The Sense of Being Stared At

From Cibernética Americana


The Sense of Being Stared At[1] is a 2003 book by Rupert Sheldrake. As much significance as the subject matter itself has, it is perhaps even more interesting from a sociology of science perspective. My article here addresses both these aspects and stands in constrast to the corresponding section of the English Wiki article which was originally an article of its own but is now a section of the article on the author.


Sheldrake is a UK scientist whose theory of Morphogenic fields is considered to be a pseudoscience by many recognized scientists in specific disciplines. The book is primarily an exposition of this theory with a presentation of the experimental examination of the specific titular phenomenon as support.

The neologism "seventh sense" is introduced to contrast to the normal connotation of "sixth sense" a "sixth sense" which is grounded is some speculative scientific semi-hypothesis, in this case, morphogenic fields. Chapters 8 and 11 summarize the phenonmenon in question and the experimental results found by the author respectively.

The Phenomenon Itself (Ch. 8)

Begins with stories of persons who claimed that the phenomenon saved their lives. Authors surveys and those of others give ranges of 70 to ninety percent of respondents claiming personal experience of it. Various literary examples are cited.

Sensing the Direction From Which the Gaze is Coming

Author cites 97% incidence of directionality in his case study database and recounts various anecdotal testimony for same.

Making People Turn Around

Similar to previous, 83% incidence of report of effectiveness in producing a reaction in the person stared at.

Sensitivity of Different Parts of the Body

Anecdotal reports of specificity of the phenomenon to a focus on a particular part of the body of the person stared at.

The Details of Peoples Experiences

A summary of various details of the phenomenon such as type of person stared at, nature of the interest on the part of the person who stares, etc. presented in Appendix B.


Three standard counter arguments:

  1. Dismissal of the phenomenon as superstition.
  2. Subtle but ordinary clues (not requiring operation of any more than 5 senses).
  3. Combination of blind chance and selectivity.

The Experimental Results (Ch. 11 )

Prior Studies

The first studies by E. B. Tichener and J. Edgar Coover[2] gave negative results, i.e. confirmed one or more of the counter arguments.

Authors Research

The essential design of the authors experiments contrast chance reporting in the case where no one is actually staring vs. the staring case, in a manner similar to other telepathy experiments as refined based on his own experimental designs and those of others.

Pattern of Results

The difference between the control case and the live one generally are a statistically significant 10% by the authors work, those of others, and even under a reanalysis of the Prior Studies to the design framework.


  • Part I: Telepathy
  • Part II: The Power of Attention
  • Part III: Remote Viewing and Foreshadowings of the Future
  • Part Iv: How Does the Seventh Sense Work?


  1. Sheldrake, Rupert (2003). The Sense of Being Stared At. Crown. ISBN 0-609-60807-X. 
  2. Template:Cite journal