The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk

At TEDxWhitechapel on January 13, 2013, Rupert Sheldrake gave a provocative talk in which he suggests that modern science is based on ten dogmas, and makes the case that none of them hold up to scrutiny. According to him, these dogmas — including, for example, that nature is mechanical and purposeless, that the laws and constants of nature are fixed, and that psychic phenomena like telepathy are impossible — have held back the pursuit of knowledge.

TED’s scientific advisors have questioned whether his list is a fair description of scientific assumptions — indeed, several of the dogmas are actually active areas of science inquiry (including whether physical ‘constants’ are really unchanging) — and believe there is little evidence for some of Sheldrake’s more radical claims, such as his theory of morphic resonance, and claim that the speed of light has been changing. They recommended that the talk be should not be distributed without being framed with caution. Accordingly, we have reposted his talk here, with the above cautionary introduction. We invite scientists, skeptics, knowledge-seekers and supporters — and Sheldrake himself, if he’s willing — to view and discuss the talk.

Is this an idea worth spreading, or misinformation? Does Sheldrake accurately describe scientists’ beliefs and are his theories credible? What’s the evidence for either position?

There’s only one rule for the conversation. Comments need to be phrased in respectful terms. Those that are intemperate or unnecessarily insulting will be removed.

UPDATE: View previous conversation here.