Sheldrake collaborating on children’s book about psychic dogs

Sheldrake’s idea that dogs know when there owner is coming home is unconfirmed and falls on the highly dubious side. But let’s tell kids about it!

Boy’s Best Friend | Kate Banks, Rupert Sheldrake

Kate Banks and world-renowned biologist Rupert Sheldrake collaborate on this novel about two boys who set out to prove that their dogs know when they are coming home.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 9.43.31 AMThe book is scheduled to come out this summer. It is fiction but based on experimental findings that Sheldrake conducted and believes are valid showing the special powers of animals. He wrote his own book about it. However, the experiments were repeated by others and FAILED to reproduce the same effect, thus, highly suspect.

In his book, Seven Experiments That Could Change The World, Rupert Sheldrake suggested that the public carry out experiments to test whether pets can psychically detect when their owners are returning home. The first of these tests was undertaken by an Austrian television company and involved an owner in the Northwest of England (PS) and her dog (Jaytee). The test appeared remarkably successful and seemed to show Jaytee responding when PS set off to return home from a remote location. Rupert Sheldrake and PS kindly asked the authors if they would like to carry out their own investigation into Jaytee’s abilities. This paper outlines various ‘normal’ explanations that might account for the phenomenon and presents an experimental design that minimised these possibilities. The paper then details the procedure and results of four experiments. Analysis of the data did not support the hypothesis that Jaytee could psychically detect when his owner was returning home. Finally, the paper discusses a possible reason for the difference in results of these studies and those carried out by the Austrian television company.

Sheldrake disagreed with the results of this version of the experiment by Richard Wiseman. Sheldrake endorses a wide variety of scientifically unaccepted ideas such as “morphic resonance” and the sense of being stared it. He has also taken to skeptic bashing, calling qualified scientists like Wiseman dogmatists and researchers of fringe subjects “open minded”. When you don’t have the data, attack the critics.

Is his work reliable? Most don’t accept that to be so and his work is considered “pseudoscientific” or lacking in the rigor and ethos of sound science. It’s disturbing that he would promote his ideas in kids books. But, if you have perused the juvenile non-fiction, you will see that kids are regularly marketed books that are chock-full of mistaken stories, anecdotes and terrible evidence to support paranormal subjects like Bigfoot, ghosts, UFOs and psychic powers. The real story here is that there are not many books that interested children can turn to that have a solid skeptical approach. Publishers, hit me up. I’m game.

  13 comments for “Sheldrake collaborating on children’s book about psychic dogs

  1. ApexDisorder
    February 13, 2015 at 10:26 AM

    I’m subject to hypervigelence, any slight change in my environment I notice.
    Be it sound, light, smells, even low frequency. I can tell you the time of day within a half hour at any point.
    I don’t even need an alarm to wake me, I just know whatever time I need to be up and I get up at that time.
    If I was an animal with some set routine, and a spectrum of senses that vastley out compete mine I don’t feel there is any mystery.
    Beyond that what do pets have to do all day other than think about when thier best friend is coming home.

  2. Edward
    February 13, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Sure sounds like a load of dog$hit to me. It will undoubtedly go viral, however.

  3. February 13, 2015 at 6:27 PM

    Sheldrake is not a “world renowned biologist”. He is a former biologist world renowned for his advocacy of a crank conjecture and attacks on the scientific community for failing to take it seriously.

  4. Richard
    February 13, 2015 at 7:34 PM

    My late, beloved feline companion, Boris – Master of the Universe, was frequently at or near the door when I came home from work. But I suspect it is more because I am a person of regular habits & work hours, and upon my arrival at home he could look forward to his tin of Salmon for dinner ….

  5. One Eyed Jack
    February 14, 2015 at 2:22 AM

    Beyond that what do pets have to do all day other than think about when thier best friend is coming home.

    Squirrel!

  6. Maikel
    February 14, 2015 at 5:16 AM

    The BBC documentary The Secret Life of The Dog features an experiment with a dog that can smell when her owner is about to come home. It is suggested that dogs are able to smell how long the owner has been away from home, with high accuracy. Seems that dogs can actually use their nostrils to read the clock.

  7. Russian Skeptic
    February 14, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    Yes, dogs know. Because they have ears and noses. Nothing paranormal about it.

  8. busterggi
    February 14, 2015 at 10:17 AM

    I heard about a dog that had no nose…

  9. Bill T.
    February 15, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    I have had similar experience with animals. It occurred to me that I had no idea how long they may have been actively waiting and looking for me to come in.

  10. MisterNeutron
    February 15, 2015 at 10:11 AM

    OK, I’ll be the straight man. How did he smell?

  11. John Nowak
    February 15, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    The cat that waits for you at the door is probably reacting to your footstep and the key in the lock.

    At the Philadelphia Zoo, they had a group of cheetah brothers who would crowd to the feeding station when their keeper left his office and locked his door in the admin building about half across the zoo.

    Nothing paranormal, but pretty amazing.

  12. Mike C.
    February 17, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    When I was a kid my dog always knew my Dad was coming home. We never thought of it being any psychic nonsense. We knew that he could recognize the sound of the engine from my Dad’s truck. When he got old an was hard of hearing, my Dad was then able to sneak up on the dog and stand over him. When he saw my Dad he would get excited.

    Hearing and smell are their only “psychic” powers.

  13. Alan Murdie
    March 5, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    I’m a bit late in joining in comments on this, but I am reliably informed that Rupert Sheldrake has a substantial data base of cases; also he’s previously written a book on the topic (‘Dogs That know when their owners are coming home: And Other Unexplained Powers of animals ‘( updated 2011) and discussion of experiments have reached a considerable level of complexity which suggests that the data cannot be casually be dismissed.( I understand that even Nicholas Humphrey had personal experience of this at his home in Cambridgeshire). Cross cultural studies of the phenomenon would be welcome; I heard identical accounts in Colombia in March 2011 . Perhaps an even easier one to investigate is the apparent power of domestic cats to go AWOL whenever a trip to vets is in the offing with the owner. Next time you meet a veterinary surgeon, nurse or even receptionist, ask them if they have a problem with the owners of cats keeping appointments. This phenomena has been noted in the UK and I also found it was reported in Colombia. One conclusion might be that cats are very intelligent creatures which understand not only English but Spanish as well….

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