Science Tackles the Afterlife

Book - 2005 | 1st ed
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In an attempt to find out what happens when people die, the author of "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that there is an afterlife.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton and Co., c2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0393059626 (hardcover)
Branch Call Number: 129 ROA
Characteristics: 311 p. : ill. ; 22 cm

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From Library Staff

List - The Good Place
LibrarianDest Feb 23, 2018

"A smart, quirky, hilarious look at whether there is a soul that survives our physical demise." -- Publishers Weekly

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Jun 08, 2017

I am an atheist, and so do not believe in the existence of the soul, but I found this book fascinating nonetheless!

mvkramer Apr 19, 2017

How have scientifically-minded people tried to prove the existence of the soul? If you are, as I am, a collector of random facts, this will be a fun book for you and provide fodder for plenty of party conversations.

Radharc Mar 27, 2015

Roach's blend of science and humor makes for some damn fine entertaining and enlightening reading. This time around, the book is about the search for scientific evidence of the human soul. As in her previous book, Stiff, there are plenty of footnotes that will guarantee a chuckle. Recommended!

Jul 19, 2014

Believe in the existence of a soul or not, it's worth reading just for it's thought provoking possibilities.

Aug 01, 2012

I personally enjoyed Stiff more than this book, but Stiff was a little more tactile to research. I find the writing style complex, yet comfortable. I look forward to reading more in the future.

Jul 06, 2012

Was not as impressed as the first 2 comments, but they seem better read and written then me. Book well researched. The short asides and footnotes provide a well needed chuckle. I lost gas toward the end. Unsatisfying wrap-up. Quick read though.

Mar 30, 2012

Do ghosts really exist? No.* That out of the way, Ms. Roach's entertaining book is an examination of why, despite everything -- and I mean EVERYTHING -- people believe and try to find proof. What evidence there is indicates a dispiriting deterioration of character and mental powers after death. Shakespeare's post-mortem poetry, for example, has hit the skids. A ghost never has anything interesting, witty, or even useful to say (thanks for telling us about the housing bubble, spirit world!) And the afterlife? Don't ask. "We are all very joyful" is about as exciting as it gets. Do ghosts have to take an oath of confidentiality, like MI 6?

*Not that the author explicitly says so -- she's very gentle with people's opinions. But look at that Contents list, above.

Dec 19, 2011

Author Mary Roach admits up front that she is skeptical of all claims of life after death and has been since she was a teenager. Her aim in this book is to apply scientific rigour to the question of the afterlife and see what she can learn. Roach's approach to science books is to use a lot of humour and tangential asides to lighten the topic and to entertain. This worked very well in her more recent "Packing for Mars". Here, in Spook, she was either reluctant to let loose with the mocking commentary that was so effective in Packing for Mars because of the subject matter or her talent was not as developed as it would become. Either way, the humour is more subdued and a bit forced here. That being said, this is still an enjoyable book and covers a range of topics including reincarnation, measuring the weight of the soul, ectoplasm and mediums, ghosts, and near-death experiences. Whatever your views on the afterlife, this book will probably not change your mind, but it may at least make you think a bit about it.


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MaxineML Apr 07, 2015

“It’s possible that the reason I've never experienced a ghostly presence is that my temporal lobes aren't wired for it. It could well be that the main difference between skeptics (Susan Blackmore notwithstanding) and believers is the neural structure they were born with. But the question still remains: Are these people whose EMF-influenced brains alert them to “presences” picking up something real that the rest of us can’t pick up, or are they hallucinating? Here again, we must end with the Big Shrug, a statue of which is being erected on the lawn outside my office.”

MaxineML Apr 07, 2015

In the words of the late Francis Crick...You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.


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