Healthy skepticism plays an important part in science, and stimulates research and critical thinking. Healthy skeptics are open-minded and interested in evidence. By contrast, dogmatic skeptics are committed to the belief that "paranormal" phenomena are impossible, or at least so improbable as to merit no serious attention. Hence any evidence for such phenomena must be illusory. Several such Skeptics have attacked my research on morphic resonance, the unexplained powers of animals, the sense of being stared at and telepathy. Click on their names if you want to know what they said, and to read my replies. Most of them are associated with CSI, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (formerly called CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), an organization devoted to debunking evidence for "paranormal" phenomena, and to promoting skeptical claims in the media. CSI publishes the Skeptical Inquirer, 'the magazine for science and reason'. For more about these and other skeptics, go to www.skepticalinvestigations.org.
The appendix in the new edition of Rupert's book Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (2009), Three Rivers Press, New York, includes a detailed account of the controversies with skeptics about the unexplained powers of animals.
The publication of Rupert's first book, A New Science of Life, in 1981 resulted in a storm of controversy, summarised in the Appendix to the second edition, published in 1985 (London: Blond).
Rupert's entry in Wikipedia has been a battleground where guerrilla skeptics hold sway, but his is not the only page under threat. Rupert described the problem in his blog post, Wikipedia Under Threat, and on BBC World Update (below).
In response to protests from two militant materialist bloggers in the US, Rupert's TEDx talk was later taken down by TED and placed in the naughty corner of their website. Before it was removed from their main website it had had about 35,000 views. Since it was "banned" it has been seen by at least half a million people.
The wager arose from Rupert's debate with Lewis Wolpert, The Nature of Life - a Scientific Debate at the Cambridge Science Festival, March 20th 2009. The papers presented by both participants and details of the wager are given in: What can DNA tell us?
The Perrott-Warrick Public Debate - Does Telepathy Happen?
Rupert debates with Prof Chris French, Prof Simon Blackburn in the chair, at Trinity Hall Cambridge, 29th November 2006.
The Presence of the Past denounced then strongly supported: read the comments.
The crusading atheist visited Rupert in 2007 to interview him for his TV series Enemies of Reason. Rupert shares the experience in: Richard Dawkins Comes to Call.
Rupert's paper on Telephone Telepathy was widely reported in the media and gave rise to a major controversy. Full details, including press comments, audio interviews and discussions, and articles are here... BA Science Festival 2006
Sheldrake and his Critics: The sense of being glared at
A special edition of the Journal of Consciousness Studies
In this special edition of JCS (Vol 12 No. 6, 2005) Rupert summarises his case for the 'non-visual detection of staring'. His claims are scrutinised by fourteen critics, to whom Rupert then responds: The Sense of being Stared At Special JCS edition
Professor Lewis Wolpert, FRS took part with Rupert in a debate on telepathy at the Royal Society of Arts in January 2004, which was reported in Nature and can be heard online here.
Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Director of the Skeptic Society, the host of the Skeptics' Lecture Series at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of a regular column in Scientific American called "Skeptic". He has publicly attacked Rupert's work, and Rupert has responded.
Conjurer and the former Principal Investigator of CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. He was named "Skeptic of the Century" in the January 2000 issue of The Skeptical Inquirer. Read about Randi's attempts to debunk Rupert's conclusions.
Also see Rupert's comments on the disappointing interview with James Randi by Chris French.
Conjurer and professional Skeptic based at the University of Hertfordshire in England, where he is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology, Dr Wiseman is a Consultant Editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, and a Research Fellow of CSI (the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). He replicated Rupert's results with a dog that knew when his owner was coming home, obtaining positive, statistically significant results, and then claimed that he had refuted this dogs abilities! Read a summary of this long-lasting controversy, with links to Rupert's and Richard Wiseman's papers and articles on this subject.
A debate between Richard Wiseman and Rupert in 2010 on parapsychology is online here: Sheldrake and Wiseman on Skeptiko
CSICOP Fellow and professor at City University, London. He is the author of The Psychology of the Psychic (2000), in which he rejects a wide range of "paranormal" phenomena, including Rupert's research on the sense of being stared at. He attacked this research in 2000 in the Skeptical Inquirer in an article co-authored with John Colwell.
Rupert's reply in the Skeptical Inquirer.
He attacked this research again in 2003 in The Skeptic, and also tried to explain away Rupert's work on return-anticipating dogs.
Rupert's reply in The Skeptic
Rupert's oldest critic, Maddox was the author of the infamous "candidate for burning" editorial in Nature in 1981 about Rupert's first book, A New Science of Life.
Maddox later repeated his 'heresy' charge, on video.
Dr Baker is a retired psychology professor at the University of Kentucky, and a CSICOP Fellow. In the Skeptical Inquirer, he dismissed the sense of being stared at as false.
Robert Todd Carroll
Robert Todd Carroll produces "The Skeptic's Dictionary" on the internet. According to his Wikipedia entry, he is a "longtime advocate of atheism and scientific skepticism". His Ph.D. is on a seventeenth century bishop, and he teaches philosophy at Sacramento City College. He made some misleading comments on morphic resonance and on research I conducted with Aimee Morgana on her parrot N'kisi, to which I reply here.
Rupert's replies to Carroll:
Reply on the theory of Morphic Resonance
Reply on the N'kisi research
Response to Carroll's comments on the N'kisi research
"Expelling Sheldrake", Daily Grail interview
Rupert was invited to speak at the 12th European Skeptics Congress in Brussels in October 2005 where there was a debate on telepathy with Dr. Jan Willem Nienhuys of the Dutch skeptic organisation.
Rupert referred the National Geographic TV Channel to Ofcom over their programme "Is It Real? Psychic Animals" first broadcast in August 2005 and Ofcom decided in Rupert's favour.
Website skeptic Shannon Rupp objecting to Rupert's lecture at the University of British Columbia on 20th July 2006 inquired "Why is UBC promoting New Age pseudoscience?"
Rupp's article - Pitching Woo-Woo
Rupert's reply to Shannon Rupp