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Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory

Overview

From The Sixth Sense to Medium, Ghost Whisperer to Ghost Hunters, the paranormal stirs heated debate, spawning millions of believers and skeptics alike. Nearly half of us say we believe in ghosts, and two-thirds of us believe in life after death.

What would you make of rain barrels that refill themselves? Psychic horses? Mind-reading Cold War spies? For a group of scientists at the Duke Parapsychology Lab under the leadership of Dr. J. B. Rhine—considered the Einstein of the ...

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Unbelievable: Investigations into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy, and Other Unseen Phenomena, from the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory

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Overview

From The Sixth Sense to Medium, Ghost Whisperer to Ghost Hunters, the paranormal stirs heated debate, spawning millions of believers and skeptics alike. Nearly half of us say we believe in ghosts, and two-thirds of us believe in life after death.

What would you make of rain barrels that refill themselves? Psychic horses? Mind-reading Cold War spies? For a group of scientists at the Duke Parapsychology Lab under the leadership of Dr. J. B. Rhine—considered the Einstein of the paranormal—such mysteries demanded further investigation. From 1930 to 1980, these dedicated men and women attempted to test the bizarre, the frightening, and the unexplainable against the rigors of science, ultimately finding proof that the human mind possesses telepathic powers.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
For almost half century (1931–80), the Duke University laboratory of J. B. Rhine and his colleagues formed the epicenter of research of parapsychology. In fact, Rhine not only coined the term "parapsychology" himself; he almost single-handedly created the methodology and procedures in this controversial field. Stacy Horn's Unbelievable ventures into the realm of concepts such as ESP and psychokinesis "that the Rhine lab tested experimentally, but still remain controversial after all these years. Despite widespread skepticism, Duke parapsychology research attracted the interest of notables including Albert Einstein, Richard Nixon, Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, and Russian Cold War leaders. An exceptionally interesting tour through paranormal history.
Bust Magazine
“Some of the explanations here, backed by scientific fact, will send shivers up readers’ spines.”
Bust Magazine
“Some of the explanations here, backed by scientific fact, will send shivers up readers’ spines.”
Kirkus Reviews
A sympathetic, somewhat rambling history of parapsychology investigations at Duke University. All Things Considered contributor Horn (The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad, 2005, etc.) begins in the mid-1920s, when J.B. Rhine and his wife Louisa arrived in Boston to research psychic phenomena. Their scathing expose of the popular medium Mina Crandon set off a storm among believers in the occult; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle bought ads in the Boston papers declaring Rhine to be "an ass." The protests brought Rhine to the attention of John Thomas, a public-school administrator who had lost his wife and was trying to establish contact with her spirit. Thomas arranged for Rhine to join the psychology department at Duke, where he would remain for nearly 40 years. Horn gives the broad outlines of Rhine's basic work, most of which involved experiments in which students tried to guess which of five symbols appeared on a card chosen from a deck. Especially in the early years, his researchers achieved some provocative results that drew widespread press attention and floods of mail from those seeking advice. Rhine was determined to produce scientifically sound work, the author notes. As a result, he declined to investigate many of the cases brought to his attention by the public, specifically those involving ghosts, poltergeists and other phenomena that could not be subjected to rigorous experimental conditions. Horn looks at several psychics who injected themselves into murder investigations, although Rhine had little to do with those cases. Ironically, despite Rhine's insistence on scientific rigor, his work was frequently challenged for inadequate statistical analysis andinsufficient safeguards against cheating. In latter days, his backers grew impatient with his failure to find proof of the afterlife, and funding dwindled. He left behind some intriguing results and many unanswered questions about how the mind works. A bit unfocused, but solid on the details of Rhine's life and work. Author events in Boston, New York, Raleigh/Durham, N.C., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061116902
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Pages: 289
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Stacy Horn, a contributor to National Public Radio's All Things Considered, is the author of The Restless Sleep, Waiting for My Cats to Die: A Memoir, and Cyberville. She lives in New York City.

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    "Unbelievable" has made a Stacy Horn believer out of me! 5++ Stars all the way.

    Belongs at the top of the best seller lists.

    This is a fascinating account of the results of apparently exhaustive research Ms. Horn performed using a variety of documents from fifty years of parapsychology incidents and events reported to the Duke University Parapsychology Laboratory. (Who even knew there was such a lab?)

    The writing is crisp, clear and clean, and has the kind of momentum you would associate with a novel. She tells a great story.
    The science and humanity are blended so well together. Her authoritative yet objective voice can be heard throughout the book, and it's one that should be heard even if you are not a believer in ESP, ghosts or other paranormal phenomena.


    (Plus anecdotal mentions of Richard Nixon and Timothy Leary to boot - Come on!)

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  • Posted May 26, 2009

    Believable and Enticing - History of Parapsychology at Duke University

    Having grown up reading J.B.Rhine's books on paranormal experiments at Duke University, I am grateful that Ms. Horn has provided this lively, detailed chronology. After plowing through hundreds of Rhine's boxes at the Duke Archives, she has unearthed his correspondence with Upton Sinclair, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Timothy Leary and a host of other top thinkers of the 20th century, all contributing their perspectives about the paranormal. Conversational in tone, Unbelievable is extremely believable and enticing if you're intrigued about what is known and unknown in the world of parapsychology.

    Virtually everyone has had a psi experience; we usually just conveniently tag them coincidences. How did we know when the phone would ring and the caller's name? Why does everyone have at least one story of a premonition which later took place or a feeling that a friend had died? But for those who stop to question how things happen and sometimes why, logic becomes the best ally. Rhine applied scientific theory and testing to telepathy, clairvoyance, and remote viewing, and published his findings in scholarly journals. Ms. Horn details Rhine's battles with mainstream psychology, statisticians, and other scientists to gain credentials for this fledgling branch of science.

    It is not unusual for Hollywood directors and actors to stop or call the Rhine Research Center (formerly the lab at Duke) for consultation on what is known about a certain aspect of the paranormal as they work on a film. Think of the number of blockbusters dealing with ghosts, intuition, precognition, telepathy or dreams. The lab is the birthplace of Extra Sensory Perception, where science meets magic. If this is your passion, this is your book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2009

    The Rhine Center and Beyond

    The Duke Parapsychology lab was known for its telepathy experiments, but because Ms. Horn had access to the correspondence in the center's archives, she was able to draw in a whole host of other (much less dry) topics as well. One might expect ghosts and trance mediums to be tied in somehow, but people like Jackie Gleason and Timothy Leary too? The book is a light and entertaining stroll through a panorama of paranormal phenomena. Very interesting!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2009

    Great Read

    Great read for anyone interested in the parapsychology life. There is something for anyone looking to learn more in this subject. Enjoyed it very much!! If you like this book check out the authors other great books. Very different subjects but worth checking out!!!

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