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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 1321-1322

Science set free: 10 paths to new discovery

Nuvis Analytics Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication7-Feb-2017

Correspondence Address:
C R Sridhar
Nuvis Analytics Pvt Ltd, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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How to cite this article:
Sridhar C R. Science set free: 10 paths to new discovery. J Can Res Ther 2016;12:1321-2

How to cite this URL:
Sridhar C R. Science set free: 10 paths to new discovery. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 May 7];12:1321-2. Available from: https://www.cancerjournal.net/text.asp?2016/12/4/1321/199540

Author :Rupert Sheldrake

Publisher :Deepak Chopra Books

Year of Publication :2012

Number of Pages :390

Price :USD 15.00

ISBN :978-0-7704-3672-8

A scientist questioning the basic assumptions of science is always interesting. Especially, when the scientist comes with a huge reputation behind him. Rupert Sheldrake raises ten uncomfortable questions that science has brushed under the carpet and challenges the scientists working in a mechanistic-materialistic framework. The book, Science Set Free, is unquestionably an out-of-the-box approach to dealing with evidence that either science ignores or not has refused to factor it in their scientific conclusions. To present the findings of science as “truth and nothing but the truth” is misleading, is the main theme of his book.

The mechanistic view of the world, without substantial proof, has been the primary framework of science since the 17th century. The view maintains that everything in this world is made up components and they can be fixed. The materialistic view is a consequence of the mechanistic view and hence everything, from trees to totems, is looked upon as made up of materials such as cellulose, chlorophyll, and many more. But how do they all come together to present a living, growing, evolving forms? As per the author, science sidesteps these issues by negating anything that is “not material.” In the process over the last few centuries, these assumptions, which have been made to explain phenomena in nature, have become dogmas. When dogmas drive science projects, the results of these projects strengthen the dogmas and not throw new light. Much of new science today suffers from these dogmas from a framework started 500 years earlier. This should not be acceptable to scientists looking for expanding the scientific understanding of the world.

Sheldrake presents ten dogmas that are driving the present understanding of the mechanistic-materialistic view of the world. The dogmas range from the machine view to the mind and consciousness. To highlight the implication of these dogmas, the author asks questions related to these dogmas. These questions are incisive and can be unsettling to a lay reader.

The author presents a lot of background information on the evolution of the mechanistic-materialistic view that science holds. One such dogma, which is held from a science student to a retired scientist, is the law of conservation of energy and matter. “Every science student learns that the total amount of matter and energy is always the same. Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. The law of conservation of matter and energy is simple and reassuring: it guarantees fundamental permanence in an ever-changing world.” Does everything in nature follow this law? No. It is now known that what we know as physical world, normal matter and energy, can explain only 4% of the total matter and energy. Dark matter and energy are believed to make up for about 73% of matter and energy in the universe. Nothing is known about dark matter and dark energy. Furthermore, the scientists are of the opinion that the expanding universe creates more matter and energy. Hence, the law of conservation cannot be generalized and held as universal truth and is just dogma.

Do any of these dogmas affect humans? He thinks that the exclusive reliance on modern medicine as the cure-all solution to all health issues has pushed the health costs up substantially and has made it unaffordable. “There is no doubt that modern medicine works very well. Yet, it has important limitations that are becoming increasingly apparent. The great advances of medicine over the last century are running out of steam. The rate of discovery is slowing despite ever-increasing investments in research. There is a dearth of new drugs and medicine is becoming prohibitively expensive.” Hence, what is the solution? The author proposes comparative research. “Alternative and complementary systems of medicine cure some people some of the time, and not all their effects can be ascribed to placebo response alone. Comparative effectiveness research provides a way of finding out what works best.”

The book is very interesting and thought provoking in more than one sense. The approach he takes is truly scientific: he places the facts, states the existing dogmas and provides phenomena that counters the dogmas, and questions the dogmas. What is explainable by science, based on the current knowledge, should not be generalized to impose a framework that is debilitating is his agony. Richard Feynman states, in his lectures on physics, “First we do not know all basic laws: there is an expanding frontier of ignorance.”

The book is highly readable and stimulating. It breathes fresh air into some of the areas of science where the dust has settled down.


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