June Book Club Open Topic: Is There Life After Death?
Welcome to the open thread of the June book club . Any thoughts you have on The Witcher Mary Roach : The Science of the Afterlife are welcome here. Please remember, this is purely for fun – many of the topics covered in this book (religion, death, pseudoscience) are controversial, but according to Fox News commentators and Democratic leadership, let’s be polite .
My conclusion: when writing this book, Roach had a difficult task – what happens after death is, after all, an eternal question. However, I found Spook ‘s conclusion satisfying (more on that in a minute). And even though it was nonfiction, it had a certain fictional thrust, probably due to all of the early “science” of introspection and focus on mediums and EVPs that made it easy and fun to read.
The two chapters I found most appealing to me were on mediums, psychics, and auras, perhaps because, as Roach notes, people still believe in them. (And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t read it or two myself.)
Take this from page 177:
I learned a thing or two this weekend, though not that I came here. I realized I was wrong about mediums. I no longer think they are deliberately cheating on their customers. I believe that they sincerely and strongly believe that they receive information from paranormal sources. This is just a different interpretation of a set of facts.
I think this is the key: we will never know, so we all have different interpretations. Some believe in heaven, others believe that our soul will take the form of black holes. Who’s to say what’s real.
As for life after death, then I can be counted among the skeptics. Throughout the book, Roach noted that we will believe what we want, hear what we convince ourselves of, and agree with what the medium says because we need to be nice. We need answers to know exactly what will happen when we die and that it won’t just be nothing – because if it is, then what is it all for?
In this respect, I agree with Roach’s conclusion on page 294:
Did my year among the evidence gatherers make me believe in something that I didn’t believe a year ago? She has. It made me believe in something that Bruce Grayson believes in. I asked him if he believed the near-death experience was evidence of life after death. He replied that, in his opinion, this is just evidence that we cannot explain with our current knowledge. I think I believe that not everything that people encounter in their life can be neatly and convincingly hidden in an orderly closet of science.
Given that some scientists believed that the soul had taken on a greenish tint, that it was contained in semen, and that ectoplasm existed not so long ago, I am inclined to believe that there are an infinite number of things that we will never know for sure.
Leave your thoughts (and book suggestions for next month) in the comments below.