Politics Magazine

Sacred Gaze

Posted on the 13 June 2013 by Steveawiggins @stawiggins

SenseofBeingStaredAt Rupert Sheldrake raises the ire of some of his fellow scientists. Science has increasingly allied itself with a strict kind of materialism, although, as Sheldrake repeatedly points out, evidence for such absolute materialism is lacking. This is not to challenge science, but simply to note that we may not yet have all of the data. The Sense of Being Stared At considers possible scientific explanations for unconventional situations we all experience from time to time. Who hasn’t felt eyes on them and turned around to find somebody looking? A number of other “impossible” scenarios also find their way into this intriguing book. Sheldrake suggests that such phenomena can start to be explained scientifically if we allow that the mind is not the same thing as the brain. Sure beats a Christmas party with B. F. Skinner, where every present is inevitable.

Materialism feels threatened when spooky action at a distance occurs. As Sheldrake points out, however, we are willing enough to accept it if an invisible “field,” one that we can’t even feel, is posited. Take magnetism, for example. Few people doubt that magnetism is a real force. We’ve never actually seen it, but its effects are clearly visible. Taking this as a starting point, Sheldrake suggests that various psi phenomena involve such fields. The scientific studies that have been undertaken on many of these “spooky” scenarios show statistically that chance may be safely ruled out. And, if the experience of many ordinary people counts for anything, even our pets and other animals may possess minds.

Ironically, the mind (with its taint of being associated with religious concepts such as the soul) is one of the most contentious phenomena in science. Many materialists deny its existence, suggesting it is merely some epiphenomenon of our brains’ electro-chemical processes. Yet these scientists still, one presumes, insist on being treated with respect and being paid for their work, although these mere trifles are just odds and sods clinging to the edges of a materialistic abyss. To me, work like that of Rupert Sheldrake is crucial for an honest assessment of the evidence. Maybe not everyone accepts that dogs know when their “owners” are coming home, and maybe Sheldrake’s morphic fields have yet to be confirmed, be it is clear, when all the evidence is considered, these phenomena do actually happen on occasion. Instead of simply dismissing something because it shouldn’t be, or can’t be, according to materialism, why do we find accepting the evidence so frightening? Is it perhaps the fear of being watched?

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