Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There by Richard Wiseman

RATING: 3.5/5

Pop psychology at its most palatable. Wiseman treats his subject with humor and levity, debunking the paranormal with a wide brush. He gives many sensational historical examples of paranormal phenomena, and explains how they were faked or misinterpreted by the brain. There are some areas of the paranormal he fails to look at, however (remote viewing comes to mind). Having recently read Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn't, I have to say that Wiseman's book fails to reference a great deal of recent research, instead focusing on "famous" cases from history. While it does seem like he's managed to explain away a vast majority of anecdotal paranormal phenomena as tricks of the mind (or tricks of a human illusionist/con artist), I still question the certainty of his conclusion that ALL phenomena has been adequately accounted for. I'm not saying I'm a believer, but that, like author of Fringe-ology, my mind is open to the possibility that there are things still unexplained. I wouldn't expect any author to be able to debunk every single claim in existence, but that might be the only way to convince me the matter is a closed one. Still, this book is entertaining and highly readable (by which I mean it is written to be completely accessible to the "layman" - those with no knowledge of psychology or science). It is non-academic and simplistic, and makes a lot of generalized conclusions.

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