The extended mind: recent experimental evidence

Tuesday 18th October 2011 @ 19:00

Non-Member: £12.00 ; Staff: £5.00 ; Student: £3.00

Dr Rupert Sheldrake, Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences

Paul Garwood reviews the lecture and seeks the answer to the question "Are Minds Extended?"

Have you ever wondered how your dog knows when your partner is on their way home even if they are miles away?  Or how you so often know who is calling before you pick up the phone?

Most of the three hundred people (standing room only!) gathered in South Kensington on to hear a lecture organised by the Friends of Imperial College had experienced one or both of these phenomena.  Is it real?  Or is it just that we don’t notice, or forget, the many times these things don’t happen?

In his lecture, scientist and author Dr Rupert Sheldrake tabled evidence to suggest that these, and other strange coincidences, happen much more often than chance alone would suggest.

Current scientific knowledge does not offer an explanation.  Dr Sheldrake offers the hypothesis that the mind creates a “field” which can be sensed by other minds and can stretch over long distances.  However, his lecture focused more on the evidence he had assembled rather than on possible explanations.

 Dr Sheldrake is an able speaker and clearly knows his subject extremely well.  He kept the audience engaged throughout his hour-long lecture and presented his evidence in a compelling way.  He handled, sometimes doubtful, questions clearly and professionally.

In thanking Dr Sheldrake, Prof Igor Aleksander commented he was a brave man for taking on the scientific establishment.  Dr Sheldrake’s findings and theories meet with much scepticism from many people – both in his field and in the broader scientific community.  For some, his work is pseudo-science at best and  brings “real” science into disrepute at worst.

However, my feeling and that of many in the audience was that the Friends of Imperial College had performed a useful service by giving Dr Sheldrake the opportunity to expound his ideas and perhaps stimulate the kind of fact-based response which either allows science to advance, or closes off blind alleys on occasion.  It will be interesting to see which in this case!

The Friends of Imperial College is dedicated to spreading enthusiasm and knowledge of science, technology and medicine.  It is independent of, but linked to, one of the premier scientific establishments on the globe and organises lectures and events to spread knowledge and stimulate attention to scientific developments

 Paul Garwood 8 November 2011

Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than 80 technical papers and ten books, including A New Science of Life. A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he studied natural sciences at Cambridge University, where he took a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and philosophy at Harvard University, where he was a Frank Knox Fellow.  He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, and Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology.  He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, near San Francisco, and lives in London with his wife and two sons. His web site is

His work has aroused controversy amongst fellow scientists, some of whom question the results of his experiments and his conclusions.

Igor Aleksander, Emeritus Professor of Neural Systems Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial will sum up.   He is a member of Friends and has spoken about his work on neural networks, key mechanisms of consciousness in humans, animals and machines and the impact of information on the mind

Optionally followed by supper (this can be booked on the event booking form).
After the lecture a Friends' Table has been reserved at a local restaurant to entertain the speaker and for any of the audience who would like to join us to continue the evening's discussion. A two-course fixed price supper is served including wine, coffee and service charge.
Or if you have already booked for the event and now want to join us for supper Book Supper now

Venue: Lecture Theatre G16, Sir Alexander Fleming Building, Imperial College Road SW7 2AZ

Campus Map reference 33
on the Imperial College London Map