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
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.
I dance around and sing a song and know that I can do no wrong.
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.
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.
This is one of the top 3 books I've read on Audible.
I owuld have listened to the lot in one go if I had time.
This is a well-researched, interesting, mind-bending and illuminating book that turns much of modern science on its head but in a loving and kind way, attempting to rid if of the very things it claims not have, dogmatism, stubbornness, narrow-mindedness and arrogance. The author shares what seems like his life's work and bring into the light a range of topics that appear to be essential reading for anyone with an interest in science and particularly an interest in science vs religion and similar debates. The author is careful not to push is own religious agneda but cites many belief systems and generally tries to demonstrate a more humble dialogue based approach to discovery rather than the dogmatic approach of some science-writers and researchers today. The use of two other voiceovers to read block quotes is a very nice touch and really helps the reading process; great idea.
Probably not. If I run out of other things to listen to I might do in the future.
Exposes some of the serious fallacies with science - mainly human prejudice that hides behind a mask of rationality which upon inspecting cracks and reveals irrationality.
The author reads this book - I always prefer that as you can tell there is a connection with the material being read. A very easy voice to listen to although here he is a little subdued to start with. Either his mood picks up as the book gets going or I got used to his style. Far, far better than some chirpy professional narrator whose intonation betrays a complete lack of connection of understanding of the reading material.
Er...'Freeing the spirit of enquiry'
Well worth a listen but may leave you with more questions than answers.
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.
Brilliantly narrated, very intreguing and highly reccomended for anyone with an interest in the history of science, the origin of all things and the workings of the Universe!
This book was very odd. It seemed to be trying to say that science was not the answer to everything and that we should reconsider our relationship with it, but somehow just seemed confused. Almost the entire way along (as far as I got anyway) I felt that I understood every word, but once those words were joined together in sentences they became strangely disconnected and lost their power to make sense. The author seems to be well qualified and clearly wants to say something important, but I really don't have any idea about what that actually is from this. I had the feeling after listening to it that you get after waking from an unpleasant dream - that something was not quite right somewhere - but now you're awake you can't place what exactly was wrong and that actually it really doesn't matter much.
I didn't listen to all of it - it goes drifting on and on in a vaguely concerning way but didn't seem to be getting to any particular conclusion so I gave up. There are much better books to read (or listen to).
"Rethink Your Reality"
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
"Will open up you mind"
Sure, to learn the details again.
Superb reading by Sheldrake himself. The humility and scientific interest can be heard in his voice.
"A real eye opener"
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.
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