29 March 2006

rupert sheldrake

rupert sheldrake

I have to admit my gut-feeling is that the controversial biologist Rupert Sheldrake is something of a quack and provocateur with his notions of "morphic fields" and "morphic resonance" and the like. Very roughly, he seems to think that organized matter (and especially living matter) produces shared fields of resonance so that an effect in one place can affect other members of the field, even at a distance. He suggests we see this in some kinds of migratory behavior on the part of birds or even in a dog's sense that his owner is on the way home.

At any rate, until there's more substantial evidence, I'm inclined to think that most of this is bunk. Nonetheless, I heard this interesting report yesterday on NPR's "All Things Considered." It was about the sole surviving example of an otherwise extinct kind of coffee plant.

The plant was discovered on the island of Rodrigues, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A cutting from the plant was taken to the UK and cultivated in Kew Labs in London. In order to propogate the species they wanted to try to get the plant to seed, but without any luck. The plant back in Rodrigues hadn't seeded in anyone's living memory and they were making no progress with the bit of the plant that had been taken to the UK.

Now here's the interesting, Sheldrakian part:

They decided to treat the plant in the UK with a fertility hormone to sort of jump-start its seed production and they were successful. But at the same time they did this in the UK, the original plant back in Rodrigues, 1000s of miles away, spontaneously began to seed as well.

Morphic resonance? Freak coincidence?