Please excuse the self-promotion, though hopefully the subject matter may be of interest to WUvies. For the past two years I've been busy researching and writing another book, and it finally went on sale last week, published by Macmillan
. I give you Psychedelic Apes: From parallel universes to atomic dinosaurs – the weirdest theories of science and history
The book is an exploration of some of the craziest ideas that lurk at the fringes of both science and history. While I don't endorse these ideas, I didn't exactly set out to debunk them either. After all, I have a very high tolerance for, and fascination with, weirdness. Mostly I wanted to understand what the case was for each of them, and why some seemingly intelligent, knowledgeable researchers (quite a few of them leaders in their fields) not only convinced themselves that these ideas could be true, but in many cases passionately defended them — sometimes at great cost to their careers and reputations.
I also wanted to keep an open mind because the history of science is, to a great degree, a history of ideas that were initially dismissed by scholars as being totally nuts (such as heliocentrism, evolution, continental drift, etc.) eventually being accepted as true. But yes, I do explain why the majority of scholars reject the hypotheses I examine in the book.
The chapter list:
- What if the Big Bang never happened?
- What if our universe is actually a computer simulation?
- What if there’s only one electron in the universe?
- What if we’re living inside a black hole?
- What if we live forever?
- What if the Earth is at the centre of the universe?
- What if planets can explode?
- What if our solar system has two suns?
- What if ten million comets hit the Earth every year?
- What if the Earth is expanding?
- What if everything is conscious?
- What if diseases come from space?
- What if the Earth contains an inexhaustible supply of oil and gas?
- What if alien life exists on Earth?
- What if we’ve already found extraterrestrial life?
- What if the dinosaurs died in a nuclear war?
- What if our ancestors were aquatic apes?
- What if we’re descended from a pig–chimp hybrid?
- What if hallucinogenic drugs made us human?
- What if humanity is getting dumber?
- What if ancient humans were directed by hallucinations?
- What if Homer was a woman?
- What if Jesus was a mushroom?
- What if Jesus was Julius Caesar?
- What if the Early Middle Ages never happened?
The topics progress from cosmological questions about the origin and nature of the universe, up through the origin of life and our species, and ends with the dawn of the modern era. So in addition to being a catalog of "against-the-mainstream" ideas, the book offers a kind of alternative history of the cosmos. In the following weeks, I'll post fuller descriptions of some of these topics.
Unfortunately, the book is currently only on sale in the UK and (I believe) Australia. For whatever reason, the Brits have been much more receptive to my books than Americans have been. I have no idea if, or when, an American edition will be coming out. But an audio edition should be available soon. Some places it can be purchased online:
If you're a blogger interested in obtaining a review copy, drop me a line. I may be able to arrange that. Though I can't make any promises.