Not a genealogical mystery, but a real-life psychological mystery, Bottleneck: Our Human interface with Reality by Richard Epworth is a most unusual book, which convincingly demonstrates that our brain can only take in information very slowly (ironically the author spent much of his career working with optical fibres, which transmit incredible amounts of data at approaching the speed of light).
However, we’re very good at convincing ourselves that we know more than we do, which is why witnesses to crimes often give plausible, but highly inaccurate, accounts – and why family stories are often at odds with the documented facts.
Everyone will get something different out of this book – in my case not only did I end up understanding myself a little bit better, I also began to realise why my view of the world is so often at odds with the views of others. The author quotes from hundreds of sources in order to make his case: from the writings of Alan Turing and Oliver Sacks to humbler sources, such as song lyrics – and even the LostCousins newsletter!
It isn’t light reading, but nor is it hard to read – I read it from beginning to end over the course of three days. Will it change my life? Probably. Not bad for under £2 on Kindle!
You’ll find the book and more reviews here:
Last time I checked all the reviews gave the book 5 stars – pretty impressive!
LostCousins.com is the only family history website able to match you with others researching the same ancestors (out of more than 250,000 genealogy websites). LostCousins.com identifies members who share the same ancestors by comparing census information each member has entered. Very useful for converting fanciful family myths into rigorous family history.