Here is a multidimensional playland of ideas from the world's most eccentric Nobel-Prize winning scientist. Kary Mullis is legendary for his invention of PCR, which redefined the world of DNA, genetics, and forensic science. He is also a surfer, a veteran of Berkeley in the sixties, and perhaps the only Nobel laureate to describe a possible encounter with aliens. A scientist of boundless curiosity, he refuses to accept any proposition based on secondhand or hearsay evidence, and always looks for the "money trail" when scientists make announcements.
Mullis writes with passion and humor about a wide range of topics: from global warming to the O. J. Simpson trial, from poisonous spiders to HIV, from scientific method to astrology. Dancing Naked in the Mind Field challenges us to question the authority of scientific dogma even as it reveals the workings of an uncannily original scientific mind.
When biochemist Mullis won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1993, the press played up his being the first surfer laureate, as well as the first to admit having used LSD. In this collection of essays, Mullis reveals that he also encountered a woman who saved his life while cruising over him on the astral plane, as well as an extraterrestrial who seems to have been a cross between a raccoon and E.T. Mullis argues passionately against the commercialization of science, by which unorthodox but promising ideas fall victim to grantsmanship and marketing; against the assertion that the HIV virus is the cause of AIDS (Mullis insists this theory is still not backed by sufficient evidence); and against the outlawing of psychoactive substances without giving scientists time to study their effects on the nervous system. Mullis was an expert witness on the DNA evidence at the O.J. Simpson trial, although he wasn't called upon to testify. Here, he gives his take on personalities in the trial and explains why he thinks the LAPD's handling of the blood samples was like running a "one-man line-up." Some of Mullis's opinions, like his slightly muddled critique of global warming and his defense of astrology (he didn't receive the Nobel for his work in astrophysics), come across as just plain cranky, in various senses of the word. But whether or not readers agree with Mullis or believe all the details in his accounts of some of his experiences, his eccentric and often insightful opinions about science and life in general will challenge them to reexamine their own beliefs.