They say to never judge a book by its cover, but this book’s cover is so brilliantly simple that I had to have it, and also it was the only book by Mary Roach left on the shelf. I was originally searching for Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by the same author. Since the afterlife has always held my attention for its straightforward possibilities it was a done deal.
What intrigued me all the more is that it was written by a skeptical squint; a squint with a delicious sense of sarcasm and cynicism, bookish but not humorless. This could reveal itself more interesting than anticipated. More so when I began criticizing the book before I even opened it. The lunacies the skeptics can come up with are as wacky as the new-age-y explanations for everything in the unexplained — just polar opposites but both un-centered. The skeptics will disprove anything outside of “accepted” science as pseudo-science poo with malicious fervor just as the para-kooks will believe in their preferred reality no matter how moronic it might be, with blissful glee.
But there remain certain issues that science cannot explain that may well be true. One of them is the amount of children recounting past lives before the age of reason when they don’t even understand death, or ritualistic religious beliefs in the afterlife. There are simply too many reported or accounted incidents for them to all be untruthful. Although I remain on the skeptical side, the sheer amount of reports cannot all be setups, though many of them surely are, or a symptom of the skeptical simplistic wrap-up excuse of all excuses for the unexplained, mass delusion.
So my pre-emptive critique of the book began with wonder as to how or even if she would tackle this matter. Not only did she, but it was in the first chapter of the book. In my view she came out swinging with her investigations into the afterlife.