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The Science Delusion: Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  383 ratings  ·  72 reviews
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 constricted by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The 'scientific worldview' has be...more
Hardcover, 392 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Coronet
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Brian Clegg
Half of what's in this quite chunky tome is excellent - the trouble is that I suspect the other bits, which aren't so good, will put off those that really should be reading it.

The fundamental message Rupert Sheldrake is trying to get across is that science typically operates in a very blinkered, limited way. And he's right. He shows very convincingly the way that time and again scientists refuse to look at anything outside of a very limited set of possibilities, not because there is good evidenc...more
Robert Lomas
Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist with a distinguished track record as fellow of Clare College Cambridge where he served as Director of Studies in cell biology before heading up the Perrott-Warwick Project to investigate human abilities at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has published over 80 peer reviewed scientific papers and ten books. He studied natural sciences at Cambridge University where he got a double first in botany and biology. He then spent a year a Harvard studying the history and...more
Bruce
This needs to be two separate reviews. One for past readers of Sheldrake, and one for newbies.

Newbies, you get three things here: *The historical background and philosophical/metaphysical background of contemporary scientific ideas. *A collection of areas of scientific thought which have EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE which challenge widely held assumptions. *Alternative theories which might explain the challenging evidence.

Some people make the mistake of dismissing the first two aspects of the book beca...more
Paul Kieniewicz
Upon finishing “The Science Delusion”, I’m left wondering why scientists are so unpopular. In the present US presidential campaign, the viable Republican candidates all run on an anti-science platform. (Don’t believe in evolution; don’t believe in global warming). Opinion polls also indicate a public skeptical of science. In the UK, public confidence in scientists isn’t particularly high either. A scientific endorsement of GM crops doesn't carry very far. According to recent polls, a majority of...more
Christy
Essential, for me, anyway: a scientist who outs reductive materialism in the sciences as an ideology, rather than a testable hypothesis, and suggests ways to test it. I was raised an atheist, and continue to feel that organized religion is basically superstition used as a form of social control. But as issues of ecology and the survival of natural systems began to seem more crucial to me, I began to wonder, is it really possible for people to fight with all their strength to "save" something tha...more
Perry Clark
Sheldrake has produced here a take on the limitations of science that inhere in a materialist approach to the world and the subject. It is very much the sort of thing one might expect from an author with a strong science background who also has Deepak Chopra on his shelf next to Darwin. In fact, I suspect that his volumes of Darwin have much more dust than do his more iconoclastic authors. I declined to continue reading after chapter 3 (of 12), as I was convinced by the preface, introduction, an...more
Zakaria
This is one of the best books I've read. I think it came as a reaction to 'The God Delusion' by Dawkins. This book not only sets forth evidence in favor of God's existence but also acquaints the reader with the current scientific dilemma. If I were to compare Dawkins' book and Sheldrake's, I would say that Dawkins did nothing but restate the old arguments against God's existence. On the other hand, Sheldrake supports his stand by current evidence from science and philosophy. It's really inspiri...more
Evan Morris
An excellent, thoughtful work that scientists should get a great benefit from. Sheldrake, himself a scientist of good repute, here reminds scientists what the fundamental nature of scientific inquiry is, and restates the limits of scientific knowledge, which many scientists have either forgotten or are too uneducated about their own disciplines to have ever learned in the first place.

I am highly amused by the vitriol directed at this book by the self-proclaimed defenders of science. Such people...more
Rosemary Allix
Years ago I was fascinated by Sheldrake's theories on morphic resonance, and my own concept of the world has been influenced by him. It seems to sit very comforably alongside teachings of the Buddha. When the author was in Brighton this week I was delighted to hear him speak about this new book, and to acquire a signed copy. It might take a while to plough through it. There is a lot to think about in this new offering of the Sheldrake view of the world.
Kathleen Brugger
Most people think science is free from bias and fashion. This is not true. If a scientist does not work within the current paradigms they don't get tenure or get published. In this book Sheldrake takes on ten of the core beliefs that shape science's biases, including "nothing but physical matter exists," "nature has no purpose," and "all matter is unconscious."

Sheldrake is a scientist and attacks these beliefs from a scientific perspective. The only problem is the evidence he uses, the experime...more
Harrison
Having just recently read Kelly Mitchell's excellent [[ASIN:1897244681 Spiritual Autopsy of Science and Religion]], I was happy to see Rupert Sheldrake had a new book on a similar theme. It turns out, Sheldrake's book covers some of the same ground as Mitchell: cosmology, medicine, genetics, philosophy. According to Sheldrake, the practice of science is at a crossroads. While many of the tenets of materialism have been challenged by new discoveries, scientists cling to an outmoded philosophy - m...more
Dylan Horrocks
Man, what a mixed bag - I really want to give this 2.5 stars. There's some good material in here and I recommend the penultimate chapter on the messiness of scientific research and publication. If only Sheldrake had been able to concentrate on discussing the problems with rigid doctrinaire scientific materialism, this would have been an interesting and provocative read. But partway into almost every chapter he finds an excuse to start pushing his own pet theory, morphic resonance, which is uncon...more
Abe TheSemite
If you are still seeking for a book that replies to Richard Dawkins' "God Delusion", here is your chance with Sheldrake's book. Although Rupert Sheldrake is known for his pseudoscientific research, he worked in developmental biology at Cambridge University, where he was a Fellow of Clare College. He was then Principal Plant Physiologist at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in Hyderabad, India. From 2005 to 2010 he was Director of the Perrott-Warrick...more
Gabrielle
This book offers the untold perspective in general science that not all the conventions followed by the scientific community are absolute and final, that not all scientists strictly follow popular science conventions and have questions which are not to be taken as pseudoscientific but sincere questions.

While I have found myself learning to respect and follow the conventions of science, my thought processes are far different than the norm. This is the book which I've most related to in my views....more
Khashayar Toodehfallah
Most other reviews will give you a general idea of what the book is about and what Sheldrake is trying to achieve or rather convey with this book, so I will spare my opinion on those aspects for this review would look all too repetitive otherwise.

I will however tell you about the great density of knowledge that is provided by Sheldrake. He's as excellent of a writer as he is a scientist so the book has a flow comparable to a well written story. It guides you through the timeline of science and p...more
Peter
He should go back and do some more science instead. logic, philosophy not his forte. He starts off on the wrong foot with ten straw men and then claims success when he ( sometimes successfully) shoots them down. This book is annoyingly difficult to read, the writing is accessible enough but digging for the occasional nuggets ( some are really good) in a mountain of fluff is hard work. Some of his comments are really good but way too often he is away with the fairies. His morphogenesis idea is ju...more
Naomi Hilsden
I'll be honest, I didn't finish it.

First off there were some brilliant points in here about the way science works. For example, how science students are taught to write in the passive voice, not the active. Science isn't about fact finding and then deducing a result. It's about setting out to prove a particular hypothesis. Science can be very closed minded when it comes to questioning key assumptions and (apparently) likes to stick close to materialistic / reductionist doctrines.

Some chapters...more
Dan
If this book proves nothing else (and it doesn't) it proves that Andy Kaufman is alive and well, and pulling off his greatest prank so far: baffling deep thinkers everywhere by publishing gibberish under the guise of "philosophy". I almost expected to find "had you going there for a while, didn't I?" printed on the final page. This book IS a bad joke, and I can't imagine who could take this string of flawed arguments seriously.
Sam Eccleston
Rupert Sheldrake is admittedly a somewhat eccentric scientist. Some of the positive conclusions that he comes to in the course of the book about matters of scientific fact (morphic resonance, psychic phenomena etc) are under-evidenced and under-argued, and really deserve separate treatment of their own. Having said that, his ideas in themselves are no stranger than the conceptual apparatus employed in the average book on cosmology or quantum physics, and so the opprobrium with which he is heaped...more
Sharon Chance
Now this a book for all those people who have an inkling that science neither holds the key nor contains the answers to life. Everything has its place as does science and Dr Sheldrake beautifully illustrates this seemingly innocuous point and takes us on a journey through the history of science and some of the myths surrounding "scientific fact", whilst putting forward his own hypothesis of memory (to date not taken seriously by the scientific community). The authors detractors call him deluded,...more
Sheldon
An important discussion of where scientific enquiry has been hampered by the politics of science. This book points out some of the fundamental misdirections that are generally accepted as scientific fact.
Marc Dorval
I found this book disappointing. The author asks some great and intriguing questions, and presents some interesting anecdotes. He loses me, though, when he jumps to conclusions about resonance and other ideas.

In other words, he presents an idea as a hypothesis, but then proceeds to point out how much better and true that idea must be.

I would have enjoyed this much more if he had presented his hypotheses, and laid out ideas on how they could be tested (instead of declaring how simple it would be...more
Charles
If there’s bias in scientific experiments, it’s usually put down to something subtle but essentially mundane - subconscious cues in the behaviour of experimenters being picked up by their subjects, for instance. In a characteristically radical claim, Rupert Sheldrake suggests we should be looking for much more exotic causes like “mind-over-matter effects or psychokinesis”.

The vast majority of scientists would scoff: we don’t need to worry about effects that seem more like magic than science.
In...more
Deborah
A surprising read. Actually a pleasant surprise. Interesting questions and points of view.

Living organisms may draw upon forms of energy over and above those recognized by standard physics and chemistry (perhaps, prana or chi)

What is wrong with the idea that nature has habits rather than laws?

How do we know that the laws of nature are fixed and not evolutionary?

Future connections with higher or more inclusive states of consciousness may serve as spiritual attractors, pulling individuals and comm...more
Alex Boon
This is a tricky one and I might come back to this review when I'm less tired. I picked up this book thinking it was a response to "The God Delusion". Easy mistake to make judging by the title, there's no blurb and I hadn't heard of Rupert Sheldrake.

So I was surprised to find a book not really about religion vs science but an attempted critique of science itself. I say attempted, because despite the fact that on the whole the book does achieve it's goals, I was left wondering whether the goals...more
Dimitris Hall
I have the rational intelligence to be a scientist, but it's not in my personality to fill in cracks in established mental models. I seek anomalies that open cracks.
~Ran Prieur

Quickly becoming one of my favourite quotes.

--

Jimmy Wales tells "energy workers" that Wikipedia won't publish woo, "the work of lunatic charlatans isn't the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'"

Jimmy Wales' statement is as revolting as the discussion under it. I would suggest that you read it, but only if you have t...more
D.S. West
Pssst--I didn't finish this book. I did get about 200 pages in, and with most science texts I wouldn't have stuck around that far. This was an informative read, and fun, but methinks it a better fit for science-minded folk. I am interested in reading more about Sheldrake's work with morphic resonance however, and I have to give him props for introducing me to Arthur North Whitehead's wonderful theory of prehension. I was just reading about the Tantric conception of time a couple weeks ago (Monst...more
Philippa
Having recently re-read 'The Presence of the Past' I hoped that 'The Science Delusion' would be more than a restatement of it, but instead develop the critique of the limits of materialism and its strictures on experimentation into something more engaging and worthwhile. Instead his bet with Louis Wolpert was rehearsed (yet again) and many of the scientific arguments were repeated. In addition the structure of the book and the chapter ending questions for materialists were patronising. The world...more
Joe Macko
Science Set Free is an extremely refreshing book that reviews of how scientist and non scientists have allowed the field of science to be dominated by unproven theories. This book is not for the egotistical mind that believes they already have the answers but for the opened minded individual that is willing to continue to learn as new ideas and information are brought to light. Just as man once thought the earth was the center of the universe and also believed it to be flat, many areas of scienc...more
Jonathan B
I particularly enjoyed the introduction, the prologue, and chapter 11. In these sections Dr. Sheldrake discusses issues relating to the sociology, psychology, and philosophy of science. I think he's spot on in these sections.

In chapters 1-10 Dr. Sheldrake raises 10 questions where he seeks to challenge the reigning assumption or, perhaps, paradigm in science. So for instance in chapter 3 Dr. Sheldrake asks "Are the laws of nature fixed?" and he attempts to challenge the laws of conservation and...more
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Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books. A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he was a Scholar of Clare College, took a double first class honours degree and was awarded the University Botany Prize. He then studied philosophy and history of science at Harvard University, where he...more
More about Rupert Sheldrake...
Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals Chaos, Creativity, and Cosmic Consciousness The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Unexplained Powers of the Human Mind The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance

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“First, some physicists insist that quantum mechanics cannot be formulated without taking into account the minds of observers. They argue that minds cannot be reduced to physics because physics presupposes the minds of physicists” 1 likes
“It’s almost as if science said, “Give me one free miracle, and from there the entire thing will proceed with a seamless, causal explanation.”’17 The one free miracle was the sudden appearance of all the matter and energy in the universe, with all the laws that govern it.” 1 likes
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