More on Morphogenetic Fields
Experiment 1: In the 1920s Harvard University psychologist William
McDougall did experiments for 15 years in which rats learned to
escape from a tank. The first generation of rats averaged 200 mistakes
before they learned the right way out; the last generation 20 mistakes.
McDougall concluded that, contrary to accepted genetic science,
such acquired knowledge could be inherited.
Experiment 2: In later efforts to duplicate McDougall's experiments
in Australia, similar rats made fewer mistakes right from the start.
Later generations of rats did better even when they were not descendents
of the earlier rats. This wasn't genetics at work. It was something
else. Nobody tested it further.
"Experiment" 3: In the 1920s in Southampton, England,
a bird called the blue tit discovered it could tear the tops of
milk bottles on doorsteps and drink the cream. Soon this skill showed
up in blue tits over a hundred miles away, which is odd in that
they seldom fly further than 15 miles. Amateur bird-watchers caught
on and traced the expansion of the habit. It spread faster and faster
until by 1947 it was universal throughout Britain. In a parallel
development, the habit had spread to blue tits in Holland, Sweden
and Denmark. German occupation cut off milk deliveries in Holland
for eight years -- five years longer than the life of a blue tit.
Then, in 1948 the milk started to be delivered. Within months blue
tits all over Holland were drinking cream, a habit that had taken
decades to take hold before the war. Where did they get this knowledge?
Experiment 4: In the early sixties psychiatrists Dr. Milan Ryzl
of Prague and Dr. Vladimir L. Raikov of Moscow hypnotized subjects
into believing they were living incarnations of historical personages.
Such subjects would develop talents associated with their alter
egos. A subject told she was the artist Raphael took only a month
to develop drawing skills up to the standard of a good graphic designer.
Experiment 5: In 1983 Sheldrake showed two difficult-to-discern
patterns to a group of test subjects to establish a base line for
how easily the hidden picture in each could be recognized. Next
he showed 2 million viewers of British TV what one of the hidden
pictures was. He then tested thousands of people all over the world.
By significant percentages, they recognized the image shown on television;
the percentage recognizing the control picture didn't change.
Experiment 6: Psychologist Dr. Arden Mahlberg of Madison, Wisconsin,
created a variation of Morse Code that should have been no harder
to learn than the standard variety. Subjects learned the real code
much faster than his invented one, not knowing which was which.
Experiment 7: Gary Schwartz, Yale professor of psychology, selected
24 common 3-letter words in Hebrew and 24 rare ones, all from the
Old Testament, all in Hebrew script. For each word, he created a
scrambled version (as, in English, one might do by scrambling "dog"
to spell "odg"). Then he rearranged all 96 3-letter Hebrew
words (half real, half fake) in a random order and showed them,
one at a time, to subjects who didn't know Hebrew. The subjects
were just told these were Hebrew words and were asked to guess the
meaning of the word in English by writing down the first English
word that came into their head. After guessing each word, they were
asked to estimate, on a zero-to-four scale, how confident they felt
in their guess. Professor Schwartz then discounted all subjects
who got any guesses rights (since that meant they may have known
some Hebrew). Then he analyzed the confidence ratings from subjects
who'd gotten every answer wrong. Not only was the confidence significantly
higher with the real words than with the false words (regardless
of subjects, words, or experiments), but the common words got higher
confidence scores than the rarer words. Finally Schwartz repeated
the experiment telling the subjects that half the words were real
and half were false and asked them to guess which was which; the
results of that were purely random. The patterns the subjects had
recognized unconsciously, they could not recognize consciously.
What is going on here?
Sheldrake has hypothesized a field of morphic ("pattern-related")
resonance in which patterns of knowledge, structure or behavior
of a certain kind of thing (whether a salt crystal or a human mind)
become increasingly embedded as a "habit," an ingrained
pattern of information which influences and is accessible to other
members of that category of thing. In commenting on the rat experiments,
Sheldrake said: "If rats are taught a new trick in Manchester,
then rats of the same breed all over the world should show a tendency
to learn the same trick more rapidly, even in the absence of any
known type of physical connection or communication. The greater
the number of rats that learn it, the easier it should become for
A minority of biologists have been suggesting the possibility of
morphogenetic (form-generating) fields for decades. Sheldrake's
unique contribution has been to create a testable hypothesis regarding
such fields. Despite the fact that it seems to violate all broadly-accepted
principles of science, the experimental evidence is rapidly mounting
that, indeed, something of this kind is at work.
Sheldrake has ventured some guesses as to the relationship between
morphogenetic fields and our individual memory and intelligence.
He suggests that our brains may not contain memories and knowledge,
per se, but may be devices for tuning in to relevant sections of
the morphogenetic field for human memory, much as a radio tunes
into radio waves. Our own personal memories would naturally be more
accessible than those of other people or cultures (since, in morphogenetic
resonance, like resonates with like), but theoretically the memories
of every human (and other entities?) would be available to anyone
capable of tuning in.
Sheldrake further wonders if natural laws are the evolving habits
of the physical universe. An increasing number of scientists are
believing that, ever since the Big Bang, the contents and processes
of the universe have been evolving, and are evolving still. Sheldrake
notes that it is an act of incredible faith to believe that all
the laws governing the universe are so eternal and immutable that
they existed prior to any of the contents of the universe. It is
much more "natural" to believe that the readily-observable
evolution of life, culture and our own selves are merely manifestations
of an evolutionary tendency deeply embedded in the very nature of
In short: We are all learning. Not just we people -- but we, everything
in the universe. And our learning is shared. That's the bottom line
of Rupert Sheldrake's work.
We can't get much more co-intelligent than that.
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