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Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  263 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
In 1991, when her daughter’s rare, hand-carved harp was stolen, Lisby Mayer’s familiar world of science and rational thinking turned upside down. After the police failed to turn up any leads, a friend suggested she call a dowser—a man who specialized in finding lost objects. With nothing to lose—and almost as a joke—Dr. Mayer agreed. Within two days, and without leaving hi ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 27th 2007 by Bantam (first published 2007)
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May 23, 2009 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting information on science and the study of "inexplicable" phenomena. A bit dry as she is a scientist who explains in detail the many experiments she reviewed. What she seems to be trying to do is to marry the scientific need for irrefutable proof with activity that is often thought of as requiring only faith, where you either believe that such phenomena exist or you do not.

Having had her own experience with the "impossible" she, as a psychologist and member of the scientific community
This book challenges the reader to be open to the idea that there is more than logic and observable, replicable results in the way our brains take in and process information. I learned as a child that I should not speak of the mysterious ways my family was able to communicate without phones or any form of connection other than our minds. it turns out that many of us learn to suppress information about these things. Just because science can't explain them, doesn't mean they don't exist. This book ...more
Sep 08, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent presentation of a difficult subject. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that logical reasoning is the only legitimate way to use our minds. However, the evidence - both anecdotal and scientific - suggesting otherwise is compelling and vividly explored here. One insight I found particularly interesting is the author's application of Gestalt theory to anomalous knowing. She essentially argues that the capacities of the human mind go beyond logical analysis (and exposes the dogma ...more
Apr 16, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book that covers the history of, and current scope of research into "anomalous mind-matter knowing." You and I think of that in terms of premonitions, remote viewing, ESP, etc. ("Anomalous mind-matter knowing" is henceforth referred to as "ESP.")

The author contends that it is impossible to hold Western scientific methods in mind concurrently with the reports of, and results of testing done on ESP because they are incompatible. Western science relies on data replicated in a controll
Oct 11, 2011 Fatima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book. The first 100 pages or so are an overview of what constitutes extraordinary knowing - clairvoyance, remote viewing, telepathy, etc. and how Western science is much more resistant to these concepts than other cultures. Pretty standard stuff. Later on, the author delves into how the human mind can exert these powers and yet still struggle to understand them scientifically. One very visual analogy was with gestalt images in psychology - you know, the image that can be seen ...more
David Wen
The book present several instances of the phenomenon but doesn't quite define what the phenomenon is. Remote seeing? Mind reading? Clairvoyance? It seems to be all lumped together to the "unknown". It details the difficulties of capturing these phenomenon and in general how to discuss the topics without coming off like a kook. It does make some convincing arguments but really it's just a place to start to further the exploration.
Jan 14, 2015 Redpoet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone I trust recommended this book which is the only reason I am reading it.

Most of the book was a plus. Last 20% sort of went downhill. Too much, "what if..." Section on quantum physics was very rudimentary. I am big on quantum physics and wasn't impressed with the authors kowledge and speculations. Actually, I think much more could have been done with this section had the author had more knowledge about quantum physics and Buddhism...amongst other things.
Heidi Wiechert
I thought that the most amazing part of this book was that, if the author found someone's research to be intriguing, she would set up a meeting and go talk to that scientist/biologist/physicist/professor. Dr. Mayer was given access to the minds and private thoughts of leading researchers from all over the world- multiple private institutions and universities. For me, the glimpses behind the curtain of ivy league academia and private research facilities was reason enough to read this.

Her examinat
Mar 18, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the curious
Recommended to Nancy by: Found independently while cruising the internet
I am currently reading this book that explores the unexplainable experiences individuals have connecting with others in their lives. It looks at quality research done in the areas of "ESP", distance viewing and records the significant experiences of highly skilled professionals in their interactions through a psychoanalist's perspective. Have you ever had a exceptional connection with someone else? If you have, then you will want to read this book. It is full of anecdotes and classifications tha ...more
Sam Torode
Feb 22, 2015 Sam Torode rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Scientists and doctors reveal experiences in their lives that defy (current) scientific explanation. I love this sort of thing...
Aug 19, 2007 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book enough to pay a lot of money to consult with one of the psychics she recommended. Upon reflection, I wasn't too impressed with the psychic. That led me to rethink some of what I thought was so great about the book. Still, I found her stories about ESP experiences and her review of the research on ESP to be quite well done. She started out as a skeptic and found herself changed both by personal experience and by her research. Despite being a psychoanalyst, she was a very smart w ...more
Jul 07, 2007 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-100
This book was boring. This scientist is trying to rationalize unexplainable things (miracles bascially) that happen to people. She can't seem to wrap her mind around the fact that science and rational thought can't explain these miracles (she doesn't use that word but the events are basically that). She also seems to be really assamed to believe in some psychic phenomenon, even though it effected her positively, because the science community shuns it.

The best part of the book was reading about
Apr 15, 2010 JoEllen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exploring the difference between "knowing" and "knowing about." Excellent--advocates that humans get out of their own way in accessing and utilizing what we know and learn to discount. No mediums, no ghost stories, no magic. (Examples our "dowsers"--people that can find things they're never seen in places they've never been.) Just analysis of people who know things that there seems to be no relevant reason that they should know, and a discussion of what lies ahead in learning about the breadth o ...more
Sally Fouhse
I gave it a 3 because it seemed a bit repetitive and catty. I also question some of the statistics from various studies: a certain study reveals that, say, 60% of participants beat random odds of stating a color someone in another room is thinking of - but there are only 12 people in the study! Not enough for reliable data. However, I don't doubt the truth of may of the topics, such as the harp event or the remote viewing studied by the CIA. There are so many things we don't know about how the b ...more
Holly Weiss
Recommended Henry Millan.
Aug 20, 2011 Aditya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
The book rambles and meanders a bit. In some ways, it reads like the author's attempt to put together a cohesive argument to convince herself. I was hooked but had to put the book down many times to check on the people, books and research she refers to in the book. I think she has put down a very good compilation of material. Its not as readable as a Gladwell book but the advantages of a scientist's POV over a journalist more than made it up for me. Immensely intriguing!
Oct 03, 2011 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sad that the author didn't live to see her book's publication. She speaks out boldly about the need for the scientific community to give serious attention to claims of psychic capabilities. It made me reflect also on the terrible burden it must be for people who possess extrasensory gifts, who have to hide from others their reasons for knowing something non-empirically.
Laura Murdoch
May 08, 2008 Laura Murdoch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: curious
A very interesting book. I know the human mind is absolutely amazing and some people have been given very specific gifts in relation to the powers of the mind.

However, the book was very technical. One chapter pretty much sounded the same as the last I had read. I had a hard time keeping my place in the book. With that said though it was a pretty good read.
Kurt Thonnings
Apr 10, 2012 Kurt Thonnings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
About intuition. Written by a scientist trying to deal with the reality of the spirit realm. Good read. Provides some insights, creates more questions. I especially like the analogy of why we don't 'know' the spirit realm as humans - We can't see the stars during the day, but we can at night. Another book to add to my kid's bookshelves
Mar 16, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More technical than I expected, so not such a fun read
Susan Burris
Jan 28, 2008 Susan Burris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I learned so much from this book. I approached it from a point of brain science interest and ended up with a whole new respect for "psychic" abilities. I am not sure you can read this without having a mind-opening experience. The science behind the investigations seems irrefutable.
Sep 11, 2011 Muriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book expanded my appreciation of my own anomalous experiences and routed them in science. I particuarly appreciated the chapter on prayer and what we know about its powers. The gook encouraged me to pay attention to the parts of perception that are beyond logic.
May 04, 2009 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really rather well-written. Though I perhaps would have liked to see more of a personal transformation of beliefs from the author, her still skeptical nature brought an added force to the stories and studies relayed in the book.
Apr 10, 2013 Jill rated it liked it
I would actually choose a 3.5 for this read. This book looks at topics that can be uncomfortable for scientists and yet that group is included in the studies and discussions regarding this controversial topic.
Sep 02, 2008 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review of 'paranormal' experiences that have been researched/verified, including by CIA. Summary at
A little meandering, but extremely eye-opening. If you're interested in learning more about ESP and the shadow it's casting on the science world, definitely worth checking this out.
Jan 27, 2013 Patyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I'm not saying that I absolutely believe everything in it, but it was a thought-provoking book that kept me pretty interested the whole way through.
Apr 21, 2011 Madeline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a skeptical scientist, and I was very intrigued. I don't understand how songs come to me through the radio, but that doesn't mean it's not possible, obviously.
Mar 04, 2012 Robert rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robert by: My therapist
Shelves: meh
Read this one at the recommendation of my shrink - some good anecdotes but I just came away with a renewed sense of how stupid a lot of scientists are
Feb 17, 2008 Charliece rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-and-loved
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Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Ph.D., was an internationally known psychoanalyst, researcher, and clinician, the author of groundbreaking papers on female development, the nature of science, and intuition, and a contributor to Consciousness and Healing , published by the Institute of Noetic Sciences. In addition to her private practice, she was associate clinical professor of psychology at the University ...more
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