on July 8, 2010
Before the internet, it must've been a lot harder to collect a whole lot of crazy. This book sifts through the muck and gets to the good stuff. It's an extremely admirable task to wade through such brackish water, but the result is a mixture of curiosity, admiration, downward social comparison, and intrigue.
The book is divided into a large quantity of small articles. Kossy presents her kooks in such an objective manner. Considering some people think that men can become pregnant and that the inside of the Earth is hollow, it's amazing that she doesn't paint portraits of loons and loners but of humans you can empathize with. Sure, you and I might be perfectly content to believe that gravity exists, but someone out there has devoted their life to disproving it.
I came into this book expecting to experience tons of schadenfreude, but I didn't (well, maybe a little, I can't help it). Read this book. You owe it to yourself to understand how idiosyncratic the human mind can be. You might even become a better person through your tolerance.
on October 3, 2008
Kossy divides this book up into sections from the "fringe" of belief covering religion, politics, science, conspiracy, ufos, etc. There is a lot of very interesting stuff in this and while certainly some, probably most, of the people and beliefs in this are easy to label as kooks and/or kookery I just don't like the very subtle condescending attitude towards the subjects featured in this book that permeates the tone of the authors writing. I mean just the title of the book itself expresses these sentiments. I like a lot of the stuff Feral House publishes but I have noticed this sort of smirking smarmy attitude in some of their other books too. Yeah there are a lot of quacks, kooks and nuts out there but just because somebody thinks outside the box or has a worldview different from the mainstream doesn't make them wrong, much less a kook. Overall the subject matter in this book is interesting and the writing itself is good but that subtle snobbery is still there. But some of the topics covered in this are British Israelism/Christian Identity, various hate whitey black racial religious sects, a feature on the late William Cooper, various ufo based religious sects, various alternative scientific beliefs, a feature on Paul Laffoley and lots that is just so far "out there" that I can't even begin to explain in this format. Overall this is a good read.
on December 2, 2002
The "Reader from Cape Cod MA" is George Hammond himself. Which is why he's so specific--even citing the page number--about his own little "theory." And his comment about "peer reviewed literature" is particularly funny since his "theory" is "cited" all over the Internet as a classic example of crank, kook psuedo-science. Apparently he thinks being pointed out as a nutcase is the same thing as being cited in "peer reviewed literature."
on January 9, 2002
As a physicist and research psychologist I find Donna Kossy's approach to Kookdom highly refreshing. Seldom does a veteran scholar and able writer survey really rare material. The author's memorable prose shows that she is both sympathetic to the persecuted scientist as well as poignantly devastating to the incompetent kook. Devilish intent is clearly sorted from simple ignorance, and any genuine scholarship does receive due note. Of particular interest in the latter regard is her handling of George Hammond's theory on page 247, which has subsequently appeared in the peer reviewed literature. In that case, Kossy may have been the first one to spot the emergence of a genuine scientific discovery. Kossy's nose for news and flatfooted style of scholarly detective work is unsurpassed. Thanks a million Donna Kossy for a fascinating book.
on December 23, 2001
Donna Kossy is a sensitive, well-educated writer who can explain even the most unusual-seeming beliefs intelligibly - and without being judgemental or acting superior.
In this book you'll discover religious movements, political movements, racism, health, art, and more. Are you aware of the Anti-Mucus diet? Did you hear about The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millenium General Assembly? Probably not - but Ms. Kossy has.
If there's a flaw here, it's that some of the summaries are unfortunately brief - the book could easily be twice as large. But it's a small complaint for a great product.