Dr. Rupert Sheldrake on the Persistence of Richard Wiseman’s Deception

Industry: Paranormal, Pets

Biologist and author Rupert Sheldrake expresses dismay at latest claims in Skeptic Richard Wiseman’s, Paranormality.

San Diego, CA (PRUnderground) April 20th, 2011

Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake. A distinguished biologist, Dr. Sheldrake is the author of several books including, “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home.” During the interview Mr. Tsakiris and Dr. Sheldrake discuss the latest claims of Skeptic Richard Wiseman:

Alex Tsakiris: When someone hears you describe Richard Wiseman’s portrayal of your research as deceptive, well, it sounds so horrible. But in this case, the deception is so obvious, the misinformation so outrageous, that it’s hard to understand how he assumed he could get away with it. But then again, of course he’s going to get away with it. He’s gotten away with it for years.

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: Yes, it’s outrageous. Wiseman’s research on psychic pets was entirely parasitic on my research. He portrays himself as this kind of heroic debunking figure who goes in and exposes people who fool themselves about their dogs and so forth. But, in fact, his own tests show an even bigger effect than I’d observed. Incredibly, he then appeared on TV and made press releases, wrote a scientific paper in a scientific journal, claiming to have refuted the effect we both demonstrated. It is completely outrageous, but as you say, he’s got away with it before. He’s been exposed before too, but that seems completely irrelevant to him.

Alex Tsakiris: What is going on here? What do you think is really behind this? Because it’s easy to spin out of control with conspiracies and all sorts of strange ideas.

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: Personally, I think it’s just what Wiseman said it is. I think it’s a tendency for people to see what they want to believe, to only notice evidence that fits their their belief system. He himself is a perfect example of that. He accuses people who are interested in psychic phenomena and do research in an open-minded way of being fooled or of self-deception, but in fact this is the kind of thinking he’s engaged in. Basically, Wiseman is a dogmatic materialist. People who are materialists aren’t people who don’t believe anything; they’re people who have a really strong belief that the mind is nothing but the brain, that the free will doesn’t exist and we are just robots. He tries to prove that in this book. I think it’s as simple as that. He’s dogmatically committed to that point of view. He firmly believes it. Therefore, the evidence must be flawed. People must be either deceiving themselves or deceiving others. So I think we have to see that we’re dealing here with a fundamentalist belief system of people who pretend to be scientific but are not.

The Skeptiko interviews with Dr. Rupert Sheldrake (audio and transcript) are available at:

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