Talk:Rupert Sheldrake/Archive 19

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Archive 18 Archive 19 Archive 20

Context Matters

"Sheldrake proposes that it is responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms".[7]

Has anyone actually read the source connected to this quote in the lead? This particular verbiage is in a paragraph where Sheldrake is comically remarking on how he imagines his detractors see his work. Its place here is out of context and implies this is how Sheldrake himself describes MR. If we're going to have a quote from Sheldrake about MR, it should be representative of how he describes it. Personally, I don't think we need yet another quote (we have four in just one paragraph), so I say we junk it altogether since it contributes little to explain either the hypothesis of MR or Sheldrake himself. If someone has an illuminating quote they feel is necessary to illustrate MR, I'm all ears, but this one is out of context and misleading. The Cap'n (talk) 19:06, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

The quote is needed because it connects morphic resonance to telepathy and "the sense of being stared at". Without it, the reader is left wondering why Sheldrake is studying those things.
I find nothing comedic about the quote, and it looks accurate. For example in a reader participation section of Dogs That Know, Sheldrake says, "Please tell us about your own experiences that suggest telepathic or other invisible interconnections."
Could you please explain why you think it is misleading? Please fill in the blanks.
  • "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" -- The quote suggests the wrong idea of _____, while the correct idea is _____.
  • "collective memories within species" -- The quote suggests the wrong idea of _____, while the correct idea is _____.
As you know, this issue has been discussed before. The original reason the (now-blocked) user gave for removing the quote was that it came from Michael Shermer, which turned out to be incorrect. While this feels like proxying for a blocked user, I shall assume this is not the case, but there should be a compelling reason to rehash the issue. vzaak 21:21, 7 February 2014 (UTC)
I think it's the result of making an understandable but regrettable mistake resolving several thoughts that go from the basic statement "Sheldrake says X", which is cited and is obviously consistent with his published writings, to "Sheldrake says X, which is obviously not supported by current scientific thinking"; added to "statements that are not supported by current scientific thinking are stupid", leading to "Sheldrake says X, which is obviously not supported by current scientific thinking and this is a stupid statement". We then boil this down by taking out the middle to "Sheldrake is being stupid", add that to "saying someone is a BLP violation", more brain ruminations and we get to the Captain's marvellous conclusion: "Wikipedia cannot say Sheldrake says X because that's a BLP violation." This completely ignores the sources provided, involves much thought ruminations in the middle, and reaches the wishful thinking that (1) this is a negative statement (it isn't - it's a neutral, cited statement), because the point of the game if you're a self-appointed BLP warrior is to create BLP violations out of nothing, apparently. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:53, 7 February 2014 (UTC)


Barney the barney barney, you appear to fundamentally misunderstand my point. My "marvellous conclusion" is not that the quote is a negative violation of BLP, nor am I a "self-appointed BLP warrior" trying "to create BLP violations out of nothing". This is not, or at least was not intended to be, a controversial, partisan battle (nor did I mention anything about BLP). I'm pointing out that a quote in the lead is unhelpful and that to remove it would make the article more informative, flow better and avoid misconstructions. I opened this post with what I feel was a reasonable issue, respectfully presented and asking for feedback. How exactly does that provoke insults?
As far as vzaak is concerned, I do not think it is a quote from Michael Shermer, but feel it should be removed for the reasons I listed above and will reiterate now. It is misleading as a quote, redundant and an example of excessive quoting that does not improve the article.
Here is the context of that quote:
But the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species didn't go down too well with my colleagues in the science labs. Not that they were aggressively hostile; they just made fun of it. Whenever I said something like, "I've just got to go and make a telephone call," they said, "Ha, ha, why bother? Do it by morphic resonance!"
It is inaccurate in that nowhere else in this article does Sheldrake describe MR as telepathic (it's irrelevant whether he's used in an interview, quotes should accurately reflect their particular source), and the context indicates he uses the term as what his opponents believe. If everything in this block of text is to be taken as Sheldrake's literal expression, we might as well include quotes describing MR as capable of replacing telephones.
As far as needing the quote to establish that Sheldrake includes telepathy and stared-at aspects, those concepts are expressed in the very next next sentence. How do the two following sentences offer distinct points?
  • Sheldrake proposes that it is responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms".
  • His advocacy of the idea encompasses paranormal subjects such as telepathy and "the sense of being stared at"[7][8]
They seem completely redundant to me, which is reason enough to get rid of the quote even if it wasn't misleading. Using this quote to argue that his purpose in that source was to describe MR as telepathy is contextually inaccurate, though stating the scientific community views his arguments as such is not. That's why the second statement is acceptable but the quote is not. Besides, why are so many quotes are necessary in the lead?
Lastly, much as I appreciate the veiled accusation, my reasons for wanting to delete this quotation do not stem from proxying. My goals are to establish a balanced, NPOV article that is succinct, accurate and informs rather than advocates. I have had a longstanding issue with the formatting of this article which I feel I have represented consistently, before, during and after Tumbleman's blocking. I would point out that it is possible for a person to disagree with the content of this page without being a troll, proxy, sockpuppet or fringe proponent. The prevalence of such charges have been and remain a source of concern for me. The Cap'n (talk) 22:53, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

"nowhere else in this article does Sheldrake describe MR as telepathic" -- this isn't true. The article says, "Sheldrake suggests that such interspecies telepathy is a real phenomenon and that morphic resonance is responsible for it".

It's a simple fact that Sheldrake believes that morphic resonance is responsible for telepathy-type interconnections between organisms. Have you looked at Dogs That Know? It's all about that. I gave an example quote from the book.

Until the following blanks are filled in, I just don't have any idea what you are talking about, sorry.

  • "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" -- The quote suggests the wrong idea of _____, while the correct idea is _____.
  • "collective memories within species" -- The quote suggests the wrong idea of _____, while the correct idea is _____.

The two phrases you gave aren't redundant. The first describes the reason for the second. We can leave it to the reader to puzzle, "WTF? What does telepathy have to do with it? Morphic resonance is telepathy? What?" Or we can explain it. vzaak 23:47, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

I totally agree with Barney and vzaak. The Cap'n doesn't seem to realize that Sheldrake believes in telepathic chickens. However, I replaced the sentence with another one with a clearer reference. Does that give similar information or should I find something else? It's not like there's a shortage of potential references. Dingo1729 (talk) 04:24, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Cap'n is right that it is a bit redundant. Further revisions should be made to eliminate such redundancy.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 04:59, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Dingo, I appreciate the attempt, but the new text doesn't quite match the source. In order to use that source we need to explain morphic fields, a complexity that has been purposefully omitted from the lead. (Also note that people are animals :) It has happened before that the original quote was replaced with other text, and accuracy was lost in that case as well. There is really no reason to avoid the quote. There has never been a cabal or conspiracy here, yet that idea seems remain present with some. vzaak 09:27, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm OK with the original quote if you want to restore it. I was just trying to provide a clearer ref for telepathy (rather than telepathy-type interconnections). Can you really separate morphic fields from morphic resonance? They seem inextricably intertwined. But if you want to revert my edit, I won't complain. Dingo1729 (talk) 16:56, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
We aren't separating morphic fields from morphic resonance, we're just eliding such detail from the lead while maintaining parity with the sources. Also, "telepathy-type interconnections" succinctly encompasses telepathy and "the sense of being stared at". I'll wait a bit for Askahrc to reply. vzaak 17:34, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Either way I think the point about redundancy is valid. To say it is responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections" and then say the idea encompasses telepathy is a tad redundant.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 18:43, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
Maybe to the ear, but "telepathy-type interconnections" doesn't necessarily imply telepathy. Sheldrake could have decided that it fell short of "conventional" telepathy, yet allowing "the sense of being stared at". vzaak 19:37, 8 February 2014 (UTC)
I stand corrected regarding Sheldrake's use of telepathy in the source, though I still agree with Devil's Advocate that it's redundant and unhelpful given the multitude of other quotes and paraphrases that say virtually the same thing. If we're arguing that Sheldrake has clearly linked MR and telepathy (I'll look into that a bit deeper so I can weigh in with a properly informed opinion), then we don't need "telepathy-like," while if we're saying he delineates the two we shouldn't use the sources that say "telepathy." Either way, I really don't think we needed a fourth quote in one paragraph to help provide a broad summary.
As far as a cabal or conspiracy, I would point out that I have not accused anyone of being part of such, but simply referenced that certain (seemingly routine) editing approaches tend to draw disproportionately hostile reactions. I'm not sure I can remember the specifics, but I seem to recall someone who proposed trimming down excessive quotes that they thought were not informative, then was promptly implied to be a proxy violating WP policies and called some choice names. Without insinuating some nefarious League of Evil Wikipedia Editors, I think that trend is a recurring one and a problem that has stifled work on this page. The Cap'n (talk) 15:29, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

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Askahrc, you came here claiming that "telepathy-type interconnections" is misleading. It looks like you are conceding that this is not the case (otherwise, please fill in the blanks I provided above). The argument is as incomprehensible now as it was when the blocked user made it. Please don't rehash old discussions like this without good reason.

Now you have moved on to a point about redundancy. But you see, that wasn't your original claim, and had you made the redundancy point from the beginning then there wouldn't be an issue. It's perhaps the most trivial point to grace this talk page.

"Telepathy-type interconnections" is fine description appropriate for the lead, where we should elide technical details about the distinction between morphogenetic fields, morphic fields, and morphic resonance.

I have restored the quote and made a change that addresses the redundancy concern. vzaak 19:11, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

First off, the point about redundancy was in my first post, in which I asked why we need four quotes working to explain MR in one paragraph. I then brought it up again in my reply, and in every statement since then. Also, redundant statements in the introduction to an encyclopedic entry are not trivial. It is not trivial to have redundant-type statements in an encyclopedia entry's introduction. Examples of things that are not trivial problems in the introduction to an encyclopedic entry includes redundant statements.
I still do feel that using that quote from the citation is not representative of what the broader source was stating. As a side note, however, I don't agree with the principle that if I do not fill in the blanks to your statement my arguments are null & void. With all due respect, this is not your article, it's all of ours. Your decision that the quote is a "fine description appropriate for the lead" is just as valid as my decision to question whether that is true. I feel confident I have established over the years that I am not a troll, and if I have concerns about the quality of the article I will bring them up for examination by consensus, in accordance with WP policies. I'm not going to cross-reference my concerns with everything Tumbleman brought up months ago, both because these are issues I have with the current article, and because the fact that he was blocked doesn't mean that all of the topics he ever took issue with are now verboten.
For the sake of argument, though, here's my responses to your blanks:
  • "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" -- The quote suggests the wrong idea of __telepathy being the defining characteristic of MR, or that this quote comes from Sheldrake's personal definition of the concept_, while the correct idea is __using that very source to either include Sheldrake's stated definition or his personal paraphrasing__.
  • "collective memories within species" -- The quote suggests the wrong idea of _____, while the correct idea is _____. I don't know why this was asked. I never challenged this statement, tried to delete it or suggested its replacement. It's fine as is.
As always I look forward to everyone's feedback. I will continue to work to improve WP and assume we're all working toward the same end and can do so civilly. The Cap'n (talk) 00:39, 10 February 2014 (UTC)


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The point about "telepathy" being redundant was resolved with my last edit. I didn't say it was trivial -- I said it was perhaps the most trivial point to grace this talk page. It's the kind of thing that someone just goes ahead and changes, and that is what I have done.

Deleting the essential information that connects morphic resonance to telepathy is another matter.

Regarding the blanks, the source says (bold added),

But the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species didn't go down too well with my colleagues in the science labs.

You say "collective memories within species" is fine. So do I. It's a correct and accurate phrase. It is Sheldrake's own quote, his own characterization of the concept. So why does this not apply to the phrase immediately preceding the quote, in the same sentence?

You say "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" suggests the idea of "telepathy being the defining characteristic of MR", but I cannot see how that could possibly be true. The article says,

Conceived during Sheldrake's time at Cambridge, morphic resonance posits that "memory is inherent in nature" and "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind". Sheldrake proposes that it is also responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms".

Nothing here suggests that telepathy is "the defining characteristic" of morphic resonance.

You can learn about morphic resonance and telepathy in Dogs That Know; I provided a quote earlier. Sheldrake believes that morphic fields extend from an organism and connect to morphic fields that extend from other organisms, i.e., "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms". Like the quote "collective memories within species", the quote "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" is accurate. For purposes of the lead, it allows us to avoid getting into the details of distinguishing between morphogenetic fields, morphic fields, and morphic resonance. vzaak 03:55, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

I still feel that the quote is not the most concise or representative example of Sheldrake's description of MR, given that he was referencing how others perceive it. If we're going to go through the trouble of including a direct quotation it should either be one of the many that includes Sheldrake's own definition or include some awkward proviso about the quote being referential to the views of others. This has been my ongoing concern with this quote from the beginning; whether or not a reasonable person could construe the words in the quote to be representative of MR, the context of the text makes it clear Sheldrake was referencing the views of others and not providing his own definition of MR. There are plenty of other quotes that could explain his own definition much more accurately, if you really feel the lead is lacking enough info on MR (a concept I find surprising).
I'll see if I can rustle up some representative quotes that fulfill both requirements, then we can set to rest the redundancy issue, contextual/intent problem and MR info matter at last. The Cap'n (talk) 06:15, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
Put in a more representative quote in the lead. As far as the old one, I'd say the final nail in its coffin should be the fact that the passage it's taken from is quoted in its entirety further down the page. It seems to me we don't need the same passage to be quoted repeatedly throughout the text. The Cap'n (talk) 09:12, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

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Your argument appears to be based solely on your idea that the quote represents how others perceive morphic resonance. This is rebutted by my previous comments, particularly my last one, and I haven't seen a response to those points. The quote has been in the article for ages; instead of trying to remove it in slow-warring fashion, please use this talk page to gain consensus for removing it.

Incidentally, I would point out that the source you inserted doesn't even mention morphic resonance, making your change unsupported: morphic resonance suggests "telepathy is a natural ability of animal groups, to communicate with each other".[1] This no longer matters because the text has been removed. vzaak 14:18, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

My argument is based on the idea that a quote should represent the sentiment being expressed in the broader context and that it shouldn't be a smaller snippet of a fuller quote listed just a section or two lower. You mentioned that I didn't respond to your morphogenetic comment, which I did not because it was unconnected to the arguments being made, but the redundant quotes, unsuitability of this quote in the face of countless other sources and problem of contextual intent have been consistently ignored by you throughout, and they are very pertinent to this issue. I'm not sure if I'll continue struggling to justify this seemingly obvious point, as it appears to be just a time suck. Speaking of which...
I am not slow-warring, I am trying to add modest input to this page, make small changes and discuss possible negotiations. The fact you consider this inappropriate is bizarre. I have sought consensus and compromise at every turn, even searching for quotes that directly (and definitively) reference telepathy (the entire context of that quote was in reference to a MR question) to accommodate your concerns that this information be made clear to readers. So far your idea of compromise has been to blanket revert all of my work, plug in an additional citation or two to "explain" these actions and insist that nothing be altered on the page. This page has not remained the way it is for "ages" (what, a month?) because it is balanced, but because there's been such an incredible backlash against anyone trying to make even minor, balanced edits that everyone gives up. Look at the Talk archive and see the countless topic sections where established editors stated they were leaving the page in disgust. This is not a fruitful environment for collaboration, though FSM knows I'm trying. The Cap'n (talk) 08:26, 14 February 2014 (UTC)
Your argument seems to be we can't say "Sheldrake says X" (even though, clearly, he does) because X is so transparently stupid that for Wikipedia to say "Sheldrake says X" is tantamount to libellously accusing him of stupidity. The facts however are clear: He does say X, but we're not accusing him of stupidity, we can let the reader make their own minds up. Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:24, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

Summary and Conclusion

Although repetition should be normally eschewed, this thread has become so long that we need a wrap-up.

  • It is a sheer fact that telepathy-type interconnections between organisms is what Sheldrake is proposing. Sheldrake believes that morphic fields extend from organisms and connect to the morphic fields extending from other organisms. That's the medium for telepathy, according to Sheldrake. See Dogs That Know.
  • In the source, the phrase "collective memories within species" appears directly before "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms", in the same sentence. Askahrc has stated that "collective memories within species" is accurate (which it clearly is).
  • Sources that are sympathetic and supportive of Sheldrake use "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" to describe morphic resonance: books[2][3][4][5] and who knows how many websites[6][7][8].

From what I can tell, Askahrc's arguments have been:

  • The quote misleads. Contradicted by the above bullet points.
  • The quote represents the perspective of Sheldrake's detractors. Contradicted by the above bullet points.
  • The word "telepathy" is redundant in the lead. Fixed.
  • The quote should not be mentioned because it appears in greater context in the body of the article. Doesn't follow; no reason why not.
  • Other quotes exist. Perhaps, but the one given wasn't suitable for reasons that were explained.

The quote has been in the article for seven months, save for a period of about a week when it was removed by David, though David ended up restoring the quote himself. Askahrc needs to accept the consensus and stop pounding on the issue, please.

For the purposes of the lead, the quote succinctly connects morphic resonance to telepathy-related phenomena without getting into the details of describing and differentiating between morphic fields, morphogenetic fields, and morphic resonance. It would seem difficult to do better than that. vzaak 11:33, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Speed of light

In Rupert_Sheldrake#Debating_and_lecturing there is a paragraph about the speed of light and other constants changing, which lacks mainstream context per WP:PSCI. The only direct responses I've seen are from Sean Carroll via blogs,[9][10] e.g.,

There are many respectable scientists (including me, or at least “as well as me”) who study the possibility that physical parameters vary with time, both theoretically and experimentally. For the most part they understand the concept of error bars, as well as how different parameters are related to each other, neither of which Sheldrake has any clue about. Life is too short.

Wikipedia has Is the fine-structure constant actually constant?, but it's not clear that Sheldrake even understands that he's talking about the fine structure constant. It's unfortunate that he received laughs when he told the audience in his TEDx talk that the speed of light was eventually fixed, as if this was some indication of "dogma".

The paragraph in question is misleading without a mainstream view, and I think it should be deleted until one is provided. vzaak 19:48, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Scientific community is not homogenous

In the third paragraph of the lead, "Morphic resonance is not accepted by the scientific community as a real phenomenon..." is an unsupportable generalization. It is like saying the religious community or the political community. I think the term "scientific community" is used here as a means of condemning rather than explaining that there are opposing views ... as there are for virtually all theories. I really thought we settled this months ago. Tom Butler (talk) 17:36, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

That statement is supported by the following references:
  • Gardner, M. (1988). The New Age: notes of a fringe-watcher. Prometheus books. ISBN 9781615925773. "Almost all scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's theory consider it balderdash."
  • Sharma, Ruchir (2012). Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles. WW Norton & Company. ISBN 9780393083835. "Despite Sheldrake's legitimate scientific credentials, his peers have roundly dismissed his theory as pseudoscience."
  • Samuel, L. R. (2011). Supernatural America: A Cultural History: A Cultural History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313398995. "...most biologists considered Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance hogwash..."
  • Wolpert, Lewis (11 January 1984). "A matter of fact or fancy?: SECOND OPINION". The Guardian. p. 11.
  • Maddox, John (24 September 1981). "A book for burning?". Nature 293 (5830): 245–246. Bibcode:1981Natur.293R.245.. doi:10.1038/293245b0. "...Sheldrake's argument is in no sense a scientific argument but is an exercise in pseudo-science."
  • Rose, S. (March 1992). "So-called "Formative Causation". A Hypothesis Disconfirmed. Response to Rupert Sheldrake" (PDF). Riv. Biol./Biol. Forum 85: 445–453. "Along with parapsychology, corn circles, creationism, ley-lines and "deep ecology", "formative causation", or "morphic resonance" has many of the characteristics of such pseudosciences..."
  • de Pracontal, M. (1986). L'imposture scientifique en dix leçons. Editions La Découverte.
  • Jones, David (4 July 1988). "Books: Captain Morphic – Review of 'THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST' By Rupert Sheldrake". The Times.
I agree that I thought this was settled - morphic resonance is pseudoscience and WP:DUCK applies to the statement that it is not accepted by general scientific consensus. Simonm223 (talk) 17:41, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Nice job of cutting and pasting. You are avoiding the point that the "scientific community" has not collectively condemned the theory. Saying it has here is a clear effort to bias the article. Some of your shotgun-like references are more specific than this article. Even Gardner qualifies his generalization with "Almost all scientists..." he specifically avoided "the scientific community." Tom Butler (talk) 17:55, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Two things. One - please observe WP:NPA - I put up the relevant sources to the statement you claimed to be unsubstantiated in talk to highlight them. You don't need to respond with "Nice job of cutting and pasting," that's going from 0 to hostile pretty much immediately. Two - it's pretty darn evident that the general scientific consensus is that this is pseudoscience. Wikipedia is supposed to use clear and unambiguous language. We don't need to violate WP:DUE by pointing out that somewhere somehow there might maybe be one person in the scientific community who disagrees with consensus. Simonm223 (talk) 18:05, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
There is nothing civil about this article. Sorry, it is a learned response to assume poor faith around here. The same sort of bias is going on in the Dean Radin (and probably others) article, so please do not think your position is innocent.
As you well know with your Wiki-references, Wikipedia does not allow "the rest of the story" about these people because the community of scientists who study the related phenomena publish in peer-reviewed journals which are not allowed because they are "fringe." That means virtually all of the material used for reference here is from the mainstream, which any historian will tell you is always on its way out of date. In fact, the "scientific community" is not homogeneous and does not as a body reject any theory.Tom Butler (talk) 18:19, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Our current reliable sources demonstrate reasonably well that there is a consensus within the greater scientific community that Morphic Resonance isn't a thing that exists. If you can demonstrate peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary from non WP:FRINGE sources please do so. And the burden falls upon all editors to assume good faith. Journals like Journal of Parapsychology are considered fringe because the data they contain regularly and consistently falls down with badly executed statistical analysis and experimental design which violates standard principles of blinded experimentation. When we talk about general scientific consensus this is what we mean. It doesn't matter if every person who calls themselves a scientist, or even every person with a PhD from an accredited institution agrees. But can we find sources that have tested this using proper rigor and found... anything? Because right now the answer to that is no. Simonm223 (talk) 18:43, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Your assessment of the Journal of Parapsychology as "badly executed statistical analysis and experimental design" shows a clear bias that is most likely based on your own personal ideology and belief system than actual science. In many cases, the journal has provided far more rigor in its statistical analysis than what you will ordinarily find in peer reviewed journals. 159.118.158.122 (talk) 14:46, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
I've looked very hard and failed to find supportive statements from the scientific community. All the mainstream sources that I can find are negative. If you can provide sources, then we can have another look at it. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:08, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
There have been many credible scientific sources. The research is easy to find if you are willing to keep an open minded scientific attitude. The problem is an a priori bias that is hard to shake from many who claim they have looked at the evidential material closely - but really haven't. 159.118.158.122 (talk) 15:23, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. Please provide us with specific references to where morphic resonance has either (1) been subjected to tests published in mainstream journals which have implied the existence of MR (2) examples where experienced research scientists have praised MR and/or Rupert Sheldrake for his work on MR. While keeping my mind as open as possible, and looking as hard as I can, I can basically find bugger all. I might have missed something though. Assertions that I have missed something sound like wishful thinking unless you back them up with citations. Citations, please. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:43, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
Sorry Barney, I have no time for pseudo-skepticism. If you guys were for real, maybe I would take the time. But you're not. 159.118.158.122 (talk) 16:56, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
Stop wasting our time then. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 17:05, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Morphic resonance has been characterized as pseudoscience by the scientific community.

This sentence is wrong. The entire scientific community does not make pronouncements. A better wording would be what I proposed: [11] where I wrote,

"Morphic resonance is not accepted by the scientific community as a real phenomenon and Sheldrake's proposals relating to it have been characterized as pseudoscience."

TDA took offense, I believe, at the insinuation that the scientific community doesn't accept it as a "real phenomenon". Except that this is much closer to what they don't accept than it is to say that they "consider" it a "pseudoscience". Still, perhaps we shouldn't make pronouncement for the entire community. So, we could try this version:[12] where we simply say that "Morphic resonance has been characterized as pseudoscience by members of the scientific community in large part because there is no scientific evidence that it exists." which simply combines the next phrase into the previous one and makes it clearer that it is the members doing the characterization rather than the community itself.

We need to avoid WP:ITA problems as well as avoid sloppy writing. I prefer the second version that was written as an attempt at compromise. What do you think?

jps (talk) 05:44, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

I've made a stab at an alternative wording. Thoughts? Second Quantization (talk) 12:29, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Seems like a good step, but I thought the wording could be more concise so I shortened it.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 05:16, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
That's shorter (diff), but both versions are incorrect—per WP:REDFLAG, reliable sources are not required to say that morphic resonance "is not accepted by the scientific community as a real phenomenon". Inedia does not say "those scientists who have looked at whether it is possible to live without food consider inedia to be pseudoscience". Any acceptance of morphic resonance would be trumpeted worldwide as the first occasion where something apparently identical in nature to all other fringe nonsense has been accepted as a real phenomenon, and scientists would be scrambling over each other to research a completely new area. That is not happening, and the wording proposed by jps above is correct and should be restored. Johnuniq (talk) 06:05, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
"But it's true!" is not a sufficient reason for keeping material, as you know. I did not object to simply saying the scientific community characterizes it as pseudoscience, nor do I object to the other material in the article discrediting Sheldrake's view. The issue is not whether the edits are correct, but whether they are neutral. Saying there is a lack of evidence for his ideas and that these ideas are considered pseudoscience is more than sufficient. Adding on yet more material that is useless or argumentative seems to only serve the purpose of pushing one's views about Sheldrake, rather than providing a neutral description of Mr. Sheldrake and his views.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 23:32, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Please propose some wording that is very similar to the above from jps, but which you believe is more neutral. The real problem with these pages is that people on each side try to push the pendulum too far. "Members of the scientific community who have looked at morphic resonance consider Sheldrake's claims pseudoscientific" is an example of such pendulum pushing—it is never appropriate to say something like "the one or two scientists who have investigated [FRINGE topic] consider it to be pseudoscientific" because that suggests that if only some sensible scientists were to investigate they would find enlightenment. Science has no evidence regarding the existing of a teapot in solar orbit, and if someone claims there is such a teapot, Wikipedia's article has to inform the reader that the teapot is not accepted as a real phenomenon, and proposals regarding the teapot are pseudoscientific. Johnuniq (talk) 00:12, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
SQ, previously IRWolfie, is the one who introduced the actual change to which you object and I do not believe his intent was to engage in any "pendulum pushing" in favor of morphic resonance. I merely made some minor edits to shorten the material that, as far as I can tell, have not shifted the original meaning in either direction. The statement that claims are considered pseudoscientific and lack evidence is sufficient. No need exists for additional wording that does not in any way further illuminate the subject. Saying it is "not accepted as a real phenomenon" does not really mean anything as many proposed fields or particles are not "accepted by the scientific community as a real phenomenon" because they have not been proven to exist. Not all such ideas are considered pseudoscientific or otherwise dubious.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 00:59, 8 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm interested in what you say, but do you have any proposed wording? I was trying to emphasise with my edit that the members of the scientific community who have looked at his proposals have then refuted/rejected them. Second Quantization (talk) 11:14, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

1RR

The one revert rule I imposed on the article with discretionary sanctions is due to expire in the next two days. I don't think it's necessary anymore so am happy to let it expire. However I thought I'd check with the regular editors of the article... are you all happy for it to expire or would you like it to be reimposed and if so for how long? Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 12:43, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

I think 1RR would be preferable to keep as there is currently a revert war being prepetuated by User:The Devil's Advocate going on right now. I think keeping it in place for another 6 months is not a bad idea. If we do keep the restriction, shouldn't it be documented at WP:ARBPSCI? jps (talk) 18:49, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree that the 1RR should stay in place for another 6 months. There's been a lot of contention over these pages driven by some off-site activism lately and I'd hate to see an editwar spring up here. Simonm223 (talk) 21:53, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
The problem here, Josh, is that you seem intent on POV-pushing. A lot of your insertions, such as the one I have recently removed and the remarkably similar edit you just inserted to avoid "edit-warring" read like polemical attacks, rather than objective attempts to describe Sheldrake and his ideas. Calling his ideas pseudoscience and saying there is a lack of evidence is quite sufficient. However, you are clearly trying to beat readers over the head with your personal take on the man and what he espouses.--The Devil's Advocate tlk. cntrb. 22:52, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
The problem here is that you lack WP:COMPETENCE and in short order will be on the wrong end of a WP:AE ban. Just saying. jps (talk) 03:50, 6 March 2014 (UTC) Refactored at request of Callanecc. jps (talk) 05:38, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Just noting that I've blocked jps for breaching 1RR which is still currently active and for the comment above. Regarding this discussion would the editors prefer a 1 revert per 24 hours or 1 revert per week? Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 04:11, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

How about 1 edit per day? It's easier to understand. jps (talk) 06:15, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
Since all of the trouble is being caused by pro-Sheldrake editors, how about 1RR for anyone expressing such views and ∞RR for those who are sane? Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:56, 6 March 2014 (UTC)
No I can't do that there is way too much room for interpretation and gaming the system. A blanket rule is really the only option it's just whether it's a one revert per 24 hours or a week. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 03:28, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Alright based on the discussion above all editors of this article are restricted to making 1 revert in any 24 hour period until 00:01, 14 September 2014 (UTC). I have reactivated the editnotice and logged it on the case page. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 23:34, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

This sounds reasonable, Second Quantization (talk) 23:38, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

The articles credibility

This article discredits its own credibility from the very first sentence.

"Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author,[3] lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology,[4]"

what happened to "Biologist" (PhD) ?

To Criticize one's work. is legitimate, but to "revoke" one's academic credentials to belittle him, is despicable and unacceptable LarryTheShark (talk) 14:40, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

When did he last do any biology? or any science at all come to that? -Roxy the dog (resonate) 14:55, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Roxy the dog (talk · contribs) - the last of his approx. 40 scientific papers were published in 1986/87, AFAIK. Also, the article doesn't try to hide his previous career in scientific research. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:18, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
And finally, LarryTheShark (talk · contribs), is quacking, IMHO, as opposed to being an inexperienced newby. Vzaak (talk · contribs) can no doubt add him to the appropriate sockpuppet investigations. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:28, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I think that's a little hostile Barney. I was going to come to this talk to discuss why the word "concept" was being used instead of "theory", but I found my answer in the archives. On this issue of PhD Biology credentials I think it's a little weird to give a guy a thousands of words article and not note his academic qualifications fully. That said, Sheldrake is in fact slightly significant for his small contribution to biology some decades ago in any case. There is no reason to remove his credentials. For some people it's the only thing significant Sheldrake has ever done. I'm confident people would want to know that he is a PhD in Biology at least somewhere in the article. Imagine if someone else uses Wikipedia as a source for writing an article about Sheldrake and failing to mention his formal qualifications. They really would have egg on their face for failing to do their research. So leaving the information out just makes Wikipedia look like a poor source. I'm also confident that this article is better to be labelled biased as long as the credentials are absent. The better question is why are we hiding Sheldrake's credentials? I welcome my ip number being investigated by whatever arbitration is going on. I have no interested or time in getting involved in wiki politics. I hardly ever talk on wikipedia these days but I do think this article needs some fresh blood on the editing crew. It doesn't come across as even-handed. Since there is arbitration going on I will happily reveal that I used to be a user named Metta Bubble and haven't edited wikipedia in 6 years. Please consider getting some fresh blood to even this article out. If the current state of the article was off-kilter enough to bring me out of a 6 year hiatus I hope that's food for thought to start getting more opinions from people disinterested in the topic. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 01:03, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
In the "background" section it says "where he gained a PhD in Biochemistry". Imagine if someone claimed the article didn't mention his PhD without reading the article. (I don't believe he has a PhD in Biology, he certainly doesn't claim one on his website.) They really would have egg on their face for failing to do their research. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:19, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, I just saw that. Thanks for saying. I've struck out the mistake I made above. My position overall still stands. It's really quite odd to put someone's primary credentials at the end of a section like that as an afterthought. It comes across as though the article is hiding his credentials and as such is a little too paranoid of giving too much credence to Sheldrake. I say let his views speak for themselves. It's wrong to hide his credentials and hiding like that will just give fuel to the idea that there is an anti-Sheldrake editorial faction rather than simply openness in the article. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 01:27, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

The thing is about Rupert, is that we have to consider what he is notable for. He hasn't done much notable science at all, and none for many years, see upthread. If he was notable as a scientist, perhaps the PhD would be given more prominence, but as he is only notable as a writer/author/personality on fringe subjects where his PhD isn't really pertinent, then I feel the article gives it sufficient weight. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:45, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
So I think what you're saying is that because he works in fringe pseudoscience we shouldn't show his actual credentials? Kind of like barring a lawyer for improper conduct. I think you're making a mess of trouble for wikipedia with this view. It would be better to just say he's a biologist with a well-known hypothesis that most scientists consider to be pseudoscience. Why should we obscure his actual credentials in order to sway the wiki audience to an opinion? The article shouldn't convey this feeling of us having an opinion on Sheldrake like that from the get go. It's the first thing I noticed when I read the article. That we were calling his hypothesis a "concept" and that we were omitting his credentials as a scientist. When we put his credentials at the bottom it makes it look like what we really want to say is "look, admitted that this guy is a PhD biologist but we don't hold much stock in his credentials because we don't agree with the books we writes." Is that the message you would rather convey? I think you had better cite someone saying that his credentials as a scientist are actually not valid in order to justify putting it right at the bottom like that. I think it's a bad message for an encyclopedia that values neutrality. It's is far better to say Sheldrake has actual real credentials AND most scientists think he is publishing rubbish. That seems to be the actual truth of the matter. The article is not presenting truth. It's presenting a censored version of the man. The argument of undue weight is quite absurd. He has the credentials of a scientist. It's totally relevant to the article. It is in fact perhaps the most interesting thing about Sheldrake. That he actually has the credentials of a scientist AND he is publishing stuff that is almost completely rejected by other scientists. Why would you want to hide that? Seems really really biased. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 04:26, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
You see the thing is, the reason so many organisations and media commentaries are calling Sheldrake a heretic is precisely because he IS a scientist. It makes no sense that The Guardian calls him a heretic if they aren't referring to him being notable as a scientist (albeit it a heretical one). This Guardian article is written in 2012. It's NOT something from Sheldrake's distant past. His scientific qualifications are entirely relevant today to the media and other scientists. I would really like to invite another wiki editor to put the biologist credentials into the opening sentence of the article. I believe I have completely answered Roxy's notability issue with the link above and unless there actual sources to provide a reason to exclude Sheldrake's credentials as a scientist it should in fact be included in the opening. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 04:49, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

The second and third sentences of the article bring attention to his career as a biologist in just the way you describe, it seems to me.

As with any other biography, the infobox on the right shows the PhD and the article describes the educational background, including the PhD. Roxy is kind of making a red herring out of credentials and prominence. The lead is not about listing credentials, no matter who it is and no matter how prominent. The Massimo Pigliucci article isn't is ploy to denigrate Pigluicci because the article lead fails to mention that he has three PhDs. The lead is about notability, and people aren't notable for getting PhDs. Filling the lead with credentials does not serve the reader and is not what Wikipedia is about. I haven't found any Wikipedia articles with "so-and-so has a PhD" in the lead; look at Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example.

Another aspect of this is that Wikipedia does not describe fringe views from the perspective of their adherents, but rather from the perspective of mainstream experts. This requires some judgement in identifying what is the fringe view and what is the mainstream view. Joseph Newman once garnered much attention from newspaper and televion outlets, many of which reported his claims credulously (he even made it to congress!). Wikipedia doesn't take the approach of "news guy said it, we report it". Rather, we look at what mainstream experts in the relevant field have to say about particular fringe claims.

Rupert Sheldrake holds a fringe view of what comprises biology. He believes that telepathy and morphic resonance, for instance, are part of the field of biology. When studying those topics, he believes that he is acting as a biologist. He tells the journalists that interview him that he is a biologist, and it gets reported as such. But what do mainstream experts say? They do not hold the view that dog telepathy belongs to the field of biology. They refer to Sheldrake as a parapsychologist or a pseudoscientist or, as the source in the lead says, a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology. vzaak 06:51, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your reply Vzaak. I think the PhD focus actually is a red herring. I couldn't really care whether he's a PhD or whatever level. The point is, he IS a biologist. Biology is his area of research, his area of publishing, and the area with which everyone is making comment on his work. In short, he is notable in reference to biology. Let's do exactly as you say and NOT describe Sheldrake from his own perspective but let's describe him from the perspective of those writing prominent articles about him. Um, so that would be that he is a heretical scientist (or similar labels).
You made my point for me really. The article and the journos are describing Sheldrake as a scientist by your own admission. So we have Sheldrake calling himself a scientist and we have what seems like ALL major press also calling him a scientist. In fact, Wikipedia is the only prominent information source we can find that isn't citing Sheldrake as primarily a scientist. So the argument against listing him as a scientist really does boil down to "we don't agree with his views."
In summary, Vzaak's and Roxy's only argument for excluding Sheldrake's most relevent credential is that they don't like his science and would like to ignore all the mainstream media about Sheldrake's science in favour of a strictly skeptical view of Sheldrake. I'm sorry but is not an NPOV view at all. There are 2 cited sources here for Sheldrake being considered a prominent scientist by all mainstream publishing and press (albeit for all the wrong reasons, nonetheless Sheldrake is still prominent). We really need to address all these sources and how they could possible be considered irrevelent and then add our own sources for Sheldrake not being a scientist in order to satisfy my point. Otherwise Vzaak and Roxy need to concede the point. In lieu of this happening I again invite ANY editors to please add the "biologist" credential back into the header section or at list a note that this article is biased. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 11:49, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Nope. Anon, you are demonstrating a clear misunderstanding of the sociology of science and what WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE mean.
  • Scientists would demonstrably interact with Sheldrake as a colleague, a biologist, if they were accepting his papers into mainstream journals, citing his publications, working on morphic resonance research, or even as a first step suggesting that his ideas were partially credible. They're not - I've looked.
  • It's not a case of Roxy the dog (talk · contribs) and Vzaak (talk · contribs) "not liking Sheldrake's science", quite simply because he's not doing any science.
  • Journalists are not experts on science; scientists are.
  • Sheldrake exaggerates the importance of his credentials. Wikipedia does not repeat half-truths.
Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:08, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

49.183.3.68, in your first message you wrote, "There is no reason to remove his credentials...I'm confident people would want to know that he is a PhD in Biology at least somewhere in the article." When people use the word "credentials", they are referring to things like PhDs, just as you did. As has been covered, the PhD is already mentioned in two places in the article (the infobox and the first section), and putting it into the lead text is not the kind of thing that Wikipedia does. It is very confusing that you now seem to be using "credentials" and "title" interchangeably. As I understand your position, you want the title "biologist" to be in the first sentence instead of the second sentence, where it is now. For the sake of preventing confusion, please don't call that "credentials", just say you want the title "biologist".

The lead text brings attention to his career as a biologist in the second and third sentences, using the title "biologist". This already addresses the issue of Sheldrake's background as a scientist, and does so prominently.

It is often construed as rude when newcomers are asked to read such-and-such policy, but in this case some reading on how Wikipedia deals with fringe views really is needed. Wikipedia is not written from the perspective of fringe views. Articles must clearly distinguish the fringe view from the mainstream view; it is the job of Wikipedia editors to do that. This is not a robotic task of source counting, but requires judgement and a sense of proportion.

Dog telepathy is part of the field of biology. Is that a fringe view or a mainstream view? Sheldrake's work on morphic resonance is simply a continuation of his work at Cambridge (as he says). Is that a fringe view or a mainstream view?

The source, cited in the lead, describing Sheldrake as a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology is Nature, a prestigious scientific journal that is qualified to discern whether or not dog telepathy falls within the field of biology. See the archives for other expert mainstream sources. vzaak 16:52, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Dear Barney and Vzaak. thanks for the replies. I am happy with the reference that Sheldrake is "an English author, lecturer, former biochemist and researcher in parapsychology, known for his largely disfavored morphic resonance hypothesis." Thanks for the suggestion on using the Nature reference. Are you okay with that then? Does that look neutral enough?
  • I would not approve "taken up parapsychology" as it is derisive language of a living person. See WP:BLP
  • I would not approve "known for advocating" because what hypothesis creator doesn't advocate their own hypothesis? It's derisive language. Again see WP:BLP.
  • Also on this point thanks Barney for reminding us to reread WP:FRINGE. It says "it is of vital importance that they simply restate what is said by independent secondary sources of reasonable reliability and quality." So, if you want to use the word "concept" can you please provide some references for it. It seems to me that almost universally it is called a "hypothesis" or a "theory" by both critics and fans.
  • Barney. You said "Journalists are not experts on science; scientists are." This is not a purely science article. This is a biography of a living person article. The appropriate reference is WP:BLPFRINGE. To say you are only going to present the scientific view of Sheldrake's life story is complete ridiculous. He's also known for being a lecturer. His lectures are well received by the public and the media. We are obliged to present the scientific view and also a view of him as a man in the media. I think you are mixing these two together and have created a coatrack article that purports to be about Sheldrake but is actually focused on scientifically criticising his views. Even in the media section the whole thing is focused on scientific criticism. It needs a lot of work there.
  • I would also encourage you to read WP:BITR. Specifically "The contents of this type of coatrack article can be superficially true. However, the mere excessive volume of the bias subject creates an article that, as a whole, is less than truthful. When confronted with a potential coatrack article, an editor is invited to ask: what impression does an uninitiated reader get from this article?"
  • Our article straight away gives the impression that Rupert Sheldrake is not to be taken seriously. "advocate" "concept" "defending". Etc. But what are we saying here? If Sheldrake is defending his ideas then other people MUST be attacking his ideas? How else can we say he is defending? So the word "defending" is presented without the context of what attacks are being made. It is deriding Sheldrake. Please remove this word for a more neutral tone.
  • Reading further and wholly into the article you'd get the impression Sheldrake is actually criticised absolutely everywhere he goes. As a first time reader I would wonder why he gets invited anywhere at all. In fact almost every single section of our article reads as a criticism of Rupert Sheldrake. The media section goes straight into criticism after the first sentence and then into questioning his motives in the third sentence. This is hardly the structure of a section presenting a neutral viewpoint. A better approach would be for the opening paragraph of that section to state what activities Rupert Sheldrake has undertaken in the media and public and then move the criticism of his actions into an appropriate response below and another section balancing his relative popularity with media outlets and the public. There is nowhere I can find in our article that addresses why Rupert Sheldrake is popular except a brief mention that he manipulates the media and an allusion here and there that the public is stupid enough to follow him.
The article really isn't good enough IMHO. Are you willing to work to address the issues I raised? Are you willing to use the sentence I suggested above? 49.183.36.24 (talk) 13:53, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
"Largely disfavored" really doesn't work. The reality is that Sheldrake is the only believer and there are several other people saying something like "well, maybe there's something there, but not enough for me to actually work on it". "Almost universally rejected" would be closer to the mark. Dingo1729 (talk) 16:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
We've been through all of this before:
  • The problem here is that the Sheldrake's oeuvre has three responses; ignorant ignorance (scientists have never heard of it, and are unlikely to be introduced to it via the scientific media (journals, lectures, conversation with colleagues)), deliberate ignorance (scientists who've looked at MR and concluded that it's completely bonkers and not worth wasting their time with), and thirdly quite robust attacks on what he's said. None of these positions accepts MR as valid science. Don't confuse a meta-response to the third response, that of supporting Sheldrake's right to free speech, with advocating support of his hypotheses.
  • As you've suggested Sheldrake is not "taken seriously" by the scientific community. If by "taken seriously" you meant that "his work is accepted as being valid science", that seems to be a fair and accurate assessment. We cannot lie to the reader and claim otherwise for WP:BLP.
  • In science-related articles, we don't use the word theory to refer to anything other than a scientific theory. MR has not reached this level of acceptance.
  • I do however take your point about unconscious biases, and wording. We're trying our best to bend over backwards for WP:BLP. Believe it or not some of the more personal responses have been ignored.
Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:14, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks again everyone. Could you all please have another go at addressing my request for a single credible reference that Rupert Sheldrake has come up with a "concept" rather than a "hypothesis". This word "concept" seems to be complete fabrication by us. There are countless scientific and/or media articles refering to his hypothesis in our own citations. Even the Nature article vzaak provided referred to it as a "hypothesis". How can we possibly selectively pick from an article like we have? Please address this question. I have not suggested the word "theory" so please stop addressing that issue, I have suggested the word hypothesis and I have stated our own references and citations use the word "hypothesis". It's a disingenuous article introduction to say "concept". I have read through the archives and have seen the discussion on the issue of concept versus hypothesis and I'd like to remind you that wikipedia is not a vote. Discussion improves articles.
I understand you may think that "Almost universally rejected" captures MR, but does it? The reason I don't think it does is because most scientists simply wouldn't bother going that far with it. To say "rejected" suggests that MR has been peer-researched (or is peer researchable) and that these peer scientists have then gone on to say the hypothesis is rejected now. I prefer "unfavored" because it suggests to me that scientists don't even give it much credence to even discuss, research or reject it. I am open to other suggestions. Could someone else please make suggestions too? How about "unconsidered"? I think "unfavored" is better. How about "fringe hypothesis"? How about something a little more explanatory? "Concept" is simply wrong as far as I'm concerned. "Largely rejected" would be an improvement (if we can cite someone saying that it has been rejected scientifically, which I don't think we can).
Hey Barney. I am glad we are bending over backwards. Me too. It's a hard article to write. No one doubts it. You could always move onto another article if it's too much. I don't really have the time for wikipedia in general but I'd like to see a better article here that is neutral and interesting also. Honestly, if my goal was to make an article that helped people realise Rupert Sheldrake's theories are pseudoscience I'd have to concede that the current article doesn't serve that purpose very well. It simply looks and sounds so biased. Like the "spends his time defending himself" comment. Do we seriously think our readers are so stupid as to miss the bias in sentences like that? Let's give them a good article on this topic instead. 49.183.102.46 (talk) 06:50, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Well I know of no reliable sources, i.e articles in peer-reviewed journals, that discuss "morphic resonance" as a serious scientific hypothesis. In science, hypotheses should be testable, otherwise they're unscientific. Given the comments from numerous sources that MR isn't basically testable, I'm not sure hypothesis is the best word to use. Concept isn't original research, its just another word in the dictionary. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:55, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
It is a conjecture, not a hypothesis. But we have already been round that loop half a dozen times. I suggest the IP reads the archives before wasting further time on rehashing prior debates. Guy (Help!) 21:35, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Negative Propaganda Campaign

: What Roxy said. Wikipedia covers science and it covers pseudoscience, it just doesn't pretend that the latter has any kind of parity with the former. And according to Jimbo, this is by design. Guy (Help!) 18:47, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

There has been an extremely well organized and forceful ongoing propaganda campaign here on Wikipedia against any and all scientific work (and those scientists associated with the work) regarding parapsychology or psi or however else you would like to label the phenomena. Even the very label of "pseudoscience" promotes a negative judgement on the scientific research that has been conducted in psi for many many decades now - with quite a large amount of accumulated records and evidentiary material that currently reside within a library at England's Society for Psychical Research or the American Branch SPR. Decades of publications in both societies "Proceedings", have been dutifully and ideologically ignored so that the editorial control, and the organizers of this negative propaganda (most likely fundamentalists for the Skeptics society) here on Wikipedia, would have everyone who visits these very public pages believe have no consequential value at all.

It is unfortunate, that the best and brightest of scientists (such as Rupert Sheldrake) are subject to this kind of fundamentalist assault by the Skeptic's society. It very much reminds me of the kind of persecution Copernicus and Galileo suffered, with the bitter irony that they helped free humanity from the shackles of an over-bearing mainstream church. We now have the same thing taking place, but now with an over-bearing mainstream Skeptic's society who has been given free reign to publish at will their dogma on the Wikipedia pages, while silencing or denigrating contrary views. (unsigned comment by 159.118.158.122, 00:50, April 16, 2014‎)

Nonsense. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 05:18, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
On the contrary, for those who are further interested in what users like Roxy the dog have been up to go here: https://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/wikipedia-the-only-way-to-win-is-not-to-play/ — Preceding unsigned comment added by 159.118.158.122 (talk) 05:20, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Nope, nonsense. Read the stuff at the top of the page, please. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:17, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Please ignore 159.118.158.122 - this is a banned user Jamenta (talk · contribs) who was also posting as 98.248.9.48 (talk · contribs) who was banned for insulting users on Wikipedia and leaving threats on the Ian Stevenson talk page and other parapsychologists. He's trolled various talk pages in the past with stupid conspiracy theories. Jamenta on his IP 159.118.158.122 (talk · contribs) has also has been leaving abusive messages on the parapsychology talk-page. He was warned for this. Goblin Face (talk) 12:38, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Jamenta/159.118 keeps mentioning the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research on various talk-pages but they are not considered reliable sources (it is not a scientific peer-reviewed journal) and the journal is rarely used on Wikipedia (a possible exception is if they are mentioned in other reliable secondary sources). But there is a negative paper for Sheldrake's work in the Proceedings for the SPR. Roe, C. A. and Hitchman, G. A. (2011) Testing the theory of morphic resonance using recognition for Chinese symbols: a failure to replicate. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 75(4), pp. 211-224. Online here [13]. Goblin Face (talk) 14:01, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
"The Journal of the Society for Psychical Research has been published continuously since 1884, promoting the Society's aim of examining "without prejudice or prepossession and in a scientific spirit those faculties of man, real or supposed, which appear to be inexplicable on any generally recognised hypothesis. The Journal's contents reflect the wide range of our contributors' specialisms and interests and include reports of current laboratory and fieldwork research, as well as theoretical, methodological and historical papers with a bearing on the field of parapsychology."
Quoted from the SPR website: "All papers submitted to the Journal are strictly peer-reviewed". So your accusation is not based on any facts Goblin Face. Obviously the IP address you cite is different from this "jamenta" IP address, so again, you are coming up with a very spurious and inauthentic accusation here. I prefer to remain anonymous as you have, for obvious reasons - not the least of which is false accusation, deliberate misinformation and libel. (unsigned comment by 159.118.158.122, 15:58, April 16, 2014‎)
Just because something has been published for a long time does not make it a reliable source. see for example the vernerable National Enquirer. and just because someone claims that they are reliable source, doesnt make them one. we specifically discount promotional claims made by a subject about themselves. And please note, again, that parapsychology and morphic resonance fall under the arb com's Pseudoscience ruling and tendentious claims about non reliable sources will quickly lead to Topic bans via the arbitration enforcement. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:13, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
I didn't say the SPR wasn't peer-reviewed, I said it wasn't scientifically peer-reviewed. It isn't a science journal. It's easy to see behind your lies Jamenta :) On your IP address 98.248.9.48 (talk · contribs) you left three abusive messages accusing editors of being skeptics or biased on a very specific section of a talk-page entitled "‎Jamenta's essay up for deletion". You have exactly the same writing style as that IP address, you use the same words and use the same conspiracy theories and obsessions with "skeptics". On your new IP 159.118.158.122 (talk · contribs) on the 06:14, 30 March 2014 you left two more abusive messages on the same talk-page in the "‎Jamenta's essay up for deletion" section which were removed by an admin. Please stop wasting our time. You are the same person. You have contributed absolutely nothing to Wikipedia and all you do is log on here to abuse people, make threats and promote irrational conspiracy theories. The only user writing libel is yourself. I will not be further contributing to this discussion. Goblin Face (talk) 17:20, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Don't know who this "jamenta" you are referring to Goblin Face - but I understand what it is like to be the object of abuse now. The SPR is and has always published a scientifically peer-reviewed journal. If you look at Wikipedia's link for the SPR, and look at the past presidents, many were luminaries in the scientific world. To claim otherwise is to be remarkably ignorant of the organization. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 159.118.158.122 (talk) 17:32, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The articles credibility

This article discredits its own credibility from the very first sentence.

"Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author,[3] lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology,[4]"

what happened to "Biologist" (PhD) ?

To Criticize one's work. is legitimate, but to "revoke" one's academic credentials to belittle him, is despicable and unacceptable LarryTheShark (talk) 14:40, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

When did he last do any biology? or any science at all come to that? -Roxy the dog (resonate) 14:55, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
Roxy the dog (talk · contribs) - the last of his approx. 40 scientific papers were published in 1986/87, AFAIK. Also, the article doesn't try to hide his previous career in scientific research. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:18, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
And finally, LarryTheShark (talk · contribs), is quacking, IMHO, as opposed to being an inexperienced newby. Vzaak (talk · contribs) can no doubt add him to the appropriate sockpuppet investigations. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:28, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I think that's a little hostile Barney. I was going to come to this talk to discuss why the word "concept" was being used instead of "theory", but I found my answer in the archives. On this issue of PhD Biology credentials I think it's a little weird to give a guy a thousands of words article and not note his academic qualifications fully. That said, Sheldrake is in fact slightly significant for his small contribution to biology some decades ago in any case. There is no reason to remove his credentials. For some people it's the only thing significant Sheldrake has ever done. I'm confident people would want to know that he is a PhD in Biology at least somewhere in the article. Imagine if someone else uses Wikipedia as a source for writing an article about Sheldrake and failing to mention his formal qualifications. They really would have egg on their face for failing to do their research. So leaving the information out just makes Wikipedia look like a poor source. I'm also confident that this article is better to be labelled biased as long as the credentials are absent. The better question is why are we hiding Sheldrake's credentials? I welcome my ip number being investigated by whatever arbitration is going on. I have no interested or time in getting involved in wiki politics. I hardly ever talk on wikipedia these days but I do think this article needs some fresh blood on the editing crew. It doesn't come across as even-handed. Since there is arbitration going on I will happily reveal that I used to be a user named Metta Bubble and haven't edited wikipedia in 6 years. Please consider getting some fresh blood to even this article out. If the current state of the article was off-kilter enough to bring me out of a 6 year hiatus I hope that's food for thought to start getting more opinions from people disinterested in the topic. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 01:03, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
In the "background" section it says "where he gained a PhD in Biochemistry". Imagine if someone claimed the article didn't mention his PhD without reading the article. (I don't believe he has a PhD in Biology, he certainly doesn't claim one on his website.) They really would have egg on their face for failing to do their research. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:19, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, I just saw that. Thanks for saying. I've struck out the mistake I made above. My position overall still stands. It's really quite odd to put someone's primary credentials at the end of a section like that as an afterthought. It comes across as though the article is hiding his credentials and as such is a little too paranoid of giving too much credence to Sheldrake. I say let his views speak for themselves. It's wrong to hide his credentials and hiding like that will just give fuel to the idea that there is an anti-Sheldrake editorial faction rather than simply openness in the article. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 01:27, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

The thing is about Rupert, is that we have to consider what he is notable for. He hasn't done much notable science at all, and none for many years, see upthread. If he was notable as a scientist, perhaps the PhD would be given more prominence, but as he is only notable as a writer/author/personality on fringe subjects where his PhD isn't really pertinent, then I feel the article gives it sufficient weight. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 01:45, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
So I think what you're saying is that because he works in fringe pseudoscience we shouldn't show his actual credentials? Kind of like barring a lawyer for improper conduct. I think you're making a mess of trouble for wikipedia with this view. It would be better to just say he's a biologist with a well-known hypothesis that most scientists consider to be pseudoscience. Why should we obscure his actual credentials in order to sway the wiki audience to an opinion? The article shouldn't convey this feeling of us having an opinion on Sheldrake like that from the get go. It's the first thing I noticed when I read the article. That we were calling his hypothesis a "concept" and that we were omitting his credentials as a scientist. When we put his credentials at the bottom it makes it look like what we really want to say is "look, admitted that this guy is a PhD biologist but we don't hold much stock in his credentials because we don't agree with the books we writes." Is that the message you would rather convey? I think you had better cite someone saying that his credentials as a scientist are actually not valid in order to justify putting it right at the bottom like that. I think it's a bad message for an encyclopedia that values neutrality. It's is far better to say Sheldrake has actual real credentials AND most scientists think he is publishing rubbish. That seems to be the actual truth of the matter. The article is not presenting truth. It's presenting a censored version of the man. The argument of undue weight is quite absurd. He has the credentials of a scientist. It's totally relevant to the article. It is in fact perhaps the most interesting thing about Sheldrake. That he actually has the credentials of a scientist AND he is publishing stuff that is almost completely rejected by other scientists. Why would you want to hide that? Seems really really biased. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 04:26, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
You see the thing is, the reason so many organisations and media commentaries are calling Sheldrake a heretic is precisely because he IS a scientist. It makes no sense that The Guardian calls him a heretic if they aren't referring to him being notable as a scientist (albeit it a heretical one). This Guardian article is written in 2012. It's NOT something from Sheldrake's distant past. His scientific qualifications are entirely relevant today to the media and other scientists. I would really like to invite another wiki editor to put the biologist credentials into the opening sentence of the article. I believe I have completely answered Roxy's notability issue with the link above and unless there actual sources to provide a reason to exclude Sheldrake's credentials as a scientist it should in fact be included in the opening. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 04:49, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

The second and third sentences of the article bring attention to his career as a biologist in just the way you describe, it seems to me.

As with any other biography, the infobox on the right shows the PhD and the article describes the educational background, including the PhD. Roxy is kind of making a red herring out of credentials and prominence. The lead is not about listing credentials, no matter who it is and no matter how prominent. The Massimo Pigliucci article isn't is ploy to denigrate Pigluicci because the article lead fails to mention that he has three PhDs. The lead is about notability, and people aren't notable for getting PhDs. Filling the lead with credentials does not serve the reader and is not what Wikipedia is about. I haven't found any Wikipedia articles with "so-and-so has a PhD" in the lead; look at Neil deGrasse Tyson, for example.

Another aspect of this is that Wikipedia does not describe fringe views from the perspective of their adherents, but rather from the perspective of mainstream experts. This requires some judgement in identifying what is the fringe view and what is the mainstream view. Joseph Newman once garnered much attention from newspaper and televion outlets, many of which reported his claims credulously (he even made it to congress!). Wikipedia doesn't take the approach of "news guy said it, we report it". Rather, we look at what mainstream experts in the relevant field have to say about particular fringe claims.

Rupert Sheldrake holds a fringe view of what comprises biology. He believes that telepathy and morphic resonance, for instance, are part of the field of biology. When studying those topics, he believes that he is acting as a biologist. He tells the journalists that interview him that he is a biologist, and it gets reported as such. But what do mainstream experts say? They do not hold the view that dog telepathy belongs to the field of biology. They refer to Sheldrake as a parapsychologist or a pseudoscientist or, as the source in the lead says, a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology. vzaak 06:51, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your reply Vzaak. I think the PhD focus actually is a red herring. I couldn't really care whether he's a PhD or whatever level. The point is, he IS a biologist. Biology is his area of research, his area of publishing, and the area with which everyone is making comment on his work. In short, he is notable in reference to biology. Let's do exactly as you say and NOT describe Sheldrake from his own perspective but let's describe him from the perspective of those writing prominent articles about him. Um, so that would be that he is a heretical scientist (or similar labels).
You made my point for me really. The article and the journos are describing Sheldrake as a scientist by your own admission. So we have Sheldrake calling himself a scientist and we have what seems like ALL major press also calling him a scientist. In fact, Wikipedia is the only prominent information source we can find that isn't citing Sheldrake as primarily a scientist. So the argument against listing him as a scientist really does boil down to "we don't agree with his views."
In summary, Vzaak's and Roxy's only argument for excluding Sheldrake's most relevent credential is that they don't like his science and would like to ignore all the mainstream media about Sheldrake's science in favour of a strictly skeptical view of Sheldrake. I'm sorry but is not an NPOV view at all. There are 2 cited sources here for Sheldrake being considered a prominent scientist by all mainstream publishing and press (albeit for all the wrong reasons, nonetheless Sheldrake is still prominent). We really need to address all these sources and how they could possible be considered irrevelent and then add our own sources for Sheldrake not being a scientist in order to satisfy my point. Otherwise Vzaak and Roxy need to concede the point. In lieu of this happening I again invite ANY editors to please add the "biologist" credential back into the header section or at list a note that this article is biased. 49.183.3.68 (talk) 11:49, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
Nope. Anon, you are demonstrating a clear misunderstanding of the sociology of science and what WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE mean.
  • Scientists would demonstrably interact with Sheldrake as a colleague, a biologist, if they were accepting his papers into mainstream journals, citing his publications, working on morphic resonance research, or even as a first step suggesting that his ideas were partially credible. They're not - I've looked.
  • It's not a case of Roxy the dog (talk · contribs) and Vzaak (talk · contribs) "not liking Sheldrake's science", quite simply because he's not doing any science.
  • Journalists are not experts on science; scientists are.
  • Sheldrake exaggerates the importance of his credentials. Wikipedia does not repeat half-truths.
Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:08, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

49.183.3.68, in your first message you wrote, "There is no reason to remove his credentials...I'm confident people would want to know that he is a PhD in Biology at least somewhere in the article." When people use the word "credentials", they are referring to things like PhDs, just as you did. As has been covered, the PhD is already mentioned in two places in the article (the infobox and the first section), and putting it into the lead text is not the kind of thing that Wikipedia does. It is very confusing that you now seem to be using "credentials" and "title" interchangeably. As I understand your position, you want the title "biologist" to be in the first sentence instead of the second sentence, where it is now. For the sake of preventing confusion, please don't call that "credentials", just say you want the title "biologist".

The lead text brings attention to his career as a biologist in the second and third sentences, using the title "biologist". This already addresses the issue of Sheldrake's background as a scientist, and does so prominently.

It is often construed as rude when newcomers are asked to read such-and-such policy, but in this case some reading on how Wikipedia deals with fringe views really is needed. Wikipedia is not written from the perspective of fringe views. Articles must clearly distinguish the fringe view from the mainstream view; it is the job of Wikipedia editors to do that. This is not a robotic task of source counting, but requires judgement and a sense of proportion.

Dog telepathy is part of the field of biology. Is that a fringe view or a mainstream view? Sheldrake's work on morphic resonance is simply a continuation of his work at Cambridge (as he says). Is that a fringe view or a mainstream view?

The source, cited in the lead, describing Sheldrake as a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology is Nature, a prestigious scientific journal that is qualified to discern whether or not dog telepathy falls within the field of biology. See the archives for other expert mainstream sources. vzaak 16:52, 5 April 2014 (UTC)

Dear Barney and Vzaak. thanks for the replies. I am happy with the reference that Sheldrake is "an English author, lecturer, former biochemist and researcher in parapsychology, known for his largely disfavored morphic resonance hypothesis." Thanks for the suggestion on using the Nature reference. Are you okay with that then? Does that look neutral enough?
  • I would not approve "taken up parapsychology" as it is derisive language of a living person. See WP:BLP
  • I would not approve "known for advocating" because what hypothesis creator doesn't advocate their own hypothesis? It's derisive language. Again see WP:BLP.
  • Also on this point thanks Barney for reminding us to reread WP:FRINGE. It says "it is of vital importance that they simply restate what is said by independent secondary sources of reasonable reliability and quality." So, if you want to use the word "concept" can you please provide some references for it. It seems to me that almost universally it is called a "hypothesis" or a "theory" by both critics and fans.
  • Barney. You said "Journalists are not experts on science; scientists are." This is not a purely science article. This is a biography of a living person article. The appropriate reference is WP:BLPFRINGE. To say you are only going to present the scientific view of Sheldrake's life story is complete ridiculous. He's also known for being a lecturer. His lectures are well received by the public and the media. We are obliged to present the scientific view and also a view of him as a man in the media. I think you are mixing these two together and have created a coatrack article that purports to be about Sheldrake but is actually focused on scientifically criticising his views. Even in the media section the whole thing is focused on scientific criticism. It needs a lot of work there.
  • I would also encourage you to read WP:BITR. Specifically "The contents of this type of coatrack article can be superficially true. However, the mere excessive volume of the bias subject creates an article that, as a whole, is less than truthful. When confronted with a potential coatrack article, an editor is invited to ask: what impression does an uninitiated reader get from this article?"
  • Our article straight away gives the impression that Rupert Sheldrake is not to be taken seriously. "advocate" "concept" "defending". Etc. But what are we saying here? If Sheldrake is defending his ideas then other people MUST be attacking his ideas? How else can we say he is defending? So the word "defending" is presented without the context of what attacks are being made. It is deriding Sheldrake. Please remove this word for a more neutral tone.
  • Reading further and wholly into the article you'd get the impression Sheldrake is actually criticised absolutely everywhere he goes. As a first time reader I would wonder why he gets invited anywhere at all. In fact almost every single section of our article reads as a criticism of Rupert Sheldrake. The media section goes straight into criticism after the first sentence and then into questioning his motives in the third sentence. This is hardly the structure of a section presenting a neutral viewpoint. A better approach would be for the opening paragraph of that section to state what activities Rupert Sheldrake has undertaken in the media and public and then move the criticism of his actions into an appropriate response below and another section balancing his relative popularity with media outlets and the public. There is nowhere I can find in our article that addresses why Rupert Sheldrake is popular except a brief mention that he manipulates the media and an allusion here and there that the public is stupid enough to follow him.
The article really isn't good enough IMHO. Are you willing to work to address the issues I raised? Are you willing to use the sentence I suggested above? 49.183.36.24 (talk) 13:53, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
"Largely disfavored" really doesn't work. The reality is that Sheldrake is the only believer and there are several other people saying something like "well, maybe there's something there, but not enough for me to actually work on it". "Almost universally rejected" would be closer to the mark. Dingo1729 (talk) 16:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
We've been through all of this before:
  • The problem here is that the Sheldrake's oeuvre has three responses; ignorant ignorance (scientists have never heard of it, and are unlikely to be introduced to it via the scientific media (journals, lectures, conversation with colleagues)), deliberate ignorance (scientists who've looked at MR and concluded that it's completely bonkers and not worth wasting their time with), and thirdly quite robust attacks on what he's said. None of these positions accepts MR as valid science. Don't confuse a meta-response to the third response, that of supporting Sheldrake's right to free speech, with advocating support of his hypotheses.
  • As you've suggested Sheldrake is not "taken seriously" by the scientific community. If by "taken seriously" you meant that "his work is accepted as being valid science", that seems to be a fair and accurate assessment. We cannot lie to the reader and claim otherwise for WP:BLP.
  • In science-related articles, we don't use the word theory to refer to anything other than a scientific theory. MR has not reached this level of acceptance.
  • I do however take your point about unconscious biases, and wording. We're trying our best to bend over backwards for WP:BLP. Believe it or not some of the more personal responses have been ignored.
Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:14, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks again everyone. Could you all please have another go at addressing my request for a single credible reference that Rupert Sheldrake has come up with a "concept" rather than a "hypothesis". This word "concept" seems to be complete fabrication by us. There are countless scientific and/or media articles refering to his hypothesis in our own citations. Even the Nature article vzaak provided referred to it as a "hypothesis". How can we possibly selectively pick from an article like we have? Please address this question. I have not suggested the word "theory" so please stop addressing that issue, I have suggested the word hypothesis and I have stated our own references and citations use the word "hypothesis". It's a disingenuous article introduction to say "concept". I have read through the archives and have seen the discussion on the issue of concept versus hypothesis and I'd like to remind you that wikipedia is not a vote. Discussion improves articles.
I understand you may think that "Almost universally rejected" captures MR, but does it? The reason I don't think it does is because most scientists simply wouldn't bother going that far with it. To say "rejected" suggests that MR has been peer-researched (or is peer researchable) and that these peer scientists have then gone on to say the hypothesis is rejected now. I prefer "unfavored" because it suggests to me that scientists don't even give it much credence to even discuss, research or reject it. I am open to other suggestions. Could someone else please make suggestions too? How about "unconsidered"? I think "unfavored" is better. How about "fringe hypothesis"? How about something a little more explanatory? "Concept" is simply wrong as far as I'm concerned. "Largely rejected" would be an improvement (if we can cite someone saying that it has been rejected scientifically, which I don't think we can).
Hey Barney. I am glad we are bending over backwards. Me too. It's a hard article to write. No one doubts it. You could always move onto another article if it's too much. I don't really have the time for wikipedia in general but I'd like to see a better article here that is neutral and interesting also. Honestly, if my goal was to make an article that helped people realise Rupert Sheldrake's theories are pseudoscience I'd have to concede that the current article doesn't serve that purpose very well. It simply looks and sounds so biased. Like the "spends his time defending himself" comment. Do we seriously think our readers are so stupid as to miss the bias in sentences like that? Let's give them a good article on this topic instead. 49.183.102.46 (talk) 06:50, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Well I know of no reliable sources, i.e articles in peer-reviewed journals, that discuss "morphic resonance" as a serious scientific hypothesis. In science, hypotheses should be testable, otherwise they're unscientific. Given the comments from numerous sources that MR isn't basically testable, I'm not sure hypothesis is the best word to use. Concept isn't original research, its just another word in the dictionary. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:55, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
It is a conjecture, not a hypothesis. But we have already been round that loop half a dozen times. I suggest the IP reads the archives before wasting further time on rehashing prior debates. Guy (Help!) 21:35, 11 April 2014 (UTC)
Nobody has proposed we use the phrase "serious scientific hypothesis" simply hypothesis. That is the word used in the Nature article we use as a primary reference for our article. Can anyone please point me to a source that uses the word concept.
I have read the archives and there too there is no source for the word concept. As I said before can anyone show that this word isn't pure fabrication by us? I would like to see one good reference for a scientist or journalist that we will cite that is using the word "concept". Please stop changing the subject guys. I simply want a reference for a word you claim is appropriate. You have already insisted we use the Nature Article as a primary source. It look like we are cherry picking the Nature Article for information that sounds negative about Sheldrake. 49.183.102.221 (talk) 04:20, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Skeptiko interview

I've found this interview to Richard Wiseman at Skeptiko.com. As I've seen that this interview is being quoted by Sheldrake to support the view that Wiseman, according to his own words, didn't really rule out telepathy. I think it may be interesting to include at "Dogs That Know Their Owners are Coming Home" both Sheldrake's claim and what Wiseman actually said, i.e. that the experiment didn't have a rigorous methodology and it gathered too few data to be conclusive, to set the record straight for people who may have heard about this. Diego (talk) 10:20, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

@Diego Moya (talk · contribs) This is skeptiko (with a kicking K) rather than Skeptico (with a curly C), as you suggested. The former is genuinely sceptical, the latter pretends to be as apparently as an exercise in Troy-based equestrianism. See [14] [15] Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:57, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I've corrected the spelling. The interview is indeed by www.skeptiko.com, the former site. In any case, the page is the whole interview recording Wiseman's own words, and is the one (mis)quoted by Sheldrake. Diego (talk) 11:07, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
But kicking-k-skeptiko isn't a reliable source. The host has somewhat of a reputation for creatively editing his guests' words to fit his personal agenda. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:45, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
There's an audio record. Can somebody confirm that the voice in the podcast is that from Wiseman? The same words that Sheldrake quoted inexactly (but which are correct in the interview transcription) are found at minute 28:40, and around minute 30 he comments on how there wasn't enough data. Does skeptiko have a record of faking recordings as well? If this can be confirmed to be Wiseman, it can use the reliability of his own statements of opinion, not skeptiko's.
Sheldrake turned two independent sentences: "it depends how the data is collected, so I don’t think there’s any debate" and "my studies are the same as the patterning in Rupert’s studies. That’s not up for grabs. That’s fine. It’s how it’s interpreted" into this: "there's any debate that the patterning in my studies is the same..." Diego (talk) 12:05, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Circular References with Primary Sources

There are several so-called primary sources we are quoting that are also quoting us. Particularly we cite blogs that are discussing the editorial biases this page has faced. They are quoting us and we are quoting them. I cannot even be sure which came first, the writing in this article of the so-called source. This is extremely poor sourcing and not appropriate for an encyclopedia. I haven't check every source. Take for example: 20. Coyne, Jerry A. (8 November 2013). "Pseudoscientist Rupert Sheldrake Is Not Being Persecuted, And Is Not Like Galileo". The New Republic. This source is basically an opinion piece about our wikipedia article. However, we are using the source to add weight in saying Sheldrake is pseudoscience. That is inappropriate sourcing. The are several others like this also. My question is how did this happen? Why would an editor add this source in the first place? To be frank. This kind of citing is rife within this article. I'll post about that separately. 49.183.5.190 (talk) 21:48, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

A primary source is one written by one of the players involved in an event: a soldier's journal or a witness's account. Coyne's ref is not a primary source; it is a secondary source. What is more, Coyne's article is not a direct reaction to this article - while he mentions this article, it is clearly not Coyne's main source of information or even his primary influence. Coyne explicitly mentions that he has interacted with Sheldrake outside of a Wikipedia context. As a result, your concerns about this source being circular are unfounded. VQuakr (talk) 22:12, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
I am not following you. How can you say this isn't a circular reference when it is a specific discussion of this article and we are using it as a source for this article? That makes no sense whatsoever. We most certainly should not be using a critique of wikipedia as a source on wikipedia. 49.183.39.131 (talk) 22:58, 14 May 2014 (UTC)
The source would be WP:CIRCULAR if it was a Wikipedia content mirror. It is not, nor is the source a "critique of Wikipedia". VQuakr (talk) 03:58, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

We are being deceptive by not telling readers why the article is locked. (explanation inside)

Further to my post about inappropriate source material… Obviously it's hard work to bring the article to neutrality. I believe the article deserves a tag indicating that it is and has been a high conflict article. This is the truth and it is also true from the comments on the talk page that this is ongoing. We have a lot of words in the article that appear either unwarranted or simply don't make sense in the context. For instance, saying: he has primarily worked on promoting and defending his ideas relating to morphic resonance in books, articles, and public appearances. This is inflammatory language. What is he defending? If someone is attacking why isn't this mentioned before we mention Sheldrake defending? It's a mystery to the reader. It seems that saying he's defending is more intended to convey negativity about Sheldrake. Better would be, if he is really being attacked, to say who and why is attacking Sheldrake in summary. You could say "attacked by John Maddox in Nature 1981" and others. It seems very biased to characterise Sheldrake as being defensive in the absence of why. Another instance is saying: known for advocating his "morphic resonance" concept This again is odd language. Firstly it is odd we say "concept" when the source material that started the entire debate in 1981, John Maddox uses the word "hypothesis". So too the repeated Nature articles and editors writing about Sheldrake also use the word "hypothesis". They also call "pseudo-science" and an "infuriating tract" etc. I have previously asked on this talk page for someone to provide a single primary source for the word "concept". I am asking again could someone please find me a source for this. Otherwise the language seems clearly fabrication by us, and is at worst derisive of Sheldrake (again BLP). Secondly regarding the quote, why are we highlighting his efforts with the word "advocating". Is he advocating his ideas excessively? Like more eagerly than any other scientist who came up with a new idea? Any more than Einstein's failed static universe theory? Einstein published repeatedly on the topic. It became a sticking point. He ultimately failed to convince. Is Sheldrake advocating more eagerly than Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis? Which is still considered pseudoscience (yet has a much more gentle and reasonable article about it than this one on Sheldrake, please read it and compare). Or compare Brian O'Leary's take on UFOs and how we write about his beliefs using very neutral language in the alternative belief section. Overall, our article is not even-handed. Really it reads as what wiki calls a coatrack article. It purports to be about Rupert Sheldrake but is really an article that labours, and drives home a single point: that Rupert Sheldrake is a isolated, disliked, unintelligent, unscientific show-pony with delusions about the world and why his work is disliked. I challenge any editor to read back to back the articles I have cited and this article. The contrast is startling. So again, I request that this article be tagged appropriately to indicate it is and has been a high conflict article. So much so, that it cannot be edited by anons. 49.183.5.190 (talk) 22:37, 3 May 2014 (UTC) p.s. full disclosure. I am an Australian editor previously known as Metta Bubble. I realise it's contentious article. That's my request that we FULLY DISCLOSE to the readers that this is the case with an appropriate tag. I mean seriously, the article is locked. We should say so and why. 49.183.5.190 (talk) 22:37, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

I would still like a response to this. Why are we deceiving readers about the contentious nature of this article (as has unfolded in edit-wars and heated discussion and arbitration). It is highly unusual for us not to warn readers that the article has been and is contentious. 49.183.39.131 (talk) 23:00, 14 May 2014 (UTC)
It is in the log, and on the talk page header above. We do not routinely leave tags hanging forever in article space. Sheldrake uses the term idea (not hypothesis or theory) to describe MR. "Idea" and "concept" seem to me to be synonyms. Hardly seems to make the article a hit piece IMHO. VQuakr (talk) 04:13, 15 May 2014 (UTC)
We have worked very hard to ensure that the article is written according to policy (WP:NPOV, WP:BLP, WP:FRINGE). It is not just having a dispute that leads to tags, it is having a dispute that is justified according to policy. The suggestion to add tags is IMHO a fairly transparent attempt to warn readers that the article isn't to be trusted. Finally, don't be surprised if your rants are ignored. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:42, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 29 May 2014

The paragraph

Before the publication of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, Richard Wiseman, Mathew Smith, and Julie Milton independently conducted an experimental study with an allegedly telepathic dog mentioned in the book and concluded that the evidence gathered did not support telepathy. They also proposed possible alternative explanations for Sheldrake's positive conclusions involving artefacts and bias resulting from experimental design.[56][68]

is out of date.

In 2011, Wiseman posted a new article on the Jaytee controversy on his web site, in which he retreated from his claim to have refuted the data http://richardwiseman.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/pets2.pdf

replace it with this:

Before the publication of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, Richard Wiseman, Mathew Smith, and Julie Milton independently conducted an experimental study with an allegedly telepathic dog mentioned in the book and concluded that the evidence gathered did not support telepathy. In 2011, Wiseman posted a new article on his web site, in which he retreated from his claim to have refuted the data.[source link]

Reivanen (talk) 11:45, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: The source does not support that statement. Regards, Older and ... well older (talk) 23:20, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

"Biologist" in lead

He has some notability as a biologist so I'm not seeing why there is resistance to saying so, even if we have to qualify that as "biologist gone wrong" or "biologisit better known for his fringe theories." Mangoe (talk) 13:34, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

(sigh) When was the last time he did any real biology? -Roxy the dog (resonate) 14:33, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
We already say he is a biologist in the lede. Why should we say it twice? jps (talk) 18:08, 16 June 2014 (UTC)
I am for the "biologist better known for his fringe theories".Thundergodz (talk) 16:37, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
Why would we start the lead, which is supposed to summarize what the subject is known for, by stating what he is not known for? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:48, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

Total irrationality on refusing the "biologist" title in the lead

This man studied biology published papers on biology and worked as one. He is a biologist. It doesn't matter whether he has gone "astray" and got issues with mainstream science later.

A studied theologist who is critical of organized religion would still be called "theologist" on wikipedia. Case in point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_K%C3%BCng Of course, those articles usually aren't beleaguered by "sceptics", who are often way more fanatical than their targets of scorn. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 188.192.181.209 (talk) 16:17, 23 June 2014 (UTC)

I agree with you or we should erase the mention "biologist" for every biologist who retired.Thundergodz (talk) 16:39, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
The lede says:
Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author,[3] lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology,[4] known for advocating his "morphic resonance" concept. He worked as a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973[3] and as principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978.[5] Since leaving research biology, he has primarily worked on promoting and defending his ideas relating to morphic resonance in books, articles, and public appearances.
There is nothing to fix. A biologist who is known as a biologist but has retired, can be chaarcterised as a retired biologist. Sheldrake is known as an author of non-science (and indeed nonsense). If he had not written the nonsense and chosen to attack the scientific community for ignoring it, on the wholly reasonable grounds that he's failed to provide a shred of credible evidence, then he would almost certainly not be considered notable at all.
Note, too, that he spent around 11 years as a biologist compared with over three times that long as an advocate of a conjecture that fails every test of valid science.
All this has been debated at length, please read the archives before engaging in circular argument. Guy (Help!) 16:27, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Guy, we need to follow WP:V. You, me, and any other editor do not get to decided whether someone has written "nonsense", and further decide whether this meants we can chose to take away their academic status. This is WP:SYNTH. I suspect the other editors have read the achives, where they have seen many sources that refer to Sheldrake as a bioligist (one set of examples), far out numbering those that suggest doubt.

We don't generally described people's academic status as "retired". eg. the following Nobel Laureates are all described as "physicists", despite all being retired [16][17][18][19][20]. Many haven't done any science or published any papers in decades.

Many other scientists have also published controversial material, or hold controversial views, which also has not taken away their academic status. eg. physicist Isaac Newton and his writing on the occult, physicist's William Shockley's and his views on genetics and eugenics, phyicist Philipp Lenard and his views on Jewish Science, and, physicist Brian Josephson and his views on parapsychology.

Of course we could all defer, for example, to the Society of Biology, and see how they define biologist.--Iantresman (talk) 17:18, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

May I point out the contents of sentence two in the lead, et seq. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 17:35, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
It's like ignoring all the sources saying that Nixon was a President, and arguing that because some people think he was a bad president, or did not behave in a presidential manner, then that is sufficient justification for describing him as only doing presidential work. --Iantresman (talk) 22:06, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
Damnit! We don't describe Nixon as a lawyer in the first sentence! How dare we! And no mention of his other political offices where he spent far more time as President! That's terrible! Ravensfire (talk) 22:20, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
I'm going to get my DVD of Watchmen (film) cued up now. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 22:26, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
Nixon is not as well-known as a lawyer. According many of the sources (noted previously in these archives), Sheldrake is known as biologist who undertook scientific investigations into parapsychology, and questioned the scientific method. But we've gone over all this before. For a second time, we could defer, for example, to the Society of Biology, and see how they define biologist, unless you have a better authority? --Iantresman (talk) 22:38, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
claiming that dogs are telepathic is not biology. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:52, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
"Nixon is not as well-known as a lawyer." Sheldrake is not as well-known as a biologist. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 22:54, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
Even if we had a reliable source for your statement per WP:RS and WP:V, we would not be able to draw the conclusion that, if telepathy is not biology, then that does not make someone a biologist, per WP:SYNTH. We could make the same quip about Isaac Newton's occult studies not being physics, but he is still a physicist. We could make the same comment about William Shockley's views on genetics and eugenics not being physics, but he is still a physicist.
When we actually check various sources, a significant proportion of them do indeed note Sheldrake as a biologist/scientist. He is referred to as a biologist by the University of London,[21] the University of Arizona,[22] the Open University,[23] the University of Reading,[24] the BBC,[25][26][27][28][29][30] the Daily Telegraph,[31][32][33][34] National Geographic,[35] Discover magazine,[36] The Independent newspaper,[37] Scientific American,[38][39] Science,[40] Financial Times,[41] New York Times,[42] and in various academic/university textbook,[43][44][45] peer-reviewed journals, Trans. Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 37, No. 1 (2012)[46]
For the third time, we could defer, for example, to the Society of Biology, and see how they define biologist, unless you have a better authority? --Iantresman (talk) 08:18, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Since we are going round in circles with arguments that have been dismissed before - "(sigh) When was the last time he did any real biology? -Roxy the dog (resonate) 14:33, 16 June 2014 (UTC)" (Sigh) -Roxy the dog (resonate) 08:26, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
I do not see that we are going round in circles. I see you offer some statements of opinion (there is no attempt to provide any sources), and I summarise a significant number of sources that contradict them. Then you offer new statements of opinion, this time glib comment regarding "real biology". Isaac Newton's occult studies was in no way "doing real physics", but he is still a physicist. William Shockley's views on genetics and eugenics was no way "doing real physics", but he is still a physicist. ALL of the references I provided above disagree with your conclusions, and I have repeated several times now, how we could independently and reliably define a biologist (clue: Society of Biology). That you continue to dismiss all the sources, and further suggestions on how we could resolve this, is not constructive.
Here's yet another suggestion. Please provide a couple of sources that will help us determine how we can use "biologist" correctly. You will find my sources in the archives, but I would be interested to see yours. --Iantresman (talk) 11:23, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Why do we have a BLP for Sheldrake at all? Is it because he is a notable biologist? Has he done any notable biology? Ever? Are there reliable sources for his notable biology. I have been admonished for stating what Sheldrake is notable for on this page in the past, and it certainly isn't biology, but more for his ideas, which are anything but biological. They could be described as being somewhat outside the envelope of mainstream thought entirely, so far outside that they can just be seen running away over the event horizon.
Let me put it another way - I could draw a nice simple Venn diagram with two circles, a big one and a smaller one, not drawn to scale of course because that would be silly. I'd label the big one "Mainstream science, including biology" and colour it red, and the second smaller one would be called "Sheldrakian thought" and would of course be blue. Obviously, the bit where Shelly's biology and mainstream biology overlap would also overlap on my Venn diagram, and would naturally, according to science, be purple.
There is no purple patch. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 19:56, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Venn diagrams do not define a biologist per WP:SYNTH. A significant number of sources note he is a biologist who has investigated controversial subjects. It is our job to reflect how the world describes him, not to judge him ourselves, or use WP:SYNTH to draw our own conclusions. We are not claiming that he has done notable biology, that too is reflected in the sources. You don't have to be a notable President to be a President. I have also also suggested TWO ways we can further be help to define biologists, one involving the Society of Biology), and the other, for you to provide some sources of your choice that we can use to define biologist. --Iantresman (talk) 21:29, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
We can use whatever personal analysis we want, we just cannot put that analysis into the article. Do you have any reliable sources showing that he has done anything in the field of biology that are worth noting at all? And anything showing that his notability for that work in biology is anywhere near what it is for the non-biology claims that dogs have telepathy? Without such sources continuing this old and re- re- re- re- hashed discussion is purely tendentious editing of the type that WP:AE was designed to quell. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:53, 5 July 2014 (UTC)
It is your personal analysis that Sheldrake has to have done something "in the field of biology that are worth noting" for us to call him a biologist. As you say, we "cannot put that analysis into the article." That is WP:SYNTH. I have presented dozens of sources describing him as a biologist. Your analysis of his entitlement to be called a biologist, based on some arbitrary requirements, is not supported by either the sources I have provided, and I am yet to see your sources. Accusing an editor of purely tendentious editing fails WP:AGF. I have been polite, explanatory, bent over backwards to provide reliable sources, and offered at least two alternatives ways to help resolve this, that have been completely ignored, contradicting WP:DEADHORSE. --Iantresman (talk) 15:30, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

Shocked and Dismayed

I am, really. After the frantic 18 months or so that have just gone by with this article, more than three hours have passed, there has been no edit war, no outrage, no support, no name calling, no tears, no sockpuppetry, no new SPA - nothing.

I'll say it then - It isn't a theory. it is a pseudoscientific concept. The consensus wording for the lead was hard fought, and it has held for a couple of months until today. -Roxy the dog (resonate) 22:44, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

I assume that some of this is meant to be ironic in some way, and some is not. Your colleague's recent edit summary, "WP:ASSERT there is ZERO" is similarly difficult to parse. I think you guys are very confident, and appear to be having a lot of fun here, but I should remind you that this is a WP:BLP article that is subject to discretionary sanctions. I think that a more collaborative, helpful and welcoming editing environment can be created with a little more effort. Meanwhile, I am trying to help find a more readable and pleasant use of words to open this article. Wikipedia is not a battleground, and the articles shouldn't read like the aftermath of bloodshed. --Nigelj (talk) 12:29, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
For the record, I do not approve of parts of the introduction for reasons I have stated many time before. I utterly reject your characterisation of some of Sheldrake's work as "pseudoscience", as I do not believe it is supported by reliable secondary sources, even though I have also added at least one source supporting its characterisation as such. Others have also made the same points, and consequently I do not consider there is sufficient consensus for the current wording. I have little interest in participating in a discussion that needs to be "hard fought". --Iantresman (talk) 12:45, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I've just had an interesting moment - I see that Callanecc (talk · contribs) put a discretionary sanctions warning on my talk page,[47] which was unnecessary as I had already mentioned them above, and have edited this article several times in the past, but I guess my name was not on a list somewhere. Then I noticed that the same user said on TRPoD's page, "As you are aware Rupert Sheldrake is subject to 1RR, the reason I haven't blocked you is that the other party wasn't officially aware of the restriction. Please be more careful, I really don't want to block you. Callanecc (talkcontribslogs) 13:26, 23 July 2014 (UTC)".[48] How can me not being aware of the 1RR - which I was anyway - affect TRPoD's multiple reverts? I made two different edits,[49][50] both constructive and neither remotely a revert. TRPoD made two straight reverts in a row, both back to the exact same version, without addressing the talk page at all.[51][52] How does that work? --Nigelj (talk) 16:13, 23 July 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 2 October 2014

Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author,[1] lecturer, and researcher in the field of parapsychology,[2] known for his proposed concept of "morphic resonance".[3] He worked as a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973[1] and as principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978.[4] Since leaving research biology, he has devoted his time primarily to morphic resonance, in books, articles, and public appearances.

Krisko111 (talk) 08:07, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Unfortunately, your edit request doesn't tell us what you actually want to do, per the template instructions. I suspect you want to use the above as a replacement for the equivalent sentences in the lead. My answer would be 'no', it isn't an improvement. -Roxy the dog™ (resonate) 08:37, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Referenced in a film

I suggest that it should be mentioned under 'In scientific and popular culture' in Richard Linklater's 2001 movie Waking Life that Sheldrake was indirectly referenced. Here is the text (from subtitle) of the Ethan Hawke character's words: „- I read an article by a biochemist. - Right. - He said when a member of a species is born...it has a billion years of memory to draw on. This is where we inherit our instincts. I like that. Like there's this telepathic thing going on that we're a part of ...whether we're conscious of it or not... That would explain these seemingly spontaneous, worldwide, innovative leaps in science and art. ...Like the same results popping up everywhere, independent of each other...” It's obvious that the referenced biochemist could only be Rupert Sheldrake, since the words related to drawing memories by a member of a species and the rest are basically Sheldrake's work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.154.144.21 (talk) 00:21, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Personally, though your conclusions are probably correct, I feel that to include this in the article would probably infringe WP:OR. Other editors may not agree with me, let's see shall we? -Roxy the dog™ (resonate) 00:39, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
If there's a movie review or something like that which confirms that this dialogue is referring to Sheldrake, then that could be used as the source. Otherwise, I agree that it's likely OR. Cla68 (talk) 07:14, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
See (1) The Cinema of Richard Linklater (publ. Columbia University Press, 2013, page 80 (2) apparently Linklater himself confirms this on the film's DVD director's commentary track.[53] --Iantresman (talk) 09:12, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

Then it should be really fair to have Waking Life info added to the wikipedia article, under Popular Culture reference. I do think that information is important enough to be mentioned, however, since Richard Linklater is recognized as fairly significant director, and that particular film also has certain artistic and intellectual weight. For respect to Sheldrake, Linklater, and the wikipedia readers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.154.144.21 (talk) 10:46, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

per WP:IPC we should have third parties commenting upon the appearance and identifying something about the appearance that is encyclopedic in nature and not merely a collection of "looky! looky! I seen it here!". -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:28, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

"Pseudoscientific" in the first sentence

This was never in the first sentence until last July. When it was added -- without any references -- there was suddenly a push to keep it, and then it stayed.

Either the lead should have no references (an acceptable WP practice, as long as the article body is referenced), or the lead should be fully referenced. Either way is fine with me. But a mix of referenced and unreferenced text leads to confusion.

In any case I would prefer the pre-July state, when "pseudoscientific" was not in the first sentence. It seems to me that we should first describe a fringe view and then report its mainstream reception, as indicated by WP:FRINGE. The lead already covers the pseudoscience angle. vzaak 09:49, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

The problem now is that "Ref 5" (1) is considered by some editors to be a reliable source, (2) it describes Sheldrake's "theory of morphic resonance". That suggests to me that "pseudoscientific" must be removed from the lead as a violation of WP:BIO and improper use of sources, and it should only be used with attribution elsewhere in the article, as for example, when I included Maddox's quote in Nature. --Iantresman (talk) 10:43, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
there are plenty of sources already right there in the lead that verify the widely regarded "pseudo scientific" nature. If you want, we can recite the dozen that are already there, but please do not honk the false "blp" claim. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 11:48, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Having "pseudoscientific" in the first sentence means that someone needs to split the pseudoscience part of the honking big [a] note and then reference it. I could do that, but per above it's not my inclination. So pending a bold edit doing that, I'm removing "pseudoscientific" from the first sentence, at least for now. Note we were fine without it for about a year, until the change in July. vzaak 12:11, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I think that was the main concern, as it was unsupported by the source, so thank you for the edit. --Iantresman (talk) 12:46, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Concerns with this article via Rupert Sheldrake directly

Hello. I am here to announce a direct relationship with the subject of this article as well as announce that I am representing a number of his concerns with this article, and per WP:BLP, I am here to work with the community to see if we can find a resolution to these concerns. Per Wikipedia’s conflict of interest policy, I will not be making any edits to this page.

Dr. Sheldrake’s main concern is that his long history of interacting with detractors in the skeptic movement has lead to a heavy-handed influence in the lead section of his article, specifically with the continued inputting of "pseudoscience" as his main attribute in the lead section. This appears to be a result of agenda based editing and a method to frame his biography from the point of view of his critics, which is out of spirit with Wikipedia’s NPOV policy. This amounts to a disproportionate focus on only the controversial positions of Dr. Sheldrake and a misrepresentation of his continuing work (he has presented half a dozen papers to peer-reviewed journals in the last few years alone).

Additionally, Dr Sheldrake is first and foremost a biologist with significant contributions in that field, and is referred to as such in mainstream coverage. Since this is confirmed by both primary and secondary sources, it is proper for an encyclopedia to list this biographical fact, in accordance with Wikipedia’s own guidelines, and not interpret his work as being devoid of his biological background. This feature is intrinsic to who Dr Sheldrake is - and without this feature the reader is missing a core aspect of why Dr Sheldrake is even controversial in the first place.

We ask respectfully that the community of editors review these concerns in a fair light, honoring the spirit of Wikipedia’s guidelines as well as the spirit of human dignity for a living person.

Below are some issues:

Alfred Rupert Sheldrake is an English author,[3] and researcher in the field of parapsychology,[4] known for advocating his pseudoscientific "morphic resonance" concept.[5] He worked as a biochemist and cell biologist at Cambridge University from 1967 to 1973[3] and as principal plant physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics until 1978.[6] Since leaving research biology, he has devoted his time primarily to morphic resonance, in books, articles, and public appearances.

Ref 4: How does this reference support making parapsychology one of the main terms for describing Rupert Sheldrake? The article is not publicly available, and the shown text doesn’t even refer to Sheldrake as parapsychologist.

Ref 5: Pseudoscience/pseudoscientist/pseudoscientific is used nowhere in this citation, and the source simply describes his positions as controversial. It's certainly not grounds for determining what Rupert Sheldrake is "known for".

Citation Needed for the idea that Rupert Sheldrake has left biological research, and for the authoritative declaration of how he prioritizes his time.

His advocacy of the idea encompasses paranormal subjects such as remote viewing, precognition, and the psychic staring effect[9][10][11] as well as unconventional explanations of standard subjects in biology such as development, inheritance, and memory.[12]

Ref 11: Dr. Sheldrake is not mentioned in this book at all, nor is morphic resonance. The other sources support statements about precognition and the staring effect, but remote viewing is not supported.

In light of such shaky sources for these statements, the sources supporting his position as a scientist and biologist are highly underrepresented and mitigated.

WP12345 (talk) 19:26, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for being so honest and upfront about your mission here. That is good.
I will address some principles about one aspect (of many) of this matter. If Sheldrake wants less coverage of his controversies with mainstream science and Wikipedia's editors, he needs to be less talkative. The notability of the controversy only gains traction when both parties are discussing, and the controversy's due weight becomes greater every time he opens his mouth. Every time his views and objections are published in a RS (and his own publications are RS for his own statements), they become fair game for content here. We base our content on what RS say, and if they label his views as pseudoscientific, the article will reflect that fact. There is NOTHING in any Wikipedia policy or guideline which will change that, so if he keeps beating on that immovable wall, he'll just look foolish, and such attempts will be documented here. If he is acting in good faith, he'll be less vocal, and if he's acting in bad faith (by being more vocal), he will give the lie to his claims of wishing less controversy and notoriety. -- Brangifer (talk) 21:30, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
That doesn't really address the original poster's points. You mention "reliable sources", and ignore for example, that WP12345 has noted that Ref 5 is to a blog post on the TED site, by an anonymous author, which is used as a source for the sentence "known for advocating his pseudoscientific morphic resonance", when the source says no such thing. Using a blog post for such a contentious statement is specifically criticised by WP:QUESTIONABLE and utterly fails WP:BLPSOURCES (it has been challenged by several editors), and fails WP:BLPREMOVE which requires us to "Remove immediately any contentious material".
In this particular case, the article is not basing its content on any reliable source(a), let alone the source given. No-one is suggesting that we exclude the fact that some people have called Sheldrake's work pseudoscience, and I have myself provided the quote from Maddox in Nature, and I know no editors would would wish to exclude this view.
Additionally, neither the original poster, nor to my knowledge Sheldrake, has suggested that he "wants less coverage of his controversies with mainstream science". I suspect that what he wants is a fair representation of his idea, not one or two cherry-picked second-rate sources, pretending to be represent the whole of mainstream science. His views must adhere to WP:NPOV with special reference to WP:BLP. --Iantresman (talk) 21:56, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
You are absolutely correct that I didn't "really address the original poster's points", because that was not my intention. Read more carefully what I wrote above: "I will address some principles about one aspect (of many) of this matter." That was all. I just wanted to make that plain to WP12345 before they got in too deep here.
BTW, Iantresman, aren't you topic banned from these subjects, or was that topic ban lifted? -- Brangifer (talk) 03:03, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I summarise my previous and current ban on my talk page. No, I am not topic banned from editing Rupert Sheldrake, yes, it was lifted. --Iantresman (talk) 10:09, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
the "blog post" in question is the Official TED Blog Posted by: Tedstaff , not just any random blog or "anonymous" poster. it has the supervisory oversight necessary for our reliable sources, as per WP:NEWSBLOG. Iantresman I believe your untopicban was contingent upon you not misrepresenting sources. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:09, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
We're using an "official", anonymous blog post to source pejorative information in a BLP? Good grief. Whenever someone wonders why WP is losing so much credibility with the general public, I point to examples like this one. I support removing that immediately. Also, the other concerns listed above need to be addressed in sequence. Cla68 (talk) 22:17, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
signing for the entire organization is not "anonymous" - it is stating the entire TED program is behind it. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:31, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
@TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom: Please don't threaten me, it's not cool and not civil. (1) I repeat, the TED blog source Ref 5 does not mention ANYTHING about Sheldrake's work being pseudoscience. (2) Perhaps a better TED source is this one they posted a few days earlier where they specifically question that his work "appears to have crossed the line into pseudoscience", though it does not say he is known for it. (3) The same post also retracts (after the video) several paragraphs of comment, presumably because they turned out to be wrong. Do you think this tells us anything about (a) TED's "supervisory oversight necessary for our reliable sources"? (b) Wikipedia editors' assessment of reliable sources? --Iantresman (talk) 22:56, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
I've just noticed that the TED blog source Ref 5 refers to Shedrake's "theory of morphic resonance". Is this how we should refer to it? --Iantresman (talk) 23:06, 3 November 2014 (UTC)
@Iantresman: you were here for the NUMEROUS discussions in which the consensus of the description of "morphic resonance" was discussed. Feel free to check the archives. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:14, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
And I disagreed with them then, as I do now. The source does not support the statement, regardless of any previous discussion. --Iantresman (talk) 10:12, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

@TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom: I see you have removed "known for"[54] from your statement added in July[55], which now reads "who advocates his pseudoscientific 'morphic resonance' concept". Yet Ref 5 used to support the statement, refers to Shedrake's "theory of morphic resonance". Do you think that your interpretation of the source satisfies WP:BLP? --Iantresman (talk) 23:27, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

  • @Iantresman: you were here for the NUMEROUS discussions in which the consensus of the description of "morphic resonance" was discussed. Feel free to check the archives.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:09, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

I have copied the issues identified into separate sections below so individual discussions can take place with less clutter and confusion. I think i got them all. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:29, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Issue: Nature and parapsychology identification

  • Ref 4: How does this reference support making parapsychology one of the main terms for describing Rupert Sheldrake? The article is not publicly available, and the shown text doesn’t even refer to Sheldrake as parapsychologist.
    • This has been explained several times in the archives, most recently here. The Nature article describes Sheldrake as a former biochemist who has taken up parapsychology. Nature is qualified to discern whether or not dog telepathy falls within the field of biology. Please read the archives; I just gave a mini-snippet. vzaak 10:04, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Nature is not the sole arbiter of (1) someone's position as a scientist (2) even if they state that he does work in X, it doesn't imply that he doesn't do work in Y or Z. I think the Society of Biology are in a better position to assess Sheldrake's position. --Iantresman (talk) 10:37, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Issue: TED blog

  • Ref 5: Pseudoscience/pseudoscientist/pseudoscientific is used nowhere in this citation, and the source simply describes his positions as controversial. It's certainly not grounds for determining what Rupert Sheldrake is "known for".
The "known for" language has been removed. I think this has been addressed. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:31, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
i think the question becomes is the source valid for reinserting " controversial" to describe "morphic resonance" which was stripped out some time ago? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 09:59, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • The TED blog is not there to support the pseudoscience designation in the first sentence, which is a recent addition without a ref; see below. vzaak 10:20, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • But it gives that impression. If we use the TED source provided, it describes Sheldrake's "theory of morphic resonance" suggesting that the current statement is in gross violation of WP:BLP. Since editors consider the TED blog to be a reliable source, I can't see how we can ignore their characterisation, and replace it with what appears to be WP:SYNTH. --Iantresman (talk) 10:31, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • I added a source for "known for" (though it didn't seem to be needed because "known for" is part of a descriptive topic sentence for the lead, and the whole article really). (And I have no idea why this is a concern since the front page of Sheldrake's own website prominently advertises that he's best known for morphic resonance, as do a plethora of pro-Sheldrake books and publications.) vzaak 12:28, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Issue: Source for focus of study

  • Citation Needed for the idea that Rupert Sheldrake has left biological research, and for the authoritative declaration of how he prioritizes his time.
    • I don't know where the sentence came from, and it doesn't seem to add much. I'm boldly deleting. vzaak 10:14, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Issue: Use of The Outline of Parapsychology

  • His advocacy of the idea encompasses paranormal subjects such as remote viewing, precognition, and the psychic staring effect[9][10][11] as well as unconventional explanations of standard subjects in biology such as development, inheritance, and memory.[12]

Ref 11: Dr. Sheldrake is not mentioned in this book at all, nor is morphic resonance. The other sources support statements about precognition and the staring effect, but remote viewing is not supported.}}

the 2009 edition used in the link doesnt seem to mention Sheldrake, but it does mention "being stared at" [56] and "remote viewing" [57] and precognition [58]. I am wondering if the person who added it was using [59] one of the other editions and if one of them connects Sheldrake? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:19, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I commented it out as a source till verification can be made. it appears to have been added in this edit by @Vzaak: who does not appear to have been editing lately. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:34, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
The reason is in the now-archived thread to which my edit comment linked. An editor wanted to describe remote viewing, precognition, and the psychic staring effect as "fringe science". The source was added to show that these things fall under paranormal/parapsychology, not "fringe science". vzaak 09:27, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
  • I can help here. The Outline of Parapsychology book should be removed. Please replace with Bruce Hood. (2009). Supersense: From Superstition to Religion - The Brain Science of Belief. p. 252. ISBN 978-1-84901-030-6 (or page 232 in the other edition cited on the article already). I have the quote from the page here:

The most prominent and active advocate of the sense of being stared at is Rupert Sheldrake, who proposes that this ability reflects a new scientific theory of disembodied minds extending out beyond the physical body to connect together. I regard this as an idea originating from the dualism of mind and body that we discussed earlier, but such a notion has been rejected by conventional science. Undaunted by “scientific vigilantes,” Sheldrake proposes that the sense of being stared at and other aspects of paranormal ability, such as telepathy and knowing about events in the future before they happen, are all evidence for a new field theory that he calls “morphic resonance.” ...

The trouble is that, whereas electric and magnetic fields are easily measurable and obey laws, morphic resonance remains elusive and has no demonstrable laws. No other area of science would accept such lawless, weak evidence as proof, which is why the majority of the scientific community has generally dismissed this theory and the evidence. However, this has had little influence on the general public’s opinion.

This source clarifies that Sheldrake is a proponent of the psychic starring effect, precognition and telepathy and the scientific community have dismissed his claims. As for remote viewing, this should be removed. Goblin Face (talk) 11:49, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

Update - I noticed Hood is already cited on the article, but we can use the source in the lead if needed in regards to Sheldrake's endorsement of psychic starring effect and precognition. Goblin Face (talk) 11:58, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

I think it depends on what we are saying, on how Hood sources his material. Without any sources, we just have his opinion in a non-peer reviewed popular book. Since we are all striving for the best sources, we should be aiming for at least an academic book or publisher. On the other hand, if we are just characterising without being judgemental, then it may be fine, as would a respectable newspaper. --Iantresman (talk) 13:24, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I have just given you a source pal, whether you agree or disagree with the 'opinion' is irrelevant. Bruce Hood is a mainstream psychologist and his book published by a well known publisher. That's the way Wikipedia works. We get a reliable source and then we cite it. Hood qualifies as a reliable source. If you want to question Hood's sources that are actually in his book then you would need to take it up with him off-Wikipedia. Goblin Face (talk) 16:31, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Just attribute it properly. We may not be able to find "an academic book or publisher", since this is so fringe that they ignore it, hence WP:PARITY comes into play and allows the use of notable skeptic blogs, skeptic websites and magazines, newspapers, and other such sources. When the mainstream ignores a subject, that's a good sign they consider it not worth their time, but skeptics are active at debunking crap and seeking to keep pseudoscientists, quacks, and charlatans (not referring specifically to Sheldrake, but in general) from deceiving the masses, so their sources are good enough. -- Brangifer (talk) 16:41, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

External links

I think this section should be expanded. Here's one that could be added [60] Goblin Face (talk) 12:27, 4 November 2014 (UTC)

I think there are far better links that are more neutral in their tone, and from more reliable sources. --Iantresman (talk) 12:47, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
WP:EL i dont see how that would come close to being something that meets the criteria. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:28, 6 November 2014 (UTC)
    • ^ a b Cite error: The named reference TimAdams was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference whitfield was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference tedblog was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
    • ^ Cite error: The named reference chaos was invoked but never defined (see the help page).