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Thread: Morphic resonance.

  1. #31
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    Thankyou to all for contributions. I am skeptical about morphic resonance but I can see there are valid questions. Sheldrake is much too wide in his claims when he need to nail down the basics from his first observations and research into shapes. Those observations still raise questions. Do we accept a learning curve explanation for all the original claims? Mice in mazes, crystal formation, the mechanism for shape of proteins in plants and animals.? Philosophically any morphic field has no value system just as a magnet field has no values in human terms. So any such field could be seen in human negative terms just as easily as improvements. Therefore examples may well cancel out in our human evaluations.

    There are unexplained phenomena and it is worth the mental effort to recognise them as interesting in the search for understanding.

    Sheldarake may deserve the scientific cold shoulder but those questions still need to be addressed and not swept under a carpet of comfortable dogma. Hypotheses deserve testing.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
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  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Hypotheses deserve testing.
    I disagree. Not all hypotheses are created equal.
    Hypotheses inconsistent with current evidence do not deserve testing, because they've already failed.
    Hypotheses which invoke entirely new entities need to be examined in relation to hypotheses that do not invoke new entities, and scarce resources assigned accordingly.

    Sheldrake runs foul of both these limitations.

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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    There are simple but important direct claims like crystal formation, melting point and the original leaf shape issues that can be discussed as testable. We now have a new science of epigenetic change and inheritance. This must offer testable hypotheses. DNA mutation should have correlations if his basic hypothesis has any merit.
    Are they testable hypotheses? I’m not convinced there are relevant experiments where the results could be unambiguously shown to support his claims, as opposed to being explainable by known mechanisms. That seems to be what comes up already in experiments Sheldrake is involved with.

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  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    There are unexplained phenomena and it is worth the mental effort to recognise them as interesting in the search for understanding.

    Sheldarake may deserve the scientific cold shoulder but those questions still need to be addressed and not swept under a carpet of comfortable dogma. Hypotheses deserve testing.
    There are actually unexplained phenomena in the world. A reason that Sheldarake is ignored is that he has none! Ideas that he does not publish in the the scientific literature are not phenomena needing explaining by science. His "phenomena" are explained as incompetent experiments and confirmation bias.
    There is no "dogma" being used. It is commonsense. If someone is gong to research a question, they do not want to waste their time looking at untestable, vague or fanciful questions. For example, Sheldarake thinks that matter has "consciousness". How do we get empirical evidence that a star or brick has his "consciousness"? Do we test for self-awareness using the mirror test

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
    There is no "dogma" being used. It is commonsense. If someone is gong to research a question, they do not want to waste their time looking at untestable, vague or fanciful questions. For example, Sheldarake thinks that matter has "consciousness". How do we get empirical evidence that a star or brick has his "consciousness"? Do we test for self-awareness using the mirror test
    Yes, from that video, Sheldrake gives the impression he doesn’t understand the scope and limits of science. And note, it was because of watching the material of that video that the TEDx science advisory panel advised against it (though since it was already out, they decided not to retract it).

    Calling things “dogma” when generally they are reasonable conclusions based on existing evidence, and as all things in science subject to revision if new evidence argues otherwise, is extremely unfair at best, if not intentionally misleading.

    Also, if you’re going to try to scientifically determine if something is conscious, then you need a widely accepted and reasonable objective test. I can’t imagine having much luck getting agreement on a universal consciousness test (from things I’ve heard Sheldrake say, railing against conventional research, I suspect I wouldn’t agree with any definition he suggested). And how would you objectively test if a planet is conscious? We can consider animals, especially the ones most similar to us, at least to some extent because of their similarities to us. It isn’t clear to me how discussing consciousness in planets, stars and galaxies is even within the scope of science.

    And he claims it is science dogma to believe nature has no purpose. Sorry, but I don’t understand how that is even within the scope of science. How do you objectively test purpose? What is being defined as “nature”? Frankly, I would need to hear more to even feel I had an idea of what he means by “nature’s purpose.”

    I don’t see how these things are part of science, let alone science dogma. By the way, he also seems to suggest science is some monolithic belief system, which also is unreasonable.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Do you think Sheldrake faced opposition that was scientific for an hypothesis that can be tested? Is it true that journals and labs just did not want to do those tests because they were against the mainstream? Is science free of dogma in the process of grants, peer review and publication. Even if wholly wromg, a testable hypothesis deserves the resources to test it. His first book was this denounced by, for example , Dawkins, it is one reason I paid attention at the time and bought the book.
    Well my point was that the hypothesis is in fact not unambiguously testable because the results would not be repeatable for any tester. They would vary by the attitude of whoever was doing each test.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Thankyou to all for contributions. I am skeptical about morphic resonance but I can see there are valid questions.
    I'm unclear about what ATM position you are arguing. From what you've posted, it's not clear (to me, at least) what it is. On the one hand you say you are skeptical of morphic resonance, but you also say that there are valid questions. Could you state your ATM proposition a bit more explicitly?

  8. #38
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    I have to work a couple of days with travel. Briefly i thought it was worth an airing. I mean to check on the starting point , the shape of leaves, and all life forms, current explanation. He found there was none 40 years ago.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I have to work a couple of days with travel. Briefly i thought it was worth an airing. I mean to check on the starting point , the shape of leaves, and all life forms, current explanation. He found there was none 40 years ago.
    You'll find there's now a huge literature on the shape of leaves, and on morphogenesis generally. I recall being taught about auxins back in the 1970s, and getting excited about the way chemical gradients might help establish the shape of developing organisms.

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  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I have to work a couple of days with travel. Briefly i thought it was worth an airing.
    Ah. An airing. I was expecting something rather different.

  11. #41
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    Yes there has been, as you would expect, a lot of filling in of details of how DNA codes for proteins, enzymes and hormones sometimes via cells. Animals have stem cells, plants meristem cells. These undifferentiated cells divide then begin to specialise, becoming the many cell types needed and this is guided by growth promoters and inhibitors. So the mainstream view, which Sheldrake continues to deny, is that the DNA is enough to produce self organising shapes. You can see how an information field came to his mind, he was working on differentiation, and that idea has to grow big to include chemicals of all sorts. I think my conclusion is that he should have stuck to his speciality and joined the pretty amazing work on epigenetics and DNA decoding of the last half century.

    We sre left with behavioural stuff which has been shown to be so noisy with experimenter effects that any trend is lost in the small size of typical experiments.

    Just a few nagging questions about melting points remain.

    I will leave it there unless anyone has any questions.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Well my point was that the hypothesis is in fact not unambiguously testable because the results would not be repeatable for any tester. They would vary by the attitude of whoever was doing each test.
    Some predictions are more testable than others. Melting points are usually accurate during the last century, I would think. Mice in mazes should be easy to test but it seems to be bedevilled by randomness. One point to come from the story is that once shunned he was not able to get independent tests nor publication. At least very few and not by mainstream journals and not by grant giving bodies.
    The fact that he has published little is thus self fulfilling, he had to go the book route.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geo Kaplan View Post
    Ah. An airing. I was expecting something rather different.
    Sorry to disappoint, the mention of a fifth force brought up an old memory and some may not have heard of it.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post

    If the vastly improved knowledge of DNA today explains how a leaf forms, then that is the way to counter what is rather quickly called pseudoscience..
    Sorry, I'm a little bit late here, but the issue is that there are things we do understand and things we don't understand about how leaves (and other things) form, and that is why people are still publishing scientific papers in journals like Development. We didn't used to know how zebras get stripes but (at least as a hypothesis) Turing showed that it could be accomplished by the release of two different chemicals that would form a sort of wave. And so that contributed to our understanding. And people are working to develop new ways to explain how things develop all the time (I sometimes write press releases for papers like that). So if you just go back and say, "well there is a will behind it, and it happens because there is a will directing it that way," then you can just explain everything that way and all the research becomes sort of immaterial. In the same way that if you accept creation in the Christian style it becomes irrelevant to study things like heredity and epigenetics because it doesn't matter, since the creator made everything the way it is an anything that needs to be explained can be explained by "that's the way the creator intended it."
    As above, so below

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Sorry, I'm a little bit late here, but the issue is that there are things we do understand and things we don't understand about how leaves (and other things) form, and that is why people are still publishing scientific papers in journals like Development. We didn't used to know how zebras get stripes but (at least as a hypothesis) Turing showed that it could be accomplished by the release of two different chemicals that would form a sort of wave. And so that contributed to our understanding. And people are working to develop new ways to explain how things develop all the time (I sometimes write press releases for papers like that). So if you just go back and say, "well there is a will behind it, and it happens because there is a will directing it that way," then you can just explain everything that way and all the research becomes sort of immaterial. In the same way that if you accept creation in the Christian style it becomes irrelevant to study things like heredity and epigenetics because it doesn't matter, since the creator made everything the way it is an anything that needs to be explained can be explained by "that's the way the creator intended it."
    This is not about any creation myth. It is mechanistic. Stem cells differentiate to become specialised and form typical shapes. Sheldrake felt and feels that the chemical mechanisms are not enough but mainstream biology has filled in a lot of the details of how characteristic shapes form. Sheldrake’s argument inevitably takes you to the shape of crystals and molecules, the folding of proteins, and by extension the formation of stars. It is a huge scale leap but if there is a shape field fed by numbers or precedents, it becomes a very big idea. Gravity is a big idea too! Since there has been billions of years of evolution, most chemicals would have stable forms and associated constants. Only new shapes would offer any testability. Like evolution, we cannot repeat the experiment. We just observe the snowflakes, zebra stripes and fingerprints that represent both generic shapes and their intricate variations.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  16. #46
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    It seems to me that Sheldrake does not understand or does not wish to acknowledge, the concept of emergent properties. His notion of how complexity works seems to be driven by motivated reasoning.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    It seems to me that Sheldrake does not understand or does not wish to acknowledge, the concept of emergent properties. His notion of how complexity works seems to be driven by motivated reasoning.
    It is unlikely that he does not understand emergent properties. His issue was that simple differentiation of cell types was not enough to produce shape. At that time I was learning about bone growth in healing fractures. The opposing cells, osteoclasts and osteoblasts, lay ddown and remove hard crystals. How do they know what shape? It turns out to be electrostatic fields in that case from impacts. I remeber that a broken tibia, if the small fibula bone is missing, will grow to a perfect round tube under this impact process, where normally it has a rounded triangle cross section.

    So for mending bones the morphic field is rather beautifully optimised by electric fields at impacts. Without impacts in that special case the hard crystals are dissolved away leaving flexible collagen, as happens in old immobilised people. But you could then ask “what guides the collagen to form a bone shape without stresses?” To say it is emergent does not answer that unless you have a mechanism. Like asking why glass is transparent to light. It is not not satisfactory to just say it is an emergent property of glass, although it surely is.

    The how question is scientifically valid. IMO.

    For example watching a snowflake form, the hexagonal basis is explained by the water molecule shape. But the symmetry requires a field, otherwise snow would be a polymer chain. That field is again, I think, electrostatic from the shape of the charge distribution of the water molecule. I think you can see that a complex shape requiring many different cell types to form and act on each other does suggest a more complex fiield. Is it all basically electron distribution? That was where Sheldrake started, I think, from his own explanation.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

  18. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    I have to work a couple of days with travel. Briefly i thought it was worth an airing. I mean to check on the starting point , the shape of leaves, and all life forms, current explanation. He found there was none 40 years ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Geo Kaplan View Post
    Ah. An airing. I was expecting something rather different.
    Sorry to disappoint, the mention of a fifth force brought up an old memory and some may not have heard of it.
    An "airing" is not what the ATM forum is for. The OP is expected to support, defend, and anwer questions about the claims. Since that's not happening here, this thread is closed.
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