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Seven Experiments That Could Change the World: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Revolutionary Science

Hal Harris's picture
Fri, 08/02/1996 - 02:00 -- Hal Harris

I picked up this volume because its title suggested that it would encourage hands-on science activities that are essential to good teaching and effective learning. Unfortunately, I discovered on reading it that the author combines a deep antagonism for the scientific "establishment" with credulity for numerous fringe ideas. The first experiment that he suggests tests the hypothesis that your pet uses psychic powers to tell when you'll be home for dinner! Sheldrake frequently presents anecdotes as "evidence". The "do it yourself" promise of the title is broken for the reader who doesn't intend to begin raising homing pigeons or doesn't happen to work in a laboratory capable of measuring the physical constants (such as the speed of light) to nine significant figures. Far too few cautions about the pitfalls of psychic research are given (in chapters about the feeling of being stared at, or "feeling" the touch of a severed limb). Despite the nearly fatal flaws of the book, I liked a part of its message, that important science can still be done by amateurs. But be forewarned when your students ask you about "Seven Experiments ..."

Pick Attribution: 

Rupert Sheldrake

Publication Date: 
Monday, January 1, 1996