Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and parapsychologist who came up with “morphic resonance” – the idea that there are relationships between different organisms. He believes that there are fields in the human brain that extend beyond its physical limits.
The Morphic Resonance
Eerie and frightening forebodings that turn out to be genuine can be something deeply embedded in our feelings. But can science explain this? About seven years ago, Garrett was at a local pizzeria with his friends.
It was the most ordinary day. He was 16 years old and the teachers then asked him to go to the nearest shops and restaurants and ask them for gift certificates that the school could use as prizes in the raffle.
There were five other teenagers with Garrett and they had just finished talking to the restaurant manager when suddenly out of nowhere Garrett’s body was seized by something that looked like a state of shock. He felt cold and sticky and had an “overwhelming feeling that something had happened.” He felt so bad that he desperately tried to hold back tears in front of his peers.
It’s like I’ve just been told something terrible,” says this 23-year-old from southwest England ( his name was changed at his request ). “I couldn’t say exactly what it was, but I just knew something had happened.”
Garrett returned home and tried to distract himself from what he describes as a “feeling of great grief.” And then the phone rang. His mom answered the call. It turned out that a few hours earlier – around the same time Garrett was at the restaurant – his grandfather had died of a sudden heart attack while on a cruise.
While it’s impossible to know how many people around the world “felt” the death of a loved one before being told, the phenomenon appears regularly in popular culture, from Star Wars movies to TV shows like Downton Abbey and cartoons like ” Kung Fu Panda 2 “. Perhaps one of your relatives has a history similar to that of Garrett and perhaps you were skeptical about this as a family bike, and not a real event.
Is there any evidence that this phenomenon is real – that people can sense each other from a distance, that Garrett’s emotional excitement and his grandfather’s death were more than a coincidence? Let’s face it – there is no evidence of this. But it is well documented that the human mind can create something that was not in reality: false memories, hallucinations of grief, and confirmation bias can easily explain these experiences
In addition, for every person who feels at grief at a distance without actually knowing about the death of a loved one, there are hundreds more who, at such moments, calmly ate pizza, happily rode a roller coaster, or were bored doing their homework in mathematics, completely unaware of that. that their best friend or close relative died somewhere. But isn’t this skepticism too hasty? It’s too easy to deny it. Some scientists argue that the complex world of quantum physics can be used to explain the nature of the paranormal (while other scientists say they are incredibly wrong). That stories like Garrett’s can show us what we do and what we don’t know. What we believe and what we don’t want to believe
Brian Josephson looks like a typical professor with tufts of gray hair on his head, a knitted vest, and a spectacle chain to keep his glasses safe. Through Zoom, he says the following: “The academic community is like a club. You only have to believe certain things, and if you don’t agree with that, you will run into problems.”
In 1973, Josephson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on superconductivity. Later, as a professor at the University of Cambridge, he began to use quantum mechanics to investigate consciousness and the paranormal. Quantum entanglement, which Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance,” describes a (proven) phenomenon in which two spatially separated particles affect each other even at large distances.
Although the phenomenon is subatomic, scientists such as Josephson have suggested that quantum entanglement could explain phenomena such as telepathy and psychokinesis.
“There is a lot of evidence for crisis telepathy,” says Dean Radin, a parapsychologist and author of Confused Minds: Psychic Experiences in Quantum Reality. “Does entanglement explain these effects? No, in the sense that the entanglement seen today in the physics laboratory, between pairs of photons, is extremely fragile and usually only lasts for the smallest fractions of a second. But also yes, in the sense that we are in the earliest stages of understanding entanglement. “
Radin says that research in quantum biology shows that entanglement-like effects are present in living systems (Oxford scientists have successfully done this with bacteria), and he believes that the human brain, in turn, may have quantum properties.
“If this is demonstrated in the future – I think it’s just a matter of time – then it will go a long way towards creating a physical mechanism for telepathy,” he says.
An explanation of telepathy is only needed if you believe in telepathy in the first place, and experiments suggesting its existence have been widely refuted. Josephson and Radin are regularly criticized by other scientists for their words.
In 2001, when the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize, Josephson wrote in an accompanying pamphlet that quantum physics could explain telepathy, which caused much outrage. Scientists in The Guardian have branded this claim as “sheer nonsense.”
In a review of Entangled Minds for the Skeptic’s Dictionary, a philosophy professor and professional skeptic Robert Carroll wrote that Radin’s book was “aimed at non-scientists who are likely to be impressed by the references to quantum physics.” Garrett doesn’t know what happened to him on the day his grandfather died, but he’s pretty sure it happened.
He believes in some kind of “relationship” between people.
“I think if this happened to you, then there is a latent capture of it,” he says.
This opinion is shared by Cassius Griesbach, a 24-year-old boy from Wisconsin, whose grandfather passed away in 2012. Griesbach says he suddenly woke up the night his grandfather passed and began to cry violently and uncontrollably.
“I felt like something just shook me physically,” he says. When, a few minutes later, his father called him and said that his grandfather was dead, Griesbach answered him: “I already know.” “The further you get away from it, the more I want to write it off as a coincidence,” he says, “but every time I sit down and think about it, I feel like it’s something else.”
Griesbach assures that he is completely non-religious and does not believe in ghosts.
“If it has something to do with real science, I would think it would be a science that we just haven’t gotten close to yet, you know?” He says.
Many will disagree, arguing that the answer is more of a coincidence. In 2014, Michael Shermer married Jennifer, who moved from Cologne to California and brought with her a 1978 radio that belonged to her late grandfather.
Shermer tried in vain to fix it before throwing it into a drawer where it lay silent until a couple of months later the couple said their wedding vows at home. And at that moment, when Jennifer was acutely aware of the absence of her grandfather at her wedding, a romantic song began to play on the radio thrown in a radio box. This went on all night before the radio stopped working for good the next day.
“It was just one of those anomalous events,” says Shermer, now a science historian, professional skeptic, and author of The Believing Brain: From Spiritual Beliefs to Political Beliefs. How We Form Beliefs and Strengthen them as Truths. “Chance and coincidence play a big role in life and in the world, and our brains are designed to see patterns, not randomness,”
Shermer argues that coincidence experiences such as those of Garrett and Griesbach are statistically more likely than we think.
“Billions of people around the world see dozens of dreams at night,” he says. “Most likely, on any night, someone will have a dream that someone is dying, who is really dying. It’s unavoidable”.
At the same time, he argues, we ignore all the moments when we suddenly cry or shudder, and it turns out that no one has died – or the moments when someone dies, and we do not feel anything.
There are other prosaic explanations as well. While Garrett’s grandfather’s death was sudden and unexpected, Griesbach’s grandfather was hospitalized a week before his death, so when he woke up in the middle of the night, Griesbach’s first thought was, “It happened” – that is, he knew his grandfather had passed away.
But is it really surprising when he spent a week at the bedside of a seriously ill old man? John Bedard, a 36-year-old Los Angeles resident, suddenly woke up the night his parents died. He was 10 years old and was sleeping at a friend’s house when he woke up “just knowing something was wrong.” He called his brother and cried a lot.
When his brother came for him, he told Bedard that their parents had died in a motorcycle accident. Yet Bedard showed signs of something “wrong” much earlier. That night, he stayed overnight at the neighbors’ house, which was not planned, just the parents who left him there during the day were supposed to pick him up from there in the evening, but they did not come. Thus, Bedard was already uncomfortable when he went to bed.
Despite these seemingly logical explanations, there is no shortage of other theories. Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and parapsychologist who came up with “morphic resonance” – the idea that there are relationships between different organisms.
He believes that there are fields in the human brain that extend beyond its physical limits like electromagnetic fields. This, he says, explains why we can sense when someone behind us is looking at our back, or why we sometimes think of someone right before they call us. (By the way, this article by Sheldrake, published in the journal Nature, was called “heresy”.)
“I’m not talking about the supernatural; I think it’s quite natural, on the contrary. I think these phenomena are completely normal, not paranormal,” he says.
But when it comes to experiences like Garrett’s, he says empirical research is impossible.
“You can’t ask someone to die at a random time to see if those closest to them will react. So, unfortunately, the evidence in death-related cases can only be circumstantial.”
Shermer is not a Sheldrake fan.
“The idea that a biologist like Rupert Sheldrake is going to uncover some new force of nature that Einstein and everyone else somehow missed … is so unlikely that almost any explanation like the ones I gave you, more likely”.
Josephson rebukes this criticism:
“People say that science is always subject to revision, and yet they secretly believe that certain things cannot exist at all.”
What may and may not happen does not change how many think about what happened – Garrett, Grisbach, and Bedard believe that something strange and inexplicable happened when they lost their loved ones. At least these stories are undoubtedly comforting.
“When it comes to studying it, I don’t even know what to look at,” says Griesbach – after all, this phenomenon doesn’t even have a name. “I think the best thing we could do for people is to confirm that they really feel it and let them grieve. Because whenever it happens to people, they grieve too. This is one of the most important moments when you just need to be with someone a kind person. “