Saturday, September 09, 2006

Life In Sheldrake's World

Yesterday EoR mentioned Rupert Sheldrake is strutting the stage again, which got him to wondering what life is like in the magical realm of Sheldrake-World.

Sheldrake doesn't argue that telepathy (if we suspend disbelief for a moment, and assume the possibility of such a phenomenon) is an artefact of the higher cognitive functions of the human mind. No, in the Magical Kingdom of Sheldrake, animals are telepathic as well. Most certainly parrots (who are fairly intelligent, as far as we can rate such a quality in nonhuman species) and dogs (who are not so intelligent). Presumably, jellyfish, amoebas, and sloths are also telepathic (though, obviously, sloths take a longer time to formulate and transmit their thoughts). Presumably, also, telepathic powers have existed for many millions of years.

Come with EoR now into the Twilight Zone of Rationality, and postulate a world where animals developed telepathy. Natural selection would favour, not those who could "sense" a close social member's return (interesting information, but not essential to survival) but rather those who could "sense" food. Imagine the life of a superpredator such as a lion. Most energy and time is expended on the hunt with only an occasional kill. Imagine the life of a telepathic superpredator such as Leo the Amazing. He could spend most of his time sensing where the prey was, waiting around for it, and killing it with little or no effort. The rest of the time he'd be mating and producing a race of uberlions who would quickly see the extermination of their slower, non-telepathic cousins.

Under the evolutionary pressure of the genetic arms race, the prey too would have to develop their telepathic senses to avoid the predators. A similar situation would exist for other telepathic species.

Until we come to humans, the subjects of Sheldrake's careful studies, when the telepathy seems to have devolved until it becomes only a vague intuition which is sometimes right and oftentimes wrong, and mainly only about who's phoning.

Or it could just be chance and wishful thinking, but that would be hurtful and destroy the joyful illusion.

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