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Fringe-Ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn't Hardcover – 7 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (7 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061857718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061857713
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,019,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Fringe-Ology "FRINGE-OLOGY is a rollicking narrative journey into the unexplored territory where modern science and the paranormal converge. In it, reporter Steve Volk peeks over an anesthesiologist's shoulder as he claps a mask over a patient's face and leads us on an exploration of the deepest realm of our being. He sits beside a world famous psychologist whose research entailed watching patients die, and wh Full description

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Henry Brand on 12 July 2011
Format: Hardcover
Steve Volk is a professional journalist, and that is the perspective he writes from in Fringe-ology. Although this is an intellectual quest on his part, his personally engaging style of writing pulls you in from page one.

I usually take my time reading books that I enjoy, because I like to savor them like a fine wine, not wanting them to end, yet like a romantic dinner, I can't help anticipating its direction.
This one was hard to put it down for long, so I found myself re-reading several of my favorite chapters to stretch out the experience. The introduction alone would have been worth the price of the book. It's that good.
Then there's the greater issue of the "Paranormal Taint", and the chapter on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, or the effect that space travel has on Astronauts, lucid dreaming, the placebo effect and... I don't want to give too much away. Hint: there's more to the Paranormal Taint than you may think.

Fringe-ology has the feel and integrity of Debra Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, except that Steve Volk covers a wider variety of phenomena and he approaches his subjects with a more personal touch.

He has caught a little bit of flak because at certain points the reader starts to think that Steve is about to 'give in' and pronounce his belief in a supernatural cause underlying the topics he covers, only to have him continue on and give the skeptics their legitimate day in court. At one point I started to write out a list of insights that I found worth making note of, but I abandoned that because I was enjoying the book too much to turn it into a job assignment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Perry on 24 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I was extremely impressed with this book. Volk ranges through a surprisingly wide spectrum of paranormal topics: near-death experiences, telepathy, the nature of consciousness, UFOs, ghosts, the mystical epiphanies of astronauts, neurotheology, lucid dreaming, and Induced After-Death Communication. As a result, I learned a great deal, because even though I am interested in the paranormal, several of these topics have not even been on my radar.

I appreciated his journalistic approach, in which he travels the country to spend significant in-person time with key people in the various topics explored. In a few cases, he goes beyond interviewing these figures and actually takes part in their class, workshop, or therapy sessions. The theme, in other words, is direct contact with the phenomena in question, and we as the reader benefit enormously.

In keeping with this theme, Volk is not just the journalist, he is also the subject. He makes clear that this is a personal search, propelled by an apparent ghost in his childhood home. He weaves throughout the book his search for answers to his personal ghost story, with great effect, but he is seeking more than that. He is seeking peace, for instance, after the death of a beloved family member. And he is, of course, seeking answers.

It is impossible not to like Volk as both the journalist and the subject. His writing is witty, cool, and smart, without sliding into pretentiousness. It is also spare and direct; not a word is wasted. And he has a gift for memorable phrases ("Circumstances were forcing [the town of Stephenville] to make a choice: To Roswell, or not to Roswell").
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 75 reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Cleansing the Taint From the Paranormal 12 July 2011
By Henry Brand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steve Volk is a professional journalist, and that is the perspective he writes from in Fringe-ology. Although this is an intellectual quest on his part, his personally engaging style of writing pulls you in from page one.

I usually take my time reading books that I enjoy, because I like to savor them like a fine wine, not wanting them to end, yet like a romantic dinner, I can't help anticipating its direction.
Fringe-ology was hard to put down for long, so I found myself re-reading several of my favorite chapters to stretch out the experience. The introduction alone would have been worth the price of the book. It's that good.
Then there's the greater issue of the "Paranormal Taint", and the chapter on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, or the effect that space travel has on Astronauts, lucid dreaming, the placebo effect and... I don't want to give too much away. Hint: there's more to the Paranormal Taint than you may think.

Fringe-ology has the feel and integrity of Debra Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, except that Steve Volk covers a wider variety of phenomena and he approaches his subjects with a more personal touch.

He has caught a little bit of flak because at certain points the reader starts to think that Steve is about to 'give in' and pronounce his belief in a supernatural cause underlying the topics he covers, only to have him continue on and give the skeptics their legitimate day in court. At one point I started to write out a list of insights that I found worth making note of, but I abandoned that because I was enjoying the book too much to turn it into a job assignment. This is an informative mind-candy joy of a read, not a textbook.

The best metaphor that I can think of to describe Fringe-ology is that it's like reading a book length New York Times article / op-ed about the paranormal, with the honest information you would expect from a professional journalist, but with the personal engagement that you want from a novel. No axes to grind, no agenda's to fill, just pure intellectual inspiration.

I have quite a library of wide-ranging books relating to the paranormal, spirituality, science, myths and religion. If I were to start loaning them out one by one to someone unfamiliar with these topics, I would begin with Fringe-ology. It's a level headed yet exciting place to start.

Hands down, five stars. No question about it.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
thought-provoking 10 Jun. 2011
By M. Rosey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sort of lean toward the skeptical view, and I came to this book a little wary that the author might be overly credulous of paranormal researchers, but I think that Volk walks the line here with quite a bit of skill. This book is empathetic when it needs to be and dubious when it has to be. It's a journey through the science of the paranormal that seems both measured and wise. And Volk is a crackerjack writer. My favorite part was the chapter on Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut. The book is worth its price for that chapter alone.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
a classic in the field 11 Jun. 2011
By Allan L. Botkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I want to make it clear that Steve discusses my work in chapter nine. I think he did a fair and even handed job of describing what I do. While I wish he would have been somewhat more enthusiastic in the end about my findings, Steve and I now share a relationship that is far more important than stroking each other in a professional way. Most importantly, we share living in that middle ground between extreme believers and extreme skeptics--i.e. people who have already made up their minds. It's nice for me to find someone else in the middle. Whenever I get a chance to talk with Steve, we never seem to have enough time. Our conversations are always very animated and enlightening. If you are anything like me, Steve Volk is the guy you want to talk to, or the guy whose book you want to read. In short, I find him to be one of the most interesting people on the planet.
I am absolutely conviced that his introduction chapter, which lays the groudwork for the future study of the "paranormal", is the best I ever read. It is truly a classic. The rest of his book follows in step, and desribes his own quest to make some personal (reporter) sense out of this rather broad and confusing world that exists on the edge, or at the fringe of science. He opens a new world for all people who are not already completly stuck in terms of what they believe is true or possible. I would also like to think that his book would even shake the conceptual foundations of people who are stuck.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Have you ever wonder about "the paranormal"? Then get this book! 25 July 2011
By Neko-san - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Fringe-ology offers us a quick look at the grey areas that is not often shown in media. In this book, Steve Volk talks about the things that you politely dismiss with a giggle in a social gathering, but you wonder when no one is looking around. However, if you are still wondering, this is the book you should get to start.

I was made aware of this book by listening to interviews of Volk throughout several podcasts. On these, a chapter in the book about Lucid Dreaming was mentioned. This intrigued since I thought Lucid Dreaming was not fringe any more. In addition, I realized that I had listened to Volk previously as an interviewer in Skeptiko, and thought highly of him. So I gave the book a try.

This book is organized as follows:

Introduction: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Paranormal
1. On Death and Not Dying
2. Do You See What I See?
3. Out of Our Heads? Off with Their Heads!
4. Blazing Saddles
5. Was There a Ghost in My House?
6. To Infinity and Beyond
7. The Open Mind
8. The Impossible Dream
9. After-Death Communication?
10. You Can't Go Home Again
11. Our Time in Hell

I got Fringe-ology and went straight to Chapter 8. Volk's writing style struck me as enjoyable, and although Lucid Dreaming was not new to me, this chapter presented LaBerge and his research in this field in a new light. Suffice to say I devoured this chapter, and then I started reading this book the right way, from page one.

There is a lot of "paranormal" to consider in this book: Near-Death-Experience Research (Chapter I), Remote Viewing and Telepathy Research (Chapter 2), Consciousness Research (Chapter 3), UFO (Chapter 4), Thing that go BOOM in the night (Chapter 5), Meditation (Chapter 7), Lucid Dreaming (Chapter 8), and Induced After-Death Communication Therapy (Chapter 9).

In addition, this book humanizes the people that somehow had been touched by the paranormal. I get learn a bit about Kubler-Ross, Edgar Mitchell, Andrew Newberg, Stephen LaBerge, and Allan Botkin among others.

After reading this book, I realized that Volk's was voicing my own concerns with the paranormal. With Fringe-ology, I found that I was not so wrong of thinking that there are some gray areas, besides the black and white we a forced to adhere in society.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not bad, but not what I expected 10 Nov. 2011
By Radio Nut - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Not a bad book, but there wasn't really enough on the actual topic of paranormal. Regardless of the topic, the main thrust of the book was that we must keep an open mind about things we don't understand. We must be skeptical, but not approach these topics with preconceived notions. To me, this book wasn't as satisfying as it could have (should have) been.
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