Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn't

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Overview

More than seventy percent of Americans believe in paranormal activity. But even with a family-ghost story lurking in his own background, seasoned journalist Steve Volk has been like most of those millions of Americans— reticent to talk about his experience in polite company. If so many of us have similar stories to tell, why are we so reluctant to take them seriously?

Paranormal claims don’t traditionally sit well with reporters, but Volk decided to focus his gimlet-eyed ...

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Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn't

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Overview

More than seventy percent of Americans believe in paranormal activity. But even with a family-ghost story lurking in his own background, seasoned journalist Steve Volk has been like most of those millions of Americans— reticent to talk about his experience in polite company. If so many of us have similar stories to tell, why are we so reluctant to take them seriously?

Paranormal claims don’t traditionally sit well with reporters, but Volk decided to focus his gimlet-eyed tenacity on a new beat: the world of psychics, UFOs, and things that go bump in the night. It’s a rollicking ride as Volk introduces us to all sorts of fringe-dwellers, many of them reluctant to admit to their paranormal experiences: a NASA astronaut-turned-mystic, a world-famous psychologist who taught us about dying and then decided death may not exist at all, and brave scientists attempting to verify what mystics have been reporting for millennia. Volk investigates what happens in the brains of people undergoing religious experiences, learns how to control his own dreams, and goes hunting for specters in his family’s old haunted house.

From his journey into the bizarre, Volk returns with a compelling argument that we need to allow for a middle space, a place where paranormal phenomena can be weird and compelling; raise crucial questions; and, quite possibly, remain unexplainable. He rejects the polarized options the twenty-first century seems to offer us: to passionately embrace or hotly reject, to revere only science or only spirituality. And he underscores, again and again, that by raising our most existential questions—why are we here, are we alone in the universe, and what happens when we die?—paranormal stories are in fact a crucial point of connection. It turns out that these “fringe” experiences strike at the core of what it means to be human.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“A sharply written, intelligently argued book that should appeal equally to believers and skeptics.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061857713
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/7/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,073,621
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Volk

STEVE VOLK is a longtime staff writer and regular contributor at Philadelphia magazine. His work has been published by Rolling Stone, VIBE, Men's Health, Men's Journal, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Weekly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times. Volk has received dozens of journalism awards and lives in Philadelphia. Visit the author online at www.stevevolk.com.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Paranormal 1

1 On Death and Not Dying 21

The Provocative Beginning of Near-Death-Experience Research

2 Do You See What I See? 53

The Curious Conflict Between Telepathy Skeptics and Believers

3 Out of Our Heads? Off with Their Heads! 83

Consciousness Outside the Brain

4 Blazing Saddles 113

UPOs and the Strange Lights Over a Texas Town

5 Was There a Ghost in My House? 139

The Unexplained Noises That Fueled a Childhood Mystery

6 To Infinity and Beyond 153

What Science and Spirituality Look Like from Outer Space

7 The Open Mind 177

How New Science Is Revealing the Power of Meditation and Prayer

8 The Impossible Dream 205

Sleep as an Untapped Resource for an Awakened Life

9 After-Death Communication? 233

How a New Therapy Uses the Dead to Help Patients Live

10 You Can't Go Home Again 251

Has Anyone Else Encountered a Ghost in My Old House?

11 Our Time in Hell 255

Lucid Dreaming and its Most Potent Lesson for Science and Spirituality

Acknowledgments 267

Notes and Sources 269

Index 313

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Customer Reviews

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( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Over Active Amygdala's?

    The amydala is a structure in the human brain that can stimulate defensive responses, whenever something we believe in is threatened. In his book Fringe-ology, Steve Volk explores the boarders of science, and finds over stimulated amygdala's to be one of the greatest barriers to understanding. Mr. Volk is a reporter by profession, and rational and skeptical by nature, but he grew up in a house that was suposedly haunted, and searches for logical answers to explain his childhood experiences. This quest takes him to various fringe areas of science, including NDE's, UFO's, lucid dreaming, and expermintal treatments for PTSD, among others, and gives him some truly remarkable experiences along the way. But his most important discovery seems to be that science is not a religion, or an ideology, but a tool that can only achieve its' full potential when it is used with courage, open-mindedness, and impartiality. Was Mr. Volk's boyhood home really haunted? Read this book and decide for yourself!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Not what you might expect...

    ...but in a good way. This is not a book of sensational stories. It is, instead, an examination of what paranormal means, both from a cultural point of view and also from a scientific vantage point. Yes, there are stories that support what Volk is writing about but this book is a serious look at things that go bump in the night.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2011

    Very interesting book!

    I heard about this book when the author was interviewed on the "Paranomal Podcast" and I am glad I listened to the interview and subsequently bought the book. The subject matter is very interesting and I really like the author's style. He is open to all forms of thought and looking to get away from paradigms that exclude other beliefs, in general.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2013

    Yes

    Yes

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    Great book

    Really enjoying this book. If your intrigued- buy it!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 4, 2014

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