29.8.14

Beyond Copernicus

Going back to basics in examining our place in the universe.

Caleb Scharf. The Copernicus Complex: The Quest for Our Cosmic (In)Significance. Scientific American (9 Sep 2014)

Though the concept of "the universe" suggests the containment of everything, the latest ideas in cosmology hint that our universe may be just one of a multitude of others - a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities. In The Copernicus Complex, the renowned astrophysicist and author Caleb Scharf takes us on a cosmic adventure like no other, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets and beyond, asserting that the age-old Copernican principle is in need of updating.

As Scharf argues, when Copernicus proposed that the Earth was not the fixed point at the center of the known universe (and therefore we are not unique), he set in motion a colossal scientific juggernaut, forever changing our vision of nature. But the principle has never been entirely true - we do live at a particular time, in a particular location, under particular circumstances.

To solve this conundrum we must put aside our Copernican worldview and embrace the possibility that we are in a delicate balance between mediocrity and significance, order and chaos. Weaving together cutting-edge science and classic storytelling, historical accounts and speculations on what the future holds, The Copernicus Complex presents a compelling argument for what our true cosmic status is, and proposes a way forward for the ultimate quest: to determine life's abundance not just across this universe but across all realities.



24.8.14

Black Magic and Bogeymen

The Satanism scare of the late 1980s is well documented. This book explores an earlier episode which will be new to many of our readers.

Richard Jenkins. Black Magic and Bogeymen: Fear, Rumour and Popular Belief in the North of Ireland 1972-74. Cork University Press (1 Sep 2014)

This is an analysis of a popular scare about black magic and Satanism in the North of Ireland between 1972 and 1974. The book gives an insight into a particularly grim period during the early 1970s in Northern Ireland, using an extremely unusual episode - the black magic rumours - as a privileged window onto a world that may now be behind us, but which continues to fascinate many readers. The book provides a fascinating insight into some of the problems and procedures of social history. The author demonstrates that phenomena like the black magic rumours cannot be understood without taking a multidisciplinary approach, taking in perspectives and comparative evidence from anthropology, sociology, folklore and media studies.


21.8.14

Now Where Did I Put That ...?

Daniel Smith. 100 Things You Will Never Find: Lost Cities, Hidden Treasures and Legendary Quests. Quercus (4 Sep 2014)

What happened to Amelia Earhart's aeroplane, Van Gogh's painting of Dr Gachet and the crew of the Mary Celeste? This fascinating book unlocks the world's lost property cupboard and sifts through buried treasure, mysterious disappearances and unknown locations, examining the evidence - and the conspiracy theories - surrounding the world's most legendary lost objects. Who erased the Nixon tapes? Did Captain Kidd really bury his treasure on Rhode Island? Is Lord Lucan still alive?

Ranging from a single gemstone (the Great Mogul Diamond) to hoards of jewels (treasure of the Knights Templar), and from a single man (Australian prime minister Harold Holt) to swathes of people (the Lost Army of Cambyses), via Shergar the stolen horse, the top secret recipe for KFC, the fifth spy in the 'Cambridge Five', the much-coveted Holy Grail and the sunken Tybee Island Bomb, Dan Smith shines a torch into the darkest theories and examines the hidden truth.

A fascinating catalogue of lost things, 100 Things You Will Never Find will take you on a unique quest around the globe and across the centuries, searching for the legendary items that have inspired generations of explorers, scientists and storytellers alike.


13.8.14

American Monsters

Linda Godfrey is the author of a number of well received books on American cryptozoological phenomena.

Linda S. Godfrey. American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America. Tarcher (August 28, 2014)

from the publisher' website: From pre-Columbian legends to modern-day eyewitness accounts, this comprehensive guide covers the history, sightings and lore surrounding the most mysterious monsters in America—including Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, and more. Bigfoot, the chupacabra, and thunderbirds aren’t just figments of our overactive imaginations—according to thousands of eyewitnesses, they exist, in every corner of the United States. Throughout America’s history, shocked onlookers have seen unbelievable creatures of every stripe—from sea serpents to apelike beings, giant bats to monkeymen—in every region. Author, investigator, and creature expert Linda S. Godfrey brings the same fearless reporting she lent to Real Wolfmen to this essential guide, using historical record, present-day news reports, and eyewitness interviews to examine this hidden menagerie of America’s homegrown beasts.


10.8.14

Remote Control

Edwin C May (Editor), Sonali Bhatt Marwaha (Editor) Anomalous Cognition: Remote Viewing Research and Theory. McFarland & Co Inc (30 July 2014)

Anomalous cognition (AC) - aka ESP/remote viewing - is defined as the acquisition of information from points distant in space-time which are inaccessible by human sensory systems. From 1975 to 1995, Edwin May was a scientist and then programme director for the U.S. government's psychic espionage programme, known as STAR GATE. With the closing of this programme, research has continued at the Laboratories for Fundamental Research, in Palo Alto. The STAR GATE and subsequent programmes included applied and basic research in the areas of methodology and analysis, neurophysiological studies, personnel assessment and selection, operations research, the physics of AC, and psychokinesis.


7.8.14

Shadow Medicine

Looking at the importance of 'Belief' in medicine:

John S. Haller Jr.. Shadow Medicine: The Placebo in Conventional and Alternative Therapies. Columbia University Press. (July, 2014)

Can Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) find common ground? A distinguished historian of medicine, John S. Haller Jr., explores the epistemological foundations of EBM and the challenges these conceptual tools present for both conventional and alternative therapies. As he explores a possible reconciliation between their conflicting approaches, Haller maintains a healthy, scientific skepticism yet finds promise in select complementary and alternative (CAM) therapies. Haller elucidates recent research on the placebo effect and shows how a new engagement between EBM and CAM might lead to a more productive medical practice that includes both the objectivity of evidence-based medicine and the subjective truth of the physician-patient relationship.

Haller’s book tours key topics in the standoff between EBM and CAM: how and why the double blinded, randomized clinical trial (RCT) came to be considered the gold standard in modern medicine; the challenge of postmodern medicine as it counters the positivism of evidence-based medicine; and the politics of modern CAM and the rise of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He conducts an in-depth case study of homeopathy, explaining why it has emerged as a poster-child for CAM, and assesses CAM’s popularity despite its poor performance in clinical trials. Haller concludes with hope, showing how new experimental protocols might tease out the evidentiary basis for the placebo effect and establish a foundation for some reconciliation between EBM and CAM.



2.8.14

Still Circling

Gary S. Bobroff. Crop Circles, Jung, and the Reemergence of the Archetypal Feminine. North Atlantic Books. (19 Aug 2014)

From the publisher's website: Throwing light on the mysterious phenomenon of crop circles within the context of modern psychological reality, Crop Circles, Jung, and the Reemergence of the Archetypal Feminine in an engaging look at the science, history, and symbolic nature of the mystery of these annually occurring giant-scale works of art. Gary S. Bobroff offers a framework for the reader's own deeper consideration of crop circles by examining both the phenomenon itself and the nature of the era into which it has arrived, with special consideration of its relevance to Jungian archetypal psychology.

Living in the moment of the death of one worldview and the birth of another, our culture suffers from a hyper-masculine inflation that has us alienated, imagining ourselves to be separate from each other and the earth. Today we are presented with environmental, social, and spiritual crises and mysteries that call us back toward closer participation with the world. Crop Circles--formed in living grain--exemplify the archetypal feminine nature of this moment's change: a calling toward conscious, felt engagement with a dynamic, living, mysterious world. Placing this modern "dream" into the context of modern reality, Crop Circles, Jung, and the Reemergence of the Archetypal Feminine considers what it means to live in an era of strange encounters with energies larger than ourselves.