, but he deserves a fair article" to "hey, some serious people have praised and are praising his work, and he still deserves a fair article."
Who here would object to a draft of an addition to the article that reported and summarized the views represented in those citations? Lou Sander (talk) 00:22, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I am getting a bit tired of what appears to be a willful ignorance of the archives, but suffice to say that the list of supporters of Rupert Sheldrake ranges from known pseudoscientists and alternative medicine practitioners, emergent ecologists and psychologists who have been criticized for being pseudoscientific themselves, and two physicists who are caught in the Roger Penrose trap of thinking that consciousness is not well-understood by neuroscience (a trap that also entices many philosophers). The point is that this list of scientists being repeated on these pages who support Sheldrake does not indicate that there is any movement whatsoever by the mainstream community to take Sheldrake's claims any more seriously. In polling, it's almost axiomatic that you can find a few examples that will support any position. That's what we have here (similar to those lists that creationists push out on scientists who reject Darwinism). Now, someday lurker may start a Project Steve to show that the vast majority of scientists dismiss Sheldrake out-of-hand, but, fortunately, he doesn't have enough traction outside of TEDx events to require such wastes of time. Wikipedia, however, can identify that these scientists are not reliable sources for demarcating mainstream understanding (since they are all on a whole, themselves, out on limbs) and further can rely on WP:ITA not to use this tiresome list as evidence that there is some level of disagreement as to what the mainstream understanding of Sheldrake's nonsense actually is. jps (talk) 12:26, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree Lou, the situation with regard to Sheldrake is very well know - mostly ignored, widely criticised, but narrowly supported. A situation which is substantially different, fwiw, with regards to his philosophical critique of scientism in Science Set Free which is quite widely supported in academia (more inasmuch as people agree with the basic idea rather than explicitly agreeing with Sheldrake's recent work which they may not have seen). I therefore think the article desperately needs some additional commentary covering these things, and would welcome any draft you can provide. Barleybannocks (talk) 00:33, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. And for the record, for the umpteenth time, I do not believe in telepathy. --Iantresman (talk) 00:50, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Wooly thinkers eh!. Can't live with 'em, the world would be a duller place without 'em. Thank goodness for WP:FRINGE Oh yes, and the ruling on Pseudoscience here on wiki. Can't get away from it. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 02:26, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
As you note above, Sheldrake's ideas are generally dismissed or ignored. I have nothing against including a short sentence on the limited support he does have, provided it's worded neutrally. Can you identify a suitable quote from a reliable secondary source that makes this point? Listing individuals is WP:SYN and not allowed. The problem here is that, for example, the Bekoff page is a primary source and Chopra is a new-religionist crackpot, not a scientist or a reliable commentator on matters of science. Guy (Help!) 12:17, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The short statement - neutrally worded - was what was in the article before. I suggest "a small degree of academic support". Barleybannocks (talk) 12:22, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Based on what reliable independent secondary source that states there is a small degree of academic support? Remember, we cannot infer this from digging up the few supporters ourselves. Guy (Help!) 12:52, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
How about "that Sheldrake's morphogenetic fields have been taken seriously by more physicists than biologists is to be expected.", in a book by David F Haight [104], published by the University Press of America [105]Barleybannocks (talk) 13:03, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
And then there's this from Bryan Appleyard, which appeared in the Sunday Times. "Morphic resonance is widely derided and narrowly supported." [106] As I said, these are well known facts, that are covered in one sense or another virtually everywhere Sheldrake is discussed except, currently, Wikipedia. Barleybannocks (talk) 13:09, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
And you could pick any number from here [107]. For example, "of all the scientific journals, New Scientist has undoubtedly been the most supportive of Sheldrake, having published a number of sympathetic articles on formative causation over the years." And this: "when he has not been ignored, however, Sheldrake's peers have expressed everything from outraged condemnation to the highest praise." Barleybannocks (talk) 13:33, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to see evidence of the "highest praise". The key problem with all of these statements is that they are overemphasising the acceptance of Sheldrake's work, apparently in order to create a sense of controversy in the article. However, and rather dully, there is no controversy - the true level of acceptance amongst scientists is so small as to be negligible, and those that do support have their own credibility issues. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:05, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
As I said, that is obviously your opinion, but it is contradicted by multiple reliable sources. And your claim that all his supporters have their own credibility issues is, of course, invented (see above for the impeccable credentials and lofty mainstream positions occupied by many of his supporters). Barleybannocks (talk) 14:10, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
From the sidelines: I agree with Guy that we can't infer degrees of support from digging up individual references. I agree with Barley that the nature and level of support for Morphic is not properly revealed in the article (I only learned of it from reading this talk page). I have a concern that the lead, when talking about support or criticism, maybe isn't summarizing material that is in the body of the article. I do not think that any of the posts under this heading, with the exception of one, are disruptive or unhelpful. They seem to me to be proper discussions of serious matters, held among editors with differing views. Lou Sander (talk) 14:13, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Barleybannocks (talk · contribs) - physicists "believe Josephson richly deserved his 1973 Nobel prize, few believe he has done work of any merit since [NB: remember what we said about doing science] , while some argue that his flirtation with transcendental meditation and the paranormal has been intellectually disastrous." [Royal Mail's Nobel guru in telepathy row, the Observer]. Let's not get started on Chopra as we'll be here all week. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:30, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Firstly, this isn't an article about Josephson. Secondly, it isn't an article about Chopra. Thirdly, the impeccable credentials and lofty academic posts held by many supporters of Sheldrake are detailed and linked to above. Fourth, the articles just cited clearly support the edit under discussion since they are virtually verbatim. So, we have reliable secondary sources saying there is support and we even have many examples of the support listed. I don't see the need for continued debate amongst editors, and about the views of editors, on this straightforward issue. Sheldrake has a small degree of support from within the scientific community. Barleybannocks (talk) 14:38, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Frame it properly Barleybannock. Sheldrake has a homeopathic, rather than small, level of support from within the scientific community. Frankly, that level of support shouldn't even be mentioned. --Roxy the dog (resonate) 15:02, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
As an uninvolved admin watching, Roxy the dog there are sources which suggest Sheldrake has a small amount of (serious, not homeopathic) support, do you have sources to present which show that the support is homeopathic? Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 15:10, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I think what s/he means Callanecc, is that Sheldrake's support is metaphorically homeopathic (ie, diluted to nothing). Thus we should not use the sources I cited because they are mistaken, the truth being known to editors here by mean/sources unknown. Barleybannocks (talk) 15:17, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
However as has already been established in this section the information should be included in the article, and sources have been suggested, so rather than a general comment, a comment needs to be made directly on the sources presented or the presentation of other sources which support that point of view. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 15:20, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I know that, and I know that is how it is supposed to work. But that doesn't happen here. Sources are requested; multiple sources are provided; sources are even provided demonstrating the truth of the claims made in the sources that were requested/provided; and then all of that is rejected by editor argument. That's why almost all the neutral editors left (as detailed on the recent arbitration request by at least four people no longer really involved due to exactly this kind of thing).Barleybannocks (talk) 15:27, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Callanecc (talk · contribs), I'm honestly not aware of any true support which would involve scientists seriously attempting "morphic resonance"-related research, coming to similar conclusions, publishing that research in a peer-reviewed journal, and have their peers cite and build on their work and so on. The closest we have are a few who demand "more research" without actually conducting any themselves (this is a bit akin to criticising a Wikipedia article and not fixing it), a few who apparently believe in things such as parapsychology that most scientists don't (yet before confirming this with research, see point 1), and finally a few who support Sheldrake's right to free speech. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:31, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Ok so before we move on any further Barleybannocks have you found a quote which meets the requirements above? Barney (I assume it's ok to call you Barney?) while not breaching WP:SYN do you have an objection to something like "a small degree of academic support" or the quote which Barley finds, as long as it is reliable? The main point which has been expressed regarding this is that something should be included, because it is strange and might leave something missing for the reader. So assuming we can find a source so that it isn't WP:OR is that ok with you, or do you have another suggestion? Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 15:41, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

I'm happy with the "small degree of academic support", which is supported by all three sources cited above. Barleybannocks (talk) 15:53, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
No, that is not going to fly without a proper source to support it. Here's why: the few scientists who have defended Sheldrake to a limited degree, have primarily defended his right to debate the scientific process and how science decides what is fact and what is hypothesis. This is being portrayed as support for his conjectures, but this is not necessarily true. That's why we can't use primary sources, we need a reliable secondary source that analyses the degree of support his conjectures have, as opposed to the degree of support for his right to advance his conjectures. Even the Chopra piece on the TEDx debacle makes it plain that most of the support he has received has been on this latter basis. Guy (Help!) 16:23, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
No, the first source says more physicists than biologists have supported his theory of morphic resonance; the second says morphic resonance has been widely derided and narrowly supported; and the third says that New Scientist has published papers supportive of formative causation. Thus the three sources cited above (at your request) all make statements about the support for his scientific work within the scientific community, and do not, as you suggest, focus on his freedom of speech. 16:36, 6 December 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Barleybannocks (talkcontribs)
Bannocks: Help us here... which three sources? ("Above" includes a LOT of territory, some of it very far away.) Lou Sander (talk) 20:01, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
These were the three sources I offered in response to Guy's request. He says they deal with freedom of speech, whereas I say they refer to Sheldrake's theories.
"That Sheldrake's morphogenetic fields have been taken seriously by more physicists than biologists is to be expected.", in a book by David F Haight [108], published by the University Press of America [109]
And then there's this from Bryan Appleyard, which appeared in the Sunday Times. "Morphic resonance is widely derided and narrowly supported." [110]
And you could pick any number from here [111]. For example, "of all the scientific journals, New Scientist has undoubtedly been the most supportive of Sheldrake, having published a number of sympathetic articles on formative causation over the years." And this: "when he has not been ignored, however, Sheldrake's peers have expressed everything from outraged condemnation to the highest praise." Barleybannocks (talk) 20:08, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree that here we have a clear proposed statement that seems well supported by suitable sources. --Nigelj (talk) 20:48, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I think the proposed phrase should be added to the existing sentence in the lede, as proposed in the first post in this section. Regarding the lede covering material that is not in the body of the article, an expanded version of this phrase, covering the material from all four sources should IMHO be added as a new third paragraph in the section 'In scientific and popular culture', above the existing paragraph about the New Age response. That last paragraph there, incidentally, should be expanded to provide coverage of the Deepak Chopra statement from the lede. Doing these things would greatly improve the NPOV of this article within the context of WP:FRINGE, I think. --Nigelj (talk) 20:59, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry Nigelj (talk · contribs) - I know the title is "Misrepresentation in a blp", but to which particular wording of Barleybannock (talk · contribs)'s attempts to misrepresent the WP:FRINGE and WP:REDFLAG obvious conclusion "Sheldrake enjoys virtually no support in the scientific community" are you referring? Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:06, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
The statement is a negative. Turn it around and explain what support he does enjoy. We could equally say that Sheldrake has had little criticism from the scientific community, based on the handful of vociferous comments out of the hundreds of thouands of scientists worldwide, but that would be misleading. --Iantresman (talk) 21:14, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I personally have no problem with "Morphic resonance is widely derided and narrowly supported" as cited, since this speaks directly to MR and does not conflate support for Sheldrake's right to write nonsense with validation of the nonsense he writes. It also appears to be an accurate reflection of the state of scientific acceptance of MR, as far as I can tell from my still continuing reading. I have also ben reading "The Science Delusion". It is self-serving and fallacious. I am quite angry I bothered; Kuhn it is not. Guy (Help!) 21:19, 6 December 2013 (UTC)


It is proposed that the existing sentence in the lede as follows:

While the response to his work from the scientific community is largely critical, Sheldrake has a following among supporters of the New Age movement.[1]

be changed to read

Despite the largely critical reception to his work from the mainstream scientific community, Sheldrake has received a small degree of academic support for his ideas, as well as attracting a following from supporters of the New Age movement.

with sourcing based on a selection from

  • "That Sheldrake's morphogenetic fields have been taken seriously by more physicists than biologists is to be expected.", in a book by David F Haight [112], published by the University Press of America [113]
  • This from Bryan Appleyard, which appeared in the Sunday Times. "Morphic resonance is widely derided and narrowly supported." [114]
  • From here [115]. For example, "of all the scientific journals, New Scientist has undoubtedly been the most supportive of Sheldrake, having published a number of sympathetic articles on formative causation over the years." And this: "when he has not been ignored, however, Sheldrake's peers have expressed everything from outraged condemnation to the highest praise."

Please comment only on the proposal, preferably by suggesting better wording or better sources. --Nigelj (talk) 21:24, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

I'm happy with your suggested wording. It is well sourced, appropriately written for an encyclopaedia, and demonstrably true.Barleybannocks (talk) 21:30, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree. --Iantresman (talk) 21:33, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
You would. --Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:58, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Philosophers opining on science are not particularly reliable sources. For exampe, the link describes New Scientist as a "journal". There is no peer review in New Scientist last I checked. jps (talk) 12:11, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I prefer:
Despite the largely critical (and even derisive) reception to his work from the scientific community, Sheldrake has received a small degree of academic support for his ideas, as well as attracting a following from supporters of the New Age movement.
The reason is that (a) Appleyard is pretty clear that derision is the main spur for Sheldrake venturing off into criticism of science itself and (b) there is, for all intents and purposes, no relevant scientific community other than the mainstream. There's no evidence that criticism of his ideas is restricted to mainstream scientists, for wall we know cranks in the cold fusion community or some other such backwater may also deride him. Guy (Help!) 21:52, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I think there are several problems with that. Firstly, it's not a very encyclopaedic, nor scientific, way to put it. Secondly, a lot of the derision has been roundly condemned (eg, Chris French said much of it was "uninformed and unfair"). Thus I think it is better to stick with less emotive wording which also covers the more appropriate criticisms from the scientific community. I have no issue with removal of the word mainstream. Barleybannocks (talk) 21:59, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
It's a very accurate reflection of what the sources say, and as such is entirely encyclopaedic. The condemnation is not of morphic resonance, but of Sheldrake's pariah status. MR is generally accepted to be bunk, the condemnation of Sheldrake for his anti-science and anti-atheist rhetoric is generally accepted to be an over-reaction. Chris French is somewhat conflicted, he knows and likes Sheldrake and has worked on testing many of his claims - albeit, as he says, withotu finding any evidence they are correct. Guy (Help!) 22:05, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
That seems logical Jzg (talk · contribs). It plays the ball not the man, as some of the other quotes do, and it doesn't pretend that there's any greater acceptance (as previously described) than what we can see. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:58, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • I prefer "members of the scientific community" to "the scientific community". The critics are individuals, not representatives of the Royal Society, the National Academy of Sciences, or other groups that might be said to speak for a community. I agree with the undesirability of "derisive." Lou Sander (talk) 22:21, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
True up to a point, but it's important to remember that MR is basically entirely ignored by the relevant academic community, and that is significant. Guy (Help!) 22:28, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
I think we should say it has been mainly ignored, but the problem is that people can't deride something and ignore it at the same time. Thus a better way of dealing with this whole thing might be to say it has been ignored, while some have been very critical of it and others supportive. We could also possibly add in the mainstream science view of morphogenesis which is currently excluded entirely in favour of the views of a few scientists. Doing this would also mean readers would get a better impression of why Sheldrake is rejected. That is, because the scientific community feels it will solve the problems Sheldrake identifies by reference to genetics pretty much as currently understood. Maddox makes this point so we have a source also. Barleybannocks (talk) 22:35, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
It is significant that it is insignificant? ;-) Lou Sander (talk) 22:40, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Lou Sander (talk · contribs) - yes, per WP:REDFLAG. And it is significance (no research papers). Meanwhile, scientists continue to ignore his ideas where they would matter (in peer reviewed journals), and attack and deride Sheldrake's ideas in letters to newspapers. So we get ignoring and attacking in different media. Barney the barney barney (talk) 23:38, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
and also per WP:ITA-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:39, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

1RR restriction on this article

Due to continued edit warring after warnings all editors of the article currently at Rupert Sheldrake are restricted to making one revert in any twenty-four hour period on the article expiring at 02:00, 7 March 2014 (UTC). Violating this restriction may lead to a block or topic ban, as an arbitration enforcement action. Please note that editing reverting just outside the 24 hour period will be considered gaming the system and may result in the same sanction. This action is undertaken as Arbitration enforcement per the discretionary sanctions authorised by the Arbitration Committee in this decision and is logged here. You may appeal this sanction using the process described here. I recommend that you use the arbitration enforcement appeals template if you wish to submit an appeal to the enforcement noticeboard. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 01:17, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

And to add a bit more, the discussions on this talk page (especially in the two sections above) are exactly what this article needs. Consensus and discussion driven conclusions. What the article doesn't need is people reverting each other: Alfonzo and Barney you almost saw yourselves blocked for a couple of days for edit warring. If each section needs to be closed and archived top and bottomed before an edit is made then I am willing to do that (or post it to WP:ANRFC linking to this section), but let's see if the seeming new found willingness and 1RR will work. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 01:32, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

I don't think you looked very closely at the two sections above here you are praising. There isn't a lot of reasonable dialogue going on, really. What we have are a lot of truculent claims and not a lot of plain speaking. The denigrating of excellent sources solely on the basis of them being critical of Sheldrake is particularly problematic. jps (talk) 02:55, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Could you be more specific about that? Lou Sander (talk) 06:06, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Please do be more specific if you can point to specifics of where that is happening (give me a diff and an explanation) and we might be able to do something. The reason I praised it is because we actually have constructive discussion on changes to the page based on sources. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 07:00, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I responded to the points above where I feel that people are beginning to adopt the model of WP:Civil POV pushing. There are certain individuals insisting that WP:ITA be ignored below. This is certainly not constructive dialogue. jps (talk) 11:58, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
It seems to me that the constructive dialogue has stopped. Lou Sander (talk) 13:24, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
Your perception that the "constructiveness" stopped when people other than Sheldrake supporters entered the discussion? hmmm. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:55, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference hanegraaff was invoked but never defined (see the help page).