100 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2007
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. In this theory, people simply cannot perceive both the rational, separate level of reality and the holistic, entangled level at the same time. We can only perceive one or the other at a time, and if we have never adjusted our "vision" to perceive the unseen aspect, it takes a monumental effort to see it. That is why most caustic pseudo-skeptics will remain so no matter what the evidence, while most believers in any New Age claptrap will believe no matter what the evidence says.
A brilliant, brave and eye-opening book, and a wonderful legacy for the late Dr. Mayer.
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
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.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2007
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified 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.
Much to her surprise, Mayer found that reputable scientific organizations and publications were rejecting valid research in parapsychology because it conflicted with mainstream scientific thought. "Science has stopped acting like science," she mused. "Instead it's acting a lot more like religion - or politics."
Remote viewing and telepathy are the major fields explored by Mayer. Although little, if anything, discovered by Mayer was news to me, I found much enjoyment in reading her reaction and the reactions of scientific colleagues to the realization that the world is not what their college professors brainwashed them with in their innocent years.
The "Wow!" experience, as described in the first chapter, was alone worth the price of the book.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2008
This is an exciting book that delves into several aspects of different types of paranormal research. Mayer's intrigue with the paranormal begins after a priceless harp belonging to her daughter is stolen. After exhausting the usual avenues of tracking down stolen items, she calls on a "dowser" in Arkansas. She is amazed that he is able to pinpoint, to the exact location, the stolen harp without ever leaving his home. This leads her on an investigation of other forms of "knowing"...a neurosurgeon that tells how he knows that a patient will survive surgery because of a white light that he sees appear around the patients heads...the CIA's Star Gate program on remote viewing, purported to allow a person psychically to "see" events or gather information from far away locations...and much more. Elizabeth Mayer is a credible author. At the time of this book's writing, she was a researcher and psychology teacher at University of California Berkley and at the University Medical Center San Fransisco.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Finally, a book that reviews the scientific evidence for the existence of extra-ordinary events. It is disturbing to see how scientists, under the guise of skepticism, have refused to look at well-designed studies that, unfortunately for them, challenge their perception of the world AS THEY WOULD LIKE IT TO BE. Skepticism is certainly healthy, but prejudice is not. To decide beforehand that events that appear to not quite follow natural laws are totally unworthy of study is simply not good science. In this book Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer points us to the many high-quality studies (and scientists) that have been simply ignored by mainstream science. Reading this book should certainly open your eyes to the variety of human experience that modern science both rejects and neglects.
37 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The author makes good use of describing multiple studies that support some amazing mental powers that the human mind appears to be capable of performing. Unfortunately, none of the studies are sufficiently referenced to allow an interested reader to review the actual data. A more detailed account of the experimental set up, control group, number of participants, etc. along with the actual data would have allowed a skeptical reader to assess the validity independently, rather than accepting the "highly statistically significant" conclusion the author presents. Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence. While I believe the evidence may be there, the author does not make the "ordinary" effort to share this important information with her readers. Even an appendix with more detail would have been useful. I was left wanting for more than just an appetizer, how about some real beef!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
What a wonderfully written page-turner this book is--and the product of a careful scientist. Elizabeth Mayer weaves together her proper skepticism as a scientist (she is an accomplished psychoanalyst)and the astonishment of a believer (she has had personal experience of the phenomena she recounts). After an accomplished dowser in the Arkansas located her daughter's stolen harp in Oakland, California, she remarked that "this irrevocably changed my familiar world of science and rational thinking." Yet rather than becoming an immediate enthusiast she engaged in research of literature about ESP, remote viewing, Psi, and other "inexplicable powers of the human mind." She became involved with people who were adept in these areas--her mind open to new knowledge, but still armed with the scientist's proper skepticism of phenomena not easily suceptible to experimental replication. It deals more broadly with an area covered in depth in Mario Beaurergard's book, "The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist's Case for the Existence of the Soul." His closing remarks apply well to the implications of Mayer's book as well: "We need a new scientific frame of reference. Such a frame will recognize that the dogmatic materialism of scientism is not synonymous with science. . . The nature of mind, consciousness, and reality as well as the meaning of life can be apprehended through an intuitie, unitive, and experiential form of knowing. A scienticif frame of reference must address the evidence for that." In short, both Mayer and Beauregard call us to seek to develop a science of the intangible.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2009
Finally, an adult treatment of an area of human experience that is able to take the viewpoint of most adults - without the normal axes to grind or cheers to lead.
Not that it's balanced - she starts off the book with her own uncanny experiences. She has the courage to say, these phenomena exist - because she herself has experienced them.
But she also has the courage to want to hold them up to as rigorous a scientific scrutiny as possible. There are many, many people - I would believe, all - who have experienced "extraordinary knowing" of one kind or another. Some just accept them as real and do not need further investigation or integration with other things they "know" = just as technology and science. They can "compartmentalize" these things, and thus avoid the difficulty of living with a unified model of existence and epistemology.
But there are others who hunger and thirst after a unified model - one that includes not just the results and theories of conventional science, but also the results of everyday experience, without the neat compartmentalization that afflicts not just the "spiritualist" but also the "scientists".
Mayer strives for unity. In that sense she is quite brave. She tackles not just "ESP" (yawn) but even prayer, subjecting it to the same standards of the scientific method that brought us all our sophisticated understanding of the physical realm.
Someone with rigorous scientific training is not going to just embrace her own experience without justification. She fulfills that expectation.
Yet it takes a courageous adult to note that our conception of what science is is much more narrow than what it was originally instituted to be: A fair, sober and rigorous attempt to find out what we should believe is real. And how we know it.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2007
This book is courageous in its sharing of the author's personal journey toward a greater understanding of our complete and yet mysterious humanity, backed up by scrupulous clinical and research data. She takes the idea that we are more than we can ever really know about ourselves consciously out of the age of gullible new age mysticism, and puts it in the middle of thinking people's daily contemplation, challenging everyone from the church to psychologists, to even physicists to take on her incredible yet undeniable assertions about the unlmited frontier of human consciousness which she leads us to. The author died right after completing this book, yet this book has an important and exciting message for humanity that needs to be carried forward without her. It is the perfect antidote to all the fervent God-haters of late, injecting awe, humility and intelligence into the discussion of where we have been, and where we are going--to a place where God and science meet.