Book 2: Unbelievable



"But physicists initially argued against evolution because it didn't fit their view of the physical world at the time. In order to incorporate Darwin's discovery, cherished views had to be sacrificed. The kind of damage a new discovery inflicts is not merely intellectual, but emotional."

Dates read: October 11-15, 2015

Rating: 3/10

When I was in middle and high school, I went through a period where I was fascinated with the occult. Doesn't every teenage girl go through that stage? I'd be lying if I said I didn't still have a lingering interest in some parts of it (like astrology and tarot cards), but for the most part, it's not something I think about very much. But when this book was on Kindle sale, I read the title and that little teenage girl part of me wouldn't let me pass it by.

Before beginning this book, I was vaguely aware of the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory...as in I was aware that it had been a thing, wasn't sure if it still was a thing or anything that might have come out about it. As a reference text about Dr. J.B. Rhine, who founded the Laboratory, and the work of the Lab, this is a very solid work. But much like the Lab and its refusal to trade in sensationalism, the book's steadfast sticking to a "just the facts, ma'am" approach means that it doesn't really go anywhere.

Things like ghosts and poltergeists are the kind of juicy stuff that makes for page-turning reading. It's also the kind of thing that donors gave money to the Lab to research. But Dr. Rhine's primary interest wasn't keeping dollars flowing, it was establishing parapsychology as a legitimate field of research and scientific thought. Seances, mediums, telekinesis...those kind of talents, even if there was some intriguing anecdotal evidence to support them, weren't able to be performed on demand and couldn't stand up to scientific scrutiny. So while they were dutifully investigated, the Lab focused mainly on ESP research and mind-reading with the famous Zener cards. They did have success at these experiments, enough so that that the Parapsychological Association was eventually able to join some scientific groups, but that was about the total of what they were able to achieve.

At the end of the day, I just didn't really enjoy reading the book. It's not really about parapsychology or mysterious happenings, it's about Dr. Rhine and his struggle to gain scientific legitimacy for his work. That's why the rating is so low: it's not poorly written, it's just that ultimately, it's not very interesting.

Tell me, blog friends, what do you think about life after death? Do you believe in ghosts?

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