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Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit / Edition 1

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Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker's Toolkit provides readers with a variety of "reality-checking" tools to analyze extraordinary claims and to determine their validity.

  • Integrates simple yet powerful evaluative tools used by both paranormal believers and skeptics alike
  • Introduces innovations such as a continuum for ranking paranormal claims and evaluating their implications
  • Includes an innovative "Critical Thinker’s Toolkit," a systematic approach for performing reality checks on paranormal claims related to astrology, psychics, spiritualism, parapsychology, dream telepathy, mind-over-matter, prayer, life after death, creationism, and more
  • Explores the five alternative hypotheses to consider when confronting a paranormal claim
  • Reality Check boxes, integrated into the text, invite students to engage in further discussion and examination of claims
  • Written in a lively, engaging style for students and general readers alike

Ancillaries: Testbank and PowerPoint slides available at

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Smith's work is a valuable contribution to the field. It will certainly be of interest to psychologists interested in the consequences of cognitive errors, and it is no doubt the best textbook on the market for a course on the psychology of paranormal belief. Although Smith explains paranormal thinking in terms of cognitive errors, his presentation of psychological issues is not technical; thus, this text would be especially useful in a freshman seminar, so popular now on American campuses, whose purpose is to help entering college students develop critical thinking skills. Students will either love or hate this text, but they will not be left unchanged by it. And that, after all, is what college is all about." (PsycCRITIQUES, April 2010)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405181228
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/28/2009
  • Series: Wiley Desktop Editions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 441,583
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan C. Smith, Ph.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor of Psychology at Roosevelt University, Founding Director of the Roosevelt University Stress Institute, and Head of the Pseudoscience and Paranormal Laboratory.  Dr. Smith has published 17 books and has written numerous articles on stress, relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness, as well as spirituality and skepticism. In 1984 he founded the Roosevelt University Stress Institute primarily to combat pseudoscience in the field. He has created classroom and online classes specifically designed to teach critical thinking skills and evaluate extraordinary claims of the paranormal.

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Table of Contents

PART 1: INTRODUCTIONChapter 1: The Continuum MysteriosumMaking 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'AstrologyQuestionable SourcesThe Question of AuthorityWhen Experts Get It WrongAn Invitation to QuestionChapter 4: Reality Check: Is the Logic Valid and Sound-Basic LogicInformal Logical FallaciesPremises, Logic, and Hypothesis TestingChapter 5: Reality Check: Are Claims Based on Science: (Observations, Tests, and Theories) ObservationsTestsTheories Sagan's Balance and the FEDS StandardScience and Alternative HypothesesCONSIDER ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONSChapter 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 ChanceSummary: Psychic BiasChapter 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 ErrorsDèjà vuThe Dèjà vu Reality CheckChapter 9: Reality Checking for the Placebo Effect What are Placebos-Weak and Strong PlacebosIs 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 PSIConclusion: The State of PSI ResearchChapter 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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