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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about this book
This book is a follow up to the animal sections in Sheldrake previous book 'Seven Experiments that Could Change the World'. It focuses on various kinds of animals, but especially pets such as cats and dogs. In the scientific world there is something of a taboo against taking pets seriously, perhaps due to the subjective nature of experiences with them...but as Sheldrake...
Published on 18 Jan 2010

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3.0 out of 5 stars Gently Pushing the Boundaries
The book is to a larger degree constructed of testimonies and data that verify the authors theories on Morphic Fields,which is only referred to in passing, and as such it presupposes the readers familiarity with his previous works on this subject.If you are coming to this book without this prior knowledge,then it can seem just like an extended series of independently...
Published 17 months ago by nicholas hargreaves


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few things you should know about this book, 18 Jan 2010
This review is from: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Paperback)
This book is a follow up to the animal sections in Sheldrake previous book 'Seven Experiments that Could Change the World'. It focuses on various kinds of animals, but especially pets such as cats and dogs. In the scientific world there is something of a taboo against taking pets seriously, perhaps due to the subjective nature of experiences with them...but as Sheldrake points out, they are also the animals we know best, and are therefore easiest to test.

Book contains some great anecdotes, one of my favourite concerning some bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees):

"One bonobo had a long bamboo cane, which she was poking members of the public with, so we wanted it off her. I had a bag of four cakes which we were going to have for our tea, and I thought I would give her a cake if she gave me the stick. But she saw I had four cakes and she broke the bamboo stick into four pieces, one piece for each cake."

Another fascinating historical anecdote concerns the dogs of Scottish drovers. When they drove their cattle into northern England and stayed to work on the harvest, they sent their dogs back into Scotland. The dogs would make the epic return journey alone, stopping in the same inns their masters stopped at on the way down!

Anecdotes aside, the book examines three kinds of unexplained powers: telepathy, sense of direction, and premonition.

TELEPATHY:

Sheldrake gives many examples from his extensive database of pets who know their owners are returning, even when the rest of the family doesn't know it (and therefore can't provide unconscious cues). In these cases, smell and hearing have been ruled out as factors (see the book for the arguments and proof).

Sceptics counter this by pointing out that pet owners' accounts may be unreliable. While Sheldrake thinks it wise to hold a degree of scepticism until things can be verifed by experiment, in reality most of these so-called 'sceptics' adhere to what he calls "compulsive scepticism, which stems from the dogma that telepathy is impossible." This, of course, is not a scientific attitude. It is actively anti-scientific.

When one of Sheldrake's experiments with a dog called Jaytee was repeated by a noted sceptic of the paranormal, Dr. Richard Wiseman, Wiseman's findings corroborated those of Sheldrake.

Sheldrake acknowledges with regard to some species that more research needs to be done in the wild with their close relatives, to see how these anticipatory abilities evolved. He knows of no instances of such behaviour in pet fish, reptiles, amphibians or insects, so it may be limited to warm blooded animals.

It is exhibited by some humans, too, especially those who live in a close relationship to the natural world, such as Kalahari bushmen. Even in modern Western cities it is not unknown among babies. And there is a phenomenon the Norwegians call 'vardøger', where someone's unexpected arrival is preceded by a 'phantom' arrival, who makes identical noises (footsteps in the hall etc.)

SENSE OF DIRECTION:

Despite much research, it is still unknown how birds such as pigeons home. Landmarks and memory and sun position play no part, as experiments have shown, and nor does the earth's magnetic field.

Tribal peoples possess a similar directional ability, one famous example being the Raiatean chieftain Captain Cook took with him on his travels, who was always able to point the direction in which his home lay. This homing sense has atrophied in modern people, but it still exists (in some more than others).

Migration, too, is not fully explained, and Sheldrake argues that theories of genetic programming can't adequately account for it. If you want his arguments in detail you'll have to buy the book, but in summary (1) such a rigid system wouldn't allow for being blown off course etc. (2) the nature of genetic evolution wouldn't allow for sudden adaption, and (3) it would have to be magnetic, and the magnetic field constantly shifts. Furthermore the poles completely reverse every 250,000 years or so: "Since all migratory animals today are the descendants of ancestors that have survived some 80 magnetic reversals, all must have had ancestors capable of reaching their goals in spite of reversals in the earth's magnetic polarity."

If the genetic theory was true, changes in migratory habits would only take place over many generations, but in reality new races can emerge very rapidly. This fits better with Sheldrake 'morphic fields' hypothesis than with the genetic determinist view.

PREMONITIONS:

Sheldrake admits the morphic field hypothesis does not prove so useful in cases of premonition. He himself he finds the idea of telepathy easier to accept than that of precognition, which he finds philosophically disturbing.

Animal premonitions seem to challenge our 'traditional' ideas on causality, hence many people are sceptical. But the Chinese have adopted a more pragmatic approach, and many lives have saved there by taking heed of animal earthquake warnings.

Sheldrake advocates a similar system for earthquake prone places like California. Pet owners would phone a hotline if their pets were behaving strangely, and if a significant number of calls were registered in one area, evacuation plans could be considered. Obviously it would have to be tested first, to avoid false alarms which could set back research on the subject, but overall the idea is a good one, and a typical example of Sheldrake's pragmatic approach to science.

Sheldrake provides a helpful section at the end containing tips on how to conduct research and experiment with your own pets.

He also gives references to successful experiments in human telepathy, which have been independently replicated. When Richard Dawkins conducted a discussion with Sheldrake for a TV show, and claimed there is no substantive evidence for telepathy, Sheldrake proceeded to point out that there is...and Dawkins turned the camera off! The interview was then dropped from the finished program (an internet search on 'Dawkins Sheldrake' will give the full story behind this incident).

The book also contains an appendix summarising briefly Sheldrake's theory of morphic fields (treated in greater depth in his books 'A New Science of Life' and 'The Presence of the Past'). Some of this is updated material not found in the previous books, including the assertion that morphic resonance better explains the findings of Chomsky and Pinker than the theory that language structure is genetically determined.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely interesting, 4 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Sheldrake has done some simple, very interesting and potentially revolutionary scientific research into widely-reported phenomena such as (as the title indicates) pets' apparent ability to predict reliably the arrival of their owner some minutes in advance.
He designs experiments to rule out all obvious causes such as the pet hearing the owner's car, and even distiguishes the pet *predicting* the owner's arrival from the pet detecting the owner's *intention* to return home. (It turns out that it is the latter which counts, indicating telepathy rather than a more improbable foresight.)
Sheldrake includes accounts of other experiments relating to telepathy, such as the ability to delect when you're being stared at, and some not, such as a very spooky experiment in which a day-old chick appears to be able to influence a random number generator.
Some parts of the book (e.g. about the healing abilities of pets) are somewhat vague and wishy-washy, as is his morphic fields theory (which is little more than a restatement of the problem it seeks to solve), but don't let that put you off buying it.
No doubt the subject matter will be ignored by the scientific establishment for the time being as too off-the-wall, but the results are extremely significant, both statistically and in their implications for biology and physics.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Making science a quality social experience, 25 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Paperback)
Sheldrake makes scientific inquiry not just adventurous and rigorous, but also playful and friendly. His experiments are designed to involve many people in testing theory after theory to account for animal behavior. How do pets know when the vet is coming? How do animals anticipate earthquakes? How do they know to give up waiting by the door, when their owners change plans and postpone coming home?

Sheldrake's experiments, surveys and documentation always prove entertaining. With Sheldrake, science becomes a community experience, open to all who are curious and willing to put their minds together.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are CoMing Home, 22 July 2011
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I was particularly looking for this book as I am interested in animal communication. I have met Dr Rupert Sheldrake many years ago and know that he is a dedicated animal lover as well as a prominent scientist. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the animal world, bearing in mind also that it is written in a manner that is easy to read and understand. As this book also asks people to forward their own unexplained animal experiences it allows the reader to feel as if they are part of the experiment. Recognising the telepathic abilities of the animals ( particularly pets) has come on in leaps and bounds since Dr Sheldrake first published his book, hopefully he will continue his experiments.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dogs that know when their owners are coming home, 27 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Paperback)
An alternative scientific view point which validates the possibility that higher mammals (including humans) possess senses currently not recognized by conventional science.

Sheldrake explains that animals can tap into a collective memory almost like a telephone network through "Morphic fields". If a member of a species in one part of the world learns something new i.e. a task - the evidence suggests that this new wisdom will be shared in a kind of collective consciousness so all other members of the same species around the globe would be able to use this new found knowledge and perform tasks much quicker and easier than they would have done prior to the initial achievement.

Whether you believe the proposed theory or not, this book is at times emotive, well written, well researched and would appeal to anyone who has ever had a close bond with a dog, cat, horse or even a person. It helps explain beyond mechanistic biology how we sometimes feel a telepathic connection with other people or animals and continues to suggest that animals are more in tune with this ability than humans.

A fantastic read.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Provability of Unexplained Animal Powers, 9 Sep 1999
By A Customer
This is Dr. Sheldrake's most accessible book to date, which is not to say it is a vulgarisation. Far from it. In his characteristically sober yet charming prose, he has miraculously dodged the danger of compiling a list, but has rather presented the world with an impressionistic florilegium of mind-expanding instances of powers of animals. Some ideas are particularly compelling, such as "an animal-based earthquake warning system". Once more, he deals a blow to institutional science by beating it on its own turf, and that is, by piling up impressive evidence, a database, etc., so as to substantiate his claims. In all likelihood, many more "cases" will be added to his database after the general public has read this book. Perhaps tens of thousands. If institutional science will continue to ignore these phenomena, rather than join the author in the research, it will have de facto discredited itself in the eyes of the world. The Appendices are also valuable, C in particular, in which the author provides the Cliff's Notes to his own books. The concepts he summarises are so fascinating that they should prompt the unfamiliar reader to read all his books, where the ideas are given the space they deserve.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sentience in animals, 7 July 2013
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Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Paperback)
Dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and other unexplained powers of animals, by Rupert Sheldrake, Arrow, 2000, 320 ff

The title of this book may be rather unwieldy but it tells the reader exactly what to expect. Whether you are an `intelligent dog owner' or just an `open-minded scientist' this book is packed with observations and experiments (during which no creatures were harmed!) that confirm and put onto a rational statistical basis what every pet owner, animal trainer or animal homeopath already knows - that animals are capable of feelings and senses that cannot be explained or dismissed on the basis of human behaviour. It has already been found often that cats and dogs taken from one home to another, or abandoned in the wilderness, find their way back home. It has also long been part of popular folk-lore that animals, both terrestrial and aerial, can sense when there are about to be earthquakes, tsunami or forest fires. Sadly, despite being forewarned, they may not always be able to escape the danger.

In this book, anecdotes (unpublished observations) of animal lovers are turned into statistically analysed case histories (accounts written down and interpreted by scientists, namely, Professor Sheldrake and his colleagues). As well as being fascinating reading, it provides a most valuable piece of scientific research.

After a brief historical survey of the domestication of wild animals, Sheldrake deals first with human bonding with dogs and cats but moves swiftly on to parrots, chickens, geese - and an owl. The author has found no cases of bonding with reptiles or fish. But cases have been found of humans, using precognition or telepathy, anticipating the arrival of a friend or relative. This phenomenon has been studied in Norway by Professor Georg Hygen in Oslo who reported individuals sensing a `warning soul' or vardøger relaying messages to them spiritually: as Sheldrake says `In non-Western civilizations, such as India, such forms of perceptiveness are still widely taken for granted'. Similar animal or human empathy over owners who are ill or who have died are also recorded here.

As might be expected, Sheldrake attributes this animal-to-human bonding to communication through the morphic field and suggests that a similar mechanism is in operation for social animals and insects: the mechanism has even been endorsed by that arch-materialist Edward O. Wilson. Communication amongst social insects like ants has been intensively studied by William Morton Wheeler. Sheldrake also reports on the incredible experiments with chicks conducted by the French researcher René Peoc'h, where conditioned chicks were able to seemingly affect the random path of a robot. There is also a short section giving a preview of a later book, The Sense of Being Stared At. This is a wonderful book, concluded with Notes, References and an Index. If only the sceptical scientists could be persuaded to read, learn and experiment for themselves!

Howard Jones is the author of Evolution of Consciousness
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5.0 out of 5 stars why we love our dog, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Paperback)
My son-in-law said he loved it's a great read. It was a pleasure to see his face once head read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, 23 Jan 2014
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Bought this as a Christmas present for my son in law. It has been much appreciated and I believe by other members of the family. I intend to have a sneaky read of it when visiting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great research., 16 Oct 2013
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David Drew (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home: And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Paperback)
A fascinating read, but not for those who are easily upset by challenges to ideology. Sheldrake is a first class researcher and scientist.
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