Rupert Sheldrake

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"Threat to scientific orthodoxy"
Person.png Rupert Sheldrake   Sourcewatch Twitter Website WikiquoteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Biologist, Science/Dissident)
Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
Interests • The Nature of Science
• Morphic Resonance
SubpageRupert Sheldrake/TEDx Whitechapel 2015
A Ph.D Biologist

Rupert Sheldrake "is a biologist and author of more than 75 scientific papers and ten books.

Scientific credentials


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 at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow, before returning to Cambridge, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, where he carried out research on the development of plants and the ageing of cells. At Clare College he was also Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology.

Early Work

From 1968 to 1969, based in the Botany Department of the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, he studied rain forest plants. From 1974 to 1985 he worked at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad, India, where he was Principal Plant Physiologist. While in India, he also lived for a year and a half at the ashram of Fr Bede Griffiths in Tamil Nadu, where he wrote his first book, A New Science of Life.

He is a Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project [1]. He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, near San Francisco, and an Academic Director and Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut. He lives in London with his wife Jill Purce [2] and two sons.

Public profile

He has appeared in many TV programs in Britain and overseas, and was one of the participants (along with Stephen Jay Gould, Daniel Dennett, Oliver Sacks, Freeman Dyson and Stephen Toulmin) in a TV series called A Glorious Accident, shown on PBS channels throughout the US. He has often taken part in BBC and other radio programmes. He has written for newspapers such as the Guardian, where he had a regular monthly column, The Times, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Times, Times Educational Supplement, Times Higher Education Supplement and Times Literary Supplement, and has contributed to a variety of magazines, including New Scientist, Resurgence, the Ecologist and the Spectator." [3]

Status as a 'scientific heretic'

His status as a heretic of scientific orthodoxy was explored in a balanced and insightful 2012 article by Tim Adams. Referring to one of the principle events that rendered Sheldrake untouchable by all right-thinking scientists, he writes:

Sheldrake's untouchable status was conferred one morning in 1981 when, a couple of months after the publication of his first book, A New Science of Life, he woke up to read an editorial in the journal Nature, which announced to all right-thinking men and women that his was a "book for burning" and that Sheldrake was to be "condemned in exactly the language that the pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy". [4]

Some 33 years later, his status as a heretic remains intact, as amply confirmed by the intolerant shennanigans surrounding his Wikipedia page since his TEDx talk in March 2013 [5] [6]. There is however, a growing dissatisfaction among scientists with the current orthodox materialist paradigm. Its sway becomes ever more intolerant of dissent and simply refuses to address issues that cry out for disciplined scientific inquiry. This dissatisfaction, and the 'hedging of bets' that it often involves, is well illustrated by John Horgan:

I remain a psi doubter; my doubt was reinforced by psychologist Susan Blackmore, a psi believer-turned-skeptic whom I interviewed for my 2003 book Rational Mysticism. But now and then I still doubt my doubt. In a post here two years ago, I point out that many brilliant scientists—from William James and Alan Turing to Freeman Dyson—have been open-minded about psi.

I conclude, "I’m a psi skeptic, because I think if psi was real, someone would surely have provided irrefutable proof of it by now. But how I wish that someone would find such proof!... The discovery of telepathy or telekinesis would blow centuries of accumulated scientific dogma sky high. What could be more thrilling!" [7]

The problem with Horgan's reason for remaiing a skeptic is of course that, since any such research is demonised as heretical by the Scientific Establishment, it is more than a scientist's career is worth to become associated with it; so that any such proof remains illusory.

The TEDx affair

The banned TEDx presentation

On 12 January 2013, Rupert Sheldrake gave a presentation to a TEDx event in London England. [8] The event was themed: Visions for Transition: challenging existing paradigms and redefining values [for a more beautiful world]. Sheldrake's presentation was entitled The Science Delusion and, in substance, was an introduction to his latest book of the same name. [9] In March 2013 a concerted campaign was mounted by an orthodox group calling itself Guerrilla Skeptics (and that without a hint of consious irony) [10] to get TED to denounce Sheldrake's presentation as unscientific and/or pseudo-science. Soon afterwards their attention turned to Sheldrakes Wikipedia page which has become a text-book study of how orthodoxy (or the Official Narrative) always prevails on Wikipedia.

The debate on this presentation remains hosted on the TED website. [11]. It is now closed but whilst open, attracted more comment than for any other TED talk or topic - and by a wide margin. [12] Similarly his Wikipedia talk page has balooned to some 20 archived pages since June 2013 [13], making it among the top few percent of talked about pages in the entire encycopedia.

The entire conroversy is well summed up by Alex Tsakiris' opening question to Sheldrake in Skeptico interview:

Alex Tsakiris: The irony of this is, if not hilarious, certainly inescapable. A reputable Cambridge biologist publishes a book claiming science is dogmatic. He’s then censored by an anonymous scientific board. You can’t script that any better. What does this say about how science can be dogmatic without even realizing it’s dogmatic? [14]


Books by Rupert Sheldrake

  • A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation (1981)
  • The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature (1988)
  • The Rebirth of Nature: The Greening of Science and God (1992)
  • Seven Experiments that Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science (1994) (Winner of the Book of the Year Award from the British Institute for Social Inventions)
  • Dogs that Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999) (Winner of the Book of the Year Award from the British Scientific and Medical Network)
  • The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (2003)

With Ralph Abraham and Terence McKenna

  • Trialogues at the Edge of the West (1992), republished as Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness (2001)
  • The Evolutionary Mind (1998)

With Matthew Fox

  • Natural Grace: Dialogues on Science and Spirituality (1996)
  • The Physics of Angels: Exploring the Realm Where Science and Spirit Meet (1996)


A Document by Rupert Sheldrake

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Wikipedia Under Threatarticle2015Wikipedia/ProblemsThoughts on Wikipedia succeptibity to systematic bias in matters deemed threatening to hallowed orthodoxy


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Wikipedians in Disrepute - “Guy (JzG)”article2015The editorsSystematic enforcement of the materialistic scientific paradigm against orthodox dissenters on Wikipedia
Document:Wikipedians in disrepute - "Vzaak/Manul"article2015The editorsSystematic enforcement of the materialistic scientific paradigm against orthodox dissenters on Wikipedia


A document sourced from Rupert Sheldrake

TitleTypeSubject(s)Publication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Wikipedia Under ThreatarticleWikipedia/Problems2015Rupert SheldrakeThoughts on Wikipedia succeptibity to systematic bias in matters deemed threatening to hallowed orthodoxy
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  1. Perrot Warwick Fund - Rupert Sheldrake web site August 2015
  2. The Healing Voice - Jill Purce's web site
  3. About, Rupert Sheldrake, accessed January 9, 2009.
  4. The 'heretic' at odds with scientific dogma - Tim Adams, Guardian 5 February 2012
  5. Rupert Sheldrake's TEDx talk: Detailing the issues - TED website August 2015
  6. Rupert, Wikipedia and Guerrilla Skeptics - Rupert Sheldrake web site
  7. Scientific Heretic Rupert Sheldrake on Morphic Fields, Psychic Dogs and Other Mysteries - John Horgan - Scientific American 14 July 2014
  8. TEDx Whitechapel - Theme: Visions for transition] TED 12 January 2013
  9. The Science Delusion - ISBN 144472794X
  10. Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia
  11. The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk - Ted website August 2015
  12. TED’s Spectacular Fail: Ideas Worth Suppressing - Sebastian Penraeth blog
  13. Rupert Sheldrake talk page - Wikipedia August 2015
  14. Interview with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake about censorship of his Science Set Free lecture. - Skeptico web site
  15. Trustees, California Institute of Integral Studies, accessed October 30, 2011.
  16. Advisory Board=, Rhine Center, accessed November 4, 2011.
  17. Scientific and Medical Network Member, organizational web page, accessed February 3, 2012.

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