Thought for the Day
6th November 1997
Good morning. If you have ever thought that you were being watched, there’s now scientific evidence to feed your suspicions. Dr Sheldrake, formerly of Cambridge University, has revealed his findings that claim you could have an inate ability to know if someone is staring at you. The significance of his work is that it seems to prove that humans have a sixth sense.
There have been hundreds of studies over the years on various paranomal issues. Many may be irrelevant or untrustworthy; others are harder to dispute. But all are rejected out-of-hand by the scientific establishment because the conclusions do not sit well within a reductionist paradigm. If something can’t be explained within our current understanding of the laws of physics and chemistry, it can’t be right.
I find that such a disdainful approach lacks objectivity and is, therefore, unscientific. The world is far too complex and our comprehension too infantile for us to say we know what reality is all about. How can I accept the validity of absolute proclaimations that “matter is the all-in-all”, when such so-called science must resort to disregarding other credible evidence simply because it does not fit the accepted dogma. Better a science that doesn’t limit itself, but can actually cope with the existence of phenomena that require non-material explanations.
I am open to Dr Sheldrake’s conclusions. I’ve had many incidents which indicate that it is possible to receive distant information without using the five bodily senses. Whenever I telephone my mother, she says, “I was just thinking you would call now.”
Everyone may have their own experiences - times when insight has proved a better guide than cold rationalisation. And this study on staring does provide a reassurance that our inner feelings may be more accurate than we credit.
Intuition isn’t easily tested in laboratory conditions under controlled experimentation. By definition, controlled experiments are difficult to perform on humans, precisely because people are hard to control.
And what to speak of matters of transcendence. How could God be a subject for a controlled experiment? After all, here is the person who is in control of everything. We can’t therefore expect scientists or others to prove through laboratory procedures that God exists, or that He doesn’t.
But, if we reject as false everything that we can’t prove through controlled experiments, we risk missing out on truths which are possible to prove for ourselves. We will need to sharpen our powers of spiritual perception - at least, we could be more trusting of our sense of intuition and more open to what it reveals.
© BBC This script was commissioned by the BBC for broadcast as “Thought for the Day” on the Today programme Radio 4.