If you’ve ever wondered what kittens, leprechauns, fencing foils, gauze material and sperm all have in common, it’s this: they’ve all been used to help prove or disprove the existence of….well…. the end of existence.
Mary Roach’s highly entertaining and informative book, Spook, tackles a mystery everyone wants the answers to but no one seems to get until we die…the possibility of life after death. She flies all over the world, turning to actual scientifically published literature and interviewing researchers who are currently out there doing studies to try to find the answers. What she discovers is interesting, thought-provoking, often hilarious and sometimes a bit unconventional. Who would have ever thought of putting a laptop computer on the ceiling to help prove out-of-body experiences when the heart stops? Putting people (and sheep) on a scale as they die to see if they lose weight once their ‘soul’ leaves the body? Leaving modeling clay under the table during a seance to see if spirits leave a ‘footprint’ when they move the table? Committing suicide to attempt to contact research partners from the other side? It’s all been done, and documented. Crazy, right?
I laughed out loud several times during this book, which was unexpected. I clearly expected this book to freak me out, like watching Ghost Adventures with my husband in the dark on Friday nights. I was pleasantly surprised. Roach takes a light-hearted yet scientific viewpoint of her subject matter, so it was fun rather than scary. It definitely opened my eyes to how society and technology have changed over the last century. It’s amazing to see how we as human beings have become more cynical and proof-driven since the turn of the century…yet our fascination with the afterlife is at an all-time high, with the popularity of TV shows like Ghost Hunters and The Haunted and movies like Paranormal State. It’s understandable that serious educational institutions like Duke University and the University of Virginia have departments and funding dedicated to this quest.
Having never read a Mary Roach book before, I will definitely be looking out for her other books. Highly recommended.