Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Growing tree

Morphic field experiment
(+2, -2)
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Two acorns are planted in equal soil. Everything is provided for, food, water, sunshine, everything a young tree needs. They are just a couple of feet apart.

On one of them a webcam is aimed. People around the world log in and give their attention to this tree. The other has to do without. Rupert Sheldrake keeps watch and us informed.

At the same time another experiment takes place, in the same garden. Again two acorns, one with webcam one without. This time there are screens and speakers too. So the tree can hear you and see you. Rupert Sheldrake keeps watch and us informed.

Simple, cheap, easy to set up. I wonder what would happen.

zeno, Apr 01 2007

A video with Rupert Sheldrake explaing about cheap and easy testing http://video.google...&q=rupert+sheldrake
[zeno, Apr 01 2007]

CSICOP on Sheldrake. http://www.csicop.o...000-09/staring.html
Staring contest, go! [jutta, Apr 02 2007]

Muthbusters talking to plants experiment http://en.wikipedia...9#Talking_to_Plants
[sprogga, Apr 03 2007]

a disagreement with einstein http://www.datasync.com/~rsf1/rtzein.htm
[jhomrighaus, Apr 03 2007]


       didn't Mythbusters do an experiment like this (without the webcam)?
xaviergisz, Apr 02 2007

       I don't know. The idea is to get a whole lot of people to join. I doubt they got the kind of numbers I'm thinking of (thousands and thousands, maybe millions).
zeno, Apr 02 2007

       what about all the people who will think about the poor second tree and then offset the results of the experiment by boosting its growth with their sympathy.
jhomrighaus, Apr 02 2007

       Hehe, that's a good one, the other tree is not known to the public ofcourse.
zeno, Apr 02 2007

       There must be a third experiment where people pray for one of the acorns.
nuclear hobo, Apr 02 2007

       Sigh. Is there some experiment we could perform where we all not give further attention to Rupert Sheldrake?
jutta, Apr 02 2007

       None of my experiments involve giving attention to rupert sheldrake.   

       However, I think I'll keep my experiments to myself until we have established whether or not the halfbakery is a place to post experiment ideas. I don't have very many any way.
ye_river_xiv, Apr 02 2007

       //what about all the people who will think about the poor second tree and then offset the results of the experiment by boosting its growth with their sympathy.//   

       Just have three trees. Not only does the second tree deflect all sympathy from the unknown third tree, but it actually gives useful data by isolating sympathy effects.   

       And all three trees should have webcams pointed at them, dummy or not. Rupert presents far too far-seeing and dangerous a bias to leave such double-blind stones unturned.
Smurfsahoy, Apr 02 2007

       I have secretly planted a seventh tree. Woops - now you know! Fortunately there is also an eighth tree. Woops!
bungston, Apr 02 2007

       It is remarkable. If you come up with a decent theory that fits fairly well with reality, somebody will find the chink in it's armour and kill it stone dead.   

       But if you can come up with a sufficiently stoopid theory that is at odds with almost everything we already know, it will flourish and persist.   

       The fact that Rupert Sheldrake is rejected by mainstream science doesn't mean that he's not a complete dick.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 02 2007

       //it will flourish and persist.//   

       The reason it does this is because these sorts of sensational claims(not unlike the creationist arguments) are totally untestable or rely on premises that by nature are ambiguous and do not allow for direct observation. When such an idea is framed in a scientific way it can be "sold" as science because there is no solid evidence to disprove it(never mind that there is no way to disprove it or to demonstrate that it is correct) An uneducated or ignorant listener(ignorant in this sense implies not having the correct information not as a measure of intelligence) hears the argument, sees there is no disproving evidence and can buy into the logic tree that it must be possible. Throw in a flawed study or two and some of this stuff is pretty convincing on the surface but fails to stand up to informed scrutiny.   

       Don't fall into the trap of assuming that these theories are stupid or that the people coming up with them are stupid, 9 times out of 10 these people are geniuses. The history of science is littered with some of the most intelligent people in the history or mankind championing what today would sound like the dumbest thing you ever heard. This leads to the need for a distinction between scientifically testable, but incorrect theories and theories that can not be tested and as such are not scientific in nature but rather belong in the realm of art or philosophy depending on their content.   

       The morphic field type experiments are a perfect example of an untestable theory. The challenge is designing an experiment sufficiently rigorous to actually test the hypothesis. The number of variables involved in plant growth are positively staggering enough so that the number of controls required to generate a statistically valid scientific result is unbelievably huge and makes the hypothesis virtually untestable.   

       The key in science is not only coming up with a question but then determining a way to test that hypothesis. If one presents a hypothesis that cannot be tested then it remains only a hypothesis, only until testing confirms the hypothesis does it move to a theory and become scientific fact.
jhomrighaus, Apr 02 2007

       //9 times out of 10 these people are geniuses//   

       I actually disagree. I don't think Sheldrake is a genius, any more than von Daniken or Uri Geller. He's a good publicist and, quite possibly, earnest in his beliefs. I'm not being completely facetious when I call him a complete dick - I really just don't think he is a very intelligent person.   

       Intelligent people can lead themselves down some pretty far-fetched paths, especially when they are off the map. But to go that far down such a far- fetched path, in the middle of a pretty well-mapped landscape, requires a degree of persistent stupidity.   

       I'd be interested to know who you were thinking of as historical geniuses championing what are now seen as dumb ideas. More to the point, can you cite a few examples of historical geniuses championing ideas which were amply refuted _at the time_?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 02 2007

       New Ideas are not easily accepted, from Copernicus to Velikovsky, history is littered with innovative thinkers who were ridiculed during their time.   

       In reference to the 9 out of 10, most are simply opportunists.
nuclear hobo, Apr 03 2007

       Velikovsky is still ridiculed. There will always be charlatans.
DrCurry, Apr 03 2007

       I would argue that it takes a fairly strong intelligence to convince people of your cause, weather your right or wrong doesn't make you dumb, the Unabomber was a certified whack job but he also went to MIT where they don't let morons get degrees.   

       I'm not implying that these people are correct only that they are not stupid.   

       A lot of people thought Einstein was out of his gourd but we know that was not the case. Ponds and Fleischman were legitimate scientists that made an error, that Korean doctor that cloned the sheep lied. None of these guys was stupid. There is a big difference between out of touch with reality and stupid.
jhomrighaus, Apr 03 2007

       They did something like this on Myth Busters, I think they said it was either confirmed or plausible that it makes the plant grow better.
BJS, Apr 03 2007

       Can this same experiment be applied to determining whether a morphic field effect can be used to suppresses pots of water from boiling?
zen_tom, Apr 03 2007

       //A lot of people thought Einstein was out of his gourd // Name three.   

       //They did something like this on Myth Busters// Oh, well that's OK then.   

       The trouble with keeping an open mind is that it tends to get used as landfill.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 03 2007

       Wasn't Darwin ridiculed more for the things he was right about?
bneal27, May 09 2008


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