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Natural and Supernatural: A History of the Paranormal from the Earliest Times to 1914 Paperback – 11 Jun 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: White Crow Books (11 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908733209
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908733207
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,944,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'I believe it to be an extraordinarily important and valuable work, sensational in what it contains and even more so in its implications... he has piled up a mountain of evidence, searchingly examined and scrupulously evaluated.' Bernard Levin, The Times 'It has the two basic qualities which make books on history endure: it is both scholarly and readable.' Arthur Koestler, the Guardian 'A tour de force... one of those works, like H. G. Wells Outline of History, that fires the imagination and leaves the reader feeling stunned, but excited.' Colin Wilson, Evening News 'Brian Inglis is eminently sensible and sane. In this massive survey, the evidence is presented in a sober and scholarly way... Natural and Supernatural is hard to fault.' the Economist Inglis bring to this book the same thoroughness and care that he shows in his other books - while I have not been converted, it has intensified mental conflict, and I admire and respect him for writing it.' Karl Sabbagh, New Scientist 'Cool, authoritative and highly readable - a service to science and society.' Ray Brown, Psychology Today

About the Author

Brian Inglis (31 July 1916 - 11 February 1993) was an Irish journalist, historian and television presenter. He was born in Dublin, Ireland, and retained an interest in Irish history and politics. He was best known to people in Britain as the presenter of All Our Yesterdays, a television review of events exactly 25 years previously, as seen in newsreels, newspaper articles etc. He also presented the weekly review of newspapers known as What the Papers Say. He joined the staff of The Spectator in 1954, and became editor in 1959, soon afterwards hiring the young Bernard Levin to write for the magazine. He continued as editor until 1962. He also had interests in the paranormal, and alternatives to institutionalised medicine. Inglis' friend and colleague Bill Grundy died on 9 February 1993. Inglis had just finished writing Grundy's obituary when he, too, died.

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Inglis unfortunately appears to have made up his mind long before the inclusion of evidence - of any format - into his exploration of the topic. The book appears to set out with less of an interest in informing the reader than converting them. As has been pointed out with much of his work before now, he here fails to consider all available explanations and willfully dismisses the valid concerns raised about some of his source material, let alone his interpretation thereof. (For an example of one such criticism, from a practising magician, I suggest looking up the following: Bob Couttie. (1988). Forbidden Knowledge: The Paranormal Paradox. Lutterworth Press. p. 24.) He has drunk from the fountain of the supernatural and been lulled in by its allure unquestioningly. His chosen quotations from reputable scientific scholarship are often more nuanced than he gives credit for, and this has led to a production that it would not be unfair to dub 'whig' history. That the referencing style is wildly inadequate is also troubling. The sheer lack of accurate references (bar the bibliography, which is only useful for a general direction) actually makes it thoroughly difficult to track down the exact location of his original material.
Though predating his later, more extreme work of 1986, 'The Hidden Power', it is rather clear at what point the conspiracy theories started to solidify within Inglis's mind. Informative to some degree, but due to the dogmatic persuasion of the author it is rather difficult to consider the book a trustworthy guide to the *history* of the paranormal.

Outdated, it is probably not worth the read for those expecting a truly in-depth analysis of supernatural beliefs and how they affected people's lives in ages past.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Greatest Book on the Paranormal Ever Written 25 July 2012
By Daniel J. Neiman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've given a few books 5 stars, but this one deserves 10! If you read this book from cover to cover and are at the end not convinced in the reality of paranormal phenomenon (telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis and the like), then you must be one who will absolutely refuse to believe unless you see the phenomenon for yourself. And those kind of hard-nosed skeptics, even when confronted before their very eyes with such phenomenon, would probably just believe themselves to be hallucinated. However, for anyone with the slightest openness to accepting such things as real, this book will provide the best collection of evidence to support such a view.

It's a big book at over 450 pages with an almost 20 page bibliography of sources. This is over 450 pages of data with no filler. It's page after page of experiences investigators had when they investigated paranormal claims, as well as the responses of their colleagues and critics, and theories to try to explain what they experienced, or vise versa--to explain it away as some natural occurance or hallucination. Inglis does an excellent job of only focusing on those investigators who had high academic credentials or a high social standing and reputation in their community. That's why I said, it's the best evidence. He scrupulously examines the experiments they set up to test for the phenomenon, especially with mediums. He goes through the whole controversy that existed during the 19th century regarding mediumship and examines the issue from all sides. Inglis goes from the earliest times of shamanistic and ancient cultures through the early 20th Century, but the bulk of the work focuses on the period after the year 1700, especially the 1800's when spiritualism was popular and the society for psychical research was started.

If there's a better book on the evidence for the paranormal, I'd pay $1,000 for it. That's how good and convincing this book is. Page after page of evidence from people who either were skeptical to begin with, were respected members of their communities, or were men of science and the academic world.
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