Most helpful critical review
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Not as scientifically robust as it suggests it is
on 14 January 2010
Although very interesting, and certainly stronger on the science aspects than a lot of similar titles.
The author very much wants you to believe that this is a thorough and objective investigation of scientific evidence available for the power of thought to affect the physical world. It might be thorough, but it's not really that objective. Although generally well-written, the main short-comings (given that it is presented as a science book rather than a spiritual book) are:
1. It seems to assume that many unproven phenomena, such as ESP, faith healing, psychokinesis, etc, are fact - and then presents studies to explain how these phenomena work, without ever questioning in the first place whether or not the phenomena actually exist.
2. In line with the first point above, she is very keen to explain away results that don't fit her hypotheses, but never questions studies which support them, even if alternative explanations are readily available. For example, in one section she says that plants did not respond to an event as predicted because they were 'too attuned' to the mental state of the experimenter - rather than the more usual conclusion one might draw that the plants did not respond as predicted because the theory being tested was false. This is just one example of many.
3. She does not distinguish in the slightest between results published in high quality journals such as Nature or The Lancet, studies published in rather more dubious journals, and personal anecdotes - all are referenced and given the same weight in her accounts.
4. She reports some remarkable findings such as studies demonstrating Qigong masters being able to knock people over through the power of thought alone, without ever addressing the obvious question of 'If this has been demonstrated in a reproduceable environment, why isn't it huge news that everyone knows about?' - but this comes back to her habit of treating personal anecdote as being just as worthy as evidence published in respected peer reviewed journals.
But, having said all that, it is a very interesting read, it does present a lot more science than most similar titles (albeit some of it pretty dodgy), and you never know, some of it could be spot on. I don't regret buying the book, but it wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.