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Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind Paperback – February 26, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (February 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553382233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553382235
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Prompted by a personal experience she interpreted as evidence for extrasensory perception, the late author embarked on an exploration into research on the subject. Mayer, who was a psychoanalyst by profession, in this work recounts her journey, which involved collecting ESP anecdotes, interesting her professional peers in the subject, and sifting through formal research into psychic phenomena. The latter process extends back over a century, to investigations supported by philosopher William James, as chronicled in Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters (2006). Mayer summarizes the work of James' Society for Psychical Research, delves into one researcher's projects in the 1930s, describes the CIA's interest in "remote viewing" in the 1960s, and paraphrases research papers of more recent vintage. She never crossed the scientific Rubicon to announce QED on ESP but was bravely enamored of the possibility of its existence. How else to explain the recovery of her daughter's stolen harp, whose location Mayer said was pinpointed by a psychic dowser? Mayer's catalog of personal experience and seemingly rigorous research into "anomalous cognitive events" should inveigle those similarly intrigued. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Experiencing anew the wonder of someone discovering for the first time that the world is not as it seems is a real treasure. [Mayer's] challenge to traditional scientists to take these realms seriously is equally refreshing."—Shift, the Magazine of the Institute of Noetic Sciences

"Logic meets ESP in a risky, profound, convincing new book. Extraordinary Knowing offers a revolutionary new way of understanding the world"—O, The Oprah Magazine

"A remarkable journey of discovery, bringing together personal experiences and scientific experiments, and uncovering and dissolving taboos. Mayer has a unique ability to combine scholarship and sophistication with freshness and curiosity."—Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., author of The Presence of the Past and The Sense of Being Stared At

"This important, paradigm-shifting book beautifully weaves stories of extraordinary knowing with a challenge to science as we know it: to help us honor and understand the true nature of these experiences."—Andrew Newberg, M.D., author of Why God Won't Go Away

"An enthralling account, amazing and convincing. Mayer's work holds the promise of enabling a new level of dialogue between realms of science and spirit."—Huston Smith, Ph.D., author of The World's Religions

Extraordinary Knowing breaks the seal on the stronghold of the cool, logical intellect. Inside, we find exciting and irrefutable evidence that what we call 'reality' is far more magical and exciting than we've ever dreamed. What a fabulous book!"—Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom

"A fascinating exploration of the mind and of what it might be to be human.  Mayer opens up intriguing new vistas for thinking about our deeper connectedness."—Adam Phillips, author of Going Sane and Side Effects

"A book to rejoice in. Mayer opens thrilling new possibilities for science and its applications."—Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words

"A fascinating look at the power of non-local awareness to transcend the limits of the linear mind. Dr. Mayer writes with a sense of awe and fierce intelligence."—Judith Orloff, MD., author, Positive Energy

"Marvelous…the most exciting and important work I've seen in a long time. Mayer has courage as well as brilliance."—Louis Sander, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Boston University School of Medicine

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Open your mind and read this book.
Lesia Valentine
Scientifically rigorous, extremely thoughtful, vastly informative and very engaging.
Keith A. Price
It finally feels good to know that there is more to us as humans.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

96 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Joe P. on March 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a marvelous book for several reasons. First, it sheds a light on the fact that thousands (probably millions) of trained scientists, physicians and psychologists have had extraordinary paranormal experiences, but feel constrained by the academic/scientific fundamentalists that they refuse to talk about them. This is where the call for a kind of scientific inquiry that takes anecdotal reports seriously becomes more urgent.

Second, it is a wonderful breakdown of psi and distant intentionality research from a truly skeptical source. Such things always carry more weight when they are told by a skeptic rather than a true believer, and the only sensible conclusion from all the data Dr. Mayer provides is that, like it or not, psi and extraordinary human abilities are real. We may not know why they work yet, but we know they are real.

Third, her leap of insight related to the idea of universal holism as the ground state of reality is brilliant. Many New Age types, meditators and intuitives have preached this for many years, but it's been hard even for me to accept the idea. Lisby Mayer shows compelling evidence that we may exist in a holistic cosmos where everything and everyone is indeed "one," and our brains prevent most of us from perceiving this in order to allow us to function as individual causal agents and promote the survival of our race. But the concept, yet to be proved but tantalizingly hinted at, that all aspects of the cosmos are connected is a thrilling, marvelous idea.

Finally, the book explores the vehement skepticism of some and the inability of others to perceive the paranormal as a fascinating extension of Gestalt psychology.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn D'Amico VINE VOICE on April 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer gives insight into understanding the world, the mind, and the unknown. Extraordinary Knowing is an in depth study into ESP and the rational mind. What Mayer uncovered in her research as she probed the minds of those in the fields of psychology and even a neurosurgeon, she found they too, inexplicably, just "know" things without rational explanation. Mayer found there was often shame associated with these admissions as society may not be quite ready to admit ESP or "knowing" as a viable alternative to rational thinking. What we do know is many have experienced this and Extraordinary Knowing asks if we could train our minds to use this perception all the time as a way of making deeper connections with each other. It's worth asking and well worth exploring. I thoroughly enjoyed Mayer's book and the questions it left for me to ponder on my own.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kelley Hunt on June 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mayer takes on a taboo subject - often ridiculed by the religious AND the scientific communities but for different reasons. The scientists -because it is difficult to explain how esp works. The religious -because if humans were to develop their esp abilities -then we would all be prophets.

This book is filled with interesting anecdotes, experiments, ideas, and people who figure prominently in the field of esp practice and esp research. If you are interested in the topics of psychic healing, subliminal messages, meditation, premonition, intuition, dreams, remote viewing, dowsing, and why Sigmund Freud was not fond of music (and more!)- this is the book for you. Read with an open mind. There is a notes section and an index.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Tymn VINE VOICE on March 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A professor of psychology at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, before her death shortly after completing this book, Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D. begins with a real "Wow!" personal experience. It left her deeply shaken and prompted her to spend the next 14 years attempting to make sense out of it and other paranormal phenomena.

Prior to the "Wow!" experience, Mayer had been, like so many of her colleagues, stuck in the muck and mire of scientific materialism. "I was discovering a vast, strange new territory of research regarding anomalous mind-matter interactions - interactions between mind and matter that simply cannot be contained inside what we call normal science," she writes in the first chapter.

As Mayer delved into the world of Extra Sensory Perception (ESP), she met a number of friends and associates who had experienced paranormal phenomena of one kind or another but had been reluctant to discuss them until after she told her special story. She began to realize that such experiences are much more common than she had known and came to see how scientific fundamentalism has thwarted discussion and research in the area of parapsychology. "Inevitably, we tiptoe around anomalies," she offers.

Mayer approached her investigation objectively and had hoped that CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) would help her understand what was going on. "I found [their] journal dismayingly snide, regularly punctuated by sarcasm, self-congratulation, and nastiness, all parading as reverence for true science," she wrote.
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