I pride myself in calling myself a scientist and upon completion of my internship, I have finally contributed something physical to the field of my calling. One of the fascinating experiences with claiming such a title and group is allowing your mind to always be open to other possibilities.
Which is exactly why I found this TED talk so interesting.
The following is a list + summary of what Sheldrake calls “The 10 Dogmas”:
1. Nature is a machine, and therefore so are plants, animals, and people.
2. Matter is unconscious.
This is the idea that stars, plants, animals, water, are material things, solely physical in their existence, and by accepting that every other aspect of the natural world is unconscious, it would assume that we are also unconscious as well. This would be fine, except for the fact that brain activity is not the same as thinking, feeling or seeing, no one knows how molecules acquire the qualities of the mind, it’s impossible to construct a theory of the mind based on material objects that somehow became conscious, and so on.
3. The laws of nature are fixed.
This is the idea that the natural laws became fixed at the moment of the Big Bang, and will continue to be constant until the end of time. It’s funny in and of itself, the idea that a mass of matter spontaneously exploded to create the known universe, but we believe that everything from there-on-out will be fixed and certain.
4. The total amount of matter and energy is the same all the time.
Matter, as it turns out, is actually highly packed energy, transformable into other forms of energy. Modern physics suggests that the universe appears to not be a collection of things, but an interacting set of events. But the “Big Bang,” if anything, revealed a universe that is extremely evolutionary (constantly growing, cooling, expanding) and doing so indefinitely with dark matter, the nature of which we don’t actually understand yet.
5. Nature is purposeless.
That there is no design in nature, and the evolutionary process is merely a mechanical function – there is no higher purpose.
6. The traits of a species are composed of a physical material that reside in the genes.
Several forms of material inheritance are non-genetic. Cells inherit patterns of cell structures like mitochondria right from their mother cells, not through genes – this is called “cytoplasmic inheritance.”
7. Memories are stored inside of the brain as material traces.
This is the idea that memories are stored somewhere in the proteins and nerve endings are the memories of the mind.
8. The mind is inside the head.
This is the idea that the mind is physically bound to the head and brain in some way. Francis Crick called this the Astonishing Hypothesis: “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules … This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people alive today that it can truly be called astonishing.”But there is ultimately no evidence for this. No one has ever seen a thought or image inside their own brain or someone else’s. When we look around us, the images of the things we see are outside us, not in our heads. Our experience of our bodies are in our bodies. Direct experience is not irrelevant to the nature of consciousness: it is consciousness.
9. Psychic phenomena, like telepathy, is impossible.
This is the idea that thoughts have no effect on the outside world because the mind exists within the head solely, despite the fact that most people have had seemingly telepathic or precognitive experiences (as do animals).One example: In 2009, British biologist Rachel Grant was carrying out a study of mating behavior in toads for her PHD project, in Italy. Soon after the beginning of the mating season (late March) the number of male toads in the breeding group suddenly plummeted. Grant and her colleague Tim Halliday observed this “highly unusual” behavior. On April 6, Italy was struck by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, followed by a series of aftershocks. The toads resumed their breeding ten days later, once the aftershocks had fully subsided.
10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that works – It is merely chance or the placebo effect if a natural remedy or other healing practice seems to affect physical healing.
There is no argument that modern medicine isn’t amazingly successful, that it’s achievements wouldn’t be perceived as sheer miracles just a hundred years ago. Yet, it has limitations, which are becoming apparent. Basically: research and development is slowing, because the mechanistic approach is as its best when dealing with mechanical aspects of the body, but it ignores that all organisms are physico-chemical machines. With a rise in more “natural,” holistic alternatives on the brink, there’s a huge political and economic consequence to the pharmaceutical industry being overturned for less expensive, more effective remedies.
I find all of these views rather interesting. I have heard evidence for some of them, but there are other hypotheses listed that I struggle to comprehend. Having listened to the entire video and read through the dogmas several times, I have come to the following conclusion:
I am going to read more. Specifically, I’m going to read ‘The Science Delusion” so I can see all the data for myself. And in addition, I hope to pick up some reading on philosophy of the mind and the state of consciousness. That seems fascinating to me.
That being said, I hope to continue to update this topic with my thoughts on all the ideas presented to me today. And that, my friends and readers, is science.