Greene is brilliantly insightful in his way of evenhandedly surveying the current field hand the differing points of view involved in a way that brings much of it right down to earth. Physics, whether astro- or quantum, isn't "out there," after all. It's here and now. It's what we are made of and live among.
Compare this with the pseudoscientific types, like Gregg Bradden who try to convince the gullible with non-existent certainties geared toward quasi-religious pursuits of their own invention.
I'll take Brian Greene's fascinating reality, embedded with facts and generally accepted theories. They are more than amazing enough for me.
Hagerty executes the nearly impossible task of reviewing a diverse array of topics with clarity and evenhandedness. Understand that this spans the current state of research and speculation about near death experiences to the influences of intention on remote subjects. It requires an exceptional mind as well as great discipline to pull this off, and Hagerty has both.
I do have two serious reservations, however, that keep this rating at four stars. First, Hagerty falls into the common scientific illiteracy of declaring human minds as somehow "wired." This inadequate description reduces reality in tune with the worst weaknesses of mainstream science, which otherwise does not fare well here.
My other objection is more serious. In her closing chapter, Hagerty struggles vainly, ignoring fact and history, to preserve Christianity. Christianity is a fine religion in many ways, but the writer's fluffy efforts to find a logical, scientific basis for retaining her beliefs is both personally slanted and objectively unconvincing.
This book carefully, if somewhat redundantly, goes over the many contradictions and misstatements in the popular version of the Christian Bible. The author's point could have been made more concisely, but after an array of interesting presentations were put forward, Ehrman repeatedly exercised an apparent need to apologize and explain in response to the many attacks he's received from conservatives who find truth offensive. In the end, this undermines his arguments and the inevitable result of what he demonstrates, i.e., the Bible is both full of fiction as well as contaminated by politics and doctrines that cannot yield to fact. I was disappointed the author seemed reluctant to continue to the obvious conclusions.
The only revelation here was that the author is good at borrowing others ideas and pretending they are new and groundbreaking. Many instances of this. I can tell you it came as no surprise that he was uncovered as a plagiarist not long after I gave up on these empty revelations.
Braden, while seeming heartfelt, is hopelessly careless with scientific fact. He repeatedly claims that "scientists now know" as he plunges into an area filled with conjecture. Clearly, he expects that the credulous will look no further and just buy in to his certainty. I'm puzzled at his being so disingenuous. Maybe he doubts the premises he is making and over-compensates by misleading with "facts." In the end, he simply discredits what would otherwise be a meaningful case.
Although Hawkins is almost certainly wrong on certain point, such as his "blank slate" commitment concerning the brains with which we are born and almost annoyingly self-righteous when discussing "consciousness," about which he admits to not being expert but launchs energetically about anyway, the book was wonderfully ease to access. The clarity of explanation concerning what should have been an abstruse subject was a relief. I feel I know much more about the subject than I did before starting. It was well written and even better read by an excellent narrator. Thank you, Jeff!
Seems like the anti-Clinton bigots never give up on their personal attacks. While the claim is made that the author is objective based on his former affiliation with the allegedly liberal New York Times, the facts are that this project was sponsored by many of the same people who attacked Bill Clinton throughout his presidency and who later helped the anti-American Swift Boat veterans try to disgrace John Kerry after he won two purple hearts in Viet Nam--in a war dodged by both our current Vice-President and President. Come on, Americans, wake up!
Envy was not only the worst audio book I have purchased, it was the first one I threw away after reading half way through it. It is everything that is bad about popular fiction: thin, unbelievaable characters; pruriently drawn scenes that depend heavily on the tools of soft porn, depending on gullible readers to believe they somehow reflect real peoples lives and motives. The long soliloquey, where a main character immobilizes another by reciting his mother's experiences in a Nazi death camp and how their exposure would ruin her son's career nearly sixty years later was particularly inane and ended my read abruptly. There is no insight here, other than Brown's insight into how to titilate readers into coughing up dollars. If you care about good literature, avoid this piece of boredom.
This was a great, thrilling story and well read by the author. The sense of "being there" with John on Everest was palpable. As a reader, I am normally overly eager to reach the end of a story, to see how it turns out, and get on to the next read. This was a book I never wanted to end. It kept my attention rivieted every second. My most enjoyable book for the last year!
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