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Fact Check: Morphogenic Fields Article

  1. Dec 9, 2004 #1
    I was reading an article regarding "morphogenic fields".


    I am not really all that interested in the author's conclusions, rather I want to verify the experiments cited. Specifically what he claims in this excerpt:

    I have done a little checking and one of the two websites I came across cited the article I linked to as its source (not much help there) the other one claimed that Agar started his experiment in 1938 and ran it for twenty-five years.

    Not only would I like correct information on this, but I am also looking for much more complete and specific information regarding how these experiemnts and others (F.A.E. Crew, for example) were performed and the exact results found.

    Can anyone help me out with this one?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2004 #2


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    I don't have any information on those old studies. I'm afraid you're likely to find yourself at the mercy of a librarian going through dusty old archives to find those articles. The last time I needed a reference ca 1920s, I found myself in an old warehouse, with one librarian, who took about a half hour to find the journal (surely he took a nap in between...if I worked in that place, I'd spend a lot of time napping too).

    If you find a copy of it, I can help you interpret the methods and identify any flaws or biases. It'll probably wind up being some horribly boring monograph that's 50 pages long!
  4. Dec 9, 2004 #3
    I have gathered a bit more information.
    This may help find the articles.

    Where might I be able to get past issues or articles from the British Journal of Psychology, the Journal of Genetics and the Journal of Experimental Biology?
  5. Dec 9, 2004 #4
  6. Dec 10, 2004 #5


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    Request the articles through your library. If the journal is owned by a scientific society, the society likely has archives as well.

    In both studies, look carefully at the strains of rats used. There are a variety of strains of rats, not to mention that they were far less inbred in the 1920s, so it may be coincidence that they "picked up where they left off" and just that the inbreeding has selected for learning ability either intentionally or not. Back it the 1920s, if they didn't find the exit, were the rats allowed to drown? Was there something in the breeding that would account for only breeding the faster learners?

    When they recieved the shock upon attempting to exit, were they still allowed to exit? It seems escaping drowning might be more important than a shock. Male rats are well known to run across a mildly electrified grid to get to a female on the other side, so a shock might not have been much of a deterrent to escaping via any exit.

    Did they record the time it took to find the exit? Was the experiment terminated as soon as they found the dimly lit exit? How long of a time elapsed between attempts? Was it 20 days of testing for 20 attempts, or did the poor, soaking wet rat keep getting tossed back into water? Were there other spatial cues in the room? Where was the experimenter located during the test? How visible were the exits other than the presence of lights? Were the water mazes cleaned thoroughly between tests to remove the scent of previous rats? How many rats were used? What was the variation among the rats? Where was the starting platform, and what direction did the rats naturally swim if there was no light and no electric shock? There are a LOT of ways these tests could be biased, especially back in the 1920s when people weren't aware of how those biases could be introduced.
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