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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary…

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (edition 2006)

by Mary Roach

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Title:Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife
Authors:Mary Roach
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2006), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 311 pages
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Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach


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I am fond of Mary Roach's books and enjoyed this book as well. Mary does a nice job on researching the topics and describing her findings with a sense of humor. She has an inquiring mind and a logical analysis. This was not my favorite of her books but still recommend the book. ( )
  GlennBell | Apr 26, 2016 |
When "science tackles the afterlife" in Mary Roach's 2005 book "Spook," you don't find much in the way of answers to age-old questions, but you do find a good time. Roach, as in other books with mostly one-word titles like "Stiff," "Gulp" and "Bonk," seems more interested in satisfying her curiosity and discovering science's lighter side than in hard science. Her college degree was in psychology. Still she imparts some information you are not likely to find, at least not all in one place, in any other science book.

Her most amazing bit of information may be simply that a few scientists really have made serious studies of such questions as: Do human bodies lose weight after death, possibly because of departing spirits? Can mediums really communicate with the dead? Do near-death experiences really give glimpses into heaven? Can cameras, recorders and other devices capture evidence of spirits that cannot be detected by the human senses?

The evidence in these studies proves inconclusive, yet often suggestive. Roach herself, if still skeptical about an afterlife at the end of her book, nevertheless seems hopeful. "I believe in the possibility of something more ...," she writes. "It's not much, but it's more than I believed a year ago."

Thus, "Spook" is a book both believers and skeptics can take some comfort in. It doesn't prove their position, but neither does it disprove it. Is there life after death? This book leaves most of us where we began, relying not on science but on what we believe, or what we want to believe. ( )
1 vote hardlyhardy | Mar 21, 2016 |
As usual, an entertaining read by Mary Roach. I didn't enjoy it as much as most of her other books, however, maybe because she didn't seem as completely delighted about researching this topic as she has seemed with all of her other books.

Also, the e-book edition that I read was not a good one. On the last page of every chapter was a note stating that no pictures were included because of "permissive" issues. I assume they were referring to the photos that often are used at the beginning of a new chapter, but the strange misuse of permission always left me wondering if I was reading a book that had been tranlated from Italian, or something.

Also, one of the pleasures of reading her books is reading the footnote asides...but the asterisk character used here is SO small that when I would follow one, I would often realize that I had missed two or three others before. So l finally just stopped following them at all, and read them when I finished the rest of the book. Still fun to read, but not as much fun. ( )
  magerber | Feb 22, 2016 |
Roach gives us another fascinating read with her trademark snarky voice, the topic this time asking whether there is life after death and is there a scientific way of proving it. We follow her to a school for mediums, exploring the tools that, through history, have purported to call/record/tape or otherwise prove that spirits of the dead walk this earth. She even witnesses an operation to insert a pacemaker where the patient's heart was temporarily stopped. She reports on efforts to weigh dying people to prove that the soul has weight and really exists and studies which decide when a soul would actually implant in a person.

This is relaxed nonfiction, totally fun to read with laugh-out-loud moments. ( )
  mamzel | Feb 9, 2016 |
Unlike the subject matter of her other books, such as "Stiff" and "Gulp", this foray into the afterlife does not lend itself to hard evidence but more to opinion and interpretation of research. I do have the feeling that Roach started the book as a non-believer and nothing much happened in her year of investigation to change her mind. As usual she fills her chapters with the odd experiments, unusual research techniques and earnest scientists. Much of the book serves to show how charlatans throughout history have preyed upon vulnerable people who want to believe that there is certainly a life after death. I do think, at times, Roach wanders completely off topic and, truthfully, my mind wandered several times while reading. I'm still a Mary Roach fan but this is definitely not my favorite.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (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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My mother worked hard to instill faith in me.
I don’t recall my mood the morning I was born, but I imagine I felt a bit out of sorts.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:14 -0400)

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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

An edition of this book was published by 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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