Who would have thought sports psychology would the the inspiration for a new movie religion!
British journalist Ed Hawkins turns sports psychology on its head by looking at the quirkier, darker and more esoteric beliefs of mind over matter.
The Men on Magic Carpets is an exploration through the ages of people who researched and practiced alternative ways to reach sporting success, from psychic and supernatural abilities to the mind-control experiments of Russia and the efforts of the US military to create a ‘super-soldier’ in the 1970s. Hawkins takes these historical and sometimes hysterical ideas and follows them through to modern-day practices of self-actualisation and personal development for sports men and women using yoga, meditation and mindfulness training.
Once upon a time, coaches and fellow players would bully and yell, applying peer pressure with the sole focus on winning the game. Nowadays there’s a move towards ensuring player bond as a team and discover their own potential. While the early efforts discussed in this book may seem whacked out, the modern sensibility may have much to thank those pioneers for.
Hawkins’ book is fascinating read that should appeal to a broad range of readers, from sports fans to psychology students, lovers of the paranormal, and practically anyone who enjoys learning new ideas through a highly entertaining narrative.
In these pages, Hawkins uncovers the use of neuroscience in the quest for performance enhancement, and the search for neuro-supremacy through the use of ESP, psychokenisis, ‘remote viewer’ and ‘power dreaming’. He interviews a bona fide ‘mad scientist’ from the Soviet Union, White House staff in the USA, and a number of people in between. In doing so, he finds synergies between enhancement research being done is sports and the military, and discovers it was this kind of research that inspired film-maker George Lucas to create The Force – the psychic religion of the Star Wars film franchise.
In the audiobook edition, narrator Ciaran Saward puts on voices for some of the people he quotes, and offers good characterisations as he vocalises Hawkin’s trek through the secretive and bizarre world of sports people and scientist who have been or are involved in this kind of research. It’s book is a great read and the exclusive Audible audiobook is too. Either option will amuse, befuddle and surprise.
May the Force be with you.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis