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U Chicago Darwinist Jerry Coyne goes after animal behaviorist Rupert Sheldrake

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The Science Delusion Were we discussing bacterial described by researchers in terms like “miracle,” and “miraculously” because their genomes somehow reassemble after being cut to bits? Rupert Sheldrake, animal behaviour researcher and former Darwinist, wouldn’t be too surprised:

For him, it was animals, the way they often seem to know things – including things not accessible to the human intellect – that are not fully explained by their conventional senses.

As we see, even bacteria can do things that point to previously unknown high levels of information, which is immaterial by its nature.

At any rate, Darwin’s followers unfriended Sheldrake for heresy.

… Richard Dawkins, guardian of Darwinian correctness, made a point of hounding Sheldrake, and at one point had to be shown out of his lab.

Now Darwin’s kitty, Jerry Coyne, is taking up the cudgel against Sheldrake and in defense of the Wikipedia slime pit with Sheldrake’s name on it here:

Last summer someone decided to fix Sheldrake’s Wikipedia article, which, edited by his supporters, had been promoting Sheldrake’s woo in violation of Wikipedia policy on fringe science and pseudoscience. Perhaps you don’t know about this policy, but you can read about it at the link. It begins like this:

When discussing topics that reliable sources say are pseudoscientific or fringe theories, editors should be careful not to present the pseudoscientific fringe views alongside the scientific or academic consensus as though they are opposing but still equal views. While pseudoscience may in some cases be significant to an article, it should not obfuscate the description or prominence of the mainstream views.

It’s a pretty good policy, and prevents people like Sheldrake and his deluded supporters from editing Wikipedia articles to give unwarranted credibility to their pseudoscience. And that policy allowed the rationalists to come in and clean up Sheldrake’s page, which they did.

Wikipedia? Guess Coyne didn’t get the memo that “Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle- ranking quality scores.

Wikitrolls like his friends help secure that outcome.

Hard to say why anyone takes Wikipedia seriously. Sure, there are some good articles in there, just as there is some good journalism in a failing daily newspaper. But do you have all day to look for it? And how would you know without vetting the story yourself? In which case …

For that matter, why does anyone take a person who takes Wikipedia seriously, seriously?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

6 Replies to “U Chicago Darwinist Jerry Coyne goes after animal behaviorist Rupert Sheldrake

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    I take Wikipedia seriously. I take myself seriously. Does that count?

    Here’s an idea. Start a web site that people can use to submit content to Wikipedia that tracks submitted content and what happens to it.

    I hereby claim all rights to this idea and it implementation as my intellectual property. I have sent $0.02 to Barry as a retainer to represent my interests in any future litigation.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a video of Sheldrake:

    The Mind Is Not The Brain – Scientific Evidence – Rupert Sheldrake – (Referenced Notes) – video
    http://vimeo.com/33479544

    What is interesting in the preceding video is that, at the 25:00 minute mark of the video, Sheldrake speaks of a well known skeptic that he invited to replicate his experiment for dogs. The results of the skeptic revealed the same pattern of ‘extended mind’ that Sheldrake had consistently witnessed for dogs, but the well known skeptic refused to accept the possibility that mind had anything to do with the results and tried to postulate another cause. Sad! ,,, Anyways, all in all I found Sheldrake’s methods to be thoroughly above board and ‘scientific’. In fact, Sheldrake, in the spirit of full disclosure, talks of a internet site that he has set up especially for skeptics (or whomever) so they could perform the experiments for themselves at home:

    Here is the online test site:

    Online Tests
    Excerpt: Rupert Sheldrake invites you to participate in his ongoing research. No previous experience is necessary, and the online tests can be done immediately. Most of these experiments are suitable for use in schools and colleges, and some make an excellent basis for student projects.
    http://www.sheldrake.org/Onlineexp/portal/

    Here is a simple test that would be fairly easy to conduct at home with some friends:

    Telephone telepathy with the Nolan Sisters
    http://www.boreme.com/posting.php?id=22013

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Edward Witten on consciousness
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6b3DjOnv3I

    Quote: “I have a much easier time imagining how we would understand the big bang, even though we can’t do it yet, than I can imagine understanding consciousness”
    – Edward Witten – professor of mathematical physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

  4. 4
    AveryM says:

    Wikipedia’s pseudoscience policy is absurd. Homeopathy is pseudoscience, fine. But Chinese medicine has active ingredients and is obviously more than a placebo — yet editors seriously propose labeling it a “pseudoscience” on all related pages. This is where the systemic bias shines through even on non-religious articles.

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    I think Sheldrake is probably wrong about animals having telepathic abilities. The experiments with dogs and cats knowing when their owners are coming home can be interpreted differently. It is possible that it is not the animals that can sense the intentions of their owners but the owners that have the telepathic ability to project their intentions to their pets. I say this because I don’t believe that animals have spirits and I believe that only spirits have nonlocal capabilities.

    I also partially disagree with the claim that the human mind is not the brain. This supposes that the brain is not needed for consciousness. I think this is nonsense. The brain is an extremely complex and beautifully designed organ and to say that it’s not needed is, well, nonsense. I think the human mind consists of both the brain and the spirit.

  6. 6
    Robert Byers says:

    I use and like wiki and find it mostly okay as far as I can tell. My interests.
    The way to address wiki etc is to demand who is the judge.
    The accused fringe etc demand they make thier investigations using scientific methodology including original insight. tHe real origin for progress in science. backing it up comes later and rightly methodology should be used.
    They are judging the good guys are liars or fools in their claims of doing accurate science.
    If wiki is the judge then thats that.
    However in reality wiki tries to say they are not the judge but official judges somewhere decide these things and they respond.
    Who’s the final judge all must obey?

    Its all accusations between parties and then the gavel comes down.
    just insist on your innocence outside the court. it works sometimes.
    it works find in origin issues as YEC knows.

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