Talk:Rupert Sheldrake/Archive 4

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Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5

over-use of scare-quotes

Is it necessary to continue putting "morphic field" in quotation marks after the first reference? If it's clear that the expression is Sheldrake's invention, to go on putting it in quotes seems like an attack. (I hold no brief whatsoever for the theory or the expression, but it seemed a POV was being pushed.) --Hugh7 (talk) 07:58, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Is it really necessary to add pseudoscience in the opening paragraph with 13 references? Even if you find 100 references, it does not make it true. Let's stick to facts, not opinions - even popular ones. Thanks. --Nautis (talk) 18:57, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

This front page edit uses horribly biased definition of authors own work to define it re: - "and is responsible for "mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms". To use a bias definition of an authors notable work is misleading. (talk) 20:02, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

As noted in my edit comment, it's a direct quote from Sheldrake. Vzaak (talk) 21:40, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

ahh, I see and stand corrected, thank you. I withdraw my critique here.(talk)

Since "morphic field" has no understood scientific meaning, scare quotes are appropriate. We could call it woo without the scare quotes, of course, if you would prefer. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:50, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Incorrect, Barney the Barney, and not an acceptable neutral POV for editing. Scare quotes are never appropriate and this is an unacceptable attitude for editing a wiki. Your rebuttal that 'Morphic Field has no understood scientific meaning' makes little sense and logic, considering it's an hypothesis put forward by the author as an hypothesis and needs no other meaning than described by it's author within the context of the evidence and reason he presents. I am an agnostic on the matter, and am not here to make claims one way or another regarding sheldrakes claims. I am here to help edit a page that appears to have a large amount of bias written into it by wikipedia editors whom may present a COI from here (talk)

its - the rest of your post is just nonsensical, sorry. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:41, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Since this is a wiki, feel free to edit any typos at your leisure. If what I wrote is nonsensical to you, then I guess it means you do not understand what I wrote so feel free to ask questions regarding any matters in my participation. (talk) 22:47, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Did you even intend to edit this section? It refers to an old version of the article, and it's not even related to your initial comment. Please make a new section next time. And did you mean to omit your name in your signature? Vzaak (talk) 22:59, 31 August 2013 (UTC)


Morphic resonance is fundamentally a theory of morphogenesis. I have therefore added morphogenesis to the topics he writes about. Hrafn has deleted this reference on the grounds that "morphic fields are not part of developmental bio." While it's true that mainstream theory does not include morphic resonance (which involves morphic fields), this does not change the fact that Sheldrake is writing about morphogenesis. He is simply advocating a theory of morphogenesis not currently in the mainstream.

Alfonzo Green (talk) 19:59, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

[I]t's true that mainstream theory does not include morphic resonance. Well, that answers your question, doesn't it? Wikipedia is a mainstream encyclopaedia. So fringe ideas that are not generally considered part of morphogenesis are out. Guettarda (talk) 03:44, 28 July 2009 (UTC).
So fringe ideas that are not generally considered part of morphogenesis are out.
What a jokester you are, Guettarda.
Alfonzo Green, rest assured that there is no basis in Wikipedia policy for Guettarda's laughable assertion. — goethean 21:19, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Goethean, you really shouldn't mislead new editors. You are well aware that if morophometric resonance isn't considered part of morphogenesis except by fringe sources, we can't claim that it is. We can't throw out the need for reliable sources just because you don't like it. Guettarda (talk) 12:11, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
Lets be civil and keep to the points. I think Green wants Sheldrake to be labeled a biologist. I think Guettarda is saying by mainstream standards Sheldrake isn't a biologist. According to WP:Fringe we present information from the mainstream perspective especially when it concerns science. Minority views are presented fairly but they are presented as the minority view and to no greater degree than their notability.--OMCV (talk) 22:59, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not saying he's not a biologist. I'm saying that we can't call this morphogenesis if the mainstream rejects the idea that it is morphogenesis, which is what Green appears to be saying. Guettarda (talk) 12:22, 29 July 2009 (UTC)
If they're sufficiently far out on the fringe as to be generally regarded as pseudoscience, then yes they "are out". Claims having their basis in morphic resonance (and similar) have zero acceptance in biology, and therefore should not be labelled as being part of legitimate subfields of it. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:11, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Why does the lead say Sheldrake researches and writes on morphogenesis (with no source), yet the article talks about "morphogenetic fields" (which are "probability structures"), and does not mention morphogenesis? Do we have a WP:RS saying that Sheldrake writes on morphogenesis (the concept used by mainstream science), or that "morphic resonance is fundamentally a theory of morphogenesis" (a claim made above)? Johnuniq (talk) 05:08, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

While I think OMCV's addition of "nonstandard views" is an improvement, I can't help thinking that the lead is more than a little meandering. The hierarchical relationship appears to be something like this:

…but the lead goes from the middle level to the top level to the detailed level.

Something like the following might be better:

…who now researches and writes on his theory of morphic resonance, and its implications for parapsychology (animal behaviour, memory, telepathy, perception and cognition in general) and for his non-standard views on morphogenesis (animal and plant development).

But regardless of the exact layout, it should expand outward from Sheldrake's core idea of morphic resonance. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 12:53, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

We can be sure Sheldrake wrote about morphogenesis just by reading Maddox's "A book for burning". Frankly I don't know Sheldrakes work, as a whole, well enough to know if it is built around a concise thesis. I suspect from what I've have seen that he meander...but I think Hrafn's suggested text is good.--OMCV (talk) 01:43, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Morphogenesis is Sheldrake's primary focus for the simple reason that it's the most fundamental topic his theory addresses. When Darwin was young, it was known as evolution, a Latin word meaning "to unfold," as in a scroll. Gestation had long been viewed as the unrolling of a preformed person. By Darwin's day it was obvious that embryonic "evolution" was a passage from undifferentiated tissue through intermediate forms resembling worm, fish, amphibian, reptile and mammal. As Robert J Richards points out, this is where Darwin got the idea for descent with modification, a.k.a. "evolution" (The Meaning of Evolution Cambridge 1992). Darwin realized that human embryogenesis recapitulates our phylogenetic origins. In a very rough sense, the embryo is the microcosm of the evolutionary history of the species to which it belongs.

While evolution, by its new meaning, solves the problem of how species come into being, we still don't understand evolution by its old meaning, now known as morphogenesis. We don't understand in any kind of depth either the differentiation of embryonic cells or the development of the embryo as a whole. In the first chapter of A New Science of Life, after setting the stage with a two-page intro on the dominant viewpoint in biology, Sheldrake addresses "the problems of morphogenesis," starting with a standard definition of the term: "the coming into being of characteristic and specific form in living organisms" (Needham 1942). So he's not writing about "nonstandard views of morphogenesis" but morphogenesis itself, as ordinarily defined.

After the introductory chapter, Sheldrake gets down to business in chapter 2, "Three Theories of Morphogenesis." These are materialism (Weismann), vitalism (Driesch) and organicism (Whitehead). His own hypothesis fits within the third tradition, which rejects a principle or "force" exclusive to life but also denies that a strictly materialistic or reductionist explanation will ever account for the holistic nature of organic forms. The next three chapters address form as a general topic, the traditional concept of morphogenetic fields, and the possibility that past forms directly influence current organic activity. With all this background in place, he is ready, in chapter 6, to introduce his main idea, "Formative causation and morphogenesis." With his theory fleshed out, so to speak, Sheldrake devotes the remaining chapters to subsidiary topics such as inheritance, behavior, instinct and learning, and so on.

Alfonzo Green (talk) 06:27, 30 July 2009 (UTC)


  1. Please demonstrate how Sheldrake's claims on dog telepathy, "a sense of being starred at", crystal melting points, etc, etc relate to morphogensis rather than morphic resonance. The Sheldrake quote in Morphic field#Morphogenetic field clearly demonstrates that Sheldrake considers morphic fields/morphic resonance to be the general concept, with its application to morphogenesis a subset.
  2. Please provide a citation for a mainstream work on morphogenesis that includes morphic resonance-based claims as part of that field. That Sheldrake claims that his ideas address morphogenesis is not evidence that they have any acceptance within that field.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 08:20, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

To begin with, the lead is supposed to summarise the article, but the article doesn't discuss morphogenesis. If it's not in the article, doesn't belong in the lead. Secondly, we need secondary sources to call Sheldrake's work "morphogenesis". You can't cite a book of his to support an extraordinary claim like this. Finally, how can we call something a "theory" when it appears to lack empirical evidence? Hypothesis, perhaps, but not theory. Guettarda (talk) 12:27, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

I have made the case, as clearly as it can be made, that Sheldrake's primary topic is morphogenesis. To continue disagreeing is to demonstrate unwillingness to reason.
Morphic resonance is intended as a mechanism of morphogenesis, with applications to other biological phenomena. Regardless of how his work has been greeted by mainstream researchers, that he is writing about morphogenesis can easily be confirmed by consulting his work.
However, I agree with Guettarda that morphogenesis should not appear in the lead without also appearing in the body of the article. I have attempted to introduce material on morphogenesis in the section on A New Science of Life, but my efforts have been blocked by editors unfamiliar with Sheldrake's work.
Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:33, 3 August 2009 (UTC)


  1. Kindly peddle your faux-martyrdom elsewhere -- I ain't buying.
  2. The material that you introduced into the 'A New Science of Life' section traces his favoured "historical approach" to Alfred North Whitehead, a philosopher with no apparent involvement in biology -- indicating that it most likely has no scientific basis whatsoever. I also note that Terence McKenna also cites Whitehead as the inspiration for his ludicrously incoherent timewave zero theory -- hardly good company. I am therefore placing a 'dubious' tag on this approach for its lack of verifiable provenance in scientific research.
  3. I will note that you have failed to address my point that morphic resonance underlies Sheldrake's research well beyond his morphogenesis claims.

HrafnTalkStalk(P) 03:22, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
(Kindly don't butcher my posts for your convenience HrafnTalkStalk(P) 21:25, 3 August 2009 (UTC) )

  1. Nor am I selling. Try to avoid projecting your emotions.
    • Whitehead theorized extensively in biology. You're taking labels like "philosopher" and "biologist" too literally.
    • Gratuitous charge. Guilt by association is not valid logic.
  2. Of course he goes beyond morphogenesis. Nonetheless, morphic resonance is intended, first and foremost, as an explanation of morphogenesis. Alfonzo Green (talk) 19:51, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Numerous philosophers, from Aristotle onwards, have "theorized extensively in biology". This does not bestow any scientific credence on their theorising. Oh, and my comment on "company" was a mere afterthought/observation. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 21:25, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Merger proposal

I'm suggesting merging the article on Dr. Sheldrake's theory, Morphic field into this one. No reason to have two articles which are really about the same topic. Northwestgnome (talk) 20:16, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

I preformed a rough merger help in cleaning it up would be appreciated.--OMCV (talk) 21:16, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Scientific and popular reactions

I've deleted the sections on scientific and popular reactions. The article lists five scientists who are on record in support of Sheldrake's work: David Bohm, Janis Roze, Hans-Peter Durr, Sue Ann Miller and Amit Goswami. The claim that all published responses from scientists are negative is thus contradicted within the article itself. Steven Rose's viewpoint is already covered elsewhere in the article. Sheldrake's proposal is intended to be scientifically rigorous and testable, so "new age" impressions are niether here nor there.

Alfonzo Green (talk) 20:24, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

The critique section you deleted is tied to the morphic field content. This section warrants a critique, no doubt it needs work but it still not clear there has been any support from anything but the extreme fringes of the scientific community for the morphic field ideas. For example, if you check the reference tied to Sue Ann Miller she does not voice support for Sheldrake's ideas, she only questions the status quo. Amit Goswami is perhaps the only blatant support but he is not exactly main stream science. Lets try and fix the section but it can't be just purged.--OMCV (talk) 16:40, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
The section is not only redundant but misleading, as it implies that John Maddox was a scientist. Alfonzo Green (talk) 03:18, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
The editor User:SlimVirgin relocated and adjusted the section you just deleted. As far as I can tell she looks favorably on Sheldrake. I didn't challenge her edits because they helped to organize the article and seemed mostly fair and balanced. Still the article, in its current form, does a very poor job of explaining that Sheldrake's idea and work are way outside the mainstream science. This article should be edited in the context of WP:Fringe. In contrast to Sheldrake, John Maddox was an active member of the mainstream scientific community his entire career, its hard to get more mainstream than playing a central role at Nature. Claiming John Maddox wasn't a scientist is absurd.--OMCV (talk) 04:20, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

The reaction from respected scientists has been overwhelmingly negative, largely because Sheldrake appears to think that by giving names to nebulous concepts like "morphic resonance" that he has created a "theory" of something.

The section on the reception of his ideas might lead someone to think that there is only a tiny handful of scientists who quibble with Sheldrake's research -- a colossally misleading impression.

It reads something like a publicity blurb written by Sheldrake and/or his supporters.Daqu (talk) 17:10, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

P.S. To this end, I have now moved the last paragraph from the "Morphic field" section (starting with "Sheldrake's work has little support in the mainstream scientific community") to now be the first paragraph in the "Reception" section.Daqu (talk) 17:32, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Reading way too much bias against Sheldrake from editors on this thread. Some editors here appear to have some sort of personal issue with the subject and appear unable to provide a neutral POV to the editing process.The Tumbleman 22:56, 31 August 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tumbleman (talkcontribs)


Sheldrake's work is hypothesis that nature finds modalities of form following function, also know by Sheldrake's Morphogenic Resonance in the 1990's in america. On a silica-acid based world there could be snails, sponges, and ferns in oceans, because the form follows the function of simplest robust compact growth systems, or volume filtration, or thin film filtration systems. Same on a petrochemical solvent world like Titan type places, the same forms could resonate with the physics, with accompanying dimensional analysis translation to account for viscosity and chemistry differences, perhaps leading to smaller snails and larger cell sponges, for hypothetical example. Same on a water based carbon compund planet, we live on. It is all just fluids, solids, reactions, diffusion rates, molecular code networks powered by the sun, and propagations, in complex reaction systems, in a morphic field of a matter confluence system locus in time and space. In a way, just like galaxies, planets, and stars that naturally resonate with the disk and spherical forms, due to nothing more than centrifugal effects and gravity on natural matter fields - perhaps the first persistent morphic field system in time space, beyond the atom and molecule. The natural form of Unit Analyis fused with Spatial Structures. It only takes a few spatial temporal differential reaction systems to create a natural sponge form in the ocean, because the scales of matter produce a morphogenic resonance field architecting a sponge blindly from these forms by natural chemical "instinct" inherent-laws, for lack of alternate term for systems where "form follows function" and "function follows form", simultaneously, at the system level, and not impossible to generate, due to the synergy of the best reaction systems of a rich combinatorial chemistry endures the most exactly where form follows function, and all other reaction systems are less fit or durable in time space. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 15:08, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Similarly, on earth, natural combinatorial chemistry under cyclic loading of sunlight could naturally lead to photosynthetic compound networks that lead to eventiual natural photosynthesys. And when glucoses and other energy bearing molecules are formed, other reaction networks can coalesce based on them spontaneously, by dissipating energy at night stored in daytime sugars, leading to metabolism reaction networks, and the evential inheritor of mitochondiral systems and cellular metabolism. Here entire netowrks of durable fit reactions are what evolve at once, from purely statistical spatial reaction laws in time and space. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 15:08, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

And by now, the DNA similarity between humans and primates, can be of common descent, or of morphic resonance in DNA systems, or combination of these effects, though judging the proportions based on the scale of one to one matching is common descent and / or DNA systems morphic resonance, is a high systems question beyond most analytical methods for a few years to come. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 15:08, 26 February 2010 (UTC) LoneRubberDragon (talk) 15:17, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Same thing for hands, legs, and wings, et cetera, which can have parallel evolution of form following function, in fluids, or land travel, or handling objects in evolutionary fitness. As can be seen in mamalian whale fins, flying mammal bats, flying insects, flying reptiles, flying fish, flying squirrels, walking lung fish, and such. Likewise, morphic fields as mentioned before, in unit analysis translation convert dimensions like the oversize whale, and long limbs that can form in crab like animals, and jellyfish that would only survive as slime mold form wor worm on land, because water, like zero gravity, transforms the morphic field dimensions of analysis. The same external physics forces producing the same forms in another dimension of heirarchy step levels, like combinatorial chemistry does in biochemical levels. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 15:17, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

These themes follow also from know experiments in self organizing systems, where basic rules, and environment holistic systems dynamics can lead to similar morphogenic resonance. Self assembling circuits are one example in research recently. Kohonen studies such methods in numerical self organizing maps near the saddle point between nyquist fields and cluster analysis where sample data is sparse, compared to, say, the material numerical statistical natural combinatorial chemistry, that may lead to abogenesis and biological structures once that data is acquired by natural systems (also known as Hypercycles in the 1990's). Chaos, entropy of various assmebled systems, and attractors are also involved, as the below articles indicate, for making such morphogenic resonance fields. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 00:47, 27 February 2010 (UTC) (I Agree, LoneRubberDragon post) LoneRubberDragon (talk) 13:08, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Of course, the hardest thing to test, is the morphogenic resonance of similar structured systems, caused by, hypothetically, say, the quantum entanglement systems of shared energy level patterns and forms, in processing material planes. Like two humans given the exact same set of information, or an array of animals with the exact same set of training to increase SNR detection in the array. Is commonality a pure reductionist biochemistry effect, and / or the virtually impossible to measure internal states of distributed matter states in quantum entanglement, like a Zen state of shared consciousness? Those, like Many World's Theory Quantum Physics, may remain untestable hypothesis with equal footing with similar untestable, but useful to pragmatic research ideas that are not disproven but identical formulations, like Bohm Hidden Variable equivalencies with Copenhagen Interpretation, which help produce useful ways of thinking even if unproveable - an eternal hypothesis at the infiniteis as Liebnitz might say, like the scientifically unshareable consciousness. Aspects unlike Luminiferous Aether Hypohtesis, that the Michaelson Morley experiment tested, and could disprove. But given these states are virtually impossible to share, supporters of quantum entanglement resonance fields, like Roger Penrose, may never be able to have a testable scientific hypothesis, like Many Worlds Theory or Bohm Hidden Variable models equally useful for thinking and analysis, but unproveable, at this level of analysis in the heirarchy of internal entangled wavefunctions in systems, that are indistinguishable models at this scale of lowest baseband sensitivity resolution. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 15:17, 26 February 2010 (UTC) (On Leibnitz Monadologie translated from the French on Project Guttenberg) LoneRubberDragon (talk) 13:08, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, I can't tell from Japan if NO ORIGINAL RESEARCH means 腦 original research. LoneRubberDragon (talk) 13:27, 27 February 2010 (UTC)

Wiki policy is pretty clear on this issue - when dealing with subject matter that may be considered fringe both sides of the story must be presented without bias and with a neutral POV. There is absolutely no reason for wiki editors to determine the value one way or another to any hypothesis in the TALK section. Whether his hypothesis is BS or not, it's not our place to say. Since Sheldrake's ideas have made a notable controversy for over the past 20 years, it is reasonable that this controversy is presented without bias and with notable references that summarize the environment.The Tumbleman 23:00, 31 August 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Tumbleman (talkcontribs)

reception section

Even Discover Magazine, a popular source with a penchant for courting controversy, makes it very clear that Sheldrake's ideas are roundly rejected. However, the non-representative sliver of supportive or not-quite-dismissive quotes in that article have been extracted, foregrounded, and exaggerated.

Sheldrake's ideas are generally considered to be pseudoscience. Period, full stop. You can go on after that to talk about whatever tiny fraction of scientific commentators have expressed whatever small reservations. But you have to start with the mainstream view, contextualized as the mainstream view. TiC (talk) 23:02, 23 October 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. Please see my Feb. 7 2012 comments above in the Talk section "Scientific and popular reactions".Daqu (talk) 17:39, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

This is not a forum for general discussion of the article's subject, but actually there are a few points here.

Why is WP so conservative? It seems clear to me that this article needs to be broken up into several sub-articles, but notices like these seem to be trying to shut down the discussion before it begins.

My mistake, it's a boiler plate... oh well... the rest of my rant is still valid IMHO. --Dan|(talk) 22:08, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Does WP have articles on National socialism or Stalinism? Of course, because Wikipedians are trusted to present those topics without prejudice. Why is it that when it comes to scientific thought that isn't mainstream, everyone panics and we get lock-down? Can't we be trusted to present scientific ideas in such a way that it isn't taken to be truth, but simply hypothesis? Just because morphogenesis is controversial, doesn't mean it shouldn't have it's own article. It's quite a mainstream topic. Why is it that other controversial aspects of WP are presented accurately, but the prevailing thought seems to be that non-mainstream science must be almost entirely removed?

No doubt someone will tell me this is not the place for such comments, and will probably delete my argument. But seriously, I think we need a rethink on topics like these. Look at the banner on this page, for example:

"This article's introduction section may not adequately summarize its contents."

Well of course not, this articles contents are a dumping ground for concepts that should be in their own pages.

I find it hard to believe that even books by Sheldrake redirect here. How many of Lewis Wolperts books just point back to his page? Oh, right, his books are mainstream science and are therefore more deserving of WP pages... when did we decide that? Should we start to ditch pages for books that espouse ideologies that we don't agree with just because they are 'controversial'?

If you're going to delete this discussion, please advise me where it should be conducted. Please don't silence this debate just because you think you're doing the right thing or protecting the children or something.

Since when was scientific censorship better than any other kind?

Cheers, --Dan|(talk) 22:02, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

I regard it as ethically unacceptable and impractical to censor any aspect of trying to understand the nature of our world.
- Lewis Wolpert
I think the key difference is that Wolpert is an accepted leader in his field, (you know, Fellow of the Royal Society and all that). Sheldrake is an ex-Royal Society Research worker who has some extremely unorthodox views which are largely ignored by the scientific community. Either the scientific community is mistaken, in which case, Sheldrake will be proved right in due course by experimentation as part of the scientific process, or he's wrong. Sheldrake's books may be worth splitting off if you can either (a) find enough reviews of them (especially those in peer reviewed journals) and/or (b) demonstrate that they're popular, or that (c) that new research has been published as a result of them. I am not a dog (talk) 11:03, 1 January 2012 (UTC)
Regarding the accusation of "censorship" of the articles on Sheldrake's individual books. I am personally convinced, that of Sheldrake's books A New Science of Life *may* deserve its own article, on the basis of the review by Sir John Maddox DOI: 10.1038/293245b0 and Adam Rutherford's opinion in The Guardian [1] and whatever else can be found. Other reviews are mentioned by Freeman could also be included there.
The others, I'm not so sure, it depends on sources. Two of Sheldrakes other books Seven Experiments That Could Change the World (sic - it should be Seven Experiments that Could Change the World) old version was back door deleted by user:Fireplace [2], and The Sense of Being Stared At (again sic - it should be The Sense of Being Stared at) old version was back door deleted by user:Hrafn [3].
As for concepts, morphogenesis isn't controversial. Sheldrake's explanation for it is. I am not a dog (talk) 22:36, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
"If no reliable third-party sources can be found on a topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it." (WP:V) A WP:REDIRECT is a common remedy for such articles, and one explicitly contemplated by WP:BEFORE as being explored before deletion is contemplated. Calling them 'back door deletes' is therefore both misleading and a violation of WP:AGF. Additionally, if anybody can find third-party sourcing, there is nothing whatsoever to prevent them being restored from being redirects. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:24, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
Hrafn, you are certifiably violating WP:AGF by accusing me of violating WP:AGF when I'm clearly not; I am merely describing what you've done, not making judgement on that. It's User:dmb000006 who's (apparently) unhappy with your action, and if he wants to contest deletion by going to WP:DRV he can but I'm not going to fight his battles for him when I broadly agree with what you've done. I've looked for sources (reviews) of The Sense of Being Stared At and can't really find any; Sheldrake is being ignored by real scientists. Maybe User:dmb000006 can find some other sources and demonstrate its notability. I am not a dog (talk) 15:06, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Please point to a relevant definition of wikt:backdoor or wikt:back door that is not pejorative in this context ("criminal" or "secret", the choice is yours). Also WP:DRV is neither necessary nor relevant -- as no deletion (or any other administrative action) occurred, and therefore no such action needs to be reversed. This is yet another reason why I find people continually conflating redirection with deletion so very very annoying. A redirection is not a deletion (back-door, front-door, side-door, rear-window, balcony, or otherwise). It neither requires the same procedures to perform one, nor to reverse one. A redirection is an editorial action, not an administrative one. As such, all it needs is a WP:CONSENSUS. Where such a consensus exists (either explicitly, via a WP:MERGE proposal, or implicitly via WP:SILENCE over the redirect), it is perfectly acceptable, and not even remotely "back door", to do so. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 15:32, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Hrafn, there is really no need to be so angry. However, redirecting an article without prior discussion (such as a formal deletion discussion), or even giving adequate explanation, is a unilateral action, and you cannot act unilaterally while claiming consensus. Actually, like I said, I agree with you, and it may well be within the rules, but I think back door deletion is a perfect description of what you did. I am not a dog (talk) 19:58, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. Unilateral actions happen on Wikipedia all the time -- that's why we have WP:BOLD. Only when an action is likely to be controversial does it need to be discussed in advance. And a redirection of a short, unsourced article, which fails to articulate a clear claim to notability, is a no-brainer. Yes, we could have WP:SPEEDYed them -- but a redirect is less disruptive, and makes it easier for somebody searching on the book to find the author. Wikipedia is WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY, and a prior consensus is not needed for uncontroversial actions that do not require administrative tools.
  2. I did in fact provide an "adequate explanation": "Non-notable book redirected to author". Per both {{notability}} and WP:BEFORE, redirection is an explicitly recommended remedy for lack of notability.
  3. Yes I bloody well can "act unilaterally while claiming consensus" -- please read WP:SILENCE, have a WP:TROUT, and get a clue.
  4. Claiming something is any form of deletion, when it is obviously not a deletion, as (i) it is not listed as one of the processes within WP:Deletion policy), (ii) it is explicitly recommended as an avenue to explore WP:BEFORE deletion is contemplated, and (iii) it does not require administrative tools, which a deletion always does (one of the reasons we have such extensive, and formalised, procedures for them), is hardly "perfect".

In summary, it is within both the letter and the spirit of Wikipedia policy to perform redirects unilaterally where doing so is uncontroversial (particularly in the case of short unsourced non-notable articles). I am going to continue to perform such actions, and make no apology for doing so. I will also continue to correct anybody who makes the obvious mistake of conflating WP:DELETION with something that is not a deletion. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 04:12, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Hrafn, don't understand why you are being so angry about this. I merely described what you did, an action on which I am not making a value judgement on. Perhaps you should take your own advice and WP:AGF rather than tying your panties in a knot? Quite clearly WP:SILENCE does not apply because of User:dmb000006's comments above. Please try to remain on topic, your bizarre insinuations that I am accusing you of malpractice are absurd and quite frankly insulting. I am not a dog (talk) 11:24, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes, I would take 4-5 years of WP:SILENCE to be a 4-5-year long implicit WP:CONSENSUS, to be replaced by an explicit one now that somebody has actually bothered to bring it up on talk. That's the way Wikipedia works. If you don't want me to continue to animadvert about your "perfect description", then I would suggest that you cease rubbing my nose in it -- I am rather tired of the subject, and am willing to drop it if you are. HrafnTalkStalk(P) 11:39, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Human Genome in Meltdown

 Dr. Rupert Sheldrake has been saying this about the genome project for a LONG time. 

Pyramids need strong foundations - the weak are failing. Some strong ones in Bosnia I see too... Perhaps people had better start Respecting the Good work from these out-of-the-box thinking Doctors?

If you want the MATH of the Morphic Field then you may find Vortex Based Math and the ABHA 9x9 Tori interesting. It models DNA and everything else too.

Creation out of the Chaos from Phi-based geometry (platonic solids) tightened up with resonance.

Numbers don’t lie – irrefutable evidence of the ineffable.

It’s good that music of Concert A = 432 Hz is the best fit too. Music like this tends to be harmonious and pleasing. Holophonics (sensing the Otoacoustic interference pattern) in A=432 Hz is Good.

We have the evidence (refer the VBM and the ABHA 9x9 Tori) that a New Science is being re-discovered. It is irresistible… Our current science is broken like Humpty Dumpty (an apt reference).

Anyone that deletes this will have egg on their face. (talk) 12:45, 15 January 2013 (UTC)SovEReign-SoEvReigns

whois Italy? (talk) 11:19, 7 April 2013 (UTC)SovEReign-SoEvReigns

8i347g8gl's additions to the ‎section on morphogenetic fields

The new section starts, "The nature of morphogenetic fields was experimentally revealed in the year 2011 by Dany Adams." It cites a couple artcles that make no mention of ‎morphogenetic fields or anything tied to Sheldrake. The connection to morphogenetic fields is apparently original to 8i347g8gl. The voluminous detail also lacks relevance at face value, and comprises another reason this new section is completely out of place.

I restored the section to its pre-8i347g8gl state, after which he/she reverted my change. Since this case seems so clear-cut, I am restoring again. Tahknis (talk) 21:44, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

That was fast! 8i347g8gl reverted it twenty minutes later and is now adding more material. In my last edit comment I asked him to make his case here, and he hasn't shown up. Tahknis (talk) 23:15, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Here is another sample from the new section:

This is why the planet Earth, embedded in the spearhead of the dendritic flux, where the translational speed is maximal and the degree of spiritualization is highest (which implies that life exists on the planet Earth only, and that the most spiritualized man—Christ—is the attractor and the eventual psychokinetic ruler of the whole cosmos), is surrounded by a giant rarefied region.

It refers to a New Scientist article which (obviously) does not support these claims. This stuff doesn't belong here. 8i347g8gl has declined repeated requests for discussion. Reverting again. Tahknis (talk) 09:27, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

After 14 minutes 8i347g8gl restored his/her changes. Still no interaction from him/her. One week block in effect. Tahknis (talk) 11:04, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

2013 TEDx Controversy

I've deleted this paragraph. It's obviously completely unbearable because of it's lack of neutrality. Consider formulations like "TED was denounced as a "vehicle for pseudoscience" by Jerry Coyne ... TED was also denounced by another blogger, P.Z. Myers". This is clearly not neutral. Worse: It only sources those two blogs and therefore there is no justification to call those two articles a "denunciation" of the TED.

It goes on emphasizing how many comments in the TED's blog were in favor of Sheldrake: "In the comments section of this blog, many people criticized TED for censorship, and supported Sheldrake and Hancock. ... again most comments were in favour of Sheldrake and against TED's actions, by a ratio of about 10 to 1" As if this would be of any significance. (In the comments-sections, almost all articles on the paranormal are followed by an unqualified shitstorm by the believers in the paranormal anyway.)

Then it mentions: "In April, Deepak Chopra, Stuart Hameroff, Mena Kafatos, Rudolf Tanzi and Neil Theise wrote an open letter to TED in the Huffington Post, criticizing their decision as a response to "angry, noisy bloggers who promote militant atheism"." It should be said that those persons - Deepak Chopra, Stuart Hameroff, Mena Kafatos, Rudolf Tanzi and Neil Theise - seem to be supporters of parapsychology themselves (partially even esoteric). This should be stated in the article. Not to speak of the unrefined drivel: "angry, noisy bloggers who promote militant atheism" (which just seems to be a synonym to contemporary non-pseudoscience anyway).

Or consider the wording "emphasising the importance of new research in consciousness studies and the need for TED to move beyond the narrow views of its Science Board." which indicates that ignoring Sheldrake's work is prove of a "narrow view". However Sheldrake is considered to be a pseudo scientist, so this can't be presented as fact, at best as opinion. (If at all)

All in all this section has to be rewritten from scratch. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:54, 14 June 2013 (UTC)


In response to your first paragraph: TED took Sheldrake's talk off the TEDx site because these 2 blogs criticised TED, so these blogs are very relevant. The blogs themselves were not at all neutral, so describing them as “criticizing” TED is appropriate.

your second paragraph: This is a neutral description of the controversy. The talk was not on the paranormal but on the dogmas of science, so this comment on the paranormal and shitstorms is biased and irrelevant.

your third paragraph: The comments were not about parapsychology and these people are researchers and well qualified scientists; Hameroff is a professor at the university of Arizona, Tanzi a professor of neurology at Harvard and Thiese a professor of Pathology at the Albert Einstein medical Center in New York. So this attempt to dismiss their comments is biased and inappropriate.

This section is about a controversy, so their comments about the bloggers are relevant, and it is a fact that Coyne and Myers promote militant atheism. Myers is described on his Wikipedia page as a “confrontationalist”.

your fourth paragraph: Sheldrake is a scientist – see this Wikipedia page for details of his career. The TED controversy was about conservative and narrow views of science versus a broader and more open view. The statements on Huffington Post were presented as the opinions of the 19 researchers who expressed their views. This is clear. It is their opinion. It is a fact that they expressed their opinion, just as it is a fact that Coyne criticized TED for providing a “vehicle for pseudoscience”. His opinion is mentioned in this section, and so it is appropriate to mention other opinions in an account of a controversy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gh26 (talkcontribs) 08:05, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

Gh26, Sheldrake's TEDx talk was pulled because it violated the TED policy on pseudoscience. His talk certainly contained pseudoscience, regardless of however we label Sheldrake himself. Science-oriented blogs happened to have brought this to attention, but the ultimate reason for pulling the talk was the policy violation. Anyone interested in not seeing TED become a vehicle for pseudoscience could have pointed it out, including a very religious person.
I'm not sure reporting the details of the the noise coming from the blogosphere is very notable. Mentioning the talk, the policy violation, and the fact that there were some objections are about all that is appropriate for Wikipedia, I think. Octovin (talk) 18:42, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
1st paragraph: They weren't described as "criticizing" but "denouncing".

Article has a general bias in favor of pseudoscientific ideas

Whole sections of this article are written as if making a case in favor of Sheldrake's work, which has been rejected by virtually the entire scientific community due to lack of evidence and testable criterion. It is not the role of Wikipedia to endorse pseudoscience or give it undue weight. The easiest solution is to trim the article, but an opportunity should be given to those who wish to rework the existing text. Vzaak (talk) 02:43, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

In Wikipedia's 'Neutral Point of View:FAQ' page's subsection on 'Pseudoscience' they state: Alternative theoretical formulations: Alternative theoretical formulations which have a following within the scientific community are not pseudoscience, but part of the scientific process.

Morphic resonance is a testable hypothesis, and indeed the wiki page describes one such test, with chicks. The fact that the evidence (i.e. results of this test) is disputed does not make it pseudoscience: many scientific results are disputed - this is part of science. And so is research on dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and other aspects of parapsychology and psychic research.

In the case of parapsychology, Prof. Christopher French, a skeptic of claims for psychic phenomena, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmith's, London, and ex-Editor-in-Chief at the UK 'The Skeptic' magazine, is on record as saying parapsychology is a real science:

French, C. (2009). Anomalistic psychology. In M. Cardwell, L. Clark, C. Meldrum, & A. Wadeley (eds.). Psychology A2 for AQA A. 4th ed. London: Collins. Pp. 472-505.

Holt, N., Simmonds-Moore, C., Luke, D., & French, C. C. (2012). Anomalistic Psychology. London: Palgrave Macmillan (see Chap. 5).

French, C. C., & Stone, A. (in press). Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Furthermore, the fact that the Parapsychological association is in the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), a highly-respected mainstream scientific organisation, is strong evidence that parapsychology is seen as a legitimate science by the scientific community.

Sheldrake's journal articles on experimenter effect have been cited in respected mainstream journals: Journal of Experimental Biology, Science & Justice, Journal of Investigative Psychology, etc. A quick search on Google Scholar for articles by Rupert Sheldrake will show that his work is often cited by the scientific community. This means that Sheldrake's work is being discussed and debated in serious scientific journals which make it appropriate for Wikipedia in line with their 'Pseudoscience' guidelines on 'Alternative theoretical formulations'.

Please may you back up your claim that "the scientific community" rejects Sheldrake's work with evidence? In the meantime, I am removing the message that currently heads Rupert's article. Gh26 (talk) 09:09, 28 July 2013 (UTC)Gh26

Yes, because being published in a parapsychology journal is EXACTLY the same as having ones work accepted and overturn fundamental paradigms of biology. It matters not that Sheldrake is being largely ignored by the scientific community for being a complete crank, and that when is work is examined it is routinely torn to shreds. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:27, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

"Barney the barney barney", the journals I mentioned - Journal of Experimental Biology, Science & Justice, Journal of Investigative Psychology - are not parapsychology journals, they are mainstream scientific journals. Your point 'when is work is examined it is routinely torn to shreds' is making an assertion without providing evidence for it. Please also respond to my points above, which show that Sheldrake's work is not pseudoscience. Gh26 (talk) 10:27, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

The evidence is provided in the citations provided, which you have clearly not read. Also, while Sheldrake is personally tolerated to some degree by the scientific community, his ideas are given very short shrift (or even worse, ignored completely). Attempts to repeat his work while removing all potential sources of bias have failed. His hypotheses either contradict what is known about biology or entirely rely on magical thinking. Quite simply, his work does not stand up to scrutiny. All this is in the references if you care to look at them. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:44, 28 July 2013 (UTC)
I added more references in addition to the existing ones. I don't see how your comments on parapsychology relate to anything here or in the article. Re those three journals, I found exactly one reference in the history of each journal to Sheldrake's article "Experimenter effects in scientific research", but that article is simply a survey of other papers about the use of blind methodologies. It has nothing to do with "morphic resonance" or any of Sheldrake's hypotheses. There is no other reference to Sheldrake in those journals. Vzaak (talk) 22:22, 28 July 2013 (UTC)

Looking at the article again, I am reminded how weird it is. Not only is it biased in favor Sheldrake's ideas, but the level of detail is inappropriate considering that their impact on science has been virtually nothing (apart from being a cautionary tale). The parts appropriate for an encyclopedia seem to be the opening, the Biography, parts of the Reception, and a few other pieces of information, with most everything else needing to be cut.

The article is filled with red flags; the following are just a few. Lee Smolin doesn't have any connection to Sheldrake's work. It doesn't appear that the "trial by editoral" article in New Scientist even exists. The rat experiments are mentioned without any reference to the fact that they first began eighty years ago and that contrary to Sheldrake's imaginative interpretation the authors found nothing significant: "learning-rate, over a succession of generations, are in reality correlated with the health of the laboratory colony, which is subject to periods of decline and recovery." [4]. Roze and Miller did not offer "cautious support" in that article.

It seems forlorn to tackle it all because, as I said, most of the material is inappropriate anyway. Contributors should be still given more time, but considering there is a push in the wrong direction I am starting to have my doubts that the certain portions of the article can be salvaged. Vzaak (talk) 01:47, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Go ahead and WP:BEBOLD and gut it, I say. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:55, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Barney: Your sentences "Attempts to repeat his work while removing all potential sources of bias have failed. His hypotheses either contradict what is known about biology or entirely rely on magical thinking. Quite simply, his work does not stand up to scrutiny." are mere assertions. Some of the results of repeat experiment attempts by other scientists have been interpreted differently but this in itself does not prove Sheldrake is wrong. For example, Richard Wiseman argued that the results he got showed that Sheldrake's dog experiment didn't produce the effect Sheldrake said it did, but then Sheldrake responded by pointing out that Wiseman had got exactly the same results as he had done but for some reason had failed to see what they indicate. Sheldrake has responded to claims made against his work by other scientists, and yet these his responses are not included in the 'Reception' area of his Wikipedia page which currently has a predominantly negative bias towards Sheldrake. His responses to criticism must be included if his Wikipedia page is to be neutral. Vzaak, you say 'considering there is a push in the wrong direction I am starting to have my doubts' - what makes it 'the wrong direction'? If the article is completely revised in favour of what you see as 'the right direction' then it will be biased in that direction. This is a debate with two sides, and both need to be represented.

Vzaak, the 'rat' experiments started by McDougall in 1920 did actually show an effect that seemed inexplicable: rats made huge advances in learning that was the case even for 'slow learner' rats. Crew criticised McDougall's experiment and repeated it, which seemed to show that McDougall's findings was flawed, but Crew's repeat experiment involved lots of extreme inbreeding which resulted in abnormalities in rats that may have affected their ability to learn. Furthermore, even though there was not much change in learning in successive generations of rats in Crew's experiments, the overall number of errors rats made were much lower than McDougall's findings, i.e. these rats had 'learnt' how to do the task without being trained by the time Crew started his experiment, post-Dougall's experiment. This was inexplicable by theories at the time, but morphic resonance may provide an explanation. Agar et al. then repeated the experiment, this time over a period of 20 years, describing 'an improvement [in learning in both trained and untrained lines of rats]...whose nature I am unable to suggest'. i.e. all three experiments found an effect that they could not explain, but one that could be explained by the theory of morphic resonance.

I think the 'Book for Burning' editorial by John Maddox you mentioned was in Nature, not New Scientist [5].

The reason I mention parapsychology is because Sheldrake is a prominent researcher in the field of parapsychology - the reason it is relevant is because if parapsychology is considered a real science by the scientific community itself, and if Sheldrake is accepted within the discipline of parapsychology (i.e. he is a competent researcher), then it follows that Sheldrake is engaged in science, not pseudoscience.

I sent you the three journal references to show that his work is cited by the mainstream scientific community because this is one of the key stipulations made by Wikipedia that determines whether work is considered as science rather than pseudoscience. The fact that there aren't multiple references to him in each article is not the point; the point is that Sheldrake is part of the scientific community if his work is being cited in mainstream science journals. His work in auxin and plant cell biology contributed to mainstream science, and his discoveries in that field are still opening up new avenues of research even now. Morphic resonance is not pseudoscience because it is testable and falsifiable. Experimental evidence has also been obtained, and even though the evidence has been challenged that does not make it pseudoscience, because science rests on evidence being challenged; and, as I said earlier, Sheldrake has responded to these challenges. If his responses were included on his Wikipedia page might it would further the debate, which is surely a good thing?Gh26 (talk) 10:36, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

To clarify, User:Gh26, my understanding is based on my scientific education, reference to sources, and application of WP:FRINGE.
Parapsychology is different from proper science insofar as "believers" can publish studies. However, one of the fundamental elements of the scientific process is the ability to replicate results. Sheldrake's studies are so badly designed and so introduce potential biases into the results. Once the studies are redesigned, repeated, the results do not deviate from those expected statistically in terms of the null hypothesis. Such attempts to detect parapsychology are not pseudoscience.
Sheldrake however on the basis of his poorly designed experiments claims to have proven paradigm-shifting theories that overturn much of modern science. On closer examination his hypotheses are so vague they don't really predict anything; the field supposedly physically exists but defies the laws of physics.... It is essentially magical thinking. This is why Sheldrake's work is pseudoscience.
Meanwhile, Sheldrake's work isn't cited by scientists. Nobody out there is doing research on "morphogenic fields" in developmental biology because it's clearly nonsense. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:12, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Gh26, the "wrong direction" is ignoring the WP policy that "editors should be careful not to present the pseudoscientific fringe views alongside the scientific or academic consensus as though they are opposing but still equal views." We are not the ones that determine the consensus view in science, so there's no sense debating it here. And it's obviously outside the scope of an encyclopedia to argue that the consensus is right or wrong. The WP article is pretty straightforward now. It just cites the consensus view and states that scientists have been unable to reproduce Sheldrake's results. Are you OK with the latest version? Vzaak (talk) 11:21, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Barney, your argument is based on the sentence 'Sheldrake's studies are so badly designed and so introduce potential biases into the results', but you are making a sweeping statement about all of Sheldrake's studies put together, and yet you haven't given even one example to back up this claim. People are doing experiments on morphic resonance, there are too many studies to reference here, but Appendix A entitled 'New Tests for Morphic Resonance' in Sheldrake's book 'A New Science of Life' lists most of them.

Vzaak: If statements such as 'scientists have been unable to reproduce Sheldrake's results' are not only sweeping by referring to all of Sheldrake's results at once, but false, or at least challengeable given Sheldrake's responses to criticisms, then the details of the WP article may need to be challenged itself. I would also argue that Wikipedia is not your standard encyclopaedia because of its democratic dimension where edits can be challenged by its readers - it would seem that debate is built into the very structure of Wikipedia.Gh26 (talk) 11:44, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, I'm afraid it is a sweeping generalisation. None of Sheldrake's "research" outside the confines of his pre-1981 academic career has any merit. References are provided to you and yet you ignore these and demand references. hmm... Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:49, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Gh26, are you claiming that the scientific consensus is that dogs are telepathic, morphic resonance is a real thing, etc? Or that there is no consensus? Or what? Re "false"/"challengeable", who are you talking about that has reproduced Sheldrake's results, and for what experiment? Vzaak (talk) 12:21, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Two references were provided by Vzaak. The first of these references, by Agar et al., found the same results as McDougall but interpreted them as forbidding a Lamarckian (i.e. epigenetic) explanation for the rat experiment. However, the considerable difference in overall errors between Crew and McDougall was not explained, and even though Agar et al.'s results did not fit a Lamarckian reading-because both trained and untrained lines were comparable in their learning-both of these findings could be explained by morphic resonance, i.e. morphic resonance is not disproved by these experiments, it is a possible explanation.

The second reference provided by Vzaak seems to show that Roze and Miller do offer cautious support for Sheldrake's theory by saying we should at least investigate all possible options in developmental biology: "“The kind of controversy that Sheldrake’s ideas bring is healthy for biology,” adds Janis Roze, biology professor at the City University of New York. “The fact is, genes don’t behave in a neat, mechanistic way. The whole answer is probably much deeper than just genes. I think it’s imperative that we at least investigate the possible influence of fields.”" And so does Miller: " “There are times when I get tired of the gene-staining crowd contending that they understand it all,” says Sue Ann Miller, a biology professor at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. “There is a lot of ‘black box’ stuff in developmental biology. People hypothesize about cell division, cell death, chemical morphogens, and charge fields, but it always seems to fall short of a final answer.”"Gh26 (talk) 12:15, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Neither of those people are expressing support for morphic fields. They are saying that they are open to investigating generally. Investigating something obviously does not imply support for it. In any case they aren't mentioned in the article -- could we please stick to discussion of the article? Vzaak (talk) 12:36, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

I was responding to what was written in one of the two references which you brought into the discussion. What Roze & Miller are saying is central to the discussion about the article, given that one of Sheldrake's agendas is to 'free the spirit of inquiry' and open up new avenues of investigation within science to examine unexplained problems. If Wikipedia is limiting science to only the consensus scientific view then the encyclopaedia will suffer from shutting out other avenues of exploration of thought, and this not pseudoscience because Sheldrake has provided a testable and falsifiable scientific hypothesis which is what science is about.

The reason I am making general (rather than specific article-related) points about Wikipedia's systemic bias against consensus-challenging research like Sheldrake's is because this systemic bias affects the specific details in article. Wikipedia's policy allows editors like yourself to edit an article in such a way that the article is biased and not neutral, and silences the voice of the opposing side in the debate, which goes against the very principle of 'Neutral Point of View' that Wikipedia is supposed to be based on.Gh26 (talk) 14:06, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

You know, the most important people to convince in a scientific debate are the scientists. Sheldrake and his supporters should try to do this before trying to get it into an encyclopedia. WP:NPOV does not mean "debate", indeed, there is very little debate since Sheldrake's work is of no scientific consequence, and he is therefore ignored by scientists who are very busy doing real science and don't have the time to deal with crackpots and their followers. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:33, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

WP:NPOV states "Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic." This is what I am arguing for: that Sheldrake's views are represented fairly without bias, and that all the significant views on a topic should be represented; i.e. not just the criticisms themselves, but Sheldrake's responses to those criticisms.Gh26 (talk) 14:53, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

If so, then However, you've been trying to argue that Sheldrake's studies and theorising are scientific and deserve to be presented as such, when scientific consensus (along with a healthy does of good old common sense) suggests otherwise. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:57, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

I don't see how it is at all supportable to argue that any hypothesis that does not agree with consensus views in science is pseudoscience. If that were the case it would pretty much kill science stone dead -- science would become a fossil incapable of change. WP's definition: "Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. Pseudoscience is often characterized by the use of vague, contradictory, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories."

1) Sheldrake has rigorously employed the scientific method in his research
2) Though it is not incontrovertible, there is supporting evidence – more evidence than some accepted hypothesis; Black holes for example.
3) Plausibility? I suppose that's in the eye of the beholder. Is a black hole plausible? Not to me. It violates fundamental assumptions at the bedrock of physics.
4) Formative causation can be reliably tested and has been.
5) It can hardly be said that Sheldrake's many, detailed delineations of formative causation are vague or contradictory or exaggerated.
6) The claims of formative causation are provable and falsifiable.
7) Sheldrake has been MORE open to evaluation by other experts than most of those experts.
8) If Sheldrake has not been systematic and rational in his processes I don't know who has.
9) That leaves "lacks scientific status" which I would argue is a poor measure, but given that other scientists have bothered to perform studies of formative causation must impart some status to the hypothesis, as well as the fact that Sheldrake has publicly discussed his ideas with prominent scientists (Bohm, Dyson, Dennett, Gould) which few other scientists could claim. While these scientists may not agree with Sheldrake, they have taken him seriously. Penraeth (talk) 17:38, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Some points which I consider incontrovertible:

  • WP is obliged to clearly state the scientific consensus.
  • The scientific consensus is that Sheldrake's works on morphic resonance and parapsychology are widely rejected.
  • It is not appropriate for a WP article to argue against or challenge the scientific consensus.
  • This talk page is not a forum to challenge WP's policies on pseudoscience and undue weight. Anyone is of course free to contest the policies, but this is not the place to do it.

In particular, this is not the place to argue that WP has a general problem of "systemic bias against consensus-challenging research", whether real or perceived. Also, it has not been argued that "any hypothesis that does not agree with consensus views in science is pseudoscience". Rather, the consensus view that these particular works are widely rejected has simply been cited.

Now, are we all on board with those four bullet points, or not? Vzaak (talk) 21:07, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

I haven't been following all the ins and outs of this, but I disagree with the second bullet - see my comments below. I've no doubt that the scientific consensus would be - if enough relevant scientists expressed an informed opinion - that Sheldrake's views on morphic resonance and parapsychology are unproven, and probably false. But that's not the same as the claim that it's pseudoscience. Also I stress 'would be' because I expect few scientists know much or anything about his views or have expressed an opinion on them, let alone done research into them such as replication studies. Cf the dubious list of references (mentioned below) in the intro. So to claim a smattering of opinions is a 'consensus' is questionable. Ben Finn (talk) 21:19, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
If the objection is just over the word "pseudoscience" then the same basic point can be made by replacing it with "widely rejected". (Making the change now.) Vzaak (talk) 21:51, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Better, but I don't think that's accurate either. Please discuss before making such changes. AFAIK there hasn't been 'wide' scientific discussion of Sheldrake's views - indeed Barney was saying above that Sheldrake is mostly ignored - which, if true, would be rather different from being 'widely rejected'. I suggested a formulation below. Ben Finn (talk) 22:00, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
"Almost all scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's theory consider it balderdash." "...most biologists considered Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance hogwash..." -- These don't support "widely rejected"? Yes, scientists ignore Sheldrake because, as Rose said, "there is no convincing evidence adduced in Sheldrake's books that there are any anomalous phenomena, in the biological or non-biological world, which require his explanation." Scientists don't believe there is a gap; they have implicitly rejected the suggestion that one exists. Vzaak (talk) 22:36, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
"Almost all scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's theory" - how many scientists are we talking about here? Thousands, or a handful? Is that 'widely'? And these are quotes from popular books, not exactly scientific journals. Nor is this exactly a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed papers - the slapdash language ('balderdash', 'hogwash') is rather too tabloid to be given that much weight.
'Implicitly rejected' just isn't good enough I'm afraid (and 'widely rejected' does not mean 'widely implicitly rejected'). 'X says & does nothing about Y' does not entail 'X rejects Y'. Rejection is an action. Ben Finn (talk) 23:09, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
This sounds like a word game. I could just as well have avoided saying "implicitly rejected" above, with no import being lost. I was only trying to be clear. Does the scientific establishment presently require an invisible, undetected, and perhaps undetectable field that is responsible for the operation of practically everything? Of course not. Calling that rejection doesn't seem to be a stretch at all. Nonetheless in your view would it be sufficient to replace "rejected" with "rejected or ignored"? That seems fine to me.
Could you please avoid adding arguments to your previous comments? It causes edit conflicts and is unfair toward my own responses. Vzaak (talk) 23:39, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Re your later edit "how many scientists", that looks like an ad hoc narrowing of the criteria for citations. I think the sources given well support the statement "widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to lack of reproducible evidence, with some calling it pseudoscience". (Replaced "many" with "some".) Vzaak (talk) 00:17, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Re your third bullet, 'It is not appropriate for a WP article to argue against or challenge the scientific consensus', I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this. I agree that it's not appropriate for WP to be misused as, say, a platform for promoting a particular point of view (whether consensus or not). However I believe it is entirely appropriate for WP to document views that are not part of the scientific consensus (or indeed consensus in other academic fields), and there are of course numerous WP articles that do this. Ben Finn (talk) 23:32, 30 July 2013 (UTC)


As it stands the end of the first intro paragraph, and the dubious list of references that supports it, is POV and should be changed. The references includes things such as a popular maths writer (Martin Gardner)'s collected column for Skeptical Inquirer, a publication which automatically opposes unconventional scientific views such as Sheldrake's; two references to the Skeptic's Dictionary, a similar web site (can it really be considered a proper source?); double references by the same authors, who would of course be adopting the same position on both occasions (2 x Maddox, 2 x Wiseman, Smith & Milton). And a number of the references do not even claim that Sheldrake's views are pseudoscience, which is what the references are meant to be supporting; they merely say his views are unproven, or false. 'X is unproven' or even 'X is false' do not entail 'X is pseudoscience'.

As a NPOV revision, I believe it would be fair to state (with appropriate references) that Sheldrake's claims are controversial and not supported by most scientists.Ben Finn (talk) 20:58, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Or more accurately, that his hypotheses are controversial as they are not consistent with mainstream science. [As 'most scientists' have not expressed a view, though I don't doubt that most relevant scientists would oppose Sheldrake's views if they expressed a view.] Ben Finn (talk) 22:02, 30 July 2013 (UTC) Revised Ben Finn (talk) 22:10, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
The default scientific position is scepticism: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Claims that are true, will in time stand up to scrutiny. That, basically is what WP:FRINGE acknowledges. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:20, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree with that. I don't doubt that Sheldrake's views are 'fringe', in the sense of non-mainstream; no-one disputes that. Ben Finn (talk) 21:23, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

I agree that "widely recognized as pseudoscience" is not literally supported by the citations that don't use the word "pseudoscience", though in some cases the implication is clear. I've changed "widely recognized as pseudoscience" to "widely rejected by the scientific community due to lack of reproducible evidence, with many calling it pseudoscience".

I've not heard of Skeptical Inquirer being an unreliable source. Nature is considered the most prestigious scientific journal on the planet, which is why there are two references to it, even if by the same author. The fact that eighteen years passed between their publications makes them significant. I included the second article by Wiseman because it directly responses to Sheldrake; without it, the impression could be that WP missed Sheldrake's response. Vzaak (talk) 22:23, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

See my comment above re the phrase 'widely rejected'. And it wouldn't be easy to substantiate the word 'many'. To restate my position, while I don't doubt most scientists would oppose Sheldrake's hypotheses, not many have actually done so, fewer have called them pseudoscience rather than unproven or false, and very few have actually conducted experiments on them. Hence I maintain you are over-stating the nature and extent of the active opposition. I think we are, though, in agreement that Sheldrake's hypotheses are controversial and not consistent with mainstream science - i.e. they would be opposed by mainstream scientists (even though few have actually expressed a view on them).
So, in the interests of reaching a consensus, what do you think of my formulation given above instead?
Re Skeptical Inquirer, is it a NPOV source? It isn't exactly a scientific journal, and though I don't read it I get the impression it has a rather particular axe to grind, so not exactly impartial. Re Nature, while I don't dispute its importance as a journal, and I take your point about the time gap between the two articles cited, the first article was (as I understand it) followed by a range of letters published in Nature from scientists opposed to the article, but those haven't been referenced - and doing so would suggest a much less clear picture. Ben Finn (talk) 22:41, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't know what "NPOV source" means; WP doesn't mention it. There is only the policy of WP:NPOV, taking into account WP:FRINGE and WP:UNDUE. Skeptical Inquirer is "biased" against unsupported scientific views in exactly the same way that WP itself is.
Were there letters to Nature, besides those by Sheldrake, that argued in favor of his theories?
As I recall, yes - I'll try and find a source. I believe they were not so much arguing in favour of his specific theories as disputing the Nature article's arguments, and supporting Sheldrake in general terms (e.g. for providing a new hypothesis worth consideration). Ben Finn (talk) 23:53, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Re "widely rejected", I'll copy what I said above: Yes, scientists ignore Sheldrake because, as Rose said, "there is no convincing evidence adduced in Sheldrake's books that there are any anomalous phenomena, in the biological or non-biological world, which require his explanation." Scientists don't believe there is a gap; they have implicitly rejected the suggestion that one exists. "controversial and not supported by most scientists" sounds far too weak to express this virtually unanimous view of the scientific community. Vzaak (talk) 23:16, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
As I've said above, I'm afraid your formulation overlooks important distinctions between terms. We must use language accurately if we are to improve this article. Let me ask you a simple question: do you believe that 'X ignores Y' entails 'X implicitly rejects Y' entails 'X rejects Y'? If not, we must find a different form of words.Ben Finn (talk) 23:49, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I addressed that above. It sure is difficult having two threads for the same topic. Are you OK with "rejected or ignored"? Vzaak (talk) 23:52, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Let's just continue the discussion down here then. I think 'rejected or ignored' is certainly an improvement - without 'widely'. However on further thought I think the difficulty not just with 'widely' but also with 'ignored' is that these terms imply that (most of) the relevant scientists are at least aware of Sheldrake's hypotheses, and have chosen either to (actively) reject them or (passively) ignore them. Arguably this would have been the case with the original edition of A New Science of Life, because it got widespread coverage at the time; but that was back in the 1980s. I suspect that with his more recent work on animals, telepathy etc., most scientists in the field are simply unaware of it. So it is not so much that they ignore it, but they are ignorant of it. It is not even on their radar. (And I don't doubt that most would oppose it, or be dubious about it, if they knew about it.) I'll give some more thought to a proposed revised wording and post it here later. Ben Finn (talk) 11:43, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
You originally suggested "controversial and not supported by most scientists". Putting aside that I think that misrepresents the actual status of Sheldrake's hypotheses, I could just as well apply your argument to it as follows. "Controversial" and "not supported" implies that scientists are at least aware of his hypotheses, and have chosen to either not support them or call them controversial. I suspect it is not even on their radar. See? It can be applied to anything.
I could also take issue with your "most scientists" claim by using the other argument you gave earlier, as follows. How many scientists are we talking about here? Thousands, or a handful? Show me a meta-analysis of peer-reviewed papers showing that "most scientists" don't support Sheldrake's hypotheses. Sure you can give some citations, but to claim a smattering of opinions is "most scientists" is questionable. See how it goes any direction?
As I mentioned earlier, this is an inappropriate narrowing of the requirements for supporting a statement with citations. There are four references which explicitly call his hypotheses pseudoscience, two of which are from peer-reviewed journals, and many other references practically call it pseudoscience. That should be well enough to establish the original "pseudoscience" statement. But I've backed off from that as a result of the reactions here. Thus much has already been given away through appeasement, and these kinds of goes-both-ways arguments are quite unconvincing that the opening should be even softer. Vzaak (talk) 13:30, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Re my earlier suggested wording, you make a fair point, which arguably applies at least re the word 'controversial' (even though I think it would be accurate at least to claim that A New Science Of Life was controversial - it genuinely created a controversy at the time). I had already revised my suggestion not to mention "most scientists" but to say "...not consistent with mainstream science". Re the term 'pseudoscience', I agree that it's entirely accurate and neutral to say that some scientists have called his work pseudoscience (with appropriate references) - e.g. Maddox used the term in his first Nature article (though this should not be elevated to a statement of fact that it is pseudoscience).Ben Finn (talk) 18:03, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Re letters to Nature, there are mentions of two letters on p.5 here: [6] - one calling Maddox's editorial a 'hysterical attack', another saying he was treating his editorial column as 'a pulpit from which to denounce scientific heresies'. I have read more detail (and I think further letters) elsewhere some years ago, but I'm not sure where; maybe in one of Sheldrake's books.
Incidentally, p.4 of the above linked article mentions some (mixed) support for Sheldrake at around the same time in an editorial in New Scientist, saying that while his hyopthesis was 'completely scatty' in the light of modern science, 'Sheldrake is an excellent scientist... the science in his ideas is good... This does not mean that it is right but that it is testable'. Ben Finn (talk) 11:50, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
But the question was whether there were letters in support of his hypothesis, and there were none. The tone of Maddox's article doesn't matter in a scientific sense. WP isn't an outlet to redress past grievances on the harsh treatment of Sheldrake, whether deserved or undeserved.
Also keep in mind that this was the very start of Sheldrake's plunge into "weirdness". Until then he was considered a typical scientist, so his peers were willing to cut some slack. After three decades of the same old story the very opposite is true today, so citing those letters would be a misrepresentation anyway. Vzaak (talk) 14:28, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Well the letters do support Sheldrake's hypothesis at least insofar as they oppose Maddox's criticism of Sheldrake's hypothesis. If Maddox's reasons for opposing X are wrong, then X is more likely to be right. But anyway. Ben Finn (talk) 18:12, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
I interpreted your "But anyway" as giving up on the point, since your response here is clearly specious. You also ignored my point that it would be a misrepresentation anyway. Vzaak (talk) 00:12, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
No, my response is not 'clearly specious'. It is not the case that the last person to say something on a topic is right, but I'm afraid I don't have time to answer every point you make. Ben Finn (talk) 22:43, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

17 consecutive citations about pseudoscience

If there really do need to be this many, individually they must be utterly worthless. Somebody please read WP:OVERCITE! K2709 (talk) 12:31, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

WP:LEAD should be a summary of the main points. The references should probably be included in the article in the main body (feel free to move them). They're OK in the lead as a placeholder for the time being. All references provided actually show broad consensus amongst the scientific community, which is something that Sheldrake's supporters try to argue isn't there. Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:53, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes they are meant as placeholder for now. They are also meant to aid this discussion in determining what the current scientific view actually is. Earlier there was a challenge from Gh26, "Please may you back up your claim that 'the scientific community' rejects Sheldrake's work with evidence?". I suspect many people just don't realize where Sheldrake stands in relation to the scientific community. They think he's just another scientist that some "dogmatic" or otherwise grumpy scientists happen to not like. Vzaak (talk) 13:43, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Ref riot in lead

Just want to make sure that no one's already reverted someone's effort to list all those 17 references properly in one ref. It looks ridiculous. (Is there a tag for that sort of thing?) User:Carolmooredc 22:00, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

People are disputing that "morphic resonance" is widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to the lack of reproducible evidence. When I remove the extra references, people complain that there is insufficient support. When I restore the extra references, people complain that there are too many references. The refs are currently there so that we may all at least agree on the facts, but they have so far declined to engage. Vzaak (talk) 22:15, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm not going to get into the ideas in article, only talking format. The fact it looks so bad may be one of the reasons people object. Something nice looking where each ref is a bullet under the one ref. Or if there is some logical way of grouping them, maybe three refs, with each having several refs underneath. User:Carolmooredc 22:23, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Good enough for now. User:Carolmooredc 23:12, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I would rather see the references trimmed again, but I also wonder if they are useful in heading off the common misconception that Sheldrake is just a regular scientist who some dogmatic/bullying scientists don't like. That's how he is portrayed in media. Check out the back cover of The Rebirth of Nature: "Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's foremost biologists, has revolutionized scientific thinking with his vision of living, developing universe--one with it's own inherent memory." Funny, and the typo (missing "a") and grammar mistake ("it's") are extra bonus. Vzaak (talk) 02:44, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake is not a Fellow of the Royal Society

Sheldrake is not, and never has been a Fellow of the Royal Society, even though he tries though innuendo and mentions of the Royal Society to associate himself with it, essentially this is puffery. Sheldrake received a research grant, like thousands of other academics. This is what pays academics wages and it's so insignificant that it probably shouldn't be included at all in the article.

Secondly, the only source we have for it is Sheldrake himself and this does not meet the requirements for being a reliable source. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:27, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

In case that is not enough, here is hard proof that he is not a member. There's a Sheldrick in that list but no Sheldrake :) Vzaak (talk) 14:00, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

No, he's not a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was a research fellow through the Rosenheim Research Fellowship. The Royal Society calls it a fellowship. Penraeth (talk) 17:02, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Yes, but he's using it on his website. This sort of thing is a postdoc research grant [7], and it's designed to sound impressive, but like the rest of the puffery about his early career, it isn't remarkable when compared to real scientists. As that website states, recipients "have the potential to become leaders in their field". Having received the grant, Sheldrake since got nowhere near "leader in his field" status. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:59, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Barney, you're just wrong. There are a limited number of named research fellowships and they are highly prestigious appointments with salaries, not grants. His website does NOT say he's a fellow of the royal society. If this distinction is beyond your capacity to grasp perhaps you should leave editing this article to others. Penraeth (talk) 18:34, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the insult. Perhaps you could bring your wisdom to other subject on Wikipedia other than one particular topic? Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:37, 2 August 2013 (UTC)


Here's an issue on which we may be able to get consensus. Some editors above have said the article contains too much detail, and actually I agree with regard to Sheldrake's books, as they are listed in three places - the intro, the Biography section, and the Books section. So I propose cutting most of the book detail in the Biography section except for the New Science of Life, which is the best-known one and sparked Sheldrake's most notable controversy. (Actually one editor above has suggested this book could get its own article, though I don't think it would be long enough to warrant this; its own section should suffice.) Ben Finn (talk) 11:07, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't see how anyone could think the current article contains too much book detail: two short paragraphs covering three books, a single sentence for another book, and a paragraph for each of the remaining two, plus the Maddox "controversy". Sheldrake is known for dog telepathy and staring experiments, so that content should be retained. Mentioning the title of a book doesn't meaningfully add to the "detail". Besides, if something had to be axed it would be the index at the end, not the short summaries in Biography. Vzaak (talk) 14:52, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I'd say the index at the end is the most important bit to keep, being a presumably comprehensive bibliography. Ben Finn (talk) 15:27, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
This is irrelevant because I'm not saying that something needs to be axed. Vzaak (talk) 15:52, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
But a month ago you yourself were proposing the article be shortened, so I don't understand your position now. I reckon the detail on the less well-known books could be cut. Does anyone else have a view on this? Ben Finn (talk) 19:06, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
Or if not, is more detail warranted? I haven't been watching this article until the last few days, but I get the impression from discussion above that a fair bit has been cut recently. Ben Finn (talk) 23:12, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
In the meantime I will at least join the two book sections together - as one of them is currently within Biography. Ben Finn (talk) 23:32, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
What? Now that the article has been trimmed, you don't understand my position that the article doesn't need to be trimmed? And as I said, the now-short book summaries shouldn't be removed because Sheldrake is noted for those as well (dog telepathy, staring, etc.). Vzaak (talk) 23:45, 5 August 2013 (UTC)


The reason for the controversies is not lack of evidence but heresy. There are many published papers of Sheldrake's on telephone telepathy, staring, dogs knowing when their owners are coming home etc that provide a lot of evidence. It may be ignored but it is not absent. One of the two pieces of evidence given for the lack of evidence is a blog on the Guardian web site by Rutherford, a journalist, who simply asserts there is no evidence, and also falsely claims that Sheldrake's work is not published in peer-reviewed journals but mainly in books. So a polemical, ill-informed non-peer-reviewed claim by a journalist cannot sustain the claim that Sheldrake's work is "widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to lack of evidence". The other piece of evidence is a Guardian blog by Sue Blackmore - again polemical, full of assertions, and non-peer-reviewed. As an interim measure, I suggest deleting the words "lack of evidence" would be an improvement.Gh26 (talk) 21:48, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I agree, it's not "lack of evidence", it's the fact that all available reliable evidence refutes it. Repeatability is a hallmark of science, which Sheldrake isn't doing. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:11, 5 August 2013 (UTC)
Two opinion-piece newspaper articles are not adequate sources for such a sweeping assertion that ' widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to the unreliability of supporting evidence and the reliability of contrary evidence'. Such opinion-pieces are almost by definition 'point of view', and making a similar sweeping claim in the intro reduce its credibility by making it look equally POV. This was put in without consensus, so I will 'be bold' and delete it. Also, the pseudoscience references don't relate specifically to the dog telepathy claim (and I believe pre-date the dog research) so I've edited that for clarity.
I suspect in any case a shorter intro is less contentious and hence more likely to achieve consensus than a longer one. Can we try to achieve consensus before making future contentious additions? Thanks! Ben Finn (talk) 23:17, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

References were removed in response to the 17 consecutive citations about pseudoscience section above. Sheldrake's work is widely rejected or ignored because the evidence cannot be replicated. Otherwise it would be folded into mainstream science. Rutherford has a Ph.D. and is an editor of Nature. Blackmore also has a Ph.D. and has been involved with parapsychology for upwards of fourty years. The pseudoscience citations also cite lack of replicable evidence, so there are six references in all. Let me know if the 17 citations are needed again, which were originally added in part in response to "Please may you back up your claim that 'the scientific community' rejects Sheldrake's work with evidence?" Vzaak (talk) 00:03, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Replication is a problem that extends to all of science. Journals typically won't publish straight replications, and many automatically reject any paper related to parapsychology. John Ioannidis has argued statistically that “most published research findings are false” and Daniele Fanelli's survey of 4,600 studies from across the sciences identified a general bias toward positive results, with psychology being the worst offender. [1]. There is little incentive in science to do replications a) because funding institutions are reluctant to fund them and b)often the results aren't accepted for publication. Indeed, most scientific studies are not reproduced, and when they are many are not validated. As an example, Glenn Begley identified 53 'landmark' publications — papers in top journals, from reputable labs — for his team to reproduce -- 47 of the 53 could not be replicated. [2]. Therefore, on multiple accounts, the dismissal of Sheldrake's hypothesis as un-scientific based on a lack of reproduction is not supportable and having a handful of attempted replications is not enough to dismiss or confirm a hypothesis. As Daryl Bem has said, “It can take years to figure out what can make a replication fail or succeed. You need a meta-analysis of many experiments.” The intro needs to be adjusted to reflect this. I support What Ben has done and would like to see the "widely rejected" sentence removed or changed to eliminate what is obviously opinion. Penraeth (talk) 01:04, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia has many hundreds of articles with WP:FRINGE claims, and it is important for the integrity of the encyclopedia that standard policies like WP:V and WP:DUE are applied. Who knows, perhaps in ten years we'll be driving cars powered by morphic resonance—when that happens, there will be plenty of detailed articles at Wikipedia on the topic, and those articles will use what sources reliable for scientific topics say. Per WP:REDFLAG, "widely rejected" is a lot more than someone's opinion. Johnuniq (talk) 01:31, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
This comment appears to be arguing in favor of "widely rejected or ignored" except for the last sentence. It would seem extraordinary to claim that Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" is not rejected or ignored by virtually all scientists. If there are any mainstream scientists who actually accept and make use of this hypothesis, I sure haven't heard about them. Vzaak (talk) 03:04, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

OK I've re-added the citations to the intro. Penraeth, you are missing the essential aspect of the extraordinariness of Sheldrake's claims. You can't equate findings like "I found a gene interaction" with "I have evidence for a new fundamental field of the universe". If Sheldrake wants to be among the greatest scientists in all of history -- which would be the case if what he is claiming is true -- then a bit of verification is necessary first. Vzaak (talk) 02:55, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

No Vzaak, I'm not missing anything. Sheldrake himself calls his hypothesis "radical" and does not claim that it is proven... that doesn't make it pseudoscience or un-scientific. I believe this passage from WP:FRINGE applies:
Other things usually should not be called pseudoscience on Wikipedia:
4. Alternative theoretical formulations: Alternative theoretical formulations from within the scientific community are not pseudoscience, but part of the scientific process. Such theoretical formulations may fail to explain some aspect of reality, but, should they succeed in doing so, will usually be rapidly accepted. For instance, the theory of continental drift was heavily criticised because there was no known mechanism for continents to move. When such a mechanism was discovered, it became mainstream as plate tectonics.
My comment does not argue in favor of "widely rejected or ignored." You're missing the point: that replications are routinely rejected in all of science and thus cannot be used as a rationale for labeling something as pseudoscience.Penraeth (talk) 04:27, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Penraeth, "This comment appears to be arguing in favor of" was referring to Johnuniq's comment, not yours.

I have not said that Sheldrake claims his hypothesis is "proven", nor that being unsupported by evidence equates it to being pseudoscience or unscientific. And in any case such arguments would be irrelevant here. We are only concerned with statements that can be verified through reliable sources.

When there are competing scientific hypotheses that are each supported by evidence, in time one may eventually become consensus as a result of increased evidence for it, and this will often be accompanied by evidence which cannot be explained without the new consensus hypothesis. For instance there was a period of mounting evidence for continental drift before it won out. That's what alternative theoretical formulations are -- competing hypotheses within the scientific community which are part of the scientific process.

However Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" fails to achieve the status of such an "alternative theoretical formulation" on several fronts. First, there is virtually no evidence for it outside of Sheldrake's own experiments. Second, there is no "gap" that scientists need to fill with "morphic resonance", no "anomalous phenomena, in the biological or non-biological world, which require his explanation."(Rose) Thus this is not a competing hypothesis within the scientific community because nobody cares about it, and it is not primed to be rapidly accepted because nobody needs it (per WP:FRINGE). Vzaak (talk) 06:17, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Lastly, you've glossed over the extraordinary aspect of Sheldrake's hypothesis. You're conflating "I found a gene interaction" with "I have evidence for a new fundamental field of the universe". The scientific community doesn't demand reproducibility for the former, but it does for the latter. Anything that would fundamentally change our understanding of the universe requires some double-checking. Until there is reproducible evidence for such a thing, it's not even in the same ballpark as "alternative theoretical formulation". Vzaak (talk) 06:17, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, plenty of references to tests for morphic resonance not done by Sheldrake can be found in Appendix A 'New Tests for Morphic Resoanance' of the latest edition of 'A New Science of Life'.Gh26 (talk) 07:15, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Gh26, that doesn't answer what I've said, so it's not clear what your argument is here.
If you are talking about things like this, an article for which there are only two cites--each by Sheldrake!--published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, a journal which serves as a "major outlet for UFOology, paranormal activity, extrasensory powers, alien abductions etc", then this only underlines my point that there is not a debate within the scientific community, nothing even remotely like continental drift, which had increasing evidence and support years before it became consensus. Continental drift also did not entail such extraordinary claims that would fundamentally change our understanding of the universe along with the entire fields of biology and crystallography (and perhaps everything else). Apples and oranges.
I seem to be repeating myself here, which opens the danger of you responding to this comment instead of the previous one, which you haven't adequately addressed. There appears to be a misconception about the current standing of "morphic resonance" indicated by the challenge you gave earler: "Please may you back up your claim that 'the scientific community' rejects Sheldrake's work with evidence?" The current references in the introduction clearly do that, right? Vzaak (talk) 08:56, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Gh26 do you know about experimental design, experimenter bias or statistics (generally)? Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:00, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, given the currently disputed nature of the intro, I requested that people don't make contentious additions to it without consensus. But I see that nonetheless you have put back in the contentious passage that you originally added without consensus. Additionally the description you added does not really relate to your addition - you said 'The pseudoscientific view should be clearly described as such', when it already was (as I had not deleted the 'pseudoscience' claim). Please read WP:CONSENSUS and do not make further contentious additions until you have achieved consensus on the talk page first. Ben Finn (talk) 09:01, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Bfinn, the WP:CONSENSUS has process has already been ongoing (see the diagram therein). In response to discussion here, the intro has changed from "recognized as pseudoscience" to "rejected ..., with some calling it pseudoscience" to "rejected or ignored..." to Barney's edits, and others. Each time the edit has gone in your direction. Please don't circumvent the WP:CONSENSUS process by reverting all these edits and inserting your own. Vzaak (talk) 09:37, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

The new wording is: "His work in this area, which includes various parapsychological claims such as that dogs are telepathic, is widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to the lack of reproducible evidence, with some calling it pseudoscience."

The 15 references provided here fully support this statement, and I consider the objections herein to have been fully answered. Vzaak (talk) 10:23, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

There is no consensus either on the current wording or indeed on those references. They were made unilaterally without achieving consensus first. I and others disputed them when they were made. Given that this part of the intro is contentious, I suggested that it is stripped back to a shorter less contentious version and then any contentious additions are agreed upon before being made. Is that reasonable, or not? Ben Finn (talk) 11:01, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, there is no consensus if you consider those wanting to violate WP:FRINGE policy. If you ignore them, then there is consensus. Also, I can't see how you can both complain about 17 references stating the bleedin obvious and then essentially complain that the statement is untrue. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:11, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
It is not up to you to determine who is included or excluded from consensus. As for the statement and references, I've already said what I think of them. Ben Finn (talk) 14:35, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Quite; it is up to the community to decide. The community have decided to implement the WP:FRINGE policy, so just because there are several "editors" of this article who don't want to respect that, they can't override what the community have decided. You also might want to look at the arbitration committee case regarding the article paranormal and how it sets a precedent. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:35, 6 August 2013 (UTC) - PS The relevant pages are at Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Paranormal and Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Pseudoscience. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:50, 6 August 2013 (UTC)


It's not reasonable because, as I said in the edit comment, it violates WP:FRINGE and WP:UNDUE. WP is obliged to clearly state the view of the scientific community. If you don't like WP policies then please challenge them elsewhere. Considering that Sheldrake dabbles in alternative medicine in his last book, misrepresenting or omitting the scientific community's view may potentially have deadly consequences for WP readers who have bought into Sheldrake. No joke!

The proper way to reach consensus is through compromise, as outlined in WP:CONSENSUS. I have been constantly compromising since the original "regarded as pseudoscience", even though I believe that most accurately reflects the scientific community's view and is clearly supported by the citations. Please propose compromises with the current wording instead of insisting on a version that violates WP policy.

Bfinn and Penraeth,

The many references are there because it's apparent that there is a misperception about where Sheldrake actually stands in relation to the scientific community. They are not intended to be permanent. There was a complaint that there were too many, then I removed most of them, then there was a complaint that the references were inadequate.

I have put some time into writing comments in this section which basically describe "how science works" with regard to fringe and consensus views. Please read them carefully, because I think they completely addresses the concerns I've seen raised. I realize that may sound condescending but I think it's better to be forthright about what I suspect to be an underlying issue. It's certainly not trivial, and I don't fault anyone for not being exposed to it.

This brings us to the current wording: "His work in this area, which includes various parapsychological claims such as that dogs are telepathic, is widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to the lack of reproducible evidence, with some calling it pseudoscience." Now we can at least agree that this is factually correct and supported by the references, right? Is the issue just with tone? Please explain what you would change and why. Vzaak (talk) 17:52, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I would add the second problem (addition to the reproducibility problem) is that "morphological resonance" is a deliberately vague woo, which makes it difficult to falsify. A real theory would have equations, and have been developed over the past 30 years. It's at best a series of vaguely related hypotheses. Sheldrake can claim a strawman fallacy over anything that is said against it. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:01, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, simply saying there is lack of evidence gives too much credit. For that reason I am still inclined to the original "pseudoscience" phrasing. If according to WP Homeopathy "is widely considered a pseudoscience" and Quantum healing "is a pseudo-scientific mixture of ideas" then morphic resonance should be characterized as pseudoscience as well. WP policy is, "Theories which have a following, such as astrology, but which are generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community may properly contain that information and may be categorized as pseudoscience." Vzaak (talk) 19:45, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak: Some of the citations are weak, others are fine and are cited below, but there's no need or justification for having so many at the top. In my opinion four may be too many, but I'm willing to accept that number. You've seen my rewording of the positioning statement for mainstream views; why is this unacceptable? How does it violate WP policy?

Barney: The proper name is "formative causation" and it's popularly known as "morphic resonance," both of which are descriptive of the hypothesis. Your "woo" assertion is weak and "morphological resonance" is not typically used. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Penraeth (talkcontribs) 19:29, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, Barney... just curios, have either of you read "A new science of life" or any of Sheldrake's other books? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Penraeth (talkcontribs) 19:32, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

The fact that there are 17 citeable references for the non-acceptance of Sheldrake's ideas is overwhelming evidence that he is more notable for criticism of his parapsychological theories than his biology work or university career. I have looked over the citations and the wealth of criticism they contain and wonder why only a fraction of it is reflected in the article. Surely a "reception" section is not inappropriate for this purpose. As for terms used, we should be using whatever terms our independent sources use and not seeking guidance in Sheldrake's books. - LuckyLouie (talk) 19:45, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
We'll use whatever long words Sheldrake uses since he is the only one that seriously uses it. But who is the weak references? Prof. Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS? Prof. Jerry Coyne? Sir John Maddox FRS? Prof Steve Rose? Prof. Sue Blackmore? Adam Rutherford? Robert Todd Carroll? Michael Shermer? Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:37, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Penraeth, it's important that you answer my question: "Now we can at least agree that this is factually correct and supported by the references, right?" The purpose of the many references was to settle that matter, and they can be removed the moment it is settled. Vzaak (talk) 19:40, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I'll have to get back to you later. There's something called "work" which seems to be interfering with my play time.Penraeth (talk) 20:10, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I was wondering why you didn't read this section. I've said repeatedly that the many references are temporary, but you edit-warishly remove them and then complain that "there's no need or justification for having so many at the top". Please read the talk page. Vzaak (talk) 20:27, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I've read everything here, I believe, and have felt that the views opposite to yours have been dismissed without recourse or much in the way of compromise. Why should we let your version stand while we sort this out? My version is better worded, in my opinion, and doesn't have a weird excess of citations, many of which are in the body of the article. So why do you need them temporarily? It looks bad to me. Can I start adding a list of references at the top too? Penraeth (talk) 20:51, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
This is about establishing where Sheldrake stands in relation to the scientific community. My opinion or your opinion is not relevant.
Re "So why do you need them temporarily?", the answer is already in this section, just waiting for someone to read it: "The many references are there because it's apparent that there is a misperception about where Sheldrake actually stands in relation to the scientific community. They are not intended to be permanent. There was a complaint that there were too many, then I removed most of them, then there was a complaint that the references were inadequate."
I suspect they still are needed for Gh26, who issued the challenge "Please may you back up your claim that 'the scientific community' rejects Sheldrake's work with evidence?" but still hasn't acknowledged the response.
If you knew the refs were temporary, then why did you complain "there's no need or justification for having so many at the top"? The need and justification are right here, if you read the talk page.
I explained that their need vanishes the moment we establish that the intro is factually correct and supported by the references. You said that you'd get back to me about it, but instead came back to complain about the refs, which could go away if you would just please establish the facts (assuming you can get Gh26 on board).
Again I ask: Now we can at least agree that the intro is factually correct and supported by the references, right? Vzaak (talk) 21:41, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Vzaak I think it has to be said that either side of this debate is going to have a hard time showing what the scientific community thinks about Sheldrake's work, because we simply don't have the data of thousands of scientists to support a statement. Even 17 references are only 17 scientists, and yes, although some of them are in prominent institutional positions they have often shown a less than scientific approach; for example, Wolpert demonstrated publicly that he had not read the psychical literature during a public debate with Sheldrake; Sheldrake wrote a letter to Maddox in response to specific scientific points that Maddox had raised but Maddox never responded to the letter; Shermer is not even a scientist just a 'professional skeptic' so he shouldn't be in the list because he is not part of the scientific community; Blackmore once criticised Sheldrake's dog experiment for design flaws in the Times Higher Education Supplement, but in so doing demonstrated that she had not looked at the original data thoroughly enough to realise that Sheldrake had included controls in his design. I think these examples demonstrates that at least these scientists have not been scientific in their approach to Sheldrake's work. Whether they represent the scientific community at large can only be an estimate since we don't have the data (e.g. a global survey) to say either way.Gh26 (talk) 05:35, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
If there are that many sources, per NPOV one should use only the ones that make the most dispassionate and logical arguments. Also, there certainly has been enough written by more dispassionate science journalists on the topic over the last 35 odd years that perhaps more of those could be found.
I admit I'm a bit biased: for years I used our last dog as my warning signal for when the Lord of the Manor was leaving work and I had 1/2 hour to hurry up and clean the house... So Sheldrake's dog articles and books were hardly a surprise to me!! (However he was very codependent on his daddy; our new dogs are more independent and thus useless as warning signals.) User:Carolmooredc 05:48, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak: thanks for moving the reference list into a note: that's a much cleaner method of handling it.

--- The sentence in question "His work in this area, which includes various parapsychological claims such as that dogs are telepathic, is widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community due to the lack of reproducible evidence, with some calling it pseudoscience."

Generally I have trouble with the wording and it's position in the article. I'll break down my thinking for you.

1) I think the phrase "which includes various parapsychological claims such as that dogs are telepathic" while true is unnecessary as the scope of "his work in this area" is already established in the preceding sentence.

2) The phrase "is widely rejected or ignored by the scientific community" is true – but it's complicated. Many scientists and professional skeptics reject Sheldrake's hypothesis, or any ideas that deal with PSI, without really understanding them or examining the evidence, and the big journals automatically reject papers on PSI. These people have not "rejected" Sheldrake in an informed or objective way as scientists aught, which is the impression the sentence as a whole may give the general public. The taboo against PSI is so strong that even scientists who believe in PSI often remain in the closet about it, out of fear for their livelihoods. So there is a portion of the scientific community that fears to support or involve themselves. I believe it can be argued that the status qua is enforced by a vocal minority in science with many giving lip-service to it in contradiction to their true beliefs. We may not be able to "count" these people here, but they are nonetheless part of the true state of things. Certainly among PSI researchers Sheldrake is not rejected or ignored. Unfortunately parapsychology, I presume, cannot be included in "the scientific community" which is why, in my version of the intro, I used the term "mainstream science" instead. I would also accept "orthodox science."

3) "due to the lack of reproducible evidence" is a reason some have given for rejecting formative causation but it's not why the majority who reject it or ignore it do so. As stated above, they do so because they reject or ignore everything that involves PSI, ipso facto. Beyond Sheldrake's own work there have been several tests of the hypothesis, but not enough to prove or disprove it. Wiseman's study confirmed it, but then he cut enough of the data after the fact so that it wouldn't look like he was supporting PSI – he had to, to preserve his career and to remain true to his moral foundation, though he has recently recanted somewhat, admitting that, at least regarding the ganzfeld experiments, the science is sound. Rose similarly changed the parameters of their collaborative experiment after the fact, without consulting his collaborator, to make their experiment look like a disconfirmation. These are reflections of the bias. I suppose you'll tell me that we can't talk about or deal with bias in science on WP, nonetheless it is there. I can cite reference for this, if you wish. At any rate, let's say there are several reasons people reject or ignore Sheldrake's work. In that case, this phrase is misleading.

In my version I wrote "Formative causation and parapsychology are not generally accepted as valid by mainstream scientists" as an attempt to address all this. By combining parapsychology with Sheldrake's hypothesis, the majority view is better framed, as it's really not just about Sheldrake but about the subject matter. And I've not specified why they're not generally accepted. The article on parapsychology deals with that at length, and as related to Sheldrake, it is expanded on in the body of the article in multiple locations.

4) "with some calling it pseudoscience" is undeniable and well supported by the citations. However, there are other scientists we could cite who say it is not.

5) It's a bit odd that the intro to an article about a man gives him such a brief treatment before entering the "oh by the way, he's got a bunch of crazy ideas" stage. I think it would be more proper to address the majority view below, after or while explaining his hypothesis. This passage from WP:FRINGE is salient: "...restraint should be used with such qualifiers to avoid giving the appearance of an overly harsh or overly critical assessment. This is particularly true within articles dedicated specifically to fringe ideas: Such articles should first describe the idea clearly and objectively, then refer the reader to more accepted ideas, and avoid excessive use of point-counterpoint style refutations." And rather than just presenting references that are critical of Sheldrake, give examples of alternative, more accepted hypthesis' which explain the same phenomena.

The specific citations Gh26 has spoken to, though I may add more on them myself later. They certainly support the "some calling it pseudoscience" phrase. Whether they accurately reflect the majority view is questionable for the reasons Gh26 has given, but they may represent what appears to be the majority view. I need to look at them again and give it more thought.

So there it is: I apologize for the length. All this for one sentence, and I suppose it won't make a bit of difference.

LuckyLouie, re: "As for terms used, we should be using whatever terms our independent sources use and not seeking guidance in Sheldrake's books." The article is about Sheldrake and his work. Therefore, it should use the proper name for his hypothesis. If you insist I'll add or point you to independent references which use the proper name. Morphic resonance and morphic fields are components of formative causation. The fact that even this is being disputed here speaks volumes. Penraeth (talk) 06:10, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Penraeth, you may have misunderstood. There's no need for an editor to search through Sheldrake's books and evaluate what terms he uses and why when we have so many secondary sources available to rely on. - LuckyLouie (talk) 15:46, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Gh26, consider:

All of these statements are well within WP:FRINGE and other policies. No such requirement of "the data of thousands of scientists" or "a global survey" is necessary to make these statements. I find this argument ridiculous. Vzaak (talk) 06:30, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

These examples indicate that "rejected or ignored" was a questionable stretch from the original "rejected". It seems to me that "rejected or ignored" sounds harsher as well. Vzaak (talk) 11:14, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm going to be bold and remove "or ignored" as well as "widely" in order to have similar treatment to other fringe topics on WP. Vzaak (talk) 11:20, 7 August 2013 (UTC)


I didn't add the reference note; I agree it's better; I didn't know that kind of thing existed.

(1) I agree it's awkward. I don't remember how it came about but it looks like an historical accident.

(2) Your problem is not with the Sheldrake article, then -- it's with Wikipedia. Look at the list of examples I gave above (ESP, telepathy, etc) which use the terms "rejected", "dismissed", etc. WP isn't the place to redress real or perceived injustice against PSI, and I don't think we should discuss it. I will just note briefly that this kind of talk frankly sounds conspiratorial to me, and that many scientists want PSI to exist -- along with almost every person on Earth -- but cannot find good evidence for it.

(3) My response is basically the same as (2). See the above list of examples: "due to the absence of an evidence base", "there is no evidence".

(4) Keep in mind that testability is separate from pseudoscience. Scientists may agree that some claims are testable -- obviously some are -- but that doesn't automatically imply "not pseudoscience".

(5) A longer intro before mentioning the scientific status seems fine to me. I don't think it should be relegated to the next section, however. Sheldrake is notable for his advocacy of these ideas, and it would be improper to avoid clearly stating the scientific community's view upfront. Sheldrake chose to spend upwards of three decades advocating an hypothesis for which there continues to be no good evidence; that's not our fault. Vzaak (talk) 07:31, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

I've removed some awkwardness per (1). Re (2) and (3), the wording now closely matches that of the ESP article: "His work in this area is rejected by the scientific community due to the lack of reproducible evidence, with some calling it pseudoscience." It would be hard to contest this without also contesting WP policy (or how the policy has been widely implemented). Sorry, but as I said I don't think your beef is really with the article but with WP. Vzaak (talk) 11:40, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Re (5), I've added a brief description of morphic resonance before "His work in this area is rejected..."

Penraeth, also could you please acknowledge that your points about replicability and alternative theoretical formulations were rebutted (ignores extraordinariness, fails to meet the tier, respectively), or otherwise say why they were not? I am considering including the latter in a FAQ, based on this discussion and others in the talk archive. Vzaak (talk) 08:23, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't think it's right to bring astrology, divination, or levitation into this discussion because Sheldrake has not specifically studied these phenomena. You are probably right that the majority of the scientific community would not admit to supporting ESP and telepathy [in public]. However, they might admit to supporting these ideas in private if their admission was anonymously obtained through a widespread survey, for example. An anonymised survey would therefore be a good thing to reduce the pressure from scientists of having to reveal their position in public, given that they are likely to be fearful of losing their reputation, and the obvious career implications that has. I don't think my argument for a global survey of professional scientists' ideas on psi is ridiculous; in fact, it would almost certainly clarify this present discussion. Obviously, no such survey exists right now and therefore we are left with the references you have put up (although there are confusingly no references from scientists who support psi phenomena in the intro paragraph). I am making these points because I'm not sure you can make any claim about what 'the scientific community' believes with certainty - any claim without widespread survey evidence remains an estimate, and one currently based on the views of a very small percentage of the total number of professional scientists alive today.Gh26 (talk) 08:30, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

The reason why " astrology, divination, or levitation" are brought into this discussion is that they illustrate how WP:FRINGE is applied. If you must suggest edits, you need to do so with reference to policy. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:58, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak: I appreciate your changes. I was actually thinking this morning that "dismissed" might be a more appropriate term to use, so it's interesting to see it in connection with divination. I don't expect to change or contest WP policy... I related my thoughts in order to convey my disagreement with the wording. Even subtle differences can affect perception, which is why survey questions are so carefully worded. In my rewording, I sought to acknowledge, subtly, the full truth of the situation which can't of course be done explicitly, given WP fringe policy. Mainstream or orthodox science is more accurate than "the scientific community" without violating any policy.

I'm quite busy today, so you'll have to wait for my reaction to other points here. Penraeth (talk) 19:52, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Miscellaneous section

It's fairly sloppy to have a section called 'Miscellaneous' - I suggest this material is renamed and/or redistributed under other headings. Ben Finn (talk) 23:03, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I've started doing this. Ben Finn (talk) 00:10, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Another hopefully uncontentious edit - I've cut most of the irrelevant detail on the stabbing incident (which can still be found in the references for those who are interested).Ben Finn (talk) 23:22, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

Adding Sheldrake's responses to Richard Wiseman

I added a couple of references to the 'Dogs that Know' section yesterday that respond to the claims made by Richard Wiseman about Sheldrake's studies.[8][9] This addition was reverted by IRWolfie-. I argue that if Wiseman's claims are going to be cited, then so should Sheldrake's responses to them be given.Gh26 (talk) 11:02, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Including Sheldrake's response should be OK if Wiseman is (a) linked (Richard Wiseman) and (b) the article to which he was responding to is properly referenced. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:09, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Not really. We don't have to publish responses to responses to responses ad nauseam. Also, Sheldrake's response was not peer reviewed and amounts to little more than a letter to the editor. It thus fails WP:PARITY and WP:WEIGHT, and can't be used to criticize a peer-reviewed study on WP. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 11:25, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
OK, but Wiseman's peer reviewed ;) papers need to be discussed in the body rather than just mentioned in the lead. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:30, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't see Wiseman's paper discussed in the lede. Did I miss something, or are we looking at different versions? Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 11:36, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Wiseman's papers are <ref name=wiseman1/> and <ref name=wiseman2/>, which are part of the "17 pseudoscience references". Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:56, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Citing them is not "discussing them in the lede". And there is nothing wrong with citing them here. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 11:59, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Can you please read what I said again and check your understanding? Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:24, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
You appear to be talking about the lead while the rest of us are not. IRWolfie- (talk) 12:30, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
I thought you were talking about removing the citations from the lede. Yes, they can, and should, be mentioned in the body of the article as a response to Sheldrake's books. Sheldrake's response should not be mentioned. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 12:33, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm talking about the section 'Seven Experiments and Dogs That Know', not the lead paragraph of the article. These articles are response to Richard Wiseman's claims - not a response to a response to a response which, I agree, would be confusing. One of them is peer-reviewed in the Journal of Society for Psychical Research.[10] The other reference is not peer-reviewed.Gh26 (talk) 12:54, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
The first source mentioned is not peer-reviewed, either. It's essentially a letter to the editor. In the source, it mentions that it was published in the "Journal of the Society for Physical research", which appears to be a typo. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 13:06, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Yes, that's a typo. The first source is not a letter to the editor, it is a peer-reviewed 'Note' appearing in that particular issue, not in the 'Correspondence' section where the letters to the editor are. We are debating a different issue here, but just want to say it is rather ironic that almost none of the sources you quote about pseudoscience etc are peer-reviewed...I think it is right that Sheldrake's papers should be rigorously peer-reviewed but how do journalistic blogs that happen to be against Sheldrake, yet are not peer-reviewed, count as evidence? FYI, Sheldrake did 100 videotaped experiments with Jaytee, whereas Wiseman did 4. In the 3 of Wiseman's that were at the same location as Sheldrake's tests, the dog was at the window 4% of the time when Pam Smart was not coming home, and 78% when she was, a big and statistically significant difference. It is highly misleading for Wiseman and you to claim that Wiseman's results refute the psychic pet phenomenon. This has already been widely discussed online on the skeptiko site, and in several books, including Chris Carter's "Science and Psychic Phenomena". [11]Gh26 (talk) 17:22, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

The note is not peer reviewed, as there is nothing in it to be peer reviewed. Sorry, doesn't meet WP:PARITY or WP:GEVAL.
Yes, WP, like the real world, is not a friendly place for fringe theories, and their proponents have a much harder row to how here. Your other questions are answered here: WP:RS, especially WP:REDFLAG, WP:FRINGE, especially WP:PARITY, and WP:NPOV, especially WP:GEVAL and WP:WEIGHT. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 17:53, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

For the record, the other peer-reviewed commentary that Sheldrake wrote is: "The Psychic Pet Phenomenon", Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 64, 126-128 (April 2000). This was a response to Wiseman's response. The full text can be found here,[12] i.e. half-way through the second source I added at the beginning of this talk section, starting at the section title 'The Psychic Pet Phenomenon'.Gh26 (talk) 20:24, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

It is customary in academia if a paper's findings directly contradict other studies, to allow the author(s) of the original paper a brief response. This is courtesy by the editor of the journal; it doesn't mean the letter to the editor is peer reviewed. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:53, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
But, as mentioned above, Wiseman's data showed an effect in support of the 'psychic dog phenomenon', and therefore his paper did not contradict Sheldrake's. Sheldrake's response was there to point this out, and that seems legitimate to me.Gh26 (talk) 07:36, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
If if's and but's were candy and nuts, it would be Christmas every day. Without a policy-based reason to include these sources, and with clear policy-based reasons not to, further discussion on these sources is pointless. Also, you grossly mischaracterized the results of the Wiseman study. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 09:04, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

The policy-based reason is WP:PARITY. Wiseman's paper in the British Journal of Psychology and Sheldrake's paper in JSE are both full peer-reviewed papers. Wiseman's paper was published before Sheldrake's, and Sheldrake analyses Wiseman's results and shows they replicate his own. If you disqualify Sheldrake's JSPR notes they must also disqualify Wiseman's on the same grounds.Gh26 (talk) 17:22, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

How many times do we have to tell you that Sheldrake's response 'isn't peer reviewed? Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:07, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
You are reading WP:PARITY backwards. WP:PARITY is about including the mainstream view, it is never about including the fringe point of view. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:58, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake's main response, showing that Wiseman's result confirm his own is published in JSE, which is a peer-reviewed journal, which can be found here:[13] The key part of the paper begins at the section heading 'An independent replication'. Wiseman and Sheldrake both published 'notes' in JSPR, and so both authors' contributions to this journal are at the same level of parity. However, it is not necessary to include Sheldrake's JSPR note in this WP article because the JSE paper that I just cited makes essentially the same points, and is a parity of citation. It follows Wiseman's paper, published two years earlier. If you disqualify Sheldrake's response in JSPR, you also disqualify Wiseman's and many of your other citations in the WP article as a whole which are not peer-reviewed.Gh26 (talk) 18:59, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

I am now going to cite in the WP article Sheldrake's main response to Wiseman, published in JSE, given that there have been no responses to my last post.Gh26 (talk) 21:23, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

It's been explained to you why including Sheldrake's response is inappropriate and there's a consensus not to include it, so WP:IDONTHEARYOU isn't a reason to try and edit war it in. - LuckyLouie (talk) 22:02, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Also see our discussion above where I informed you of the issue with the Journal of Scientific Exploration. It's not an indexed journal, and Sheldrake's paper was "peer-reviewed" to the same extent that this riveting paper was,

Now we are in a position to put the pieces together. My suggestion is in fact quite simple. I propose to let go of a causal, local interpretation of homeopathy and homeopathic remedies as causal agents. Homeopathic remedies are signs, not causes. Their sign character is, however, not fixed by any “informational” content present in the remedies. It is of a magical nature. It activates the general connectedness...

...blah blah blah. This is covered in the policies given at the top of this talk page, but to help you along see WP:SCHOLARSHIP. Again, please read said policies. Vzaak (talk) 22:47, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

‘Scientists have been unable to replicate evidence for such telepathy under strict controls’. For all the toing and froing here, this still looks wrong. Strictly speaking there have been no attempts at replication of Sheldrake’s dog experiments, whether successful or otherwise. Wiseman stated in his response to Sheldrake that his experiments were not a replication of Sheldrake’s work but rather of claims made in a television documentary, apparently in order to save himself the trouble of defending them against his criticisms. Even allowing it to be a replication, the statement gives the misleading impression that several scientists (or at least more than one) have worked to replicate the experiment, when in fact there has been only one. It also implies by innuendo that Sheldrake is not a scientist (should at the very least be reworded ‘other scientists’); and that Sheldrake’s own controls were not strict, which has nowhere been demonstrated. This is before taking into account the severe criticisms that have been made of Wiseman’s experimental method (eg Chris Carter).

To be objective and accurate the most that can be stated is: ‘An attempt to replicate evidence for such telepathy failed’, and I have amended the statement accordingly. Xanderand (talk) 14:09, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

"Scientists" refers to Wiseman and the two other co-authors of the paper. Sheldrake's dog book is a flurry of anecdotes and surveys about telepathic dogs, and includes an experiment undertaken by Sheldrake and Wiseman et al. "Under strict controls" refers to the conclusion of the Wiseman paper, "What is clear from our experiments is that the mechanisms that we discussed earlier in the paper by which a pet might appear to be psychic without actually being so are quite plausible and that without safeguards to rule them out, a more informal study than ours could lead to a false conclusion."
I don't think "scientists" suggests that Sheldrake is not a scientist, but if you do then avoiding that wording is fine. "Replication" was only intended in reference to the claim of dog telepathy made by the book as a whole, and could be avoided as well. Vzaak (talk) 16:43, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
The new wording is more accurate: "Richard Wiseman, who collaborated with Sheldrake in one experimental study described in Dogs That Know, concluded that the evidence gathered did not support such telepathy." Thanks for catching this. Vzaak (talk) 18:00, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Yes that's better, although there was no collaboration. Sheldrake just offered to let Wiseman use his video equipment, and Wiseman did not share his methods with him. Suggest "Richard Wiseman, who carried out his own experiment with the dog, concluded..." Xanderand (talk) 19:40, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

I got the impression that it was more collaborative from the Wiseman article, "RS kindly asked the first author if he would like to help investigate ... The authors worked with PS and RS to construct an experimental procedure that minimised each of the problems outlined above." (RS being Rupert Sheldrake.) But yes it's otherwise independent so "collaborate" is too much. Vzaak (talk) 20:34, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake's own paper in JSE (Journal of Scientific Exploration) has now been excluded on grounds of WP:PARITY which is surely parity of source to Wiseman's paper in British Journal of Psychology. Wiseman's note in the JSPR has been included while Sheldrake's JPSR note has been excluded on the grounds that it is deemed not to be peer-reviewed. It was peer-reviewed to exactly the same extent as Wiseman's because it is a note in the same journal. This is not parity but partisan campaigning, a bit like a US negative election campaign. Wikipedia is supposed to serve its readers better than this, and many users of Wikipedia would be shocked to know how a small, dedicated group of partisan skeptics are trying to distort Wikipedia to give an extremely one-sided and prejudiced view. The action of these partisan skeptics goes against Jimmy Wales' advice in the WP:FRINGE article to give both sides a voice, as quoted below on this talk page.

Eliminating Sheldrake's responses to these skeptic claims is wrong from any point of view. Courts of law allow people to hear both sides in the interests of forming a neutral opinion. Sheldrake's response was published in the Skeptical Inquirer, the same magazine as the skeptical comments cited! The activities of skeptical campaigners on Wikipedia makes the Skeptical Inquirer look liberal!Gh26 (talk) 22:18, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Gh26, it's been explained many times now; please read the policies at the top of the page. I also just addressed an important point about JSE which you seem to have missed. You need to have a basic understanding of how science works, why Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, why WP:REDFLAG exists, and so forth (WP:CIR). Essentially, WP is a shill for the scientific establishment; WP is partisan when it comes to science. Readers would be ill-served if WP did not accurately convey the view of the scientific establishment.

You have mentioned Sheldrake's evidence multiple times, and have complained that we should be "arguing about the evidence" instead of quoting policy. This is exactly backward. Arguing about the evidence is precisely what we should not be doing. We aren't here to discover and report the truth; WP:VNT. Vzaak (talk) 05:15, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't know if you are part of the Guerrilla Skeptics movement, but if you are not then your aims and objectives seem very similar. The Guerrilla Skeptics group has the noble goal of relying on evidence. One of their slogans is "Evidence is cool". We agree on that. So your stance on Wiseman's and Sheldrake's evidence seems perverse. You cite a primary source, an article by Wiseman et al in the British journal of Psychology, and you also cite a note by Wiseman in the JSPR referring to Sheldrake's work, but your team (if you are part of the team of Guerrilla Skeptics) has disallowed Sheldrake's notes in the same journal because you deem them not peer-reviewed. They have exactly the same status as Wiseman's, so you are violating the WP:PARITY policy.

You argue that Sheldrake's paper in Journal of Scientific Exploration does not count as a valid source in your eyes, because it is not on one particular index of journals. But nor is the Skeptical Inquirer, which is not peer-reviewed. Yet your team cites articles from the Skeptical Inquirer in relation to Sheldrake in general and the sense of being stared at in particular, referring articles which are opposed to Sheldrake, but disallowing his response in the same magazine. This again violates WP:PARITY policies. You can't have it both ways, trying to produce as biassed account as you can, while defending your actions with rules that are intended to promote parity of sources, balance and neutrality.

And, in response to the WP:PRIMARY argument against including evidence by Sheldrake, please consider that Wiseman's paper in BJP is primary, and Wiseman did not cite Sheldrake in the references of this paper, and so the paper is framed by Wiseman as primary. There are at least 3 secondary source accounts of the Sheldrake-Wiseman controversy: Chris Carter's 'Science and Psychic Phenomena' [14] and Will Storr 'The Heretics' [15] and Steven's Science and Society Masters dissertation [16].

And, in relation to the WP:UNDUE argument, consider that if the sources that you cite (Skeptical Inquirer and JSPR) also contain contributions by Sheldrake then the WP:UNDUE argument cannot be used, because the policy states: 'Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject.' Therefore, if Wiseman's and Sheldrake's viewpoints are given equal space in JSPR, which you class as a reliable source for Wiseman, then they should be given equal space on WP as stipulated by this policy quote. This conclusion and rationale is also supported by the wording of the WP:FRINGE policy when it says: '...and reliable sources must be cited that affirm the relationship of the marginal idea to the mainstream idea in a serious and substantial manner'. If a reliable publication is representing both Sheldrake's and Wiseman's viewpoints in full, then it is showing the relationship between these viewpoints 'in a serious and substantial manner', as per the WP:FRINGE quote.

I expect to be able to add these secondary references by Carter, Storr and Stevens to the WP article without having the edits reverted by you or anyone else.Gh26 (talk) 11:59, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

This is even more WP:IDONTHEARYOU. Repeated efforts have failed to convey to you that we're not here to argue about the evidence. Again, see WP:VNT. Throughout your time here, there has been little indication that you've read the policies at the top of the page. Even in your last comment, had you read WP:RS, for example, you wouldn't have made the mistake of thinking that the JSE is excluded "in my eyes". I even directly linked to the subsection for you above.
As I have been saying, WP is a shill of the scientific establishment, and you're going to have to live with that. WP is not a place to WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS.
This is the second time you have launched a personal attack. Consider this a warning. There is no cabal or conspiracy here, just the application of basic WP policy with regard to science, which is quite straightforward in this case. Vzaak (talk) 22:50, 14 August 2013 (UTC)


Copy of Gh26's comments from elsewhere, with my response:

Vzaak, my arguing for the evidence for the marginal view to be represented alongside the mainstream view is not in contradiction to WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE, for the reasons stated in this quote from the talk page: "if the sources that you cite (Skeptical Inquirer and JSPR) also contain contributions by Sheldrake then the WP:UNDUE claim cannot be used, because the policy states: 'Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject.' Therefore, if Wiseman's and Sheldrake's viewpoints are given equal space in JSPR, which you class as a reliable source for Wiseman, then they should be given equal space on WP as stipulated by this policy quote. This conclusion and rationale is also supported by the wording of the WP:FRINGE policy when it says: '...and reliable sources must be cited that affirm the relationship of the marginal idea to the mainstream idea in a serious and substantial manner'. If a reliable publication is representing both Sheldrake's and Wiseman's viewpoints in full, then it is showing the relationship between these viewpoints 'in a serious and substantial manner', as per the WP:FRINGE quote."

As argued previously, if the JSE is not acceptable because it is not indexed (even though it is peer-reviewed), then nor is the Skeptical Inquirer, which is neither indexed nor peer-reviewed, and yet the SI is included in the article but the JSE isn't.Gh26 (talk) 21:12, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

This illustrates ever more not WP:LISTENing. The WP:REDFLAG link is right there next to my JSE comment! And it's at the top of the Sheldrake talk page. There you will also find WP:PARITY, "if a notable fringe theory is primarily described by amateurs and self-published texts, verifiable and reliable criticism of the fringe theory need not be published in a peer reviewed journal".
Re Wiseman, it's been explained over and over. You're lacking in the most basic understanding of the WP policies. There is no debate in the scientific community about dog telepathy! Suggesting otherwise to WP readers is a complete disservice to them. That's the essential reason for the policies. You still don't appear to have read or understood the policies at the top of this page. Vzaak (talk) 00:02, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
  • TLDR; The JSE is unreliable because they published pseudoscience, IRWolfie- (talk) 10:44, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

Proposal to add sentence at end of lead paragraph of article to counterbalance claim of pseudoscience

After the sentence in the lead paragraph ending '...with some calling it pseudoscience.', I would like to add this sentence: Some scientists also support Sheldrake as a fellow scientist.[17] The citation is to a HuffPost article, in which 19 professional current scientists (Professors and Doctors) from various institutions support Sheldrake as a fellow scientist. This article is a challenge to the assumption that the scientific community rejects Sheldrake's work.Gh26 (talk) 09:35, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Let's not go there. Deepak Chopra has a reputation as a massive woo merchant too. Birds of a feather, etc. At least you can say with Sheldrake that since he's only dabbling in "pyschic dogs", he's not indirectly responsible for people's deaths. Also, it is not merited per WP:UNDUE, WP:FRINGE. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:44, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
No, we balance fringe with mainstream, not the other way around, per WP:GEVAL, WP:WEIGHT and WP:FRINGE, as Barney pointed out. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 10:00, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
Only 19 scientists, many of whom are "independent researchers"? Even the creationists can do better than that. I like this comment best by one of the signees: "Some of the ideas expressed by Rupert Sheldrake may look like pseudoscience indeed, as the talk has some marks of bad science, as described by TED organizers." IRWolfie- (talk) 10:06, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
19? OK. How many of these are FRS (or equivalent?) How many of these are experts on pseudoscience? Most importantly how many are doing research on "morphemic resonance"? If Sheldrake is a giant (and has been stated if he's correct, he's probably the most important scientist since Newton), who's standing on his shoulders? Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:20, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
FRS is not an acronym familiar to me, IRWolfie- (talk) 00:01, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
That seems to be a discussion about where TED should draw the line on fringe ideas and pseudoscience. The line has to be somewhere -- TED definitely shouldn't be promoting astrology or dowsing for example. That some think TED should be more permissive and include Sheldrake doesn't imply that they think morphic resonance is a real thing. One can reject Sheldrake's work while also wanting TED to allow more fringey ideas. None of this really has relevance to the intro anyway. Vzaak (talk) 11:28, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

What do you mean, Barney and IRWolfie-, 'only 19 scientists'? You yourselves only provided 17 references to back up claim against Sheldrake of pseudoscience, some of which were independent researchers too.Gh26 (talk) 10:23, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

We can find more if you like. I'm pretty sure Lord Winston and Peter Atkins haven't been mentioned yet. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:11, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
The mere fact that someone can say "You yourselves only provided 17 references to back up claim" on wikipedia with a straight face, is amusing, IRWolfie- (talk) 23:55, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, what do you mean 'None of this really has relevance to the intro'? What we are having is a discussion about what is pseudoscience and what is not, and the intro refers to Sheldrake as a pseudoscientist.Gh26 (talk) 13:55, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

You've unnecessarily personalized it. The article doesn't call Sheldrake a pseudoscientist, it says that some have called his work pseudoscience. It is even possible to "support Sheldrake as a fellow scientist" while rejecting some of his work.
A debate about how permissive TED should be toward fringe ideas doesn't seem relevant. There could be a Nobel laureate who dismisses morphic resonance but still thinks TED should be more tolerant and fringey. TED policies don't bear on WP policies and vice versa. Vzaak (talk) 15:04, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
How can you separate man from work? A scientist is known professionally by their work. If your lead paragraph finishes 'with some calling it pseudoscience' then that inevitably leads people to assume that Sheldrake himself is a pseudoscientist. There is a Nobel laureate physicist, Brian Josephson, who is a known supporter of Sheldrake's, and is interested in the paranormal himself. The comparison with the TED controversy is relevant because the charge of pseudoscience was levelled at Sheldrake by TED as well as you guys.Gh26 (talk) 16:03, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't see an argument being made. There's a new banner at the top of this talk page containing links to some WP policies. I think you would save time in the long run by reading them in full. Vzaak (talk) 19:13, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

Perennial issues / FAQ

Having read through the archives, I've begun to notice some patterns. A Sheldrake proponent may hold one or more of the following, or something like them. Apologies in advance for any gratuitous caricatures.

  • Many scientists are dogmatic.
  • Many scientists refuse to consider evidence when it is contrary to their dogmatic beliefs.
  • Some scientists have done bad things in order to uphold their dogmatism.
  • Science needs to be set free from this dogmatism and rigidity.
  • The truth is not getting out about morphic resonance.
  • The scientific establishment is suppressing the truth because of its dogmatism.
  • This WP article should disclose the full truth about morphic resonance.
  • Scientists have been unfair to Sheldrake.
  • This WP article should redress the unfair treatment of Sheldrake by the scientific establishment.
  • WP should not be a shill for the dogmatic scientific establishment.

Any conversation involving these kinds of things is just irrelevant with regard to editing Sheldrake's WP page. The archives are filled with this stuff, and it's an amazing waste of time. They are essentially attempts to contest WP policies from this talk page. Sometimes it's there as an unspoken undercurrent that runs through the discussions.

Part of the new banner (top of this talk page) is copied from Talk:Intelligent design, which also had a FAQ section. I wonder if a FAQ would help here, though it would seem difficult to convey this issue in a neutral way.

I press the "save" button on this comment with some trepidation because it's possible that saying this out loud may exacerbate rather than help the problem. However identifying underlying issues in the open seems (at the moment) better than continuing to ignore them. Vzaak (talk) 23:06, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

A FAQ might be worthwhile, but a cynic may think that such a page would just be another thing to argue about. However, everything listed above is correct, thanks! Johnuniq (talk) 02:12, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I think there's a need for a template that gives genericized versions of these examples along with FAQ advice for use at other, similar problem articles. - LuckyLouie (talk) 02:53, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

I note this banner does not mention WP:CONSENSUS, so arguably is a rhetorical move that cherry-picks those policies that arguably support your position. I repeat, there is no consensus on the wording of the intro and nor is there consensus that your preferred wording of the intro, which was made without consensus, should be the default or provisional one that should stand while awaiting consensus on an alternative wording. The fact that you may happen to believe the current wording conforms with other WP policies is irrelevant, because it's not just up to you how those policies are interpreted or applied. Ben Finn (talk) 12:54, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

You wrote basically the same comment in Introduction, to which I responded. Vzaak (talk) 16:46, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
You said: "Please propose compromises with the current wording instead of insisting on a version that violates WP policy". I.e. the current wording (yours) should be the starting point, different versions (e.g. mine) violate Wikipedia policy. But again, this is simply your opinion, and I and other do not agree. I do not agree that my proposed version (i.e. the current intro minus the contentious wording which was added without consensus) violates Wikipedia policy; you no more have consensus on that claim than on anything else. On the contrary, your version violates Wikipedia policy because it was made without consensus! Ben Finn (talk) 16:56, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, you seem to refer to WP policies as a 'knock-down' argument against mine, but actually they are just a means of ignoring the many different points that I bring up, which are clearly troublesome for you to deal with on their own terms otherwise you wouldn't need to resort to arguing from the authority of WP policy. Instead of arguing about the evidence itself, you quote policy. That is not skeptical.

I would disagree with two of the points you make above. First, I am not arguing that the 'full truth' about morphic resonance should be disclosed because that obviously would require too much space, just that the theory is represented fairly with voice given to both sides of the debate. Second, I don't think it is Wikipedia's job to redress the unfairness with which Sheldrake has been treated by scientists. However, it is WP's job, as an encyclopaedia based on the principle of neutrality, to represent both sides of the argument. The skeptical point of view is not a neutral point of view because it has strong biases of its own.Gh26 (talk) 13:30, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

This looks like "WP should not be a shill for the dogmatic scientific establishment." You're going to have to accept that WP does not take a neutral stand on when it comes to science. Vzaak (talk) 17:16, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

New proposal for intro

I have (or rather had) a slightly different proposal for a way forward with the intro, which is simply to revert to the last consensus version and amend with consensus from there. In fact there were no comments at all on this talk page during 2011, suggesting consensus for that year. However the intro of the last version from 2011: [18] is much the same as the current version, aside from a load of uncontentious markup and a few other uncontentious-looking changes of wording, so it's not even worth doing the reversion.

So how about we simply start from the current version? (By which I mean the version right now - not any subsequent unconsensus changes people may make in the next few hours/days.) Ben Finn (talk) 17:24, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Your suggestion doesn't appear to meet WP:FRINGE. The community consensus is that WP:FRINGE applies, whether you like it or not is irrelevant. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:41, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't know exactly what you mean by saying 'the community consensus is that WP:FRINGE applies'. But I assume you mean something like 'there is consensus that the cut-down intro violates WP:FRINGE'. However, clearly there is not consensus on that point; see much of the discussion above, for example. And indeed a while back there seemed to be consensus for long periods of time that the cut-down intro was just fine as it was and hence not violating any Wikipedia policies. Ben Finn (talk) 19:02, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't really want to sound like a broken record. If you can't accept WP:FRINGE, don't try edit Wikipeida. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:48, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
OK, so you simply ignored my point. Don't patronise, by the way - it doesn't exactly add weight to your arguments - quite the reverse, in fact. Ben Finn (talk) 22:24, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I fail to see what is patronising. Read WP:FRINGE. Accept it. IRWolfie- (talk) 00:59, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Barney, this quote by Jimmy Wales on the WP:FRINGE policy page confirms that asking for both sides of the debate to be represented is reasonable: 'Usually, mainstream and minority views are treated in the main article, with the mainstream view typically getting a bit more ink, but the minority view presented in such a fashion that both sides could agree to it. Singular views can be moved to a separate page and identified (disclaimed) as such, or in some cases omitted altogether.[4]' Currently, both sides are not in agreement regarding the intro paragraph. What currently exists is your singular view, and according to the quote by the Wikipedia founder above, this needs to change.Gh26 (talk) 21:36, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Ben Finn (talk) 22:27, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
Trying to misinterpret Jimbo is a dangerous path to tread, go ask him here User_talk:Jimbo Wales, be wary, he is reasonable. "Singular views" here means the views of a single person, the scientific consensus is not a singular view. Also note in the same emial: "And if a view is held only by a few people without any traditional training or credentials, and if that view is dismissed by virtually all mainstream scientists, then we can say that, too." Also as an aside don't forget that Jimbo doesn't set policy, IRWolfie- (talk) 00:53, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
OK, I can't find the reference to where 'singular view' is defined, but even if you're right it doesn't affect my argument, because the quote about 'singular views' is separate from the main point I was making: 'but the minority view presented in such a fashion that both sides could agree to it'. You have still not responded to this part of the quote, which was written in bold because it was the most important phrase. Your quote about something being dismissed by all mainstream scientists also doesn't hold, because we don't know how many mainstream scientists would reject the particular case concerning Wiseman and Sheldrake, for example (see thread above), given Wiseman's questionable approach to experimental replication. You also can't reject the change on the grounds of traditional training and credentials because Sheldrake has a Double-first BA degree from Cambridge and Cambridge PhD in Biochemistry.Gh26 (talk) 06:00, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Gh26, this has been repeatedly explained. Please read the policies at the top of the page. You're saying that if some number of editors dispute the statement at Astrology that "Astrology has been rejected by the scientific community", then the statement would have to change. That's not how WP works when it comes to science. Please read the policies at the top of the page. Please stop the WP:IDONTHEARYOU. Vzaak (talk) 07:39, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Known for "an unorthodox account of morphogenesis" is the point of the lead in the December 2011 version linked in the OP. According to standard operating procedure at Wikipedia, it is better described as pseudoscience—it is pseudoscience, and it would be a disservice to readers to pretend otherwise. Is the "see much of the discussion above" comment above an attempt to say there is no consensus that morphic resonance is not FRINGE? Rather than answering, please stop the metadiscussions, and just make a concrete proposal with a brief justification. Wikipedia is not the place to right great wrongs, or to promote the works of great people who somehow have been overlooked in terms of scientific recognition. Johnuniq (talk) 07:12, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Apologies for the confusion about bringing in Wiseman into this thread; I conflated the reference to Wiseman with my response to a thread above.

Your charge against me of WP:IDONTHEARYOU is hypocritical, given that you are not prepared to argue about the particulars of the evidence, only the generalities of the policies. The experimental evidence relating to Sheldrake's is all we have to go on, but you won't discuss it, or 'hear' it.Gh26 (talk) 08:37, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

We aren't here to debate Sheldrake or the merits of his work, or convince each other of anything. We aren't looking at the experimental evidence because it is not for us to judge it. On wikipedia we defer to reliable secondary sources (WP:SECONDARY) to make claims in articles. We do not include our own analysis of primary sources, that is forbidden in policy (WP:PRIMARY). So no, if you show experimental data from Sheldrake I will simply ignore it as adding nothing to the discussion, IRWolfie- (talk) 08:43, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Gh26, wow, this almost looks like a prank. Earlier I said:

You have mentioned Sheldrake's evidence multiple times, and have complained that we should be "arguing about the evidence" instead of quoting policy. This is exactly backward. Arguing about the evidence is precisely what we should not be doing. We aren't here to discover and report the truth; WP:VNT.

Now you accuse me again with not being "prepared to argue about the particulars of the evidence", which has got to be one of the clearest cases of WP:IDONTHEARYOU ever happening on WP. As if that wasn't enough, you you claim that that my reference to WP:IDONTHEARYOU is hypocritical. Amazing. Vzaak (talk) 10:17, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

former biochemist?

The article currently says "former biochemist and plant physiologist". To my reading, the sources given don't support the qualifier "former". Besides, why former? One could think he still has his diplomas. It sounds like he has been excommunicated from science for heresy :) Best regards, Stan J. Klimas (talk) 00:03, 15 August 2013 (UTC).

Sheldrake hasn't worked in academia since the early 1980s. He hasn't published any scientific research in peer reviewed journals since 1987. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:05, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
The source which says "former biochemist" doesn't support the qualifier "former"? It's easy to even find the exact phrase "former biochemist" elsewhere. And the CV speaks for itself. Vzaak (talk) 09:34, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Don't be silly, if you check you will see he stopped working in biochemistry and switched career. Science isn't an institution, there is no way to be kicked out and it is a common trope of the pseudoscience advocate to try and use religious language, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:49, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
IRWolfie- In an interview broadcast on BBC television in 1994[19](see 14'22"), Sir John Maddox, Senior Editor of Nature said: "Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy."Gh26 (talk) 23:26, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
What's that? Maddox, saying something controversial. Who would have thought? The reality is that it is in fact pseudoscience advocates who mostly use that emotive language, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:15, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
The source says "Rupert Sheldrake, a former biochemist and plant physiologist at the University of Cambridge". This is not the same as to say "former biochemist dot." For a sake of example, one may be a rocket scientist that is unemployed for some years. Does he stop to be a rocket guy if he still has a diploma that makes him legally able to claim so? Publications are not required to be a biochemist, to my understanding so he is not "former" on this basis, I think. Who makes the determination that he is "former" and on what basis it is made encyclopedic in Wikipedia? We have here a biography of a living person and to my understanding more strict standards might be in order. To make sure, I am not Sheldrake's cousin or anything, just raising what I think is a valid question, so please do not shoot the messenger :) Cheers. Stan J. Klimas (talk) 23:56, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
After thirty years of not working in the field, "former" seems to me to be well-justified. It's not exactly in the gray zone anymore. Dominus Vobisdu (talk) 09:26, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake was invited in May this year by plant scientists to give a talk on his work on auxin at the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, one of the leading plant laboratories in the world, because his work in the 70s is still providing new avenues of research today. As you can see in the talk here[20] he is still a biochemist and plant physiologist who is able to speak technically and fluently and is able to field questions from eminent scientists currently working in the field. All this is current and therefore not 'former'.Gh26 (talk) 10:41, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
All statements require sources, and can't be based on your personal knowledge. btw, if he's talking about history of science, he's an historian of science. Scientists do research. He hasn't published any new scientific research since 1987. You have as good as admitted your conflict of interest with regards to Sheldrake's wife, why not with regard to the man himself? Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:45, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't see what you are trying to show. Just because you are a former biochemist doesn't mean you forget everything you knew. IRWolfie- (talk) 17:47, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
He has diploma(s) from a legally recognized institution(s) of higher learning, empowered by their respective governments to legally certify people to have met prescribed requirements. That seems to be an undisputed fact. There are generally no expiry dates on those papers, for all I know. Opinions about his current (or past or future; growing or diminishing) competencies in any field generally should not be stated as facts in biographies of living people and should be removed, to my believe, particularly if they could be damaging to the person's reputation. Alternatively, I believe they could be sourced from a reputable source(s) and presented as opinions of whoever they originate from. My $0.02. Best regards, Stan J. Klimas (talk) 15:27, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
This is why people say "I am an [x] by training" or "former [x]" or "retired [x]" or "an [x] in a past life". People leave academia. People get a JD and never work as a lawyer. At the same time, people without a PhD (or a relevant PhD) can work as, can publish as, and can be considered scientists. Guettarda (talk) 15:42, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

I read the "formerly" source as meaning that he was formerly at Cambridge, not that he is formerly a scientist (of whatever types are mentioned). I suggest that the introduction say in one sentence that he is a writer and parapsychologist (or whatever the current words are). I suggest that the follow-on sentence mention his academic qualifications and his past association with Cambridge. That tells readers a) what he is, and b) what his pertinent qualifications are. I'd be glad to write the two sentences, once I'm sure that people would find this notion to be acceptable. (Or somebody else can do it, of course.)

What this fellow seems to be is a well-trained scientist who worked in his field at one or more top institutions, then went off the beaten path. Some think his new path is fine, some others don't. Lou Sander (talk) 23:52, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

I'd also change the second paragraph by saying "his work ... is largely rejected by the scientific...." No thoughtful community, especially a scientific one, ever totally rejects anybody's work in the field. A few are always open to the possibility that crackpot ideas might include a grain of truth, or at least something helpful. It's sort of like "never say 'never'". Remember Semmelweiss. Lou Sander (talk) 00:03, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
That's original research and unnecessary, IRWolfie- (talk) 10:40, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

corroborating examples and replication

In 1999, Enserik showed that the magnitude of the placebo effect in pharmacological studies had significantly grown over 15 years - in some cases where it was initially nearly zero - it had grown significantly afterward (verifying Sheldrake's morphic resonance theory - he didn't use the word or mention Sheldrake, but this is evidence of the effect) - you will need to see the full text:

About Sheldrake's "sense of being stared at" - meta-analyses have shown hints of an effect:

I noted in the justification for my recent edit that Richard Wiseman replicated Sheldrake's results in a specific instance - The following comes from a master's dissertation on Sheldrake's reception in the scientific community that was posted online by the author on a website in which he was interviewed - the dissertation is entitled "rupert sheldrake and the wider scientific community" by Philip Stevens:

The relevant excerpt is: "In 1994 Dr Sheldrake began an experiment to test whether pets could sense through anomalous means when their owners were coming home. He tested a dog named Jaytee, a male mongrel terrier, to see if he reacted at a distance to the intention of his owner, Pamela Smart.

In the experiment, Smart would leave Jaytee at home and travel to a location more than ten minutes journey time away. After a randomly selected period of waiting at that location, Smart was asked to return home in an unfamiliar car and via several different routes. Jaytee’s behaviour was recorded during this time to see if he could sense Smart’s intention to return home. To ensure that the dog was not using his conventional senses to detect Smart’s return, only the first ten minutes of the return journey were used in analysis of the results.

After conducting more than 200 such trials conducted between 1994 and 1995, Dr Sheldrake found that Jaytee went to the window overlooking the road (where his owner’s approach would be first seen) significantly more when his owner was returning home than when she was not. Jaytee spent 18% of the time at the window before Smart was told to return home, 33% of the time when she had been told to go home but had not yet started off in the car, and 65% of the time when she was travelling home.[FOOTNOTE: Sheldrake, R. & Smart, P. (1998) A dog that seems to know when its owner is returning. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research , 62, 220-232.]

Dr Sheldrake proposed that these results suggested that the dog was aware of his owner’s intention to return home through anomalous means which he defined as telepathy.

Before publishing his findings, Dr Sheldrake contacted Richard Wiseman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire who wished to conduct his own experiments with Smart and her dog after hearing about the research in the media. Dr Sheldrake invited Wiseman to attempt to replicate the results of the experiments. This was agreed to and Wiseman, assisted by Matthew Smith from Liverpool Hope University and Julie Milton from Edinburgh University, conducted four tests with Smart and Jaytee similar to those of Dr Sheldrake’s.

After the four tests Wiseman et al concluded that the dog did not show signs of telepathy and that any appearance of such abilities in Jaytee and other animals was due to them responding to routine, sensory cueing from the owner and people remaining with the pet, selective memory on the part of owners, multiple guesses, misremembering and selective memory.

Specific to Dr Sheldrake’s experiment, Wiseman et al cited methodological problems, first pointed out by Susan Blackmore, to explain the seemingly positive results. Wiseman then published his findings, disputing the concept of what he called the ‘psychic pet’ phenomenon in the British Journal of Psychology, before Dr Sheldrake’s paper on his own research was published. Dr Sheldrake later remarked, “I would have liked to ‘bunk’ before I was ‘debunked’”.[During an interview on 8 July 2009 with Philip Stevens]

The British media picked up on Wiseman’s paper which resulted in newspaper headlines such as “Pets have no sixth sense, say scientists” (The Independent, 21 August 1998), “’Psychic’ dog is no more than a chancer” (The Times, 21 August 1998) and “Psychic pets are exposed as a myth” (The Daily Telegraph, 22 August 1998).

Following this, Dr Sheldrake requested the results of Wiseman’s tests which were given and examined by Dr Sheldrake who in a post hoc analysis found that the results of the four trials conducted by Wiseman et al actually closely matched those of his own 200 trials, with the same pattern of Jaytee going to the window far more frequently when his owner was on her way home than when she was not.

This was never denied by Wiseman, Smith or Milton, despite Dr Sheldrake’s assertions to the contrary. However, neither in the original Journal of Psychology paper, nor in the reply to Dr Sheldrake’s critique of their work, did Wiseman et al state that they had repeated the pattern observed by Dr Sheldrake.

In 2007, nine years after the original paper was published and over eleven years after the completion of the research, during an interview with Alex Tsakiris on Skeptiko, Richard Wiseman said “I don't think there’s any debate that [sic - in the interview "that" appears as "but"] the patterning in my studies is the same as the patterning in Rupert’s’s how it’s interpreted.”[Footnote: Skeptiko, 17 April 2007, “Collaboration Between Sketics and Paranormal Researchers” -]

A few months later, in an interview with Steven Novella in The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, Wiseman repeated his belief that the patterns found in Dr Sheldrake’s study could also be found in his own.[FOOTNOTE: The Skeptics' Guide To The Universe - Podcast 126 – 19 December 2007. quote: “Rupert then came along, did his own tests using a different procedure and claimed the dog was psychic and then reanalysed our data and found the same patents in our data he had in his. And I think those patterns are there as well.”] Dr Sheldrake has stated that he believed these were the first times Wiseman had publicly agreed, at least in part, that he had replicated Dr Sheldrake’s results. " — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:49, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not going to make judgements about the specifics of the matter (it's not our job, WP:VNT), but generally speaking you've suggested a good point: that there are additional reasons for the widespread rejection of Sheldrake, not just lack of reproducible evidence. I've amended the sentence in question.
In case you missed my edit comment, before continuing please read the policies at the top of the page. Vzaak (talk) 06:56, 26 August 2013 (UTC)