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Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there [Unabridged] [Paperback]

Richard Wiseman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)

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Paranormality: Why we believe the impossible Paranormality: Why we believe the impossible 4.2 out of 5 stars (111)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2011
'People are emotionally drawn to the supernatural. They actively want weird, spooky things to be true . . . Wiseman shows us a higher joy as he deftly skewers the paranormal charlatans, blows away the psychic fog and lets in the clear light of reason.' Richard Dawkins Professor Richard Wiseman is clear about one thing: paranormal phenomena don't exist. But in the same way that the science of space travel transforms our everyday lives, so research into telepathy, fortune-telling and out-of-body experiences produces remarkable insights into our brains, behaviour and beliefs. Paranormality embarks on a wild ghost chase into this new science of the supernatural and is packed with activities that allow you to experience the impossible. So throw away your crystals, ditch your lucky charms and cancel your subscription to Reincarnation Weekly. It is time to discover the real secrets of the paranormal. Learn how to control your dreams -- and leave your body behind Convince complete strangers that you know all about them Unleash the power of your unconscious mind

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Unabridged edition (4 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230752985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230752986
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 143,168 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.

Product Description


'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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, well-researched and very readable 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Not The Paranormal Delusion 31 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but flawed 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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By B. M. Clegg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The subtitle here is ‘Why we believe the impossible’ or ‘Why we see what isn’t there’ (depending on your edition) emphasising that this a book not so much on parapsychology – the study of paranormal capabilities of the mind – but what you might call metaparapsychology – the study of why human beings incorrectly think that they have paranormal capabilities of the mind.

This is a very entertaining, lightly written book that takes a storytelling approach to introducing some of the strange and wonderful claims that people have made for supernatural mental abilities, only to pull them apart.

We begin with that most dubious of paranormal topics, psychics, with a UK psychic roundly failing in controlled tests and another psychic admitting exactly how he used cold reading tricks to fool his clients. Many books have debunked cold reading, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen before such a clear list of the six key techniques with a demonstration of how they were used in a specific reading. It’s superb.

Next under the microscope are out of body experiences (and for some reason the spurious idea of a body losing weight on death), which prove rather dull, and then moving things with the mind. There is interesting material on a specific case, though I found the ‘five psychological principles’ that make people believe this kind of act a touch heavy handed after we’d already been through the six for cold reading, especially as by the time we get to the fifth there is not one, but two asides in the middle of explaining it.

Next up is the table shifting/rapping/Ouija board style of spirit medium.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
i enjoy reading this book
Published 7 days ago by philip gormley
5.0 out of 5 stars Paranormal Psychology
For any A level Psychology lecturer or student taking AQA A Anomalistic Psychology, this is a welcome text which presents a good range of research evidence and insight into the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Trevor Dunn
5.0 out of 5 stars Facts for my own comforts!
I found this book through Derren Browns recommendations on his website as I am a big fan. I once believed the lunacy of paranormal activities & nearly lost my mind through fear of... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sarah Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
The book is even better than reading the nutters who are writing the 1 star reviews down bellow. Probably Richards best book, entertaining, funny and educational, what more could... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mr. J. D. Buckton
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and entertaining
This was an interesting and entertaining read on the subject. I wish the chapter on mind reading had more details on the subject of Mentalism.
Published 7 months ago by Jimbay
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and very useful in debunking
I have read other Professor Wiseman books and found them very enlightening. I am please to say this one follows it that fine tradition. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Gordon Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wise man he is!
I found this book to be the best bit of myth-debunking since that famous Horizon programme trashed the so-called mystery of the Bermuda Triange. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Horace Storey
4.0 out of 5 stars What if I now dream I haven't written this review yet?
There really isn't much I can add at this late date to the many highly intelligent and well-written contributions already here (silence, the wag who asked "well, why not add to the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Douglas Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Really good book. Must have for any sceptics arsenal

Just don't try citing the studies included to someone who just thinks "Mystic Marcus" has just opened a... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Cruicky
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating sceptical study
Riveting and well researched study into why our brains conjure images and experiences which have, seemingly, no rational explanation. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Elizabeth Westray
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