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The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher by Martin Gardner

The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher is an especially entertaining, gossipy book, featuring chapters on Margaret Mead's occult beliefs, Shirley MacLaine, creationism, Rupert Sheldrake, the face on Mars, L Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology), and channeling.  Both collections contain damning indictments of modern parapsychology.  Needless to say, parapsychologists despise Gardner.  -- TS

Pam McNeeley spent more than $10,000 on Ramtha and is now one of his most vocal critics.  Pam is single, 32, and works for a computer firm in Sausalito.  She was horrified by what she heard the Ram say in 1985. He predicted that in three years there would be a great holocaust in which cities would be destroyed by disease before the coming of "Twelve Days of Light." A trio of gods: Yahweh, Ramtha, and Id  (How did Freud's id get into J.Z.'s mind?) will then arrive in great ships of light to battle the evil Old Testament god Jehovah. AIDS, said Ramtha, is nature's way of eliminating gays.  In addition to disease, there will be major earthquakes.  "Don't live on a fault line," the Ram said, "It's a zipper."  Ramsters were urged to buy pigs and chickens, move to the Northwest, and start farming.  Ramtha warned his listeners that if they told anyone about all this he would destroy them.  

To me the most interesting aspect of (Shirley MacLaine's It's All in the Playing) is the disclosure that Shirley is teetering on the edge of solipsism, the ultimate in self-absorption.  If each of us creates his or her own reality, she writes, then "objective reality simply does not exist."  Could Gerry be nothing more than a creation in her dream? "Perhaps he didn't exist for anyone else at all!"

She seems serious. At a New Year's Eve party, a crystal was passed around, and everyone, when they held it, told what they wanted for the new year.  Shirley began by saying she was the only person alive in her universe. Shock waves went around the table.  Since everything is her dream, Shirley went on, the best way she can improve the world is to improve herself. When scandalized guests raised objections, Shirley felt she was "creating them to object... I hadn't resolved myself.  In other words I was them.  They were me."

ISBN: 0879756446

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