Science is just as much as institution as religion is.
Most “scientific study” operates under the premise that science already understands the nature of reality in principle, the rest serves only to inform us of the details. Science is not the method of trial and error inquiry as we’ve come to believe. Even the process of having an idea researched is lacquered in nuance and prejudice.
To have a study be taken seriously, it must be published in a peer-reviewed journal. In order to publish a quality peer-review journal, you must either work at or be supported by an institution that has a certain level of prestige. In order to complete the study in an effective way, you must have funding. In order to have funding, you must be doing work that is seen as valuable to the current paradigm. Large institutions wouldn’t, and don’t, fund work in which the outcome may jeopardize an entire field of study that they’ve invested in.
Beyond this, science is a dogma in that it assumes some ideas to be infallibly true, when in reality, research has already proven most of them questionable if not entirely wrong. This is significant because the scientific belief system influences the interpretation of data, it impacts what studies are done and why, and it determines what is taught in schools.
This whole thing is stirring up quite a bit of controversy, so to gather your take on it, here are Rupert Sheldrake’s 10 dogmas of science from the now-banned TED talk – any supporting information listed comes from his book, which you should look into if it so interests you, as these summaries are brief, if not limiting examples of his full argument(s).
That brains are genetically programmed computers, the results of which we must just live out. Essentially, this belief is just a “hangover” from a older worldview. Before the big bang theory, the prevailing belief was that everything was designed by an external mind, that that we all ultimately serve the purpose of the “machine-maker.”
This is the idea that stars, plants, animals, water, are material things, solely physical in their existence, and by accepting that every other aspect of the natural world is unconscious, it would assume that we are also unconscious as well. This would be fine, except for the fact that brain activity is not the same as thinking, feeling or seeing, no one knows how molecules acquire the qualities of the mind, it’s impossible to construct a theory of the mind based on material objects that somehow became conscious, and so on.
This is the idea that the natural laws became fixed at the moment of the Big Bang, and will continue to be constant until the end of time. It’s funny in and of itself, the idea that a mass of matter spontaneously exploded to create the known universe, but we believe that everything from there-on-out will be fixed and certain.
Matter, as it turns out, is actually highly packed energy, transformable into other forms of energy. Modern physics suggests that the universe appears to not be a collection of things, but an interacting set of events. But the “Big Bang,” if anything, revealed a universe that is extremely evolutionary (constantly growing, cooling, expanding) and doing so indefinitely with dark matter, the nature of which we don’t actually understand yet.
That there is no design in nature, and the evolutionary process is merely a mechanical function – there is no higher purpose. What’s speculated is the idea that because we can’t identify what the ultimate purpose is, we assume that there is none (Think: the perimeter of ignorance.) Every function in science serves a purpose, it’s logical to assume that all of the micro-purposes serve a larger one – even if we can’t scientifically identify it or philosophically agree on it.
But several forms of material inheritance are non-genetic. Cells inherit patterns of cell structures like mitochondria right from their mother cells, not through genes – this is called “cytoplasmic inheritance.” Animals and plants are also influenced by characteristics acquired by their ancestors – an inheritance of acquired characteristics can take place epigenetically (caused by outside influences) as opposed to genetically, through chemical changes that do not actually affect the underlying genetic code.
This is the idea that memories are stored somewhere in the proteins and nerve endings are the memories of the mind. But attempts to locate memory traces have been unsuccessful despite more than a century of research. In the 1890s, Ivan Pavolv studied the way animals learn to associate a stimulus with an action or reward. Scientists assumed that this reflex functions as though nerves are wires and the brain is a telephone exchange. But Pavlov also discovered that the conditioning could survive massive surgical damage to the brain. (The same has been true of human brain trauma patients, etc.)
This is the idea that the mind is physically bound to the head and brain in some way. Francis Crick called this the Astonishing Hypothesis: “You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules … This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people alive today that it can truly be called astonishing.”But there is ultimately no evidence for this. No one has ever seen a thought or image inside their own brain or someone else’s. When we look around us, the images of the things we see are outside us, not in our heads. Our experience of our bodies are in our bodies. Direct experience is not irrelevant to the nature of consciousness: it is consciousness.
This is the idea that thoughts have no effect on the outside world because the mind exists within the head solely, despite the fact that most people have had seemingly telepathic or precognitive experiences (as do animals).One example: In 2009, British biologist Rachel Grant was carrying out a study of mating behavior in toads for her PHD project, in Italy. Soon after the beginning of the mating season (late March) the number of male toads in the breeding group suddenly plummeted. Grant and her colleague Tim Halliday observed this “highly unusual” behavior. On April 6, Italy was struck by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake, followed by a series of aftershocks. The toads resumed their breeding ten days later, once the aftershocks had fully subsided.
There is no argument that modern medicine isn’t amazingly successful, that it’s achievements wouldn’t be perceived as sheer miracles just a hundred years ago. Yet, it has limitations, which are becoming apparent. Basically: research and development is slowing, because the mechanistic approach is as its best when dealing with mechanical aspects of the body, but it ignores that all organisms are physico-chemical machines. With a rise in more “natural,” holistic alternatives on the brink, there’s a huge political and economic consequence to the pharmaceutical industry being overturned for less expensive, more effective remedies.
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