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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (edition 2006)

by Mary Roach

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2,6381172,266 (3.53)154
Member:jsetla
Title:Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
Authors:Mary Roach
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2006), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 311 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

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Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
I'll give this 3.5 stars because I love the Authors comic approach to science topics. Makes a fun read although I think this topic just didn't do it for me. I'm too skeptical about all of it that nothing changed my mind or really floored me. Love the Author but wasn't really feeling the topic. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
Young Reader Reaction: Spook isn't a boring book that just lists facts, it's actually a wonderfully hilarious adventure. On one page you could have chills running down your back but on the next page you could be laughing until tears come to your eyes.

Mary Roach's expressive and comical writing style give this book a 10 out of 10. This is as good as Stiff. This novel will be perfect for students in high school and older. For some readers, the vocabulary may be difficult and the humor too subtle. Overall, Spook is a fantastic novel that you'll have a great time reading.

To read our full review, go to The Reading Tub®.
  TheReadingTub | Aug 21, 2014 |
YAH!!! Another Mary Roach! While not as great as some of the others, it was still good. My favorite parts were the mention of the Donner Party and the Donner Picnic Grounds and the footnote about curious cows. Love her random snarky comments. I wish I could meet her in person and hear some of her research stories. I'm sure we would all be rolling on the floor. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Spook explores not only the afterlife, but the history of the soul, ghost hunting, haunting phenomena, and mediumship. Although the scope of the book is broad, and Mary Roach touches lightly on each topic (or dives extremely deep into one aspect of the topic), I think most anyone could learn something new, no matter his or her spiritual beliefs.

The author provides a good review of obscure (and not so obscure) research into a variety of “paranormal” topics. It wasn’t so long ago that paranormal studies was a perfectly legitimate branch of science that many scientists from a variety of disciplines studied. I’ve done some reading on the Society of Psychical Research, and their early studies especially strove to remain as scientific as possible. At times, the author’s description of this older science--and even some of the modern experiments--struck me as a little too sarcastic, verging on outright laughing at people’s beliefs. If you are going to learn something new, you have to be open to bizarre-sounding ideas before you judge them. However, that eye-rolling may have been over-emphasized by the narrator on the audio edition I listened to. The narrator also came up with some amazingly annoying accents for various people, several bordering on the offensive, and mispronounced some basic, non-science words throughout the text, so I wouldn’t recommend the audio version.

The most fascinating new piece of information I learned was the intense reaction that some people have to psychoacoustics, which can make eyeballs vibrate and cause hallucinations. For all the ghost hunter shows I’ve watched, I’d never heard that explanation before. I was also fascinated by the ectoplasm chapter.

However, I would have liked a little more depth about the variety of things people believe happen to them after death. The opening chapter on a scientist studying reincarnation was brilliant (except for the Abu accent my narrator assumed). The author sort of addresses the Christian version of Heaven and Hell throughout the rest of the text, especially through the near-death experience stories. But what about other beliefs, like the post-mortem (and pre-mortem) baptisms that Mormons conduct for non-Mormons without their consent so they can come to the same spiritual paradise? What about the Buddhist idea of breaking free of reincarnation and achieving nirvana? Is no one studying these other beliefs?

Overall, Spook is a fascinating walk through the science of the soul (more so than the science of the afterlife, I’d say). I’d recommend it to anyone curious about ghosts and attempts to prove that spirits are distinct from physical bodies. ( )
  JLSmither | Jun 1, 2014 |
I don't think I'm the greatest fan of Mary Roach's style. It's informal, easy to read, self-deprecating -- but when it comes to a topic like this, I don't want to hear all about Mary Roach unless it really illuminates the subject matter. Granted, stuff like near-death experiences and the various ideas of what happens to us after we die are things I've been interested in for a long time, and don't really need an entry-level primer on. (I had to memorise the stages of an NDE as described by Kenneth Ring for my religious studies A Level.)

Still, where this deals with facts instead of impressions, it's interesting stuff. A couple of the studies and anecdotes were familiar to me from what I already knew: I still find the case of the woman who saw the surgical tools being used on her despite having her eyes taped shut an interesting one. (It's convincing because it wasn't a typical tool, not something she'd have come across elsewhere, and she didn't see the instruments before or after her operation.)

Overall, this probably isn't going to convince you either way, if that's what you're looking for, but it's certainly got some interesting snippets of information. ( )
  shanaqui | May 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Roach ranges far and wide in "Spook," traveling to India to look into reincarnation and England to take a course in how to be a medium. She is a skeptic, but comes to some surprising conclusions in "Spook."
 
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For my parents, wherever they are or aren't.
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I don’t recall my mood the morning I was born, but I imagine I felt a bit out of sorts.
My mother worked hard to instill faith in me.  (Introduction)
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Also published under the title of "Six Feet Over".
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393329127, Paperback)

If author Mary Roach was a college professor, she'd have a zero drop-out rate. That's because when Roach tackles a subject--like the posthumous human body in her previous bestseller, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, or the soul in the winning Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife--she charges forth with such zeal, humor, and ingenuity that her students (er, readers) feel like they're witnessing the most interesting thing on Earth. Who the heck would skip that? As Roach informs us in her introduction, "This is a book for people who would like very much to believe in a soul and in an afterlife for it to hang around in, but who have trouble accepting these things on faith. It's a giggly, random, utterly earthbound assault on our most ponderous unanswered question." Talk about truth in advertising. With that, Roach grabs us by the wrist and hauls butt to India, England, and various points in between in search of human spiritual ephemera, consulting an earnest bunch of scientists, mystics, psychics, and kooks along the way. It's a heck of a journey and Roach, with one eyebrow mischievously cocked, is a fantastically entertaining tour guide, at once respectful and hilarious, dubious yet probing. And brother, does she bring the facts. Indeed, Spook's myriad footnotes are nearly as riveting as the principal text. To wit: "In reality, an X-ray of the head could not show the brain, because the skull blocks the rays. What appeared to be an X-ray of the folds and convolutions of a human brain inside a skull--an image circulated widely in 1896--was in fact an X-ray of artfully arranged cat intestines." Or this: "Medical treatises were eminently more readable in Sanctorius's day. Medicina statica delved fearlessly into subjects of unprecedented medical eccentricity: 'Cucumbers, how prejudicial,' and the tantalizing 'Leaping, its consequences.' There's even a full-page, near-infomercial-quality plug for something called the Flesh-Brush." While rigid students of theology might take exception to Roach's conclusions (namely, we're just a bag of bones killing time before donning a soil blanket) it's hard to imagine anyone not enjoying this impressively researched and immensely readable book. And since, as Roach suggests, each of us has only one go-round, we might as well waste downtime with something thoroughly fun. --Kim Hughes

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:35 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Draws on the achievements of scientists, engineers, and mediums to consider the feasibility of life after death, from a reincarnation researcher's experimentation with out-of-body experiences to laboratory investigations into ghosts.

(summary from another edition)

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W.W. Norton

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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 184195845X, 1847670806

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