Paranormality by Richard Wiseman

Paranormality is an excellent addition to the skeptical library.  It covers some of the same ground as the old skeptical classics such as The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan and Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions by James Randi, but in a more light-hearted and interactive manner.  Professor Wiseman is a psychologist and he shows us not only why things such as ghosts and psychics don’t exist, but why we are fooled into thinking they do.

One of the things that makes the book stand out is the large number of experiments and exercises you can do to illustrate Wiseman’s points.  They are simple but really help the reader understand how the brain works.   The book also has QR tags so you can watch videos of interviews and investigations.

A number of paranormal topics are covered in addition to psychic powers and ghosts, such as hypnosis, cults, prophesy, out-of-body experiences and seances.   I found the chapter on dreaming especially interesting.  He deftly interweaves his own investigative experiences with stories of charlatans and their dupes through the years.

Although the book has been a big seller in the U.K., Professor Wiseman has been unable to find an American publisher.  This is a shame since there is probably no country more in need of a book like this.  Fortunately for those of us in the U.S., he has put the ebook on Amazon so we can read it.

Paranormality is a smart, fun read.  In an ideal world, it would be required reading for all high school students.  It would surely make us a nation of smarter, less gullible citizens.

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