Morphic Resonance – Does the past influence the present?

Rupert Sheldrake

Morphic resonance is a concept forwarded by the former biochemist and controversial author Rupert Sheldrake.

If I understand morphic resonance right, it suggests that species access a collective memory when repeating similar behaviors. As such, morphic resonance is based on past habits, non-local and, Sheldrake says, independent of space and time.

According to the theory, Sheldrake believes it should be easier to solve “today’s crossword [puzzle] tomorrow” because the mental work of the first day would add to a type of collective data bank that crossword puzzlers could unconsciously draw on during the second day.

From studying a controlled experiment, Sheldrake reports a 20% increase in efficiency during the second day of crossword puzzle solving for a given puzzle.¹

In Sheldrake’s own words, morphic resonance is

The means by which information or an activity pattern is transferred from a previous to a subsequent system of the same kind…These influences are assumed not to fall off with distance in space or time, but they come only from the past, not from the future.²

Sheldrake’s theory does not mention the possibility of the future – and other places with different time frames (such as heavens and hells) – existing and influencing the present. As such, his theory might be described as partly but not fully independent of a traditional view of space and time.

Hardcore scientists have critiqued Sheldrake’s theories, calling them “woolly” and with questionable statistical significance. On the other hand, some parapsychology and advanced physics researchers may find his theories a bit limiting.

Regardless of where one sits on this debate, Sheldrake seems to have something of a following in New Age circles and he attempts to use science to back his ideas, which is a good thing. Although adhering to science, the following video illustrates that Sheldrake is not hoodwinked by and is able to reflect on the ideology of science itself, which is even better.³

¹ This entry has been revised from several years ago and I cannot find the original reference. Today, a quick search reveals:

² Rupert Sheldrake, Dogs that Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, New York: Crown, 1999, p. 305.

³ Back in the late 1980s I had some unusual observations of our friendly, well-fed West Bengal dogs howling well before rival dogs appeared at the perimeter of our student compound in India. I and another resident could not explain how our dogs repeatedly knew well in advance about their rivals’ impending challenge. Sending photos and a written account to Sheldrake via snail mail just after graduating, he replied in a polite and appreciative manner. This was a welcome and encouraging change, coming on the heels of dealing with an authoritarian and personally dishonorable grad studies professor who almost completely blackened my view of academia.

Related » Causality, Morphogenetic Fields

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One thought on “Morphic Resonance – Does the past influence the present?

  1. Cheers for that. Love sheldrakes work. He’s one of my heroes. Both for the way he has deconstructed the fuck out of our current scientific models but also laid some very credible foundations for exploring less dualistic notions of reality.

    Liked by 1 person

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