It’s been a long damn time since I’ve done a book report. Hopefully I have learned a bit more about showmanship since the days of: “The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, is a book about fighting between rich kids and poor kids….” I’m not sure my writing was that bad even then but, it ~was~ seventh grade.
Anyway, as much as I hope my writing has evolved, I KNOW my taste in books has, arguably, for the better. So here goes:
Synchronicity, by Dr. Kirby Surprise, is a book about rich kids and poor kids….. Just kidding!
Seriously though, I AM reading a book called Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence and Unlocking Your Mind and it IS written by Dr. Kirby Surprise. And though it lacks the socio-economic commentary of The Outsiders, it has managed to captivate current me every bit as much as The Outsiders captivated seventh grade me.
I bought this book as a Christmas present for my brother. I swear it was on his wish list. And, in all honesty, when I purchased it, I knew it would take him forever to get around to reading it and I was curious about it myself. Why not kill two birds with one stone!
Now, ever the cynic, I went into this read with several reservations not the least of which was the author’s name: Dr.Kirby Surprise. As you can see by the picture above, I am not making this up. There aren’t too many doctors of anything that can instill confidence in their acuity once you find out their name is “Dr. Surprise” and, especially after you find out he is a forensic psychologist.
From the name of the author to the name of the author’s alma mater, which enjoys prominent placement at the bottom of the cover, I was almost done before I began reading. “The California Institute of Integral Studies” had me questioning: “Is that a real school?” A little research revealed a fairly clear picture. CIIS is one of many “private colleges” which is generally another way of saying “for profit” colleges that offer degree programs in several specified areas of study for a hefty price. Having gone to a school like this for my fashion merchandising degree, I knew the routine. The credits are not universal, meaning that they do not transfer to other schools. God forbid you should decide their methods are not for you and try to quit before you finish. You will still owe a ton of money but you will have absolutely nothing to show for it.
A look at Yelp revealed exactly what I expected: polarized reviews from one to five stars. If the program speaks to you, you’ll be happy enough. But if it doesn’t, you will be enraged.
As this yelp reviewer said: “Supremely inferior “institute” filled with phonies, “New Age” con-artists, incompetent professors with degrees from mediocre schools, and a very dysfunctional administration.”
Another reviewer said: “If you want to pay out enough money to bail out the auto industry in exchange for the profound academic reward of sitting in a drum-circle while listening to new age platitudes… If you are willing to carefully sift through academic material that ranges from the well founded and intriguing all the way down to proudly presented complete nonsense…”
But this was exactly what my warning bells were telling me. Thankfully, I didn’t go to the trouble of researching all of this before I jumped into the book. However, venturing into the first chapter did not help boost my faith in its content. This is where Dr. Surprise sets us up to understand that the subject of “synchronistic events” would hence be referred to as “SE.” Having read a number of books on the “Spirit Meets Science Spectrum” (I can make acronyms too) this pushed the odds that the book would favor new age cliche over scientific theory.
Now, I get the fact that “Synchronistic Event(s)” is a mouthful and that shortening it might simply be easier for us all. But I am always leery when “phenomena” are made more approachable in this way. And worse, when a whole language of jargon springs up around a subject matter that is debatable to begin with. I often feel like it is an attempt to brain wash me into believing what they say is fact. (Incidentally, this is how you can tell I have been studying the paranormal too long. Paranoia. Occupational hazard.)
After detailing my concerns here, I am surprised I started reading this book at all. But having not researched them or written them down, they were merely muttering to me and I was still willing to give the book a chance. At the very least, it gave me a way to pass the time during my tedious cardio sessions at the gym. And, I have to say, I am thankful that this was the case. By the time I made it to the second chapter, I was curious enough to continue.
I am now more than halfway through the book and I have found it to be both interesting and believable. The subject matter does walk the line between spirit and science. And the concerns which could have been warning me against drinking the good doctor’s questionable Kool-Aid turned out to be no greater than supposition.
Dr. Kirby surprise does a wonderful job of explaining his theories. He provides simple examples in a conversational manner that makes his writing relatable and builds the sort of trust that is required for the reader to set their own doubts aside, helping them to feel safe enough to muse right along with him without requiring them to “believe, or else.” In fact, chapter two is entitled “Don’t believe What You Think.” Here, he doused my concerns over the use of jargon and proceeded to highlight why we should all question even our own thoughts.
In fact, the pages are filled with intriguing ideas and the reader is left to decide whether or not they agree with what the author is saying. He acknowledges both religion/mysticism and science in his quest to detail his theories, focusing on the way they approach the subject matter.
“Philosophies and religions have positive aspects to be sure. But, all tend to declare the nature of your reality for you. A handy service if you would rather cruise the infinite universe of creative possibility on someone else’s autopilot program. The problem is, unverifiable beliefs limit the way you consider alternate possibilities.
Science has a matching problem. A yin to mysticism’s yang.Some followers of the scientific method have made science itself a religion of sorts. They take the easy, self-assured way out. Some devotees declare that their way of investigating reality is the only valid means of determining the truth. Some priests of physics believe that, until something becomes verified by experimental investigation, it is not true. The problem is, science isn’t supposed to work that way. The scientific method is a humble method. It tests one small, very specific set of conditions at a time. Then it asks others to test the same conditions again independently. If results are reliably producible, a small bit of probably true information is added to the knowledge base. Scientists tell themselves stories about reality, just as philosophers do. Good scientists know they are telling stories.”
So I spent chapter 1 ripping the man, the alma mater, and the method apart. But by chapter two I was intrigued. And by chapter three, I was hooked. I hope Dr. Surprise will forgive me because while I, admittedly, spent the first two thirds of this blog post voicing my doubts over the legitimacy of his work, I will likely be devoting two thirds of my time writing other blog posts inspired by it.
Written by Heather of EVP