New Scientist: Ashamed of Sheldrake

Some poor form from New Scientist today - in their 'Culture Lab' section they call out Icon, the publisher who has re-issued Rupert Sheldrake's "heretical" The Presence of the Past, for the inclusion of a quote from their original review of the book. In "Did we really say that?", deputy magazine editor Graham Lawton airs his grievances:

It's usually a pleasure to see CultureLab reviews being mined for promotional pull-quotes. But not always. Sometimes it feels like desperate barrel-scraping on behalf of the publisher.

Icon Books recently re-issued a book called The Presence of the Past: Morphic resonance and the habits of nature by Rupert Sheldrake, Book Cover - The Presence of the Pastfirst published in 1988. For those who don't know Sheldrake, he is an independent researcher who believes, among other things, that dogs are telepathic.

The front cover carries a single promotional quote:

"'Engaging, provocative... a tour de force'. New Scientist."

Eh?

Given that we didn't review this "fully revised and updated" edition, we were a little surprised. Where did Icon get this quote from? Did they make it up? Did Sheldrake use morphic resonance to retrieve it from the future?

Er, no. It turns out that New Scientist reviewed the first edition nearly 23 years ago... The reviewer, American historian Theodore Roszak, did indeed say it was "engaging, provocative" and "a tour de force" (though not in that order).

So, the brief answer to Lawton's question "Did we really say that?" is...yes. So what's his problem?

Back then, Roszak gave Sheldrake the benefit of the doubt. Today, attitudes have hardened and Sheldrake is seen as standing firmly on the wilder shores of science.

I think it is fair to say that if we were to review the new edition, Icon wouldn't be mining it for promotional purposes.

Ah...so let me get this straight. Icon quoted exact words from the (mostly positive) review of the book, and put that accurate quote on the cover of a re-issue of that same book. New Scientist, on the other hand, says that they haven't reviewed the re-issue, but have already decided that if they did, they would not give it a good review. Also, apparently they are also saying that their archives are not reliable. Good game New Scientist!

Good to see plenty of backlash in the Culture Lab comments.

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red pill junkie's picture
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if they are backtracking from a review they did 23 years ago, then it wouldn't be unreasonable of me to ask, as a reader, that they do a complete and thorough revision of all the articles and book reviews New Scientist has ever published, so I can safely know which ones are still in tandem with their current views and policies, would it?

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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emlong's picture
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I can't belive how prissy some of these organizations are about Sheldrake. He is doing science. It can be a little shaky and still bve science for heaven's sake.

Inannawhimsey's picture
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Wow. Just like Stalinist Russia -- the electron doesn't exist if it doesn't fit into the Party Doctrine.

Oh, and if you Southern British Colonials (ie Americans) hear a great cry rise up, followed by some sudsy slurping, don't you mind, that is just Canadians being sad over proof that bullying in the NHL is an effective strategy (though tonight's game -- Jun 15 -- was a good one by Boston) and that is probably why women are never going to be in the NHL because trying to stop an effective strategy is like trying to tell someone who is very skilled at making money to stop making so much money.

It is a sad paradox t'me.

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

Georgehants's picture
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I cancelled my subscription to New Scientist some time ago, as their editorial policy has moved more to ridicule anything not conforming to establishment views.
They somehow made a mistake in reporting Rossi's E-Cat breakthrough, hoping it would be debunked, but have since said nothing about the world shattering movement to confirmation.
One must wonder why all "serious" "science" publications are backed in their editing by a fraternity that is in unison, to for some reason, block and ridicule any true scientific exploring and open-minded progress.
One feels that this wide conspiracy is somehow so illogical that it must be being orchestrated for some deep reasons that are presently unknown.

Perhaps this link may contain an answer.
http://pesn.com/2011/06/14/9501845_Bilde...

"If the people don't sort it out nobody will" George 2011.

georgehants

red pill junkie's picture
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No need to invoke conspiracies of global cabals orchestrating a campaign against research into 'paranormal' phenomena IMO.

It's the same as the way politics ends up self-regulating the rise of only the most corrupt individuals; likewise only scientists of a certain mindset --or the ones who keep to themselves their heretic thoughts-- are the ones who get the favor of peer-reviewed publications and international scientific institutions.

You will only find tolerance to Fortean heresy being granted only to scientists whose credentials are already untouchable --e.g. Nobel prize laureates-- That's why people like John Wheeler get to muse about the mystery of consciousness *only* during the final years of his life, and not a decade sooner.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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Redoubt's picture
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"You will only find tolerance to Fortean heresy being granted only to scientists whose credentials are already untouchable --e.g. Nobel prize laureates--"

One of the best descriptions of the situation but... the question remains, why?

Has mainstream science now become the 21st century rendition of the Spanish Inquisition? Are not peer review credentials so much like the approvals of old Torq's preferred Bishops of Grace?

Applying the history of the inquisition as a sort of transparent overlay to current trends in the scientific community, it all becomes very clear (at least to me). But it seems that the clarity is only visible from the outside looking in, lol.

How did science; the competing savior of mankind, get so confoundingly close-minded and myopic?

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

emlong's picture
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Anything leading to further human self empowerment is squashed. The New World Order does not cotton to people with enhanced mental and spiritual powers. It is not that the science community is "in on it" so much as that grant funding mechanism in "in on it" and the orgonizations who own the media are "in on it."
One of the most obvious rapes in recent years happened when Hearst took over Popular Mechanics magazine and turned it into a conduit for promoting the official conspiracy theory of 911. They just barged in there and creamed the place in one or two days. This happens all the time albeit more covertly and slowly.

emlong's picture
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I work with orgonite on a daily basis as part of radionics type research. Whenever "orgone" is mentioned people think of Reich who was tarred and feathered and run out of town so to speak for being a "quack," but there was an army of quacks back then. Reich was singled out for special mistreatment because he was onto something. Fortunately, we have managed to keep the ball in the air despite the book burnings and all the rest of it which was the attempt to erase anything Reich from the face of the earth. The establishment reaction to Reich was pure fear.

Inannawhimsey's picture
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Redoubt,

perhaps it is the playing out of the same thing, over and over again: mistaking the finger for the moon.

See video

---------
All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

Redoubt's picture
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Inannawhimsey wrote:

Redoubt,

perhaps it is the playing out of the same thing, over and over again: mistaking the finger for the moon.

Then we are doomed to repeat that which we do not take as lesson, no?

PS - I loved that clip. I haven't seen that in years... time for a trip to netflix lol.

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Georgehants's picture
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Red Pill Junkie. Quote.

You will only find tolerance to Fortean heresy being granted only to scientists whose credentials are already untouchable --e.g. Nobel prize laureates--

Your observation is quite correct about security of mind, setting some free from establishment domination, but most all children are endowed with a inbuilt fascination and inquisitiveness for the unknown and risk, why is this being destroyed in youth and why are the young not fighting back.
Because this "conspiracy" is in all walks of life, except the few who still are allowed to follow high risk sports and capitalist self-serving endeavors, where presumably they cannot interfere with whoever is keeping the media, all of the sciences, social improvements, i.e. Placebo Effect, Stanilav Grof, cold fusion, etc. etc. under constant control.

People are becoming automatons, reminiscent of 1984 etc. without the violence and open repression one thinks is necessary to be called a dictatorship.

The blind closed mindedness of much of the population is an affront to human dignity.

"If the people don't sort it out nobody will" George 2011

georgehants

Redoubt's picture
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"People are becoming automatons, reminiscent of 1984 etc. without the violence and open repression one thinks is necessary to be called a dictatorship.
The blind closed mindedness of much of the population is an affront to human dignity."

It seems to me that we've been purposely steered in this direction, with both minor and radical course corrections all along the way.

When did it begin? When did we swerve away from embraced tolerance, cultural sophistication and educational excellence?

It's really hard to say... and be 100% certain, of course. But there are those places where we know for certain that our futures were redecided.

One major moment like that was the assassination of JFK. At that point, the future of our society was yanked hard away from where it may have gone and now, without knowing for sure, we can only guess at what may have been.

I do feel compelled to qualify this kind of contemplation as opinion only because there are only our opinions to work with. The evidence, like truth, is out there somewhere but what we do with it is strictly individualized.

Perhaps Eisenhower knew what was coming and tried to warn us... in a round-about way with that oft-quoted 'military-industrial complex' presidential goodbye speech. If so, our first line defender was killed, his brother was killed and all those who tried to pick up that flag have either been killed or run aground.

Just opinion. Who knows.

But we are in this terrible place now... kind of like a 21st century Rome where violence and ignorance are popularized. The tolerant, open mind has no place here.

None.

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Georgehants's picture
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Posted by Georgehants on 16 Jun 2011 at about 20:56.

georgehants

Georgehants's picture
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Came across this at PESWIKI, could help to explain a lot.

Charlotte Iserbyt: The Miseducation of America - Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt served as the head of policy at the U.S. Department of Education during the first administration of Ronald Reagan. While working there she discovered a long term strategic plan by the tax exempt foundations to transform America from a nation of rugged individualists and problem solvers to a country of servile, brainwashed minions who simply regurgitate whatever they're told. (Infowars; June 17, 2011)

Read full article @

http://www.infowars.com/charlotte-iserby...

georgehants

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Dan Booth Cohen on June 15, 2011 4:07 PM

"Sheldrake believes dogs are telepathic? What rubbish! There's absolutely no evidence for such a silly claim. Before Sheldrake makes such an absurd statement, he should conduct carefully controlled experiments, collect a wealth of credible data, present his findings and offer a chance for scoffers to replicate them. Even he were to do so and a well respected skeptic such as Richard Wiseman were to duplicate them, it would still be pseudoscience nonsense. New Scientist is well justified to disclaim its original review. You should even consider reading Sheldrake's research. Then you could really kick him to the curb."

... Yeah.

pacificwhim's picture
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I think you understate, Greg; nearly ALL the comments on this story are anti-NS's "eyes wide shut" stance. I've been a NS subscriber for years because as a ghostwriter of various kinds of books I am constantly finding it useful as a source of facts and research, but this does make me want to cancel. It's a shameful demonstration of the "It's too similar to folk tale, therefore it can't be science" bias that the PZ Myers of the world constantly spew.

I think I'll give NS a chance to walk this one back. Given the 19-1 balance of outraged comments to anti-Sheldrake ones, I suspect they will. If they don't, I'll be canceling.

emlong's picture
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Quote: "Your observation is quite correct about security of mind, setting some free from establishment domination, but most all children are endowed with a inbuilt fascination and inquisitiveness for the unknown and risk, why is this being destroyed in youth and why are the young not fighting back."

One of the most startling things about paranormal research and in particular "ghost busting" which is a hot topic on popular TV these days if how often it is the children and the pets who "see" what the adults cannot see at first. A good question is whether "adult" conditioning turns off that part of the mind or whether there is actually a structural brain difference involved. Of course, conditioning can alter brain structure too. This is one of the most shining examples of how children's brains and perceptual gear function very differently from that of most adults.

jackinthegreen's picture
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The point about children is an interesting one. Certainly the most confounding examples of past life memories are those attributed to children. When asked why, if reincarnation is a reality, we don't all remember past lives, I give the stock reply that perhaps we do, but our understanding is limited, particularly if we are not immersed in a culture that follows such a belief; as we grow older, our memories fade, fact and fiction become blurred...

I do sometimes think that, from a different point of view, we have a tendency to focus on the innocence of children, thus being more inclined to accept what they might recount - ignoring the fact that they also have very active and sometimes sophisticated imaginations. just how confusing this can all get is ably illustrated by the 'Enfield poltergeist'.

As for Sheldrake and NS, sadly the closed mindedness comes as no surprise - but as others have said, I too was heartened by the responses in the comments.