Re: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat Aug 25 2001 - 01:55:55 BST

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog
    Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 20:55:55 -0400
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    >From: "Dace" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Shaggy Dog vs. Psychic Dog
    >Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 12:35:17 -0700
    >From: "Vincent Campbell"
    > > <Morphic fields can be demonstrated according to non-contact
    > > influence from
    > > > one organism to another. Sheldrake produced a test demonstrating this
    > > > effect between pets and their owners. A skeptic by the name of
    > > > tried to refute Sheldrake by replicating the experiment and, to his
    > > > astonishment, generated exactly the same data. No one has
    > > > refuted Sheldrake's findings in this test.>
    > > >
    > > This isn't true. Sheldrake disputes Wiseman and colleagues
    > > refutation of his experiment which they published in a pyschology
    >There was no refutation. Wiseman merely repeated the experiment, got
    >exactly the same results Sheldrake had gotten, and then tried to spin it as
    >a refutation. According to Wiseman's own experiment, the dog, Jaytee, was
    >at the window 78% of the time that its master was on her way home and only
    >4% of the remaining time.
    >As Sheldrake says, "He makes no mention of the fact that Jaytee waits by
    >window far more when Pam is on her way home, nor does he refer to my own
    >experiments. He gives the impression that my evidence is based on one
    >experiment filmed by a TV company, rather than on more than two hundred
    >experiments, and he implies that he has done the only rigorous scientific
    >tests of this dog's abilities. I confess that I am amazed by his
    >in this deception."
    >Wiseman makes an equally absurd claim regarding Sheldrake's staring
    >experiment, which involves a sequence of trials in which cometimes the
    >individual is being stared at from behind while other times the subject is
    >not being stared at. Wiseman claims that subjects learn to detect the
    >pattern in the allegedly random sequence. Wiseman claims Sheldrake's
    >sequence is not actually random, though it was arrived at by flipping a
    >coin, and that to make it truly random you need to play with the numbers.
    >He says Sheldrake is sending out this allegedly random sequence to school
    >children around the world who then conduct their own staring experiments.
    >In fact, he recommends that people create their own random sequence by
    >flipping a coin, just like he did when setting up his experiment.
    > > But even if such studies suggested psychic dogs and people with
    > > psychic eyes in the back of their heads, to leap from this to saying the
    > > cause of this is MR through MF, is a massive and invalid leap
    >Sheldrake starts with the recognition that vision cannot be a kind of TV
    >screen in the back of the head, for this would imply the Cartesian error
    >that we exist somewhere deep inside our brains. He argues argues that we
    >actually see what's around us and not merely an image of it reconstructed
    >our brains. Rather than passively taking in light, we cast a field of
    >vision over everything we see. While I find this explanation problematic
    >say the least, he does appear to have demonstrated that people can sense
    >when others are watching them.
    >As to the "psychic pets," Sheldrake explains this according to morphic
    >fields. Like termites in a nest or birds in a flock, the cells of our
    >bodies are regulated holistically by a field. When a woman becomes
    >pregnant, her fetus is simply another aspect of her body regulated by her
    >field. Rather than breaking, this field is merely extended when she gives
    >birth. The mother and child are always connected through this shared
    >But it doesn't have to involve childbirth. A collective field can appear
    >among any two people or any group, no matter how large. It can also occur
    >across species. Where there's "love"
    >(or hate) there's a field embracing the individuals involved. Not being
    >distracted by reflexive consciousness, dogs are much more aware of these
    >fields. This is how they can sense when their beloved master is coming
    I think you are taking the MF concept WAY too far. I can stomach a limb
    field or an eye field as in developing embryos, but not the sort alluded to
    > > <Nobody has isolated any mechanisms by which genetic information is
    > > > translated into organic structure.>
    > > >
    > > See, one of the problems here Ted is you'r constant use of absolutes
    > > that are wrong. Here's a short article from New Scientist (more detail
    > > 'Science', vol 293, p1068):
    > >
    > > 'Proteins called histones play such an important role in regulating
    > > genes that we should think of them as a "histone code". complementary to
    > > genetic code, says biochemist David Allis of the University of Virginia.
    > > "For some time now, we have known there is more to our genetic
    > > blueprint than DNA itself", says Allis. individual genes can be turned
    > > by adding methyl groups to DNA, a process called imprinting. what's
    > > imprinted DNA can be passed from one generation to another, effectively
    > > passing down information that isn't directly encoded in our genome.
    >This is exactly what researchers were saying in the 80s, and Sheldrake
    >with this in The Presence of the Past. Yes, histones are among the "master
    >proteins" that interact with genes, but this merely *describes* rather than
    >explains what goes on in the cell. When proteins tell genes what to do,
    >who's telling the proteins what to do? Why, of course, the genes are
    >telling them. And these genes are instructed by still other proteins, and
    >on and on it goes like this, round and round.
    There is a complex interplay of genes and their products. Cell surface
    molecules are important too as well as components outside and within a cell.
    Interestingly the cells of a multicellular organism contain identical DNA
    (excepting situations such as found within mature lymphocytes with
    rearranged immunoglobulin genes), but they differ in their expression of
    >For every answer we arrive
    >at, another question automatically pops up. >
    I'd think it's more like for every answer more than one question is
    generated as a subsequent result. That's the way it goes.
    >It's an endlessly recursive
    >loop. There's no possibility that chemistry can ever explain the basis of
    >form in the body. It's a joke with no punch line, a shaggy dog story.
    Biochemistry serves as an important tool to increasing knowledge of how
    biological systems work. What role would studies of supposedly psychic pets
    > > DNA molecules wrap themselves around histones, and it has recently
    > > emerged that a variety of chemical changes to these proteins, such as
    > > addition of acetyl groups, can regulate gene expression. Now an
    > > international team including Allis has found that adding methyl groups
    > > specific parts of a histone called H3 has a dramatic effect. It doesn't
    > > just affect single genes, but can turn large stretches of our genome on
    > > off, says Allis.
    > >
    > > In an accompanying paper, Allis and Thomas Jenuwein of the Vienna
    > > Biocenter in Austria go beyond these findings, arguing that the "histone
    > > code" considerably extends the information encoded in the genome, and
    > > a vital role in determining the fate of cells.
    > >
    > > "We've now got our whole genome sequenced- and that's going to
    > > lead to a lot of important studies," says Allis. But he points out that
    > > studying the genome alone will never reveal what leads to gene
    > > lack of expression.
    > >
    > > Unravelling histone switches will be important for future stem
    > > cell work, says Allis. "The goal of being able to make tissues we need
    > > isn't going to be much more than fantasy until we understand the
    > > consequences of the histone code over time".
    > >
    > > Emma Young, New Scientist, 18/08/01, p 16'
    > >
    > > In the same issue, it was also reported that comparing genes in
    > > fungi, land plants and animals, they have worked out that fungi reached
    > > first as much as 1.3 billion years ago.
    > >
    > > Organisms have had an inordinately long time (in human terms) to
    > > produce an incredibly complex systems, that we've been spending, what...
    > > years tops researching. Of course there are gaps in our knowledge, but
    > > are getting closer and closer to how it all works through exploration
    > > oriented around the genes.
    >And the Holy Grail is always just around the corner.
    Will the divining rod of MR theory stand a better chance than the epigenetic
    research discussed above, and casually dismissed by you, in leading
    researchers to this "grail"?

    Gilbert, Opitz, and Raff (1996) mention a likening of "the homeotic gene
    complex" and "the Rosetta stone". Would ideas like MR have led researchers
    toward homeotic genes? Of these gene complexes Gilbert, Opitz, and Raff say:
    "Their homologies enable us to translate our knowledge of *Drosophila*
    development into the unknown realm of vertebrate embryogenesis." Alas
    archetypes, sans the collective unconscious and sans morphic resonance. Some
    of us respect Goethe et al (the morphological idealists) without needing to
    get spooky about it.

    Gilbert SF, Opitz JM, and Raff RA. 1996. Resynthesizing evolutionary and
    developmental biology. Developmental Biology (173): 357-372

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