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Buy *Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife* online

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

Mary Roach
W.W. Norton
288 pages
October 2005
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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It’s getting to be that time of year. The leaves start to turn color and all the little ghosts, goblins, and ghouls will be out trick-or-treating soon. It’s also a good time to curl up (no pun intended) under the covers with a good book. And Mary Roach’s aptly titled Spook: Science Tackles The Afterlife is the perfect choice to snuggle with while snacking on Halloween candy. Following on the heels of her fantastic 2004 book Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers, Roach delves into exactly what the title says: the afterlife through scientific explanations, theories, and conjecture, debating religion with science - complete with funny and thorough anecdotes. Her biting wit is omnipresent from the start.

“Flawed as it is, science remains the most solid god I’ve got. And so I decided to turn to it, to see what it had to say on the topic of life after death. Because I know what religion says, and it perplexes me. It doesn’t deliver a single, coherent, scientifically sensible or provable scenario. Religion says that your soul goes to heaven or possibly to a seven-tiered garden, or that your soul is reincarnated into a new body, or that you lie around in your coffin clothes until the Second Coming. And, of course, only one of these can be true. Which means that for millions of people, religion will turn out to have been a bum steer as regards the hereafter. Science seemed the better bet. For the most part, science has this to say: Yeah, right. If there were a soul, an etheric disembodied you that can live on, independent of your brain, we scientists would know about it.”
Within twelve chapters (which seem to fly by faster than you’d think) Roach takes you from India to England and several universities while stuffing you with tons of information. There is the ejaculate ectoplasm, enrolling in medium school, and the weighing of dog and mice souls that is carefully calibrated then sardonically calculated by Roach. The humorous prose is what keeps you going in between all the dry data, though Roach never makes it seem so dry. Whether you believe you can weigh a soul (and talk to it through your toaster) or think that communicating with the dead is nonsense fodder that belongs on the Sci-Fi channel or on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, this is one fantastically enjoyable book no matter what side of the fence your on. Even if your sitting precariously in the middle, this is sure to -- at the very least -- entertain and inform you, just make sure to look over your shoulder for Casper.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Bobby Blades, 2005

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