Book review: Paranormality

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJul 6, 2011 4:00 PM


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Regular readers may remember my friend: UK skeptic, psychologist, and my evil twin Professor Richard Wiseman. He delights in creating amazing illusions and situations that tease our brains and show us we can't always trust our senses. He has written a wonderful new book called Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there. In it, he tackles a wide range of "supernatural" phenomena such as ghosts, speaking to the dead, telekinesis, clairvoyance, and more. And he's pretty clear about it: these things are all explained as psychological effects. Wishful thinking, illusions, hoaxes, and (most interestingly to me) our brain psychology. I'm pretty familiar with lots of explanations of why we see things that aren't there (illusions, logical fallacies, and the like), but the sections where Richard discusses our brain were somewhat new to me and honestly fascinating. He discusses how our senses inform our brain, and how these methods sometimes fail to represent reality faithfully. Don't think this is some dry recitation of scientific thinking! Richard's style is very entertaining, always fun to read and with flashes of dry British wit that will certainly be enjoyed by a lot of my own readers here. Which brings me to an important point: try as he might, Richard couldn't find a publisher here in the States for this book. Oddly, a book stating clearly that the paranormal doesn't exist can't compete with books from the likes of Deepak Chopra and Sylvia Browne.

Happily, though, you can buy it for the Kindle, and his UK publisher will ship to the States. Obviously, I highly recommend this book to anyone who reads my blog, and anyone who has an interest in the paranormal. This is not a mean-spirited book, nor some cynical denial of anything miraculous. It's fun, thorough, and honestly delightful. I would actually categorize it as a good read for the beach, if you're looking to enjoy some summertime repose. C'mon. Would a guy with an evil twin lie to you?

Related posts: - Hidden circles illusion - Square Circle Spiral - Headless skeptic - Amazing spoon bending - The best bang since the big one

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