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From Shaman to Scientist: Essays on Humanity's Search for Spirits
     

From Shaman to Scientist: Essays on Humanity's Search for Spirits

by James Houran (Editor)
 

Parapsychologists and self-styled ghost-hunting organizations are just two examples of people who seek out the existence of ghosts. This resource, examines ghost hunting as a cultural and scientific phenomenon, sidestepping the many issues surrounding the reality of ghosts, and discussing the many and varied methods used by ghost hunters. Taking the approach that

Overview

Parapsychologists and self-styled ghost-hunting organizations are just two examples of people who seek out the existence of ghosts. This resource, examines ghost hunting as a cultural and scientific phenomenon, sidestepping the many issues surrounding the reality of ghosts, and discussing the many and varied methods used by ghost hunters. Taking the approach that there is no such thing as the supernatural, only things we don't yet understand, the ghost experience is examined through case studies; the forms and functions that ghost hunters have taken down through history are analyzed; key historical figures and their influence on the research of ghostly phenomena are reviewed; ghost hunting in the 21st century, including the exploding phenomenon of Internet ghost-hunting organizations, is discussed; and the advances in the theory and technology of the parapsychology field are covered. For those who are skeptical about the reality of ghosts but who want to understand how so many individuals claim to have anomalous experiences, this book reviews the data, offers insight into logical explanations, and discusses why this is and has been for centuries such an important issue to humans.

Editorial Reviews

The Christian Parapsychologist
In Chapter 1, Annekatrin Puhle and Adrian Parker explore 'edges' between the scientific and shamanic worldviews. A brief history of parapsychology emphasizes that the 'experimenter effect,' far from being mere artifact, is 'part of the beast we are investigating.' They point out that the most successful Ganzfeld experiments are those that give prominence to ritualistic and spiritual context. This supports their conclusion that 'our experimental techniques may be the modern day equivalent of rituals for bringing forth the phenomena.' In Chapter 2, a detailed exploration of psi-shamanic associations, James McClenon suggests that many of the core phenomena manifest cross-culturally. Michael Winkelman in the next chapter surmises that 'Spirits are part of the structure of human consciousness [and]...can be understood as representing psychological complexes, organized personality dynamics that are dissociated from awareness, normal personality and identity.' Christa Tuczay in Chapter 4 explores ghosts in medieval sources, and this is followed by Peter Mulacz in what, for me, was the most fascinating chapter in the book, reviewing the history of poltergeist research and leading theories of the phenomenon. Sylvia Grider's chapter on American children's ghost stories will be of interest to the folklorist, and finally, in Chapter 7, John Potts continues the ethnographic drift by reviewing twenty-first century ghost hunting, including 'ghosts on the web.' Loyd Auerbach's Afterword pulls the diverse streams together, remarking: 'I might never have made the connection between 'ghost hunter' and 'shaman' were it not for the preceding pages.' The ghost hunter or paranormal researcher, he suggests, is in many respects a shamanic figure in our modern world.
Thomas E. Bullard
Ghosts have haunted us from time immemorial. Rationalistic criticism casts them as the poster children of superstitious credulity,
yet we still refuse to outgrow them. This persistence under fire has even begun to win a new and more respectful look at these old friends, these shadows in the dark and things that go bump in the night. If few scholars are convinced that ghosts mean the soul survives death, many now regard belief in ghosts as a significant and intriguing subject with cultural and psychological causes worthy of serious study. Any effort to reckon with belief in ghosts must also reckon with prior efforts. They are numerous and reflect hopes and prejudices, fashions and agendas more often than dispassionate scholarship, leaving behind a clutter of confusion for subsequent scholars to overstep. A new book raises a welcome light among the midnight corners of ghostly belief and leads readers through a grand tour of this perennial subject.

From Shaman to Scientist collects articles exploring the mystery of ghosts in both breadth and depth. The book illuminates the cultural history of ghosts and the effort of the living to understand them, how they function as the subject of narratives and how old ideas meld with new technology to create a popular current form of "techno-mysticism." Questions of where belief in ghosts originates find an intriguing answer in shamanism, an archaic relationship between mortals and the spirit world that seems to provide a template throughout history. Asking why these beliefs persist in stubborn defiance of rational skepticism leads to the prospect that innate cognitive structures sustain ghostly experiences as phenomenal realities, whatever their ontological nature may be.

The contributors to this book respect the complexity of ghost belief in history and culture even as they advance our understanding along sound scholarly lines. And if the writers are willing to allow now and then that there is still something mysterious about a fine ghostly encounter, well, let us b

Journal of Scientific Exploration - Christine Simmonds-Moore
The writing within this volume commendably reflects a diversity of beliefs, and approaches to understanding the fundamentally human experience of spirits and hauntings. This topic benefits considerably from this type of approach.
Reference and Research Book News
Anthropologists, psychiatrists, and others who have researched parapsychology phenomena provide a number of case studies in which people have looked for what are popularly called ghosts in various contexts. Among their topics are shamanism in terms of human evolution, dissociation, and anomalous experience; interactions with apparitions, ghosts, and revenants in ancient and medieval sources; American children's ghost stories; and ghost hunting in the 21st century.
CHOICE
...provocative and well constructed....Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
Department Of Psychology, University Of Leicester, Uk - John Maltby
Highly recommended reading for academic researchers, students of the subject, and those working in the media.
Journal of Scientific Exploration
The writing within this volume commendably reflects a diversity of beliefs, and approaches to understanding the fundamentally human experience of spirits and hauntings. This topic benefits considerably from this type of approach.
— Christine Simmonds-Moore
Choice
...provocative and well constructed....Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810850545
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
08/05/2004
Pages:
286
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.89(d)

Meet the Author

James Houran Houran serves as a peer-reviewer for many psychological and parapsychological journals, and is an associate editor for the Australian Journal of Parapsychology and a consulting editor for the European Journal of Parapsychology. He is a former Instructor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. His research has produced more than 80 professional publications in psychology and parapsychology journals, and his work has been frequently profiled in print and electronic media worldwide, such as A&E, History Channel, BBC, ABC News, and several commercial documentaries.

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