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Television, the movies, and computer games fill the minds of their viewers with a daily staple of fantasy, from tales of UFO landings, haunted houses, and communication with the dead to claims of miraculous cures by gifted healers or breakthrough treatments by means of fringe medicine. The paranormal is so ubiquitous in one form of entertainment or another that many people easily lose sight of the distinction between the real and the imaginary, or they never learn to make the distinction in the first place. In this thorough review of pseudoscience and the paranormal in contemporary life, psychologist Terence Hines teaches readers how to carefully evaluate all such claims in terms of scientific evidence.
Hines devotes separate chapters to psychics; life after death; parapsychology; astrology; UFOs; ancient astronauts, cosmic collisions, and the Bermuda Triangle; faith healing; and more. New to this second edition are extended sections on psychoanalysis and pseudopsychologies, especially recovered memory therapy, satanic ritual abuse, facilitated communication, and other questionable psychotherapies. There are also new chapters on alternative medicine, which is now marketed in our drug stores, and on environmental pseudoscience, with special emphasis on the evidence that certain technologies like cell phones or environmental agents like asbestos cause cancer.
Finally, Hines discusses the psychological causes for belief in the paranormal despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. This valuable, highly interesting, and completely accessible analysis critiques the whole range of current paranormal claims.
|1||The Nature of Pseudoscience||13|
|2||Psychics and Psychic Phenomena||43|
|3||Life After Death||91|
|6||Astrology, the Lunar Effect, and Biorhythms||205|
|7||UFOs I: Close Encounters of the First Kind||235|
|8||UFOs II: Photographs, Physical Evidence, and Abductions||257|
|9||Alien Astronauts, Cosmic Collisions, and the Bermuda Triangle||303|
|12||Collective Delusion, Mass Hysteria, and Environmental Health Scares||383|
|13||Special Topics in Pseudoscience||403|
|App.: Skeptical Web Sites||437|
Posted August 22, 2005
Spiritualists might find much humor in this book, although it can also be a blood- pressure raising read. As Hines sees it, Spiritualism is just so much bunk. Hines informs us that modern ¿spiritualists and psychics¿ keep detailed files on their victims and these files are often passed from one medium to another as one retires or dies off. If the victim is wealthy enough, the ¿spiritualist or psychic¿ may use a private detective to gather information on the victim. However, to save on expenses, the spiritualist or psychic can, in many states, obtain the driving record and driver¿s license abstract of the person, thereby learning the name of his insurance company, his policy number, and so forth. He or she might drive by the victim¿s house, noting the neighborhood, the type of cars in the driveway, and the presence of children¿s toys on the lawn. When the spiritualist or psychic feeds this information back to the victim, the victim will be amazed and accept this as proof of the charlatan¿s powers. This is why most mediums don¿t just see anyone who walks off the street. Appointments are usually necessary in order for the medium to allow time for the accumulation of all that information. But even if the psychic doesn¿t use a private detective or obtain the driving record, etc., he or she can obtain all kinds of information by means of cold reading. Hines doesn¿t appear to grasp the difference between a medium and a psychic, as he says most people see them, still speaking of ¿spiritualists and psychics,¿ because of problems with sex, money, or health. By carefully observing the victim¿s age, appearance, and such things as college rings and fraternity pins, the charlatan can focus in on the victim¿s problem area. If a woman comes in wearing an expensive dress and lots of jewelry, then money is probably not the problem. If it is an elderly person, it is likely a health problem. If the victim is wearing a business suit and has a white area of skin on his ring finger, the charlatan really has a lead as to the individual¿s problem. If you are a grieving widow, beware of anyone delivering a bouquet of roses. Through some ruse, the phony deliveryman will gain access to the house and may even ask to use the bathroom. While the poor victim is putting the flowers in a vase, the ¿deliveryman¿ will be scanning the bedroom and bathroom for a piece of jewelry, hopefully one with sentimental value. He¿ll avoid things with monetary value so that the police won¿t be called in. When the victim asks the spiritualist or psychic for help in locating the missing object, the object can, to the victim¿s amazement, be apported to her. Or the deliveryman accomplice might just hide the piece of jewelry behind a loose baseboard and the ¿spirits¿ can then tell the victim where to find it. The victim will be so awed that she will increase her donation to the local Spiritualist Church. The bibliography for this book consists of 500 or more references, but Hines conveniently or ignorantly omits any references to books by Sir Oliver Lodge, Sir William Crookes, Sir William Barrett, Dr. James H. Hyslop, Dr. Charles Richet, or other scientists and scholars who thoroughly investigated the paranormal and attested to the reality of it. He does mention Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace and Professor Robert Hare, two other famous scientists who found evidence in favor of the paranormal, including survival, but he dismisses their findings by saying they were outside their areas of expertise. Yet, he cites Michael Faraday¿s debunking theory concerning table rapping, even though Faraday had much less exposure to and experience with mediums than either Wallace or Hare. He mentions a few mediums who were accused of fraud, but makes no mention of mediums like William Stainton Moses, Leonore Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, or Eileen Garrett. The 2003 edition mentions medium John Edward and others who he feels are clearly dupiWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2009
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