Strange Creations by Donna Kossy

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Strange Creations: Aberrant Ideas of Human Origins from Ancient Astronauts to Aquatic Apes

Author: Donna Kossy

Type of Book: Non-fiction, aliens, bad science, utter insanity, conspiracy theory, evolutionary theory, whacked theory

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: AQUATIC APES!

Availability: Published by Feral House in 2001, it appears to be out of print, but you can still get a copy here:

Comments: I know absolutely nothing about Donna Kossy aside from the fact that she clearly revels in bizarre ideas and has more knowledge on the topic of strange people and crackpotology than I can safely absorb in one sitting. Just reading the bibliography for this book was vaguely exhausting. I have extraordinary respect for anyone who has read Helena Blavatsky from cover to cover, even if it was abridged. I have similar respect for anyone who managed to make it through Atlas Shrugged in one go. Such people are made of sturdier stuff than I am.

I wanted to read this book because it discusses one of my all-time favorite whacked theories, that of the aquatic ape. As I read, I discovered an entire world of bizarre, unique, unnerving and upsetting theories of the way humans evolved or came to be. In fact, this book made it look easy, reading such dense and lunatic theories and making sense of them, that it was the inspiration for my now-aborted “Alien Intervention Week.” As much as I love the strange, I have my limits.

But Kossy is an intrepid woman and possesses not only the skills to make the most extreme idea accessible to her readers, but is a writer skilled in revealing the humanity and humor in some of these beliefs. I will admit I never want to read the phrase “root race” ever again, but aside from that, I found the surveys of belief in this book fascinating and utterly readable. I was disappointed when, after a search on Amazon, I realized Kossy has only written two books and I already own the other, entitled Kooks. I comfort myself that even though there is no more Kossy for me to read, she led me to some superb and lunatic books. I will totally be discussing Behold!!! the Protong here at some point.

Intermediate States, edited by Patrick Huyghe and Dennis Stacy

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: Intermediate States: A Nonfiction Anthology

Authors: Various, edited by Patrick Huyghe and Dennis Stacy

Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: It’s an edition (13th, interestingly enough) of articles from The Anomalist, a website that features a largely Fortean collection of weirdness. I discovered this particular edition during a search on Nick Redfern, who is both quite bald and a British examiner of the odd. I loved his book Three Men Seeking Monsters and felt his presence in this book would be an omen of the oddness within and I was proven correct.

Availability: Published by Anomalist Books in 2007, you can get a copy here:

Comments: Despite the fact that I clearly am a denizen of cyberspace, I am old enough and my eyes cranky enough to prefer not to read long, involved stories using a computer interface. This persnickety nature puts me at a disadvantage because I miss out on a lot of really interesting topics but it’s never fun when my eyeballs begin to spasm so I live with it. As someone who loves the weird as much as I do, it is almost shameful to admit I had no idea the The Anomalist website existed. Since I fancy myself a person who, if not an expert on the weird, is at least very familiar with most elements of oddness in the world, it was shocking and gratifying not only to find so much on the site I had never read before (my left eye is twitching, thanks for asking), but also to find a lot of content in this book wholly new to me. I really did order it blind, simply using Nick Redfern as sort of Fortean dowsing stick.

Sadly, Redfern’s article, “The Flying Saucer That Never Was,” was not a huge hit with me, though that is hardly Redfern’s fault. I often do not find the topic of UFOs to be particularly interesting, though that is certainly open for qualification. In his article, Redfern examines an old, evidently cheesy UFO movie and how director and actor Mikel Conrad’s claims of having seen a UFO and the film itself caused the US government to investigate closely Conrad’s claims. Though UFOs and much of the conspiracy around them doesn’t really capture my imagination, weird-wise (in that I can’t recall a single UFO case, like Roswell, causing me to fall off the deep end and read every book on the topic), the article was still amusing.

There were some definite winners in this collection. John Repion’s “Suspension of Disbelief” discussed the legend of a clown in a tub pulled by geese and how it supposedly caused the Yarmouth Bridge disaster of 1845. This research was right up my alley, investigating a small bit of history and determining if it is made of truth or fable. “The Black Flash of Cape Cod: True Heir of Spring-Heeled Jack” by Theo Paijams was entirely new to me. I had not before read of an entity similar to Springheeled Jack terrorizing New England as late as 1945. His research and speculation on who or what the creature may have been were interesting indeed, including the appendix to the article that outlined similar sightings across the United States. Loren Coleman, whose work in cryptozoology made him known to before reading him in this collection, penned “Between Worlds: The Three Nephites,” and while I like Coleman’s work in other places, this article was sort of doomed with me because I tend to find attempts to prove through history points of religious faith tiresome. Even so, it was still an interesting read.

There were some articles that left me largely as soon as I read them. “They Dine Among Us” by Cliff Willett, which was about the eating habits of fairies, did not have much resonance with me. Nor did “Bioanomalistics: A Proposal” by David Hricenak. That is not to say these articles were not interesting or well-written. It’s just that I think that with the paranormal and the Fortean, people tend to have specific areas of interest and topics that deviate too much or dwell on elements that are not relevant to one’s interests will not appeal. For instance, I love tales of Bigfoot and Yetis but sea serpents, not so much. Therefore, “Sargon’s Sea Serpent: The First Sighting in Cryptozoology” by Ulrich Magin just didn’t do it for me, and that reason lies with me, not with the author.

Only one article annoyed me. “In Touch With Other Worlds” by Mark Macy strayed into that area of the paranormal that I like to call “squick.” I label anything squick that in any manner can prey on human emotion in such a way to encourage belief in something that whether true or untrue will not wholly benefit them and may, in fact, lead them down a path of utter delusion. Evidently a man named George Meek invented a “science” called Instrumental Tran-Communication in order to talk to the dead and a device called a Spiricom aids in this end. Voices through white noise on the radio, spirit groups using improbable technology to talk to the dead – none of this is new, yet all of it is deeply horrible to me because not only does the science never make an ounce of sense, but it is so very, very easy to manipulate the sick and recently bereaved into believing all kinds of hokum. Even if there is no profit motive, luring people can be an ego trip so there is always a motive behind this sort of nonsense.

Then it descends into utter madness with a new approach to spirit photography wherein one examines in extremely magnified detail a photograph. According to this article, one can see people in these photographs. In one photo, the extreme closeup of what appears to be a woman’s lower face yields half the head of a different man, according to the author. There is no way to describe how ridiculous this is in words – you have to see these claims in order fully to understand how ludicrous they are. If I magnified a picture of one of my cats’ behinds I am certain you could, if you tried hard enough, find an image of the lost city of Atlantis, a play by Shakespeare or an image of Penn Jillette shitting blood at the ridiculousness of it all.

There is a fine line between wacky research and outright advocacy and no other article but Macy’s crossed that line. And to people more open to these sorts of things, maybe it would be interesting. Me? I’m closed and I hope any person facing or having faced terrible personal loss will not get sucked into this false science promising faith in the unknowable.

Now that I have my complaint out of the way, let me share the article that strangely enough had the most resonance for me. As an atheist American, it stands to reason that I have little interest in my spiritual being. Also, as a person prone to excessive complaining and genuine laziness, I avoid anything that causes me nausea or requires lots of fasting. Therefore it was surprising to me how much I liked and absorbed “Medieval Mysticism and Its Empirical Kinship to Ayahuasca” by Victoria Alexander. Meticulously researched, from both the historical records and Alexander’s own experience, it is a fascinating look at common threads between Catholic mysticism and users of a violent, purgative hallucinogen. It was utterly fascinating to me. My reluctance towards the mystical runs hard and deep, starting from an early age, but I love reading books about the lives of the saints and how some mortified their flesh with self-lashing or starved themselves into states of mental ecstasy. This combination of knowledge I already had with completely new ideas on the similarities of achieving a spiritual state in the presence of one’s god made this a fine article for me, indeed.

Alexander explained her own path for spirituality as she used ayahuasca with a shaman, and the very stringent routine she followed beforehand. Though I know I could never do such a thing, even the nausea, extreme caloric restriction and, frankly, the potential of bad hallucinations seemed worth the discomfort. (And my god, because I am a complete philistine, I could not help but remember the scene from the “Viva Los Muertos” episode of The Venture Brothers when Brock Samson and the Order of the Triad take ayahuasca to interesting results. There was also much barfing, which is always amusing to someone like me.)

All in all, eleven articles and only one I can say I had absolutely no use for. I suspect every lover of the strange, unusual, hidden or just plain whacked-out will find something to love in this collection. I recommend it and plan to buy more of these anthologies in the future.

How People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It by Gary Leon Hill

This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books

Book: How People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It

Author: Gary Leon Hill

Why I Consider This Book Odd:
There are many reasons, but initially it was the title. It won the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title in 2005. It tries to hide, putting only People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead on the cover and spine, but the title page and a deep cultural knowledge of the weird will prevent this odd book from passing as normal.

Type of work:
Memoir, new age, bad science

Availability: Published by Weiser Books in 2005, you can get a copy here:

I have been a cranky Oddbooks as of late. I may or may not be detoxing from strong, prescription substances in a process that gives me the attention span of a gnat. I definitely am wilting in the searing Texas heat. But neither explain really why I have hated everything I have read recently, normal, odd, informative and just plain whacked. However, despite my sense of humor’s death and my meh tendencies, I do not blame my utter distaste for HPWDKTDATTUBAWTDAI on anything but the book itself. Despite its utter insanity, I took no pleasure in any of it.

I fully admit that aside from a grudging admission that I sort of believe in certain paranormal things, sort of, I am not a fan of the New Age aside from its entertainment value to me. However, I tend to cut those who believe in New Age teachings a lot of slack. Unusual beliefs make the world more interesting. But there are times when bad, bad writing combine with bad, dangerous information, and I am left with nothing but snark. If Penn Jillette read this book, he would shit blood.

It’s not like I came into this book expecting to have what little I do know about science validated by New Age squick. This book is supposed to be about combating spirit possession, which defies science too, but you can prepare yourself for a such scientific suspension when you know you are going to have the YES! of something fun, like expelling unwanted human spirits. That didn’t really happen because the book doesn’t live up to its title in any way. But before I spew bile over some of the stupid science and dangerous information contained in this book, let me give you the quick lowdown. The horribly long title would lead you to believe this book is about spirits who don’t know they are dead and take up residence in hapless humans. If only life were that easy. If, out of 182 pages,  30 have anything to do with spiritual possession, I would be very surprised.

When not discussing holistic parapsychology in depth, it discusses the boringly endless wonders of the author’s somewhat demented Uncle Wally. It confuses the hell out of the reader with who is whom and why they are there (it took three re-readings to understand that Ruth and Wally, the main perpetrators of this unique worldview, were brother and sister, that Ardis was Wally’s wife and that Vic and Lorraine were no relation but were introduced to Wally and Ardis by a pastor – if this sentence seems confusing to someone who has not read the book, just bear in mind that the author throws names at the reader with horrible and irrelevant frequency). While the book was completely misunderstanding science and making assertions that make James Randi write entire columns, it also, interestingly, refused to spell Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ name correctly – umlauts were clearly too good for this book.

If you want a book about spiritual possession, this is not it. If you want a book that mashes together Kirlian photography, a breathless belief that Uri Geller is NOT a con man, vibrational explanations for why Lutherans like to hang out together, astral planes, a complete misunderstanding of human genetics, self-affirmation, a sampling of world religion, multiple personality disorder, using ghosts to explain why capital punishment is a bad idea, and horrible, dangerous exhortations for the very sick to treat themselves, peppered with a few pages of actual possession, then get yourself over to Amazon now.

I am not kidding. This book is that bad. I find this book so troubling because  there are actual five-star reviews of it on Amazon.  Given how much really frightening information is online these days, it is far more likely that someone with cancer will read on the Internet about the wonders of pendulums for locating cancer in the body and find more faith in such bunk than in PET scans than they read that same information in this book.  But that doesn’t change the fact that this book exists at all, and I hate it when the bizarre has the potential to be so damaging.

This book has bad science out the wazoo. For example:

For decades, Kirlian photographs have made visible the human aura through interfacing ultra-low electrical current with the body’s biological life field. Dr. Valerie Hunt’s EMG machines display the electrical activity that exists around our chakras and throughout the human meridian system.


As do Sufis and theoretical physicists, Drunvalo [Melchezidek] believes that everything in the universe vibrates. Hence everything in the universe can be described by its wavelength.


The genes in our body are equivalent to software programs on a disk in a computer. But the behavior of our cells is not programmed by our genes.


Say your perception is that the world is toxic, dangerous and a threat. “Genetic engineering genes” will rewrite the other genes to respond not to the actual environment (which may not be toxic, dangerous and a threat), but to your perception of it.

Bad science doesn’t offend you? How about a really questionable approach to mental illness:

Take Charge: A Guide to Feeling Good is a book Wally wrote and published in 1987. In it he considers, among other things, the likelihood that suicides for which there seem to be no cause may in fact result from the kind of spirit attachment we are talking about.


“It seems likely that today’s still-controversial use of electroshock, or electroconvulsive therapy, for the treatment of acute depression, may prove effective, when it does, for the unacknowledged reason that it drives possessing earth-bound spirits out of the magnetic aura of the subjects being shocked.”

I can’t bear to type it out, but the book quotes Edith Fiore on page 74, listing all the major signs of depression and calling them “common signs of spiritual possession.”

General Batshittery

“Keys were bending in people’s pocket’s,” Wally told me. “Geller had twelve hundred people chanting: ‘work, work, work, work.’ These are words – that change reality.”


For instance, Timestream’s facilities are located in the third plane of the astral world on a planet named Marduk. [Timestream is a spirit group of dead scientists the author claims includes Marie Curie and Albert Einstein.]


The problem with affirmations is that sometimes they work, and more often, they don’t. Robert Williams, who teamed up with Bruce Lipton for the videotape The Biology of Perception, the Psychology of Change, says he knows why this is. We have been talking to the wrong mind.


William James said through Susy Smith “On the astral plane man makes his own environment.”

But worst of all it its dismissal of Western science and its treatment of disease based on Hill’s Aunt Ruth and Aunt Ardis and the people who sold them snake oil. Both had cancer, both refused treatment other than surgery, and both managed, in the luck that the divine lavishes on the feckless, to survive.

From his Aunt Ruth comes this complete over simplification and misunderstanding of cancer and its myriad treatments:

“Cancer is an immuno-suppressive disorder,” she told me. “The treatments they were offering me suppressed the immune system. To deliberately do something that would suppress the immune system when you’re already about to succumb to an immuno-suppressive disorder makes no kind of sense.”

It goes on from there to tout the sort of information that kills people.

Ardis had refused chemotherapy and radiation following her surgery in 1974… Then she and Wally discovered Getting Well Again, a book by O. Carl Simonton, a medical doctor and Air Force Major, who had previously been a salesman whose success he attributed to Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich. Simonton’s techniques were based on Positive Prosperity Visualization.

So, after surgery, “I employed his tactics of visualizing at the time PacMan, the TV game? Just visualizing PacMan eating up all those cancer cells,” said Ardis.


Next she (Ruth) and Wally went to Topeka for a conference for the effects of megadoses of Vitamin C on terminal cancer.

At that conference in Topeka, Ruth discovers pendulums and learns to “read” them and diagnose what was wrong in her body. This is discussed on pages 83-84. She later, on page 122, decides she got breast cancer because of mercury in the fillings of her teeth.

“…when I learned about the relationship about the meridians and the relationship between teeth and the mammary glands, I don’t think there is any question that the amalgams in the teeth that related to the left mammary gland had something to do with that cancer.”

Then Ruth’s luck ran out, though she did last 16 years, and her cancer spread all over her body, even into her bones. She died of cancer in 2002, hopefully not in as much pain as it seems she was when in she consulted her pendulum.

Several nights before she’d had excruciating pain in her liver – couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, finally at 5:00 in the morning, Ruth asked her pendulum: “Is this a message?” And it swung wide, yes. “And if I get to understand the message, will the pain go away?” It said yes. “And so I started interviewing my liver.”

It is tempting to comment to each of these quotes, but they speak for themselves.  Note also that only three of them had anything to do with spirits invading the body.

I think if one is going to read New Age and books of a religious theme, especially those that are clearly going to be utterly insane, the least they can do is concern themselves with the topic their title says the book is about.  In bizarre non-fiction, one does not expect the best of writing, or even a coherent narrative.  That is why, to the right mind, odd non-fiction can be so fun.  I do not fault this book for wandering around and using two word sentences in awkward places hoping to connote a depth that is not there.  Rather, I loathe this book for pulling a fast one and tricking readers into thinking they are going to read the non-Catholic version of Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil, a truly interesting book about spiritual possession, and for cramming the book full of inappropriate, at least to the stated topic at hand, bullshit about science, health and peace of mind.

My only consolation that this book exists at all is that those who are truly mentally and physically ill will likely not stumble across it in a weakened state and believe they are spirit infested, that Vitamin C can cure and pendulums help treat terminal cancer, or feel morally responsible for their illness because cells can, somehow, mutate to reflect a negative thought.