Psychic Abilities May Stem From a Field of Consciousness
Ever have the feeling that you know you’re being watched? Or the feeling of thinking about someone just before they call? Some believe these feelings are merely coincidental or just happenstance, but the fact that they are common and something everyone can relate to, leaves open the possibility that there could be a metaphysical mechanism at play. Now, researcher Rupert Sheldrake says he believes these occurrences are due to a psychic phenomenon that is evidence of a collective consciousness and he’s found this theory to show statistical significance.
Sheldrake is most famous for his theory of morphic resonance, a concept that revolves around psychic capability, which he believes is innate in humans and animals. Morphic resonance states that processes and behavior in nature, particularly learned behavior, can be inherited and transmitted psychically. This theory has made him somewhat of a pariah in the scientific community, which labelled him a heretic for entertaining such a seemingly nebulous concept. Nevertheless, he embraces the criticism and continues to pursue his research.
Sheldrake’s Evidence of a Collective Consciousness
In order to test his theory, Sheldrake conducted experiments on a group of subjects to see if they could accurately predict who was calling them on the phone. He ran the test with two groups of callers – one that was known to the subject and another who were complete strangers. The two groups tested against each other to see if there was a notable link between those with an emotional connection.
Sheldrake’s subjects in each test group consisted of four callers, providing for a one-in-four probability. In the group of callers with a strong personal connection to the subject, out of 332 trials among 37 participants, there was a 53 percent success rate of subjects correctly guessing who was calling — clearly better than mere chance. In the group where there was no familiarity, the subject predicted callers with a 25 percent likelihood – the same as chance.
Sheldrake noticed one area of the experiment that might have been flawed was that callers were given a schedule of when they would be calling and could potentially divulge when they’d be contacting the subject next. But when he looked at the results and controlled for this, he found no spikes in successful guessing. Does this hint at a psychic connection between people with a personal bond?
Sheldrake took the experiment a step further and decided to ask subjects to give their level of confidence on whether they would accurately guess a caller. They could either say they felt confident, not confident or just guessing. With this factor, results changed dramatically. When subjects felt confident, they responded correctly 82 percent of the time. When they were unconfident they were correct 35 percent of the time, and when they were just guessing their guess was only correct 25 percent of the time.
An interesting factor in the experiment is that subjects were sometimes thousands of miles away from their caller. Sheldrake found similar results when conducting tests regarding premonitions on email and text messages received. He also says he believes that while there might have been numerous factors skewing the results, intuition could have affected subjects who were told how they were doing. Overthinking can inhibit intuition and therefore in a scenario where a subject wasn’t being tested or didn’t know they were being tested, they would have possibly had a greater likelihood of knowing who was calling.
A Shared Consciousness with Animals?
Sheldrake conducted similar experiments testing the psychic intuition of dogs and whether they know when their owner is coming home. During one experiment to test this hypothesis, Sheldrake found that a dog went to the window looking for its owner four percent of the time she was out of the house, not intending to come home. However, once she started to make her way back home, the dog was at the window 55 percent of the time.
Sheldrake’s original theory of morphic resonance came from an experiment involving mice. The mice were put through a water maze before they progressively learned how to escape quicker. Their progeny, when put in the same maze, learned how to escape in fewer trials, and subsequently, mice on the other side of the world learned how to escape quickly when put through the same test. The experiment showed evidence that a group of mice could genetically pass down learned behavior and that this behavior could also be transmitted psychically throughout an entire species; almost as if it was being uploaded to the cloud where individual members could collectively download it. This is one premise of Sheldrake’s theory and he says he believes it to be inherent in all species.
What is the Collective Consciousness?
A commonly known theory that bears similarity to morphic resonance is the 100th monkey theory – an anecdotal observation showing signs of psychic learning among monkeys on various islands in the Pacific Ocean. Monkeys on one island purportedly learned behavior from monkeys on another island, once the 100th monkey learned the behavior. Sheldrake says this scenario is evidence of morphic resonance but based on an idea of having to reach a critical threshold. He says he sees the process as more gradual; the greater the number of individuals that learn, the easier a task becomes for the species.
Sheldrake’s theory has some basis in Carl Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious. Jung’s collective unconscious is essentially a foundation of archetypes and psychological motifs that are inherent in humans. It differs from our personal psyches and complexes that are developed individually. Jung even referred to it as a, “psychic system of a collective, universal and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals.” Sheldrake expanded on this theory, by postulating that this collective psychic system is growing and learning in real-time.
Could this be evidence that as a species we are getting collectively smarter and that our collective consciousness is evolving? Or is the technology and the internet a physical extension of what Sheldrake is describing?
Did You Psychically Inherit Society's Learned Behavior?
The scientific community is often very rigid in its process and not always open to radical ideas. Rightfully so, that is the nature of science – strict scrutiny and skepticism. But what if it is limiting itself in this approach, in the sense that it has taken on some of the same parochial propensities of religion? Science is supposedly the antithesis of religion and meant to question everything with the goal of new discovery. While it is necessary to maintain skepticism to prevent charlatans from diluting the scientific process, there should be a certain level of tolerance for new ideas.
Rupert Sheldrake is one of those scientists that his community has largely shunned as a heretic. Despite studying at Harvard and graduating from Cambridge with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, the scientific community has dismissed his radical ideas as nonsensical and blasphemous. Sheldrake admittedly started his career in science as an atheist, but eventually had an epiphany about our consciousness that changed his outlook.
Sheldrake has proposed an idea he calls, morphic resonance. Essentially, the idea is that there is a collective consciousness within species that can impact disparate groups of organisms without them having to come into contact with each other. A sort of telepathic connectedness that can influence behavior and can be passed down through immediate generations.
The idea of learned behavior being inherited, or Lamarckian Inheritance, has been shown to be a pretty promising theory, if not proven. Although unsurprisingly, the scientific community doesn’t all agree on this. Regardless, this idea is fundamental in Sheldrake’s theory.
The evidence comes from a study in the 1920s, where rats were tested by being placed in a water maze they had to escape from. The rats were electrically shocked when they chose one of two exits deemed to be the wrong exit. They eventually learned which exit was the correct one over a trial of several hundred tests. As they got better, their offspring were tested, and immediately showed quicker rates of improvement compared to their parents.
This was evidence of Lamarckian Inheritance, the learned behavior of the parent rat was passed on to their progeny. What was more astonishing, according to Sheldrake, was that when these experiments were conducted in labs in other countries and on the other side of the world, rats that had no contact with the original study, essentially picked up where the improved rats left off.