The science delusion is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in.
In this book, Dr Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world's most innovative scientists, shows that science is being constructed by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The sciences would be better off without them: freer, more interesting, and more fun.
According to the dogmas of science, all reality is material or physical. The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds; imprisoned within our skulls. But should science be a belief-system, or a method of enquiry?
Sheldrake shows that the materialist ideology is moribund; under its sway, increasingly expensive research is reaping diminishing returns. In the sceptical spirit of true science, Sheldrake turns the 10 fundamental dogmas of materialism into exciting questions, and shows how all of them open up startling new possibilities.
The Science Delusion will radically change your view of what is possible. And give you new hope for the world.
©2012 Rupert Sheldrake (P)2012 Hodder & Stoughton
This audio book was narrated by Rupert Sheldrake, so the emphasis and pose was perfect. The message would have been blurred by anyone else
The most memorable part was the consistent way in which the construction of all points of view was built up and then new material added as a logical extension
This book is a little heavy in places. I didn't listen to all 12 hours in one sitting, but was captured enough to re-visit points when uncertain
This book has inspired further reading for myself, and has opened my mind to the current science Dogma. Thank-you Mr. Sheldrake.
Note: Only 4 stars on performance due to an American accent that may have only been rivaled by my Australian attempt at it
Sure, to learn the details again.
Superb reading by Sheldrake himself. The humility and scientific interest can be heard in his voice.
I usually fall asleep listening to science related audio books due to the boring monotonous tone, but the narrators did a great job to keep the listen professional. On top of that the Rupert has really researched his material and came up with very valid arguments.
Great summary with some possible ways to take science forward.
They were all professional, but Rupert is well spoken and very pleasant to listen to.
A couple of eye openers.
"A Metaphysics of Science - on Acid (or Ayahuascua)"
Anne Harrington in her book "The Re-enchantment of Science" quotes Max Weber declaring after WW1, that Mechanistic Science was here to stay - we had better get used to it. European (especially German) Holism - which included Vitalism - was dead. Welcome to the Machine!
Not for Rupert Sheldrake! This book is about the re-enchantment of science, a rather beautiful and psychedelic alternative paradigm where the Universe is a living entity, like an organism, whose laws (habits) and constants evolve organically over time, where planets and molecules have purposes, matter is alive, and consciousness has powers to change the past, all immersed, shaped and resonating within a "Morphic Field" (somewhat like the Higgs Field), which contains all memory.
The book lays down the gauntlet (or 10 of them), to advocates of normal "mechanistic" science to justify 10 foundational assumptions on which classical "materialist" Science is based. For me that was the challenge that made the book so gripping. It is a clever, scholarly, imaginative, beautiful and (I believe) - ultimately flawed.
From the introduction, the book declares Science to be authoritarian, dogmatic and bankrupt - having now run out of credit on unfulfilled "promissory explanations". This is just the kind of thing that his nemesis Richard Dawkins might say about Religion - and I fear would be closer to the truth. For while religion is rocked by division, dogmatism, scepticism and scandal, "mechanistic" Science is busy making new discoveries every day.
Of course his critique of science is a way of promoting his alternative paradigm of "Morphic Resonance", but it isn't rocket science to find the obvious flaws. After each chapter there are "questions for materialists". However, I was left each time with a number of "questions for vitalists"
For instance, if we abandon mechanistic explanations (dogma 1) for the shapes of crystals (dogma 5) and organisms (dogma 6), in favour of "morphic memory", how do we explain the uniqueness of fractal forms such as snowflakes, or crystal dendrites, or tree roots, or neural networks. These unique forms are never exact replicas copied from a previous version, but rather a product of context dependant iterated processes. Doesn't it also fly in the face of Mendelian inheritance?
Likewise, if physical laws and constants evolve (dogma 4), what laws (or habits) govern the evolution (e.g. rate and direction) of these changes - don't we get ourselves into an infinite regress of "habits"? Wouldn't we also expect to see huge variation in the physics of galaxies around us, as we are looking back in time?
Then there's memory as traces in the brain (dogma 8). Morphic resonance holds instead that we tune in to ourselves in the past. Yet, this fails to explain false memories, implanted memories or alterations in narrative over time. It is also difficult to see how "morphic" memory is blocked (or even modified) by certain drugs - e.g. in treating PTSD.
Overall, it is a challenging and persuasive book, full of fringe, but interesting examples. Based on the philosophies of Bergson and Whitehead (though RS makes no mention of Process Philosophy), his motivation of a "re-enchantment of Science" is good. However, keep your critical head on at all times.
I like that it is read by the author himself - though he sometimes sounds a little depressed. Look out for some amusing imitations of other (living) authors. The strange one of A.C. Grayling made me chuckle.
"Credible challenge to the assumptions of science"
Excellent book if a bit heavy in parts. Sheldrake is clearly very intelligent and a creative and open minded individual. This book is a brilliant read and I'd recommend it to everyone who assumes, like I have, that science is a definitive source of knowledge with a methodology that is clear, precise and objective. The book challenges (successfully) ten key assumptions of the materialist view, and in doing so takes the reader into a world of possibilities and alternative views. His own theory is testable while mainstream assumptions are sometimes not. He offers suggest for a way ahead and a hope of greater understanding of how the universe and those in it really 'work'.
This is the first Rupert Sheldrake book I have ever read/listened to, and it is just as insightful and well written as I would have expected. I only heard of him because Ted banned a talk from their website,where Rupert was discussing the same themes he covers in this book....best publicity he could have hoped for. and the irony of that is beautiful. I would recommend this book to anyone who finds it hard to believe in the sanctity of the scientific method, given the wilfully biased views of scientists. this book explains where scientists have gone wrong, both in the past and now. I would also say he may well have the right answers, and the rest of the scientific community would benefit by taking a page from this book. I paid for this book and it was well worth it, I intend to listen again.
"An outstanding contribution"
This work offers an outstanding contribution to the public understanding of science. It explores the philosophy of science with an ease that makes the subject accessible to the lay reader without dumbing down.
As a the head of a Chemistry department this book made me confront a few uncomfortable assumptions I had made in my world view. Whether all of Sheldrake's theories will stand the test of time remain to be seen. However, the questions that he asks of both reader and the scientific community remain valid regardless.
The true spirit of science is alive here.
"Review from a molecular biologist"
Rupert is a captivating speaker to listen to on this audiobook. I was appreciative to listen directly to the author's voice, and it be one that keeps you interested!
This story challenges the central dogma that I and many new-age molecular biology scientists have fallen into. If truth be told, I found it a tough listen and disagreed immediately to most of what was said. As I listened over again it softened and I started to hear logic.
Not always so
"An interesting perspective"
I found this a very compelling audio book as it does rather magnificently shatter the perhaps rather commonly held view of the industry of science being objective and prejudice free. This was one of the first audio books i listened to and i thank Rupert Sheldrake for being so brave as to address subjects avoided by the mainstream. His theory of morphic resonance is at least very interesting and overall his commitment to an honest pursuit of knowledge seems commendable. His narration is also very listenable.
Everything about this book is stunning to me. In depth knowledge and inferences spelt out in a clear tone - both content wise and delivery wise. J originally bought this audiobook because I am interested in the whole area of human evolution and how that happens not just physically but ALSO mentally, emotionally and `spiritually`. I instinctively fee/think we are on the cusp of major evolutionary shift. This writer has clean, pure but unaffected diction ... beautifully paced reading. The content is deep, profound and very accessible. This is in my top ten best books ever.
Ever get the feeling you've been cheated? This appeared in my You Might Like list, and I knew nothing of Sheldrake: but his credentials looked good, so gave it a go. Lots of magnificent words joining together to form sentences of great import, turning into paragraphs of weight and heft and forming a book which fails to mean anything much, have any purpose, basis in fact or any merit except to confirm the guy as a crank of the first order. Embarrassing to have in my library. Avoid.
"Full of ideas and alternate views"
As a persona non grata in the mainstream scientific community I admire Sheldrake for what I perceive as a genuine commitment to the scientific process. Please don't get me wrong, Sheldrake truly has his scientific credentials, but he does not tow the Dawkins party line. He dares to touch on science that others do not deem respectable. In talking about telepathy he presents compelling data, taken under what seem to me to be perfectly sensible conditions and postulates as to the mechanism involved.
Whether Sheldrake is right or wrong matters much less than than the fact that he is thinking outside of the mainstream. It is vital to have such thinkers and the straight forward writing and pleasant narration makes it a joy to support them.
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