Monday, September 19, 2011

Scepticism, Old and New Magonia Review of Books
Peter Rogerson reviews two books that present skeptical examination of effects that could be the product of outside influences on the human brain. The first of these books is by well known skeptic Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies. How We Construct Beliefs as Truths, published this year. The second is the work of German researcher Edmund Parish, first printed in 1897, Hallucinations and Illusions: A Study of the Fallacies of Perception. The Parish reprint is noted for its inclusion of material from the British Society of Psychical Research, along with studies conducted by William James in the U. S. and Munich's Von Schrenk-Notzing in Germany; and the Shermer book is noted for what it reveals about Shermer, himself. Meanwhile, Andrew May reviews the famous poem of Samuel Taylor Coleridge that defied the popular genres of 1798 when it was written and continues to evoke Lovecraftian images today, as set forth in The Ancient Mariner.

From today's maverick science news: Recent tales of "zombie" insects controlled by a variety of different parasites have been expanded to include the woes of the Gypsy Moth caterpillar that succumbs to the hormonal manipulations of a virus that makes the wooly creatures climb to the treetops, anchor themselves, die and liquefy, raining infection down on their previously uninfected brothers and sisters. Elsewhere, sports a new website platform as Stephen Smith points to scarring on an asteroid that should have torn the small object apart, but didn't, giving a more likely origin for the asteroid's physical appearance in Goddess of the Hearth.

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