6 April 2017


🔺 Antony Milne. UFO Critters: UFOs, Science and Extraterrestrials Empiricus Books, 2016.

Argues that some UFOs might be living creatures, perhaps made of plasma , rather than mechanical devices. Much of this argument is derived from the work of Trevor James Constable, though others such as Ivan T Sanderson have proposed similar ideas. As is usual in such books the author rambles on into irrelevant side issues and adopts a tone of general contrarianism bordering on the cranky.

🔺 George Musser. Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon that Reimagines Space and Time, and What It Means for Black Holes, The Big Bang and Theories Of Everything. Scientific American, 2016.

An examination of quantum entanglement and non-locality and how it challenges our notions of space and time. Musser traces the development of the topic and the many controversies it raises. It is interesting to see that at the highest level physics begins to look like politics, with researchers with differing views talking past or over each rather than engaging in genuine conversation. The book avoids maths and formulae but this is not a light read as it deals with very challenging concepts at the edge of intelligibility even for the experts, and perhaps suggests that human beings may never be able to understand the unitary natural world at its deepest level(s)

🔺 Michael J Murphy. On Wildman: Tracking Bigfoot Through History. Camonica Books, 2016.

A thought provoking analysis of the pervasive myth of the Wildman , seen as a liminal creature between human civilization and wild nature. Murphy uses Levi-Strauss’s structuralism and Jung’ s idea of the archetype. In many ways this echoes the themes I speculated on here :
Murphy then traces the role of the Wildman in pre-modern cultures, with extended coverage of the role of Enkidu in the Epic of Gilgamesh and of Grendel in Beowulf, as well as treatments of the role of the Wildman in classic Greece, Rome and the Renaissance. The booklet is rather less convincing when Murphy argues that these stories are based on real biological creatures, which have somehow survived up the modern day but for which no biological evidence is ever forthcoming. More likely is that the “factual” bases of such stories are travellers’ tales of great apes and the activities of ordinary human beings who either fled or exiled to the wilderness as outlaws and outcasts. However the “real” Wildman is a product of the human imagination.

🔺 Carlo Rovelli. Reality Is Not What We Think It Is: The Journey to Quantum Gravity. Allen Lane, 2016.

Rovelli outlines loop quantum gravity. A possible theory unifying relativity and quantum mechanics, which does away with infinity, many worlds, the multiverse and space. There are advanced mathematics in the footnotes but not the text, which however is not for the fainthearted. How this will explain non-locality (see Musser above) is not gone into.

🔺 Karen Stollznow (ed) Would You Believe It: Mysterious Tales from The People You Would Least Expect. The Editor, 2017

A selection of ostensible paranormal experiences told by a number of self-proclaimed skeptics, including tales of ghosts, out of the body experiences, mysterious coincidence, intuitions, UFO sightings, missing time, encounters with Bigfoot and just general weirdness. The majority of the contributors come up with “rational explanations”, but others seem genuinely puzzled by their experiences. The contributors are mainly American, but there are contributions from Susan Blackmore (the tale of the OBE told for the umpteenth time), Chris French and Hayley Stevens from the UK.

🔺 David Weatherley and Russ Allsion. Haunted Toys. Leprechaun Productions, 2017.

If you didn’t think you kid have enough problems with the internet, mobile phones and social media bringing unpleasant influences into your home, this book introduces the worry that your kid’s doll or toy may be haunted by a previous owner or bring you bad luck. It perhaps something of a relief that this already slim book had to be padded out with accounts of spooky teenage rituals and that the actual “haunted toys”, mainly dolls, come with stories, aimed at making them more saleable, or from the usual self-proclaimed psychics, mediums and paranormal researchers.

All notes by Peter Rogerson

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