Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit / Edition 1by Jonathan C. Smith
Pub. Date: 09/28/2009
Are ghosts real? Can the living communicate with the dead? Does prayer work? Are astrology and psychic readings accurate? In this groundbreaking book, a leading expert in the field makes sense of these mysteries and many more. Geared for paranormal believers and skeptics alike, Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's
Are ghosts real? Can the living communicate with the dead? Does prayer work? Are astrology and psychic readings accurate? In this groundbreaking book, a leading expert in the field makes sense of these mysteries and many more. Geared for paranormal believers and skeptics alike, Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit provides readers with a highly original, engaging, and clear-headed approach for analyzing paranormal claims and distinguishing science from pseudoscience.
Committed above all to embracing fact over fiction, Smith encourages readers to question “fearlessly and honestly.” The result may just be a greater appreciation of the awe and wonder that true science brings to our world.
Table of Contents
PART 1: INTRODUCTION Chapter 1: The Continuum Mysteriosum Making Sense out of Mysteries: The Continuum Mysteriosum Extraordinary, Nonparanormal Mysteries An Invitation Chapter 2: Why Study These Things? The Dangers of Unexamined Paranormal Claims The Risk of Paranormal Passion and the Critical Thinker's Toolkit Eight Reality-Checks: The Critical Thinker's Toolkit PART II: THE CRITICAL THINKER'S TOOLKIT EVALUATE SUPPORT FOR A CLAIM Chapter 3: Reality Check: Are the Sources Credible? Astrology Questionable Sources The Question of Authority When Experts Get It Wrong An Invitation to Question Chapter 4: Reality Check: Is the Logic Valid and Sound? Basic Logic Informal Logical Fallacies Premises, Logic, and Hypothesis Testing Chapter 5: Reality Check: Are Claims Based on Science: (Observations, Tests, and Theories)? Observations Tests Theories Sagan's Balance and the FEDS Standard Science and Alternative Hypotheses CONSIDER ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS Chapter 6: Reality Checking for Oddities of Nature and the World of Numbers Probability Estimates and Bias Math Ignorance Coincidences The Clumpiness of Randomness The Law of Very Large Numbers Science and Chance Summary: Psychic Bias Chapter 7: Reality Checking for Perceptual Error and Trickery Top-Down Processes and Perception Manipulations of Magicians and Psychics: The Cold Reading Toolkit Hypnotic Suggestion Enhancers Chapter 8: Reality Checking for Memory Errors Memory Myths What is Memory? Memory Errors Déjà vu The Déjà vu Reality Check Chapter 9: Reality Checking for the Placebo Effect What are Placebos? Weak and Strong Placebos Is the Placebo Effect Real? Underlying 'Placebogenic' Mechanisms Placebos and Superstitious Beliefs Placebo Controversies Placebos and Performance Chapter 10: Reality Checking for Sensory Anomalies and Hallucinations Sensory Phenomena Migraines Tunnel Experiences Hallucinations Hallucinations and the Critical Thinker's Toolkit PART 3: THE PARANORMAL FILES Chapter 11: Spiritualism and the Survival Hypothesis History of the Spiritualist Movement Impact of Spiritualism Spiritualism Today Research on Life after Death Research on Channeling and Mediums Conclusion Chapter 12: Parapsychology The Language of Parapsychology Research on PSI Conclusion: The State of PSI Research Chapter 13: Energy Treatments and Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Contemporary Views of Energy: The Scientific Perspective Concepts of Energy in Children and Western History: Vitalism Chinese History and Energy: The Yin-Yang School Chinese Energy Treatments Western Energy Treatments Conclusion Chapter 14: Supernatural Cures and Faith Healing The Varieties of Healing Experience The Evidence Chapter 15: Creationism, Intelligent Design, and God Great Debate Things Great and Small Chapter 16: The Reality Checkup: Using your Toolkit The Reality Checkup How to Carry on a Civilized Discussion about the Paranormal Parting Words: The Paranormal Challenge APPENDIX A: Complementary and Alternative Medicine APPENDIX B: Critical Thinking and Paranormal Resources APPENDIX C: Susan Blackmore on Paranormal Research
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