Mary Roach would like to believe that personality and memory survives after death but she is too much of a scientist to accept it without proof. She looks for this proof world-wide and into accounts written by eye-witnesses long ago.
Reincarnation seems to happen mostly in India. A family is happy to accept the return of a favourite uncle as a baby in a neighbouring village but prompted 'memories' and commonality of village life leave Mary unconvinced.
Ghostly appearances seem to occur in the West. Charlatans most certainly did operate (and undoubtedly still do). Their 'effects' seem ludicrous today but deceived many ordinary people when they were first practiced. Ectoplasm, a strange substance resembling wet cheesecloth coming from the body of the medium is ... just cheesecloth!
Anatomists have spent hours looking for the physical seat of the soul. Even recently some believed that they had deduced its exact weight.
What is most intriguing are those ghostly occasions where there seems to be no advantage to the reporter to make up a ghostly experience. Delusion or a true visitation?
Title: Spook : Science Tackles the Afterlife
Author: Mary Roach
Place of publication: New York