A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: morphic resonance

21 Dec 2000 
In your article, you imply that Rupert Sheldrake coined the term "morphic resonance" fairly recently. I would like to point out that the fantasy author Terry Pratchett has been using that term for many years now, although in a context far more appropriate - fantasy magic.

In the Discworld series of novels, the "morphic resonance" is the tendency of a mind to remember, effectively, what shape it's body is. As a result, after one's death, it is "morphic resonance" that keeps the soul looking like the original body. Furthermore, if one wishes someone into a frog, one magically alters his morphic resonance (making him think he's a frog) and poof, he becomes one. "Morphogenetic field" is also used in a very similar way.

I do not point this out as a criticism of you, but rather of Mr. Sheldrake, who from my perception is taking facetious concepts from humorous fantasy books and attempting to press them on the real world.

And by the way, thank you for providing this valuable internet resource.
Jim Bearse
Topeka, KS

reply: Chris Hughes writes that "Sheldrake coined the phrase in 1981 in his first book, A New Science of Life. Terry Pratchett’s first Discworld novel was published in 1983."

21 Dec 2000 
You might want to check out http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/home.html & http://www.indiana.edu/~pietsch/memory-optics.html

It goes into details on how the brain stores memories, based on controlled studies of salamander brains. When people, who know what they are talking about, refer to memory as holographic, they are referring to the property of holograms where any fragment of the whole can recreate the original hologram, but with not as much detail as the unbroken original. Along the same lines, the brain seems to store a memory throughout itself, and not just in one place. Any given chunk of the brain can be removed and result in the weakening, but not loss of memories. additionally, transplanting chunks of brains from trained salamanders (who have amazing regenerative abilities) into untrained salamanders will imbue the untrained salamander with the trick that the trained one was taught. It doesn't matter where in the brain the chunk came from.

morphic resonance

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