sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2016


RUPERT SHELDRAKE AND HIS MORPHIC FIELD THEORY by Fredric M. Menger, Emory University, Atlanta, GA USA
A heretic is defined as a person holding an opinion that conflicts with what is generally accepted. Rupert Sheldrake (a theoretical biologist born in England in 1942) has been called a heretic in response to his morphic resonance theory of Nature. Actually, he has been called worse…. a pseudo-scientist, a maverick, a magical thinker, and an irredeemable character. Why should I, given this hostility to Sheldrake’s ideas, write an essay on the subject? Because the morphic field theory is a creative concept that, valid or not, is fascinating to contemplate.

Rupert Sheldrake

A “morphic field,” that surrounds all animals, can cause a particular species to function as a unified whole. Patterns are imposed onto the animal that are otherwise random or indeterminate. Such morphic fields can evolve and, remarkably, can also be transmitted from long-dead members of the species by a phenomenon known as morphic resonance. All this is best understood with examples.

Many of us have seen videos of huge flocks of birds flying side-by-side, but never bumping into each other, while making fluid coordinated maneuvers in the air. It is a beautiful sight. It was found that a “maneuver wave” occurs in an extremely fast 20 milliseconds, compared with an 80 -100 milliseconds reaction-time for an individual bird. Thus, a uniform direction change is propagated throughout the flock much faster than could be explained by simple bird-to-bird stimulus response-times. Here is what Sheldrake says about it: “If one thinks of the flock as being coordinated by a morphic field and the ‘maneuver wave’ as a wave in a morphic field, then this phenomenon is much easier to understand than it is when explained in terms of ordinary sensory physiology.”

According to Sheldrake, an acorn grows into an oak tree while associated with a morphic field that directs oak trees’ development. It is as if the morphic field provides a growing oak tree a mold or pattern that guides the tree’s development. “Nonsense!” the critics cry. “An acorn transforms into an oak tree because its genetics controls its growth.” But DNA merely dictates the production of proteins. Where in the resulting collection of oak tree proteins is the information hidden that tells the acorn what shape it is to take?

Morphic fields do not affect only living organisms. Consider a compound, such as a protein, that has been synthesized in the lab for the first time. It might take a long time before the chemist is able to crystallize this protein since a morphic field has yet to be formed. Sheldrake predicts that a second attempt to crystallize the protein will succeed a bit more easily….. even if attempted on the other side of the world. The third attempt will be easier than the second, the fourth even easier than the third, and so on, as the morphic field is developing. There is some experimental evidence supporting this model. Synthetic chemists, working independently, often find that as time goes on it becomes easier and easier to crystallize a compound all over the world. The conventional explanation is that crystal seeds have been carried from laboratory to laboratory through dust particles in the atmosphere or, perhaps, on the beards of visiting chemists. To my knowledge a rigorous testing of the role of morphic fields in crystallization has not been carried out. But, and this is important, the notion is, in principle, verifiable (or“falsifiable” in the words of philosopher Karl Popper). Any worthwhile theory is verifiable.

Where do I stand on morphic resonance? I will be strictly an agnostic until the theory is proved or disproved. I also am of the opinion that the scientific community should not automatically dismiss fresh ideas even if they run counter to our current belief system.

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