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While John Michell has a brief break from this page, another living legend will be taking his place. Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and the author of The Sense of Being Stared At, And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (Hutchinson, 17.99). His website is: Jonathan Cainer

Archive for Thursday 20th November 2003 - How far does your mind go? by Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake image We have been educated to believe that our minds are inside our heads. But some scientists, including myself, think our minds stretch out beyond our brains, and are not confined to the inside of our bodies.

Our minds may be like fields. Magnetic fields stretch out around magnets, and the invisible electromagnetic fields of mobile phones reach out far beyond the phones themselves, enabling them to send and receive messages. To see the difference between the mind-in-the-brain theory and the extended mind theory, consider how vision works.

Look around you now. Is what you see outside you - just where is seems to be? Or is it inside your brain? The standard answer is that images are inside heads. Vision involves a one-way process: light moves into the eyes and is detected by cells in the retinas. Electrical impulses travel up the optic nerves to the brain, where complex patterns of chemical and electrical activity take place. Then for some unknown reason, you form images of the external world inside your brain.

This theory means that the world you experience around you is actually inside your head. If you look up at the sky, what you see there is in your head too. That means that your skull must be beyond the sky!

Head Explode image I prefer the alternative theory. Your skull is just where it seems to be. What you see is outside you. Vision involves a two-way process - the inward movement of light and the outward projection of images. Every time you look at something, the fields of your mind stretch out to touch what you are looking at.

Can the power of your attention actually influence what you look at? Yes. Most people have found that they can sometimes make people turn round by looking at them from behind.

The sense of being stared at is real, and can be detected in scientific tests, as I discussed last week. Through our extended minds, our thoughts and emotions can directly affect other people. They can also affect animals, as many pet owners have noticed. More about this next week.

I would be grateful to hear from readers about their experiences of the power of looks with animals or other people. Email Rupert Sheldrake with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake

John Michell would love to hear about your experience of any unusual or unexplained phenomena.
If you have a favourite mystery subject - from spontaneous human combustion to ancient Celtic ritual sites, write to John, suggesting a theme. And if you have any answers or theories about the mysteries John will be highlighting, he would particularly like to hear from you.

Email with subject heading: John Michell
Please note, we regret that due to time restrictions personal replies may not be available.

John Michell is a prolific author. Below are just two of John's books which might interest you:

The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena
John Michell and Bob Rickard - A fascinating collection. Look up anything from urban legends to recorded unexplained phenomena - to the existance of ghosts. All presented in an organised, easy to follow manner, in related categories. A complete index and accompanying pictures with each entry. Excellent reference - excellent read.
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
Was the most famous poet and writer of all time a fraud and a plagiarist? Was Shakespeare the "upstart crow" described by Greene as strutting in borrowed feathers, or Jonson's "Poet-Ape" who patched plays together from others' work? John Michell's witty investigation of the theories and claims reads like a series of detective stories. By the end of the book even the most faithful disciples of the Bard will find themselves asking, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?"

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