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MannyRayner

Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten

OVNIS: Les agents du changement

OVNIS: Les agents du changement - Fabrice Bonvin I got rather more than two-thirds of the way through this book, but it has now mysteriously disappeared. Perhaps it has been removed by aliens; as an Arachne, I have psychic powers, and am thus particularly likely to be involved in UFO-related events.

I am sorry that I was not able to finish it, since we know the author. He is a nice guy, and comes across as smart and together. I think he's asking some sensible questions about UFOs. I agree with him that the "Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis" (UFOs come from outer space) doesn't make much sense, for several reasons. Why ever would super-intelligent creatures from another solar system travel lightyears to get here, and then fly around doing bizarre things that mainly seem to be about getting people's attention? Why can't we ever get a decent picture of a UFO? With thousands of reported abductions, and many of the victims claiming that they have been given "alien implants", why has no implant ever turned out to be the least bit interesting? It's hard to escape the conclusion that UFOs don't exist in the normal, physical sense of the word. He has a sensible point when he says it's natural to wonder if UFOs are essentially the same thing as all the older legends about mysterious beings from Elsewhere. An alien abduction may indeed be just the modern version of a visit from a succubus or incubus. There is something terribly familiar about the aliens' unhealthy interest in human sexuality. So far, I quite agree with him.

Unfortunately, the author wants UFOs to exist in some other, non-physical sense, and here I not only disagree with his reasoning, it almost literally makes my head hurt. He talks about shamanism and drugs like psilocybin and DMT that open up communication with the spirit realms - which are somehow both subjective and objective at the same time. There is a word, "omnijective", which is meant to describe it. I have never seen it before, and I don't much like it. All the same, I was still prepared to listen, but then he brought in quantum mechanics in an attempt to give the ideas some scientific respectability. I am no expert on the subject, but I am not completely ignorant, and this part is plain wrong. For example, it's not good to invoke the Kaluza-Klein theory, given that it was definitively refuted 80 years ago.

I was told what the ending would be: the phenomena we interpret as aliens and other supernatural beings are attempts by Gaia, the world-organism, to communicate with us. It's imaginative, and even though I'm deeply skeptical I can't rule it out. But I just hate fake science.
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Linguistic footnote: OVNI = Objet Volant Non Identifié = UFO