Tag Archives: Dewey Decimal Challenge

Dewey Decimal Challenge: Book 6: Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn (the 100s)

22 Feb

Well, I’m a week late, but we’ve finally made it to the 100s–a favorite nonfiction section of mine. The main classification is Philosophy & Psychology, which can be broken down into the following ten divisions:

  • 100 Philosophy & psychology
  • 110 Metaphysics
  • 120 Epistemology, causation, humankind
  • 130 Paranormal phenomena
  • 140 Specific philosophical schools
  • 150 Psychology
  • 160 Logic
  • 170 Ethics (moral philosophy)
  • 180 Ancient, medieval, oriental philosophy
  • 190 Modern western philosophy

Metaphysics! Humankind! Paranormal phenomena! Ethics! Yeehaw!  The 100s are for the thinkers, the dreamers, the skeptics, and the believers.

Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory by Stacy Horn (130 HOR)

unbelievable

The book that I have chosen this week deals in the paranormal and is written by Stacy Horn who is a frequent contributor to NPR, which I listen to regularly. I was very much looking forward to reading this book, and I was not disappointed. It has everything from data-driven extrasensory perception research to first-person accounts of poltergeists to the investigation of reincarnation through hypnosis. There is a lot to mull over here.

The story of the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory is really the story of J.B. Rhine, a man who devoted his life to the scientific study of ESP (extrasensory perception) and related phenomena. Rhine’s single-minded approach to studying the paranormal was often different from his colleagues. While other scientists were eager to take on cases of hauntings and chaos-creating poltergeists, Rhine would only study phenomenon that he felt could be most easily replicated and tested in his laboratory. Hence, the lab’s four main areas of study: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis. You might balk at the idea of this phenomena being easily replicated, but you’d be surprised to learn that Rhine did have indisputable successes in his study of ESP particularly statistics that confirmed telepathy, however weak.

One of the more heartbreaking chapters in this book highlights the letters from everyday people that were received by the scientists at the Duke laboratory throughout the decades. These letters were often from people desperate to communicate with lost loved ones as well as from the mentally ill who were desperate for respite from unknown forces.

I would recommend this book though I believe that Mary Roach does this subject matter better in her book Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Fortunately, you can read both without any detriment!

Happy reading!

-Written by Sharlene Edwards, Senior Children’s Librarian

Click here to read past posts about Sharlene’s Dewey Decimal Challenge!

Dewey Decimal Challenge: Book 3 – The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour — and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller (The 000s)

20 Jan

This week we are venturing into 070.1 territory, where we can go to find books on television news broadcasting. Let me start by saying that I have little to no knowledge regarding the history of news broadcasting on TV, and I am barely familiar with the current climate. In a previous post I mentioned my unquenchable thirst for information on current events, but, like many people, I get most of my news content online. While television is still considered an important source for news, especially for older viewers, traditional television viewing in general has been gradually declining. Television news providers have begun to transition to providing content on digital platforms in order to remain relevant. Pew Research Center reported in June 2016 that local TV news viewership was dropping and that late night TV news viewership, with the fastest decline of all three time slots (morning, early evening, and late night), had dropped twenty-two percent since 2007. With regard to national news, the morning time slot has been hit the hardest in recent years. It is a trying time to be a TV news anchor especially in a professional field that I’ve just recently learned is already considerably stressful due to the competition between a wealth of talented candidates over a few sought-after positions.

The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour – and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News by Sheila Weller (070.1 WEL)

news-sorority

In her book The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour — and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News, Sheila Weller documents the rise of three of TV’s most accomplished female news icons – Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and Christiane Amanpour. Weller explores the personal and professional challenges all three women faced on the path to success, particularly the challenge of being female in a male-dominated profession. While detailing the trajectory of each woman’s life and career in depth, Weller relies heavily on insights from the friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Weller’s thesis seems to be that Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour were driven to push harder against sexist roadblocks due to tragic circumstances at different stages of their personal lives – the sudden death of Sawyer’s father when she was just twenty-four, the death of Couric’s first husband, and Amanpour’s unceremonious departure from her home country of Iran as a teen during the Islamic Revolution. While I do believe that these life events did contribute to each women’s tireless drive and great inner strength, Weller does not make a particularly strong case to support the singling out of these events. They are simply part of the awe-inspiring narrative of these women who prevailed despite having the cards stacked against them. It may be important to note that none of the subjects of this biography were interviewed themselves.

This selection was substantial at 436 pages (with very tiny type!), and I enjoyed every page despite there being no real in-depth analysis of the gender disparity in broadcasting. Weller is an objective biographer. She doesn’t glorify her subjects though she most certainly finds their stories inspiring. I was surprised to learn about Sawyer’s reputation in the biz as manipulative and insincere whilst still being well-respected by her colleagues. Weller draws back the curtain and reveals the cutthroat reality of television broadcasting. It’s cliché to say, but, in this business, only the strong survive, and they do so by eating the weak. For this, I take issue with the title – this is everything but a social gathering. This isn’t a sorority of sisters who champion each other behind closed doors, this is a ratings war: a battle for better interviewees, better producers, and coveted time slots. Sawyer, Couric, and Amanpour are just like their male counterparts in that respect although these woman are perhaps more deserving of prestige.

-Written by Sharlene Edwards, Senior Children’s Librarian

Click here to read past posts about Sharlene’s Dewey Decimal Challenge!

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