Dolphin and Whale Magazine :  January issue 2011
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Rupert Sheldrake Ph.D.

Sheldrake on Animal Telepathy

Described as the Darwin-Einstein of Our Time, Rupert Sheldrake Is Interviewed About His Ground Breaking Research On Animal Telepathy

One of the worldís most
 innovative biologists Rupert  is best known for  his theory of morphic fields and morphic resonance, which leads to a vision of a living, developing universe with its own inherent memory. 
He first worked in
developmental biology
at Cambridge University,
where he is currently Director of the Perrott-Warrick project.

Author of numerous books including A New Science of Life, Sheldrake wrote Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home. He teaches in the summer at Hollyhock on Cortes Island in British Columbia. Visit to view his delightful lecture to Schumaker College.

RE: Your research indicates that telepathy is fairly
common between humans and pet animals. How
widespread do you think it may be among wild

RS: I think telepathy is probably common among
wild animals, and a normal means of communication
when they are at a distance. There have been very
few investigations about this, but partly because itís 

hard to know whatís going on between separated

animals without being able to observe them all in

different places at the same time. But some

field observations suggest that telepathy is indeed

part of their normal way of being. The best studies

I know were carried out long ago by William

Long, a wonderful American naturalist, and

summarized in his classic book HOW ANIMALS

TALK. This has recently been reprinted by Bear

and Co, having been out of print for decades, and

is well worth reading.

Since so many kinds of animals are telepathic with

their human owners, including dogs, cats, horses,

parrots and other domesticated animals, it seems

very unlikely that they all acquired these powers simply

as a results of domestication. African Grey parrots

for example are some of the most telepathic species,

and yet most of those kept as pets were either caught

in the wild, or are only one or two generations away

from the wild. There simply isnít time for evolution

to create major new powers in a couple of generations

so it must be that they use their telepathic powers with

each other under natural conditions.

This is an area where research would be

particularly worthwhile and interesting. For example

if a surveillance type camera was installed in a wolves'

den, it would be possible to observe whether the

cubs know when the adults are coming home and

show any anticipatory changes in their behavior.

This would, I think, be the evolutionary precursor to

the kind of behavior that's seen so commonly with

domestic animals, as in dogs that know when their

owners are coming home.

RE: Is telepathy among humans and between human

and animals widely accepted among many cultures

around the world?

RS: In most cultures around the world telepathy is

widely accepted, although they may not call it

telepathy since that term was only invented in the late

19th century. In most hunter-gatherer societies

shamans play a role in acting as intermediaries

between the human and the natural world and

often seem to know where game animals are to be

found. It also seems to be widely taken for

granted by hunters that if they go hunting with too

strong an intention to kill animals, theyíre much less

likely to be successful than if theyíre emotionally

less attached.

I discuss several examples of this effect in my book


both on interviews with modern western hunters,

and on anthropological reports from hunter-

gatherer societies.

RE:. Why is it taboo in our culture, especially

among scientists?

RS: Telepathy is taboo in our culture because it

implies that our minds reach out beyond our

brains, and that we are interconnected invisibly

with other people and with animals. The

dominant paradigm of science for more than 150

years has been materialism, and materialism is the

doctrine that matter is the only reality, and hence

minds must be aspects of brains. If the mind is in

the brain, then intentions and thoughts should not be

able to affect other people or animals at a distance.

So from a materialist point of view, telepathy is

impossible and therefore any evidence for it

must be flawed or fraudulent, and those who

believe in it must be deluded or superstitious.

Organized groups of skeptics act as vigilantes to

protect this taboo, but the fact is that despite all their

efforts most people believe in telepathy because

they or their friends have experienced it, particularly

in connection with telephone calls.

RE:. As a form of interspecies communication what

might telepathy tell us about the consciousness,

thoughts or feelings of other species?

RS: Telepathic communications with other species

helps to show how we are bonded and interconnected

with them and increase our sense of relationship to the

natural world and to other species.

RE: Is it possible in principle to experimentally test

the hypothesis that dolphins are telepathic with

one another? With humans? Many of the toothed

whales are highly vocal, but no one has been

able to decipher their vocal communication system.

Might telepathic communication with them provide

insights to the nature and function of their vocalizations?

RS: I think itís highly likely that dolphins, whales, and

many other animal species communicate among

themselves telepathically. This would mean that they

could remain in touch at a distance. But even when they

are close together, it could be that much of

the communication is happening directly through

a kind of telepathic resonance, and sensory signals,

like sounds and visual displays help to tune in other

animals so that their main communication

happens telepathically.

It might be possible to test the hypothesis that dolphins

are telepathic with each other if dolphins that are

bonded to each other, for example from the same pod,

are observed in separate places beyond the range

of sound communication. Then if one of them is put

in an emotionally arousing situation, the other one,

at a distance, may show a response. The most

powerful stimuli are pain and distress, so it would

not be ethically desirable to do the most effective

kind of experiments, but if there are some other stimuli

that dolphins might pass on to other members of their

pod, perhaps finding a good source of food, then

an ethically acceptable experiment could perhaps

be devised.

For experiments with humans, it would be necessary

to work with people who have formed particularly

strong bonds with particular dolphins. If they respond

to all human beings, they must be bombarded by thoughts and impressions from 6 billion different people, which would obviously be impossible to test and which would completely overload them. Perhaps the simplest kind of test would be to see if a dolphin knows when a person that itís bonded to is approaching, and to see if it comes to meet them.  This would be rather like the experiments with dogs that know when their owners are coming home.

Most kinds of telepathy that have been studied so far involve calls or signals of distress or other emotions. They donít usually involve the communication of complex information. So I donít know whether telepathic communication with whales would be a reliable way of providing insights into the nature of their vocalizations. I suppose in principle it might, but in practice it might be difficult for a person to enter into such deep connection with a whale that they would be able to understand any messages they might receive.

And even if somebody claimed to have done this, it would be hard to know whether this was a genuine telepathic communication from the whale, or something produced by their own minds. This is a recurrent problem with so called animal communicators, who claim to receive messages from peopleís pets. Some of them say they are getting very detailed information from an animal, say a horse about its experiences and emotions, but how can we be sure it is really coming from the horse rather than being filled in by their own minds? Animal communicators themselves are aware of this problem.

RE: Do you think demonstrable communication with these organisms could significantly influence human interaction and relationship with them? With marine environments? The planet?

RS: I think demonstrable communication with whales and dolphins would enhance peopleís sense of connection to them and to the natural world in general. There are many people who want to believe that such a communication is possible and any evidence for it would be welcomed by large numbers of people. But whether it would make any
difference or not is another question.

Hundreds of millions of people are already convinced that there is a telepathic communication between humans and dogs, and a majority of dog owners feel their animals can pick up their thoughts or intentions telepathically. But this does not necessarily mean that their behavior in relation to the natural world is transformed. Most dog and cat owners, for example are meat-eaters and perfectly happy to eat products produced by factory farming in which billions of animals are subjected to appallingly unnatural confinement.

And even if lots of ordinary people were convinced that whales and dolphins were intelligent beings in communication with humans, itís hard to see how this would effect marine eco-systems. After all, natural history films, like those presented by David Attenborough, are immensely popular on TV, and carry a conservationist message. But the fact that millions of people already want to preserve marine eco-systems and are against the destruction of tropical rainforests does not have much effect on the vast economic forces that lead to the degradation of these environments.

This is part of a much wider problem concerning democracy and politics.  What politicians are able to do seems to be shaped much more by economic forces and powerful lobbying interests than by the votes of the electorate, and all governments are committed to economic growth, which combined with population growth will almost inevitably lead to the destruction or degradation of the natural world.

So the fundamental problem is very deep seated and requires a major change in the way we think about economic expectations, business, growth, and so on. One of the most prominent spokes people for this necessary change is Prince Charles, and in his recent book HARMONY he provides as impressive an overview of this situation as any Iíve come across. But even someone with as much influence as he has can only be frustrated by the economic juggernaut that we are all part of and which has been created by 200 years of enlightenment rationalism, science, technology and free market capitalism.

RE: Is it conceivable that conversing with cetaceans could elevate human consciousness, i.e., might they be teachers for us?

RS: I think cetaceans would be teachers for some people, who feel a natural bond with marine mammals. But most people live far from the oceans and know about whales only from films on TV or books. For some people, birds might be better teachers, or domesticated animals like horses and dogs. But even if they convince people that we are closely linked to the rest of nature and dependent upon it, the political problems still remain. How can the huge financial economic and commercial forces that we have unleashed be changed or restrained, especially when we have now converted the rest of the world to our destructive way of life and philosophy?

The good news is that many people already know that what we are doing is destructive and unsustainable. And in their private lives, many people already feel a connection with animals and the rest of the natural world. The problem is we have all learned to live split lives so that during working hours we go along with the predominant worldview, so that we can make enough money to spend our evenings, weekends and vacations in a more balanced relationship with animals, plants and the natural world.

I think that what will make a big difference is when people come out of the closet and are able to speak freely about their feelings in places of work and education, rather than confine these interests to their private lives. Iím sure that the work with cetaceans can help, but I donít think it will be enough by itself, and I donít suppose anyone else does either.



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