In the realm of scientific discourse, debates serve as critical venues for the exchange and examination of ideas. Rupert Sheldrake has long been a participant in these intellectual arenas, actively engaging with thinkers from diverse fields. From theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson to public skeptic Michael Shermer, these debates delve into pressing questions about the nature of reality, consciousness, and the limitations of scientific materialism. This section aims to provide a curated space for these dynamic exchanges, allowing both proponents and skeptics to explore the arguments and counterarguments that shape our understanding of the world. Whether you're familiar with Rupert's work or encountering it for the first time, this is a platform for rigorous thought and challenging dialogues.

Sheldrake Vs Shermer

Rupert and skeptic Michael Shermer engage in a spirited debate over the scope and limitations of scientific inquiry. While Shermer champions the scientific method as our best path to truth, Sheldrake argues for broadening the field to include phenomena often sidelined by mainstream science. Though both prioritize evidence, they diverge on what qualifies as strong enough to shake existing paradigms.

Also with Michael Shermer

Previously, Rupert and Shermer had a spirited debate in a 2015 feature for TheBestSchools.org. Published as the book Arguing Science: A Dialogue on the Future of Science and Spirit the two authors wrestle with fundamental questions about science's methods and future. Rupert calls for a liberation from materialist dogma, while Shermer insists that materialism is essential to the scientific endeavor. Topics span from the role of materialism in science to the compatibility of belief in God with a scientific perspective, as well as the contentious subject of parapsychology.

Debate on Genetics

Rupert joins Robert Plomin, Anne Bowcock, Bret Weinstein, David Pearce, Güneş Taylor, Jacob Appel, Kári Stefánsson, Matt Ridley, and Natalie Kofler to discuss current trends in genetics. They unpack the intricate relationship between genetics and human traits, challenging deterministic views and exploring the ethical frontier of 'designer babies.' The panel questions the extent to which genetics can be manipulated to achieve societal equality, and scrutinizes the promises and pitfalls of genetic research.

00:00 Introduction
00:38 DNA (Anne Bowcock)
04:46 Nature vs nurture (Robert Plomin, Matt Ridley)
13:44 CRISPR and gene editing (Natalie Kofler, Güneş Taylor, Bret Weinstein)
22:05 Eugenics (David Pearce, Kári Stefánsson, Jacob Appel)
28:36 Sequencing the genome (Rupert Sheldrake)

Can Theories Work Without Evidence? 48:47

Debate with Massimo Pigliucci and CERN physicist Tara Shears

A debate at the 2016 "How The Light Gets In" Festival, at Hay-on-Wye, with Rupert Sheldrake, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and CERN physicist Tara Shears, chaired by Philip Ball.

Does matter exist? 35:26

Debate with Metaphysician John Heil and Philosopher Daniel Stoljar

Rupert debates the existence of matter with American metaphysician John Heil and Australian philosopher of mind Daniel Stoljar, 2015.

Surprise Debate with Daniel Dennett 4:27

This surprise exchange between Daniel Dennett and Rupert Sheldrake at Hay on Wye came at the end of a longer discussion between Rupert, neuroscientist Colin Blakemore and novelist Joanna Kavenna on the machine as metaphor.

Frank Visser's Critique of Morphic Resonance

In 2013, Frank Visser published a critical article on his website Integral World about Rupert's ideas on morphogenetic fields and the "evo-devo" revolution in biology, including a skeptical quote from the developmental biologist Sean B. Carroll, a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. The back and forth here is both deep and revealing.

Interview on BBC Radio 4

Rupert describes Morphic Resonance on BBC's Material World, Jan 29, 2009. Bernard Carr, professor of mathematics and astronomy at Queen Mary University of London, responds from a skeptical position.

Debates With Professor Lewis Wolpert

Cambridge Science Festival

The Nature of Life - a Scientific Debate, March 20 2009.



The Bet is On

New Scientist, July 2009, 203(2716), 28-29
PDF Download

The Genome Wager

PDF Download   After the debate, a wager was made regarding what DNA sequences are capable of describing, which was then announced in New Scientist.

A Debate on Telepathy at the Royal Society of Arts

Further back, in 2004, Rupert and Professor Wolpert held a debate on telepathy which was reported in Nature.

Michael Brooks Debate

A discussion between Rupert and Michael Brooks and Vivienne Parry (chair) at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London on Jan 27 2009.

Professor Chris French Debate

Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Nov 29, 2006. Chaired by Professor Simon Blackburn.

Peter Atkins Debate

BA Festival of Science, UEA Norwich Sept 2-9th 2006: 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

European Skeptics Congress 2005

Rupert was invited to speak at the 12th European Skeptics Congress in Brussels in October 2005 where he debated telepathy with Dr. Jan Willem Nienhuys of the Dutch skeptic organisation. Rupert presented a body of evidence, including his own research and studies by others, making a case for the scientific validity of telepathy. In contrast, Nienhuys countered by asserting that telepathy is fundamentally impossible, and therefore, any evidence supporting it must be flawed. This debate became a high-stakes discussion on the controversial, yet continually intriguing, subject of telepathic phenomena.

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

A Glorious Accident - the PBS Series

In this 1993 documentary on PBS, Journalist Wim Kayzer interviewed Oliver Sacks, Daniel C. Dennett, Stephen Jay Gould, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Toulmin and Rupert individually before bringing them together for a roundtable discussion to consider a variety of broad questions. A companion book to the PBS series was a best seller.

In 'A Glorious Accident,' each thinker brings a unique lens to the overarching questions posed by Kayzer, from neuroscience to philosophy, from evolutionary biology to the nature of scientific inquiry itself. The series achieves a level of intellectual alchemy as these brilliant minds intersect, challenge each other, and explore the complexity of human understanding. Famed for its depth and the interplay of ideas, the series—much like its companion book—has garnered a reputation for being a profound meditation on the interdisciplinary currents that shape our world.