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Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there Paperback – Unabridged, 4 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Unabridged edition (4 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230752985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230752986
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 219,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Wiseman is Britain's only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology and is the author of the bestselling Quirkology and 59 Seconds. He is the psychologist most frequently quoted by the British media.

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Review

'Experiments that investigate the paranormal are bizarre and entertaining, and Wiseman is a witty guide in what is often a mind-boggling read. Ultimately you'll discover why your brain is far more extraordinary than any of the supernatural claims in this book.' --New Scientist

'You might think this book is a party-pooper, removing the wonder from the our lives... (but) the message of Wiseman's book is positive. Forget about searching for wonder in the supernatural, because it does not exist. Instead, focus on the wondrous events surrounding all of us every day.'
--Simon Singh, Mail on Sunday

'A different league to your usual sceptic.' --Fortean Times

About the Author

Richard Wiseman is Britain's only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology and has an international reputation for his research into unusual areas, including deception, luck, humour and the paranormal. He is the author of the international bestseller 59 Seconds, is frequently quoted by the media and his research has been featured on over 150 television programmes across the world.

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4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Dr. M. Mckergow on 18 April 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an immensely readable and enjoyable book. Richard Wiseman has wisely eschewed the idea of writing a book debunking the paranormal (of which there are plenty already) and instead opted to focus on letting us know HOW it's done, and even how to do it ourselves for the entertainment of family and friends. Wiseman tells his story by focusing on people in history - specific people who have either developed some kind of reputation for being able to achieve paranormal phenomena, or of debunking and exposing them. In this way he gives a book of real substance, which really gets to the nitty-gritty. It's also very entertaining, and included many elements with which I was not familiar (despite have quite a collection of books on this topic and of Wiseman's previous work). An excellent read and very educational.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Isham on 31 Mar. 2011
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Firstly, my dissapointment with this book is NOT Richard Wiseman's fault. He has produced a fun book that hits all the right targets and is a great introduction for the burgeoning sceptic. I just wanted it to be so much more than that. If this work and Robert McLuhan's "Randi's Prize" represent the two sides in this debate, then it is the latter which hits the right tone and weight for the current state of play. By presenting his research so thoroughly and giving both sides of the argument, McLuhan allows the reader to come to his own conclusions whereas Wiseman tends to give his reader no such opportunity. The result is that I found the McLuhan book MORE convincing in the case AGAINST the paranormal. Wiseman too often commits the crime that the sceptics are accused of by McLuhan, being smug and flippant. If you too are waiting for the book that announces the final death of the supernatural then Paranormality is just another steppping stone on that journey.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Miss C. Ford on 3 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The one-star reviews I have read for this book are in many ways correct but rather overly negative. I suspect many are written by those who object to having their beliefs (and possibly hopes) subject to such thorough exposition.

Much of Wiseman's work in these areas has been covered by his other books but here it is gathered together in a coherent order to present a strong and convincing case against the paranormal. The interactivity of the book is thoroughly engaging, presenting ways to trick your friends and exploit the known tricks of the trade employed by "psychics" and "mediums" while at the same time offering a great number of logical and practical explanations for many of the phenomena encountered by those who claim to have experienced the paranormal.

The work's flaw is, as other reviewers have pointed out, Wiseman's dogmatic denial of any paranormality. His arguments and explanations (incidentally, all of which I agree with, being a sceptic through and through) are made less convincing by his apparent immovability. Some scenarios presented require him to summon a host of explanations posited throughout the book which must have coincided simultaneously to create the phenomenon. I don't doubt that this is the case, but his theories would be stronger if he were to accept at any point that the coincidence may seem far-fetched and that it is impossible to know for certain, given the uniqueness of the event. The key to good science is that everything should be able to be tested by experiment, consistently and infinitely, as he so rightly emphasises throughout, but appears to lose hold of in places where all that is left to say is "probably it was this and this and this".

Nonetheless, it is thoroughly enjoyable - which is its main purpose.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By nerosmaster on 25 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
A very entertaining, readable and witty book. I definitely enjoyed it I have to say; it lifts the veil on all manner of fascinating phenomena. However, I have to say, there was much of it that wasn't a surprise for me. I'm no expert but there were certain theories in certain sections of the book that left me a little underwhelmed and which sounded vaguely familiar from other reads. Slightly mocking in parts but a genuinely good read. I had been having a bit of a lull recently with reading and couldn't settle down to a good book but this had me rapt from beginning to end.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Brijm on 2 April 2011
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I enjoyed this book, but having read some Wiseman before, it all seems a bit familiar. (Although the style seems a little more humourous than usual, which might put off some people seeking a more sensitive approach to the subject)

Predictably those convinced by parapsychology have attacked the book, (the sole reason for most of the one star reviews) however all the mountains of peer-reviewed research 'proving' parapsychology phenomena have a a habit of disappearing when one goes into the details... so I am on Wiseman's side in this debate - but that is my problem. Wiseman promises us not a re-hash of the old 'is it true or isn't it' debate but psychological evidence as to why and how people are so easily taken in. The book does this in places, but in fact a lot of space is taken up by the old debate on the existence on parapsychological phenomena. If you have done any reading on this topic before, large swathes of the book will already be familiar to you.

When Wiseman does use psychological explanations, more details might be useful - psychological explanations have a habit of sounding rather tenuous or so obvious they could be used to explain anything (an unfair perception, but not necessarily helped by Wiseman occasionally recycling data from previous works). This issue is not restricted to Wiseman or hot debates such as this, but it means a lay audience may need more convincing that a psychology experiment is really the best explanation for certain phenomena.

IN summary, if this is your first foray into this area, this is an excellent introduction in a light readable style, if you need more convincing, further reading is recommended
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