I share a link here to an interesting podcast entitled “Beyond Physicalism,” which features Mark Vernon interviewing biologist Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake talks of a new “humility” in science. This emerges from some of the recent research which indicates that the file drawer effect in science is far more pronounced than previously thought, and that a great many of the experiments in science are not repeateable.
The file drawer effect is the tendency for researchers to publish only results that support their research agendas or personal biases.
Sheldrake claims that psychic science has led the way here, as they have had to deal with accusations of the file drawer effect for many years. Now it turns out that mainstream science itself has a widespread problem in this respect.
Sheldrake mentions the “questionable research practices” which underpin the loss of confidence in science – scientists only publish 5-10% of their data. This means there is scope for tremendous distortion. One recent study by a pharmaceutical company attempted replication of 50 top papers in medical journals, and found that 45 were not replicable.
Sheldrake says that the problem is also present in psychology and chemistry, where many experiments experiments are not replicable.
Sheldrake mentions philosopher Mathew Colborn, who points out that psychology and science encourages us not to believe our own minds – there is a systematic attempt to distrust such experiences. We are training educated people not to trust their own experience, but instead trust scientific authority. Yet as we are now beginning to understand, the latter has a whole culture of distortion and denial, and many of its own experiments are not replicable.
Thus many ideas and beliefs common to mainstream sciences are actually grounded on unstable foundations, despite the fact that most laymen assume them to be solid.
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