When Good Scientists Go Bad

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Rupert Sheldrake, a plant physiologist at Cambridge University, left his position there and began to philosophize/theorize in order to solve the genesis of form issue. He was understandably dissatisfied with the scientific explanation that the dimensional form of living organisms is ordered by the DNA. He correctly concluded exactly what we chiropractors conclude – that DNA is a blueprint, a very good one, but that blueprints do not draw themselves, they require an architect, an intelligent designer to put the (metaphysical) idea down on paper, so to speak, in this case, the DNA in the matter of genes. Sheldrake proposed a set of “morphogenetic fields” analogous to gravity and electromagnetism. It sounds very much like the laws of organization incorporated in the chiropractic concepts of universal and innate intelligence. Here is where his ideas get a little hokey and what raised the ire of the scientific community. It was used as the basis for the silly theory of Ken Keys (see Pivot Review Archives, R.I.P. The 100th Monkey is Dead, January 1, 2009 at ChiropracticOutsidetheBox.com).

Perhaps had Sheldrake left it as analogous to gravity and electromagnetism and not gone into speculating that it caused rats in Australia and Scotland to negotiate a maze more quickly than their counterparts at Harvard had done in an experiment back in the 1920’s he would not have ticked off his mechanistic brethren. I think there are two very important points to be made by this incident. The first and very obvious is that D.D. and B.J. Palmer were way ahead of their time with their metaphysical concepts of universal and innate intelligence.

The second, and not so obvious, is that science does not have all the answers and that philosophy and a rational, deductive approach can supply some of the answers when science has its back to the wall as it eventually must when empiricism can no longer provide an answer. Some scientists, like Rupert Sheldrake, are able to think in more than one paradigm,outside the box, although that thinking is somewhat limited by their tendency to fall back on old paradigms. But, it’s a start. It’s a whole lot better than just ignoring the issue altogether like Sheldrake’s colleagues who never questioned who or what created the DNA blueprint.

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This article has 1 comment

  1. David Suskin 05/11/2015, 5:26 pm:

    Interesting, his view on Vitalism, suggests certain issues with it, as does ours (33 p’s as suggested by Strauss as being a form of vitalism, but not within it’s typical definitions). Sheldrake talks of Driesch’s enetelchy, and of course his defining Organicism. Yes, sounds like Universal/Innate Intelligence.
    I would like to see an armchair discussion of Chiropractic’s 33 principles philosophy between Strauss, Sheldrake, ummm Lipton, etc.
    It would be a welcomed viewing. No spine in hand, no props. Just talk, interaction and perhaps some debate. I’d walk a little taller. I’m only human.

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