Re: MR Evidence

From: Dace (
Date: Thu Aug 23 2001 - 18:42:17 BST

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    Subject: Re: MR Evidence
    Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2001 10:42:17 -0700
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    Hi Vincent,

    > Anecdote is insufficient as a form of evidence. I'm aware Sheldrake likes
    > to use this as a form of evidence and then attack people who critique his
    > work for only using experimental tests that suit their rejection of his
    > ideas, without ever seeing the greenhouse he's throwing stones in...

    Sheldrake does not rely on anecdotal evidence, and he doesn't attack people.

    But he's not afraid to point out that the anecdotal stuff does
    overwhelmingly support him. When he conducted a controlled experiment
    demonstrating that crossword puzzles are easier to solve after large numbers
    of people have already solved them, he received loads of mail from people
    attesting to the fact that it's long been common knowledge among puzzle
    enthusiasts that the puzzles are harder when you try to solve them as soon
    as they've been published. Wait till the evening or the next day, and it's
    much easier. No one ever had an explanation for this. It remained a total
    mystery until Sheldrake came along, proved the effect experimentally, and
    then explained it according to morphic resonance.

    > Thousands of people say they've seen UFOs too, does that make them all
    > right?

    If morphic resonance is real, then once a certain explanation for an
    unexplained event is taken up by enough people, others are likely to take up
    that explanation as well. For centuries, when people saw mysterious lights
    in the sky, they chalked it up to supernatural influences. But with the
    rise of modern, techno-oriented civilization, a new explanation, based on
    space ships, began to appear. Once this new explanation picked up enough
    momentum, then people became more likely to tune into it than the
    traditional explanation. This is similar to Waddington's notion that
    evolution works according to the replacement of one developmental pathway
    with another. Due to external influences, the ball rolling down the
    hillside is pushed over a wall into a different path. Pretty soon, the wall
    has been smoothed over at that spot, and the new "chreode" becomes the
    dominant pathway.

    > Besides which since MR denies, like any good faith,
    > that it can be detected directly, it is unfalsifiable, and therefore
    > unscientific.

    Virtually nothing in physics these days can be detected directly. Even
    magnetic fields can't be detected without throwing metal filings into them
    and watching them line up according to the lines of force produced by the
    field. All you can directly observe is the metal filings, not the field
    itself. Morphic resonance can be falsified by demonstrating the absence of
    cumulative benefits from previous generations of organisms engaged in a
    specific task.

    > In domesticated animals, that their owners perceive increased capabilities
    > of their animals is undoubtedly a product of a number of things, not least
    > selective recall, and unconscious bias towards personal possessions (how
    > many new parents think their child is developing much faster than they
    > should, is much more clever than average etc. etc.?), and so on.

    It's for these reasons that Sheldrake doesn't offer this sort of testimony
    as conclusive evidence for MR. It should be noted, however, that the
    trainers and ranchers who wrote to him usually stated that they just didn't
    see how any factors outside the animals themselves could explain their
    amazing improvements.

    > What's Sheldrake's, or an MR enthusiast's view on Horse Whispering? For
    > generations people have been 'breaking' horses, and it doesn't appear to
    > have ever got any easier, with horses somehow knowing with successive
    > generations to behave. Horse Whispering, OTOH, involves utilising body
    > language that horses respond to, that doesn't trigger their strongly
    > in-built flight responses, and has become more popular in recent years.
    > These tactics work on horses bred from generations of domesticated horses
    > (and didn't the guy who started it succeed with a mustang? I'd like to
    > him try a Zebra...), and yet appealing to their natural movement patterns
    > more effective than breaking them.

    Who says the horses we have now aren't easier to domesticate than the first
    ones? As you imply, they're certainly easier than zebras, who've never been
    domesticated. But there's a limit to how easy it can be to domesticate
    horses (at least through traditional methods) and that limit was presumably
    reached a couple thousand years ago.


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