In this moving autobiographical account, Dr Alexander chronicles an astonishing experience that transformed him from a hard-core materialist, believing (or rather assuming) that all thought and consciousness was solely a function of brain activity, into a crusader for an understanding of consciousness transcending our physical being. From a scientific perspective, Dr. Alexander's account is probably the most credible we have had yet--he is an experienced neuro-surgeon and it is at considerable professional risk that he has gone public with his account. He goes to some lengths to consider possible brain related sources for his experience and ultimately rejects them all based on his careful examination of his medical records kept during the course of his illness in which his higher brain functions were completely shut down.
Whether one agrees with his conclusions as to the ultimate significance of his experience, those who dismiss any such account as necessarily being the product of a distressed brain would do well to at least study his case. Unfortunately, when I have recommended this book to such individuals, once they know its premise they reject reading it out-of-hand. Indeed, Dr. Alexander confesses that this would have been his own reaction prior to his experience--hence his determination to reach out to those in the medical and scientific communities in the hope that they will take such experiences more seriously.
This book is written for the general audience and thus may be somewhat lacking in the gravitas necessary to make any impression on those communities. Still, perhaps none of us should be too confident that our understanding of the world--or even our way of understanding it (such as through the scientific method)--is fool-proof when it comes to understanding ultimate reality.
Don't get me wrong--as Brooks goes to some trouble to illustrate, it's when we think we have final and definitive answers to the mysteries of our universe that we get into trouble. Brooks tackles subjects ranging from dark matter to homeopathy (this last one particularly surprised me). His explanation of the current state of knowledge on such topics is generously interspersed with tales of the foibles of the scientific method in the hands of all too human scientists. What comes across clearly is the risk of any unquestioned orthodox belief or assumption--yet how are we to gain new insights unless we are to build on the knowledge and discoveries of preceding generations? It is a conundrum that will inevitably haunt any scientist who also happens to be a human being.
It can be the curse of such books that the "cutting edge" of science very quickly becomes a dull blade, indeed. This book is over 4 years old and I suspect that there have been numerous developments in the fields Brooks covers since the book's publication. Since I'm not exactly on the cutting edge myself, I found the material to be enlightening and often amazing, although the discussion did get pretty technical at times. It is the study of the human aspect of scientific discovery that will continue to be relevant long after the science has been outdated.
Leslie Kean takes an investigative journalist's approach to the UFO phenomenon as it has presented itself over the past 50-60 years. You will NOT find accounts of alien abduction, mind control or anal probes here. Rather, Kean focuses exclusively on documented accounts and supporting evidence from the most reliable sources--as the title states, "generals, pilots and government officials," all identified by name, title and experience. She rejects the automatic conflation of the UFO phenomenon with extraterrestrials, but does not rule out the possibility as a potential explanation for the fact of the existence of UFOs--remember, all the acronym means is that such objects are unidentified.
She presents a cogent case for the focused, open investigation of such entities in the U.S. (as apparently is the case in countries such as France and Brazil) in order to investigate what should be investigated and to cull out the more outlandish tales. By allowing the latter to discredit the former only leads to citizens being suspicious of their government and encourages the burgeoning fantasies that that surround the topic today.
My only criticism is that the book has a rather redundant format--first, Kean tells you what the primary source will say and then presents the source's statement, a format which may work better in print. Nevertheless, it's quite an informative listen--especially for those of us who are generally skeptical but still are reluctant to the dismiss ALL UFO reports as resulting from mistake, mass hysteria, fraud or delusional behavior
I have two beautiful girls. I also have a gun. A shovel and an alibi. And my boy. I used to be with it when I knew what " it" was
That scares the holy crap out of you. Awesome. I wish there was more. Listened to it four times. The descriptions and process of possession is an eye opener