Talk:Rupert Sheldrake/Archive 8

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Archive 7 Archive 8 Archive 9


Misleading lead section

The second paragraph of the article says

"Sheldrake's morphic resonance hypothesis is widely rejected within the scientific community and has been labelled pseudoscience and magical thinking. Concerns include the lack of evidence for the hypothesis and its inconsistency with established scientific theories."

There are lots of inline references that appear to back up these claims (though I haven't checked them all), so I have no problem with what this paragraph says. But other stuff is missing.

The lead paragraphs of WP:LEAD tell what should be in an article's lead, including that it should summarize the material in the article, including important controversies, and be written from a neutral point of view. The latter is especially important in biographies of living persons.

In looking at the article, I see much material that is favorable to Sheldrake, often of the form "X says Sheldrake is a big windbag, but that mightn't be entirely correct." None of this material is mentioned in the lead. Neither is there anything in the lead about Sheldrake's important criticism of the current state of scientific inquiry.

Based on these facts, I believe that the lead fails to summarize important controversies (mentioning only the predominant anti-Sheldrake side of them) and fails to include important material (the fact that Sheldrake attacks the very science that the anti-Sheldrake folks base their careers on, and that therefore might color their opinions). These omissions, IMHO, mean that the lead isn't written from a neutral point of view. The strict requirements of WP:BLP allow this paragraph to be removed immediately. It would be much better, IMHO, to add some material that would create a neutral point of view. A few sentences would probably suffice.

I'm not highly familiar with Sheldrake material myself, so I'm reluctant to try fixing the defective lead. Maybe some of the Sheldrake experts will work on it. Lou Sander (talk) 14:52, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

If you read WP:UNDUE, you'll see that it requires us to give weight based on the weight of our sources. We have a few sources supporting Sheldrake, but the majority are starkly critical. The article reflects this fact. MilesMoney (talk) 14:54, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
I think that's what Lou Sander is suggesting, reading WP:UNDUE the lead section in Sheldrakes's biography is misleading, written in a voice to demean his biography as a way to disprove a hypothesis of his. This lead section shows clear signs of bias and violations of WP NPOV. WP UNDUE states "Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint in the published, reliable sources." Consider - this is not an article on Sheldrake's hypothesis, it is a biography page and any application of WP must be applied strictly to WP:ALIVE. It appears that editors on this page are confusing mainstream scientific critique of an hypothesis with a critique on Sheldrake on his biography page. I vote for a re - edit of this entire page and will be making suggestions shortly. The Tumbleman (talk) 16:05, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Regarding WP:UNDUE, there also appears to be bias as to how Sheldrake's hypothesis is being defined under WP:FRINGE/PS. Because there are sourced quotes claiming his hypothesis to be Pseudoscience, that is not strong enough to apply it as Pseudoscience in editing under WP:NPOV. Consider - WP:FRINGE/PS lays out a framework for editors to determine the application, specifically "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". This is why String Theory is allowed a full voice on Wikipedia although technically, it falls under Pseudoscience by the mainstream scientific definition. Additionally, the over all biased voice of the whole page appears to violate. WP:TE The Tumbleman (talk) 17:08, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Comparing Sheldrake's "morphic resonance" with string theory is a disingenuous false analogy. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:00, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
I believe it's actually quite an appropriate analogy. There is no reasonable claim an editor can make regarding Morphic Resonance as Pseudoscience as the term is used and defined in science unless you are claiming it is PS because it is not falsifiable. That appears to me to be the only supportive claim an editor can make to hold Morphic Resonance under WP:FRINGE. That's the exact same issue with String Theory, and under the terms, string theory is pseudoscience. This is a problem in academia regarding this definition, as this article in Scientific American points out.. that is why WP:FRINGE has section four. Editors cannot put an hypothesis in a WP:FRINGE category just because they have a quote from a scientist who says it is PS, and if they do, and it's from inside the scientific community, then it's considered an alternative theory and not PS. Help me understand your thinking here, what reasons do you as an editor support Morphic Resonance being held to WP:FRINGE as pseudo science? I am not seeing a clear case here and want to understand. The Tumbleman (talk) 18:37, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

Clarifying my point: The article itself discusses Sheldrake's (relatively few) supporters. The lead section (which should be a fair summary of the article's content) does not mention them. That is not proper, and needs to be fixed. A neutral point of view can be established by adding something about them to the lead section, or by deleting the offending paragraph. Adding something, IMHO, is the better way. Lou Sander (talk) 19:11, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

As MilesMoney said, the lead reflects the weight of sources. That you got the impression that Sheldrake has much support suggests the article has gone too far in including such support. The article failed to accurately convey the level of acceptance of Sheldrake in the scientific community, and should therefore be more critical. Vzaak (talk) 19:40, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
As I responded to that point the editor made. This appears to violate a number of WP. This article needs to follow WP in the appropriate order. There appears to be 'cherry picking' of WP policy which is making this article appear to be guilty of WP:TE. first the fundamental principle of WP, WP:NPOV, must be followed. Secondly, what needs to be followed on this page are the guidelines for WP:ALIVE. This is a biography page, not a page about Morphic Resonance. Considering Sheldrake has had quite a notable career criticizing mainstream scientific thinking, excluding that from his biography and the context within editors 'sources' here looks suspicious. In the interest of protecting wikipedia, I am requesting for a massive re -edit to this page in a WP:NPOV in accordance with WP:ALIVE. Help me understand your thinking here Vzaak, how does removing the historical, archived context of the debate between sheldrake and his critics improve his biography page according to WP, can you explain? The Tumbleman (talk) 19:58, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
The lead section does not mention his supporters, but neither does it suggest that he has no supporters at all. Calling his morphic resonance theory "widely rejected" seems if anything a generous summary of the article. --McGeddon (talk) 13:16, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
By omitting the context of the debate of Sheldrake within the scientific community, the entire lead section slants bias against sheldrake. By omitting 'supporters', lead section is omitting context of debate around sheldrake by default.The Tumbleman (talk) 14:07, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak: The article says that Sheldrake has supporters, and provides some detail. The lead does not mention that he has them. It is therefore not written from a neutral point of view. That is enough to justify deletion of its second paragraph. Also, the article mentions that Sheldrake is critical of the foundations of mainstream science. The lead doesn't mention that, but does quote many mainstream scientists who are bitterly critical of Sheldrake. That is another failure to provide a neutral point of view in the lead. This, also, is enough to justify deletion of the second paragraph. IMHO, editors need to acknowledge the basic correctness of what I just said: that the lead lacks a neutral point of view. (Since this is a BLP, their acknowledgement is not even necessary. It would be best to have it, though. IMHO, it would also be better to improve the second paragraph rather than to delete it.) Lou Sander (talk) 23:14, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

We are going to be suggesting numerous edits to the lead section shortly. We will propose these edits before we make them and editors here can evaluate the edits within NPOV and ALIVE. There are more problems than the one you mention. The lead section is written in a voice which appears to detract from Sheldrake's credentials as a scientist and appears to seek to create a false impression of his academic history.The Tumbleman (talk) 01:20, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
  1. Who's the we?
  2. You must achieve consensus before making changes. Your failure to understand this will likely get you a topic ban. Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:57, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
"We" means the community of editors. Specifically, I am going to be submitting changes for the community's consensus and will be doing this strictly according to WP. Any editors failure to understand or abuse any WP Policy, especially WP:GAME, are likely to find themselves removed from the page.The Tumbleman (talk) 13:53, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
I see you're pretty much in a minority of 1 when it comes to thinking that WP:FRINGE will not apply to this article. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:23, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Not sure that's relevant. Remember WP:DEM. WP policy is clear of when and when not to apply WP:FRINGE. If editors can explain their application of WP:FRINGE in relationship to a WP:ALIVEwith me or any other editor, then their edits will stand. If they are unable to support their edits within the framework of WP:DEM by making reasoned unbiased arguments, then edits will be removed or perhaps taken into mediation if WP:TE ensues. I will be making my formal argument on this at a later date after the lead section is cleaned up to support WP:ALIVE and WP:NPOVThe Tumbleman (talk) 16:39, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

I had a look at the sourcing for the statement that "morphic resonance is widely rejected."  ;891011 [[1]] None of these sources support that statement in any meaningful way. 8 and 12 are book reviews, which can hardly be regarded as sources of scientific opinion. #9 is just a single statement by Martin Gardner, a member of CSICOP, a known radical atheist pressure group. In any case, it's nothing more than an assertion. #10 is taken totally out of context. In any case, it's just another assertion. #11 seems to be an article, but does not appear to have a working link.

This is terrible sourcing. This is just a handful of people, most of whom aren't even qualified to speak on this subject, speaking in broad terms. For the assertion "morphic resonance is widely rejected" to be properly sourced it needs sources that specifically address that assertion in a meaningful way. The source should explain why it is widely rejected and present a scholarly approach to supporting the assertion. Perhaps morphic resonance is widely rejected, but the sources that are there now wouldn't hold up in a high school term paper.Craig Weiler (talk) 00:30, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

This area has been changed, but it is no better. In particular, the whole third paragraph is supported by "[a]" which is a perfect demonstration of the kind of biased editing favored by the Guerrilla Skeptics. It is a cherry picked selection that omits opposing points of view and fails to recognize controversy. It presents these skeptical points of view as a done deal, which they certainly are not. It is very important that skeptics editing this page recognize the existence of controversy. That means that sections such as the third paragraph have to reflect the presence of controversy and not take a particular side. For someone such as Sheldrake, you could potentially pick sources to say whatever you want to. Just because a source says a thing doesn't mean that this reflects the entirety of the situation. There are competing sources and this basic fact cannot be ignored.Craig Weiler (talk) 19:08, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

I came to this concerned about BLP. "Just because a source says a thing doesn't mean that this reflects the entirety of the situation." I agree. "There are competing sources..." Can you offer some on this page? I keep looking for WP:RS and, after discussion on this page, I'd most likely support inserting them. I feel like Garrett Morris here. David in DC (talk) 20:01, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
Remember, WP:FRINGE says that the mainstream skepticism, while not necessarily the final word, is still the first word. MilesMoney (talk) 21:07, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
Well look at citation [[2]] for example. This is used as a justification for calling morphic resonance pseudo science and impacting public understanding. Look at it carefully because it is a response by Steve Rose to an experiment he did with Rupert Sheldrake testing the supposedly untestable hypothesis of morphic resonance. Where is the experiment and where is the rebuttal? How can you call something pseudoscience when skeptics are invited in to not only examine the work but comment on it? Rose's article in fact, was obviously lifted from Sheldrake's website. So he's not hiding anything. That doesn't fit any definition of pseudoscience that I know of. And how can you claim that a hypothesis is untestable when you're citing the frigging test!
This experiment, response and rebuttal is typical of the back and forth that occurs in Parapsychology. Relying solely on Rose's response as a citation isn't at all neutral.Craig Weiler (talk) 00:19, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the experiment and the rebuttal aren't in the article because isn't a WP:RS. David in DC (talk) 00:41, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake's site is just archiving the actual papers so should not be confused as the source. The actual source for what Lou Sanders is suggesting is Rivista di Biologia, 'Biology Forum' 85 (3/4), 1992, Rose's critique of the experiment is found on pg 445-453, Sheldrake's rebuttal pg 455-460. Here is another source of the paper referencing it to Rivista di Biologia. The Tumbleman (talk) 01:52, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not interested in excluding legitimate sources. My only concern is that we can't leave the reader with a mistaken impression about how Rupert's ideas are seen by the scientific community. His willingness to interact with scientists isn't unusual when you factor in the fact that he used to be one. But his endorsement of standard fringe ideas such as perpetual motion moves him far outside the realm of legitimate science. MilesMoney (talk) 03:45, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
Ok, there is something funky with this lead section. I understand the desire to make it clear that Sheldrake is not accepted in the scientific community, but that can be done a lot more concisely and with a more NPOV than the current version. The references to parapsychology seem to be unnecessary and misleading (see my discussion below for more), but the two and half paragraphs describing and deriding his theory as pseudoscience seem particularly excessive for a lead. That's what subcategories are for. We don't have to make it appear that he's a widely accepted scientific mind, but we can objectively, neatly summarize the important points in the lead. There shouldn't be any activism given priority, for or against Sheldrake.
At risk of revert, I'll wait for some consensus, so how's this:
"Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is an English author, lecturer and fringe scientist. He worked as a biochemist and plant physiologist at the University of Cambridge and elsewhere. Since 1981, his writings have largely centred on his proposal of "morphic resonance"; Sheldrake suggests that "memory is inherent in nature" and that "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind." He has argued that morphic resonance is also responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms". Many scientists have rejected his work as pseudoscience, citing a lack of evidence supporting his ideas and their inconsistency with established scientific theories.
Sheldrake also argues that modern science has become a series of dogmas rather than an open-minded approach to investigating phenomena. He questions the law of the conservation of energy and says the possibility of perpetual motion devices should be explored, despite their rejection by the scientific community.
Sheldrake has been described as a New Age author and has gained popularity among many in the New Age movement who contend that he lends scientific credibility to their beliefs. Critics express concern that his books and public appearances attract popular attention in a way that has a negative impact on the public's understanding of science. Sheldrake has not endorsed his depiction as a New Age author."''
I understand there may be some debate over the term "fringe scientist," especially on this strangely contentious page, but it covers all the essential points in a clear, concise way. We can flesh out the rest in the subcats. The Cap'n (talk) 04:52, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I, for 1, say "aye, aye", Cap'n.

I'm not nuts about "fringe scientist" in the lede, but wouldn't block consensus over it. It beats the hell out of the inaccurate, perjorative use of parapsychologist.

In my view, it's important to replace the recently introduced "proposal" with the more accurate "hypothesis". There's consensus for a change back to hypothesis way down yonder, below.

Finally, I commend this wonderfully calm explanation of the interplay between BLP and FRINGE to everyone's attention. BLP prohibits throwing a living fringe theorist to the wolves. David in DC (talk) 05:35, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

More trouble with the lead

The lead formerly had a few words about why Sheldrake questions conservation of energy. An editor removed it, and replaced it with another mention of something that Sheldrake doubts (the impossibility of perpetual motion).

Then, in another paragraph, somebody mentioned that the latter idea is pseudoscience.

This seems to me to be an attempt to marginalize Sheldrake's ideas in the lead. Enough of that has been done in the paragraph about how many people are critical of them.

I intend to restore his justification for doubting conservation of energy, and to delete both of the perpetual motion mentions. I just want people to know my thinking, so edit wars don't result. Lou Sander (talk) 21:12, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

Just to be fair Lou Sander, there is a reasonable justification for having absolutely no mention of COE issue in lead, primarily because Sheldrake is only pondering the issue philosophically, along with 9 other scientific theories or assumptions. I think it's fine to mention these things in the section about the book, but the lead section in my opinion should not contain editors 'picking' one of 10 topics in one of his books because that would require an interpretation of what sheldrake is pondering on philosophically. There is no reason any editor should mistake a philosophical discussion about science as pseudoscience as it's not an hypothesis or theory, sheldrake is just critiquing the principles that guide science to investigate such things. His only point on COE and perpetual motion machines is that science should be more open to testing them, so it's just a rhetorical suggestion on his party and not by any means a focus of his work or POV. It's not notable enough for a lead section if the lead section was written appropriately. Since the lead section here is not written appropriately, I am going to be making a very strong edit to it shortly and seek to reach a new consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 22:06, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Perpetual motion is ruled out by... conservation of energy. MilesMoney (talk) 22:25, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Understood, but philosophical discussions about COE do not qualify as suggesting otherwise either, so an editor making that inference and using it to justify a WP:FRINGE/PS claim around it or the page is inappropriate. The Tumbleman (talk) 22:36, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

As I noted in the edit comments, the relation of perpetual motion to conservation of energy is simpler and more suited for the lead. WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE require the mainstream view to be clearly stated. This was not an attempt to marginalize, but to conform more closely to policy while saving space in an already-long lead. The marginalization was already done by challenging conservation of energy, and there is hardly a more effective route to marginalization than that. vzaak (talk) 23:05, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

WP:FRINGE does not apply to philosophical conversations, ideas, or thought experiments, so it makes the argument for WP:NPOV to remove it, not keep it. No problems with stating the mainstream position, it's sheldrake's position that is being stated outside of a WP:NPOV. The page can't have both. The Tumbleman (talk) 23:13, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
You're simply mistaken. It's not our fault that Rupert says wild stuff that makes scientists snicker, and we don't have to pretend otherwise. MilesMoney (talk) 23:21, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
MilesMoney, You don't have to pretend that you accept such an idea, you just can't pretend that a philosophical idea can qualify as pseudoscience as that would be quite a claim that has no support academically. Making scientists snicker is not enough to qualify an idea as WP:FRINGE/PS, unfalsifiability is. language like that makes it appear that that sort of editing is biased and there is nothing in the definition of pseudoscience which includes philosophical ideas such as Holism, Panpsychism, or a host of other philosophical ideas that are discussed academically and also on Wikipedia and to do so would be WP:WL and not in the spirit of wikipedia. I've heard your opinions, but now I would like to hear your reasoning, specifically, why should WP:FRINGE apply to philosophical ideas specifically in relationship to Sheldrake, can you explain? Perhaps if you could present your case as a reasoned argument editors here would be willing to consider it in the coming request for new consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 23:52, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Conservation of energy is firmly within the domain of science. MilesMoney (talk) 00:18, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

you are correct MilesMoney . And the domain of philosophy is not within pseudoscience. Other than stating what is common knowledge, I am not seeing anything here in your reasoning to assume a philosophical exploration should fall under WP:FRINGE on an WP:ALIVE page. I'm hoping another editor can make the case as to how that makes this page better but so far I am not seeing much of anything to support it and WP allows for it to be removed under WP:ALIVE which is what is going to happen unless an editor can provide some reasonable and consistent argument for it remaining. The Tumbleman (talk) 01:30, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

Hey, Sheldrake is who he is, and he claims what he claims. One of his important claims is that science has lost its way as an engine of inquiry, and has become a series of dogmas. Another is the morphic resonance hypothesis. The job of the article is to tell about him and his work. Though it can mention his detractors, they are not what the article is about (and if it mentions them, it needs to mention his supporters, giving appropriate weight to each).
The lead needs to summarize what the article is about. If it says something about his work, it should be specific about that work, especially if it is going to mention people who knock it (scientists, of whose field he is strongly critical). If it mentions his criticism of conservation of energy (one of his ten major criticisms), it should provide a few words of background. It is then suitable to mention, briefly, that there are those who criticize that view. But if they are mentioned, those who support him also need to be mentioned. That's what neutral point of view is all about. Lou Sander (talk) 04:40, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
That's actually the opposite of neutral. Policy says we must give prominence to the mainstream view and a bit of space to minor views, but can't pretend that fringe views are anything but. Rupert's ideas, such as perpetual motion machines, are totally fringe. MilesMoney (talk) 03:03, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
MilesMoney I'm not sure that interpretation or personal research into sheldrake is helpful here, Sheldrake does not promote perpetual motion machines, he promotes scientists testing claims of perpetual motion machines for the purposes of falsification, general scientific curiosity, and the public understanding of science. And who cares? we should not be debating or trying to interpret a philosophy of science, because philosophically, anyone can ponder anything and assuming that's identical to someone proposing a theory or hypothesis doesn't seem to have mainstream academic acceptance. The Tumbleman (talk) 07:40, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Proposal for the lead

Sheldrake has two big ideas: "morphic resonance" and "science has lost its way". There has been a lot of strong criticism of the first big idea, but not much criticism of the second. The lead has to summarize what is said further down in the article, so we really need to be sure that what we say in it also appears down below. Where criticism of his stuff is concerned, we need to mention it in the lead, but we really shouldn't rag on it. After all, the article is about Sheldrake. If there are contrary opinions to the criticism, they need to be mentioned in the lead. If the negative opinions outweigh the positive ones, which they seem to do, the lead should give the negative more emphasis than the positive. But this is the lead, and the article is about Sheldrake, not his critics or their views, so we shouldn't spend a lot of words on the combined negative/positive stuff. We certainly shouldn't amplify the criticism (in the lead) by saying stuff like "the scientific community", "most scientists", "think it is balderdash", etc. (That stuff is fine down below, as long as it's balanced, etc.)

I propose that the lead should look like this, bearing the above principles in mind:

Paragraph 1, about his life and big idea #1. I'm happy with it as it is.

Paragraph 2, about big idea #2. I'm not happy that it presently includes a little about what his idea is, and a lot about why it isn't good. I didn't check, but I think that the negative stuff isn't covered in the main article. Sheldrake devotes an entire book to big idea #2; thirty pages of it are a rational evaluation of conservation of energy. Surely the article and the lead can present some more about what he is saying. Surely if the article mentions criticism of it, there need to be reliable sources.

Paragraph 3, about the controversies over both big ideas. It needs to give appropriate weight to the pros and cons, and it shouldn't amplify them to the point where they overwhelm the stuff about Sheldrake. Somewhere, maybe in paragraph 3 or 3a, it should mention that some folks are concerned about all the attention he gets.

Paragraph 4, about New Age and any other minor stuff that deserves to be mentioned.

There's nothing magic about this proposal, but I think it could be something good to work from. Lou Sander (talk) 14:01, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

I think we need to find a way to fit the sentence "Sheldrakes ideas are regarded as batshit insane by most scientists" into the lede somewhere. All the scientists I know believe this. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 15:14, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
This kind of commenting from editors shows a biased POV and is not what wikipedia is about and this comment is not being accepted as relevant to the rational consensus of this page. This is an WP:ALIVE page, and thus puts WP in a very sensitive, and very responsible position. This is a place of public media, please do not put WP in a place where libel could be raised. We are not just making sure the page has a NPOV, we are also protecting Wikipedia. The Tumbleman (talk) 15:55, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
You clearly don't understand libel, WP:NPOV or WP:FRINGE or WP:BLP or WP:WEIGHT. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 16:04, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

Well Roxy the dog, if you believe that to be the case, then I look forward to deliberating a reasoned argument based on common sense with any editors that present them. I think if editors focused more on making a reasoned case, and responding to reasonable questions with proper wiki etiquette, editors will find their voices having more value in the rational consensus for this page. The Tumbleman (talk) 16:11, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman, your claims that you are the only one on here with an agenda and everyone else is pov pushing is getting a little tiring, when consensus is that WP:FRINGE applies here. Roxy the dog might have chosen her words better but her POV is at least consistent with Wikipedia policies and consensus on this issue. Barney the barney barney (talk) 16:20, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for your input here Barney the barney barney. I agree, working to make a page better can be very tiring work. There is no consensus on WP:FRINGE claims on this page based on arguments any editor has provided here. It just looks like a bunch of Wikilawyering happening. It looks this way because everytime I request some sort of reasonable answer or question, none seems to be provided other than just a repetition of the claim that it's fringe. I'm trying to help your side of the argument here make a reasoned case. If you would care to make a reasoned case, I would indeed honor it. We can't make a reasoned case based on opinions or original research, it makes it hard to build a rational consensus that way. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:05, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
There is community consensus to implement WP:FRINGE throughout Wikipedia. This isn't a vote - just because you and other supporters of Sheldrake apparently want to whitewash the biography doesn't mean "there is no consensus", it means that you're not following policies. The WP:IDONTHEARYOU over WP:FRINGE is extremely tedious and obfuscates any real contribution that you might otherwise make. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:48, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

Barney the barney barney we are addressing concerns and making reasoned arguments that editors are avoiding by repeating WP:FRINGE over and over in what appears to be highly biased and misinformed argument, preventing any rational exchange from occurring. I guess WP does refer to that as WP:IDONTHEARYOU, that's what I have been experiencing here. It's odd that you would raise this issue with this editor, please address on my talk page if this is personal. If you believe that I have failed to miss a key argument, please supply it with references, common sense, and WP Guidelines. I am sorry if the deliberation is tedious. But you can always take a 'wiki break' and I am not holding you personally responsible for helping to make this page better. But unless someone can make a reasoned argument for WP:FRINGE based on my direct queries, I still find no reason to honor it and it's in violation of WP:NPOV, so it will be removed and a request for new and rational consensus will emerge. The Tumbleman (talk) 22:00, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

You are incapable of editing this page to the required standard per WP:COMPETENCE because of your inability to comprehend and implement Wikipedia policies. I could ask for a topic ban, but in effect you have this already since all of your ill-advised attempts at editing this page have been reverted. It only takes a posting to WP:FRINGE/N and it will be so. Meanwhile, if I want to discuss editing changes generally, I can't because any discussion gets rudely interrupted with whining about WP:NPOV and WP:BLP from a single editor who clearly doesn't understand those policies. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:22, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Barney the barney barney I think you have me confused with someone else. I haven't made any edits to the page yet. I am going to be introducing some suggestions for a new consensus and opening invite you to participate in that process. I am willing to have a reasoned exchange with you, I am just unsure how claims that an editor is incompetent have to do with applying WP:FRINGE/PS to a biography of a living person's philosophical ideas and look forward to hearing your explanation. The Tumbleman (talk) 23:00, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

This editor takes WP:GAME very seriously, and encourages all editors to be familiar with these guidelines as they advise us what to avoid in seeking a rational consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 23:32, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

I shall not be participating in any discussion instigated by Tumbleman as part of his bizarre social media / conflict resolution experimentation. I shall however be maintaining a watch, and look forward to sensible discussion with other editors. Teh internetz is a huge place and many historical traces remain. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 23:35, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Roxy the dog, Naturally 'teh internets' leave traces of activity, not only is this common knowledge, using these traces to focus on an editor is directly contradictory to the spirit and guideline of WP. The only thing this editor is engaging in on this talk page in 2013 is creating a more NPOV, and providing reasoned arguments based on references and WP. Avoiding reasonable questions from editors, citing past edits that go over 7 years, doesn't look like a way to build a consensus, it looks like WP:HARASS and WP:HOUND and is a violation of core WP principles. . The Tumbleman (talk) 15:56, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

Re paragraph 2

User:Lou Sander, on a scale of 1 to 10 of how readily a person can attract the label of pseudoscientist, challenging conservation of energy is about 11. Such an extraordinary claim is highly notable and deserves to be mentioned. There isn't really a way to make this softer, and moreover, I'm afraid that mentioning "evidence" in the lead would be even more embarrassing, like the old lady who claimed to be violating this law of physics but was deemed credible because of her "sincere religious faith". My view is that mentioning perpetual motion is a quick and merciful route out of that sandpit. vzaak (talk) 02:42, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

vzaak: Please don't include in the article your opinions about Sheldrake's challenge of COE. He makes reasonable arguments to back his challenge. It is not for editors to insert their opinions about his arguments, or to insert material from unrelated sources that says COE is an unchallengable truth. Nobody wants edit wars. Nobody wants unreasonable editing, either. Lou Sander (talk) 21:14, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
vzaak I see you are very diligent here making the page have a more NPOV. There still is no consensus on the lead section. I am going to list the issues I am seeing and request you explain in relationship to my query.
1.)This editor believes the paragraph on COE is misleading, because Sheldrake is not questioning the principle of COE, he is questioning the assumptions the scientific community has about it and his core message is that science should falsify claims of perpetual motion to enrich their case with the general public. He does not endorse Perpetual Motion machines and framing it they way the article does, it makes it appear that way. [1]. The book that is referenced a 'thought' exercise and a philosophical tome, every chapter turns every assumption into a question. Considering it's a philosophical exercise, and no different than what physicists are already doing[[3]]. Using this as a prop to prove he is guilty of PS is disingenuous. I don't believe it makes the page have a better NPOV. The fact that this needs to be clarified is every reason to treat this with care because the lead section is framing Sheldrake out of context to qualify him as a pseudoscientist to justify the WP:FRINGE guideline. Editors are not here to interpret works of authors, and if there is no consensus that such a paragraph is without bias and provides an out of context interpretation by an editor.
2.)It's not just one paragraph on COE that does this, it's the context of what Sheldrake does inside of the mainstream scientific community. The lead section appears to seek to diminish his very real and notable career as a scientist and a scholar and seeks to highlight interpretations of his work to justify the pseudoscience claim, making the page a product of WP:TE. Remember, Sheldrake is FROM the mainstream scientific community, Reactions from the scientific community and the debate around Sheldrake's ideas has often been analyzed in books, documentaries, television programs, public debate, scientific and skeptical journals, and academia. Withholding this from the page does not seem to meet the principle of notability and neutrality. Sheldrake is not even a parapsychologist, has no degree in parapsychology, has made it a public point to note that his research into telepathy falls on natural, not supernatural principles. yet the lead section puts WP:UNDUE on any reference to frame sheldrake outside of his actual, notable career, removes references to his work as a biologist, and focuses solely on the viewpoint of his critics to frame the page. We can't build consensus that way.
3.)Although there are references to a few scientists who hold the opinion that sheldrake's work is pseudoscience, and I would be the first to include them on the page, I am still not seeing any evidence of consensus in the scientific community that is the case yet I am seeing plenty of evidence that Sheldrake provides theory, research, evidence, and scientific experiment for falsification. This just appears that editors are doing WP:OR to come to conclusions without appropriate sourcing. Can you provide sourced evidence of scientific consensus regarding the pseudoscience claim? I am not talking about opinions of scientists, which are not considered facts. I am talking about a consensus that was arrived at through peer review. Until I see this sourced somewhere, there is no consensus on this page especially the lead section.
4.) I look forward to engaging with any editor that can explain this reasonably and I look forward to reaching a new consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 15:56, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

It's one of the more transparently stupid things Sheldrake has said. However, I'm not sure it's entirely worth discussing in the lead. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:28, 3 October 2013 (UTC)


Since the recent round of editing this actual began, we've all contributed to making it a better example of how the interplay between WP:BLP and WP:FRINGE should be dealt with. (The purposeful gamesmanship exhibited on this talkpage, not so much.)

But this truly impressive, elegant and praiseworthy edit is sui generis. The rigorous sourcing of the debunkery graf in the lede, by way of the far-too-infrequently employed "Notes" device, is retiring my very own, personal supersecret edit-of-the-month award before the first day of October has fled into the past, at least in the U.S. Eastern Time Zone.

Please do not spoil the moment with quibbling. Please do that on other threads. I know some of us cannot fathom a tension between WP:BLP and WP:FRINGE when applied to living fringe theorists, rather than fringe theories. I know that others cannot abide any suggestion that one policy, or the other, is anything but absolute. We can talk about that elsewhere, too. Please simply look at what this particular edit accomplishes and nod approvingly in User:Vzaak's general direction. From looking briefly at his talk page, it seems I've been editing here longer than he has. Thus thoroughly debunking the myth that longer is better. I virtually doff my virtual cap to thee, Vzaak. David in DC (talk) 02:21, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

User:David in DC has humbly not mentioned that he wrote the paragraph in question, which finally brings pieces together in an elegant and dispassionate manner. I expect the paragraph will be effectively frozen now, as it seems about the best that can be done; and David should really get the credit here. vzaak (talk) 03:07, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

I feel like puking at this sick display of mutual admiration, but instead, I'll say "Bravo". --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 06:21, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

I noticed the joining of all the references into the [a] note, and came to the talk page to praise it. I found that others had gotten here first. I endorse the praise that has been showered upon this work. It preserves the reader's ability to see the large number of citations against Morphic Resonance (and to draw their own conclusions), without cluttering the paragraph with a large number of (fully appropriate) references that, by their number alone, suggest the absence of a neutral point of view. VERY good work, IMHO.
And to Roxy the dog, I say that perhaps the reason you feel like puking is that generations of canines before you have ALSO felt like puking at similar material. You can't help it, since all of you are magically connected through (hypothetical?) morphic fields. You can look it up. ;-) Lou Sander (talk) 23:11, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

Questioning scientific principles

Paragraph 2 as recently edited is not written from a neutral point of view. Barney the barney barney: Please help us understand why you object to including one of the bases on which Sheldrake questions conservation of energy (finding weak evidence of it in living systems, a field in which he is an expert). This section is a summarization of his work, yet you remove key points of that work.

Also please explain why you object to including "...he questions some of its fundamental principles" (a basic statement of his work in this area), but then you gratuitously quote some of those challenged fundamental principles, seemingly as evidence that he doesn't know what he's talking about? This reader doesn't see the reason for that, unless someone is trying to demean Sheldrake. Lou Sander (talk) 23:40, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

User:Lou Sander, WP policy says that we should state the mainstream view alongside the fringe view. That's why your recent edit went afoul of policy. It's not appropriate to leave it "out there" that Sheldrake found a way around conservation of energy. The scientific consensus has to be prominently stated. That's why perpetual motion is mentioned, because the mainstream view of that is very short and simple to state.
User:Barney the barney barney, I don't know what the alternative would be. He has a list of ten dogmas, and of course we can't just list them. Picking the first one seemed appropriate. Anything we pick has to be countered, and countering conservation of energy is easy. vzaak (talk) 23:49, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
Wow, this is amazing.
1.Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, ‘lumbering robots’, in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.
2.All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activities of brains.
3.The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe suddenly appeared).
4.The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same for ever.
5.Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
6.All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
7.Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not ‘out there’, where it seems to be, but inside your brain.
8.Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
9.Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.
10.Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.
Basically, Rupert is opposed to all of science. He seems to want magic or religion, or magical religion, or maybe religious magic. Whatever it is, it's way over the top! MilesMoney (talk) 23:55, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
Please respond to the questions asked above. Yakking about how crazy Sheldrake is is not helpful. It is also very close to violating WP:BLP and therefore being removable without comment. And please, vzaak, try hard not to lecture other editors on policy. And all of you, please try harder to keep your disrespect for Sheldrake out of the article and off of the talk page. It makes it harder for all of us to present Sheldrake from a neutral point of view. Lou Sander (talk) 02:25, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
I'll note that you're misrepresenting my views: I didn't call him crazy. I did accurately describe his views as contrary to science. This is important because WP:FRINGE tells us that we have to make the mainstream view more prominent. To do this, we'd need to explain how each of his 10 claims is rejected by the mainstream, and that would take up more space than they deserve. Perhaps you could break them out into an article of their own. MilesMoney (talk) 03:15, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
User:Lou Sander, since this is the second time you violated WP:PSCI, I naturally tried to explain the policy a second time. Your penultimate edit was even worse: completely deleting the criticism paragraph from the lead. This is well in the direction of a discretionary sanctions warning, if not already there. vzaak (talk) 03:54, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
Please, fellows. We are trying to fix a summary section of a BLP here. At least I am. I do not give you gratuitous advice or explanations about policy, and I do not scold or threaten you. I try hard not to "state your views", and I do not respond to simple questions with great walls of text that are only peripherally related to them. Please return the courtesy.
It seems to me that editors are reluctant to include descriptive material about Sheldrake's criticism of science. Please help me understand the objection to including one of the bases on which Sheldrake questions conservation of energy (finding weak evidence of it in living systems, a field in which he is an expert). Lou Sander (talk) 08:21, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is not an expert. He did some postdoc work, 30 years ago. He massively fails WP:PROF. If you want an expert on living systems (i.e. a real biologist), try Prof. Lewis Wolpert CBE FRS or Prof. Steven Rose or similar. Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:53, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
Could you please be more specific about the objection to including the stuff about weak evidence in living systems? Lou Sander (talk) 01:58, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
We don't have anything that addresses Sheldrake's claims of weak evidence for conservation of energy. We can say something about conservation of energy generally, but that would mislead the reader ("Hey look, he has the evidence and it can't be refuted!"). We have assessments of his last book as a whole ("woolly credulousness" etc), but that can't be applied to a specific claim. Claims of perpetual motion machines, on the other hand, have been addressed by the scientific community. vzaak (talk) 07:05, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

I am all for including some of Sheldrake's more idiotic claims (he makes quite a few), but they need to be put in proper context, which means stating the obvious that such claims cannot be supported by science. Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:28, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

This kind of language from editors clearly shows a bias on the page and I find no reason to include this kind of reasoning into any rational consensus. There is no reason to use ONE topic in a book to show evidence of Sheldrake's POV in the LEAD section. That's what the section on the Science delusion is for.
And sheldrakes's POV on COE is NOT NOTABLE in his career, so placing it in the lead section is disingenuous and out of sync with WP:GOODARTICLE and makes it look like editors are trying to justify a 'fringe' claim on the page to meet their own agenda.
This is a page of a living autobiography, there is no argument to make that says 'Rupert is a fringe scientist' so therefore we MUST show the skeptical or mainstream view. Fringe/PS does not apply to people, it applies to research. Editors here are not being transparent, it appears there is only one agenda on this page, to make sure the skeptical POV is represented, above all else, and this POV should frame the context of his autobiography. I absolutely object to include an out of context reference to sheldrake's 'philosophical' idea. Not only is it academically inaccurate (applying a PS claim to a philosophical argument, which flies in the face of reason and common sense), it shows that there is only one agenda amongst a few of the editors, to support a skeptical POV. We are not here to promote ANY viewpoint other than a NPOV. There is NO consensus regarding vzaak edits and I request NO more edits are made to this page until we have a consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 18:40, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake's influences

User Vzaak recently added in the section mentioning the work of Henri Bergson. I also recommend adding a mention of Samuel Butler (novelist). It's briefly mentioned on a page in the book "History as an Art of Memory" by Patrick H. Hutton [4]. The foundation of Sheldrake's concept of "resonance" is the idea that there is a memory inherent in nature, he took this idea from Samuel Butler a 19th century novelist who published a series of crank books advocating a pseudoscientific view of evolution.

Sheldrake mentions Butler on his website in an article;

"The most interesting such theorist was English writer Samuel Butler, whose most important books on this theme were Life and Habit (1878) and Unconscious Memory (1881). Butler contended that the whole of life involved inherent unconscious memory; habits, the instincts of animals, the way in which embryos develop, all reflected a basic principle of inherent memory within life. He even proposed that there must be an inherent memory in atoms, molecules, and crystals." [5].

He also mentions Butler in his book "The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature" [6].

Unfortunately those are primary sources so not sure if they can be used. It's clear to me that Sheldrake took his views from other authors. All of his ideas are second-hand. I also found a review of Sheldrake's book that compared his theories to the theistic evolutionary views of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Dan skeptic (talk) 02:34, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

I like this suggestion. Various people have commented on Sheldrake's influences, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, Karl Jung and I think a couple of others that I've forgotten about but will have to go back and reread the sources. Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:54, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
I'd be fine with it if we can source the connections, so nobody can accuse any of us of original research for stating the obvious. MilesMoney (talk) 03:19, 5 October 2013 (UTC)


In my view, this talk page displays a lack of sensitivity to the interplay between BLP and FRINGE. The shorthand I've used in the past is that there are differences, based on policy, between the way we treat fringe theory and the way we treat biogrophies of living fringe theorists.

In my view, this article page is exponentially better on this score than it was a couple of weeks ago. The lede is much, much better in describing Sheldrake with the care required by BLP while describing his work with deference to FRINGE. To cite just one example, "is a former X and Y at Z institution" is far superior to "is a former x and y."

The subsequent grafs up until we get to his books and public appearnces are also much better.

Putting the block quote in Sheldrake's mouth in the full article, is totally different (and totally better) than cherry-picking the most derogatory words, putting them in the lede, and relegating the fact that they are Sheldrake's words to a footnote. Self-effacement is entirely different from pointed criticism by others.

In the book sections there's far less of a BLP problem, so long as the language reviews the books and their content, taking care not to review the author. And I think the book sections meet that challenge, mostly. The edits that might improve these grafs, I think, would be matters of nuance and prose style, rather than wholesale reorientation.

The same is true, mostly, of the grafs below the "books" grafs. They might benefit from slightly more robust editing, but not a whole lot of it and not as urgently as the rescue work that's been accomplished in the lede.

In sum, I think there's waaay too much heat in the comments on the talk page - provoked, in part, by some edits here that seem purposely designed to stir the pot on the talk page for reasons that appear to have been less for the purpose of improving the article than for the purpose of observing the interactions on the talk page. But I think the work on the article has been admirable. If one wanted to illustrate the axiom "Focus on the edits, not the editor" one might well point to the article as the end result of the former and the talk page as the end result of the of the latter.

Which, in an imperfect world, is a pretty good result. David in DC (talk) 11:13, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

Gotta agree with you there. MilesMoney (talk) 12:35, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree, too. Though I haven't read the article thoroughly lately, it seems like a decent account of Sheldrake, his work, and the controversy surrounding it. But IMHO there is a residual effort to make sure that the lead besmirches him, particularly in paragraph 2, about his challenging of foundational scientific principles. That stuff isn't as controversial or scorned as is the morphic resonance hypothesis, yet editors can't seem to resist introducing words like "pseudoscience", and giving their own opinions about the foundational principles he challenges. I wish they would stop. I've got some pretty good words to put into that paragraph, but I can't do it if I'm fighting that 'residual effort'. Lou Sander (talk) 02:11, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
It's not a residual effort, it's a requirement of WP:FRINGE. His beliefs are contradicted by the mainstream, and we have to make that painfully clear. MilesMoney (talk) 03:17, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
MilesMoney: I think I understand what you are saying, and I don't think it is correct. Here is the summary of WP:Fringe (there is a lot more, of course):
There is no "requirement" in this or any guideline, and there is no "have to make it painfully clear". There IS a reminder about "common sense".
Also, this article is not "about the idea", but about the living person who advances it. There is an important difference there. As stated, I think morphic resonance and Sheldrake are treated from a NPOV in the article and the summary. I do NOT think that either Sheldrake or his challenges of fundamental scientific principles are handled neutrally in Paragraph 2 of the lead. He thoughtfully challenges widespread beliefs in a serious book from a serious publisher. It is not proper, IMHO, to scorn him for it, or to rebut him. A simple link to the mainstream idea that is being challenged should be enough. Lou Sander (talk) 22:54, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
Lou, it's confusing when you post new comments above old ones, as you've done here and elsewhere. It's also difficult when the same point is being made in two different threads. I believe this has been answered above -- the issue is WP:PSCI which is also reflected in the WP:FRINGE nutshell you show, "the proper contextual relationship between minority and majority viewpoints must be clear." Is it your contention that WP policies on fringe theories don't apply when the subject of a BLP promotes a fringe theory? vzaak (talk) 00:15, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
You might be amused to know that, right before I saw your reply, my clipboard contained the exact phrase you quoted. That phrase is precisely why Lou is mistaken in his interpretation. MilesMoney (talk) 00:27, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
vzaak: I answered MilesMoney right after he said what he said. Elsewhere might have been confusing. Also, please stop scolding. If you want to know my "contentions", just read what I write. It is simple and straightforward. So are the questions I ask. Lou Sander (talk) 00:36, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
I echo David in DC in saying the lead is much improved; the essential facts haven't changed that much but they're now stated with more precision. The encyclopedic tone's improved as well. Also, kudos to all for conscientiously ignoring the WP:DRAMA-WP:BAIT that shows up here periodically. LuckyLouie (talk) 19:18, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

Thank you David in DC for putting together a more thoughtful response to the issues some of the editors have been raising. I still have however the same issue regarding WP:FRINGE and I am hoping you specifically can address this, as I believe this is a reasoned argument and no one seems to address it. I don't see any reason to apply WP:FRINGE at all. I think it's quite fair to show the skeptical POV where it is relevant - but there is nothing in Sheldrake's career, research, or hypothesis that justifies either a pseudoscience claim or a fringe claim. Below I am going to highlight my arguments as to how I come to this conclusion.

1.)FRINGE cannot apply to 'philosophical' ideas in the Philosophy of Science, so using Sheldrake's philosophical works, such as 'The Science Delusion' and him questioning the assumptions of mainstream science should not qualify him for a FRINGE mark. There is no academic argument to include it this way - there is nothing in academia or science that disqualify philosophical ideas as pseudoscience. Philosophically speaking, Sheldrake is presenting common philosophical ideas, not even of his own creation, into his criticisms. Holism and Panpsychism are actively discussed in academia, yet we do not see those pages on Wikipedia tagged as fringe and wow would it be awkward to start placing quotes from skeptics regarding those theories on the page because they fall outside of the mainstream view of science. So it is hard for this editor to accept any quote from Sheldrake such as his questioning of COE or mechanistic science. A person CANNOT be a 'fringe' person or a pseudoscience person just because they discuss philosophical ideas and criticize the philosophy of mainstream science. Consider, this is what SHeldrake DOES, he is known as a critique of modern science, and he is FROM the mainstream science community. Many of the references used by editors here fail to note that many of these people who critique sheldrake ALSO engage with him publicly to have this debate. This is a debate INSIDE of science and should not be a debate inside of WP.

2.)The only thing that any editor CAN use is Sheldrakes own research or hypothesis and here the choices ARE ONLY his hypothesis of Morphic Resonance or his research into telepathy. Let's look at each of these on it's own merits under the FRINGE claim to see if it is appropriately applied.

  • Morphic Resonance is an HYPOTHESIS, not a theory by sheldrakes own claim. I hope the community of editors understand the difference. It is a *proposed* explaination that can be tested. I am not sure if an hypothesis can be 'fringe' on it's own merits, however what qualifies something as Pseudoscience is a theory that has neither any evidence to support the claim AND OR that the theory is not falsifiable. Neither of these things apply to Morphic Resonance. There have been experiments and Sheldrake does seek to falsify his hypothesis through experimentation, which disqualifies it as pseudoscience. SECONDLY, under WP:FRINGE/PS WP is very clear on how to handle this kind of situation, specifically number 4 "Alternative Theoretical Formulations" should not have a PS tag. Just because a number of scientists don't like Sheldrakes ideas or believe his ideas to fall outside of mainstream science, does not disqualify his hypothesis as an Alternative Theoretical Formulation. So this is what editors here need to deliberate on - they have to show how Morphic Resonance is somehow NOT an alternative theoretical formulation. All the references editors have here are quoting OPINIONS of scientists and opinions are not facts. This editor needs to see a reference to a peer reviewed study that shows how Morphic Resonance is not falsifiable. Until then, as you can see, academics are STILL discussing his hypothesis[2] so let's let THEM debate it and not us editors on the page.
  • His research into telepathy technically falls under Pseudoscience because 'parapsychology' automatically has a pseudoscience tag. but this makes the argument tautological and almost clerical or administrative. Sheldrake has actually performed experiments and attempts to falsify claims of telepathy, completely removing the pseudoscience claim since he is providing falsification. It doesnt matter if I or any editor believes in telepathy or not, what matters is Sheldrake doing legitimate scientific experimentation, or not. Secondly, Sheldrake researches this as an extension of biology, and does not believe that there is anything paranormal happening, rather it is a phenomenon of biology. Considering Sheldrakes career of almost 50 years in the sciences, that's for Sheldrake to make inside of science, it is not a claim that any editor should be deliberating on one way or another.
  • Sheldrake is highly QUALIFIED to play the role of the 'heretic' in science, considering his impressive academic background in both Philosophy and Biology. Daniel Dennet speaks directly to this, although he thinks sheldrake is wrong, he states that "There is a niche for Sheldrake in our Voltaire, if he did not exist we would have to invent him. I think he is wrong, but he is wrong is such an ingenious way" (I'm paraphrasing slightly but here is the reference[3]. The point is that mainstream scientists, although many may reject his hypothesis, they do not reject Sheldrake. Reactions from the scientific community and the debate around Sheldrake's ideas has often been analyzed in books, documentaries, television programs, public debate, scientific and skeptical journals, and academia.[4]. We wikipedia editors SHOULD NOT BE HAVING THIS DEBATE or TAKE sides in the debate. Sheldrake is apart of the scientific process and this debate within the scientific process is NATURAL and follows the guidelines of the philosophy[of Science]

So here are the reasons I find these arguments of applying FRINGE to BLP very very weak and based on some of the direct language regarding Sheldrake on this talk page, it appears that many editors here have a bias so I am genuinely pointing this out to find consensus and make the page have a better NPOV. I understand many editors do not have either a philosophical or scientific background to address some of these points that I raise and perhaps they have no answer to them, but that alone does not disqualify my points, as my points are supported by the mainstream academic point of view. David in DC you appear very reasonable to me and I appreciate your presence on this page, it is definitely needed, and I look forward to reading how each of these points is applied to the relationship between BLP and FRINGE. The community here needs to build a rational consensus, not a consensus based on opinions that cannot maintain consistency with WP or common sense. I directly invite users MilesMoney, LuckyLouie Vzaak, Barney the barney barney, Lou Sander to actively participate to find consensus on these points before any further edit is made to the page. The Tumbleman (talk) 15:14, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

To this point I also want to add and CLARIFY. There is a lot of effort on this talk page to associate Sheldrake with pseudoscience to maintain this WP:FRINGE/PS claim. Giving him the title of 'parapsychologist' is, I believe, a very sneaky way to do this and I do not think it is appropriate in his title. Rupert Sheldrake has NO credentials as a parapsychologist, has no degree in parapsychology. He is a biologist with a very impressive academic background. He is not a *former* biochemist. The page clearly seeks to diminish his very very real and notable career as a scientists and seeks promote him as a parapsychologist instead. That his research as a biologist qualifies him to study 'claims of unusual abilities in animals and humans' does not qualify him academically as a parapsychologist. And more importantly, it's not a claim Sheldrake makes about himself. His credentials show that he is a biologist with a phd in biochemistry and a fellow of Philosophy through Harvard university. His research and papers show him as a highly credited researcher. Let's be fair here. The Tumbleman (talk) 15:52, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
  1. What's wrong with "morphic resonance" has been explained to you. A hypothesis isn't necessarily unscientific. However, Sheldrake claims that this hypothesis is true, despite evidence to the contrary, and having very poor evidence of it himself. He also is so vague about the whole concept that it might not be testable/falsifiable (which are related), and apparently tests of it by non-believers will fail because of the negativity they introduce.
  2. Sheldrake is not "an expert". He fails all 1-8 of the criteria in WP:PROF except the last catch-all that he meets WP:AUTHOR. His early academic career corresponds to that of somebody who will eventually reach the rank of professor, but he took a break from it all, went and did some relatively unimportant work for an Institute in a third world country, and then lost his way.
  3. Sheldrake is not partaking in the "scientific process". He isn't doing his experiments properly. He isn't publishing results in peer reviewed journals. He isn't engaging scientists in conferences. Nobody else in science is taking his ideas and working on them. He is doing classic pseudoscience insofar as he is selling books and lectures directly to the general public. The engagement that you see with him by the scientific community is entirely negative.
Your attempts to put a positive gloss on this really are at odds with the facts. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:57, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for jumping in Barney the barney barney, I am going to address each of your arguments here and request you continue to do the same with me until we reach a rational consensus in line with common sense.

1.)You suggest that 'what's wrong with Morphic Resonance' has been explained to me. I am not aware of any such explanation to me so I request you provide it again, however, I also don't think that is necessary. I am not here to defend Morphic Resonance. Personally i have no idea if it's true or not and for the purposes of this page, I also don't care. The rest of what you write about Morphic Resonance and Rupert Sheldrake reads like an opinion about it. Who cares? We are here to build consensus around referenced FACTS not opinions and then it is our duty to look at these referenced facts within WP.

2.)You state that "He isn't publishing results in peer reviewed journals. He isn't engaging scientists in conferences. " This is patently untrue. There are plenty of references to his publications here. He has directly engaged with some of the most prominent scientists and philosophers in the world and one prominent scientist even wrote a book about 12 prominent scientists directly discussing his ideas. Clearly if a scientist takes time to write a book about Sheldrake it's fair to say the evidence suggests that his ideas are clearly worth discussing within science.

I do not have confidence that some editors are able to view the actual evidence regarding Sheldrake's biography through the bias that they clearly have. Barney the barney barney, you claim Sheldrakes ideas are 'idiotic' directly on this talk page. I am just requesting we all view the evidence and build a rational consensus and keep our opinions out of the process. The Tumbleman (talk) 16:19, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak asks in talk Is it your contention that WP policies on fringe theories don't apply when the subject of a BLP promotes a fringe theory? Yes, and specifically, it's that the WP policy on FRINGE simply does not apply on the biography at all since his hypothesis is an alternative theoretical formulation which WP:FRINGE/PS makes it clear that such a formulation should not be graded as PS and all other research Sheldrake has done has included experimentation and falsification. There are nothing in any references on this page which supports otherwise. The Tumbleman (talk) 00:39, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

Stop, please...

at least long enough to read this exchange on my talk page. We're collaborating. Let's not edit war. Perhaps I was wrong to start this with my initial make this edit on this score in the first place. I thought it uncontroversial. David in DC (talk) 17:38, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

Timeline of events:

  1. Since Sheldrake does not describe telepathy as paranormal, User:David in DC restores the older "telepathy-type interconnections" quote.[7] No consensus is required to remove a misrepresentation of an author's own idea.
  2. I make a small clean up. As I said in the edit comment: We already have "memory is inherent in nature" and "inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind". Adding "collective memories within species" seems redundant.[8]
  3. User:Lou Sander begins warring on my trivial change, saying "Please stop removing important parts of Sheldrake's ideas". This doesn't make sense. It appears as though he simply missed David's edit.

vzaak (talk) 17:49, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I don't expect to have to read somebody's personal Talk page to find a consensus on an article. That should be here, not there. Did the consensus Lou has referred to occur when he banjaxed the running order of comments? I've reread the whole talk twice (except for the troll) and am totally confused. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 17:58, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
The personal talk page is not relevant and is not related to Lou's warring. David's edit comment is sufficient explanation -- he removed a misrepresentation. The warring isn't about David's edit. Lou is warring on my trivial clean up that removes needless redundancy. It doesn't make sense. vzaak (talk) 18:04, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure it will be sorted out. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 18:09, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

User:David in DC, you should change your initial message on this thread because it misdescribes the situation. The talk page was simply clearing up prior confusion, and lends nothing to illuminate the problem here. Your edit was correct and stands on its own. Lou isn't warring about your edit, he's warring about my edit. vzaak (talk) 18:11, 6 October 2013 (UTC)

Re the strikeouts, David there is no way your edit was wrong. It removes a misrepresentation of how Sheldrake describes his own ideas. Asking people to read the user talk page conversation is confusing because this problem here has nothing to do with it. This is about Lou's peculiar warring on something unrelated. vzaak (talk)

Clarifying the issue

Here are the three versions in chronological order. The first sentence is there for context only; it is always the same.

  • original: Since 1981, his writings have largely been centred on his hypothesis of "morphic resonance", which posits that "memory is inherent in nature" and that "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind." He argues that morphic resonance is also responsible for paranormal interconnectedness between organisms.
  • David's change: Since 1981, his writings have largely been centred on his hypothesis of "morphic resonance", which posits that "memory is inherent in nature" and that "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind." He argues that morphic resonance is also responsible for "...telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and ... collective memories within species." (diff)
  • my change: Since 1981, his writings have largely been centred on his hypothesis of "morphic resonance", which posits that "memory is inherent in nature" and that "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind." He argues that morphic resonance is also responsible for "telepathy-type interconnections between organisms". (diff)

my change looks completely uncontroversial to me. It removes awkward repetition -- "collective memories within species" is already covered by the previous sentence. The new version is less cumbersome with no information being lost. This was a simple clean up of David's change twelve minutes prior (which was a very good edit for the reasons given above).

However User:Lou Sander very much wants the version at David's change and does two reverts to keep it. He says about my edit: "There is quite a consensus that this paragraph is fine. Please get consensus before changing it. Please stop removing important parts of Sheldrake's ideas."

Considering that the "quite a consensus" had lasted for only twelve minutes, it seemed likely to me that Lou just missed User:David in DC's edit. Maybe I was jumping to conclusions. In any case I find Lou's edit inexplicable and I would like him to explain how my change removes "important parts of Sheldrake's ideas" -- moreover, important enough to edit war for it. vzaak (talk) 02:05, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

I've been keeping an eye on your changes, and I've yet to see one that was unreasonable. I don't agree with all of them, but they're not damaging the article. MilesMoney (talk) 03:41, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
All that talk for this: You removed "collective memory within species". That is an important concept. Removing is isn't "trivial" as you claim. What seems trivial and uncontroversial to you doesn't necessarily seem so to others. You don't own the article. Please stop. Lou Sander (talk) 08:34, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Here are the points I see:
  • The article says "memory is inherent in nature".
  • The article says "natural systems, such as termite colonies, or pigeons, or orchid plants, or insulin molecules, inherit a collective memory from all previous things of their kind."
  • David replaced "paranormal interconnectedness" with "...telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and ... collective memories within species."
  • This change sat for 12 minutes.
  • I notice "collective memories within species" is redundant, as it is covered by those two quotes above, and I shorten the new quote.
  • Combining David's edit with mine, the only difference now is that "paranormal interconnectedness" has been replaced with "telepathy-type interconnections".
  • However, Lou really wants David's version.
  • Lou says there is "quite a consensus" on this version that sat for 12 minutes.
  • Lou says I should have gotten consensus before making my change.
  • Lou says I am "removing important parts of Sheldrake's ideas".
  • Lou wars to keep David's version.
David in DC and anyone else, I would like to get your input on this. I haven't been able to figure this out. vzaak (talk) 10:19, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I think you've got the sequence right. I think you've got an opinion about what Lou was doing. I think I agree. However, the editing behavior you've described accurately has stopped and the stable version is again stable. There are plenty of live horses to flog. I don't think there's a need to continue flogging dead ones. David in DC (talk) 10:47, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

"perpetual motion devices are pseudoscience"

It's usually a good indication that an article is under an edit war when nonsensical phrases such as this are left dangling in the header. A device is not a pseudoscience. The theoretical construct of such a device's existence may be the product of pseudoscientific thought, but a device is psuedoscience about as much as my cat is biology.

I have very little desire to return to Wikipedia editing, so this non-sensical phrase can stay for all I care. At the very least, it is a cue to me and any other intelligent reader to stop paying attention. It tells me that somebody here is more interested in dropping the word "pseudoscience" into the header than actually creating a readable article for the rest of us to enjoy. Clearly you've all lost sight of what you're supposed to be doing. I hope for Wikipedia's sake that you all will review Wikipedia's Five Pillars and try to get back on track. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:05, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

The idea that they can be built is pseudoscience. It's practically a cliché by now. MilesMoney (talk) 14:22, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
If Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) feels this way, I think we should take it as read that we have the right balance. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 14:28, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, MilesMoney - "the idea that they can be built" would be what you are referring to as "pseudoscience" not the device itself. If you haven't noticed I'm criticizing the article's butchering of the English language here - not whether or not investigations into perpetual motion are scientific (I don't know the first thing about perpetual motion). And Roxy, in my day, I helped bring articles like these to featured status, largely by avoiding uncivil behavior and assuming the good faith of my fellow editors - quite unlike you have done in your comment above. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:08, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
You reap what you sow. Take a look at your opening gambit again Annalisa. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 17:37, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
I may be closer to Annalisa Ventola on this one. Building a perpetual motion device would be pseudoscientific endeavor, but a perpetual motion device itself is -- what? The text was recently changed to "perpetual motion devices are pseudoscientific in nature" -- but wait, we are talking about the empty set, and that satisfies every property. The source says perpetual motion is a characteristic, and the ways to formulate this accurately in the article all seem cumbersome. I think just saying "not possible" is good enough, no? vzaak (talk) 03:11, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
The issue is one of grammar. As Annalisa points out, a device or thing can't be a category of things. The -ific puts the thing in the category of things.--Nealparr (talk to me) 05:12, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
The source says, "Some examples of pseudoscience include the following: ... Perpetual motion". Note the article now says perpetual motion is pseudoscience, not perpetual motion devices. In any case "not possible" might be OK too; I'm not strongly committed to the issue. vzaak (talk) 05:26, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I did notice the change to remove "devices", much better. Not sure that it's still proper to say "Perpetual motion is pseudoscience". It would be very much like saying "motion is science", which of course it isn't. Motion is an example of something that science explores, certainly. But (again, Annalisa's point), it's not like motion is the all-encompassing-world-of-science. I'm not stuck on anything either. Just making an edit. Removing the word "devices" helps. Carry on. --Nealparr (talk to me) 05:52, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for jumping in Annalisa Ventola you are correct we do have issues with edit warring on this page and reaching a consensus. I agree with your position, not only is a device not a pseudoscience, but a person is also not a pseudoscience as well and since this is a BLP, We are having issues with some decisions here and invite you to assist us in reaching a new consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 19:19, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for a New Consensus for Sheldrake lead

Requesting all editors to reach a new consensus for the lead.

MilesMoney , Roxy the dog, Annalisa Ventola, Vzaak, David in DC, Lou Sander, LuckyLouie, Barney the barney barney

After engaging with many editors on this page for the past few weeks and addressing concerns and reading others, I believe we need a new consensus in the lead section.

Please view my sandbox for proposal

The lead section I suggest only needs 3 paragraphs of 1 sentence each, and it reflects the context of not only the entire article but frames the context of sheldrake in a neutral POV.

The first thing that needs a clean up to return the article to a NPOV is how Sheldrake is framed professionally. I am removing 'parapsychologist' because he is not a parapsychologist, has no degree in parapsychology, and does not refer to himself as a parapsychologist. The claim that he is a 'former biochemist', the removal of his title as biologist just seems like it's important to some biased POV that Sheldrake is not taken seriously as a scientist, and there is no consensus there and will not be. Therefore, framing him as a parapsychologist looks like OR and it seeks to diminish is very real career as a scientist and researcher. It is important that the article reflect the context of why sheldrake is notable, he is notable because he is apart of the mainstream scientific community and therefore he is QUALIFIED to critique it. So instead of listing all of his degrees, honors, etc etc, I thought it best that both sides make a compromise here and make it simple. He is an author and biologist noted for his hypothesis of MR, his research into telepathy, and his public critiques of mainstream scientific thinking. There will never be any consensus to the lead if editors are trying to frame sheldrake as something he is not to prop up a WP:FRINGE claim which makes the page looks like it has an ideological POV.

The second sentence/paragraph frames the POV from the skeptics and scientists without editors having to make a point or interpret what sheldrake really means or what a skeptic really means. We do not need any more than this in the lead section. I have many issues with how references previously were being used. This still needs better references.

The last paragraph sentence is necessary to show 'why' sheldrake is notable with proper references.

I see no reason WP:FRINGE needs to be applied as the sole guide to how this page is edited based on any of the references that are currently on this page and personally do not accept the WP:FRINGE guideline to this page, however I understand that the skeptical POV is relevant here - but that should be fleshed out in the body, not the lead. Any references to sheldrake talking about philosophical ideas and using that to lump him in as a pseudoscientist is disingenuous to WP. Sheldrake's arguments include philosophical ideas that are not even unique to his authorship, such as an 'extended mind', Holism, or panpsychism are all acceptable philosophical ideas and WP is not a soapbox for philosophical arguments between skeptics and philosophers.

This is an entirely NPOV devoid of any ideology and in step with WP:GOODARTICLE I think this is something that all sides can accept.

Paragraph 1:

Alfred Rupert Sheldrake (born 28 June 1942) is a British biologist and author, most notable for his hypothesis of Morphic Resonance, his research into telepathy, and his public criticism of philosophical materialism in mainstream science

All references checked in sandbox

Paragraph 2:

Sheldrake’s work on morphic resonance and telepathy has been widely criticized by prominent scientists, skeptical organizations, and science journalists, with some claiming it is pseudoscience, unsupported by evidence, and others labeling it as magical thinking and heresy.

References here are incomplete because there are issues with current references to this, so references still an issue in paragraph 2 requesting support here.

Paragraph 3:

Reactions from the scientific community and the debate surrounding Sheldrake's ideas have been analyzed in public debates, books, documentaries, television programs, scientific and skeptical journals, and academia.

All references in sandbox support this

This is an entirely NPOV devoid of any ideology and in step with WP:GOODARTICLE I think this is something that all sides can accept. The Tumbleman (talk) 17:15, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

The lead as it now stands is too lengthy. It needs be rewritten, and this is a solid start. It's neutral and concise. KateGompert (talk) 22:19, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
This is much better than the current lead. The article suffers from multiple POV issues, and this is a good start toward resolving those. Nat (talk) 23:34, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
Please review this stab at it. I think WP:FRINGE applies, but only to the extent that it does not overwhelm WP:BLP which I view as the far more important wiki-policy. There's a tension between the two. I've written about that up higher on this page. I welcome the arrival of additional editors. This was beginning to turn into a circle jerk. David in DC (talk) 00:24, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
David in DC, this is reminiscent of "teach the controversy". It's the kind of thing that WP:PSCI and WP:GEVAL were intended to address. This is WP:NPOV, and we needn't even mention WP:FRINGE. You wrote the criticism paragraph in the live article, and the sources therein show overwhelmingly what the scientific reception is. Your new stab runs afoul of NPOV because it obfuscates the description of the mainstream views of the scientific community. vzaak (talk) 01:23, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
vzaak, I am not seeing your point backed by the references that are provided because the references provided are only expressing opinions, not facts. There is too much undue weight on skeptical authors, including an economist, being used to reference what the mainstream scientific consensus is. Then, when there is a reference to a mainstream scientist and not a skeptic, it's just one scientist Lewis Wolpert. And it's just Wolpert's opinion, It's not a fact. I am not finding any evidence that MR is pseudoscience or that sheldrake is by a matter of scientific consensus in any reference. The Tumbleman (talk) 02:43, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
There are many possible ledes that will satisfy BLP. There are many different ledes that will satisfy FRINGE. The Venn diagram that depicts the lede that satisfies the overlap is smaller. I'm staying off the article page, except for non-controversial edits or, if I see them, BLP violations severe enough to warrant unilateral deletion, while we try to find a lede that better satisfies BLP and FRINGE. I disagree with those who say the current lede is egregious enough to warrant unilateral BLP removal. I also disagree that making the lead on the biography of a loiving person mostly about the living person, with references to crticism of Sheldrake's theories in summary form only, but fleshed out in the body violates NPOV or FRINGE. My sandbox attempt, in my view, is better than the current lede, but a work in progress. And should only replace the current one by consensus. David in DC (talk) 10:34, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
This is quite an improvement. I like the how succinct Tumbleman's version is. I also like how David has fleshed it out. My only criticism is that the last statement in David's version should probably be referenced. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 00:48, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Come to think of it, much of David's version requires referencing, but I imagine that this is forthcoming? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 00:54, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Mine would need refs. Many would come from Tumble's first draft. All would come from the current universe of refs. I've written nothing for which we don't already have a ref. I noted this in the prefatory language to my draft, in T's sandbox. David in DC (talk) 10:34, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Nice work David in DC, and to your point I think WP:FRINGE applies. How? Nothing seems to support this in the references and all the facts support MR is falsifiable and his telepathy research is falsifiable. The facts support that MR is an 'Alternative Theoretical Formulation'. What specifically are you applying this to? The Tumbleman (talk) 02:51, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

All should please take a look at WP:LEAD, to see what a lead is supposed to be and to accomplish. The Tumbleman's proposed lead is more a list of topic sentences than is is a lead. It isn't able to stand alone as a concise review of the article.
The first paragraph doesn't even define Morphic Resonance, let alone provide a summary review of it, and there's no meat about his criticism of science. This is an article about Rupert Sheldrake. The summary hardly even mentions him. In fact, all that is said about Sheldrake's life, work, and ideas is shorter than the sentence about the criticisms. It is as though the criticisms are more important than the man and his ideas. IMHO, there's nothing wrong with the existing first paragraph.
The second short paragraph, IMHO, fairly and adequately summarizes the criticisms of Sheldrake and his work. All of it is expanded on in the body of the article. IMHO, if the lead says much more than that, it's in danger of being too strong for a BLP. All who reference the various WP:FRINGE stuff should note that it is mainly directed to articles about fringe theories and about the mainstream theories that stand opposed to the fringe ones. This is something different, a BLP about a guy with some fringe theories.
I like the short third paragraph about reactions to Sheldrake. This is a new idea in the lead. I didn't check to see if it summarizes stuff in the article. If it doesn't, the article should be expanded or this paragraph should be dropped. Lou Sander (talk) 03:58, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Lou Sander good insight here. I am glad you actually think it needs more, because I stripped it down to basics (like a list as you mention) to reach consensus on at least what the notable 'arc' is in his biography. Look at my earlier version [[9]]. The second paragraph you don't like covers what the GSM here wants to accomplish so I offered that as a consensus if we have paragraph 3, which shows it is a notable debate and controversy - yes the body needs to flesh this out too, but the chicken and egg problem is unavoidable. The Tumbleman (talk) 04:50, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Reply to question about whether FRINGE applies at all: any living person whose most well-known hypothesis includes telepathic-type interconnectedness and heritable memories passed down through the generations of a species but not as a part of Darwinian evolution is operating at the fringe. We agree that WP:BLP is the most important wiki-value to guide editing of a BLP. We disagree about whether WP:FRINGE is also a relevant wiki-value in the bio of Sheldrake. David in DC (talk) 10:43, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
David in DC: I, too, agree that WP:BLP is the most important value here. It is a policy. I believe that the WP:NPOV policy is equally important, and is tied closely to WP:BLP. I, too, agree that Sheldrake is operating at the fringes of accepted science. I believe we need to keep in mind that, as a highly qualified scientist himself, he questions many of the foundational beliefs of that science. I think that the behavioral guideline WP:FRINGE, though it explicitly applies to articles about theories and not about people, is useful for us to keep in mind here, as long as we keep it in perspective and use common sense. Lou Sander (talk) 13:00, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

I think that both rewrites are definitely an improvement and should be moved on sooner rather than later as they are much more concise and straight to the point. IMHO I think it's fairly uncontroversial to go ahead with the transition. Lukekfreeman (talk) 04:46, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Reply to David in DC I understand that is your personal opinion, but is that really what sheldrake says? really? His theory is outside of darwinian evolution? Not how I read it. Wait, but that's my POV. am i right? are you right? Are we going to have a my POV vs your POV debate about this and talk theory and philosophy? Probably not a good idea. We can't claim a WP policy because it just seems that way to an editor. This is the problem I am running into, maybe you can help. If editors have their own interpretations of what an author is discussing, are those valid enough to support an edit that is being challenged as a violation of NPOV? Would it be better to establish Morphic Resonance as an ATF, personally consider it nutty, and move on? The Tumbleman (talk) 05:11, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Lukekfreeman good idea The Tumbleman (talk) 05:11, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

The decision to replace the current lede with the Tumbleman sandbox version is regrettable and was rightly reverted. I helped write the thing and made it clear it was a draft, meant only for article space after collaboration with others and consensus. No one else collaborated and no consensus was reached. The current lede does not violate BLP so egregiously as to warrant unilateral deletion and replacement. With due respect to Lukekfreeman, I must disagree with his enouragement. It was NOT a good idea. David in DC (talk) 12:25, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I don't think that we should just go ahead with either of them right away, just that we should go ahead with getting them refined and ready to go up sooner rather than later. I was mostly agreeing that the current lede is inadequate and the move to improve it is great. Sorry if that came across as an encouragement for a WP:BOLD action taken. IMHO the rewrites are on the right track, just need to reach consensus. Lukekfreeman (talk) 01:07, 11 October 2013 (UTC)


Sheldrake stresses the "ideology of materialism" in his ten dogmas, and it generally seems like an essential point of his, so it seemed appropriate to mention it in the lead. However the lead has to make clear that this is Sheldrake's view of science, not how science sees itself. Sheldrake ascribes the non-acceptance of his ideas in part to philosophical materialism, but scientists need only take the weaker methodological naturalism which is the "ground rule" of science. The Pigliucci book cited does a good job at explaining this, though I could just as well have cited Barbara Forrest[10]. vzaak (talk) 23:44, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

vzaak, I am worried there is too much philosophical interpretation happening here, especially because a critique on philosophical materialism is not a critique on methodological naturalism. I am seeing nothing in Barbara's paper that denies philosophical materialism, it's just given another name, philosophical naturalism. Sheldrake critiques the philosophy of materialism and it's influence on the assumptions of modern science, not the process of science or how knowledge is acquired so pitting them against each other here seems a little awkward. I am not sure if the need to show how 'science sees itself' is meaningful because science is just a process and I am not seeing any references that can show how 'science sees itself' to be nothing more than an opinion of someone. The Tumbleman (talk) 04:11, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake is a parapsychologist? reference?

Where is the reference that shows that Sheldrake is a parapsychologist? There is no reference on the page for it and I am going to remove it if I can't find the reference first. The Tumbleman (talk) 04:41, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

On page 125 in the The Skeptic's Dictionary by Robert Carroll, Sheldrake is described as a parapsychologist. Also an article in the Irish Examiner newspaper called "Telephone telepathy exists, claims parapsychologist" which describes Sheldrake as a parapsychologist. [11]. Dan skeptic (talk) 07:01, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake has also lectured his ideas at the Society for Psychical Research (he is a member) and he published papers in that journal. It's clear from available sources that he's a parapsychologist no longer doing science. Dan skeptic (talk) 07:09, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't have a problem with the word "parapsychologist". I do have a problem with calling him that in the lead if it isn't strongly established in the body of the article. I think that's what Tumble is saying. Saying on a talk page that something is "clear" isn't the same thing as demonstrating it in the article. This is a BLP, where controversial unsourced material can be removed without discussion. Nobody should complain if Tumble removes the offending word. (Lou Sander talk) 08:51, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes, somehow a headline in a minor newspaper from a small country and a one-sided book-of-a-website aren't really strong enough references for a lead section description. If those were sufficient grounds you could describe almost anyone as almost anything. (Justin Bieber is the greatest musician of all time, George Bush is a monkey-faced retard, etc.) (talk) 09:14, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

"Retard" is an especially offensive word. As a favor, and not based on anything more than doing me a kindness, would you please consider deleting that word and replace it with something like "sloth" or "platypus"? David in DC (talk) 11:09, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
It's blatantly clear that Sheldrake identifies himself as a parapsychologist and is a parapsychologist according to countless sources. Most of his research and experiments have been on this topic (psychic pets etc) as seen here [12]. The following are not all reliable sources but I just want to make it clear Sheldrake's association with parapsychology;
  • Here are three videos he has done himself defending the subject of parapsychology [13], [14], [15]. In in an interview he admits his research is in parapsychology and paranormal related subjects. [16].
  • Even paranormal woo-websites that support parapsychology claim Sheldrake is a parapsychologist and a "psi researcher" [17], [18] [19] etc etc.
  • Sheldrake co-runs a parapsychology woo website called "Skeptical Investigations" which is a website that was set-up to promote parapsychology and attack skeptics. [20]
  • Sheldrake is a member of the Society for Psychical Research and lectured for them and has published many papers in their journal. In fact most of his papers appear in this journal.
  • Sheldrake is mentioned as a parapsychologist and his work is frequently mentioned in parapsychology books such as "New directions in parapsychology" by John Beloff, "Parapsychology in the Twenty-first Century" by Michael A. Thalbourne and "Psi Wars: Getting to Grips with the Paranormal" etc etc.
  • Sheldrake is mentioned as a parapsychologist in many other books, including Encyclopedia of occultism & parapsychology (updated edition, 1991), The Psychology of the Psychic by David Marks etc.
  • As described above, all of Sheldrake's research (at least in the last 30 odd years) has been in parapsychology (allaged psychic powers etc), I suggest checking his papers in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, or other fringe related parapsychology journals such as the Journal of Scientific Exploration. No mainstream science journal has published his stuff. He is not publishing papers on biochemistry in mainstream scientific journals, instead he's publishing material in parapsychology journals.
It's easy to see the agenda why Sheldrake's supporters want "parapsychologist" removed from the lead, but it isn't going to happen. He is a parapsychologist. Dan skeptic (talk) 11:14, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't at all see the agenda that you do. I see a call for "parapsychologist" to be removed from the lead because it isn't explicit in the article. IMHO it would be suitable for the article to have a (hopefully short) section on Parapsychology. Lou Sander (talk) 13:12, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
We don't need an entire dedicated section for each descriptor about a person. It should be patently obvious from the book section that he is a parapsychologist, IRWolfie- (talk) 13:41, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

No brainer. We have tons of sources that say Sheldrake is notable as a parapsychological researcher and parapsychologist. Heck, he even represents himself as an "expert" on parapsychology. (PS: shout outs to my old buds Annalisa and Nealparr) LuckyLouie (talk) 13:33, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Rupert Sheldrake is a professional member of the Parapsychological Association ( That being said, I've only seen him refer to himself as a biologist, and if you have a look at the list of Articles and Papers at his website, you'll find quite a number of mainstream publications on a variety of topics. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 13:41, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes but look more closely, his papers on botany were published over 30 years ago in the late 1970s or early 80s. He abandoned science for parapsychology. All of his papers from the 80s to the present day about psychic stuff are published in fringe parapsychology journals. Dan skeptic (talk) 13:49, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Lou you say that "parapsychologist" should be removed from the lead because it isn't explicit in the article but most of the article deals with parapsychological topics, for example there's two sections about Sheldrake's views on psychic pets and alleged paranormal effects and another that mentions his belief in "psychic" phenomena. Dan skeptic (talk) 13:54, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm aware of when Dr. Sheldrake did the bulk of his mainstream research. He has had a long career and his recent explorations into alternative scientific theories does not nullify his training. I think it would be more accurate to refer to him as a biologist who has done research in parapsychology (or "on parapsychologicial topics"). Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:03, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Remember that if it wasn't for the parapsychology and other craziness, we probably wouldn't find an ordinary run of the mill biologist notable enough to be writing a wiki article about him. This stuff has to be front and centre. The "science" that he used to do is a minor part of his bio. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 13:58, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

If you are referring to David's proposed new lead, the parapsychological topics come up by the second sentence. I think that's pretty much front and center, don't you? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:08, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Whoops, that's actually the last sentence in the first paragraph of David's proposed lead, but still front and center IMO.Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:12, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Sheldrake (a) describes himself as a biologist, (b) has a Ph.D in biochemistry.[21] I find no references where he decsribes himself as a parapsychologist, and I am not aware of academic qualifications being revoked.
  • Sheldrake may do work into parapsychology, and other people may describe him otherwise, but this is carried out from the perspective of his qualifications in biology/biochemistry. Just because someone does research in physics, doesn't make them a physicist.
  • @Dan skeptic. You stated "It's blatantly clear that Sheldrake identifies himself as a parapsychologist", yet I can find nothing in any of your references that does this. I am happy for you to provide a quote and reference that does.
  • @LuckyLouie. You stated "he even represents himself as an 'expert' on parapsychology", yet I did not see this on the page you provided. I am happy for you to provide a quote and reference that does.
  • The citable facts are that (a) Sheldrake is biologist with a Ph.D from Cambridge University in biochemisty,[22] who is notable for his research into, what many people call, parapyschology.--Iantresman (talk) 14:19, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

To this editor, it looks like claiming Sheldrake is a parapsychologist is OR because it's based on interpretations of Sheldrake's activities. I am not even seeing any references where scientists refer to him as a parapsychologist. Skeptic dictionary is a biased reference because it has an agenda to debunk so can't be trusted. All references to his bio say he is a biologist. All degrees and research papers claim he is a biologist too. I can't get to editing right now so if someone wants to swap that out please feel free to do so because it's OR and needs off the page asap. The Tumbleman (talk) 14:47, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

As a compromise, why not call him a "biologist with a notable interest in parapsychology" or something similar? Also, I agree that Skeptic's Dictionary should not be considered a valid source due to its agenda. Nat (talk) 14:58, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Case in point. Richard Wiseman is a psychologist. He researches paranormal claims all the time. Yet his degree is in psychology, which qualifies him to investigate claims from the POV of his credentials. Should we call Wiseman a parapsychologist too? All the references editors give here that supportedly claim sheldrake is a parapsychologist actually state he is a biologist. The Tumbleman (talk) 14:54, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Good analogy. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:04, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Dan skeptic, you just reversed Nat edit although clearly you have no consensus and no references to do so, only original research and opinions. I request you and all GSM editors on the page to honor the spirit of WP. The Tumbleman (talk) 17:27, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

LuckyLouie you suggest that " We have tons of sources that say Sheldrake is notable as a parapsychological researcher and parapsychologist." and you provide two references, one which cites Rupert Sheldrake as a biologist and the other is an opinion piece. These references obviously can't be used since one is contradictory to the claim and the other is an opinion, not a fact. I understand it's important to GSM editors on the page to prop up a FRINGE claim to support the skeptical POV, but it has to be done with consensus and reasoned argument, not sloppy sourcing because it just looks like there is another agenda here other than making the page better. The Tumbleman (talk) 17:35, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman your agenda is clear and your trolling is getting boring. You have also been deleting my comments on here on your IP address You have been banned on countless forums for trolling, so I guess it is only a matter of time before you get banned on here. You have no interest in improving the article and I can't be bothered to read your crazy nonsense anymore. Dan skeptic (talk) 18:05, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Dan skeptic Still not seeing how this original research on me qualifies as anything but WP:HOUND and it certainly doesn't provide any references that shows that Sheldrake is a Parapsychologist. You don't have to read what I write, you just have to show a valid reference on WP otherwise the edit can be removed immediately, even without discussion, on a BLP. I'm very patient though, I still haven't made my edit yet, and am still willing to consider your reference once it is provided.The Tumbleman (talk) 00:09, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

There does not seem to be any rational consensus on this page that supports the continuation of using 'parapsychologist' as a career title for Rupert Sheldrake. There appears to be however a lot of biased sources and opinions and original research into why Sheldrake should have this title because it apparently is very important to GSM editors that the skeptical POV should be WP's main concern and therefore any references that support Sheldrake as a scientist are diminished and any sources that support a FRINGE claim are supported. That would be ok with this editor if GSM editors were actually following WP guidelines with quality sources and reasoned arguments, but since there is none presented here, the rational consensus can only assume then they must not exist and therefore the current edit which was reverted by Dan skeptic is in direct and clear violation of BLP and should be immediatly removed from the page. The Tumbleman (talk) 08:46, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

is WP:FRINGE being applied unnecessarily to Sheldrake's page?

'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.'

reposting today's comments here to keep this organized, hope no one minds

Reply to question about whether FRINGE applies at all: any living person whose most well-known hypothesis includes telepathic-type interconnectedness and heritable memories passed down through the generations of a species but not as a part of Darwinian evolution is operating at the fringe. We agree that WP:BLP is the most important wiki-value to guide editing of a BLP. We disagree about whether WP:FRINGE is also a relevant wiki-value in the bio of Sheldrake. David in DC (talk) 10:43, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
David in DC: I, too, agree that WP:BLP is the most important value here. It is a policy. I believe that the WP:NPOV policy is equally important, and is tied closely to WP:BLP. I, too, agree that Sheldrake is operating at the fringes of accepted science. I believe we need to keep in mind that, as a highly qualified scientist himself, he questions many of the foundational beliefs of that science. I think that the behavioral guideline WP:FRINGE, though it explicitly applies to articles about theories and not about people, is useful for us to keep in mind here, as long as we keep it in perspective and use common sense. Lou Sander (talk) 13:00, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
David in DC. I have a lot of respect for your POV, but I don't see how this applies yet and so far it just seems like either OR or a house of cards built upon years of 'opinions' of sheldrake but I can't find any facts to back it up, and believe me I was expecting to. 'What' a scientist researches is NOT enough to claim Fringe/PS. If it was, even Richard Wiseman would be called a Fringe psychologist or David Chalmers would be called a fringe philosopher. It's HOW it is researched and HOW it is claimed by that scientist. All the evidence suggests Sheldrake does valid testing and falsification, so that alone removes any claim of pseudoscience to justify a WP FRINGE guideline. If you look at the references claiming otherwise, you will see that it's just a house of cards based on opinions of skeptics and 1 or 2 scientists. Morphic Resonance is very clearly an 'alternative theoretical formulation'. It does not claim 'paranormal', it claims Holism over Reductionism philosophically. I think we need more rational deliberation here. Sheldrake is a critic of modern science, that's what puts him on the edges of things. To apply WP FRINGE to the page would mean that the page would be taking sides in the debate between Holism and Reductionism and would suggest that Sheldrake be viewed through the eyes of his critics. We can't cite sheldrake for critiquing the assumptions of science philosophically. It assumed that those Sheldrake criticizes would push back against him. They may 'kick him like a dog', but Sheldrake is THEIR DOG since Sheldrake COMES from the Mainstream scientific community. I agree that we need to have that side represented, but it needs to be represented in context. The Tumbleman (talk) 15:47, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
"Morphic Resonance is very clearly an 'alternative theoretical formulation'. It does not claim 'paranormal', it claims Holism over Reductionism philosophically". Then you have obviously failed to understand what morphic resonance really claims to be. Sheldrake says that if a group of rats learn something in a lab in New York, then rats of the same species will automatically learn such skills in other parts of the world without any kind of contact whatsoever. He's saying information is transmitted miraculously through any amount of space and time without loss of energy, in fact in some cases he's claiming information is transmitted completely outside of time and space. It's been labeled magical thinking and pseudoscience, it's a metaphysical viewpoint. He's advocating the paranormal not science. He may have come from the "mainstream" science community but he is no longer with it and has not been involved with science for over 30 years, he chose parapsychology instead. Dan skeptic (talk) 16:51, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Rupert provides specific evidence for his position on the rats here, showing that new hypotheses need to be formulated (like his) to explain the results:

That hypothesis is an organic model, with the use of the term "organic" being in the Whiteheadian sense:

“The concrete enduring entities are organisms, so that the plan of the whole influences the very characters of the various subordinate organisms which enter into it.” (Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, p. 98, Penguin 1938)

THE ABOVE COMMENT MAY HAVE HAD AN ATTACHMENT AND SIG DELETED mistakenly, it is not part of my response or my comment which begins here: Dan skeptic I'm not here to defend Morphic Resonance, and also not interested in applying editors interpretations or original research as to what it is or isn't. Personally I do not care. I am only interested in sourced references and reasoned arguments. I created this section so GSM editors or anyone else can list the sources or facts that support the fringe claim. That's a reasonable request, right? Sources that are opinions do not count. Personal opinions of editors do not count. Philosophical discussions do not count. Original research does not count. What counts are facts to this editor and to the policy of WP. Since I am still not seeing any editor, GSM or otherwise list either a source, fact or a reasoned argument, I will assume this house of cards has fallen and we can begin a new rational consensus. If you or any other editor believes I am mistaken, please list the references along with a reasoned argument below. The Tumbleman (talk) 08:26, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
No. As has been explained to you before, Sheldrake's work meets criteria 1 (obvious pseudoscience) and 2 (generally considered pseudoscience). Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:25, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm taking a break from this article. You have been told many times Tumbleman the GSM have not been editing this page. But I will contact Sgerbic (talk · contribs) about this and perhaps she can clear the issue up as you are not listening to anyone else. You keep mentioning the GSM like it is a bad thing. They have improved countless articles so perhaps the GSM should get involved in improving the Sheldrake article. I will contact Sgerbic and perhaps her team can help improve the article! Thanks. Dan skeptic (talk) 09:30, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
@Dan skeptic It would not be appropriate to invite an outside group to edit a Wikipedia article per WP:MEAT --Iantresman (talk) 10:09, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
@Barney. If Sheldrake's work was related to pseudoscience, then Cambridge University would not have (a) invited him to speak in 2011[23], nor (b) funded the Perrott-Warrick Project of which Sheldrake was director between 2005–2010. There is no doubt that some people have described Sheldrake's work as pseudoscience, and this should be mentioned with suitable reliable sources. --Iantresman (talk) 10:09, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
The sources have been provided already, and the arguments you've just made do not trump these. I'm afraid with regard to the Perrott-Warrick project, even the great Trinity College will do silly things if money is involved. Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:22, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
You are entitled to your opinion, but WP:BLP says otherwise. Sheldrake's actual qualifications (a doctorate in biochemistry), trumps the more contentious opinion of a couple of writers in Nature and a popular science magazine. As far as I am aware, there is no formal qualification in parapsychology. --Iantresman (talk) 14:37, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Nice appeal to authority Ian. You of course mean the same talk series that Brian Josephson also invited a homeopath to [24]? Yes its clearly pseudoscience and no the talk organised by Josephson doesn't mean anything. IRWolfie- (talk) 15:14, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake has a doctorate from Cambridge, period. That is not an appeal to authority. If I claimed veracity of the subject he talks about because the talk was at Cambridge, that would be an appeal to authority. Scientists are quite capable of investigating subjects that others consider pseudoscience, as is evidence by the University of Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit, and the University of Arizona's Division of Perceptual Studies. For all I know, they have found evidence that such subjects are bunkum, but that doesn't imply that the scientists concerned are acting improperly. To assume that they are would be "guilt by association" which I am sure you would agree is no better than an appeal to authority.--Iantresman (talk) 17:41, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
If we get into the argument "who has the best academic career", then post-doc Sheldrake is walloped by many of Sheldrake's critics who have progressed to full professor rank, including Lewis Wolpert, Lord Winston, Steven Rose, P.Z. Myers, Jerry Coyne, Peter Atkins and Richard Wiseman. And there's Sir John Maddox, who wasn't a professor but was FRS and knighted. Please let's get into this argument about academic credentials, because ex-post doc Sheldrake's career massively falls apart when compared to his critics. He doesn't even meet the inclusion criteria for WP:PROF. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:55, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, I have no interest in "who has the best academic career". I'm merely stating that he has a doctorate from Cambridge that makes him a biochemist, period. This has not been revoked, and he is not an ex-post doctorate. You need only find a reliable source to contradict this. The description of "parapsychologist" is contentious (clearly) and would be flagged by WP:BLP. I am not suggesting that his connection to parapsychoogy should be omitted from the article. Sheldrakes meets WP:PROF having been the former Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society. --Iantresman (talk) 22:21, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake is a former biochemist and plant physiologist insofar as he isn't currently doing scientific research in these areas, he certainly holds no relevant academic post (although he is of retirement age). If we look at his publication record, he hasn't been been doing biochemical research since the late 1970s, and on plant physiology since at least the mid 1980s. That's why he's a current author and former biochemist and plant physiologist. Hope that clarifies that little misunderstanding of yours. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:49, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
"Biochemists are scientists trained in biochemistry".[25] "A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry".[26] Nobel Winner Peter Higgs retired 17 years ago, but is still described as a "theoretical physicist". --Iantresman (talk) 23:43, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

@ Barney the barney barney You keep repeating that As has been explained to you before, Sheldrake's work meets criteria 1 (obvious pseudoscience) and 2 (generally considered pseudoscience). - I am not sure if was ever explained. The only thing that keeps getting repeated to this editor is that it was already explained, yet I fail to find a consistent explanation anywhere that is backed by legitimate sources, which is why I keep asking. I am open to review proper sources, please provide them OR, simply provide reasoned exchange to my very specific questions, which I believe, as well as other editors, have already refuted this claim multiple times. Let's address this my query directly at the top of this section. I want to work with you here Barney. The Tumbleman (talk) 19:43, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

The sources are in the article. It is a particularly egregious case of WP:IDONTHEARYOU if you continue to deny the existence of these. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:47, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes I know your sources are in the article, but your sources either contradict what you are saying or they are opinions not facts. Apparently you are unable to address those very clear and concise issues with your sources. It doesn't make sense for me to question your sources validity and explain the problem and have you just repeat to me again that those are your sources. Understood. Those sources are not valid sources to support the language on the page, NPOV, BLP and provide only opinion and interpretation, not facts. Find better sources and this problem goes away. Keep using the same sources and the edit goes away. The Tumbleman (talk) 19:54, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

THIS IS THE PROBLEM: Barney the barney barney says" If we get into the argument "who has the best academic career", then post-doc Sheldrake is walloped by many of Sheldrake's critics who have progressed to full professor rank, including Lewis Wolpert, Lord Winston, Steven Rose, P.Z. Myers, Jerry Coyne, Peter Atkins and Richard Wiseman. NO WE SHOULD NOT BE GETTING INTO A DEBATE about who has the best academic career, because this is OPINION and probably original research. Much better just to have proper sourcing and proper reasoned arguments. The Tumbleman (talk) 19:54, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Please stop with the WP:IDONTHEARYOU, it's getting rather tiresome. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:57, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Oh I hear you Barney the barney barney. I hear you are debating who has a more impressive academic career to determine which POV should be allowed. I hear you sourcing things with highly questionable problems including opinions and biased sources to support that POV as well. I'm not running from what you are saying, I am questioning it. the best way to find consensus is to address my arguments within reason, not finding some WP policy that you suggest exempts you from finding a consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:16, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
There is consensus, which Tumbleman (talk · contribs) is creatively trying to ignore. Let's talk about credentials because in the real world that's one of the best ways to assess sources (well it would be if you didn't choose to just ignore all of them). If your car is broken and you take it to the garage, do you listen to the qualified mechanical engineer or do you listen to the work experience boy who's making the tea? There is consensus on this issue. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:29, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Let's be reasonable Barney the barney barney, if there was consensus, we would not be having this discussion, especially since I specifically requested to build a new consensus, with support from a number of editors here. Folksy anecdotes and analogies are great to pass on to your kids and can be great personal motivators in personal situations, but they do nothing to strengthen your references or argument so i am going to pass on applying it to support your claims. If I want a cup of tea, I'll look at qualified sources for tea, if I look into cars, I want qualifies sources for cars. If I look at your edits, I want qualified sources for those too. The Tumbleman (talk) 22:57, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

And what about Sheldrake Tumbleman (talk · contribs)? Who do you go to to find about him? Well, I'll tell you what we do on Wikipedia. The consensus is that we go to the sources from the experts in the scientific community. Barney the barney barney (talk) 23:02, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Barney the barney barney, we agree that scientists are experts to turn to in reference to facts about science and sources that show scientific facts rule on WP, however an opinion written in a skeptic book that quotes a scientist that has an opinion about what all other scientists think of sheldrake is not really what I would call a fact. If every opinion that came out of every expert scientists mouth was deemed fact simply because of the authority of the profession, we would still be in the dark ages. Let's use common sense.

No skeptic source is accepted when it comes to claims about sheldrake as a living person, since clearly they have a bias against him as a person and it's simply not reliable as a NPOV about a living person. No journalist in the world at any respectable mainstream publication would ever source facts that way. WP guides us not to source facts that way. If the opinion of a skeptic is notable, then quote the skeptic saying so, don't make the voice of WP the voice of the skeptic movement and change sheldrakes very real academic titles because some skeptic calls him a parapsychologist.

One scientist calls sheldrake a pseudoscientist. Another scientist says he is not a pseudoscientist. Their both prominent mainstream scientists. Which one is right? I dunno. That's a debate for science and academia, not WP. What does common sense suggest? In WP, what makes something pseudoscience is lack of evidence or a lack of falsification. None of those apply to his research in telepathy, according to sourced facts, and none of those apply to his hypothesis of morphic resonance, also according to sourced facts. As for the expert I am consulting here, his name is Karl Popper and as for the guideline I am consulting here, it's called WP:YESPOV

Avoid stating opinions as facts. Usually, articles will contain information about the significant opinions that have been expressed about their subjects. However, these opinions should not be stated in Wikipedia's voice. Rather, they should be attributed in the text to particular sources, or where justified, described as widespread views, etc. For example, an article should not state that "genocide is an evil action", but it may state that "genocide has been described by John X as the epitome of human evil."
Avoid stating seriously contested assertions as facts. If different reliable sources make conflicting assertions about a matter, treat these assertions as opinions rather than facts, and do not present them as direct statements.

In addition, WP allows for 'alternative theoretical formulations' and clearly says those are not to be considered pseudoscience. I've asked numerous times for *any* editor here to kindly explain how Morphic Resonance does not fall under this category. Only explanation I get is that I clearly don't understand what Morphic Resonance is. I don't need to. I just need to compare sourced facts, use common sense, keep a NPOV, and make a reasoned argument inside of WP guidelines.

what's the next thing that is being argued that supports the fringe claim? Oh, now that he is a parapsychologist, that alone qualifies him but we see that is built on a house of cards with only sourced opinions. take away the parapsychologist title and what's left the support the Fringe claim?

That sheldrake denies COE and thinks we should build Perpetual Motion Machines. Really? Is that what sheldrake really thinks? Not what his book says. This assumption that a few editors have been arguing for is based on Sheldrakes latest book, 'The Science Delusion' which is positing absolutely nothing actually, it's not a theory, a hypothesis, or even research, it's a summary of a Philosophy of Science that draws upon Philosophical Holism and Philosophical Panpsychism, completely valid academically. and no academic in the world would accept that a philosophical thought experiment be labeled pseudoscience. Sheldrake has a degree in Philosophy from Harvard, was director of research at cambridge university, and was a distinguished research for 20 years. I dont get that from reading the bio, I only get what a few skeptics think of him in their books. So now we have biased editors quoting opinions as facts, stating publically on the board very rude things regarding a living person, and then think that they can redefine the man's POV and academic career to fit their ideology. Well that house of cards is knocked down. You've simply not the sources to back the claim that this page requires a FRINGE application and most adhere to a Skeptical POV.

There, the above is my argument. If I missed something, tell me and I will provide. If I made an error that is inconsistent with what I write, then show me, refute me, please, anything just be rational and reasoned. Only way we can get a consensus, we all gotta work this out together. The Tumbleman (talk) 03:16, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

I am not aware of Sir Karl Popper commenting on Sheldrake, although if you can find sources, he is of sufficient standing that his viewpoint may be included. If we did find anything, I doubt it would have been positive. However, in the meantime, you cannot make up stuff, that's WP:OR. Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:18, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
There is no commenting on sheldrake by Popper, Karl Popper is the person who coined the word 'falsification' in the Philosophy of Science. I use Karl Popper's methodology to determine what 'falsification' means, not some opinion of what it means by a skeptic dictionary. As to the rest of your comment, There is NOTHING that I have fabricated. If you cannot refute or participate in an editors reasoned arguments, then you should refrain from commenting at all. If an editor is not able to provide a decent source and expresses a clear bias of a living person, and cannot distinguish between fact and opinion, then perhaps that editor should excuse themselves from participating in a consensus due to the conflict of interest and lack of appropriate sourcing. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:56, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

I think the 2007 Arbcom's findings of fact suggest that we should not be treating Rupert Sheldrake (or the field of parapsychology) as a pseudoscience. However Sheldrake's ideas have not been accepted by the scientific mainstream and so there are some aspects of WP:FRINGE that do apply. If followed, some of these guidelines could help us reach consensus and make this a good article.

Currently, I find that this article abuses quotations, and reports on research outcomes that are self-published and do not come from peer reviewed sources. If we would put aside references from fringe and skeptical publications and instead rely on independent sources we would be sure to summarize only those things that are notable (from a popular point of view) and we would have an easier time maintaining a neutral tone. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:10, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

New Edit

I have edited the lead in accordance with suggestions by Tumbleman, David in DC, and others. Nat (talk) 16:19, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

The text has been reverted yet again, and includes statements (a) for which there are no citations, and (b) that appears to be original research based on the opinion of editors.
  • Sheldrake has both trained as, and has a doctorate in the subject, which makes him a biochemist (as defined by Wikipedia). It is not for any editor to decide otherwise.
  • Universities that undertake parapsychology research are not staffed by "parapsychologists", but scientists with other qualifications, such as psychologists, engineers, theoretical physics (eg. Princeton's now closed PEAR); psychiatrists and psychologists (U. Virginia's Division of Perceptual Studies and U. Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit and U.Arizona's Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health). The tone of all these academic websites is quite different from Wikipedia's and certain editors.--Iantresman (talk) 17:57, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to see the new lead reinstalled. However, whomever does it next should remember to insert the appropriate references. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 18:14, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
There was no agreed consensus so you were reverted. Tumbleman has trolled this page and has connections to Sheldrake so really shouldn't be editing per WP:COI. The same applies to Annalisa Ventola who is a well known parapsychologist and pseudoscience promoter that has close connections to Sheldrake. Google her name and then "Sheldrake" and see all the kinds of blogs and articles she has supported the pseudoscience of Sheldrake on, even in interviews. It's hilarious when such editors claim to be "neutral" all over this page. Dan skeptic (talk) 18:19, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I have made by background, interests, and my potential biases transparent on this site since 2006. Who are you and what are yours? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 18:28, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Just because you are biased by conflicts of interests doesn't mean that your opponents are in any way biased. True neutrality is the enemy of all bias. MilesMoney (talk) 18:32, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
As far as I am concerned, even if Rupert Sheldrake himself was editing the page, exactly the same policies would apply. The current intro is not supported by references, and includes synthesis. It is incontrovertible that Sheldrake has a doctorate in biochemistry, and that by Wikipedia's own definition, that makes him a biochemist. Conversely, I know of no reliable sources that state he is a parapsychologist, though there are many sources (blogs, websites, books, individuals) that describe him as doing research in subjects described as parapsychology. --Iantresman (talk) 18:44, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
If you don't know of any reliable sources calling him a parapsychologist, all you have to do is read this talk page and your ignorance will be dispelled. MilesMoney (talk) 18:48, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
I said I couldn't find any reliable sources. There's a popular book (that has to resort to ad hominems, page 23), newspaper, but no academic sources. Either way, he still has his PH.D, and was funded by Cambridge University as recently as 2010 as director of the Perrott-Warrick Project, and was lecturing at Cambridge University in 2011 who acknowledge his doctorate in biochemistry[27] --Iantresman (talk) 19:26, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Dan skeptic I don't think the original research you are doing on me is very accurate or helpful to build a consensus. I take WP guidelines very seriously. If you have a problem about me as a person, please address it on my talk page. Using past history, fabricated or otherwise, regarding individual editors and then inventing 'charges' is both WP:GAME and WP:HOUND and not in the spirit of what we are trying to do. I understand GSM editors really believe their agenda is of upmost importance to WP, however any GSM editors on this page are advised to simply focus on my reasoned arguments and actual dialouge on this TALK page for reference and nothing more. I think it would be more helpful to the page if instead on focusing on individual editors GSM would work to actually providing accurate sourcing to their claims and be apart of a rational consensus based on facts and references, not personalities and opinions. The Tumbleman (talk) 19:21, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman you logged on your IP address to deliberately delete one of my comments (then one minute later you signed in and posted on your account). You also publicly posted your full name so nobody has outed you. Only a click away on the internet is your support for Sheldrake, your pseudoscience promoting and various forums you have been banned on. You keep talking about agendas but your own agenda is clear. Also your constant claim or conspiracy theory that GSM (Guerrilla Skeptic Team) are involved in editing the Sheldrake article is nonsensical. This conspiracy theory started with a "psychic" called Craig Weiler (talk · contribs), and has no basis in fact. According to the edit history the GSM has not been editing this article. I am not involved with the GSM (I only discovered this group existed last week!) and as far as I can see neither is any other current editor on here. The owner of the GSM group is Sgerbic (talk · contribs), as you can see from her edits she has not edited the Sheldrake article. Sorry but I'm not going to waste anymore time replying to you. You are trying to stir up arguments where none exist like claiming there's no evidence Sheldrake is a parapsychologist (even though Sheldrake has spent the last 30 years lecturing and writing on parapsychology in parapsychological fringe journals!). Dan skeptic (talk) 20:13, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
No editors have been directly accused of belonging to the GS. Nor do I expect skeptic editors to admit it since that would probably entail an instant lifetime ban from Wikipedia. There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence however.
* The page changed dramatically for the worse after a newsletter calling out the GS was published. The June 14th revision (before the newsletter) is fairly even handed, but the September 28th version was heavily biased towards a skeptical point of view.
* Constant stalwart defense of skeptical edits
* Minimal to no cooperation with opposing editors.
* A ridiculous attempt to intimidate me with WP:IMPERSONATE, combined with a different skeptic trying to get two comments up on my blog to refute my version, sending two creepy emails trying to get me to reconsider and finally getting a screenshot of that comment posted on my "biography" (lol!) on RationalWiki. This suggests a team effort to me. And this was over describing CSICOP as a radical atheist pressure group. CSICOP is a supporter of GS, which relies heavily on this skeptic organization for sources, so they would be upset at having CSICOP questioned.
If you wish to distance yourself from GS, then you should avoid sources that are linked to them, such as CSICOP, JREF, and their members, and certainly avoid obviously the most biased skeptical sites such as the Skeptic's Dictionary.
Also Dan, if you ever attach the word -psychic- to my name you are to never put it into quotations. That is a personal insult, it is bigotry and I will not tolerate it.Craig Weiler (talk) 21:02, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
@Dan skeptic, don't worry about threats like this from "psychic" User:Craig Weiler, it isn't a personal insult, nor is it bigotry - he has no right to instruct you on how "you" do "your" punctuation. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 06:19, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
@Dan Skeptic. (1) "The fact that a person either has posted personal information or edits under their own name, making them easily identifiable through online searches, is not an excuse for "opposition research"(WP:OUTING) --Iantresman (talk) 20:42, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
(2) A popular book and a newspaper are poor sources. In 2012, Cambridge University was still referring to "Dr Rupert Sheldrake" in recognition of his doctorate in biochemistry (he has no other doctorates).[28] Of all the university departments researching parapsychology, I could find none that refer to any of their staff as parapsychologists. This does not dispute that some minor sources may have used this description. --Iantresman (talk) 21:20, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

MilesMoney you suggest that If we don't know of any reliable sources calling him a parapsychologist, all we have to do is read this talk page and our ignorance will be dispelled. Well that's the issue, we have been reading and checking and can't find anything reliable, it's all OR and opinions. I assume therefore that you must know of these references and sources that you claim we miss, so it should be easy for you to provide them and we look forward to reviewing them for consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 19:36, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

What's going on here? Why are you erasing other people's comments? That looks like a violation of WP:TPO. MilesMoney (talk) 23:59, 8 October 2013 (UTC)

Missing comments, have no idea

I have no idea why some comments are being deleted. I have not deleted any comments. If anyone believes I have deleted their comments please let me know, even one of mine is deleted and this is very strange. The Tumbleman (talk) 00:17, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

I am havingwas going to admin chat with a systems administrator friend of mine who manages discussion forums to look into this but realize I was over reacting and am not being hacked and realized that it may even look like I was talking about a WP admin 'friend', which although sorely needed in my life, I do not have. this is very very bizarre and I am concerned I am being hacked right now. doh!The Tumbleman (talk) 00:23, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

You're not being hacked, you're simply making an error. You're making changes to an outdated version and that edit is conflicting with subsequent edits.
MilesMoney (talk) 00:25, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up MilesMoney, I see I over reacted, but when I see a few editors on here talk about how they know who I am and post my IP address on a talk page, it made me a little paranoid. Thanks for keeping this editor straight. anyone else that has noticed a comment deleted, I apologize and will undo immediately if you notice me. sorry all. The Tumbleman (talk) 07:23, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

2007 Wikipedia Arbitration on the Paranormal

This article is in need of a major rehaul. I would like to make some suggestions, but first I would appreciate if some of you could bring me up to speed? It's been a while since I've contributed to Wikipedia (since like 2008-9), so could anyone tell me if there have been any relevant Wikipedia arbitration cases since Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Paranormal#Conflation_of_parapsychology_with_unscientific_concepts? Specifically, I am curious about what has happened since Wikipedia Arbitration committee determined that there was a "scientific discipline of parapsychology" and that parapsychology "should not be confused with sensational, unscientific beliefs and stories about 'the paranormal'"? I think that these ideas are pertinent to what we are doing here. Thanks in advance for your input. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 04:35, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

According to that post the "Parapsychological Association" have said that parapsychology should not be confused with sensational, unscientific beliefs and stories about "the paranormal". This is complete madness. Parapsychology is a pseudoscience and known for its unscientific beliefs and stories about the paranormal. The parapsychological association is a pseudoscience woo organization that says people can move objects with their minds or that people can levitate. Science does not take them seriously. Why are you mentioning this, it has nothing to with Sheldrake's article. Similar to Craig Weiler it seems you are just on this talk-page in an attempt to stir up trouble. Dan skeptic (talk) 09:21, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I think you are confusing the scientific study of "extraordinary" claims, with the claims themselves. Scientists can and do study the what might be called the "paranormal". See for example, the University of Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit, and the University of Arizona's Division of Perceptual Studies. --Iantresman (talk) 10:26, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
This is an Arbcom case that is entirely applicable and relevant and an excellent precedent. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:27, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Concur with Barney the barney barney.
Dan skeptic: I understand your outrage, but it's misplaced. What you refer to as "complete madness" is nonetheless an ArbCom decision and therefore very relevant (nearly dispositive) as to how we deal with parapsychology here. There are ways for you to challenge this. But the ways to do saw do not include ignoring or dismissing it on one BLP.
On a different topic, thank you for the tomato/tomato edit summary. Smiles at 6:30 am EST are hard to come by. You gave me one. David in DC (talk) 10:33, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Hey - that was me. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 12:29, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Iantresman I understand that scientists study alleged paranormal phenomena but only from a psychological perspective or as a debunking exercise. There is not a shred of scientific evidence for paranormal phenomena and there are three articles which explain that abnormal psychology, anomalistic psychology and the article on the paranormal. Unfortunately parapsychologists start with the assumption that the paranormal exists and publish nonsense based on a pre-conceived bias claiming it does exist. All their exeriments are flawed and it's well known that parapsychologists are not trained in psychology, don't know anything about conjuring and much less of the scientific method. There are still woo-woo parapsychologists claiming Uri Geller had genuine psychic powers. It's well known that parapsychology is a pseudoscience and it's proponents are mislead by wishful thinking and incompetence in setting up controlled experiments (that is discussed in detail on the parapsychology article and countless other articles which are highly referenced). David in DC I apologize for my outrage and comment about ArbCom. I won't be editing this article anymore. Going to spend a lot of time at the Gym on the punching bags this evening :) Dan skeptic (talk) 11:02, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Your understanding is contradicted by the University of Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit which states that (a) they take "an interdisciplinary approach to parapsychology"[29] (ie. not "only from a psychological perspective") (b) they investigate "the possible existence of psychic ability"[30] (ie. not "as a debunking exercise"). Just to be clear, I am not supporting or advocating any paranormal phenomena.--Iantresman (talk) 22:43, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

It is bad scientific practice to start any experiment with solid a priori expectations. Understanding history is crucial - the Society for Psychical Research has been going since Victorian times. Initially their evidence would have been equivocal, because no-one had properly done the experiments. Then they would have done some experiments, but they wouldn't have had the required level of understanding of experimental design, experimenter bias or statistics until later. But since at least the 1960s we now have a pretty good understanding of these. The experiments have been done. There is now a body of evidence which is consistent with the conclusion that psy does not exist. Barney the barney barney (talk) 12:24, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

  • The arbitration committee on wikipedia is unable to make content decisions as it is outside their remit, their opinions from 6 years ago are also mostly irrelevant except where they discuss behaviour. Arbs have no power in making content decisions. They do not decide the status of parapsychology. Still, what they have said is "Parapsychology has an ambiguous status, engaging in scientific research, but strongly criticized for lack of rigor". You are also selectively quoting ARBCOM Anna. What they said is " According to the Parapsychological Association, parapsychology should not be confused with sensational, unscientific beliefs and stories about "the paranormal"." Emphasis mine. They have an opinion, that's nice, but of no relevance to any discussion related to article content here which we decide by our content guidelines such as WP:FRINGE and WP:NPOV. Note that all or nearly all of those Bauder-era ArbCom members have been replaced, IRWolfie- (talk) 14:15, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
The Arbom also very specifically says "there is a scientific discipline of parapsychology which studies psychic phenomena in a serious scientific way". Their words. The Committee's findings from 6 years ago are relevant because the circumstances were pretty much the same (they were dealing with the BLP of Dean Radin and some rather aggressive editors). We can either waste time repeating history or we can get to work on making this a Wikipedia:Good article. The findings are linked for your own interpretation and guidance. I do not disagree them, including their parapsychology's "ambiguous" status or the fact that it is "strongly criticized". These aspects should inform the article as well. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:35, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
The Arbcom does not make content decisions and this particular ruling is no more than the opinion of the arbitrators and is not binding on any content in Wikipedia. In fact, when I talked to User:Newyorkbrad in person a few years ago, he specifically made fun of this very ruling. Editors in this area are free to ignore it completely and will continue to ignore it. If you disagree with this standard operating procedure, feel free to file a request for clarification. jps (talk) 14:41, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Arbitration#Scope_of_arbitration. "However it will not make editorial statements or decisions about how articles should read ("content decisions"), so users should not ask the Committee to make these kinds of decisions. It will not do so." They might make some assumptions from which to operate but they are in no way decisions (which they lack the power to make), IRWolfie- (talk) 14:46, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

So back to my original question, could anyone tell me if there have been any relevant Wikipedia arbitration cases since Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Paranormal#Conflation_of_parapsychology_with_unscientific_concepts?Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:51, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

This is an article talk page for discussion of edits to the article. If you wish to know about arbitration cases, please go elsewhere to find that information. e.g Wikipedia:Arbitration/Index or Wikipedia_talk:Arbitration_Committee. Questions about conduct, or questions related to arbcom cases about conduct are irrelevant here. IRWolfie- (talk) 14:57, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
And as I stated above, I plan to make some suggestions for the article but would like to be brought up to speed - not dragged into rhetorical circles - thanks. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:02, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
As has been explained, arbcom do not make content decisions. If you wish to be brought up to speed read the guidelines I posted on your talk page. If you want to know about expectations around conduct read WP:CIVIL and related policies and guidelines. IRWolfie- (talk) 15:03, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I was reading the Arbcom stuff linked by the first post in this section, and noticed something particularly relevant to our situation on this page. At Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Paranormal#Remedies, it says -
Dradin and any other editor who is involved professionally or avocationally in the paranormal is cautioned regarding aggressive editing of articles which relate to the particular subjects they are involved with.
This means you, User:Annalisa_Ventola, and though your constructive suggestions for discussion are welcome on this Talk page, you really ought to restrict yourself to minor grammar and spelling if you edit the article at all. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 15:41, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Having been a Wikipedia editor since 2006, I am well aware of the issues surrounding WP:COI as well as the value of Wikipedia:Expert editors. My editing has not been disruptive in the past, so there is no reason to assume that it would be in the future. I kindly ask you to Wikipedia:Assume good faith and refrain from admonishing me for behavior that has not taken place. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 17:11, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Trivia Section?

Does anyone else feel that the Personal life section reads like a trivia section and should either be deleted or worked into the rest of the text? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 19:26, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

There isn't much there, I agree. I don't think it could be sexed up much either. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 19:34, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
It's not an issue that is unique to this article, nor is it one that is necessarily elegantly resolved. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:37, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
In the interest of meeting good article criteria, would you say that the details in this section are necessary or not? I would be inclined to delete the whole thing (except for maybe linking to his wife somewhere), but if you feel that these details are crucial to a good encyclopedia article, I'd like to see how we can work them into the text. Having a "Personal Life" section in a BLP seems like an invitation for trouble to me. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 01:40, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Barney the barney barney, since you are so keen on keeping the material, would you mind proposing a way to work it into the body of the article? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:34, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

a 'former' biochemist; reasoned common sense arguments provided and ignored

Why are editors putting UNDUE weight on the Skeptical POV in the lead section again? How does it make the page more neutral, but also reflect a properly sourced summary of a living person?

Barney the barney barney suggest that the best way to obtain a NPOV on the page is to frame Sheldrake as a * former biochemist* insofar as he isn't currently doing scientific research in these areas. Source? Reference? Is this original research Barney? I'm not seeing this cited anywhere and you claim you're the one interpreting how to apply Sheldrakes credentials. Please. Stop. Doing. That.

Barney the barney barney then suggest that *If we look at his publication record, he hasn't been been doing biochemical research since the late 1970s, and on plant physiology since at least the mid 1980s. That's why he's a current author and former biochemist and plant physiologist. Hope that clarifies that little misunderstanding of yours*

Clearly if someone was doing research for 20 years, then they were a former researcher and that's fair to say in context. I've never heard of a doctorate automatically being revoked if a scientist leaves a research position to focus on private study and research in his actual field of study as a biologist.

Not understanding at all how diminishing a living person's real academic record which includes an actual doctorate in biochemistry is NOT recognized - but a title of parapsychology IS recognized without any degree whatsoever, any proper sourcing whatsoever. To me this just appears that editors are applying a Skeptical POV to be the primary position of WP. that's not the WP i signed up for. Let's find a rational consensus here, I believe this line of questioning is a reasonable one. The Tumbleman (talk) 04:51, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Mis-describing someone doctorate in biochemistry is designed to discredit them and contradicts WP:BIO. Likewise trying to described them as a "parapsychologist", a label with no formal qualification, and attributed by a tiny number of critics. --Iantresman (talk) 09:55, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
This was explained above. It's yet another case of WP:IDONTHEARYOU, isn't it Tumbleman (talk · contribs)? Barney the barney barney (talk) 11:12, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, Barney, but it is not for any editor to "explain" something and stick their fingers in their ears, as it comes across as dictatorial and rude (see WP:CIVIL). You should be prepared to listen to other editors as much as you would expect them to list to you. --Iantresman (talk) 14:28, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, Iantresman (talk · contribs), but I think you'll find I've been extremely patient and understanding of Tumbleman (talk · contribs)'s problems of apparently being able to read information but not process it properly. Having faced his problems at some length, I can only conclude that basic WP:COMPETENCE issues are at play because my WP:CIVIL explanations to him are ignored and he repeats the same unsubstantiated assertions, unbacked by reasoning or evidence, over and over again. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:02, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I also think that biologist/biochemist is the better term. Parapsychology is an interdisciplinary field and there are no Ph.D.'s awarded in the area. Academics working in the field generally first get their start in a mainstream field (i.e. physics, psychology, philosophy, anthropology) and then start applying the methods of their field to parapsychological topics. Sheldrake's approach to parapsychology is inherently biological - from his interest in the animal kingdom to employing statistical methods that prominent in biology. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:54, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I find it interesting that Anna agrees that Sheldrake does parapsychology. Yet more evidence that he's a parapsychologist. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 15:26, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm quite flattered that you think my comments are 'evidence', but I think you're missing the point. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:37, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Aha - pot kettle black. Not going to wikilink though --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 16:23, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm rather confused as to why Sheldrake is listed as a parapsychologist... He doesn't seem to be making the basic "Ancient Aliens" type of psychic argument. If I understand it correctly it seems like his positions are more neurological than psychological, as they're based on hardware rather than software, if you'll excuse the stretched metaphor. I'm seeing some argumentation that seems a bit personal, but does anyone have a clear example of how morphic resonance is based on parapsychology rather than, say, neurology, biochemistry or even paraneurology? If that's not a supported term, perhaps we should reword the lead to reference the complicated terminology. I'm open to clarification. The Cap'n (talk) 18:11, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake thinks that dogs can tell when their owners are coming home and go and sit in the porch in anticipation. His explanation for this apparent phenomenon is that the dog and owner are communicating via a "morphic field". He believes that this phenomenon is both normal (i.e. not paranormal) - in other words repeatable, and therefore experimentally determinable. Parapsychology is not by definition pseudoscience, it becomes pseudoscience when people make extraordinary claims that are not backed up by the required evidence, i.e. they don't pass the scientific scepticism part of the scientific process. So e.g. Sue Blackmore could be described as a parapsychologist even though she's a sceptic and not conducting pseudoscience. I don't see what the problem is with this term. It is one Sheldrake uses himself [31]. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:26, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Sheldrake does NOT refer to himself as a parapsychologist, can you provide your source for that? he refers to himself as a biologist, which is consistent with his degree and research. It's common knowledge that he is a biologist, and when he is referenced in journals, speaking events, they refer to him as his title, biologist. It's a common knowledge argument that he is a biologist. His research into telepathy is from the POV of his degree in biochemistry and his career as a researcher and his research is into 'claims' that people make regarding their pets. Sheldrake states that he believes claims of 'telepathy' in social groups is an extension of biology and evolution. He has an hypothesis for it, and experimentation that is actually still on going. He does not claim that Morphic Resonance is a fact, he claims it is an open question. He performs tests. He tries to falsify the claim. That sounds like standard scientific procedure to this editor. I'm not seeing anything 'fringe' other than it's the title of the subject matter he is researching rather than a reflection of HOW is is researching it. Susan Blackmore IS a parapsychologist, she has a degree in Parapsychology so of course we will refer to her as a parapsychologist. It just looks like it is important to call him a parapsychologist so the FRINGE claim can be maintained to support a Skeptical POV. Well I am sorry, this is Wikipedia, and we follow the Neutral Point of View policy. The skeptical POV is NOT a MAINSTREAM view. It might be a relevant POV in context to certain situations, but it's on the fringes of society just like astrology and yoga. Wikipedia is for the middle, the center, the neutral POV. We are here to insure a rational consensus, not support some groupthink ideological agenda of skeptics, individual ones or otherwise. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:41, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

@Barney the barney barney, I'm not contesting here the lack of scientific support for Sheldrake's theories or his status on the fringe, but rather the title of parapsychologist. He may have posited that dogs have some (unsupported?) comprehension of their owner's proximity, but from my understanding of his argument he's claiming that's due to indeterminate biological causes, not paranormal mental abilities. The fact that those biological causes are unsupported by scientific evidence is irrelevent to this discussion, since the issue is whether it's a (para)psychological claim or a biochemical one.
I think it's reasonable to say there is a difference between studying the hardware of how the mind works (neurology) and the software of what it does (psychology). I think it's equally clear that Sheldrake has no credentials whatsoever in any branch of psychology, but does in biochemistry, which his morphic resonance hypothesis is supposedly based on. I'm not saying that some of his claims don't have similarities with those of parapsychologists, but it doesn't appear to be such an identifying trait of his theories or qualifications that it should be in the lead. There are many terms that could be used, but parapsychologist seems particularly ill-suited. If you could provide the source where Sheldrake identifies himself as one, that would be very helpful.The Cap'n (talk) 05:04, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Also, I just followed the sources linked to his being listed as a parapsychologist. One stated that someone had described him as a parapsychologist but the university he supposedly worked for said there was no such position there, while the other links this term to his work in biochemistry in a way that addresses my concerns above. My main concern remains that whether or not there are sources that use the word about him, that does not mean it is a fitting lead descriptor. Also, my apologies for not being signed in earlier. The Cap'n (talk) 05:04, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
@Barney the barney barney Thank you for your explanation, by the by. My original issue of identification remains, however. Especially since Sheldrake himself identifies his work as normal (NOT paranormal, in your words), the appellation of "para" anything seems inappropriate. If I put forth a hypothesis that my head could be scientifically proven to be a watermelon, that's not paranormal, it's just bad science that is falsifiable (I hope). I think there's plenty to be said about the fact that scientists have serious issues with his hypotheses, but the very fact Sheldrake claims they can be proven excludes them from paranormal categorization, if not fringe/disputed science. Sorry to reply to myself. The Cap'n (talk) 05:14, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

DiDC Alternative Lead

Could we return to a discussion of David in DC's proposal for an alternate lead. I think it's much cleaner and more NPOV than what's currently in the header and worthy of additional discussion. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:45, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

The assertion that criticism is "unsupported by evidence" is absolutely shocking case of WP:POVPUSHing. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:04, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that the language you, Barney the barney barney, are proposing for the article is much better supported by reliable sources. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 15:09, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, Barney, but I'm really not sure what you are talking about. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:12, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps Anna could explain what she thinks is wrong with the lede, bearing in mind all the previous recent discussion on this page, rather than making bland statements for improvement? --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 15:20, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
This talk page is already widely populated with discussions of the lead (i.e here and here. We have an editor requesting consensus and I think it should be considered. A diatribe from me is unnecessary. And please try to be civil when characterizing my contributions here (i.e. 'bland' statements). Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:30, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
This: "Sheldrake’s work on morphic resonance and telepathy has been widely criticized by prominent scientists, skeptical (sic) organizations, and science journalists, with some claiming it is pseudoscience, unsupported by evidence...". We can't make judgement decisions on the validity of the criticism and conclude such criticism is "unsupported by evidence" - that's plainly ridiculous. Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:41, 10 October 2013 (UTC). PS - The Royal Society is classified as a "skeptical organization" now is it? Barney the barney barney (talk) 15:42, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I think you're confusing the semantics, the wording is suggesting that sheldrakes ideas are not supported by the evidence, not that the idea that it IS pseudoscience that is not supported by the evidence. However, now that you mention it, it's certainly not supported by the sources. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:17, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

I just updated my sandbox which is now a synthesis of Dave in DC's and I's edits.

good work here David in DC, thanks for giving this a go. Sorry i have not had time yet to augment. I agree that it would be proper to have his academic titles and positions in academia in the lead, but I am keeping it out of mine in the spirit of consensus, I assume many of the editors dont want his scientific credentials listed as much and there is flak around the parapsychology issue - so i though just keeping it simple would be helpful, but all for your suggestion if it was up to me.

Paragraph two of your edit that defines MR uses this quote ""telepathy-type interconnections between organisms" - that's a quote way out of context. Editors are using it on the page because it has the word telepathy in it and it makes Sheldrake look 'fringy' in doing so. That is not how Sheldrake argues for morphic resonance, that is a quote from his book, and it's actually in the page. it says

"The idea came to me in a moment of insight and was extremely exciting. It interested some of my colleagues at Clare College - philosophers, linguists, and classicists were quite open-minded. But the idea of mysterious telepathy-type interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species didn’t go down too well with my colleagues in the science labs. Not that they were aggressively hostile; they just made fun of it. Whenever I said something like, "I’ve just got to go and make a telephone call," they said, "Ha, ha, why bother? Do it by morphic resonance!"[6]

Sheldrake is 'quoting' his idea that way because he is showing how it would be received at an institution. It's an anecdotal story, it's not even an explanation of his theory, it's a caricature of an explanation of his theory. I am sure you can see how this is not the best way to neutrally explain what MR is from Sheldrake's POV.

Paragraph 3, I dont see any sources that justify the "Critics express concern that his books and public appearances attract popular attention in a way that has a negative impact on the public's understanding of science." there is a source on his page, but it's one opinion of one person, certainly not a consensus. I think it's relevant though, so I am putting it in the second paragraph where it's context is properly served. It seems awkward to state in the third paragraph, considering the sources for the third paragraph reference Sheldrake at round tables with some of the most prominent scientists in the world. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:17, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Removing weasel words

This edit removes from problematic weasel words including "hypothesis" (there are no reliable sources that identify morphic reasonance as a legitimate scientific hypothesis) and "principle" describing the conservation of energy. The conservation of energy is a fact, not just a principle.

Also, "scientific consensus" about the fact of the conservation of energy is selling this fact short. It's simply a fact, not something that is decided upon by the vote of luminaries.

Please justify any desires to change this wording back.


jps (talk) 15:24, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

This is not a criticism of your edit, but it is worth comparing the tone of contentious articles between Wikipedia and encyclopaedias such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, and articles on parapsychology and ESP. The difference is dramatic. Even the Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience (publ. 2000), has a more encyclopedic tone, even in its article on Sheldrake. --Iantresman (talk) 17:50, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
jps, leaving Sheldrake's positions aside, that's just not the way scientific terms work. A hypothesis is just an educated guess, it does not need to be confirmed by proof, if it is then it is no longer a hypothesis but a supported theory. Hypotheses do not need corroboration, they're just conjectures. Second, conservation of energy IS a principle as determined by the consensus of the overwhelming number of scientists, there is nothing in science that is an irrefutable fact. Even gravity is technically a theory. Again, not arguing for or against Sheldrake, but for the accurate use of scientific terms. I propose we set the wording back. The Cap'n (talk) 18:03, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Claiming a "hypothesis" is to claim the guess was "educated", but there are no reliable sources which actually contend this. jps (talk) 18:32, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, and since Sheldrake has a doctorate from Cambridge, has studied the history of science at Harvard, and had papers published in peer-reviewed journals, I think we have to acknowledge the likelihood that Sheldrake knows the difference between an idea, a hypothesis and a theory (and you are at liberty to disagree). Sheldrake himself uses the term "hypothesis" as does the Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience article on him, and the Nature article "A Book for Burning"[32]. I know of no references that question whether he has made a "hypothesis" or something else. Of course this does not imply that his hypotheses are correct, but I know of no scientists who advocates that wrong hypotheses become merely "ideas". --Iantresman (talk) 19:21, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree with hypothesis. It's clearly not a scientific theory (which by definition is generally accepted). A hypothesis is a hypothesis even if it's discredited and unfalsifiable/untestable. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:30, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I also agree with hypothesis, and there are references to scientific journals which refer to Sheldrake's MR as an hypothesis. Also, It's actually the title of his book "A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation, so referring to his hypothesis of MR is also how it is referenced in a published title. What i am not seeing however is any sources that say it is unfalsifiable/untestable, especially since there are journals and back and forths between sheldrake and rose actually testing it. Sourced evidence shows that the claim of unfalsifiable/untestable is opinion and original research. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:06, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Maddox 1981 accuses Sheldrake of providing a hypothesis that is untestable/unfalsifiable (the two are closely related). It would help if you were familiar with the sources. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:12, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Correct, Maddox does share *his* opinion that is the case. And it's fair to state that opinion on the page. What is not NPOV however is stating that opinion as a fact, and then use that fact to hold a WPFRINGE guideline to anything that mentions sheldrake on WP. Even if thousands of people believe Maddox is right, and even if WP editors believe he is right, it's still an opinion. It's an educated opinion, and a notable opinion, but an opinion none the less. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:19, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I think I see a consensus forming that hypothesis is used correctly. But the editor has twice reverted me when I restored it, and the other formulations he identifies as weasel words. I've asked him to self-revert, per WP:BRD, on his talk page. IRWolfie- provided some helpful context there as well. But I don't see a self-revert coming. Once there's enough comment here to be sure that hypothesis is not, as asserted in the edit summary, a weasel word, I'd appeciate someone implementing that consensus. David in DC (talk) 21:32, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
  • The use of the word hypothesis lends the idea undue credibility and cloaks it in scientific sounding language, IRWolfie- (talk) 21:35, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
huh? the use of the word hypothesis lends the idea as an hypothesis and I am seeing absolutely no reason to suspect otherwise. Who are you accusing of practicing this deception? This sort of statement rests on the assumption that the idea is *not* scientific and would therefore need to be *cloaked* to make it appear scientific. Sources that show that? Reasoned argument?
Let's use common sense before we start suspending the Law of Identity. The Tumbleman (talk) 22:15, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Tumbleman is quite correct. By the same logic, we have to go through the history of science, and revert all "hypotheses" and "theories" that have been shown to be incorrect, and now refer to them as only "ideas". Phlogiston theory should now be called the "Phlogiston idea", because suggesting it was better than a mere hypotheses would be to give it undue credibility. --Iantresman (talk) 00:30, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I just made the edit - I changed it to his 'hypothesis of formative causation' which is the actual title of his paper with a reference of that title being published in a biology journal regarding a test of morphic resonance. Now that it's established that it's an hypothesis both it title with a source, an hypothesis as a proper scientific reference, with a source that also shows testing, the whole cloaking and masquerading as a hypothesis that is unfalsifiable claim that editors are suggesting is proven to be - wrong. and sourced. with facts. The Tumbleman (talk) 00:06, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Not only that, some science papers even refer to it as a "theory"[33][34]. My usual disclaimer: this is not to imply that Sheldrake's ideas are correct, nor that I support them. --Iantresman (talk) 00:40, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm happy with This edit. I find the process on this page particularly hard, and am reminded of a quote from Voltaire ... “You will notice that in all disputes between Christians since the birth of the Church, Rome has always favoured the doctrine which most completely subjugated the human mind and annihilated reason.” --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 02:05, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict)It is imperitive that, before reaching a consensus, someone must say: "!voting is evil."
Therefore: !voting is evil.
Based, instead, on the quality and persuasiveness of everything above, I see only the editor who started the thread and one other explicitly opposed to the word hypothesis.
The thread-starter makes a reasoned argument, with which I disagree.
The other: "hypothesis lends undue credibility" seems at odds with the meaning of "hypothesis", as most of us have pointed out. Calling something a hypothesis lends it no credibility whatsoever. That's why we test hypotheses. Some prove true, some prove false. As time unfolds, some failed hypotheses are proven true by better instruments or better-designed tests. As time unfolds, some "proven" hypotheses fail, for similar reasons.
Everyone else seems to explicitly favor it, except Roxy, who approves of the always-reliable sanity of vzaak, without explicitly opining either way on whether hypothesis would also get the seal (oops, no, seals bark, too) ummmm, quack of approval. No matter how you slice it, it looks like a consensus in favor of hypothesis to me. David in DC (talk) 03:12, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I reverted due to several serious errors, as explained in the edit comment [35]. I haven't looked into whatever the issue is, I just saw the source for a quote being removed, etc. vzaak (talk) 03:21, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Editors are reminded that this is wikipedia and not Reddit. Edits are not supported by an upvote, and likes to a page do not reason an edit like facebook. The proper edit and choice is not a 'feeling based' transaction, like on Tumblr. Quotes and opinions of editors do not hold weight, even if they love them and hold them dear. Editing to a NPOV is serious business, and requires work. This article is in contention, if editors cannot make reasoned arguments in this deliberation, it may be best to move on to the social network of their choice. The Tumbleman (talk) 03:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)


vzaak Can you explain your revert when consensus, reasoned argument, common sense, and sources support using the appropriate, academic, scientific, and proper title? If you have a problem with grammar, change the grammar. If there is a problem with the source, ask in TALK. As you can see in the section above, rational consensus shows the change in the word 'proposal' did not have consensus, so it was reverted back. I even changed the reference to Morphic Resonance to it's proper academic reference which is listed in the title of the paper and in the title of author's work, "An Hypothesis of Formative Causation" to avoid any issues around clarity. Are you suggesting that the change to 'proposal' has consensus and therefore needs to stay? Please explain your reasoning to the community. The Tumbleman (talk) 03:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I have not observed any consensus on the talk page for the edits that have recently been reverted. There is no Wikipedia policy that requires an article that is a biography of a living person to be a hagiography that takes extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence at face value. Rather, all Wikipedia articles are first and foremost to be based on reliable sources. What the sources say about Sheldrake is what belongs in an article about Sheldrake. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 14:44, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
It would be useful if you provided diffs for the revert, so we know which edits you are referring to, and the editors responsible can provide the requested sources if available. --Iantresman (talk) 15:08, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

WeijiBaikeBianji, actually if you look at the TALK section right above this section, called "Removing Weasel Words" - you will see that editor jps removed the long standing 'hypothesis' from the lead and replaced it with 'proposal', making the claim that to use the word hypothesis would be inaccurate because there was no source to show that MR was a scientific hypothesis. He then asked the community of editors to justify the revert. A number of very active editors on this page, myself included, objected - each providing their own unique reasoned argument that suggested such a change was unwarranted. So the change from hypothesis to 'proposal' has no consensus, clearly. We want to understand the decision and build a rational consensus, not engage in an edit war. Would you like to read the section that directly addresses this revert and share your reasoned argument with the community? The Tumbleman (talk) 15:30, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

BECAUSE THERE IS CONSENSUS AND YOUR OPINION IS THE MINORITY ONE. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:48, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Barney the barney barney it's clear that is your position as a welcomed voice on this page, however we are not seeing any evidence of that in the talk section around the change. The Tumbleman (talk) 15:49, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
You can count me in on The Tumbleman's side of this. I don't post much, but part of that is simply that The Tumbleman is striking the right neutral tone and covering the issues more objectively than I would. I think that his objections are entirely valid. Certainly skeptical sourcing is not sufficient for the claims being made. I've already pointed that out. There also seems to be a skeptical reliance on Wikipedia guidelines as a substitute for basic scholarship. It's my opinion that no amount of discussion over fringe or undue can possibly override the need to properly support statements.Craig Weiler (talk) 16:56, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I have tried to work toward consensus on this page, but there are several editors here who clearly have no interest in such things, nor do they recognize when someone is arguing their side. These folks are far more interesting in craftily lodging ad hominom attacks and dragging us all around in rhetorical circles than improving this article. I suggest that we stop feeding the trolls, and if they don't get bored and go away, seek arbitration. Nothing is going to get accomplished in this environment. In the meantime, there are lots of parapsychology articles that need improving. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 21:40, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I concur. --Iantresman (talk) 22:58, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that there are several editors here who seem to have no interest in building consensus. Maybe they just don't know how to do it. Among other things, requests for agreement on simple points are not responded to, or are responded to with great walls of meandering text. I like the concept of not feeding the trolls, and I agree that nothing good is going to be accomplished in this environment. Lou Sander (talk) 06:02, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm also getting very frustrated with the obstinate reverts without discussion. I spent a lot of time gathering feedback and carefully working on a compromise lead, only to see it all reverted without any justification other than the fact it wasn't suitably hostile to Sheldrake. We're here to cooperate in making an informative biography, not to senselessly revert honest efforts to improve the page. I'm not trying to promote the man's ideas, but I'm also not willing to tolerate weasel words that violate WP:BLP. I don't want to initiate an edit war so I'm not reverting back, but I'm putting it forth that this is getting aggressive and intolerable. Can I get a consensus of people who support justification on the talk page before reverting??? The Cap'n (talk) 18:54, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
If by "wasn't suitably hostile to Sheldrake" you mean that is "didn't appropriately situate Sheldrake's thinking as fringe magical thinking rather than as science", it is because policies don't allow that. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:03, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
(and where exactly is this consensus for your version of the lead that you claim?) -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:03, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
It would not appear sensible to attempt to edit the most controversial area of the article without getting consensus here first. I see that others feel the same way. It might work on a less controversial page without woolly thinkers, but not here. What say you Cap'n? --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 19:34, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Change in Lead Section from parapsychologist to 'Fringe Scientist', request for consensus

Neither of the two references provided support the pejorative and contentious epithet "fringe scientist".[36] contrary to WP:BLP, and that we should "Remove immediately any contentious material about a living person that is unsourced or poorly sourced" per WP:GRAPEVINE. Consensus, if it exists, does not provide an exception, even if it is SHOUTED. --Iantresman (talk) 10:05, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I share the issue on the sources and have two questions for the editor.
Opinion pieces as references to define a living person's life work and career?
What's a 'fringe scientist'?
The Tumbleman (talk) 15:49, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
The Perrott-Warrick Fund gave Sheldrake a research grant for several years and the terms of the bequest were "absolutely for the purpose of psychical research". So instead of parapsychologist or fringe scientist how about "psychical researcher"? It seems a clear, accurate and referenced descriptor. Dingo1729 (talk) 16:11, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I've found anecdotal evidence for this on Susan Blackmore's website[37] and Rupert Sheldrake's website here.[38] Although I have no reason to doubt this, it would be nice to find a more reliable source. Sheldrake's involvement is shown as "Director", and while I don't doubt that he did research during this time, just because, for example, a scientist does some research on "coffee", they don't become a "coffee scientist", but a scientist who has done research on coffee (and perhaps many other subjects). Sheldrake is a biochemist (Ph.D Cambridge), as defined by Wikipedia[39], and as acknowledged by Cambridge University.[40] --Iantresman (talk) 16:53, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Unlike a biochemist who researches coffee; once a former scientist begins pushing psuedo-science, they are no longer a "scientist", they are a "pseudoscientist". -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:06, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake was a biochemist. He is (or maybe was) a psychical researcher, which is not mainstream science. He is a writer on paranormal topics. I agree that it would be good to have more reliable sources, but I think the sources posted by Iantresman are sufficient. Does anybody else agree with these descriptors? Dingo1729 (talk) 17:51, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I actually said that he is a biochemist, for the reasons, and sources I provided. --Iantresman (talk) 18:06, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Sources in recent academic journals at last as 2011 list him as a biologist, as well as the Perrot Warrick Fund in mention, which if anyone checks the source used to support the 'parapsychologist' claim, actually reference him as a biologist as well. TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom I am not seeing any proper sources that sheldrake pushes pseudoscience other than a few referenced opinions. Opinions are not facts so I dont see any support for your claim from the sources provided here. If you have a source that shows this as a fact, such as a peer reviewed journal where there is consensus amongst the scientists in question, please provide. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:14, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

AFAICT "fringe scientist" is a neologism with no meaning. The high value link is to parapsychology, the definition in which closely resembles Sheldrake's "experiments". Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I checked the University of Cambridge website,[41] and they don't seem to agree with your characterisation. I then checked the Nature article where the editor gave his opinion that Sheldrake's presented an "an exercise in pseudo-science", but still acknowledged that he was "trained as a biochemist".[42] I was not able to find one source that suggest that (a) Sheldrake pushes pseudoscience, and therefore (b) he is no longer a scientist, but (c) a pseudoscientist. WP:BLP requires that "contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately and without discussion". I quite accept that there may be many editors may share this opinion, but editors are not reliable sources. --Iantresman (talk) 18:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Barney the barney barney we understand that is your position, that parapsychology should hold weight and his legitimate scientific credentials, such as biologist or biochemist are somehow suspended from the record. Problem is, we can't find any sources that support that other than an opinion, a reference to a skeptic dictionary which is not valid as a reference in a BLP, and personal research or interpretation. We are willing to consider your POV here but we need to see some sources for that for a rational consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:18, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman (talk · contribs), please stop with the strawmen. There are two issues here. Issue 1 is that Sheldrake hasn't been doing any biology or biochemistry since the mid 1980s. Sheldrake supporters nevertheless want to describe him as a biochemist. This is simply not supported by facts. Issue 2 is that Sheldrake is attempting, (or at least has more recently attempted) studies on parapsychology. The ideas that he are either (1) a current scientist or (2) not involved in parapsychology are quite frankly abut as ridiculous as your other attempts to subvert NPOV and FRINGE on this page. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:39, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Barney the barney barney (talk · contribs) Strawman is Odd choice to use in a debate, you may want to be careful about giving away your strategy so easily, as you once again are continually avoiding the direct conflict of our ideas here. My argument is based on references, sources, common sense, WP Policy. All you keep telling me is that you have an opinion of why parapsychology should be used based on original research your doing. You do understand how wikipedia works, right? This isn't like commenting on a blog. We are only here to make reasoned arguments and use common sense based on sourced references towards a more NPOV. Your opinion in a TALK section is not a sourced reference. Please provide a sourced reference and explain why the community should suspend WP policy to support the skeptical POV. Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I will settle of just one proper source. The Tumbleman (talk) 01:49, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia defines someone as a biochemist if they have been trained as a biochemist. Sheldrake has a Ph.D. If you have any sources whatsoever, that even hints that (a) he is not continuing to use his experience as a biochemist in his work, and (b) that even if he is not, then he is should no longer call himself a biochemistry, then please present it.
The University of Binghamton refers to him as a biochemist,[43] and the University of Cambridge also acknowledges his Ph.D[44] as does the University of Edinburgh,[45]. He is also referred to as a biologist by the University of London,[46] the University of Arizona,[47] and the Open University,[48] What you your sources? --Iantresman (talk) 00:55, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Revisions in the page by .... an editor

I find it rather difficult to deal with discussion here when an "editor" messes about with the page, particularly with other editors posts without some sort of agreement first. Changing the order of posts, and even creating new sections to put them in. Of course, if this is considered acceptable behaviour, then OK. Am I being too sensitive? --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 16:28, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Your sensitivity is a result of morphic resonance and altogether reasonable. Through the generations, one attribute that has been passed down in homo sapiens is an aversion to sanctimonious, humorless zealotry. Sadly, while we all carry this attribute, it does not manifest itself in all of us. An early developmental marker for the manifestation of this attribute, in the technical term favored by pre-school and kindergarten educational scholars and practitioners, is the ability to "play well with others."
There's a doctoral dissertation to be written some day comparing the correlation between single-minded, joyless zealotry and the presence or absence of this term on grade school report cards. My hypothesis is that a correlation can be found between the presence (or absence) of this term in the grade school records of long-time wikipedia editors and their relative incorrigibility in matters requiring a balancing of core values. A correlation such that those who "played well with others" score lower on an incorrigibility scale and those whose grade school records display little or no proficiency in this critical skill score exponentially higher.
I further hypothesize that other markers for the failure of this species-wide attribute to manifest itself in a given member of the species homo sapiens would prove to be an inability to walk and chew bubble-gum at the same time and an inability to disagree without being disagreeable.
Please note: my use of the word hypothesis here is purposeful. It's connected with a discussion further up the page. It's meant to demonstrate the utter ridiculousness of banishing the word "hypothesis" as a descriptor for morphic resonance. Morphic resonance may be no more likely to prove true than the hypotheses I provide for my proposed doctoral dissertation. Nonetheless, they are all hypotheses. Contending otherwise provides a reliable source for a verifiable characterization of notably poor editorial judgment.
Please note further: I wrote this without having a single editor in mind. I had two. One on each side. David in DC (talk) 17:32, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

This article is seriously biased toward the prevailing skeptical view

I have placed a NPOV tag on the article. it is clear that the majority of text here is negative with no pretense of presenting the man as his work. In all, it is being used to attack his views, rather than simply discussing his views.

For instance, under Books, we have: ...Sheldrake's book is a splendid illustration of the widespread public misconception of what science is about. In reality, Sheldrake's argument is in no sense a scientific argument but is an exercise in pseudo-science... Many readers will be left with the impression that Sheldrake has succeeded in finding a place for magic within scientific discussion – and this, indeed, may have been a part of the objective of writing such a book.[13]

And more. There are many comments supporting the book, but of course, they are published in unacceptable publications. The solution is to just say what and not editorialize! Tom Butler (talk) 18:02, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

see all the talk above. When all of the mainstream science calls the work pseudoscience, then the NPOV view of the article MUST call the work pseudoscience. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:05, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
This. It would be a blatant POV to NOT mention that some of his views are far off the majority viewpoint and have been discredited. Ravensfire (talk) 18:09, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Tom Butler (talk · contribs), I understand you're new here so I've recommended you read the stuff at the top of this page. Do not be surprised if a low level scientist (as Sheldrake was), starts making extraordinary claims without required evidence, that members of the scientific community call him out. That's part of the scientific process. Sheldrake's article is "biased" against him not because the editors are biased but because several prominent members of the scientific community are biased against nonsense. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:13, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Barney, This is not about whether or not Sheldrake has been called out. See if you can stand back and take a look at the article as a whole. It is clearly an attack piece. Now consider what many of us have been working toward for Wikipedia for many years. The Wiki is too important to allow a few zealous editors to use it as a way of proving a person is wrong. That make any of us wanting to use Wikipedia as a reference look like idiots.
Either make the article neutral or I will put it up for deletion. Tom Butler (talk)
A neutral article on a heavily disparaged subject is going to look like an "attack piece". Please stop edit warring. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:25, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I recommend you review: [49] in the Pseudoscience arbitration of 2006. Unless you can find a newer decision, I think you will see that the admins agreed to the need for more balanced than is represented here. You are being overly aggressive! Tom Butler (talk) 18:30, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Per your 2006 arb ruling: " Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, a fundamental policy, requires fair representation of significant alternatives to scientific orthodoxy. Significant alternatives, in this case, refers to legitimate scientific disagreement, as opposed to pseudoscience." In this case, there is NO legitimate scientific disagreement, its pseudoscience through and through.
I would not recommend taking this to deletion, as you have threatened, as the subject is clearly notable and such a move is disrupting the project merely to make a point and as such could result in moves to prevent you from creating future disruptions. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:36, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
@TRPoD "all of the mainstream science" does not call his work pseudoscience. In this context, "mainstream science" is a weasel word (unsupported attribution). There is no dispute that several individuals have called his work pseudoscience. There are also examples of academia who do not chacterise Sheldrake's work as pseudoscience, such as the University of Cambridge,[50][51] the University of Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit,[52] the University of London's Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit,[53] the University of Arizona's Center for Consciousness Center,[54] the University of Northampton's Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes,[55] the UK's Open University,[56] Binghamton University, NY,[57].
And then we have the peer-reviweed papers that examine Sheldrake's without prejudice, eg. in the Journal of Consciousness Studies (2011),[58], and, peer-reviewed papers by Sheldrake himself, eg. in The Journal of Science and Healing,[59][60] And mentions in academic books such as the Encyclopedia of Creativity (Elsevier),[61] --Iantresman (talk) 19:52, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
uhhh, like I said, all of the mainstream academics. that pseudo-scientists see him as one of their own, well that sells it right there. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, there you have it; the reason this article is not balanced: the position some editors are taking is that scientists do think it is pseudoscience are writing in acceptable publications and the scientists who do not think it is pseudoscience are also pseudoscientists and therefore their opinion does not count.
Is that about right?Tom Butler (talk) 20:53, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
It must be upsetting to those who are on the losing side of the argument, but essentially, Wikipedia's rules on reliable sourcing demand that we pay deference to those who are actually mainstream. Sorry. jps (talk) 21:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
the only thing that is being lost here is the spirit of WP. The Tumbleman (talk) 01:57, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that all the academic institutions I listed above, are not mainstream, and if so, how you came to that conclusion? There seems to be a suggestion that anyone who investigates parapsychology without prejudice is by definition non-mainstream, and anyone who investigates parapsychology in order to disprove it, is mainstream? --Iantresman (talk) 21:23, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────We're discussing publications and scientists, not institutions. jps (talk) 21:47, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

A word about "hypotheses"

Like many terms in the English language, "hypothesis" means different things. One thing it means is "educated guess". In the context of science, such guesses need to be made in an informed way. Many of those who argue against Sheldrake's claims specifically dispute whether he is informed or not on the matters that he is proposing. For example, resonance is an idea from physics, and it is not at all clear that Sheldrake is educated enough to identify a resonant phenomenon -- even a hypothetical one.

But beyond this, if we are going to call Sheldrake's idea "a hypothesis", we ought to have a independent source that specifically does this. I have not seen any sources that are properly independent from Sheldrake's advocacy do this. However, if someone would like to identify some, I'd be happy to look carefully as to whether they actually make plain statements (and not just attributed claims) that Sheldrake's morphic resonance is "a hypothesis" (that is, his guess is actually educated).

jps (talk) 18:38, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Would love to assist you here. These are valid references and sources but here for common sense purposes only.
Educated guess in biology and chemistry
Sources that reference it in clear context to being an 'educated' idea. These are Scientific Journals that reference SHeldrake, both as a biologist, and to his 'hypothesis', also stating that his hypothesis explores formative causation within biology and chemistry, not physics, and mentions that sheldrake only steps outside of biology and chemistry to extend his hypothesis in relationship to culture and society.
^ Watts, Fraser. "Morphic Fields and Extended Mind An Examination of the Theoretical Concepts of Rupert Sheldrake". 2011. Journal of Consciousness Studies. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
^The Sense of Being Glared At' Journal of Consciousness Studies. Vol 12, No 6, June 2005 - here is a link for an editor to view the actual pages in the journal where it states
So what do real physicists think? Does Sheldrake make an uneducated 'guess'?
12 scientists refer to it as an hypothesis in this book by Hans-Peter Durr, the entire book is dedicated to this specific scientific discussion and peer review of morphic resonance. One would assume that if a highly prominent scientist took the time to write the book and find 11 other scientists to sit around and discuss it, that they would only do so with an educated idea and not waste time with just a mere 'guess'.
^ ^ Durr, Hans-Peter;, Gottwald, Franz-Leo (1999). Rupert Sheldrake in der Diskussion. Das Wagnis einer neuen Wissenschaft des Lebens [Gebundene Ausgabe]. Berlin: Fischer Scherz. ISBN 9783502191698.
here is a link on sheldrake's page where you can find a translation.
Here is a PDF of an article by Hans Durr written for The Center for Frontier Sciences called "Sheldrake's ideas from the perspective of modern physics."
I hope this is ample for your immediate purposes. Would you mind doing the same? Do you have any sourced references that support the claim that the mainstream scientific community rejects the hypothesis claim to formative causation and refers to it as the Proposal of Formative Causation or Proposal of Morphic Resonance? I can't seem to find anything there and worried that the claim that it is a proposal rather than hypothesis is based on original research. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:03, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
The "Journal of Consciousness Studies" is a terrible source that is certainly not independent of the fantastical claims.
Hans-Peter Durr is normally described as "wacky" when it comes to his proposals on consciousness (similar to Roger Penrose)[62]. As such, we can safely dismiss his credulity as pseudoscientific.
So, no, you haven't actually been able to satisfy my request. Again, we need an independent source, not a fellow believer in magical quantum consciousness.
Are you honestly suggesting that morphic resonance is not a proposal by Sheldrake? That is, do you really want me to provide a source that Sheldrake suggested this idea himself? Because according to my dictionary, that's what "proposal" actually means. If you think it's not a "proposal", do you think it is an "idea" at least?
jps (talk) 20:58, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I'm sorry jps,but I can only satisfy sourcing that work within WP: VERIFY. I can't satisfy sourcing to appeal to a personal POV. I don't see the facts in your argument, just an opinion. There is more out there, but I can't do the work for you and I have no idea of which personality you will like or not, but I can show you where to look.

Google Scholar lists Rupert's journal articles with the number of citations per article and links to the journals that cite Rupert. For example, one of the articles from the Journal of Consciousness Studies is cited 27 times. One of the citations is in the journal Anthropology of Consciousness in a paper called The Electrophysiological Basis of Evil Eye Belief. The most citations that have been overwhelmingly positive have been Rupert's journal articles on experimenter effect where he's cited in respected mainstream journals: Journal of Experimental Biology, Science & Justice, Journal of Investigative Psychology, etc so you will probably want to avoid those and probably will just want to focus on the ones that support the skeptical POV.


Also, I requested you provide your sourcing for the word 'proposal' or references that Sheldrake's Hypothesis is not educated. Were you able to find any? You do not have any consensus on using proposal and still have not provided much to support reverting. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:27, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I concur. All I see is deprecation language, which is no cool, or necessary. According to Wikipedia the "Journal of Consciousness Studies" article has not one critical word to be said against it, and not one source was provide to support the claims that it is either "terrible" or non-independent. Likewise the Hans-Peter Dürr article has not one bad word against him, a list of honour to make most scientists weep, and no sources offered to support the pejorative viewpoint. A previous ArbCom ruling has criticised "Using strong negative language, [that] has deprecated a number of persons and their theories"[63] --Iantresman (talk) 22:00, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Even those that support this particular approach to an academic journal admit that it is "unconventional": [64]. jps (talk) 22:08, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
You are game-playing now. It's not becoming. Google scholar is not a metric by which quality is measured and the low-impact or self-referencing citation churning that gets done in obscure journals that are taken over by editorial boards either out to make a fast buck or intellectually predisposed to accommodate pseudoscientific ideas is not evidence that these proposals are anything more than chicanery. If you can't understand my request for an independent source, that's okay, but your attempt to shift the goalposts will not be successful, ultimately. jps (talk) 21:33, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Hey, I'm just helping you do the research, I'm not saying google scholar is a SOURCE, i am saying google is a place where you can find sources that you are looking for. I already provided relevant independent sourcing to you, I can't help it if you don't like reading the journal or that you think hans durr is whacky. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:48, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Your task was not to "help me do the research". Your task was to point me to a source that is independent that identified Sheldrake's work as being worthy of consideration as a scientific hypothesis. I have looked through the sources in the normal ways and find nothing. jps (talk) 22:11, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, jps I missed this question "Are you honestly suggesting that morphic resonance is not a proposal by Sheldrake? That is, do you really want me to provide a source that Sheldrake suggested this idea himself? Because according to my dictionary, that's what "proposal" actually means. If you think it's not a "proposal", do you think it is an "idea" at least?" Oh we can agree that it is an idea, but specifically it is an hypothesis. I refer to it as an hypothesis because it puts forth an idea for testing and prediction. Not all proposals put forth ideas for testing and prediction. I propose we meet for lunch, for example. So the word hypothesis seems like a reasonable way to signify an hypothesis. I am suggesting that referring to a valid scientific hypothesis as a proposal is diminishing to the very real academic and scientific career of a BLP and is in violation of NPOV. I am still not seeing any sources that suggest SHeldrake's idea is an uneducated idea. His Hypothesis of formative causation is in chemistry and biology. I find the claim that a biochemist would have no knowledge of resonance to be a deeply problematic contradiction. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:48, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Since we both agree it's an "idea", at least we can use that word, right? If you don't like "proposal", that's fine. I don't like "hypothesis" because I don't see there any evidence that this is a properly formulated scientific hypothesis in the same way that, say, the question of the existence of Santa Claus is not a properly formulated hypothesis (and, please, don't go on about how that's a strawman... the point is that I see the similarity and others do as well even if you don't). The problem is that there are sources that indicate that it is not a real, valid hypothesis (and many are cited in this very article). Rather than perpetuate the argument, let's just use a word that everyone can agree to. "Idea" is fine. "Concept", "claim", "suggestion", "novel interpretation", "submission", etc.... jps (talk) 21:55, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
You've been provided with ample evidence that 'hypothesis' is the appropriate word as well as numerous reasoned arguments and common sense applications from a number of editors. I am sorry you personally do not like it, but WP is not a Democracy and edits are based on sources, reasoned arguments and common sense. There are no sources for your claim that Sheldrake provided an uneducated idea in physics outside of his field of expertise. Your claim that 'resonance' is solely restricted to physics is not supported by the evidence as resonance in biochemistry is an often referenced phenomenon. Also, according to sourced references, Sheldrake extends his hypothesis inside of biology and chemistry, and reaches only in applying it to culture and society, which seems reasonable since biochemists study life at the and people are life too. I'm just not seeing much of an argument here and most importantly, I am here to make the page better under BLP, and edit suggestions such as this appear to diminish a valid scientific career of a living person. Remember WP:NOT The Tumbleman (talk) 22:04, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
There are plenty of sources in the article that indicate that Sheldrake's proposal is rather quaint if not downright ignorant. In fact, they're cited in note a in this very article. jps (talk) 22:11, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
The issues with a NPOV around Sheldrake the scientist

I'm not sure if editors here understand the distinction between opinion and fact, and how science works. What makes something pseudoscience is not the word 'pseudoscience' being mouthed by a prominent scientist. Science is an empirical process. So if something is pseudoscience, then it is pseudoscience by virtue of empiricism, not an opinion, even if hundreds or thousands of scientists share it. I am not sure why this issue is even still being debated, it's flying in the face of facts and references. Something becomes pseudoscience when it cannot be tested or if the data is proven to be factually incorrect by such testing. That's it. There is nothing more to pseudoscience than that. If I just had one reference to prove his hypothesis was tested, it would be enough if that reference verified an actual bonafide test of the hypothesis. Case closed. I'm sorry but Maddox's opinion that sheldrake's hypothesis was un testable was clearly mistaken. That's how science works.

This is what I do not simply understand about the value of the skeptical POV on this page, skeptics are constantly crying pseudoscience and how things need to be tested scientifically, but when Sheldrake tests things scientifically, he then becomes a pseudoscientist because of what he is testing (such as telepathy). When that card gets knocked down, then editors take philosophical ideas of sheldrake and then apply them as if they were an hypothesis or a theory, and claim pseudoscience again.

This is where the NPOV of the whole page is threatened, the skeptical POV has an agenda to diminish the very real academic and scientific credentials of a man to support a POV about a man's ideas from their POV. So yes, taking the word 'hypothesis' is just another attempt to separate Sheldrake from 50 years of scientific research and academic accomplishment. The Tumbleman (talk) 01:33, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

If we're going to talk about this issue in this way, I hope you understand that characterizations of Sheldrake's work as pseudoscience comes on the basis of his proposal being untestable. When he tries to "test" for "telepathy", the experiments he outlines seem to fail close scrutiny. This is part of what Richard Wiseman gets on about. Anyway, the point is not to "diminish" Sheldrake but to make clear where his work stands in the context of scientific investigation (which is where he has been placing himself over the years, so the enhanced scrutiny should be expected). jps (talk) 04:07, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Crikey Tumbleman (talk · contribs) you started off making a good point and then got everything totally backwards, which is a splendid illustration of your incessant POV Pushing (and now edit warring) here. Your objections to the sources just plainly contradict what the sources say to the point where Hanlon's razor has to be a serious consideration. Barney the barney barney (talk)
This characterisation fails WP:BLP which requires articles to be written "in a dispassionate tone, avoiding both understatement and overstatement"WP:BLPSTYLE.
@Barney the barney barney, please don't accuse other editors POV pusing and edit warring, especially without diffs,(per WP:WIAPA) when they have taken the time and trouble to work with you. --Iantresman (talk) 10:38, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Changes to 'Origins and Philosophy of Morphic Resonance'

I removed a lot of the undue weight placed on the page tying eastern philosophy or religious ideas to the development of the hypothesis of formative causation. there is no reference to support that Morphic Resonance is a philosophy. References were not supporting this weight, and previous version appeared to take liberty with living person's own ideas and framing things out of historical context. I added a quote from sheldrake directly for clarification. references to religion informing the hypothesis are not accurate based on sources, and any similarity is anecdotal. MR is a scientific hypothesis, not a proposal for a philosophical link between east and west by the author so previous section title was misleading. We have to separate Sheldrake the Scientist (where is scientific ideas or research should be held in that weight) and Sheldrake the Philosopher (where his philosophical ideas are referenced as such and should not be confused as his scientific research or hypothesis). If someone wants to add a section called 'The Philosophy of Rupert Sheldrake' then I find such inclusions acceptable as long as they are sourced. I find a lot of mixing of the two on the whole page. It's important for both BLP and NPOV that we make the distinction, especially when WP policies such as 'fringe' are thrown around forcing editors to make compromising edits to a page of a living person that are inaccurate. Please make any arguments for any reverts, thank you. The Tumbleman (talk) 18:41, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Vzaak, please do not revert without bringing into discussion. I found problems with your sources that is why i removed them. Instead of reverting, please help me make it better and bring your concerns here. Same applies to any other editor. Please no edit wars. Please no voting. Reasoned arguments, sources in relationship to BLP and NPOV. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:35, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

(talk) Why are you continually reverting without coming to talk??? You have done this TWICE so far. your edit notes do not make sense and my sources are referenced, they are virtually the same as yours, just in proper context. Help me make the page better here, explain your position. no edit warring please. let's build a consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 02:12, 12 October 2013 (UTC)


We used to have a little guideline called WP:WTA#Theory that is now deprecated, but we need to consider carefully when it is appropriate to use this loaded term. When skeptics talk about morphic resonance as a "theory", they are clearly using the word in a casual sense, as in "I have a theory that every time I'm late for a meeting, I will misplace my keys." This is a fine way to use the word, but in the context of contested ideas, it becomes problematic. That said, it seems strange to me that certain users are replacing words like "proposal" or "notion" with theory.

Incidentally, saying that skeptics use the word to describe Sheldrake's claims is not a reasonable argument for why we should use the particular word. Skeptics also use words like "hogwash" and "balderdash", but we obviously don't use those words.

I suggest avoiding using the word "theory" to describe morphic resonance, especially because there are perfectly good words that do not suffer from the problems associated with this term.

jps (talk) 20:51, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I actually agree with this, any quote needs to be taken in context. I'm fine with 'hypothesis' which is both scientifically valid and sourced as such. The Tumbleman (talk) 21:01, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Hypothesis is also a loaded term (see above). "Proposal", "idea", "notion", etc. all work, though. jps (talk) 21:04, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
It's deprecated for a reason. Please read each of the five sources I've cited. None use it in the sense sugested above. As for hogwash or balderdash, making that argument with a straight face, after substituting "notion" for "theory" just an hour or two before is a feat worth remarking upon, if not exactly respecting.
Proposal, idea and especially notion are the loaded terms here. The deprecate this living fringe theorist. What he's got are theories. That's what the reviewers call them, far more frequently than "notion" or "idea".David in DC (talk) 21:12, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Really, you think "proposal", "notion", and "idea" are loaded terms? You are way out on a limb. If we can't use those words to describe morphic resonance and can only use the term "theory" which has an equivocal set of definitions, one of which is clearly not supported by the sources, then I'm afraid I have no way of having this conversation with you. You'll have to show me that there is a consensus in favor of your peculiar interpretation. jps (talk) 21:29, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
My own quoted in another place by Tumblefish suggestion to describe Sheldrake's ideas doesn't seem quite so funny now does it? --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 21:24, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
David, I don't think avoiding "hypothesis" and "theory" deprecates Sheldrake. I didn't even notice the change when I first saw it. I don't see why views on the matter are so strongly held here. Maddox explicitly says it is not a scientific theory. Rose calls it "an entirely empty hypothesis" and "an hypothesis of such astounding generality as to be virtually vacuous". Shermer says it's unfalsifiable. "Almost all scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's theory consider it balderdash" should merit some consideration here. These are experts who dispute its status as a viable scientific hypothesis. That something can be tested does not imply it is necessarily a scientific hypothesis, e.g. dowsing can be tested as well. I'm just clarifying the issue here; I could maybe accept either direction. vzaak (talk) 21:35, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I'm not seeing sources, evidence, or the argument that 'hypothesis' is loaded and being used as a weasel word. For it to be used as a weasel word, it means there must be a 'weasel' doing the wording. Who is practicing this deception? To make this claim infers by sheer logic that sheldrake is performing a deception or manipulation. Sources? The Tumbleman (talk) 21:32, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, the term is "wikijargon". It was not meant to be offensive. See WP:WEASEL. jps (talk) 21:35, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Sheldrake's proposals haven't been developed and accepted to the level that they might be called a scientific theory. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:42, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
And until they do or if they do not, it shall remain as an hypothesis for all of history, especially on Wikipedia. The Tumbleman (talk) 22:09, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
There's no consensus that it's a proper hypothesis. jps (talk) 22:13, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I've already put this on jps' talk page and the BLP/N:
I'm a dolt. Looking at a cached page led me to think I'd been reverted a second time. Then I compounded the error with careless review of diffs. I haven't been reverted a second time. My second edit stands. I apologize. I won't be back on wikipedia editing for at least a week. David in DC (talk) 22:17, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

I have proposed wording that avoids the use of "(scientific) theory", "hypothesis" or "idea", "proposal" or similar. Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:23, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that is why they invented weasel words. it is a proper hypothesis in the strong sense, but not a proper theory in the usual sense. It is a proposal in the sense of "Rupert Sheldrake has proposed they Hypothesis of Formative Causation." "Notion" and "idea" have no meaning in this context.
Whether or not one agrees with the usefulness of the hypothesis, it is, nonetheless, a hypothesis and should be referred to as such. Tom Butler (talk) 22:30, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
It's not a proper hypothesis in the strong sense at all. A proper hypothesis in the strong sense would be something like, "Use of low-dose asprin during a heart attack reduces the risk of death caused by the heart attack." "Morphic resonance" is not in any way similar to how that "strong hypothesis" works. jps (talk) 22:43, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
jps, please refer to hypothesis. From that: "A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon." Sheldrake has proposed the hypothesis, provided conditions under which it would apply and has proposed ways of testing it. Again, I do not care if you like it. If you are going to mention it in this article, then you must treat it factually and not color it with what you wish is true. Tom Butler (talk) 22:51, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
The definition you cite is the weak sense of what a "hypothesis" is. Here's another weak hypothesis which is "a proposed explanation of all phenomenon": "Aliens did it!" A "hypothesis" in the strong sense has to be testable. "Morphic resonance" cannot be tested. jps (talk) 22:55, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Avoiding the words is an interesting strategy, but I think the result is less clear. Looking at the article now, "morphic resonance" could be a car (or as the Brits say, a vroomy-zoomy) endowed with magical properties, no? vzaak (talk) 23:02, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
It is not clear to me that you have the expertise to know if it is testable or not. Can you give me evidence of that? It is a moot point as long as the article is not full of weasel words. Tom Butler (talk) 23:06, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't really take an "expert" to know when a claim is testable. Just a decent education. A testable claim is one that can be subject to actual tests. One can design an experiment that answers the question, "Does taking asprin lower the risk of death from a heart attack?" All you need to do to test this hypothesis is collect relevant data and then do an analysis. "Morphic resonance" is too vague to act as such a hypothesis. This actually isn't a criticism of the idea, it's just a plain fact of the way the idea is presented. If one made some claim about the properties of morphic resonance, one could conceivably test those hypotheses (c.f. questions about whether people know they're being watched or not). But such hypotheses are not properly morphic resonance which is a proposal that is meant to explain certain phenomenon that may or may not actually exist. A proper hypothesis in the strong sense would be one that asked the question whether the phenomena that parapsychologists say point to psi actually exist. When those questions are properly asked, as they are by the likes of Richard Wiseman, we can say that a hypothesis in the "strong sense" has been proposed. jps (talk) 23:20, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
I will take that as a no, then. I gather you have not familiarized yourself with the hypothesis or proposals for testing it. Can you spell "a priori"? Tom Butler (talk) 23:35, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
You gather quite incorrectly. The proposals (there's that word again) for testing morphic resonance do not attempt to evaluate the fundamental features that Sheldrake imputes to the morphic field. In fact, Sheldrake explicitly claims that the morphic field is not subject to such testing unlike, say, electric or magnetic fields. jps (talk) 23:53, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

It is not for any editor to define the word "hypothesis" or "theory" let alone make the decision as to whether it applies to any of Sheldrake's work. That contravenes both WP:OR and WP:SYNTHESIS. The use of any word should be based only on what is generally in suitable academic reliable sources, or what other scientists use.

As The Tumbleman notes, 12 scientists refer to aspects of Sheldrake's work as a hypothesis in Hans-Peter Durr's book. What Wiki editors may think of the editor of the book is irrelevant; if there reliability of the 12 scientists is questioned, by all means provide reliable sources.

The following journals meet the necessary standards and use the word "hypothesis" or "theory" (if you question them, please provide your own sources supporting your viewpoint): (a) The Journal of Consciousness Studies, (uses theory),[65] (b) Steven Rose, di Biologia - Biology Forum 85 (3/4), 1992, 445-453, "So-called "formative causation" - A hypothesis disconfirmed" (c) Several articles by Rupert Sheldrake, in Taylor & Francis academic journal, Psychological Perspectives,[66] [67] [68] which also includes articles that call it theory,[69] (d) Elsevier's academic journal, [[ - this is unlikely to be accepted as a reliable source.] The Journal of Science and Healing], which uses "theory"[[] - this is unlikely to be accepted as a reliable source.] as well as "hypotheses"[[] - this is unlikely to be accepted as a reliable source.] (e) Sheldrake and Smart, "Videotaped Experiments on Telephone Telepathy", Journal of Parapsychology (2003) 67, 147-166. (f) Brown and Sheldrake, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research; "The Anticipation of Telephone Calls: A Survey in California", Journal of Parapsychology (2001) 65 145-156.

It is clear that published academic journals refer to Sheldrake's works as hypotheses (and to a lesser extent as theories). I recognise that there may be a small number of sources that question Sheldrake's works specifically as a "theory" or "hypothesis", and am happy to see these academic sources. --Iantresman (talk) 00:28, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

None of these qualify as WP:FRINGE#Independent sources. They are published in low-quality or fringe journals. jps (talk) 03:31, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, while I respect your right to an opinion, I see no evidence of that. They are all largely academic journals associated with universities, published by reputable academic publishers, and run by qualified people, nearly all with a Ph.D. None of them hint at any of the concerns you bring up. If I had presented a list of magazines self-published by non-academic people, then you'd have a valid point. --Iantresman (talk) 09:12, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
We don't decide reliability based on people having PhD's or not. We decide on the basis of whether they have a reputation for fact checking or not. In this case that would mean meaningful peer review. For example this is the homepage of one of the "journals" you regard as reliable: [70]. It is clearly based on the premise that all the claims are true about parapsychology, IRWolfie- (talk) 10:48, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Agree with IRWolfie-. From WP:PARITY: "Note that fringe journals exist, some of which claim peer review. Only a very few of these actually have any meaningful peer review outside of promoters of the fringe theories, and should generally be considered unreliable." jps (talk) 11:48, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
But a couple of editors are not the people who decide that, and you've provided zero evidence to support your opinions. The fact is that outside in the real world, there are many satisfactory academic peer-reviewed journals which you have dismissed based on your own personal opinions. --Iantresman (talk) 12:32, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Actually, all we have to go on is our own literacy. When a journal is of poor quality, we identify it through looking at whether the peer review is meaningful, whether the journal is highly cited by the broader community, whether the editorial board adopts the fringe position as the assumptive position of the journal, etc. In this case, the journals you cite all fail these criteria that are part-and-parcel to the point made in the guidelines that they should be considered unreliable. If you dispute this, there is a WP:RSN. jps (talk) 15:13, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
It is unfortunately that so many notable academic institutions, qualified academics and experienced journal editors have wasted their time perusing the scientific method, when they should have looked outside their field of expertise, and deferred to jps. --Iantresman (talk) 15:32, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but we don't right great wrongs here. :) jps (talk) 17:08, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Just an FYI that the Journal of Parapsychology and Psychological Perspectives are both fully indexed in PsycINFO. The APA might take issue with your wholesale dismissal of these publications. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:38, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
It's not so much a "wholesale dismissal" as it is an acknowledgment that there is not publishing happening in the rather higher impact journals where one would expect to see the "extraordinary evidence" that would be necessary to support the extraordinary claims. It's not like we're saying that these papers are useless, only that they can only be used as evidence for what the believers in psi have to say, and owing to the rather dim view that the wider scientific community takes towards parapsychological claims, we are not equipped to "stoop to conquer", as it were. We must look for good papers, not poor ones.
Every five to ten years or so, a paper actually manages to be published in something that isn't the "usual suspect" journals. Daryl Bem's precognition stuff comes to mind as a relevant example. When that sort of thing shows up in the more prestigious journals, then you start to get notice by both the science press and the outside community. That's when things like rejoinders, failures to replicate, and withdraws of papers invariably occur. But when they happen in out-of-the-way publications that act as little fiefdoms of parapsychology believers, there isn't much that anyone really pays attention, and so Wikipedia ought to follow that lead. Indexing, incidentally, is a de minimus requirement for taking a journal seriously. It does not give a journal imprimatur to escape scrutiny per the sentence I outline.
jps (talk) 17:08, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Except for your statement "publications that act as little fiefdoms of parapsychology believers" - the Journal of Parapsychology has a policy of publishing non-significant results and papers that refute psi - I'm on board here re: Wikipedia notability, but only because these journals have small circulation rates and seldom receive the attention of the broader academic community...not because they lack rigor or promote a particular point of view. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 17:38, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Looks like a case of poh-tay-toes/poh-tah-toes to me. I'm pleased that the Journal of Parapsychology has a stated policy of "accept all comers", and I believe that Richard Wiseman, for example, has praised them for this. However, they do promote a point-of-view: that parapsychology is worth studying as though there may be evidence for psi. In this case, not taking a side is positioning themselves in a way that is not preferring the null hypothesis, which is the standard operating procedure in scientific investigations. If the null hypothesis has not been ruled out, in most other scenarios such work is rejected. This stands in stark contrast to parapsychology (and other parts of psychology too, which is why the subject often gets tarred with the "pseudoscience" badge of shame). This is most certainly why the journal has a small circulation rate and doesn't receive the attention of the broader scientific community of which many parapsychologists aspire to be a part: their purported topic is one that doesn't have anything that unassailably distinguishes it from null results. A journal dedicated to something that everybody agreed existed would not suffer from this problem. As such, there is a particular point of view being advocated by this and the other journals mentioned, and we must take that into consideration when using anything published by those sources since the perspective that there is enough body of evidence for the existence of psi to warrant further investigation is a WP:FRINGE position. jps (talk) 17:52, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

The journal does not promote a point of view - it a specialist journal for research done on a particular set of topics. It has a small circulation rate because there are only a small number of academics engaged in the research. The journal passes muster for the American Psychological Association as a legitimate scientific journal, and indeed the American Academy for the Advancement of Science has accepted the broader field of parapsychology as a legitimate science. I am not sure why a discussion on notability has devolved into another debate on the scientific merit of these publications, but the APA, the AAAS, and indeed Wikipedia itself says that you're wrong. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 21:41, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
It's pretty clear from your defensiveness that you are not interested in trying to understand why parapsychology writ large is dismissed as a pseudoscience by most people outside of the field. You state that the journal doesn't have a point of view, but then none of the next statements support that position or even make an attempt to deal with the substance of what I'm saying. This does not bode well for collaboration when WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT becomes the primary means of discussion. jps (talk) 23:14, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Pot, meet kettle. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 02:26, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Physician, heal thyself! jps (talk) 03:27, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

It's not a scientific theory

Morphic resonance doesn't even come close to qualifying as a scientific theory. We have an article scientific theory that explains this. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:34, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

I would rather not conflate the colloquial "theory" with "scientific theory" as well. Creationists continue to call evolution "just a theory", including various governors of Texas. However we can't deny that the colloquial "theory" is used even by skeptics. Blackmore says "theory of morphic resonance"[71] and Shermer, writing in Scientific American, says it as well.[72] An argument could still be made to avoid "theory" in the article, but it would have to address this objection. vzaak (talk) 15:21, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
The potential confusion in the sentence "...citing a lack of evidence supporting the theory and its inconsistency with established scientific theories" is a good argument to avoid "theory". vzaak (talk) 15:48, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Better sources build better articles

I see that the article today has a few different sources, rather a lot from the subject of the article and rather fewer than I would expect from sources other than the subject. My observation of every Wikipedia article that I have ever seen go through an edit war is that better sources build better articles. So what sources do each of you suggest that fit Wikipedia reliable source policy and pertain to the person who is the subject of this article, a biography of a living person? Note that if the person is known through reliable sources to make particular factual claims (about himself or about external reality) it may be helpful to point to sources of high reliability on the factual basis for those claims. What sources have you consulted that provide guidance on how to write a high-quality article on Sheldrake? -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 23:46, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Did Iantresman offer a few? "I concur. All I see is deprecation language, which is no cool, or necessary. According to Wikipedia the "Journal of Consciousness Studies" article has not one critical word to be said against it, and not one source was provide to support the claims that it is either "terrible" or non-independent. Likewise the Hans-Peter Dürr article has not one bad word against him, a list of honour to make most scientists weep, and no sources offered to support the pejorative viewpoint. A previous ArbCom ruling has criticised "Using strong negative language, [that] has deprecated a number of persons and their theories"[62] --Iantresman (talk) 22:00, 11 October 2013 (UTC)" Tom Butler (talk) 00:05, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
I feel that if the editors here could come to an agreement on what is considered an independent source, then a neutral article is going to write itself. Our article would satisfy notability guidelines if we stopped relying on both parapsychology journals and skeptical publications for source material, stopped wielding quotations for point-counterpoint arguments and simply described Rupert Sheldrake's career using the most general, widely distributed sources available to build this article. As sympathetic as I am to parapsychological theories and hypotheses, this article is currently using self-published sources (instead of peer-reviewed sources) to describe research outcomes, and that doesn't sit well with me. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 00:11, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
The only self-published sources I know about are the ones that describe his own thoughts (on which he is an authority) and non-contentious tidbits of his history (for lack of a better source). For instance I couldn't find third-party sources that say when he began at the Graduate Institute, so I took it from his website. vzaak (talk) 00:43, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
By self published research outcomes, I mean something like what we find here. The source linked here is from his book and not a peer-reviewed source. I think it's dangerous in any circumstance to reference research outcomes if they have not been peer-reviewed - and it's certainly not appropriate for Wikipedia. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 02:45, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Very little of Sheldrake's work has been peer-reviewed, and that which has been peer-reviewed is not particularly high-quality or in respectable journals. I could see an argument for removing much of the discussion of his ideas except to refer to the public understanding of them which, indeed, is what he is most notable for. jps (talk) 03:35, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I see no evidence of that, and you've provided not a single source to back up that claim. --Iantresman (talk) 09:16, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Annalisa pointed out what I was getting at above. jps (talk) 11:45, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Well the article should cover his books, shouldn't it? We certainly agree that self-published books are not the place to present research, but this is what Sheldrake has done. Adam Rutherford criticised him on that very point, "The majority of Sheldrake's work is also not subjected to peer review, as it appears mostly in books." vzaak (talk) 12:03, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
While I think it fine to mention that he has written books, evaluation of the content may be unduly weighted in the light of the fact that his ideas are basically dismissed out-of-hand by relevant experts. It may be better to keep the discussion short and sweet with just a list of books rather than an in-depth exploration of them. jps (talk) 12:11, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:24, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
As far as Wikipedia is concerned, I think the common ground here between "skeptics and promoters" (as it were, not trying to label anybody as anything here) is that we should not be engaging in any analysis whatsoever. Point the reader in the direction of the debates, describe them with a light touch, and get the hell out of the kitchen. jps (talk) 15:30, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Merely being an author or scientist is not the threshold for having an article. What is the threshold is that your works have been noted by others. When the notice by others has been to proclaim your work hogwash and is thus the primary aspect of your notability, that fact cannot be whitewashed down. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 15:36, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
The books have received accolades as well, but when a list of books turns into a point-counterpoint argument, it might be time to dial it down for the sake of consensus and stability. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 16:01, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Certainly many experts dismiss these things out of hand, but critical examinations are still done by some. We have three such examinations of the staring affect, for example. His books target the general public, but we are not to address the claims in those books? That would seem like an incomplete article. vzaak (talk) 15:40, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
By all means, summarize - but details of research outcomes should be reserved for peer-reviewed sources, and might be more detail than is needed for a biography. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 16:01, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Are you just saying that that section should be stated more generally, i.e. without the numbers 60 and 50? Sure, that sounds reasonable to me. vzaak (talk) 16:41, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that would be a good start. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 17:43, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

We have sources from a number of scientists going over a period of 30+ years. They are in the article. If anyone can find any additional sources, particularly those supporting him, that'd be great. Barney the barney barney (talk) 09:57, 12 October 2013 (UTC)


This diff reinstates wording that implies that scientists have studied the "morphic resonance" of Sheldrake (like his chakra or something). I'll be the first to admit that my wording may not be the best, but the current wording is too equivocal. jps (talk) 00:00, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

When did the editors of this page shift to thinking the using the terms 'hypothesis' and 'theory' somehow implied the existence mainstream scientific support for said hypothesis and theories? This sounds unwieldy because you're trying to reinvent the English language. A hypothesis is a guess. A theory can be wrong. The "morphic resonance" of Sheldrake sounds like Newspeak. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 00:26, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Scientific theory: A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. IRWolfie- (talk) 17:40, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Would removing "Sheldrake's" fix it? This came about from changing "Sheldrake's theory" to "Sheldrake's morphic resonance" in order dispel ambiguity from the previous paragraph, i.e. his "theory" that conservation of energy isn't true. vzaak (talk) 00:36, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

NPOV template

Could the person(s) wishing to add this tag please follow these instructions? It doesn't appear that they were followed. vzaak (talk) 01:56, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

I do not see any serious objections to neutrality of this article. The article is in line with policies, including WP:NPOV and WP:FRINGE, and we've been very very careful to report what the sources say very precisely. Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:19, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
As contradicted by the examples I give in the following section "Lead sources" where none of the sources provided supported the associated statement. --Iantresman (talk) 12:49, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Plenty of editors have been objecting to the neutrality of this article, Barney. You are simply dismissing those who don't share your point of view. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 15:27, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Lead Sources

The use of some sources are grossly misleading, in that they do not support the statements they are purported to verify.

The very first statement now says that Sheldrake is a "psychical researcher" with three sources.[73] (1) The Nature source2 says no such thing. (2) The New Scientist source3 says no such thing (b) is in a popular magazine. (3) Sheldrake's The Perrott-Warrick Project page, says no such thing, where it actually says he was a director of the project.

I refer editors to WP:BLP "contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced should be removed immediately and without discussion"(See WP:BLPSOURCES). Editor with experience and claming that they want high standards should know better. --Iantresman (talk) 10:20, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

The Perrott-Warrick page says is that he was funded by a fund specifically for psychical research. [74] calls him a parapsychologist, it being a magazine has no bearing on its reliability for this, We do not need academic citations to say someone is a parapsychologist or a psychical researcher. [75] calls him a parapsychologist. I would support changing it to read parapsychologist since that is the standard name. IRWolfie- (talk) 10:40, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Perrott-Warrick refers to Sheldrake as a biologist, so this line of thinking proposed above is not accurate. I'm not sure if the editors has support like he claims, that we do not need academic citations to call someone a parapsychologist, but certainly no editor has the right to remove an academic title to replace it with another one simply for the purposes of framing a BLP to the POV of his detractors. The Tumbleman (talk) 16:00, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
I have no idea what you are referring to when you say "no editor has the right to remove an academic title to replace it with another one". On the issue of calling him a parapsychologist, two independent sources, clearly both reliable (and with Nature of course having considerable weight as one of the most reliable sources), call him a parapsychologist, so I see no issue in us using that. I fail to see why people are even viewing this as controversial. IRWolfie- (talk) 17:47, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Someone made a bold change to "psychical researcher" without removing the sources for parapsychologist. I've reverted the change since the only source for "psychical researcher" seems to be the Perrott-Warrick Project. vzaak (talk) 11:44, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
In the study of things paranormal, very few universities offer a parapsychological degree. It is common for a person holding an academic degree in another field to take up parapsychological research. As that is done, the person effectively establishes him or herself as a parapsychologists. As such, "parapsychologist" is often a title. I think it is proper etiquettes to attribute the degree and not the title. Tom Butler (talk) 17:47, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. --Iantresman (talk) 19:33, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Here are some more sources. I've chosen newspapers on the grounds that (a) we are writing a biography (b) these are "broadsheets" which tend to have specialist science reporters where appropriate (c) they have no axe to grind:

  • From the UK Guardian:

--Iantresman (talk) 19:33, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

The review by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt is uncritical and doesn't say anything particularly interesting, although it should probably be noted that Mr Lehmann-Haupt apparently has no scientific credentials, and we shouldn't therefore give particular weight to his view. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:42, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Notable reviews or articles about contemporary notable people need not be used to source scientific facts or support Sheldrake scientifically alone - rather they are useful to show that the 'charge' Sheldrake makes towards the mainstream scientific view is a notable one, if for nothing else than it gets attention in the mainstream media. As we can trust respected journalistic sources for certain factual references (for example, if journalist x, y, and z all refer to Sheldrake as a biologist, those can be valid secondary sources and should be considered by editors) Barney the barney barney (talk) I think you are assuming that the WP FRINGE claim is a valid one to begin with and something that should hold the most weight on the page. It isn't. No editors are required to source references to the requirement of WP FRINGE. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:39, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
We've repeatedly demonstrated to you through sourcing that WP:FRINGE applies. Your wish to ignore these sources (and then claim that WP:FRINGE shouldn't apply) is irrelevant when they clearly exist. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:00, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for new consensus, Historical Context of Living Person, Page needs neutrality here

Editors are advised to create the page to a NPOV regarding the historical CONTEXT of the criticisms of sheldrake and his work from within the mainstream scientific community for a new rational consensus to the page. Speaking as an agnostic editor on the page, I believe it is VERY VERY relevant to show the Skeptical POV and the mainstream scientific view on the page, show the reactions from the scientific community. There is absolutely no question that Sheldrake does not have the support of the mainstream scientific POV. This editor is not trying to make sheldrake page into a 'hagiography' like the skeptical community of editors has suggested. we simply want the page to reflect the history that is NOTABLE and make sure that all sides in the history are presented neutrally. As a BLP, this page by definition is a combination of Sheldrake's ideas AND the reactions from the scientific community that make the historical context of sheldrake NOTABLE, and indeed, genuinely interesting, even if all of his ideas are hogwash.

*Please make the distinction between Sheldrake the Scientist, and Sheldrake the Philosopher.

    • Sheldrake the scientist has sourced work and research such as his hypothesis of MR and his research into telepathy. This material CAN be held in scrutiny under claims of pseudoscience.
    • Sheldrake the Philosopher has sourced work and references that are Philosophical in nature and NOT scientific proposals. This includes 'The Science Delusion'|Science Set Free'. Editors should not take philosophical tomes and hold those under the same scrutiny as scientific works. Such an application is outside of the MAINSTREAM academic view and is just evidence of an uninformed editing decision. Applying FRINGE to a philosophical work, especially ones that are not new in philosophy (panpsychism, holism, extended mind, etc) is not only a violation of NPOV and BLP, it's also means that the page is being written in the POV of an ideology or a philosophical system. Editors who confuse philosophy as science are forcing the page to hold the POV of Scientific Materialism, and WP is not a soapbox, even if it's a rational POV.

*Sheldrake's hypothesis and ideas are intentionally by the author outside of the scientific mainstream view.

    • By it's very nature, his hypothesis MUST find wide rejection in the community that it seeks to critique since his hypothesis seeks to contradict intentionally the mainstream scientific POV.
    • Please consider the context. Sheldrake takes this position. He is aware his hypothesis suggests a *new paradigm*. He 'plays the role' of the heretic purposefully. Right or wrong, it is good editing to consider this.

*The debate and reaction FROM the scientific community has been the subject of academic study and media inquiry in a way that is notable.

    • Sources show that the reaction from the scientific community has been analyzed and even critiqued by prominent scientists and academics. It is indeed fair to show criticisms of sheldrake, and in his biography, it is also fair to show criticisms of the mainstream scientific community's reaction. If the article places the voice of the page as simply the reaction of the mainstream scientific community, WP would be guilty of taking sides and framing Sheldrake from the POV of his critics.

*The controversy between sheldrake and the mainstream scientific view has been happening for 30 years.

    • That the controversy and argument is still happening more than 30 years since A New Science of Life is published, i.e. most recent the TEDx controversy, is extremely NOTABLE in his history. Considering such context is wise in framing the whole page.

*Sheldrake has had a contentious relationship with skeptical movements for 30 years according to sourced material.

    • Sources, common sense and good editor diligence on the subject shows that regardless of the veracity or truth value of Sheldrake's ideas, Sheldrake the man has been treated unfairly as a person in this controversy.
    • It is therefore highly relevant that Sheldrake's credentials as a scientist are clear on the page.
    • Sheldrake is 'one of them', and sources show Sheldrake at roundtables with some of the worlds most prominent scientists and philosophers. Sheldrake may have the 'small percentage' of support within the community, but Sheldrake represents the 'alternative' viewpoint to that community as a qualified peer.
    • Attacking Sheldrake as a person does not support the scientific argument against his ideas.

The Tumbleman (talk) 18:05, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman's suggestions and observations are well-reasoned. I suggest we use them as the standard for neutrality and test for edits. Tom Butler (talk) 18:25, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
there is insufficient content about Sheldrake outside of his "theories" and the contempt they have generated by the scientific mainstream to warrant a stand alone article about the individual. and we do not center articles about FRINGE topics within the FRINGE community, they must be based upon the regard of them as FRINGE ideas. we do not wall off FRINGE ideas in their own little world to mislead readers by sins of omission into believing they have any actual standing in the mainstream.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:15, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
This is more of Tumbleman (talk · contribs)'s complete nonsense that selectively ignores sources and tries wikilawyering his way out of WP:FRINGE and WP:NPOV by ignoring the sources and creatively interpreting Sheldrake's attempts at science as "philosophy", and should be given the due credit it deserves, which is none. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:45, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Please change the tone of your comments, per WP;CIVIL. I suspect that Tumbleman (talk · contribs) is as frustrated as I am in the dearth of sources provided. You recently suggested that there were many sources in the article;[76] that is not providing a source, that is telling someone else to go and find the source. I have personally provided at least 20 source on the talk page, directly to text in question. I've had lots of editors tell me, for example, the problems with Sheldrake's use of terminology (ie "hypothesis"), and I am still waiting for one source that supports this. --Iantresman (talk) 20:35, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Discussion: theory / hypothesis / concept

How should "morphic resonance" be characterized in the article? (Please keep points brief, non-personal, and based on Wikipedia policy, guidelines, and standard practice)

Statement by Barney the barney barney

  • not "theory". This is the worst option because of the understood meaning of scientific theory (i.e. "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on knowledge that has been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation. Scientists create scientific theories from hypotheses that have been corroborated through the scientific method, then gather evidence to test their accuracy"). The parts underlined indicate the problems; "morphic resonance" is not well-substantiated, and has not been "repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation". To raise it to the status of "theory" flies in the face of the numerous critical sources that we have. Barney the barney barney (talk) 18:57, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement from vzaak

  • "idea", "concept", etc.
  • The distinction between "scientific theory" and the colloquial meaning of "theory" is not widely appreciated by the general public. Creationists continue to call evolution "just a theory", including various governors of Texas. It is not original research to recognize this distinction and to prevent confusion in the article.
  • While even skeptics like Shermer and Blackmore say "theory of morphic resonance", this doesn't imply that the article should. To wit, the article contrasts morphic resonance with scientific theories: "a lack of evidence supporting the theory and its inconsistency with established scientific theories". Besides being awkward, that is likely to cause confusion for the general reader.
  • Maddox explicitly says that morphic resonance is not a scientific theory, that it is not falsifiable, and that it is only an hypothesis insofar as water divining is an hypothesis.[77]
  • Rose calls it "an entirely empty hypothesis" and "an hypothesis of such astounding generality as to be virtually vacuous". [78] This is not an argument for calling it an hypothesis in the article. Rose is saying, like Maddox, that it is not scientific. As with water divining, one can always formulate and test an hypothesis, but the meaning of a viable scientific hypothesis, like the meaning of a viable scientific theory, is different.
  • Shermer considers morphic resonance to be unfalsifiable[79].
  • Testimonies from these experts and others suggest that the article should not mix the colloquial "theory" and "hypothesis" (e.g. conspiracy theories, tests of dowsing) with their scientific counterparts.
  • Everyone can agree that general terminology like "idea" or "concept" is at least technically accurate, while this is not true for "theory" or "hypothesis". All scientific theories are ultimately concepts (metaphysics aside), but not all concepts are scientific theories.

vzaak (talk) 18:17, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

There's an easier way to state this. Since we have sources saying such things as "Despite Sheldrake's legitimate scientific credentials, his peers have roundly dismissed his theory as pseudoscience",[80] morphic resonance meets 2. Generally considered pseudoscience in WP:FRINGE/PS. The article can't pretend otherwise; it can't refer to morphic resonance as a scientific hypothesis or theory. vzaak (talk) 15:10, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement from MilesMoney

  • * "idea", "concept", etc. WP:FRINGE tells us that we can't go against the scientific mainstream on this. Reporting non-scientific beliefs using scientific terminology -- hypothesis, theory, etc. -- is misleading because it hides their non-scientific nature.

MilesMoney (talk) 18:59, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

WP:FRINGE is not a policy. It doesn't even tell us that "we can't go against the scientific mainstream". Not even science tells us that people can't go against the mainstream, otherwise we'd be stuck in 19th century science. The use of the word "hypothesis" (or theory) does not prevent us the opportunity to include critical sources too, and there is no-one here who is suggesting that we omit valid criticism.
I've not heard any scientist suggest that we have to rename "Phlogiston theory", "Reticular theory", "Emission theory", "Aether drag hypothesis", or "Tetrahedral hypothesis" on the grounds that "theory" or "hypothesis" gives any of them undue weight or scientific kudos. --Iantresman (talk) 20:04, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
You're mistaken across the board. WP:FRINGE is a "content guideline", which is an explanation for how the three relevant policies apply. If you read WP:PARITY, you'll find that what I said about going against the mainstream is a fair summary.
You're also completely misunderstanding what I said. Going against the mainstream is perfectly acceptable as original research and scientists are encouraged to do this. We're not scientists, at least not when we edit Wikipedia. We're explicitly forbidden from original research, so we can't go against the mainstream. If you want to, you need to make your own encyclopedia, preferably with hookers and blackjack.
Dead theories, like phlogiston, were at least theories once. They were falsified, and that's fine. Rupert's ideas will never be falsified because they're not even hypotheses, much less theories. They're not scientific. MilesMoney (talk) 21:22, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement by Tom Butler

  • hypothesis.

Sheldrake has titled his proposal "Hypothesis of Causative Formation." he has the credentials to propose a hypothesis for morphegensis and the hypothesis has been evaluated by scientists who are open to new ideas, rather than the common "it is impossible, and therefore it cannot be."

Editors here are not allowed to select a point of view about any such academic discussion of reasonableness, and can only state what is being discussed.

The bottom line is that it is a hypothesis. No special value is placed on it with that title, except to say that it is not necessarily valid. In science, a theory is a much more developed concept and often has the weight of at least some academic acceptability.

Mile's Money point that using "hypothesis" imparts undue scientific value is a red herring. Tom Butler (talk) 19:13, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

A hypothesis must be falsifiable, but we have reliable sources saying that this idea is not. We must go with these sources, not fringe ones, which means we're not allowed to call this idea a hypothesis. At most, we can say that Rupert calls it one, but then we have to immediately correct his error by citing the mainstream view. MilesMoney (talk) 19:16, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
The hypothesis is an "idea" or "concept"; however, those are descriptive terms the are useful only when the correct, "hypothesis" is not applicable, say, "I have an idea" or "Your concept about survival makes no sense.". Tom Butler (talk) 19:18, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
mainstream scientists say every none-mainstream idea is not falsifiable. That is how they sleep at night, but from my experience, such off-hand statements are seldom base don an understanding of the hypothesis. There are rules for falsifiable and Sheldrake has been addressing them. I will look for the references. Tom Butler (talk) 19:23, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
By directly rejecting mainstream science, you are admitting that you do not wish to follow WP:FRINGE. Therefore, your argument is moot. MilesMoney (talk) 20:48, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Selective reading ... Clearly, I am not rejecting mainstream science. I am pointing out the difference between open-minded scientists and closed-minded scientists--both mainstream and emergent science! The point here is that some people--skeptics, proponents, academically trained and lay--make offhand statements that carry no weight of academic authority and are only intended to express opinion. Quoting these statements from any source is not encyclopedic.

It might be of value to stake out a list of acceptable publications--academic specialty, self-published and commentary-- and types of articles--peer-reviewed, opinion and meta analysis, and see if we can agree on what is acceptable. That is an upcoming discussion that we may as well get out of the way now. Tom Butler (talk) 21:04, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Science is willfully closed-minded, in that it's wide open to evidence but unimpressed by unsupported claims. MilesMoney (talk) 21:51, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
@TRPoD: But you also must be careful not to put words in Sheldrake's mouth. Unless you are prepared to strip him of his academic credentials, I think it is necessary to report his words at face value. It is necessary to speak the facts about the person.
Begin a separate section for criticism, but separate it from the person as he is stated. Otherwise you are risking defamation of character.Tom Butler (talk) 22:37, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

The editors seem about split. I would agree to "idea" and "concept" as long as the subject is correctly named as "Hypothesis of Formative Causation." That is its proper name. Once named, referring to is as Sheldrake's concept or idea would seem to be reasonably neutral. Tom Butler (talk) 00:00, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Policy does not allow this. We can say that Rupert calls it a hypothesis, but we cannot endorse this naming. MilesMoney (talk) 00:06, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Show me that policy!Tom Butler (talk) 00:29, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
WP:ASF. jps (talk) 12:12, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement by iantresman

  • Hypothesis

Sheldrake is a qualified biochemist that has been published in peer-reviewed academic journals, that refer to his theory/hypothesis.[81][82][83][84][85][[][[] - this is unlikely to be accepted as a reliable source.] - this is unlikely to be accepted as a reliable source.] I've seen the odd criticism from individuals as to whether his hypothesis is a valid theory, but no peer-reviewed articles that question the description as a "hypothesis".

Editors may have their own view and argument, but none of these is not admissible (per WP:OR and WP:SYNTH), UNLESS you can show reliable sources that argue this in reference to Sheldrake. So unless we have some sources specifically criticising the use of the word "hypothesis", then "hypothesis" it is. --Iantresman (talk) 19:51, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

I picked one of your links at random, just to see if you were being honest. Turns out it wasn't a scientific journal at all, just "Psychological Perspectives: A Quarterly Journal of Jungian Thought". You're using fringe sources to support fringe ideas. MilesMoney (talk) 20:47, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Probably because I didn't write "scientific journal", so I'm not sure how that fits into your idea of honesty. Psychological Perspectives is peer reviewed,[86] whose editorial board includes over a dozen Ph.Ds,[87] and is published by Taylor & Francis whom the Wikipedia article tells me is an academic publisher. I see that they don't make a big deal of publishing "fringe science". --Iantresman (talk) 22:12, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Here's what we say about Jung:
Though he was a practicing clinician and considered himself to be a scientist much of his life's work was spent exploring tangential areas including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, and sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His interest in philosophy and the occult led many to view him as a mystic.
Yep. MilesMoney (talk) 22:18, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Of course, the old guilt by association fallacy. --Iantresman (talk) 23:27, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

@TheRedPenOfDoom I am not aware of any sources that suggest Sheldrake users the term "hypothesis" inappropriately, nor any of the sources that I provided who also used the term "hypothesis", nor any of the 12 scientists in Hans-Peter Durr's book. While I respect you have an opinion, WP:OR and WP:SYNTH prohibits including it in the article without sources. --Iantresman (talk) 22:18, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

@TheRedPenOfDoom Maddox refers to the "hypothesis of formative causation" and questions whether "his hypothesis can be tested" (page 246). Steven Rose uses "hypothesis" in the title of his paper, and many times throughout his paper.[88] While both people question Sheldrake science (no dispute there), neither suggests that Sheldrake's use of the word "hypothesis" is inappropriate. You may personally infer that that implies that Sheldrake's hypothesis is only an "idea", but that would constitute WP:SYNTH, and it is not supported by the sources. --Iantresman (talk) 23:42, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement by Tumbleman

  • Hypothesis.

This appears to be the reasonable and neutral POV to simply identify Sheldrake's 'Hypothesis of Formative Causation' as what it is, both a proper title of his work and a proper reference to it's content. All the sources support it, all the reasoned arguments support it, and all the WP Guidelines support it. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:19, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

@ TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom addresses such commentary as: Sheldrakes use of a scientific term to attempt to elevate his nonsensical notion is the very height of being unduly self serving. - With no sourced facts or references, it looks like only personal research and personal opinion is supporting that position to the rational consensus. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:54, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

If I had an idea that I labeled "Absolute Proof that I am God", does that mean Wikipedia should pretend it's proof of anything? Think this through. MilesMoney (talk) 21:00, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement by TheRedPenOfDoom

This section is MY statement. If you want to make or add on to YOUR statement, please do so in YOUR section
      • But even these quotes call it a hypothesis. They claim it's an empty/vacuous hypothesis, but still a hypothesis. They use, rather than oppose, the label 'hypothesis'. (talk) 18:57, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Some adjectives are so strong that they undermine the noun. For example, an amateur gynecologist is not a kind of gynecologist. MilesMoney (talk) 19:03, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Hey man, I'm an amateur gynaecologist. I enjoy a good poke around my wife and I was present at the conception and the birth of our 3 kids. Barney the barney barney (talk) 19:13, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
      • @iantresman " I am not aware of any sources that suggest Sheldrake users the term "hypothesis" inappropriately," ^uhh, the above sources for example ... Or are you choosing to not count them because they are the mainstream scientific view? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:26, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
        • @iantresman again. WP:SYNTH applies to any content that ends up in article space. However, as we as Wikipedia editors analyze what the reliable sources say and weigh what is appropriate to include or not, and determine how to present it in an appropriate manner to represent the sources, we are absolutely allowed to use our own powers of analysis and observation when making those decisions. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:54, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
  • support the analysis by Barney the barney barney, vzaak, and MilesMoney. In dealing with a FRINGE topic, we need to be careful about the usage of a terminology that may give impressions to readers that are false. When there is readily available alternative terminology that we can use that would not have the unintended effect of giving false impressions of "scientificness" then we should use them. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 20:43, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
  • @ Annalisa Ventola, we are not here to support Sheldrake's desire to have people waste time and money attempting to falsify his absurd claims. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:54, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement from IRWolfie-

Concept or idea captures everything needed without giving it undue legitimacy. Who decided this awful format for discussion? Why not just have an RfC with two options? IRWolfie- (talk) 20:41, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Looking at the RfC requirements, I wasn't certain the criteria were met yet, and it seemed that the talk page should be the starting place anyway. The plan was to have a header for each position, with precise statements by users underneath the headers, and discussion below. The first sign of trouble was that people disregarded the position headers. Then people began responding inside other people's statements (which I is what I'm doing now, but when in Rome...). So the present situation is not at all what I imagined. The plan may have been forlorn, but it seemed reasonable at the time. vzaak (talk) 01:01, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement from dingo1729

According to the Parapsychological Association FAQs I think the correct term is "paradigm". Sheldrakes views are not particularly controversial in, for example, the New thought movement (not to be confused with the New age movement). He's saying that all things are connected, we're all part of God. There is a collective consciousness. The problem is that he seems to think that he can say these as scientific facts instead of religious convictions. It's like someone doing experiments to prove that the sacramental wine does sometimes, under some circumstances, turn into blood.

Here's the quote: [[89]]

When one speaks about a topic which is controversial to many, such as parapsychology, it is crucial to understand the concept of a paradigm. A paradigm is an underlying worldview. It can be thought of as a framework of beliefs which are so taken for granted that most folks are not even aware they have made any assumptions. A paradigm helps us to make sense of the world around us. But perhaps more importantly, in terms of science, it not only determines what is true, but how truth itself can be determined. There is an obvious catch to this. If one does not recognize the underlying assumptions one makes with a paradigm, it has the potential to limit our perception of the world, what we can discover, and how we can determine that knowledge.

I think this is a good description of Morphic Resonance. It's a framework and an underlying, rather amorphous, view. Dingo1729 (talk) 22:47, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Statement by Annalisa Ventola

'theory' or 'hypothesis' because it is an alternative theoretical formulation framed in manner to encourage scientific testing by the wider scientific community. Here's an example of researchers at the University of Northampton who have done so:

Roe, C. A. and Hitchman, G. A. (2011) Testing the theory of morphic resonance using recognition for Chinese symbols: a failure to replicate. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. 75(4), pp. 211-224. 0037-1475.

Principle of Least Astonishment

Wikipedia:Principle of least astonishment. It may be okay to call it a hypothesis or a theory as long as the sense is not that it is a scientific hypothesis or theory. It may be that from the context this is clear. Where it is not clear or it is ambiguous, care should be used in coming up with better wording to avoid the imputation that Rupert Sheldrake is actually doing science when there are so many critics who clearly contend that he is not doing this in his advocacy.

jps (talk) 23:19, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

I am not aware of any source that uses the word "hypothesis" in relation to Sheldrake's work (I provided at least half a dozen sources), that makes this distinction. It would be useful to see a couple of representative example of sources that clarifies your point of view. --Iantresman (talk) 23:48, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Why do you want a source that makes such a distinction? We aren't planning on discussing this distinction in the article. jps (talk) 03:25, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The issue of using hypothesis vs other wordings is one of impartial tone. We "summarize and present the arguments in an impartial tone". IRWolfie- (talk) 15:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)


This issue has already been discussed on multiple TALK topics. Regardless of what anyone's argument is for or against, one thing that is very clear is that any change from 'hypothesis' to 'proposal', 'concept', etc etc never had any consensus. I as an editor changed it back to the original and was given support from the community here to do so. When I did so, it was reverted without discussion. In line with WP REMOVE, I reverted again and request no further changes occur until TALK is complete. It was again reverted without discussion. None of these requests were acknowledged and this edit warring is already being discussed in a BLPN. I request NO more edits happen to the page at ALL if skeptical editors are going to guard the page with edit warring and no clear consensus.

I understand this is contentious with a few editors, but I still have not seen any source or reference that would suggest otherwise or completely contradict any 'fringe' claim that is being made for it's deletion. All of the arguments presented would require WP to rewrite established academic principles and policies and would create a precedent with absolutely no supportive argument. I dont think WP is interested in going down that road or be a soapbox for it.

Lastly, in light of the WP:TE that is happening on the page that is applying a Skeptical POV to Sheldrake's personal POV over a NPOV, using another word to make sheldrake's ideas, or himself as a person APPEAR unscientific to an article reader it is contrary to absolutely everything WP and NPOV is about. This issue is one of many on the page, where a Skeptical POV holds weight and seeks to discredit and diminish proper honors of a living person as a way to discredit a living person's ideas, until the entire biography makes Sheldrake look like the character of how his detractors see him. The only guideline that skeptical editors are using to frame their arguments is the WP FRINGE claim.

This entire argument of applying WP FRINGE to the page is based on a very circular argument that has failed to hold any reasonable consistency in exchanges with NPOV editors. It is a house of cards now collapsing. The Tumbleman (talk) 20:19, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman, your comments are long, rambling and unreadable. Be concise and to the point. MilesMoney (talk) 20:46, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Not only are tumblefish's comments long, rambling and unreadable, they are not supported by the evidence of this page. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 21:10, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Roxy and Miles ignore the point of Tumbleman's comments. Selective reading again!
I came upon this page by accident yesterday an my first reaction was that "the skeptics are in control again!" As an editor, my next reaction was to attempt a few changes toward neutrality of the article. I can assure you that this article will never be stable until it is neutral and any passing editor that has a problem with the neutrality will be opening these same questions again.
The adult thing to do is to get it right, compromise and respect the person.
(By the way, the more outlandish this article is, the more articles will spring up on the Internet bashing Wikipedia. Sheldrake is a very respected person in the parapsychological community.) Tom Butler (talk) 21:20, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Again, respect for Sheldrake's ideas amongst the parapsychological community is all the more reason that here at Wikipedia we need to ensure that readers coming in know that the mainstream scientific community considers them hogwash at best. We cannot control what other sites might do, but we do owe are readers the presentation of content within the appropriate context when they come here. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:27, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
As has been pointed out now and again, the Parapsychological Association is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The AAAS serves some 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. This effectively makes parapsychology accepted by the mainstream as real science.Craig Weiler (talk) 22:27, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
When I imagine you saying this with a straight face, I can't help laughing. MilesMoney (talk) 22:35, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
How many skeptical organisations are members of the AAAS? Now that's funny. --Iantresman (talk) 23:20, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
and again, pointing that out does nothing but weaken your position. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 02:37, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
It might be best to stop feeding the trolls. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 22:58, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Some of these edits are problematic as simple wisecracks offering no furthering of the subject. Try to stick to actionable suggestions. Tom Butler (talk) 22:43, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Would you rather have somebody say that the statement above is just nonsense. Because it is. Lighten up Tom - a little humour does no harm. Wikipedia has a Department of fun somewhere, and this particular subject is risible. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 22:49, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
How many skeptics does it take to change a lightbulb? None, there is no evidence that the lightbulb needs changing. --Iantresman (talk) 23:08, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
++++ reaches for the light switch ++++ --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 23:36, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
I would have reached for and changed the lightbulb. --Iantresman (talk) 23:52, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

@Tom. I understood your comment.--Iantresman (talk) 23:18, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Anna, you are again linking to ArbCom rulings which hold no weight. Please base your arguments on policy and guidelines. Besides, morphic resonance is a fringe theory, not a significant minority position. IRWolfie- (talk) 10:21, 13 October 2013 (UTC)


Assuming Miles does not speak for the rest of you, we seem about split. I would agree to "idea" and "concept" as long as the subject is correctly named as "Hypothesis of Formative Causation." That is its proper name. Once named, referring to is as Sheldrake's concept or idea would seem to be reasonably neutral.Tom Butler (talk) 00:32, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

While the numbers are inconclusive, I dont think policy backing is. But, I have no opposition for the article to say that Sheldrake calls it a "Hypothesis", once, to clarify that he does. But whenever the content is in "Wikipedia's voice" other terminology that is less loaded with potential to mislead our readers should be used. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:54, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
When you subtract out the ones whose arguments have no basis in reality or policy, the numbers are extremely conclusive. MilesMoney (talk) 02:01, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom's suggestion here is the only tiny beacon of hope of a way out of the horrible mess that this page has become. --04:15, 13 October 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Roxy the dog (talkcontribs)
This is done already via the book title. This section begins, "Sheldrake's A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance was published in 1981." vzaak (talk) 15:29, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
It needs to be in the introduction. I am going to put it there now. Please help me sort out the rest of the article to match the hypothesis-concept terms. I prefer "concept" over "idea," as it is a little higher English. Tom Butler (talk) 15:44, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Your attempt was not what was suggested Tom - the "scare quotes" were missing. Nice try though. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 16:11, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
What you entered here Tom is absolutely NOT what I had said might be acceptable. What might be acceptable is to identify it along the lines of what Sheldrake calls his "hypothesis of morphic resonance" The identification of it with the term "hypothesis" MUST be clearly "Sheldrake's" use of that nomenclature and not "Wikipedia"'s voice. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:46, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Then I suggest you make that change rather than reverting the edit!Tom Butler (talk) 16:59, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I do not see a consensus for that approach has yet emerged. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:16, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Removing reference source 17: Consensus sought

This discussion refers to source #[[90]].

"Rose, S. (March 1992). "So-called "Formative Causation". A Hypothesis Disconfirmed. Response to Rupert Sheldrake" (pdf). Riv. Biol./Biol. Forum 85: 445–453. "Along with parapsychology, corn circles, creationism, ley-lines and "deep ecology", "formative causation", or "morphic resonance" has many of the characteristics of such pseudosciences..."

This source has been discussed before, but no consensus was reached. This pdf is a response to an experiment and there is also a reubttal by Sheldrake.

My argument is this: This source should be removed because it specifically refers to a single experiment which the author participated in. It cannot legitimately be used without the experiment it refers to nor the rebuttal that follows it. It seems to me that this qualifies it as a primary source and is therefore disallowed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Craig Weiler (talkcontribs) 23:39, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

No, absolutely not, it would be ridiculous to remove this source. But most of what I've been hearing from the pro-Rupert contingent has been absurd and completely incompatible with policy, so this is par for the course. Enough already. Go edit something where your COI doesn't destroy you. MilesMoney (talk) 23:56, 12 October 2013 (UTC)
Craig Weiler has provided a rationale. You are welcome to disagree, but you ought to provide (a) your own rationale (b) indicate which policy this contravenes, and why. You also shouldn't be questioning whether he has a WP:COI when he has taken the time and trouble to discuss the edit with you and others (as suggested by WP:COI). --Iantresman (talk) 00:07, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
he did not provide any rationale that carries any weight under policy. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:15, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
What conflict of interest? I have no formal association with Rupert Sheldrake.Craig Weiler (talk) 00:10, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
No? Miles, can you answer Craig's concerns rather than attacking him?
Craig, I think it would be a futile exercise to go after individual references. There are a few that I am prepared to go after, myself, but realistically, there are many others waiting in the wings. The real problem is the preponderance of silly, uneducated comments represented. There are so many that it appears to be piling on with the kitchen sink, rather than the reasoned selection of references.
I invite the skeptical editors to get together and select the best few for each point and discard the rest. That would be the scholarly thing to do. Tom Butler (talk) 00:13, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
The reason that isn't happening, as far as I can see, is that there were at one point about 17 reliable sources for a single statement, and people still objected, IRWolfie- (talk) 10:18, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
  • oppose we do not discount the sources that talk about the subject that have been published in actual reliable peer reviewed journals. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:15, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

It's become clear that this article is under assault by a group of people united by their support for Rupert and their ignorance of and hostility towards Wikipedia policy. I'm not going to feed the trolls; I'm not going to pretend that there immediately-refuted arguments are legitimate. They don't deserved a point-by-point demolition of their special pleading.

Instead, I ask the non-trolls here for advice on how we can restore the balance. Would it be canvassing to post a notice on some more general science article? MilesMoney (talk) 00:35, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Tom Butler Ok. I agree with you about there being too many references of little value, but it is so hard to get a focused discussion on this talk page that I thought that if I just picked one thing that there might be an intelligent discussion about it.
And I don't have a formal association with Rupert Sheldrake, just an informal one. He is a notable scientist who does parapsychology experiments and confronts ideological skepticism and I'm a parapsychology blogger who deals with ideological skepticism. He was involved in the TED controversy and I was the most prominent blogger covering it. Our interests are aligned, but I have nothing to gain by trying to push his biography in any ideological direction. If anything, I have every reason to avoid that. When it comes to participating in the editing of the actual article, I'm best served by not making an ass of myself.Craig Weiler (talk) 00:48, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

But I don't understand Miles. Yes, there is clearly a skeptic group and a group that seeks a reasonable article. I see the balanced editors making all kinds of suggestions and offering concessions to achieve a good article. All I am seeing from the skeptic--you especially--is insults and a constant litany of "we cannot let the article suggest any legitimacy."

Wiki rules can be selectively interpreted by the majority. We are avoiding that. But it does no good to keep saying something violates wiki rules--else, you are assuming we are idiots. (Well, okay, I know you assume that but the rest of us are trying to be good wiki citizens.

Go ahead and canvas for help. That would be a good way to take this to arbitration. I hope you have a lot of time. Tom Butler (talk) 00:54, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Don't worry, I have the rest of your life. MilesMoney (talk) 00:57, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Tom, policy is clear, WE CANNOT let the article suggest legitimacy. NPOV Wikipedia policy does not state or imply that every minority view or extraordinary claim needs to be presented along with commonly accepted mainstream scholarship.... Conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, speculative history, or even plausible but currently unaccepted theories should not be legitimized through comparison to accepted academic scholarship. We do not take a stand on these issues as encyclopedia writers, for or against; we merely omit them where including them would unduly legitimize them, and otherwise describe them in their proper context with respect to established scholarship and the beliefs of the greater world." ) and FRINGE ( When discussing topics that reliable sources say are pseudoscientific or fringe theories, 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. While pseudoscience may in some cases be significant to an article, it should not obfuscate the description or prominence of the mainstream views.) are very very very clear. FRINGE positions must clearly and obviously within the article be identified as FRINGE and NOT legitimate. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 02:00, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I think that the point you're missing is that we're dealing with an alternative theoretical formulation and not a pseudoscience here. The Arbitration Committee of Wikipedia helped frame a related debate back in 2007. Perhaps it's time to request their assistance again? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 02:30, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I am not missing the point at all. YOU ARE. "alternative theoretical formulations" that are not recognized by mainstream academics are the epitome of FRINGE theories that MUST be covered as OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM approaches. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:00, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
As has also been explained, the arbitration committee do not make content decisions. They will not help, or take a case involving making content decisions. The only help they provide is in dealing with user conduct. Please focus on citing actual policy. You miss one key part of what ArbCom where saying, which have a following within the scientific community. That is not the case here. There is only one significant proponent here, with no significant minority in favour of it. IRWolfie- (talk)
Perpetual motion is pure pseudoscience. MilesMoney (talk) 02:45, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Random much? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 02:56, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Not so random. Rupert claims perpetual motion is possible. Have you tried reading the article and its sources? MilesMoney (talk) 03:50, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I created this section to talk about one very specific citation and the reason why it should be disallowed. Can anyone give me a credible reason why I should not remove it? I have been very patient in discussing things and not getting into edit wars, but if all I get is a lot of crap for making this suggestion without any specific rebuttals from skeptics, then I'm going to take that to mean that I have consensus because there aren't any good reasons to leave the citation in. So now's your chance. Why is this citation not a primary source?Craig Weiler (talk) 01:32, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

MilesMoney, TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom, IRWolfie- and anyone else, please give me your detailed arguments for keeping this citation.Craig Weiler (talk) 16:18, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Can you point out where it is being used? Quote the sentence, IRWolfie- (talk) 16:20, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
It's part of note [a]. See the link at the top of this section.
"Scientists who have specifically examined the idea of morphic resonance have called it pseudoscience, citing a lack of evidence supporting the concept and its inconsistency with established scientific theories. More broadly, critics express concern that his books and public appearances attract popular attention in a way that has a negative impact on the public's understanding of science.[a]"
Craig Weiler (talk) 16:35, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I need help removing this reference. I lack the editing skills to remove it. Since the attempt to ban me failed, I interpret this to mean that there are no legitimate reasons to keep this citation.Craig Weiler (talk) 22:24, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

The reason to keep it is that it's a reliable source that contributes to the article. You've yet to articulate a credible reason for removing it, much less gotten any sort of support. If you remove it, I'm confident that someone will put it right back. MilesMoney (talk) 00:20, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I've given my reasons for removing it. I've solicited detailed rebuttals and gotten none. Feel free to provide an actual argument.Craig Weiler (talk) 01:08, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
you have not gotten any that you wanted to listen to. but you have also not generated any consensus for your suggestion. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:13, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Well obviously I can't get any of you to agree to anything. But if you refuse to engage in a discussion of the facts, then that's an admission that you don't have an argument and therefore it qualifies as a consensus. You don't have to actually agree. You just have to have no good reason for opposing this. That's good enough to take to an admin.Craig Weiler (talk) 02:38, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
You gave people less than a day to respond. We aren't full time editors and we are in different time zones. The source is being used in its capacity as a secondary source. That is, all of the material is not solely referring to a single experiment and it discusses Morphic resonance generally. That is what we are using it for. Thus it is absolutely fine to use as a secondary source. You have decided that we have to mention other things for no obvious reason: we don't. IRWolfie- (talk) 09:28, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

This section was started on the 12th. That's more than enough time for people to respond to a single edit. Now that you've finally responded, your response is inadequate. You're telling me what you think, but not why. The document is a response to an experiment and has a rebuttal. We require a secondary source to sort out the experiment, response and rebuttal. To pick either the response or the rebuttal amounts to cherry picking your sources. Why should we include a response to an experiment without its rebuttal? Or without the experiment for that matter?Craig Weiler (talk) 16:07, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Craig, you started the section on the 12th, and were complaining about the lack of response on the 13th. We do not operate at your beck and call. Quite simply, you are wrong with your proposal. We do not require a new source to pick summary material etc from a source. No WP:OR is done by doing so. You are also operating under the illusion that wikipedia provides balance between minority views and majority views. It does not (i.e this is called "false balance"). We merely includes viewpoints where it is due and does not include them where they are given undue weight. It is our job as wikipedians to identify reliable sources and to use the policies and guidelines to assign weight (principally, WP:RS, WP:FRINGE, WP:NPOV. I would suggest reading them carefully before proceeding with this conversation, IRWolfie- (talk) 08:53, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I think the reference should stay. The paper is in the public domain and demonstrates criticism of his ideas by others. Your argument is "it specifically refers to a single experiment which the author participated in. It cannot legitimately be used without the experiment it refers to nor the rebuttal that follows it." Perhaps the reference needs the addition of a comment which briefly explains its context. Tento2 (talk) 12:34, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
IRWolfie- Two days is plenty of time to respond to such a simple thing. You've clearly been on line quite a bit. With regards to minority vs. majority views: irrelevant to the discussion. Please stay on topic.
Tento2 Thank you very much for your input. Rose's response does demonstrate criticism of Sheldrake, but it's complicated. To add the comment you'd have to add the rebuttal and then it isn't a source anymore. I'm going to give you a quote from Sheldrake's rebuttal to show what the problem is:
Rose's predictions about the outcome of this experiment were refuted by the empirical data. His aggressive tone and extravagant rhetoric conceal this simple fact. I will not attempt to answer his polemic, ranging from Nietzsche to ley-lines, but simply start by looking again at his predictions about the chicks: "No secular trends apparent; latencies to peck the illuminated bead after ten weeks are no different from those on week I, and the differencies between latencies for illuminated and chrome beads, if they occur, are also unchanged". In fact secular trends were very apparent, latencies to peck the illuminated bead after ten weeks were very different from those on week I, and the differences between latencies for illuminated and chrome beads were not unchanged. Rose and I discussed various interpretations of the data over a period of eighteen months. At the outset, he seemed certain that the hypothesis of formative causation would be disconfirmed. He had already publicly denounced it in the strongest terms. He appeared to have no doubt that when tested in his own laboratory, under his own supervision, in my absence, by an experimenter working blind, the data would reveal no trace whatever of morphic resonance. But it soon became clear that there had been an effect of the kind predicted by the hypothesis of for- mative causation. (I discuss below Rose's alternative interpretation of this effect in terms of "floors" and "ceilings"). After lengthy delays, Rose withdrew from our agreement to write a joint paper, and no longer wanted to publish the results.
Who is right? It's not for us to say. Certainly if Rose is wrong about the experimental results, as Sheldrake claims, then everything else Rose had to say should be summarily dismissed. If all you do is present Rose's paper as evidence, then you've just presented a completely one sided version of things. I don't see a way around this.Craig Weiler (talk) 15:46, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I have already replied. Do not highlight my name, I am not your dog to answer at your beck and call. There is no consensus for your proposal and I seriously suggest you read our policies. What you quote is irrelevant IRWolfie- (talk) 15:48, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Unless I am deluded in believing that the practice of credible encyclopedias is a good example to follow, the way around this is to either replace the controversial reference with one that is not blighted by controversy, or add a short acknowledgement to Sheldrake's argument at the end of the reference, along the lines: "Sheldrake published a rebuttal of this experiment in/at (add source of his published remarks)". Then we are covered, the reader is informed and can follow up if interested, and we don't need to worry about who is right and who is wrong. I don't believe it is breaking any policy to acknowledge Sheldrake's response to that paper, on this page which is specifically about him. Tento2 (talk) 19:07, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Regular encyclopaedias hire topic experts. Wikipedia doesn't. Wikipedia generally relies on what secondary sources say. We are using [91] in it's capacity as a secondary source, we aren't using it to discuss the thoughts of the person on the specific experiment which it, later, goes on to discuss (it would be a primary source for that discussion) .I'm also a bit lost with this response, how did Sheldrake post a rebuttal of his own experiment? IRWolfie- (talk) 14:58, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

I note that this is in response to Sheldrake. The journal is not very good - it's run by Giuseppe Sermonti and has a reputation for accepting all sorts of woo. However, it's clearly a mainstream source, insofar as Professor Steven Rose is mainstream. It all rather depends on what it says, and how it's being used in the article. I'll have a look and add to this later. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:01, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I read all three papers: Sheldrake's paper and then Rose's disagreement and Sheldrake's rebuttal. I didn't redo a full data analysis, but what I came away with was a certainty on how I would have dealt with the situation. If I truly believed that the effect was there I would have repeated the experiment. I would have paid other people to repeat it. I would have drained my retirement savings, sold my house and my car to keep repeating it until everyone could see that it was true and the effect was real and it was a new phenomenon unexplainable by standard biology or physics. And I'd do it so well that no-one could disagree with me. On the other hand, if I didn't really believe and I was just in it for the publicity and the book sales then I would just argue for a bit and wander off to do some other half-assed experiment. Probably not usable in the article but the three papers together are quite revealing. At least to me. Dingo1729 (talk) 20:42, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

IRWolfie: more constructive dialog, less Wikilawyering please. Barney and Dingo: That's nice that you've contributed your opinions about the research, but it's irrelevant. We're not here to hold court on whether a journal is good enough or research is properly done or more is needed. Not our job. This is just about whether a source is primary or secondary. Tento, I agree with your sentiment. Including both and having more disclosure would seem the sensible thing. but since the source is being used to justify certain statements, it won't make sense to the reader.Craig Weiler (talk) 14:37, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

No consensus for your edit and the reasons have already been given. The source is being used in its capacity as a secondary source and is perfectly fine the way it is. IRWolfie- (talk) 14:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't believe that Wikipedia has granted you this level of authority. It might be more useful for you to make reasoned arguments for your position.Craig Weiler (talk) 16:54, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Lou Sander (talk) 17:21, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Morphic resonance as "alternative theoretical formulation"

This deserves to be in a FAQ. Considering sources like these,

  • "Despite Sheldrake's legitimate scientific credentials, his peers have roundly dismissed his theory as pseudoscience."
  • "Almost all scientists who have looked into Sheldrake's theory consider it balderdash."
  • "...most biologists considered Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance hogwash..."

there is no getting around that this falls under 2. Generally considered pseudoscience in WP:FRINGE/PS. Some would say 1. Obvious pseudoscience.

Now going to 3 would be completely weird at this point, as 2 is well-satisfied. But let's throw caution to the wind and for the sake of argument let's look at 3. Questionable science. Here we still have "some critics allege to be pseudoscience". So even in this imaginary world where we ignore that 2 is satisfied, 3 is satisfied.

If considering 3 is completely weird, then pushing for 4. Alternative theoretical formulations is ... whoa. No dispute resolution outcome could ever support this. vzaak (talk) 04:06, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I think we're past the point where repeating the obvious is productive. If they want to escalate to ArbCon or whatever, let them. We've done our part already in explaining why Wikipedia policy will never allow what they demand. MilesMoney (talk) 04:11, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Do terms like "psuedoscience", "balderdash", and "hogwash" represent a NPOV to you? I think your FAQ belongs on another site. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 04:19, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
WP:DUE. MilesMoney (talk) 04:22, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Annalisa Ventola,
  1. We wish to determine if morphic resonance is generally considered pseudoscience. It doesn't make sense to disqualify a source because it calls morphic resonance pseudoscience!
  2. Sources are reliable or not; writing is NPOV or not; there isn't a concept in WP of sources being NPOV or not.
  3. In any case, as a thought experiment let's accept your argument and throw out the sources of all those quotes. There are still ample sources to meet "some critics allege to be pseudoscience" and hence satisfy 3. Questionable science. Thus there's still no possibility for 4. Alternative theoretical formulations.
vzaak (talk) 13:16, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
vzaak (talk), yes it would be appropriate to state that "some critics" allege that Sheldrake's approach is pseudoscientific. However, that is not sufficient evidence to hold that his approach is generally considered pseudoscience. The point here is that these words, especially "hogwash" and "balderdash" are inflammatory. They are not the basis for a reasoned argument, and certainly not appropriate for an encyclopedia entry. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 16:23, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
So in any case the matter of "alternative theoretical formulations" is closed, right? vzaak (talk) 16:48, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I've been lurking but now I want to jump in. This page is messy but this problem is interesting! tumbleman's earlier point made more sense. I don't see how sheldrake 's hypothesis is pseudoscience in terms WP Fringe looking at the arguments here. Is sheldrake a pseudo scientist because everyone knows he is? That seems to be the skeptic argument here. It's like the bible thumper argument, God exists because that's what the bible says . Vzaak's two of those quotes are written by an economist in a book that's only mentioning sheldrake anecdotally. I'm not sure what to make about sheldrake, I only know what this article says but I see tumbleman's point the sources this small group of skeptic editors are using are making their arguments look very unconvincing. Oh boy chicken again (talk) 05:39, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I think you are confusing viewing a concept as pseudoscience and viewing sheldrake as a pseudoscientist. There are a variety of ways that the proposal can be pseudoscience; it can look superficially like science but not be science (i.e it can be largely unfalsifiable), it can rely on falsified theories to back it up, it can be inconsistent with the considerable evidence (such as the conflict with scientific theories with considerable evidence), and the proposal may make grand statements from flawed experiments and analyses. From a wikipedia perspective while editing we note that it is generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community, and it is that which informs the weight. It is not for us to analyse the material ourselves (WP:OR). IRWolfie- (talk) 10:29, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Skeptical editors (no disrespect intended) have taken a relatively small number of comments from individuals who have stated that they believe some of Sheldrake's ideas to be pseudoscience (not disputed), and then using WP:SYNTH, have claimed that this implies that this is "generally considered pseudoscience by the scientific community". When non-skeptical editors have pointed out that there are significant academic institutions which do not describe Sheldrake's work with as such, more WP:SYNTH dismisses them out of hand. I agree that it is not for us to analyse the material ourselves, but that is how it comes across, contravening WP:OR and WP:SYNTH.
Conversely, none of the non-skeptical editors have suggested that Sheldrake's work is "legitimate" or "generally accepted", or tried to suppress criticisms of "pseudoscience", or that Sheldrake has done research in parapsychology. It's all about tone, balance, and good sources. --Iantresman (talk) 11:22, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
again - we are absolutely allowed to use our analytical powers to assess content and sources outside of the article - it would be impossible to follow WP:NPOV if we did not make such assessments. what WP:SYN requires is that no content included in an article can be synthesizing content from different sources. There has been no evidence presented that any part of the mainstream community considers or should consider Sheldrakes ideas any more than magic. Without any evidence of any positions in the mainstream that actually take Sheldrakes ideas seriously, we cannot do so in the article content either. If you are incapable of understanding the policies that ground Wikipedia's approach to FRINGE topics, you will need to edit elsewhere and stop wasting everybody's time. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:17, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I would be grateful if you check the tone of your message per WP:CIVIL. You are entitled to your opinion, and I am entitled to mine. Of course we assess sources, I was specifically referring to analysis that results in WP:SYNTHESIS. --Iantresman (talk) 12:47, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Pointing out that you uncivily keep ignoring] that WP:SYN applies to article content but not to editor's reasoning and rationale outside of actual article content, and that you also keep ignoring] the Wikipedia policies and guidelines WP:BALANCE and WP:FRINGE is not " uncivil", it is pointing out the facts. Again, if you dont want to follow Wikipedias policies, then you should being writing elsewhere and stop wasting your and other people's time here because we are not going to have an article that misrepresents Sheldrake's ideas as having any sort of legitimacy no matter how frequently you fill up talk pages with repetitions of suggestions that have been repeatedly identified as not meeting Wikipedia content requirements.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:04, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
WP:CIVIL refers to personal attacks that are directed at the person. Your comment included two example where I was the subject (identified by the word "you") in which it was (1) questioned whether I was "incapable of understanding" (2) and, to "stop wasting everybody's time". I find the tone of your comments to fall short of WP:CIVIL.
I disagree with your interpretation of WP:SYNTH, WP:BALANCE and WP:FRINGE, and have provided my reasoning elsewhere on this page. I am sorry if you consider this incivil in any way, but discourse, argment and reasoning are a fundamental part of the Wikipedia proces.
I disagree with your views on how we frame the legitimacy of Sheldrake's work. We are required to described the legitimacy of his ideas, based on reliable sources, appropriately. But I respect that you and others have your own generalised view.--Iantresman (talk) 14:20, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
i cannot control how you decide to interpret policies. but if you continue to decide to interpret them outside of the straightforward reading and community wide accepted applications, i have no reason to consider your interpretation as being anything other than something as FRINGE as the scientific community considers "morphic resonance" and either a sign that you lack the WP:COMPETENCE to edit or are being deliberately obtuse to the point of disruption -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 14:27, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Don't let them bait you. The problem is not any lack of civility on your part, but the general frustration all of us feel with their refusal to follow policy. MilesMoney (talk) 14:42, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I am baiting no-one. "All editors are responsible for their own actions" per WP:IUC, and "Insulting or disparaging an editor is a personal attack regardless of the manner in which it is done" (ie questioning their competence) per WP:WIAPA. I am equally frustrated about how editors follow policy, but I assume good faith. --Iantresman (talk) 17:05, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
If you have read and understood the policies, then I guess that leaves WP:TE to explain your refusal to accept and apply the straightforward and project wide understanding of WP:BALANCE and WP:FRINGE -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:27, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I'm just doing research based on the sources here and the discussion here in talk section, that's all. I don't have broader knowledge of this debate outside of this discussion. I though an outside view would be helpful. I do understand what pseudoscience is however. What I don't understand is, and I think this is one of the main points tumble man is making, is the claim by the sources that it's un falsifiable, yet there are sources talking about actual experiments that are designed to refute it. That does not make sense to me. For example, Steve rose specifically does an experiment along with sheldrake to test it. Doesn't that by its very nature disqualify the un falsifiable claim? Also, on sheldrake s site you can also see the experiments he is doing. I don't see how one the one hand you can say its un falsifiable yet there is experimentation to falsify. Can someone explain this contradiction to me.? Oh boy chicken again (talk) 14:29, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

When a hypothesis is falsified, scientists shrug and go on to try something else. But not Rupert! Falsify one of his claims and he just keeps chugging along. That's how pseudoscience works: it ignores falsification, or makes weak excuses for it, or shifts the target slightly. Real scientists know when their pet theory has lost, and don't keep beating the dead horse. If it's legitimate science, experimental failures have ways to shut the whole thing down.
Note the parallel between the legitimate editors here and the Rupert fans who keep ignoring, reinterpreting and disputing issues long ago laid to rest. MilesMoney (talk) 14:42, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Assuming that one of Sheldrake's experiments was falsified, doesn't this imply it was tested (and hence is testable)? --Iantresman (talk) 14:58, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Are you actually paying attention? MilesMoney (talk) 15:01, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Clearly. Was Sheldrake falsified by testing his idea? --Iantresman (talk) 15:04, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
okay this is why the skeptical argument is confusing me. One of you is saying that it's un falsifiable and that 's what makes it pseudoscience because no test can be constructed to properly test it, then another one of you say that tests of morphic resonance prove that it was falsified. Which is it? the skeptics dont even seem to agree with each other on this issue. Speaking as someone from the outside (I'm a journalism major) this is what makes both the sources and the basic argument inconsistent from the skeptical side. This is why the arguments just seem unconvincing. (talk) 15:08, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
this above comment is from me I don't know why it did not work. Oh boy chicken again (talk) 15:15, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
If you are on the same computer, there is an option on the log-in screen to keep you logged-in for up to 30 days (not recommended on a public computer). --Iantresman (talk) 15:18, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Oh boy chicken again, I can draw a parallel case to give you the general idea. Astrology is a good example of a pseudoscience where it is largely unfalsifiable but where predictions are made in controlled conditions they come up negative. Astrologers do not take these as invalidating astrology, so the core idea is unfalsifiable. IRWolfie- (talk) 16:04, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
the analogy does not makes sense to me so can you explain just using Rupert's hypothesis as the example? How is morphic resonance both unable to be tested and tested? There was a test of the hypothesis at least once by rose. If it's Unfalsifiable, that means the experiment by it's very nature is must be inconclusive, contradicting Steve rose claim. I don't see how both can be true at the same time, is this some complex science quantum thing that is beyond normal logic?Oh boy chicken again (talk) 16:25, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
It's pretty simple. If you make a prediction and it fails, you have two choices. You can be an honest scientist and admit that your hypothesis has been falsified. Or you can leave the realm of science by pretending it somehow didn't count, adjusting your hypothesis so that it's not falsifiable. Rupert did the latter. MilesMoney (talk) 17:17, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Oh Boy, I am afraid this is one of those issues resulting from the belief that something is impossible and therefore cannot be. In order for the hypothesis to have sufficient substance to test in the first place, the existence of subtle energy (psi) must first be accepted. Since mainstream science is just now coming around to accepting that, it is going to take a while for scientists to agree that the hypothesis is at least plausible and therefore testable. Meanwhile, wiki editors will continue to rely on outdated references and this article will begin to look like an anachronism of the old order. Tom Butler (talk) 17:09, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Wow, just wow. That's completely false. Science isn't coming around to accepting this nonsense and it never will. The evidence contradicts it and it's not even a scientific concept. MilesMoney (talk) 17:17, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Amusing, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:34, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree with the consensus position here, i.e. with {{user|Vzaak}] and MilesMoney (talk · contribs) and Template:UserIRWolfie-, and I do not believe that other users are basically competent to write about scientific, or for that matter pseudoscientific topics. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:25, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

With other editors, I made significant contributions to the article on Plasma (physics) which was eventually award Good Article status. I have two science-based degrees including a B.Sc in Chemistry and a Masters in Computer Science. I did a short course in journalism and wrote professionally for a couple of years for a magazine published on behalf of IBM. I wrote a book on the use of languages on PCs that received favourable reviews in the New Scientist,[92] Times Literary Supplement, and elsewhere, and that was translated in Japanese.[93] And you? --Iantresman (talk) 00:00, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Welcome to Wikipedia, where real-world qualifications are looked down upon. You are instead expected to learn a bit about relevant policies. MilesMoney (talk) 00:22, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't know where you got that idea from. I've also been editing Wikipedia since 2004, have made over 16,000 and have contributed significantly to four articles that have received Good Article status. What about you? --Iantresman (talk) 08:11, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Not to kick a man when he's down, but you just admitted to all that I said. Instead of arguing that your real-world qualifications have been accepted as legitimate, you've described yourself in terms that Wikipedia editors use when they brag and posture. Maybe this isn't so much a matter of me kicking you as you sticking your foot in your mouth. MilesMoney (talk) 12:52, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Barney suggested that certain editors were incompetent (contrary to WP:CIVIL), independent qualifications and experience suggest otherwise. I am not surprised that in an attempt to be open, honest and upfront, the only comment you can muster comes across as condescending. It makes for an unpleasant editing atmosphere. --Iantresman (talk) 15:40, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

On this falsifiable/unfalsifiable stuff, I think that the problem is that we are using the wrong words. We should say that Morphic Resonance is a paradigm, that is a world-view that everything is connected to things of a similar type. Sheldrake keeps searching for evidence for these connections. When an experiment fails to show a connection, he can either argue about the data or say that the connection was not strong enough to show results in this particular experiment. Then he moves on to another experiment. The paradigm has not been disproved. What experiment could disprove it? Though each experiment is either negative or disputed. I know Sheldrake, his supporters, his critics all use words like theory or hypothesis or idea or concept. The right word is paradigm. I'm right and everyone else has the wrong word. Dingo1729 (talk) 04:20, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

We have a term for paradigms that are unsupported by the evidence but claim to be scientific: pseudoscience. 04:37, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Your description is exactly what astrologers also do with their "paradigm", IRWolfie- (talk) 09:32, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not disputing any of that. I'm merely saying that the technically accepted term is "paradigm" [[94]]. Also, to my ear, it has none of the complicated connotations of the alternatives. Dingo1729 (talk) 14:40, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that Dingo1729 is using the word "paradigm" in the correct sense. But what we would need to find is its usage in reliable sources that directly refer to Sheldrake's hypotheses. The word paradigm does not imply correctness. --Iantresman (talk) 18:24, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
That he may be using a non-scientific "paradigm" does not mean that we would cover his work in any other way. That his "paradigm" is way out of whack with the mainstream science "paradigm" just means that well, we need to cover his "paradigm" as being way out of whack with the mainstream science "paradigm". -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:36, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Again, I have no problem with that. Well, except that maybe you used too many scare-quotes. Dingo1729 (talk) 21:06, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Of course Sheldrake's paradigm is different from the mainstream paradigm, otherwise it wouldn't be a paradigm. We just need some sources describing how. --Iantresman (talk) 22:17, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Solidify at least one decision

This is yet another duplicative section. Comments about this subject should be made in the existing section Talk:Rupert_Sheldrake#Decision
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Above, we had a discussion on hypothesis and idea. I attempted to solidify all of that work into a decision and a compromise in which the article would have the proper title of his proposal in the introduction, and thereafter, editors could use "idea," and "concept. I prefer "concept."

For instance, TrPoD said: "While the numbers are inconclusive, I dont think policy backing is. But, I have no opposition for the article to say that Sheldrake calls it a "Hypothesis", once, to clarify that he does. But whenever the content is in "Wikipedia's voice" other terminology that is less loaded with potential to mislead our readers should be used. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:54, 13 October 2013 (UTC)"

I made the change and was reverted first by miles who only had a wisecrack and then by TrPoD who said there had been no agreement. This is not good-faith editing! 16:48, 13 October 2013 (UTC) Tom Butler (talk) 17:00, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

You did not make the change I suggested. You made a change that called it a hypothesis in Wikipedia's voice, not a change that showed that Sheldrake is the one who calls it a hypothesis. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:10, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
and as you point out, we already have a section discussing this change - WTF are you doing starting another one? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:14, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

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

Edit intended to diminish reputation-NPOV Flag added

‎Dingo1729 just removed: "was director of studies in biochemistry and cell biology" from the Academic Degree section with the statement: "Academic career: removed per WP:UNDUE. Director of Studies at a Cambridge college is a very minor task and sounds much more impressive than it really is."

This is a good example of how minor edits are being made with the intention to deflate the academic authority of the person. I am not going to revert him. I think it is time for a few other editors to step up and help work toward a more reasonable article.

I am, however, adding the NPOV flag again. Please do not remove until progress has been made.Tom Butler (talk) 19:17, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

There are no miner edits, just miner people. No, seriously, miners are people who mine. You might mean minor, which is also a kind of person, coincidentally. MilesMoney (talk) 19:25, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
The concern appears to be surrounding this edit made with the summary: " removed per WP:UNDUE. Director of Studies at a Cambridge college is a very minor task and sounds much more impressive than it really is." -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:28, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

As I explained previously, adding the NPOV tag is not intended as a reaction to some edit you don't agree with. There are instructions that need to be followed. Please read the instructions.

Bear in mind that just today I found a case where Sheldrake inflated his bio on this website. Taking such info from self-published material is risky. I don't agree with Dingo's removal of the info, but I do believe it should be toned down until independent sources are present. I have reverted Dingo's edit and I'm removing the tag. Please follow the instructions next time. vzaak (talk) 19:41, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I have read the instruction! The editors are at a stalemate over little things like "hypothesis" and "idea." We are not in agreement about some of the references. I certainly do not agree with the usefulness of hiding "pile-on" referencing behind Note A. As it stands now, the article is biased with the apparent intention of establishing that Wikipedia does not support a hypothesis when it is supposed to be about the person.

Perhaps the tag will attract a few more editors--perhaps one not determined to make a skeptical point. I am returning the tag. Tom Butler (talk) 19:59, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I have no objection to WP:BRD. Are you familiar with the job of a Director of Studies at a Cambridge College? It is less important than turtoring undergraduates, which I am sure Sheldrake also did. I still insist that this is here to mislead people who are unfamiliar with Cambridge colleges. Can someone else who is familiar with Cambridge University comment here? Dingo1729 (talk) 20:10, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

We have guidelines on notable academic careers - that is WP:PROF. Sheldrake matches none of these criteria - he's in because he meets WP:AUTHOR. Sheldrake was not a notable academic - just a run of the mill postdoc. The article should focus on what makes him notable, which is his books and their content. Barney the barney barney (talk) 20:23, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I would support redirecting this article to one titled for his hypothesis or other research--even to one on each of his books. As it is now, the article is on him and it is biased. My first choice would be to delete the article.
While I think his hypothesis is important, I am realistic enough to know Wikipedia cannot deal with it in a balanced way. Treatment of other subjects has proven that. It is better to find something that can be addressed. I would happily go away and let editors bash the hypothesis all day. Tom Butler (talk) 20:37, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Doesn't Sheldrake meet WP:PROF having been the Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society, which is given to "outstanding scientists in the UK"[95] --Iantresman (talk) 21:38, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Iantresman (talk · contribs), basing on what I know about academia, and academic awards, I'd say no because it's an "early career stage" award grant to scientists with 3-8 years post-PhD experience. So it is given to scientists with the greatest potential, rather than other academic awards that are given retrospectively for having achieved great things. I expect if you had a list of recipients from the same period, then a good portion would have several years later gone onto meet the requirements of WP:PROF, but others will have unfortunately fell by the wayside (for whatever reason). (And a grant is not to be confused with Fellowship of the Royal Society, which is a huge retrospective honour.) Anyway, there's no doubt Sheldrake's early career showed great promise, but he failed to follow the career path that might have otherwise have led him to full professorship at WP:PROF criteria. Barney the barney barney (talk) 21:44, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
but if he had done that, he would not have had hordes of sock puppets coming to pimp his Wikipedia bio. i guess you make trade offs. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:56, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
My argument would be that WP:PROF refers to "notability of academics", and that he wasn't awarded just any old grant from any old awarding institution. As the Royal Society says, their Research Fellows are for "outstanding scientists in the UK"[[96]] (not for having the potential to become outstanding). Actually, the "University Research Fellowship" appears to be one of several Fellowships, and it's not clear whether Sheldrake received just the "Rosenheim Research Fellow of the Royal Society" and what this specifically entails.
Iantresman (talk · contribs), I understand your argument, I just don't think it's a very good one. In particular, the full quote from the Royal Society is for "outstanding scientists in the UK who are in the early stages of their research career and have the potential to become leaders in their field." Taking a quote out of the context in which it was made is not very helpful, is it? Barney the barney barney (talk) 22:16, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I didn't think the full quote made a difference to the Royal Society identifying someone as an "outstanding scientist"; it doesn't imply "outstanding for their age". And WP:PROF is not just for ultimate achievement, it is for notability, and the Royal Society seem to consider recipients of their research fellowships to be notable. But I'm happy for you to disagree. --Iantresman (talk) 22:28, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I think the fact that the award was for potential, not accomplishments, speaks for itself. Don't you? MilesMoney (talk) 00:23, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The award states "potential to become leaders in their field" but it is given to existing "outstanding scientists in the UK".--Iantresman (talk) 07:48, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Iantresman (talk · contribs) repeating your fallacial quotation out of context won't make that quote any less fallacious or what you've argued any more true. Barney the barney barney (talk) 10:07, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I didn't just repeat it, I gave your the courtesy of an explanation. I see no fallacy. --Iantresman (talk) 10:59, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
This kind of wording on a research grant is unusable. They almost all say they are for "outstanding scientists" or something similar. The ones that say they are for below average scientists or even mediocre researchers are vanishingly rare. Dingo1729 (talk) 17:12, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I think that a Research Fellowship from the Royal Society is still notable, but looking through their website, I don't think it is considered as prestigious as their awards and medals. One the one hand, a research grant is nothing special, on the other hand, one from the Royal Society may be. --Iantresman (talk) 18:22, 14 October 2013 (UTC)


Not related to improvement of this article. Mark Arsten (talk) 02:26, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

Tumbleman has been blocked from editing for a week. Given off wiki history I have with him, I have found it very difficult to WP:AGF and have found it best to avoid direct contact (WP:SHUN). Wiki rules prohibit me providing further detail - (WP:OUTING I think?)

What I want to know is how to deal with him when he returns? --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 20:43, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

Ha, I thought KateGompert was going to be another Lou Sander puppet. Sometimes I hear the voice of The Dude saying, "Conservation of energy is just a philosophy, man." vzaak (talk) 21:17, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

This has degenerated into a gorilla fest for which there appears no resolution. I give up. Tom Butler (talk) 22:04, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

involvement of PR Agencies

Editors should be aware that the person blocked for socking admits being in contact with the firm of a PR agents where it is likely "their office has WP activity since they do online public relations and outreach ". -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:36, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Very sorry I got involved with this. I'm not tumbleman, and I'm not a sock puppet. I'm just some guy who won't ever involve myself with this kind of vitriolic, irrational nonsense ever again. PeaceOh boy chicken again (talk) 00:21, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Sense of being stared at

It is stated that Sheldrake's work on the sense of being stared at could not be replicated. The exact phrase used is: "Despite various efforts, scientists have been unable to duplicate these results."

This is a false statement, because there were replications of his work, such as "The feeling of being stared at: An analysis and replication" by Dean Radin. This was published in the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

[ - this is unlikely to be accepted as a reliable source.] — Preceding unsigned comment added by ECCarb (talkcontribs) 01:04, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

The Institute of Noetic Sciences is not a reliable publisher for actual scientific content. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 03:49, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Sources? This view is not reflected by the Wikipedia article on Institute of Noetic Sciences --Iantresman (talk) 07:54, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Are you kidding? It's way out on the fringes (but not particularly notable) but of course the article was written so as to hide that fact, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:14, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, let's see: I checked the holdings of a few large university libraries here in Britain—the University of London's Senate House Library, University College London's science library, Imperial College London's library, and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford. They have nothing published from the Institute of Noetic Sciences: no scholarly monographs, journals, conference proceedings or much of anything really. A stack of reputable universities don't hold anything they publish. That might suggest that they are at the fringes of scientific respectability. —Tom Morris (talk) 09:35, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The article was recently rewritten with primary sources to make it appear more notable. One of the areas: " efficacy of compassionate intention on healing in AIDS patients". That's right, trying to heal AIDS patients by caring about them. Dangerous information in an article, and has Ian has demonstrated it superficially looks mainstream, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:37, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Recently written? The article was started in 2004. The institute clearly investigates fringe subjects, but that doesn't automatically means that it is unreliable. What evidence do you have, I'm not clairvoyant. --Iantresman (talk) 09:59, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I said recently rewritten, I did not say recently written. You've got it backwards about RS, the onus is on you to demonstrate its reliable, not the reverse, i.e that it has "a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.". But for those who aren't true believers they may find some of this interesting: [97]. IRWolfie- (talk)
My apologies re written/rewritten. You've made the statement about reliability. I don't know whether it is reliable or not. I'd expect an editor to back up their view with something I can check. I can't add a statement to the article on the Institute of Noetic Sciences suggesting that it is considered unreliable because IRWolfie- says so. --Iantresman (talk) 10:52, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
"I can't add a statement to the article on the Institute of Noetic Sciences suggesting that it is considered unreliable because IRWolfie- says so". And noone is suggesting you do. Reliable sourcing requirements are something we decide about whether a source is reliable or not, as you are aware. We do not need reliable sourcing to say a source is unreliable, or we end up with an inherently circular mess. We judge the reputation of the sources and whether they express mainstream ideas. It is quite evident that the Noetic Institute doesn't (see the example I gave, and Quackwatch which views it as a questionable Org if you want a source). IRWolfie- (talk) 12:01, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The article is about Rupert Sheldrake, not about the criticism of his work. Lou Sander (talk) 12:40, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The article also describes his work, in describing his work the criticism of the work should be included. The mainstream contextualisation is required per WP:FRINGE, IRWolfie- (talk) 12:57, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
(e/c) without the criticism of his work, he fails WP:N and there is no article. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 13:00, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
(also e/c) I appreciate how readily you admit to your goal of violating Wikipedia policy by espousing fringe ideas without criticism. MilesMoney (talk) 13:04, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
He did no such thing, he explained that this article is primarily about a person. Sheldrake is the subject, not the criticism of his work. He did not say that we should exclude criticism. --Iantresman (talk) 15:45, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The dead horse of deliberately ignoring the policies ( again). Per WP:N and WP:BALANCE WP:VALID and WP:FRINGE. As a " person" he is not notable. His ideas make him notable. We must place his ideas in context to mainstream acceptance. The acceptance of his ideas by the mainstream academics is nil.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:32, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I think that if you accuse me of Tendentious Editing[98], then one of the requirement is to have edited the article since this discussion begun. I haven't. Of course we place his ideas into the context of mainstream science, I have never said otherwise. But I disagree, along with others here, on how you want to frame it. Mainstream academics such as David Bohm, Brian Josephson, and Hans-Peter Dürr have not rejected Sheldrake's work, contradicting your statement.--Iantresman (talk) 22:15, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

I don't see anyone trying to eliminate the criticism - it is the reluctance to admit on the page that not everyone has criticized his ideas that seems to be causing the problem. What's the purpose here - to create a misleading impression that no other researcher has found merit in his argument, by cherry picking from only critical accounts? That makes Wikipedia unreliable. There is no question that the paper given above shows that another researcher has investigated the same issue and has shown support for the argument made by Sheldrake. If we are prepared to allow that fact to be known to the general public, then we have a reliable source that the investigation by that researcher has been made, and did result in the published conclusion (it is therefore a reliable source for the point it is qualifying). If there is some reason why the general public must not be allowed to know that Sheldrake's argument has been supported by another researcher, and must therefore be led to believe that it has attracted only criticism, can someone please explain to me what it is? Tento2 (talk) 13:07, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

The problem with your claim is that it's not "another researcher", it's an unreliable source from a journal of woo. You have a distorted view of the facts. MilesMoney (talk) 13:31, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Tento2: It is very hard to get explanations from editors here. Best is just to ignore them. Lou Sander (talk) 13:44, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
They got an explanation, even if it's not one that they like. Of course, they're entirely free to ignore me, but only in the same sense that I'm entirely free to revert their edits because they have no consensus. MilesMoney (talk) 13:46, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Welcome to the talk page, where fringe POV publications like the Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic's Dictionary reign, and the contributions of anyone else are 'woo'. It helps if you throw your arms around like a gorilla while you say 'woo' - makes you feel better about not being able to get a word in edgewise. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 14:23, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I too am finding it hard to believe that the standard of discussion amounts to calling ideas "woo", questioning other editor's competence, and pointing the finger of fringe without offering sources. --Iantresman (talk) 16:12, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
would you prefer "magic", "vacuous", "empty"? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:28, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Straw men are so easy to knock down, aren't they? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 18:00, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Just for the record, I have no problem including criticisms of Sheldrake's work, from him being labelled as pseudoscience, to wanting his book to be burned. I have a huge problem having ALL sources that are sympathetic to his work, Sheldrake's awards and job title being excluded, based solely on the opinion of certain editors, per WP:BLP --Iantresman (talk) 15:30, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

The fact that the only sources that have anything positive to say about him /his work are those with no reputation as reliably published sources and are not acceptable to use in the Wikipedia article is not really a "problem" unless you want to improperly promote him/his work in ways that contravene WP:BALANCE WP:VALID and WP:FRINGE and WP:RS. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:11, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
What does (e/c) actually mean, as seen above? I've never seen it before, and after searching, I'm no wiser. Please help an ignorant and naive wiki user. Thanks --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 15:46, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
It´s wikispeech for WP:Edit conflict. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 15:52, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
That makes so much sense now. Thanks very much. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 16:06, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Happy to help! Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 16:42, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

The purpose of the page is to explain why this person is notable and attracts public attention. Sheldrake's work is fundamental to his notability, as is the fact that it has been heavily criticsed, as is the fact that other persons, notable enough to warrant their own wikipedia pages, have published support for it. It's all part of his story. Most WP rules carry reminders that they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. It would be easy to give an objective and informative account of Sheldrake's notability and the controversies he raises without improperly promoting his work or his own views; if editors could just engage in a willingness to work together to achieve that. To avoid 'Unwarranted promotion of fringe theories' WP:PROFRINGE the guideline to be kept in mind is this: "The neutral point of view policy requires that all majority and significant-minority positions be included in an article. However, it also requires that they not be given undue weight." It seems obvious to me that there should be some (non-promotional) mention made to the Dean Radin paper, which is essential for demonstrating Sheldrake's influence, his notability, and his ability to stimulate controversy and draw down criticism. Does anyone have a problem with this in principle? If so, please explain. If the problem is only concern about the reliability of the source, we can look specifically at that issue, and raise a request for guidance from the appropriate noticeboard Tento2 (talk) 12:17, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Nobel sources?

I assume that we wouldn't be able to include a critical quote attributed to a nobel prize winner, if it was in newspaper? --Iantresman (talk) 19:56, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

as always is the case with determining reliable sources, context matters. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:59, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Notability of commentators

Elsewhere on Wikipedia we have a list of scientists who have stated opposition to some mainstream ideas. The inclusion criteria there have been hammered out over some years. In brief, to be included in that list, each has to have their own Wikipedia article, and to have published something (anything) in a proper peer-reviewed scientific journal at some point. I wonder if any of those who have expressed support for, or interest in, Sheldrake's ideas have either or both of those two things behind them? They might be useful as a way of limiting the allowed commentary here by some objective criteria. A slightly modified version could be that the journal that their commentary appeared in might be required to have its own article here.

Either the person or the journal having its own article has two uses - first to be here it itself must have already been deemed, by a consensus of other editiors, to have passed in-house notability requirements, and second, obviously we will attribute* the commentary in the article text, and can therefore link the commentator or at least the journal, so that if the reader finds what they read surprising, they can follow the links, read the associated articles, and form their own judgement as to the weight they would like to give to that commentator's opinion.

* By attribute in article text I don't just mean to provide a ref, but to say for example, "Joe Sprigg, writing in Woo News in 2010, said that Rupert Sheldrake's work..." (with no red links) --Nigelj (talk) 20:34, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

A curious idea. I'd be willing to see how it works in practice. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 04:02, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

A reminder to the recent influx of users

My apologies if this seems like lecturing, but it will possibly be helpful for some.

Wikipedia is a mainstream encyclopedia; it is not a place where fringe views are given equal validity to mainstream views. Many of the complaints I see about the article suggest that the real target of those complaints is Wikipedia policies, not Wikipedia editors.

The policies say that the article should describe Sheldrake's views in the context mainstream science. The article should reflect the mainstream view; indeed the article favors the mainstream view, as it is explicitly against policy to present both sides as if they have equal validity, leaving it to the reader to decide. There are no conspiracies or cabals here, just unremarkable editors trying to bring the article in line with Wikipedia policies.

If you find yourself frustrated here, I would ask that you consider the possibility that the ultimate source of that frustration is Wikipedia policies, not the people implementing them. It is possible to challenge Wikipedia policies, but this talk page is of course not the place to do it. vzaak (talk) 22:11, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

I think I can speak for all the non-skeptics (no offence intended): I have not heard any of them claim that we should not "describe Sheldrake's views in the context mainstream science. The article should reflect the mainstream view". If the editor of Nature says it is pseudoscience, like all the editors, I would insist on its inclusion. What I object to, is the assumption that the mainstream view is (a) the only view (b) the suggestion that "mainstream" speaks with one voice, and, that all minority views are unreliable and don't exist. --Iantresman (talk) 22:27, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I object to what Iantresman objects to. I also object to the persistent removal of what Sheldrake says, and its replacement with stuff to the effect that what he says is wrong. Lou Sander (talk) 22:53, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I object to Iantresman and Lou Sander's objections. That would require that some mainstream scientists view his work as non-fringe. No one has been able to produce any such evidence. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:55, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
The evidence has been produced several times earlier. Here is s summary. (1) Universities: The University of Cambridge,[99][100] the University of Edinburgh's Koestler Parapsychology Unit,[101] the University of London's Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit,[102] the University of Arizona's Center for Consciousness Center,[103] the University of Northampton's Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes,[104] the UK's Open University,[105] Binghamton University, NY,[106], (2) Academics: physicist David Bohm, Nobel Prize winner Brian Josephson, and physicist Hans-Peter Dürr (3) Mainstream academic journals: "Applied Soft Computing"[107], "Studies in Fuzziness and Soft Computing "[108], "Journal of Analytical Psychology"[109][110][111], "Journal of Clinical Investigation"[112].
None of these sources are dismissive or treat Sheldrake's work as "fringe". Other than that, ""What have the Romans ever done for us"[113] --Iantresman (talk) 23:26, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
I see you are still including Brian "Bubble fusion, Cold Fusion, Telepathy" Johnson's Fringe conference series (a homoeopath was also invited and talked as you know). Also, by the way, Bohm has been dead for over 20 years. Ian, please be aware that if you continue with the clear POV pushing and WP:IDHT attitude, I will take this to Arbitration enforcement again. By the way, last time I checked, believing in perpetual motion machines and believing people can live while for years while not eating are decidedly fringe, IRWolfie- (talk) 23:48, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Once again, I see the skeptical POV reducing Iantresman's research (quite a lot of sources there, thanks) to the weakest link (ooooh, a "homoepath was there" or "Sheldrake dared mention one topic that is obviously pseudoscience to the rest of us so everything else that comes out of his mouth must be bunk") and glossing over the substantial list of universities and mainstream publications and that have found Sheldrake's research worthy or replication and/or mention. What you are doing is creating a straw man and than striking it down. This is not a reasonable argument.
What I see on this page are two points of view - editors who may be psi proponents (and are offering concessions) versus editors who are clearly advocates of a skeptical point of view and wrongly believe that their opinions are the mainstream. The neutral point of view is somewhere in between. I can't wait for someone to take this to the Arbitration Committee so that a few editors can be reminded, yet again, that the extreme atheists/materisitics/reductionistics here represent a whole other fringe group and your beliefs are not truth. Good luck. Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 00:11, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Until the psi proponents make a concession to abide by WP:BALANCE WP:VALID and WP:FRINGE, there is not any reason for the NPOV proponents to to agree to concede to breaking Wikipedia policies. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 00:38, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
When you claim there is "no such evidence" of mainstream scientists viewing Sheldrake's work as non-fringe, contrary to over a dozen supplied academic sources (above), your description is not WP:BALANCE, that is a whitewash that utterly misleads the reader. Again, I have no problem describing the "mainstream" view as the sources described, and if some of them say that Sheldrake's work is pseudoscience, then that is what we say, and if some of them claim (in reliable sources) that all scientists take this view, I have no problem accurately representing this view too. Just to be clear, there is no question that we MUST include the mainstream view. --Iantresman (talk) 08:32, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Have you ever actually read WP:BALANCE? It only applies for viewpoints that are equally prevalent in the most reliable sources. Although Red Pen mentioned it initially, it doesn't apply to this article, IRWolfie- (talk) 08:44, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
oops wrong shortcut - should have been WP:VALID. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 12:44, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
(1) Biographies of living people, require us to be balanced per WP:BLP#Balance. (2) WP:VALID stops us including speculative theories in mainstream articles where they might appear to receive undue consideration.(3) Articles specifically about minority viewpoints are covered by WP:DUE (2nd para.). ie. ".. make appropriate reference to the majority viewpoint ..". (4) Weight and balance are conveyed by the accurate use of language (WP:NPOV) (5) If a reliable source says that an idea is pseudoscience or fringe, we say so. If a reliable source says otherwise, likewise. (6) Reliable source are not determined by whether they reject or support Sheldrake.--Iantresman (talk) 14:03, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
For the purposes of WP editing there is only the mainstream view and the fringe view. One of the worst strawmen -- which Sheldrake himself promulgates -- is the conflation of mainstream science with atheism and/or philosophical materialism. Science is a practical matter and has no such ontological requirements. Sheldrake's claims have so far failed on methodological naturalism grounds alone, the basic game rule of science. The neutral point of view, in WP terms, is to describe the fringe view in relationship to the mainstream view, not to split the difference. vzaak (talk) 01:11, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
@IRWolfie- Another threat, unbelievable! I haven't edited the article for over 18 months, and because I am aware that the subject matter is contentious, I have done what editors are supposed to do: discuss the issue with my fellow editors (the article contains NO POVs that I have pushed). I am not required to agree with you. Furthermore, the edits I did make in Jan 2012 are still in the article, which is more than can be said of many of the contributions in the last month. And it turns out that it was me that added the quote from John Maddox in Nature,[114] supporting the mainstream POV, and that is still in the article after 8 years.
TRPoD claimed that no-one had produced any evidence, a statement that is clearly contradicted by the numerous examples I provided. I accept that you too may disagree with the evidence, but to quote The Cap'n "that's not a banning offense, that's just persistence"[115] --Iantresman (talk) 00:20, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I can't do anything about this. I made an edit, it was reverted. But the most important thing mentioned on this page is that the "skeptical" point of view (as represented by the self-proclaimed "skeptics" here), is not equivalent to the mainstream view. The mainstream, in fact, as studies, polls, and other research clearly shows, hold a plethora of beliefs considered ignorant, ill-informed, misled, fanatical, preposterous, and/or deluded - at least by our resident (intentionally) over-represented group of "skeptics." The mainstream think some pretty crazy things. Think about it. Over 45% of Americans don't believe in evolution. In simpler terms, "that's over 9,000!!!" This page needs to be edited to reflect acknowledgement of the fact that the mainstream view is not the "skeptical" view. After all, Wikipedia is a mainstream encyclopedia, right? Nat (talk) 12:59, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
When we speak of science topics the mainstream is not defined by the general public's perception but by the viewpoints of academia and scientists. It is one of the aims of wikipedia to be a respected scientific reference. For example, on the topic of climate change, we look to the viewpoint of climatologists, not that of the general populace. For the mainstream view of evolution we look, again, to biologists, not the general public. If we judged everything by the public perception, our article on lasers would consist only of "Lasers are awesome and shit", or some such, and our article about the Schrödinger equation would be "most people don't know what this is". IRWolfie- (talk) 15:58, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Iantresman, the article already mentions Bohm, Josephson, and Dürr. Bohm and Sheldrake discussed their ideas and published a transcript; it wasn't a scientific paper. Dürr's paper in 1997 was not supportive; it also was not a scientific paper but more akin to an essay which Dürr called "vague thoughts". These three academics are weighted appropriately in the Sheldrake article, I believe.

You list a couple Jungian-type references. The connection to Jung is in the article, too, and has about the weight it deserves, no? The "morphic computing" thing does not seem particularly relevant apart from name and metaphor. In your links there is an article about a student that tested morphic resonance,[116] but this was actually a refutation of it.[117] The rest are links to Sheldrake's lectures, mentions of him by parapsychology departments, his presence at OpenLearn, and a paper about formative causation in Spanish. Forgive me if I failed to mention something.

It's not clear what these links were meant to demonstrate. They don't indicate any measurable impact on mainstream science, and references to those academics are already included. In addition there is a sympathetic historian (Roszak) in the Sheldrake article. In all, the positive weight on morphic resonance is probably too much, not too little. In particular the two sympathetic quotes in the A New Science of Life section appear to convey a scientific controversy where none exists. There is social/public controversy -- stoked by Maddox -- but not a scientific one. This is similar to the situation with evolution. vzaak (talk) 16:35, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Expert suggests Morphic Field is real *humor*

This renowned expert gave her opinion of Morphic fields on October 14, 2013 [118]. Her son, a well-known technical professional, countered by calling it "pseudo-science" (ibid). davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 14:42, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I think we should include it as a cultural reference. --Iantresman (talk) 15:14, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
It's just Tumbleman doing his day job. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 15:19, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Is there a point to this subsection beyond ridiculing a certain author and/or a certain Wikipedian? (talk) 15:36, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I think Iantresman's suggestion actually makes sense here. It would make sense for "In popular culture" type material, IRWolfie- (talk) 15:51, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I think it is culturally notable. I think it ridicules. I think it is over the top. I think the context is clearly supposed to be humorous. And I think it is a wonderful example of unintentional cultural pseudoskepticism :-) --Iantresman (talk) 16:36, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I need to publish a paper on this as definitive evidence of Morphic fields with the high level of activity on this talk page obviously morphic fielded its way to Adams to insert it into his strip. You skeptics have ALL been proved SO WRONG!!!-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:56, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

ON a serious note, without it explicitly namechecking Sheldrake, I don't think the link is strong or obvious enough to avoid WP:NOR. Also, it would be funny but dealing with such nonsense on a daily basis, the jokes wear off fairly quickly. Barney the barney barney (talk) 17:27, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Aren't morphic fields Sheldrak's baby? I'm not aware of any other? But I don't feel strongly about including or excluding it. --Iantresman (talk) 18:11, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Sure, I wonder if there is any secondary sources about that particular strip, IRWolfie- (talk) 20:56, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Its was from yesterday, so its unlikely to have made it anywhere yet. AV Club might pick it up soon. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:23, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I put this here to be funny and entertaining to those who are reading the talk page. I did not seriously intend for it to become part of the article. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 17:59, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks to IRWolfie- for notifying me that one of my edits went awry, and I inadvertently edited several messages belonging to others. I think there was a button I clicked in the editor which messed up some formating. Apologies to all involved. --Iantresman (talk) 21:25, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Testability of morphic resonance

Twice now I've entered information on the testability of the hypothesis of morphic resonance, and twice the material has been removed. Before deleting this material again, please explain why the testability of this hypothesis, including actual tests that have been conducted, does not belong in this article. Whether or not morphic resonance is an actual phenomenon, the testability of the hypothesis is a simple fact, as demonstrated by the test carried out jointly by Sheldrake and Steven Rose. The need to reference testability of morphic resonance is especially important given that the article references accusations by journalists John Maddox and Michael Shermer that the hypothesis is unfalsifiable. Alfonzo Green (talk) 22:01, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

You were BOLD and added content. It was REVERTED (twice)(three times) (four times). It is now required to be DISCUSSED and a consensus reached before it is added again. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:08, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

The content I added was removed twice without justification. Please do not remove material on testability again until you've justified this removal. Alfonzo Green (talk) 22:13, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

No, the removal by multiple editors shows there is no current consensus now for the material as you have editwarred to reinstate. You need to make your case for why it should be entered and gain consensus of the editors involved. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:49, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
It is also helpful and civil to explain to an editor why their contribution was removed, per WP:UNRESPONSIVE --Iantresman (talk) 22:55, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I did. Some sob has removed it. Bad form. --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 23:01, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I gave the original reason: (WP:BRD) WP doesn't confer equal validity or present a "we report, you decide" format; please read the policies at the top of the talk page and discuss. vzaak (talk) 23:11, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I've made my case and await relevant response. How do you justify removing from a discussion of Rupert Sheldrake the fact that his hypothesis is testable? Alfonzo Green (talk) 23:26, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

You are not "awaiting" response. You made your bold edit you were reverted with the explanation: " ((WP:BRD) WP doesn't confer equal validity or present a "we report, you decide" format; please read the policies at the top of the talk page and discuss)" you continued to editwar to reinsert your content. you removed (in patent violation of talk page guidelines another editors comment explaining why]. You ignored multiple reminders of the Wikipedia WP:BRD process where contested information must be discussed before being reinserted. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:33, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Morphic Resonance, the paradigm that everything is connected with things of a similar type is 'testable' because there have been experiments to try to observe these connections in specific cases. But it is not 'falsifiable' because when all the experiments come out negative (or the data is disputed) Sheldrake can simply say that the particular connections were not strong enough to be observed in these particular experiments. So if he ever does manage to test and find a phenomenon implied by his paradigm he will have found something very very interesting. But he hasn't managed to do so in the last 30 or so years. Dingo1729 (talk) 23:46, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I would like to hear the explanation for the removal of the Tomorrow's World paragraph. Never mind, it was moved to a new section instead. vzaak (talk) 23:53, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Dingo, thank you for your response. Your comment, however, reveals a lack of knowledge of Sheldrake's work. Morphic resonance is not a "paradigm that everything is connected with things of a similar type" but a hypothesis that organically formed systems resonate with similar previous systems and therefore develop the same way those previous systems developed. Sheldrake has never stated that "particular connections were not strong enough to be observed in these particular experiments" or anything remotely resembling this. He's had no need to make such a statement, as no experiment has shown unambiguously negative results. The experiment conducted with Steven Rose was designed to falsify his hypothesis, but the results seemed to confirm it instead. Sheldrake has found numerous phenomena that seem to confirm his hypothesis, from the melting points of crystals to the evolution of behavior among birds. Alfonzo Green (talk) 00:36, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

I don't want to argue the difference between a hypothesis and a paradigm. I have no idea how wide Sheldrake casts his net, but melting points of crystals are outside organically formed systems. I am aware that Sheldrake never admits that any experiment has gone against him. Sorry for the repeat, but I posted this previously and I think it shows my opinion clearly:
I read all three papers: Sheldrake's paper and then Rose's disagreement and Sheldrake's rebuttal. I didn't redo a full data analysis, but what I came away with was a certainty on how I would have dealt with the situation. If I truly believed that the effect was there I would have repeated the experiment. I would have paid other people to repeat it. I would have drained my retirement savings, sold my house and my car to keep repeating it until everyone could see that it was true and the effect was real and it was a new phenomenon unexplainable by standard biology or physics. And I'd do it so well that no-one could disagree with me. On the other hand, if I didn't really believe and I was just in it for the publicity and the book sales then I would just argue for a bit and wander off to do some other half-assed experiment. Probably not usable in the article but the three papers together are quite revealing. At least to me.Dingo1729 (talk) 02:35, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

reasons for including (or not including) expanded "Testability of morphic resonance" content

Alfonzo Green has BOLDLY (and repeatedly) added this content related to "Testability of morphic resonance" to the article. It has been REVERTED (repeatedly). Please now DISCUSS: Why the content should be included, How the content should be modified before inclusion, or Why the expanded content should not be included. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

I haven't been participating in any reverts, but it seems to be that this contribution has a level of detail that more be more appropriate for a Morphic resonance article than a biography. Curiously though, I try to access that page and it redirects to Sheldrake's bio. I wonder if this article would stabilize if we stuck to discussing Sheldrake's life and publications here and moved the point/counterpoint discussion of morphic resonance somewhere else? Annalisa Ventola (Talk | Contribs) 04:12, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I think the content is informative and useful for giving the reader a practical understanding of the kind of effect morphic resonance is claimed to have, and how it has been tested. The way the results have been reported is unlikely to offend anyone's sensibilities. I wouldn't create a new section for this though; especially not one that comes before the section on the 'Origin and philosophy of morphic resonance' - it makes a natural fit directly at the end of the content that is already in that section Tento2 (talk) 07:12, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I think Alfonzo Green (talk · contribs) has a point, but he's making it in a completely ham-fisted way. Sheldrake does make suggestions for experiments to perform to demonstrate "morphic resonance". He has a whole book on this. He has attempted some of them. Maddox criticised them for "being time-consuming, inconclusive in the sense that it will always be possible to postulate some other morphogenetic field to account for some awkwardly inconclusive result and impractical in the sense that no self-respecting grant making agency would take the proposals seriously." Barney the barney barney (talk) 08:59, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
When you say he is making his point in a ham-fisted way, I'm not sure if you're referring to the content of his edit or his editing style (ie, not discussing before re-inserting). Like the general reader I don't know much more than what's present on the page, but what you've described mirrors the impression I got from the content proposed. The experiment was unsatisfactory in scientific terms and yet Sheldrake saw something that he could make an argument out of. This helps me to understand why Sheldrake is able to hold the interest of his advocates, even if his experiments are deemed to be failures. I'm not sure it's necessary to elaborate further by adding the Maddox criticism as the content speaks for itself. Do you think we should? (I suppose it gives evidence to the frustration involved) Tento2 (talk) 13:02, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

My original explanation should have been sufficient: (WP:BRD) WP doesn't confer equal validity or present a "we report, you decide" format; please read the policies at the top of the talk page and discuss.

Imagine if Wikipedia existed in 1979 and reported on Steele's claims of Lamarckian mice, citing primary sources only. That would be inappropriate because WP should not be reporting experiments from primary sources, leaving it to the reader to interpret them. The average reader could think, "Hey, maybe Lamarck was right after all!" No, WP should draw from interpretations found in mainstream secondary sources.

This principle is even more important in the Sheldrake case. If Steele was right then it would have put a kink in our understanding of biology. If Sheldrake is right then it revolutionizes our understanding of the universe and places him among the greatest discoverers the world has ever known, even greater. While that may happen one day, today is not that day. WP should not give equal validty (as my original comment said) here and suggest to the reader that there is a scientific debate where there is none.

The only secondary source I've found so far that mentions this Sheldrake/Rose exchange is Rose's own book, which is hardly from a disinterested party. This didn't receive wider coverage because there isn't interest or concern from mainstream science (in contrast to the Steele incident). Maybe there are secondary sources from mainstream science out there, in which case WP could mention it. Until then, the best option would seem to be omitting it. vzaak (talk) 12:46, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

The content makes clear that the experiment was not successful so there is no danger of it being accused of promoting fringe views. We are expected to report and let others decide actually, and we are expected to explain disputes in a neutral and impartial tone, and make sure that we give unbiased, accurate, and proportionate representation of all positions in the dispute, as per WP:IMPARTIAL. Tento2 (talk) 13:12, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
That the experiment was not successful is your interpretation; Alfonzo thinks it was. Such original research can't go into the article. The article should be "drawing on secondary or tertiary sources that describe the disagreement" (WP:BALANCE). vzaak (talk) 13:25, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't think we should editorialise about the Rose experiment, but it does seem to have been a good experiment. I would like to have all three papers linked somewhere in the article. As I said, thinking about the fact that Sheldrake couldn't be bothered to do follow-up experiments convinced me that he doesn't really believe what he's saying about the results. Which implies he's a charlatan. Dingo1729 (talk) 14:50, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Why not editorialise about it, if it is interesting? Sheldrake being a charlatan is even more interesting, but you would need to publish your investigation before we could quote your conclusion.
@Vzaak: No one's talk page opinion matters; what does matter is that the proposed content is reporting something relevant in a neutral manner, free of implications, and making no attempt to promote Sheldrake's view whilst explaining what it is. It is relevant, because his work is relevant, therefore disputes and criticisms of his work are relevant, and therefore his position in any dispute, or his response to criticisms about his work are relevant. More than that, they are fundamental to ensuring that his biography page is impartial and balanced. I don't see any more original research in this content than in any of the other content already on the page. Short of removing everything except the list of references and direct quotes, the only way to remove the fear of OR on WP - which does seem to get very extreme sometimes - is to no get too obsessive or unreasonable about it. I agree it would be ideal to be able to reference this to independent secondary sources, but it is not essential because there is no reason to mistrust the reported information. Neither would it be setting a precedent, since primary sources have been used to qualify other comments on the page. Pros of using the content: the page will be more informative and interesting; Wikipedia will not break; today will still not be the day that Sheldrake becomes known as one of the greatest discoverers the world has ever known. Tento2 (talk) 15:02, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I was taking "editorialise" to mean to express our opinions about the success or failure of the experiments. I struck my last sentence as impolite. Dingo1729 (talk) 15:35, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
WP does not portray a false balance when it comes to scientific matters (WP:GEVAL). The fringe view must be described in relationship to the view of mainstream science (WP:PSCI), and this cannot be done without a secondary source to give us the view of mainstream science (WP:BALANCE). In particular, Sheldrake's last response requires an interpretation from mainstream science. vzaak (talk) 16:43, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
We've already framed Sheldrake's views from the mainstream point of view. Even if we tell them that Sheldrake has responded to a paricular paper, there is no imbalance because (a) the already-stated mainstream view has far greater weight, and (b) simple use of the English language ensures that we don't misrepresent the veracity or credibility of his response. See WP:DUE --Iantresman (talk) 17:17, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Fully protected due to edit warring

This article has been Fully protected for three days due to edit warring. I've been mulling it over for a few days now, but given the behaviour last night which led to one user being blocked, I think the best course of action is to put the page under protection. This means only administrators can edit the page.

All edits (except minor administrative edits) during the protection period must be proposed on the talk page. See Wikipedia:Edit requests for details on how this process works. Once there is demonstrable consensus for an edit, an uninvolved admin will step in and implement the edit. If there is an existing section with broad consensus for an edit, place an edit request template in that section.

If there is material on the page which violates the biographies of living persons policy, please leave a note on the talk page in a new section and specifically note that it is a BLP issue. —Tom Morris (talk) 08:05, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Is there any way to up this limit until the controversy dies away (as it invariably does)? IRWolfie- (talk) 09:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
If the edit warring and other issues persist after the three days expires, I'll be happy to consider longer protection periods. —Tom Morris (talk) 10:13, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Tom Morris, this page has been getting ridiculously heated. I think that a few days of being unable to satisfy compulsive editing will result in a dying off of vitriol. There are a few proposals to make a more negotiated, sourced and less controversial article that I'd like to build consensus for over the next few days. With that and in support of a general cooling off, I also support a longer protection period. The Cap'n (talk) 16:09, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Tom Morris. Lou Sander (talk) 17:24, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Short term protection may help, but keep in mind that there are editors here who see this article as it is written now to be unbalanced with undue emphases on negative comments about his ideas and books, without inclusion of comments from the parapsychological community. As it is written now, long-term protection appears to establish this unbalance POV as Wikipedia policy. Tom Butler (talk) 17:46, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

As you have been told a number of times WP:NPOV does NOT mean "representing all sides equally", it means WP:VALID representing how the mainstream academic community views the subject and allotting proportional space to various views of the academic community which ranges pretty much from loony wingnut to dangerous wingnut that undermines the credibility of science. And so your approach is decidedly NOT NPOV. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:18, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Tom Butler did not suggest that we should be "representing all sides equally". The idea of respresenting Sheldrake's work as if it were equal to the mainstream view is nonsense. The idea that WP:VALID implies that we should alot "proportional space" to mainstream versus minority views is also nonsense.
WP:DUE notes very clearly that we can give more space to minority views, on the proviso that (a) we clearly frame it with respect to the majority view, and (b) don't give the impression that the minority view is any more valid, credible or accepted, than it really is.
It is by the simple use of the English language (using the appropriate adjective) that gives proportional balance to the ideas that we describe (per WP:NPOV), which any competent editor can do it, and that includes everyone here.
If this wasn't the case, we'd have to delete articles such as Nazi Party or Pedophilia for fear of giving it them undue credibility. --Iantresman (talk) 19:12, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Iantresman for clarifying my point. It is as I intended.
As and engineer, I might say that of the set representing all scientists, a hypothetical 98% do not accept the foundation assumptions of morphic fields, and by extension, the Hypothesis of Formative Causation. The remaining 2% of scientists accept or at least consider a sufficient number of the assumptions and view the hypothesis worth further evaluation.
Such a statement would express degree of rejection which is fact. While the statement would be demonstrably valid, the citations supporting its validity are not allowed here, and therefore, it may be impossible to balance the article. If that is the case, deletion is the only fair solution. Tom Butler (talk) 19:42, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not asking for a legitimization of Sheldrake's views. I'm arguing that the article should represent his views objectively and to treat this article as a biography, not a forum to educate the public on the dangers of pseudoscience. It would be tragic to delete a page that possesses a lot of useful information just because some people are refusing to compromise. See possible solution in my topic of a new theory section. The Cap'n (talk) 21:19, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Tom Butler, locking the page down as-is cements the latest revert that established an unbalanced lead. Please check the "lead" topics above to build a consensus we can propose The Cap'n (talk) 21:57, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
@Tom Butler with my scientist hat on, I agree that the hypothetical figure of 98% who reject Sheldrake, sounds plausible. But I had no idea that half a dozen universities have research departments that study parapyschology, and there were a number of academic sources (I have listed previously).
I found a Surveys of academic opinion regarding parapsychology. It is not a reliable source, nor up to date, and would be considered WP:OR, but it provides sufficient primary sources to check some of the data. This would suggest that the hypothetical 98% might be about right among certain scientists, but not as high among other scientific groups.
But we don't need to provide sources that support the hypotheitical 98% figure. The quote from Maddox and others who claim that "all/most" scientists reject Sheldrake, is sufficient to convey the proporpotion of scientists who reject him. We already mention the sympathetic views of Bohm and Dürr, but perhaps we are a little light on characterising the academic views from the psychologist/parapsychologist group. --Iantresman (talk) 23:05, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I have worked with this issue for quite some time now. My above comment was intended to focus on the foundation assumptions and not the hypothesis itself. To consider the validity of morphic fields, the concept of subtle energy (Psi: ESP, psychic, clairvoyance, etc.) needs to be considered. That brings into question the issue of mind equals brain as opposed to mind separate from brain. Morphic fields depend on some kind of memory existent in psi space, as well as a mechanism for intentionality to influence that memory. All of these concepts have empirical/experimental foundations, but they exist in a different paradigm from the mind is brain physical view and can't be addressed here. look at how vacant the Psi (parapsychology) article is.
Morphic fields represent a model with which psi phenomena can be studied--a context just as the Big Bang theory provides a context for all else physical--the theory need not be right, only useful. The editors here are judging it with the wrong yardstick. Instead, morphic fields should be simply addressed as a proposed model and left to future scientists to determine the concept's validity. Tom Butler (talk) 00:38, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, we don't give Sheldrake's ideas undue legitimacy, credibility, veracity, nor weight, if sources do not support it. --Iantresman (talk) 08:10, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
If, after the protection expires, edit warring starts up again, I will lock it down again. If that means "The Wrong Version" gets protected, so be it. Let that be a motivation to all sides to not edit war. If there are specific BLP concerns, spell them out in detail and an admin will fix them. Otherwise, I'd suggest that the best route for everybody on this article is to start making concrete proposals and straw polling, keeping in mind that Wikipedia decisions are not made by a vote. A morass of discussion won't change anything: a proposal with a clear indication of how much consensus there is will. —Tom Morris (talk) 07:07, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Solution: Creation of a separate article for "Morphic Resonance" and other hypotheses

It seems like the biggest difficulties with this page come from the fact that some people feel like the article must reflect the scientific community's rejection of Sheldrake's ideas, and they want that represented. The problem is, this is a BLP and is NOT the appropriate venue for that discussion. WP:BLP states these articles are supposed to be biographically informative, conservatively written and proportional. The lead spends 3 sentences referencing his biographical information and nearly 3 paragraphs referencing his controversial theories. That's far from proportional. Here's an indication how far: Stephen Hawking's lead has only one paragraph for his theories (despite his being incredibly prolific) and 2 paragraphs for his biographical information. Why? Because it's a BLP article, not a theory article. Likewise Sheldrake's biography page is a place to discuss his early life, education, work history, personal beliefs and family. His research deserves to be mentioned, but his biography is not the place to debate the scientific issues with his hypothesis.

Therefore I propose moving the majority of the content both explaining and criticizing Morphic Resonance to a new article. That will clean up the Sheldrake article by allowing a brief comment to be made on his controversial ideas AND give critics and proponents of his hypotheses an article that is suited to their debate. The fact that there is a massive talk page almost exclusively relating to his ideas argues to their relevancy. A new page will hopefully diminish the bitter edit-warring that has been going on, preserve an informative, balanced BLP and still allow for the debate over the legitimacy of Morphic Resonance to continue... in the appropriate context. Note that "Morphic Resonance is not a fact" is not a reason to avoid making the page; teleportation, necromancy and pyrokinesis are all valid pages for concepts with far less credibility than Morphic Resonance.

We are here to inform, not to argue. Together we can end this destructive conflict, inform people about Rupert Sheldrake and refer them to his ideas on a separate page. Please let me know if (and WHY) you agree or disagree. The Cap'n (talk) 21:48, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

I dont see any discussion of "Morphic Resonance" outside of the context of Sheldrake. Splitting would appear to be a run around against WP:POVFORK. Toning down the coverage of "Morphic Resonance" in the Sheldrake article would be giving WP:UNDUE weight by not reflecting the "work" he is most covered for.-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 21:53, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I once experimented with splitting the article as you describe. In principle what you suggest sounds great. However in practice the only thing notable about Sheldrake is morphic resonance. There needs to be context about what morphic resonance is and how it is viewed by mainstream science, otherwise most of the sections don't make sense. The split could still be done, but it would be strange -- basically just a tiny article on Sheldrake himself and his non-notable career at Cambridge and ICRISAT. But maybe it could be done somehow. The point I want to drive home is that abstract discussion on this matter is probably useless. Actually starting such an article (in a sandbox or wherever) is the way to see if it is feasible. vzaak (talk) 22:13, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
@vzaak, I agree with you on most points, in fact I think that Rupert Sheldrake's article is far too big, in large part due to the lengthy discussion of his controversial hypotheses. We could make the biography more concise, rendering a shorter, more neutral mention of Morphic Resonance and his standing with the scientific community, and a more nuanced, detailed discussion of the hypothesis in question on its own page. I'll start putting something together in my sandbox once I get a little time.
@TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom, please reread the entry for WP:POVFORK; it is clearly not applicable here. The example given of POVFORK is of a person creating a page for their own illogical personal opinion that flight is impossible, with little to no sourcing or discussion. Morphic Resonance is an established, published hypothesis with numerous sources referencing it, written by a person who already warrants a BLP, which has been discussed and debated enough to fill an entire talk page. This would be a way of addressing the issue of WP:UNDUE by creating a page discussing the topic that is most contentious about Sheldrake's work. In fact, the entry on POVFORK indicates that this situation should result in a split,
"Any daughter article that deals with opinions about the subject of parent article must include suitably-weighted positive and negative opinions, and/or rebuttals, if available, and the original article should contain a neutral summary of the split article."
Also, I don't understand your comment that you don't see the point of any discussion about Morphic Resonance outside of Rupert Sheldrake. If your issue is the scientific inaccuracy of the hypothesis, then Morphic Resonance should be your target. If your target is Rupert Sheldrake, independent from his works, then you have a biased POV and your personal dislike for the man does not belong on his biography page. In either case, it seems like a separate page would be more suitable to your concerns. The Cap'n (talk) 22:34, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
POV fork is completely applicable to removing content negative about Sheldrakes and his opinions from the article about Sheldrake and his opinions. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 22:50, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
I think this is an interesting proposal and has merit. The sandbox sounds like a good way. We can add context about morphic resonance here as well (summary style), so I think any WP:FRINGE related issues can be avoided. IRWolfie- (talk) 23:40, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, IRWolfie-, I should be able to start working on it tommorow and appreciate any feedback. I agree that the biography page should have contextual references about Sheldrake's ideas, I just don't think they should be the focus.
@TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom, I would agree with you, except we're not talking about removing anything negative about Sheldrake's opinions and creating a page for Rupert Sheldrake's Brilliant and Proven Law of Morphic Resonance. We discussing making the page about the researcher's life more neutral and creating a page dedicated to the issues surrounding Morphic Resonance (which are many). The Cap'n (talk) 00:53, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
the "researcher's" life has been focused on the promotion of this idea. spinning out the primary stuff that makes him notable so that the biographical article can be "more neutral" is expressly forbidden by POVFORK. So what we will have is one page about Sheldrake that minimizes the content for which he is known but still must place that fact that he has been promoting FRINGE ideas as a central part of the biographical article and another article about the ideas promulgated pretty much only by Sheldrake and how they have been ridiculed my mainstream science. so you have two articles that are essentially the same thing. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 01:05, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand this proposal properly. A biographical article and one for the notable work. What is notable enough in the Sheldrake bio to justify a wiki article? What did I miss? --Roxy the dog (quack quack) 02:49, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't think there is anything independently notable (the notability of Morphic resonance is tied to Sheldrake), but I think it might be handier for organisational reason. Whether it actually works, I don't know. I'm a little skeptical if it will work and don't think it should be done without an agreed version and without consensus, IRWolfie- (talk) 09:28, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I should clarify that I don't think a fork is really feasible, but I am open to looking at a candidate, in particular what the bio would look like. This part from WP:POVFORK seems targeted directly at this situation: "The most blatant POV forks are those which insert consensus-dodging content under a title...". vzaak (talk) 12:45, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

The Cap'n has a good idea. A separate article on Morphic Resonance is justified according to WP:NOTE. Just look at all the references that people have found about it. In a nutshell, WP:CONTENTFORKING says "articles should not be split into multiple articles just so each can advocate a different stance on the subject". That's not what is being proposed. Lou Sander (talk) 03:08, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Historical information:
Morphic field existed as a stand-alone article from November 2006 until November 2009, see the various merger proposals on Talk:Morphic field for some history.
Morphogenetic field (Rupert Sheldrake) existed as a stand-alone article from September 2003 until July 2007 when it was merged into Morphic field. See Talk:Morphogenetic field (Rupert Sheldrake).
Other incoming redirects that have non-redirect pages in their history:
davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 04:02, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Good, helpful stuff, davidwr. I see Sheldrake as a guy who looks into unexplored/unexplained crannies of knowledge, then questions the accepted scientific explanation/dismissal of them. He hypothesizes that Morphic Resonance, etc. might explain some or all of it. Many disagree with his hypothesis and the surrounding work, often calling it/him unpleasant names. Lou Sander (talk) 04:49, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't think any of these are notable or necessary articles, IRWolfie- (talk) 06:39, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I think the Morphic stuff, under whatever name, passes WP:NOTE. Because it is so controversial, it has a hard time fitting comfortably in a WP:BLP. Lou Sander (talk) 13:24, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
this is a terrible idea. There's no way that "morphic resonance" passes muster as a serious issue. The ONLY person who writes about it is Sheldrake. It's his little pet. Barney the barney barney (talk) 14:03, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Let's assume that "Morphic fields" (under any name) as a topic of science does not meet WP:GNG. If the criticism and controversy surrounding this topic (NOT the controversy surrounding Sheldrake) is itself notable enough to meet WP:GNG then an article on the controversy can be created. At that point, it's an editorial decision where to place information about the underlying topic - either here, in an article about the controversy, or elsewhere. If the controversy surrounding "Morphic fields" itself does not meet WP:GNG, the combination of "Morphic fields" as a scientific topic + its criticism and controversy may qualify under WP:GNG. Or, you could stay with the status quo, which combines "Morphic fields" as well as its criticism and controversy into the article about its chief (or perhaps only well-known) proponent. It doesn't really matter what path is taken, as long as 1) No article is created (or re-created from a redirect) that fails to qualify as an article by Wikipedia's rules, 2) all other policies (e.g. BLP) are followed and all guidelines are followed unless there is a good reason (i.e. consensus to WP:Ignore all rules) not to, 3) whatever path is taken, it represents the consensus of participating editors (this implies that any related discussion is well-advertised on-Wiki, e.g. notifications to relevant WikiProjects), and 4) the end result is at least as good quality-wise as either the status quo or any recent version of Rupert Sheldrake which meets the criteria above. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 18:48, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Tumbleman Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement

The Arb Enforcement has reached its conclusion about the behaviors resulting in a block of the user. Any discussion about the AE process or results belongs elsewhere. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 16:16, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

It seems relevant to mention: WP:Arbitration/Requests/Enforcement#Tumbleman (permalink) --Iantresman (talk) 10:15, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

I am disgusted at this WP:AR:

  1. It has now concluded in less than 24 hours, whatever happened to due process?
  2. Tumbleman has not even contributed, whatever happened to a right to reply, or providing his side of the story?
  3. Not one editing diff was provided showing inappropriate editing of any kind.
  4. No diff showing an initial warning from an involved administrator, as required by Discretionary sanctions.
  5. Blocked per WP:NOTHERE when his contributions to this page are demonstrably constructive.
  6. Two WP:AR administrators who should know better, in addition to editors, showing clear incivility with personal attacks, such as questioning his competence (WP:COMPETENCE).
  7. Of the nine editors who responsed to the WP:AR request, five where clearly not in favour of sanctions against Tumbleman. That's a majority of 55% against. Whatever happened to WP:CONSENSUS?

I am dismayed at this flawed process, ashamed that Wikipedia allows this to happen, and not in the least bit surprised. --Iantresman (talk) 14:33, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
  1. ^ Chapter 2, The Science Delusion
  2. ^ Watts, F. (2011) "Morphic fields and extended minds: An examination of the theoretical concepts of Rupert Sheldrake" Journal of Consciousness Studies 18, 203-224.
  3. ^ A Glorious Accident,
  4. ^ ^ "Rupert Sheldrake in Discussion" [Durr, Hans]Rupert Sheldrake in der Diskussion (co-ed.), Scherz Verlag, 1997. Jump up ^ Watts, F. (2011) "Morphic fields and extended minds: An examination of the theoretical concepts of Rupert Sheldrake" Journal of Consciousness Studies 18, 203-224. Jump up ^ "A Glorious Accident, with Daniel Dennett, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Jay Gould, George Page, Oliver Sacks, Rupert Sheldrake, and Stephen Toulmin. Jump up ^ "What Can DNA Tell Us?" Lewis Wolpert and Rupert Sheldrake. July 2009 New Scientist.