Dr Rupert Sheldrake
Is it Real? Psychic Animals
National Geographic Channel, UK,
Various dates 25 July - 7 Oct 2005
The programme titled, Is it Real? Psychic Animals, questioned whether it was possible that some animals had psychic abilities.
The communications regulator, Ofcom, received a complaint from one of the programme's participants Dr Rupert Sheldrake. Before Dr Sheldrake took part in the programme, National Geographic assured him that they would present his research fairly. He complained that his research was not presented fairly and he had not been given an adequate opportunity to respond to criticisms in the programme. Ofcom upheld these parts of his complaint.
The programme provided details of an experiment Dr Sheldrake conducted with an animal and aimed to replicate the test. The programme then went on to make a highly critical analysis of Dr Sheldrake's research techniques. Ofcom found that it was fair for the programme to broadcast these opposing views.
However, Dr Sheldrake was not given an opportunity to respond to these criticisms which may have had a damaging effect on his professional credentials. This resulted in unfairness to Dr Sheldrake. Ofcom also found that since he was not given an opportunity to respond, National Geographic did not keep to its pre-broadcast assurance that it would present Dr Sheldrake's research fairly.