Not that I’m about to turn this site into a “Damned Book of the Month” club, but I do like to share some fun stuff when I find it. This week’s “find” (hard to “find” one of the biggest bestsellers in history) is Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.
And yes, I know it came out last year — I have a large pile of books I’m trying to work through, a blog I update a few times a week and two active sons. The math for fast reading doesn’t exactly work out on that equation. Stupid day = only 24 hours! My dad loaned me Lost Symbol when he was done with it (since my sisters and I haven’t lived with him for about 20 years or so, he has time to read, apparently).
As far as an actual piece of literature, I have to rate it: “Meh.” Having already read The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, it’s clear that Brown has a formula he likes to stick to, both in terms of pacing, forced unnatural dialogue and literary devices. (And with his mindboggling success, who could blame him?) Knowing all the puzzles, secrets, plot twists and turns from those books, there was really nothing in Lost Symbol that truly came as any sort of surprise, no matter how hard Brown reaches or how many coincidences or plot holes he seems to be able to have “symbologist” Robert Langdon miraculously wind his way through. Still, Brown knows how to craft a page-turner and this one was as fun as the others.
The original reason I wanted to read this book was my interest in Freemasonry — I was curious how Brown would treat the group and to what depth he would “expose” its secrets. Without giving any plot away, he did a nice job weaving the various elements and legends of the organization with the actual buildings, paintings, sculpture and other structures that have been inspired by it. (For specifics, the blog Secrets of The Lost Symbol compares the book to reality in great detail.)
As you might expect, I did a little Connecticut-Mason research, and as Brown rightly points out in the book, the group does suffer from a bit of stereotyping — the Grand Lodge of Connecticut is “hidden” right out in view for everyone to see. Despite that the History Channel and their ilk like to hint that the group is somehow nefarious, from reading through the Masons’ site, it seems like they are generally dedicated to dressing up in odd costumes and doing charitable works. I was a little surprised to realize that the Shelton lodge is a building that I pass all the time and is less than a mile from my current home (and right around the corner from my old apartment) — again, “hidden” in plain sight. Are they exactly what they portray themselves to be? I’ll let others have that debate but I would say, “Is anyone?”
But as I was reading, I was fascinated by a subplot of sorts, involving noetic sciences. If you’re not familiar with the field, it’s the study of mind over matter, of how human thought is an actual tangible force that can affect matter. In the book, Brown references the work of Lynne McTaggert, who has written extensively about noetic sciences.
In response, McTaggert has written a guide to the information that Brown uses in the book.
It’s pretty interesting stuff — from her site:
Katherine’s lab uses random event generators. These electronic tosses of the coin were famously the equipment used in 25 years of consciousness research by Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne’s at Princeton’s PEAR lab (The Field, chapter 6).
Her lab also uses CCD cameras that have photographed a faith healer’s energy pouring from his hands. Dr. Gary Schwartz, a psychologist at the University of Arizona, and frequent partner in our Intention Experiments, has a CCD camera that photographs biophoton emissions from living things. He has photographed light emanating from the dominant hands of healers while sending healing (The Intention Experiment, chapter 2).
Katherine’s lab is electromagnetically sealed – so much so that human thought can’t penetrate it. Possibly. In most cases, thoughts traverse anything (hence why we can run an Intention Experiment from Sydney, Australia to affect seeds in Tucson, Arizona). However, Stanford University physicist William Tiller has experimented with magnetically-shielded rooms, which tend to block the effectiveness of trained healers ((The Intention Experiment, chapter 2).
REGs dotted all over the world recorded an effect on September 11, 2001. Former Princeton PEAR researcher Dr. Roger Nelson’s Global Consciousness Project has shown an association between major catastrophic global events and changes in REG machine output (The Field, chapter 11).
The last one — about REGs — Random Event Generators — around the world recording an effect on 9/11, I’d heard about. The power of thought, right?
Anyway, there’s much more than I can cover here — check it out if you’re interested.