Journalist and contributing editor for the science magazine Discover, Mary Roach discussed several interesting topics related to her new book, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. A self-proclaimed skeptic, Roach said she was born "without faith" and was motivated to write Spook in an effort to understand what, if anything, happens to us after we die.
Roach began by sharing a brief history of Duncan MacDougall, a surgeon who weighed people at the 'supreme moment' of death to see if their departing souls could be quantified. In one case, MacDougall purportedly measured a 3/4 ounce (21 grams) drop in weight; however, authorities ended his research (with cadavers), Roach explained, and his findings were never repeated.
Roach talked about her journey to India to conduct research with Dr. Rawat, a man who investigates cases of supposed reincarnation. She recounted the story of a young boy whose family claimed he was the reincarnation of a deceased electrician. According to Roach, the case was weak. She also recounted the humorous tale of an Indian woman who got out of her marriage by claiming to have died and comeback as a different person.
Roach also commented on her trip to the University of Arizona to meet with mediums, the embarrassing truth about ectoplasm, and her experience with Dr. Michael Persinger's helmet, which uses electromagnetic waves to induce the brain into seeing or hearing ghosts.
First hour guest, consumer privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht, gave an update on RFID chips.