Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mary Roach is a journalist. It seems to me that, when presenting investigative journalism, journalists should serve the reader by presenting evidence to support a case for claims made in the investigation. This books is about how science tackles the question of an alleged afterlife. Mary Roach does an excellent job of presenting an excellent history of the subject as well as evidence collected in both research and her personal investigations with both diligence and humor. She sources both believers and skeptics, although I think she would have done well to source those who criticize the possibility of consciousness absent the body based on the absence of any plausible mechanism. In my estimation, that is the crux of the issue - believers hold their position based on ignorance (I don't know, therefore I do know) rather than actual mechanisms supported by data. Every single conclusion of a paranormal investigator given in this book involves wishful thinking. It's childish. If the evidence presented in this book is evaluated in isolation, it seems to me that any reasonable person would conclude, based on that evidence, that there is no good reason to accept as reasonably possible the existence of an afterlife or any existence of consciousness absent the body. I think it's perfectly acceptable that a journalist draws his or her own conclusions from their investigation, and I'll give Mary Roach credit for being honest in saying that her conclusion is based on feelings rather than facts, but I was disappointed that she believes in ghosts. Feelings are not a reliable basis for determining the truth of a claim. Children use feelings as a basis for constructing their world views. If you're grown up, you'll depend on facts.
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