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Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind 

Wednesday, Mar 28 2007
By Elizabeth Mayer, Ph.D.

Bantam, $26.00

Elizabeth Mayer was an academic scientist at UCSF who passed away just after completing this unassuming and astounding book. She considered herself a pretty straight-and-narrow science type, until one day 15 years ago, her daughter's harp was stolen from their Berkeley home. As a sort of desperate joke, Mayer eventually called a dowser who managed to locate, from his home in rural Arkansas, the exact cross-street in Oakland where her daughter's purloined instrument was being held. Harp safely returned, Mayer tried vainly to reconcile the improbable episode with her scientific knowledge of the world.

Luckily, her scientist's curiosity got the better of her scientist's skepticism, and she began the research into "extraordinary knowing" that would eventually become this easy-reading and mind-bending book. She started at a conference of fellow clinical psychoanalysts, and found a horde of academics with doctorates eager to finally own up to their "anomalous experiences." Mayer went on to gather evidence from rigorous studies (some commissioned by the CIA) involving nuns in the highest states of meditation, the efficacy of prayer on illness, and ordinary people's ability to transcend the usual boundaries of time and space to touch each other with their minds.

Problematically, science like this usually gets read as a referendum on God, but Mayer asks us to look beyond that big question in order to see the answer to another big one: We're all connected, and if science and skepticism would back off, maybe we could all get along a little better. —F.R.

About The Author

Frances Reade


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