Clegg accomplishes the impressive feat of persuading readers that ESP might exist, while delivering a delightfully astute...

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EXTRA SENSORY

THE SCIENCE AND PSEUDOSCIENCE OF TELEPATHY AND OTHER POWERS OF THE MIND

Prolific British science writer Clegg (Gravity: How the Weakest Force in the Universe Shaped Our Lives, 2012) takes ESP seriously but resists the temptation to add to the prolific genre that appeals to enthusiasts (“Of course, there are charlatans, BUT…”).

Actions such as clairvoyance or telekinesis must obey physical laws. The author finds none that apply, but believers often propose mysterious forces unknown to science, and Clegg does not deny the possibility. Establishment scientists have been investigating ESP for more than a century. Clegg delivers a detailed account of figures from J.B Rhine (1930s) and Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff (1970s), whose work was supported by the CIA. He does not neglect colorful figures such as Uri Geller, who, even though his feats flabbergast every lay observer and too many scientists, was no magician; professional performers can duplicate his tricks. Genuinely distressed, Clegg points out that ESP researchers have been sloppy about including controls and keeping an eye on subjects to prevent cheating; they routinely announce positive results, which are never dramatic (such as moving an object) but statistical (guessing more cards than expected), and other researchers attempting to duplicate them always fail. In a surprisingly optimistic conclusion, the author writes that some phenomena, particularly telepathy and remote viewing, may have a basis in reality and suggests experimental approaches with rigorous controls to prevent both subject and experimenter from cheating.

Clegg accomplishes the impressive feat of persuading readers that ESP might exist, while delivering a delightfully astute examination of the current evidence, which remains frustratingly feeble.

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-01906-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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