Science –or Pseudoscience: The Sheldrake Controversy

In January 2013, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, a Cambridge University-educated biologist and author of more than 80 scientific papers and ten books, presented a controversial TED talk (which we will view) at Whitechapel, England, titled, “The Science Delusion,” in which he challenged what he described as the dominant materialist worldview of contemporary scientists and ten “dogmas” associated with it. In the next few months, the video of his talk was removed from the main TED website and relegated to a less-accessible blog site. Soon afterward, a controversy erupted over how and why this was done, including charges that the incident had compromised the integrity and credibility of TED talks in general. Our challenge in the Science, Reason & Religion group: decide where the line really is between science and pseudoscience; decide if Sheldrake was treated unfairly; and decide whether the controversy really did damage the credibility of the TED talks overall.

Albert Nekimken, who will lead this session, grew up in Los Angeles in a family that can be best described as culturally Jewish, though they were members of a synagogue and he did complete his Bar Mitzvah. Over the years, he and his wife Marja drifted religiously until they were quite relieved to find UUCF in 2006 where they have felt absolutely at home in every way. After completing his BA in French and English, Albert went to Turkey as a Peace Corps Volunteer. After returning, he completed a PhD in Comparative Literature with a specialization in Turkish theater. Jobs in teaching, corporate training, investment banking and consulting took the family, including daughter Danielle, around the country from West to East and abroad to Istanbul. Through it all, his wife Marja taught piano privately. At UUCF, he has participated in play readings, the Global Affairs Discussion Group, taught RE classes, and served on the Finance, Adult Programs committees – and the SR&R Forum Steering Committee.

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