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Summary

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

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fantastic read

Fantastic read, not an anti science book at all as the title 'may' suggest .. opens your mind!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Helped me see how I've been fed a line my whole life

Brilliant piece of work. A must-listen for anyone that wants to understand the roots of scientific dogma that's pumped throughout the media by bodies such as the BBC

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Definitely worth an open-minded listen but DYOR

A soft-spoken polemic against militant materialism. It goes too far the other way imho. At its best when pointing out short-comings in contemporary scientific orthodoxy, a bit 'meh' when hinting at alternative narratives. Some, but by no means all, of the research Sheldrake refers to is on the thin side. So I wouldn't recommend taking any of it to heart without Doing Your On Research first. I also have favoured suspects as to which of the 'heresies' are makeweights to bring them up to a nice round 10. Not perfect, probably a four star book, but it gets an extra star for its irritant qualities. And props to Sheldrake for narrating his own book. A couple of cups of coffee could have perked his delivery up, just a tad.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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excellent book

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Oxlit
  • Oxford, England
  • 16-12-16

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Mind opening

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.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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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.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

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Review from a molecular biologist

What made the experience of listening to The Science Delusion the most enjoyable?

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!

What did you like best about this story?

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.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Not always so

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Excellent...

Really insightful, non-bias and shockingly informative. a worthwhile read for anyone with an open mind..

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • DanielSmith
  • 30-01-13

A real eye opener

What made the experience of listening to The Science Delusion the most enjoyable?

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.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Great summary with some possible ways to take science forward.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

They were all professional, but Rupert is well spoken and very pleasant to listen to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

A couple of eye openers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean
  • 26-11-12

Rethink Your Reality

Where does The Science Delusion rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This audio book was narrated by Rupert Sheldrake, so the emphasis and pose was perfect. The message would have been blurred by anyone else

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Science Delusion?

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

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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

Any additional comments?

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Karthi
  • 11-01-19

A classic

Sheldrake sweeps through all areas of established science, giving a thorough rundown of the dogma that scientists mostly unknowingly labor under. He gives a kind but unforgivingly honest view of the current state of affairs in academia, which is one of strict conformism and is conditionally accepting of new ideas. There is a vast conspiracy of silence with regard to observer-influenced phenomena in scientific studies which belies the aforementioned dogmatic ideological framework of materialism/physicalism. Without true reasoned debate, the sciences will flounder.

There will not be any true scientific advancement without a more holistic and interrelated study of natural phenomena. Maintaining the status quo will only serve to keep the current exploitative and unsustainable systems of labor and economy in force and depletion of natural resources an ever present threat. With the Western sciences placed as the epitome of objective knowledge of our world among all societies, it becomes incumbent upon all of academia and laypeople of all walks of life and all cultures to pursue the advancement of a truly holistic understanding of the world.

Finally, he posits the idea of the morphic fields which seems to be an attempt at explaining the vastly interconnected universe in which we live in. It explains parapsychological phenomena, the apparently mysterious self-organizing capabilities of living beings in the formation of organs, bodies, communities, up to planetary and galactic levels of order, and much more. I think this has connections to the Electric Universe theory that is also a similar attempt at formalizing an understanding of the divine force that permeates all living beings and the world around us.

The process of human evolution will need a concerted effort by all to learn and teach others about the ideas that can bring us to a higher and more unified underatanding of the cosmos and humanity's place within it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-07-13

Will open up you mind

Would you listen to The Science Delusion again? Why?

Sure, to learn the details again.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Superb reading by Sheldrake himself. The humility and scientific interest can be heard in his voice.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes