Good googly moogly! Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, TED’s favorite heretic scientist, was on the JRE podcast last Tuesday. He discussed with Joe everything from morphic resonance –which might be responsible for the passing of fears and talents from parents to their children– experiments showing telepathic abilities in humans and animals, to the possibility of perceiving future events a few seconds beforehand.
Of course this being the Joe Rogan Experience, psychedelic substances and the visionary experiences they elicit were one of the main subjects, and Sheldrake was certainly up for the task –nothing less should be expected from someone whose first DMT experience was shared with Terence McKenna 😉
But also Sheldrake shared his life journey from being an atheist & a hardcore materialist in his early years –the sort of profile you were supposed to have if you cared about Science– to realizing there had to be something more than genes in order to explain the complexity exhibited by all life forms; how he later started to practice transcendental meditation & yoga, dabbled with acid for a while, and later traveled to India where he joined an ashram run by a Catholic priest, where he re-embraced the Anglican faith in which he was raised by his family; it was Anglicanism which suited better his ideas of a spiritual life on a collective level, and trying to improve the lives of your community, instead of “seeking out your own personal enlightenment” the way his Hindu colleagues kept advising him. One gets the sense it is out of this yearning that he decided to become a public figure and write books in order to start a much-needed discussion about seeking a way out of the Materialism adopted by Science in the last 2 centuries –even when his books being considered suitable for a bonfire in the eyes of his most strident critics.
One of the highlights in the conversation was when Rupert discussed his experiments involving the sense of being stared at, which was something nobody had bother to look into until he was started to run tests in the eighties. He soon discovered most people register results slightly above chance, but what surprised him was when he tried the same experiment with his young son Merlin, who was then 4 years old: Merlin got an astounding 100% accuracy. At his insistence he switched places with his dad, and when he realized you could actually get it wrong sometimes, that’s when the possibility of failure crept in his awareness; afterwards Merlin would only get a 75% accuracy when tested –which is still pretty ‘magical’ if you ask me!
All in all, a very enjoyable conversation. Rogan has become one of the most influential persons in the Internet –he’s not called ‘the podfather’ by his friends for nothing– and I’m sure this was the 1st time that thousands of listeners got the chance to be introduced to the work of Sheldrake, a scientist who I believe will be remembered as a sort of modern Copernicus by later generations –though probably the skeptic community would rather he became the next Giordano Bruno…