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on 7 May 2003
This book earns a 5 star rating simply because it is important - part of a sequence of books by Sheldrake that record his ongoing research for the lay person. The format of the book is however, a little too anecdotal rather than explanatory for my liking. There are too many references to his previous book. And it is disorienting to have to read to page 125 before the subject of the book title is covered.
But these are minor gripes if the book is seen in the bigger picture - as a further catalyst to the Scientific community to accept that he has solid, unrefutable points to make. Much of the psychic research results mentioned in the book have odds against chance that are statistically profound. Yet the shock of accepting the 'paranormal' still prevents scientists from accepting these results. They still have their heads in the sand.
For those new to his work, I implore you to read this book. It may well channge the way you view human and animal capabilities, or possibly reawaken what you knew about them anyway.
Familiar readers will probably buy the book anyway - there is sufficient new material to make it a worthwhile buy, especially on telepathy.
Finally, it is not just a book to read - there are copious details on how you can carry out experiments, as many schools Worldwide have done, to investigate these phenomena at first hand.
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on 9 January 2014
In this book, Rupert tries the best to explain the phenomenon of telepathy. He uses the concept of morphic fields, within which operate so-called mental fields, and those give rise to consciousness, awareness, and other phenomena.

First, there are examples of telepathy between animals and humans, like dog reading the intentions of his master without saying a word. Then there is a parrot trained to sense out (somehow through fields), who is calling or about to call over the phone, which was placed near him. Then there are cats, who sense out that they are about to be taken to the vet, and they disappear/hide minutes before leaving the house.

Then, telepathy between animal and animal, like a school of fish swimming certain direction and then suddenly all of them (at the same time) turned to the side at quite sharp angle. You can see pictures like that on Discovery TV or National Geographics. Well, how would you explain that? They all turn at the exactly same time, so there's no way they passed info to turn to each other one by one. That would be far too slow. They all must have received the info when to turn at the same time. The only explanation is the working of the field, directing each fish in the sea.

But the biggest topic is the sense of being stared at, and that's sort of telepathy between people. In his study, cameras are put on the certain part of sidewalk. Then Rupert with some of his collegues were place behind tinted window, so they could see people on the street, but they won't see them. Experiment involves staring at people for one minute intervals, followed by not staring one minute. The theory is that significant increase of uncomfort signs being displayed by people on the street during the minute of staring, comparing to the minute of not staring. 27:12. Too big for just coincidence. So there is something about this sense of being stared at.
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on 3 July 2003
Renegade biologist Rupert Sheldrake analyzes in depth an experience that many of us have had at some point - a strange compulsion to look up or behind, only to see someone staring intently at us. In his latest installment Sheldrake discusses a variety of anecdotal and experimental evidence that establishes the reality of the phenomenon, and attempts to explain it with his theory of the 'extended mind' - the idea that our minds are not confined to our brains, but may extend into our environment. Needless to say, Sheldrake's work is a challenge to scientific orthodoxy, making Sheldrake the modern equivalent of a heretic. Shortly after publication of his first book, Nature magazine, one of Britain's leading scientific periodicals, called it "the best candidate for burning there has been for many years." In an interview broadcast on BBC television in 1994, John Maddox, the former editor of Nature, said: "Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy."
However, Sheldrake follows an impeccable scientific approach. The writing in this book is very clear, and the evidence for the reality of the phenomenon is very impressive. The empirical sections of the book are the most persuasive. His theoretical explanations will likely generate the most controversy among those scientists and philosophers who are willing to drop their prejudice and concede the reality of the sense of being stared at.
Sheldrake combines his theory of the 'extended mind' with his idea of morphic fields - regions of influence not currently recognized by mainstream physics, but (it is argued) necessary to explain the growth and regeneration of organisms. Those readers interested in this will want to read Sheldrake's best and most important work, The Presence of the Past.
Where this explanation of ESP in terms of fields may falter is that all of the other fields recognized by physics decline with distance. Parapsychology experiments have demonstrated that ESP is not affected by distance, or by shielding of any sort. Explanations of ESP in terms of electromagnetic fields, for example, have been convincingly falsified by such experiments. Morphic fields, if they exist, must have very different properties from the known fields if they are to explain ESP. Some physicists feel that the non-local quantum mechanical effects that have been corroborated in physics experiments may more plausibly explain ESP. If there is any shortcoming to this book, it is that related profound issues - such as the mind/body problem or the implications of quantum mechanics - are dealt with only briefly. Again, this is not true of Sheldrake's masterwork, The Presence of the Past.
So, readers who wish to delve more deeply into Sheldrake's theories know where to look. Sheldrake is a bold scientist, one who never lets convention or dogma interfere with his explorations.
As Sheldrake writes in the Introduction,
"I believe it is more scientific to explore phenomena we do not understand than to pretend they do not exist. I also believe it is less frightening to recognize that the seventh sense is part of our biological nature, shared with many other animal species, than to treat it as weird or supernatural."
Sheldrake is a daring and imaginative theorist, and his ideas deserve to be taken seriously. This is an important work, well-worth reading.
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on 6 June 2004
This book should be read by anyone whose mind is open to the possibility that the natural world still has many secrets to reveal. For those who uncritically accept today's scientific worldview as essentially complete, this book may not be persuasive. And that would be a pity, for if there is a genuine "sense of being stared at," as Sheldrake's data suggest, then something important has been overlooked in conventional biology, psychology, and physics (and maybe beyond).
This book also provides an interesting review of the context in which this issue arises, from anecdotes to mythology. Physical scientists often dismiss stories and history lessons as irrelevant, but I believe that they are essential for understanding the background and motivations for why one would question conventional theories in the first place.
Cross-cultural opinion polls indicate that on occasion the majority of people experience the odd feeling that someone is staring at them. And they're right, not merely paranoid. There are many conventional explanations for such feelings, as Sheldrake describes, but the question remains as to whether those explanations can account for 100% of all such experiences. I am convinced that Sheldrake's approach to investigating this question, and his results, lead to the conclusion that something in the conventional view is missing, and that there is a residue of scientifically valid evidence requiring a new explanation. "The" adequate theory may not be the one that Sheldrake proposes, but it does raise the debate to the level where empirical evidence can be evaluated rather than (as is often done with controversies) rehashing speculations and prejudices from the armchair. And that is why this book is so important.
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The Sense of Being Stared At, and other aspects of the extended mind, by Rupert Sheldrake, Hutchinson, 2003, 384 ff

In this book, author Rupert Sheldrake makes the case for regarding phenomena such as telepathy and premonition as perfectly normal human faculties rather than paranormal or supernatural events. He suggests that minds - and the human mind especially - may extend far beyond the confines of the brain. Sheldrake was formerly a Professor of Biology at the University of Cambridge and is now a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California.

He begins his discussion here by showing how science continually develops with new discoveries and new ideas. He describes what is often called extrasensory perception (ESP) as the seventh sense, maintaining that the ability to detect electromagnetic fields by animals should be called the `sixth sense'. He also regards personal experiences as valid evidence for the existence of these phenomena - after all, readings of ammeters and spectrophotometers have also to be made and recorded by human observations, and the fields of law and medicine rely heavily on personal accounts. Darwin's evidence for the law of evolution came largely from personal anecdotes. Sheldrake has done for `seventh sense' observations what marine biologist Alister Hardy did for spiritual experiences. The mind may be centred in the brain, but it is not confined to it.

So much for the Introduction: in the opening chapters of Part I Sheldrake gives many examples of telepathy, often between family members or, he suggests, between those playing team sports. He reviews some of the early work on psychic experiences by scientists in the 19th century. Of course, telepathic interaction with animals is included in this section. Entomologist William Morton Wheeler suggested a similar explanation for communication within communities of social insects, schools of fish or flocks of birds. This is discussed in a later chapter in this section, though Wheeler's name is not mentioned. This phenomenon leads Sheldrake to conclude that `the psyche is not confined to the body during life'.

In Part II, The Power of Attention, we begin with a chapter on `The Sense of Being Stared At'. While many of the accounts are anecdotal, there are results given also of statistically significant organized surveys, and a refutation of standard arguments against significance that such `feelings' are examples of paranoia, arise from reasons other than visual focus, such as movement in the subject, or are statistically insignificant in comparison with the number of occasions when no such awareness arises. This kind of sensitivity is clearly important for animals for self-preservation, and for humans in wild territory inhabited by predatory animals, and Sheldrake covers these situations in one of the following chapters, including research by himself and others. As with other forms of telepathy, the results are most convincing when subject and starer have some kind of emotional rapport.

An accurate interpretation of the nature of vision has been a challenge to philosophers and physiologists for over 2000 years: Sheldrake reviews the evidence and provides a theory of his own of `the extended mind'. This leads us on to Part III on Remote Viewing and the experiences that some people have of events occurring at a different (past or future) time or in a different place. Part of Sheldrake's evidence for this lies in the senses that many species of animals have of catastrophic natural events, like earthquakes, tsunami or volcanic eruptions, but there are several accounts of human premonitions of disaster too. This leads on to Part IV which explores possible rationally coherent explanations of how the `seventh sense' might work. There are copious Notes, a Bibliography of further reading and a good Index to complete the book.

Howard Jones is the author of Evolution of Consciousness

The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature
The Science Delusion
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on 3 July 2005
One of the most intriguing aspects of this book - and Sheldrake in general - is the questions it raises about what it means to be scientific.
Sheldrake is a pariah. He is fully signed up to parapsychology, a "quack science" if ever there was one. Yet Sheldrake - and it's hard not to feel his irritation here - insists HE is the scientific one. There is so much data in this book it is overwhelming. There are only three possible conclusions from the wealth of results here from literally tens of thousands of vaild experiments. Either 1) he is a witting or unwitting liar. 2) There is an elusive flaw to his (many) methods or 3) there is something in it. (Incidentally, another reviewer called his results having "only minor effects", which apparently reveals a staggering lack of understanding of both science and statistics).
Human nature being what it is, your own response to his experiments is predictable depending on your world view. Indeed, this is Sheldrake's point that he discusses at length - it is possible to dismiss evidence by simply dismissing evidence.
In the meantime, the book is extremely readable and raises a lot of fascinating observations, experiments and theories for anyone who might define themselves as open-minded. For me, it would be productive indeed if mainstream sceptical scientists would engage in proper dialogue with people such as Sheldrake. Let them fight it out. Both groups claim to be true scientists, but only one will be right.
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on 30 May 2003
Dr. Sheldrake is no "paranormalist" but a highly respected researcher and theorist, a former professor of cell biology at Cambridge, who investigates unexplained, "psychic" powers because they can tell us a great deal about the nature of life and mentality. He not only reveals irrefutable statistical evidence for the existence of telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, and the "power of attention," but more importantly his explanation of these phenomena roots them firmly in the biological sciences. He refers to them collectively as the "7th sense," after the five senses and the lesser-known ability of certain animals to sense electromagnetic fields. The field concept, which began in physics and spread to biology in the 1920s, is essential to Sheldrake's theory. "Morphogenetic fields" are invoked by developmental biologists to account for the curious ability of cells in a given organism to perform different tasks despite having identical DNA. Why does one area of an embryo form into an arm, for instance, while another area forms into a heart? Because different cells fall under the influence of different "form-giving" fields. Most biologists assume that these fields, which are essential in describing organic development, will one day be explained according to genes. Sheldrake is not the only theorist who disagrees and claims that these fields are as real as gravitational or magnetic fields. What we call the "mind" may simply be the morphogenetic field associated with the brain. According to this view, sense organs involve extended fields that embrace objects of perception. This is why people can tell when they're being stared at. While this book is not the first to provide overwhelming evidence for the 7th sense (see Dean Radin's The Conscious Universe), it is the first to place this material within the context of an explanatory hypothesis. The importance of this book cannot be overstated.
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on 24 June 2003
Renegade biologist Rupert Sheldrake's analyzes in depth an experience that many of us have had at some point - a strange compulsion to look up or behind, only to see someone staring intently at us. In his latest installment Sheldrake discusses a variety of anecdotal and experimental evidence that establishes the reality of the phenomenon, and attempts to explain it with his theory of the 'extended mind' - the idea that our minds are not confined to our brains, but may extend into our environment. Needless to say, Sheldrake's work is a challenge to scientific orthodoxy, making Sheldrake the modern equivalent of a heretic. Shortly after publication of his first book, Nature magazine, one of Britain's leading scientific periodicals, called it "the best candidate for burning there has been for many years." In an interview broadcast on BBC television in 1994, John Maddox, the former editor of Nature, said: "Sheldrake is putting forward magic instead of science, and that can be condemned in exactly the language that the Pope used to condemn Galileo, and for the same reason. It is heresy."
However, Sheldrake follows an impeccable scientific approach. The writing in this book is very clear, and the evidence for the reality of the phenomenon is very impressive. The empirical sections of the book are the most persuasive. His theoretical explanations will likely generate the most controversy among those who are willing to drop their prejudice and concede the reality of the sense of being stared at.
Sheldrake combines his theory of the 'extended mind' with his idea of morphic fields - regions of influence not currently recognized by mainstream physics, but (it is argued) necessary to explain the growth and regeneration of organisms. Those readers interested in this will want to read Sheldrake's best and most important work, The Presence of the Past.
Where this explanation of ESP in terms of fields may falter is that all of the other fields recognized by physics decline with distance. Parapsychology experiments have demonstrated that ESP is not affected by distance, or by shielding of any sort. Explanations of ESP in terms of electromagnetic fields, for example, have been convincingly falsified by such experiments. Morphic fields, if they exist, must have very different properties from the known fields if they are to explain ESP. Some physicists feel that the non-local quantum mechanical effects that have been corroborated in physics experiments may more plausibly explain ESP. If there is any shortcoming to this book, it is that related profound issues - such as the mind/body problem or the implications of quantum mechanics - are dealt with only briefly. Again, this is not true of Sheldrake's masterwork, The Presence of the Past.
So, readers who wish to delve more deeply into Sheldrake's theories know where to look. Sheldrake is a bold scientist, one who never lets convention or dogma interfere with his explorations.
As Sheldrake writes in the Introduction,
"I believe it is more scientific to explore phenomena we do not understand than to pretend they do not exist. I also believe it is less frightening to recognize that the seventh sense is part of our biological nature, shared with many other animal species, than to treat it as weird or supernatural."
Sheldrake is a daring and imaginative theorist, and his ideas deserve to be taken seriously. This is an important work, well-worth reading.
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on 8 July 2003
In The Sense Of Being Stared At Rupert Sheldrake publishes more results of investigations announced in Seven Experiments That Could Change The World (1994). His New Science of Life (1981), in which "morphogenetic fields" function as the organizing primal material principle in a novel theory of evolution, promotes the idea of an oak seed developing into an oak tree (rather than into something completely different) out of mere habit. Thus Sheldrake endows the material world with an intelligence that keeps alive by projecting memories of itself into the future, claiming by the same token that the laws of nature are neither eternal nor immutable but rather acquired and in constant process of adaptation.
Sheldrake's tenets hit the world of the hard sciences like a bombshell, and he has been busy providing proof for his thesis of interwoven memory fields ever since. Thus he became involved with pets and others animals, subjects he is particularly fond of since their perceptions are incorruptible. Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (1998) lead him to a series of other applications, where a projection of the senses into the future was involved. The mental sensor seemingly responsible for these feats he calls the "seventh sense" or "extended mind". The result of his latest research does not only encompass a discussion of telepathy but also of the human eye and its unchartered perceptions. Analogous to Albert Hofmann?s sender-receptor conception of reality, the exchange of energy and information reaching and leaving the eye are paramount to visual activity. Or why would most of us feel when we are being stared at?
Some further questions are: do you know who it is when your phone rings? Do you wake up before your alarm clock sounds? Are you or your pets prone to forebodings? Are you a woman who starts lactating when her baby is about to cry for milk? What is a mental field? How does the mind send and receive mental impressions? There is no doubt that the traditional sciences fail to explain these experiences in a satisfactory manner.
"Clues lie disregarded all around us," Sheldrake announces. Entertaining as always, he leads us to a telepathic parrot, introduces us to dogs, cats, horses and their owners as well as showing us many humans whose emotional bonds have unexpected side effects.
The good news in all this: the phenomena discussed by the author are universal, and he makes good headway in demonstrating that Darwinists inhabit a racist victorian suburb rather than living on the 8 Mile of quantum reality. The bad news: it takes a long trip across the land of statistical probability for you and I to get there!
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on 23 September 2014
Although I do not have a scientific background I found this book fascinating.There are times when I have had this feeling of being stared at. It'd good to know that I am certainly not the only person who gets this feeling. I will order another book by Dr Rupert Sheldrake when I am able to do so. It will probably be 'Dogs that know when when their owners are coming home'
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