Some selected extracts from the excellent book “The Scientist as
rebel” by Freeman Dyson.
“Most of the carvings were created in France about 14,000 years
ago, during the short flowering of artistic creation at the very
end of the last ice age.
The beauty and delicacy of the carving is extraordinary. The
people who carved these objects could not have been ordinary
hunters, amusing themselves in front of the cave fire. They must
have been trained artists sustained by a high culture. and the
greatest surprise when you see these objects for the first time, is
the fact that their culture is not western. They had no
resemblance at all to the primitive art that arose 10,000 years
later in Messapitania and Egypt and Crete.
If I’d not known that the old cave art was found in France, I would
have guessed that it came from Japan. The style looks today more
Japanese than European. That exhibition showed us vividly that
over periods of 10,000 years, the distinctions between western, and
eastern and african cultures lose all meaning. Over a time span of
100 thousand years, we are all africans. and over a time span of
300 million years, we are all amphibians,
waddling uncertainly in dried up ponds in the alien and hostile
These are strange events which appear to give evidence of super
natural influences operating in every day life.
The paradoxical feature of the laws of probability is that they
make unlikely events happen unexpectedly often.
A simple way to state the paradox is Littlewood’s law of miracles.
John Littlewood was a famous mathmetitian, who was teaching at
Cambridge University when I was a student.
He defined a miracle as an event that has special significance when
it occurs, but occurs when the probability is 1 in a million.
Littlewood’s law of miracles states that in the course of any
normal persons life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly 1 per
month. (So all those amazing coincidences; all of them easily
explained as consequences of Littlewood’s law)
The word complimentary is a technical term introduced into physics
by Neels Bore. It means that two descriptions of nature may both
be valid but can not be observed simultaneously. The classic
example of complementarity is the dual nature of light. In one
experiment, light is seen to behave as a continuous wave, in
another, it behaves as a swarm of particles. But we can not see
the wave and particles in the same experiment. Complementarity in
physics is an established fact.
The most interesting response came from Rupert Sheldrake. Who sent
me papers describing his experiments studying telepathy in dogs.
Dogs have several advantages over humans as experimental subjects.
They do not get bored, they do not cheat, and they do not have any
interest in the outcome of the experiment.
Sheldrake’s experiments contradict my statement that telepathy can
not be studied scientifically. Unfortunately the experiments were
conducted by humans, not by dogs, and the effects of human
selective reporting could not be altogether eliminated. But
Sheldrake is right when he says the experiments are scientific.
They are repeatable and aught to be repeated by independent
investigators using different dogs. Interested readers may examine
the evidence in Sheldrake’s book “Dogs that know when their owners
are coming home and other unexplained powers of animals” published
by Crown in 1999 and in his more recently published papers.
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Barry Blomkamp Nd. Bsc (UL)
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