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The Holographic Universe
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2014
As a physicist, I was intrigued by this book and decided it might be worth a look. Unfortunately, after reading it and swearing at page after page of absolute drivel, I can honestly report that it isn't.

The 'holographic' theory of modern physics is an interesting idea. Basically what it suggests is that our three-dimensional universe, in which matter and energy can be viewed as information, could also be described as a two-dimensional representation of that information sitting on the boundary of our universe. This is consistent with many theories of quantum mechanics, including string theory. As a concept, holographic theory has also been applied to other areas, such as neuroscience and digital encryption. So, the point is that 'holographic' theories are ones of information storage, retrieval, distribution, etc.

What 'The Holographic Universe' tries to do is combine the cosmological and neurological 'holographic' concepts together. This makes no sense since the fact they are called 'holographic' is due to the similarity of the underlying maths used to describe these situations and not the cause. Once Michael Talbot has combined these two, he then goes off on a rather fantastical journey that suggests everything, from psychological disorders to paranormal events to the discovery of new particles in physics to the curing of illnesses, is all due to this makey-uppy 'holographic' theory. It's utter nonsense.

In the 1960s and 70s we saw the emergence of the New Age movement which began to introduce Eastern philosophical ideas into Western culture. What we began to get were beliefs that:

a) everything in our universe is interconnected
b) the universe contains many planes of existence
c) there are particular 'biological' forms of energy that contain our 'essence' that can become free of our body and wander through these planes
d) humans can manipulate the universe around us through the power of thought
e) the paranormal is simply a manifestation of the wider 'wholeness' of the universe, with a few gifted individuals able to see past the narrow confines of this plane

and so forth. Michael Talbot has started with the premise that these sorts of New Age/Eastern philosophical/metaphysical/paranormal ideas are true, and has then gone looking for a scientific theory he can misrepresent enough to give an 'explanation' that conforms to that initial premise. For example, he states (almost without question or real evidence) that some people can generate some sort of metaphysical/paranormal field around them powerful enough to protect them from fire, knives, sledgehammers, etc. He then goes on to suggest that, somehow, holographic theory provides an explanation for this, although that 'explanation' is never quite elaborated upon.

Anyone can do this sort of 'science'. I'll give it a go now. There are people out there who can levitate. They can. I've seen them. And that's all the proof you, the reader, needs. The reason they can do this is because gravity applies to 3 spatial dimensions. But holograms are 2D representations of the wider 3D universe. So people who are tuned into the holographic universe can temporarily phase themselves between our universe and the 2D hologram. This lowers the gravitational force on them. So the ability of mystics in India to levitate is direct evidence of the veracity of the holographic theory.

This book is nothing less than pseudo-science at its worst and most reprehensible.

By all means, if you believe in such things you will find yourself nodding your head at everything in this book because it will reinforce what you already believed, something known as confirmation bias. In any case, you will enjoy it. If, on the other hand, you're interested in actual science and the latest theories rather than pseudo-scientific guff, then avoid this like the plague and go read something by an actual scientist.
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25 of 41 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book after watching the recent Horizon programme about the nature of reality. I wanted a rational scientific explanation of what seems to be an interesting theory.

I was fooled by the blurb which refers to two eminent scientists.

While the book starts off by trying to explain the theory, it degenerates into trying to use the theory to explain paranormal phenomena.

In doing so the author exhibits all the usual behaviours, selective use of data, paranoia about the establishment, broad generalisations and unsupported assertions.

This book is for you if you think the X-files is a documentary. Avoid if you want a scientific explanation.
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80 of 134 people found the following review helpful
I am sorry to say that after 72 pages I had to give this book up. If like myself you enjoy popular science then this is not a read for you.

The first pages describe the principles involved throughout the book along with an explanation of how the science doesnt sit well with the scientific community. Talbot also reveals his view on paranormal experiences and how the theories help explain these phenomena and his personal exeriences. These explanations, he states, differ from the viewpoints of the original theorists. What can we understand from that - well that the author puts forward scientific theories that differ from those put forward by eminent scientists. Is Talbot qualified or unbiased enough to do that?

Intellectually I have difficulty with the approach. The explanation of holography is poor - holography utilises a fundamental theory called interference - there is not a proper explanation of interference. The theories he describes are fundamentally interference based and therefore holography makes for a grand term for a frequently occurring situation in physics. In fact Bohm doesnt call it holography at all in his paper but Talbot considers the term to be equal to holography casting aside Bohms own terminology.

Essentially this is the sort of science that Decartes in the 19th century helped to eradicate - unreasoned thinking. In later sections Talbot wishes to delude the reader through the connection of lucid dreams, paranormal activities and the interference concept - the use of the terms "which means that" is used often to connect interpretation of a psychoanalytical situation with the interference concept put forward by Bohm.

Another section discusses LSD experiments carried out in the 60s to establish psychic links between people, places, furniture and so on. As a psycho-active substance LSD does not provide a doorway to hitherto unseen dimensions as stated. The action of LSD is not reflected in how an LSD process connects with the theory being postulated. At this point I gave up. This is too wishy washy and not explanatory from a disciplined scientific approach.

I personally appreciate the interference concept - it can be used whenever waves are involved - which is all of physical nature quantum or gravitational. It took a few pages to explain - no more. I also appreciated the statement that all that we see is an illusion - again Decartes went along way to explaining that 200 years ago. All that we know is that we think. All else is an illusion - so nothing new there intellectually - it is an illusion - but how does that illusion work. My money is on string theory - although once it is fashionable other more descriptive theories will emerge - thats progress. Bohms theory is stated like its the end and clearly by the same premise it is not even if it were in part correct.

A thoroughly disappointing read as a scientific reader.
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16 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2009
The concept of the holographic universe is a valid one but has really yet to gain much weight in acceptance in the general physics field. It is still in its protean stages and needs an awful lot of development. Its promulgator Leonard Susskind has written a book about the theory himself, i would advise you read that rather than this twisted travesty. An Introduction to Black Holes, Information and the String Theory Revolution: The Holographic Universe ISBN-10: 9812561315 or ISBN-13: 978-9812561312.

This attempt to explain the theory and its ramifications will not do it any favors at all. Using quantum theory to try and explain away the paranormal, mysticism and UFO's with ESP thrown in for good measure is not only BAD SCIENCE but wishful thinking on a massive scale.

This book should be filed under mysticism/new age/self help travesties. The science in this book written by a non scientist by the way is misused to promulgate peoples psychological need to believe in absurdities and fill their need with apparent certaintities which falls into the camp of faith and other like belief systems. Avoid unless you have a wicked or absurd sense of humor.
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26 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2009
I am embarrassed to have this book on my shelf. Just looking at it annoys me. I might have to throw it away.

The holographic model of reality is an intriguing one, and Talbot explains it well at the beginning of the book. However, as soon as he starts talking about how the holographic model can explain various miracles and paranormal phenomena - all of which he seems to believe without question - the credibility that he earns at the beginning of the book is lost.

I tried but was unable to finish this book. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes at all of the absurd claims that Talbot makes.

In one part of the book, Talbot talks about how a psychic healer was able to make an incision with his mind simply by hovering his hand over the skin of the patient. Sure. In another part, he explains how a shaman healed a man's severely broken leg in the space of several minutes just by pushing on the area, praying and meditating. Yeah, right. And those are just two brief examples of a host of outlandish claims that will have you contemplating tearing the book apart.

Do not read this book unless you are willing to blindly accept some incredible claims. Talbot has taken an intriguing idea and moulded it to explain absurd concepts and phenomena that a rational mind wouldn't even consider.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2014
ordered second-hand, out-of-print hardback, as advertised, received modern paperback edition. totally dissatisfied.
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28 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2003
I approached this book looking for an honest assessment of the holographic principle and its implications for the world of science, both physics and biology. The author does apparently have a lot of knowledge on the topic, but the pretense of scientific examination is thrown aside and the author's desire to prove the world of paranormal exists overpowers any credibility to the arguments.
I had to stop reading the book since about 1/3 of the way in I completely lost faith -- I couldn't even believe any longer the items portrayed as fact.
Very disappointing.
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11 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2011
Absolutely awful, especially the first half. Content not what I expected. One would have to be extremely gullible to seriously consider this stuff. Utter rubbish mostly.
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5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2013
This book had been recommended by an acquaintance. It arrived quickly but is a disappointment from the first page. Take my advice and avoid it like the plague!
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