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4.3 out of 5 stars133
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 30 July 2013
This is a well written, interesting, entertaining read. BUT...Mr Wiseman does what the scientific brigade always do - lumps everything that can't be proved in a randomised controlled trial in together as being fraudulent nonsense. I'm an experienced medical doctor, so not exactly the gullible type. But over time I have become convinced that some things are beyond the scope of present day science. For example: like many others, I have personal experience of the unconscious psychic connection that can exist between very close friends or family, particularly at times of extreme danger - instances that go way beyond the scope of coincidence. Of course palm-readers and fortune-tellers are not genuine - like professional wrestlers, it's just entertainment. But Mr Wiseman takes that to mean we are nothing beyond what we can see with machines and microscopes. Much of what he says is true of course, but he seems to leave no room at all for the wonders of the human spirit. In that he is surely mistaken.
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on 18 April 2011
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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on 25 March 2011
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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on 14 June 2011
Quite a lot of speculation about why certain psychological effects happen, and selective examples of studies rather than meta-analysis of the whole field. I'm not a stickler for scientific process, but in some cases I felt his connections or conclusions were a bit flimsy. However, it is very interesting, interactive, and in places very funny.
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on 31 March 2011
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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on 9 May 2011
I agree with the other reviewers who feel that Dr Wiseman is very much at the outright (scientific) sceptic end of the spectrum and there is no doubt in his mind that there is no such thing as the paranormal. And, in fairness, he makes his case well and for the most part backs it up with strong arguments based on solid research.

I also found this book to be a lighter, more humorous and overall a more enjoyable read than "The Luck Factor".

A key premise of the author's argument against the existence of the paranormal is that our minds are simply filling our deep rooted desire to have the comfort that belief in life after death may bring, and the hope that our humdrum lives may from time to time be touched by some form of magic. If you have restless nights caused by alarming and unidentified sounds from your attic / walls / basement, this book is likely to help you sleep easier. Personally, I prefer the thought that there are still some things that exist beyond our comprehension.
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on 1 March 2011
Paranormality is a highly entertaining jog down the eerie corridors of paranormal phenomena, a subject usually cloaked in the bewildering notions and hazy logic of human emotion. An entire industry of psychics, ghost-hunters and spiritualists are hard at work across the globe, but are they genuinely touching a hidden spiritual dimension or is there a more down-to-earth explanation?

From fortune-telling to communicating with the dead, Richard Wiseman gently but thoroughly brushes away the spooky shadows. He not only explains the rational basis for each seemingly irrational phenomena, but also sheds light upon the psychological mechanisms behind our odd beliefs.

It turns out that our brains are far more weird and wonderful than even the most bizarre ectoplasmic manifestation or tap-dancing ghost walrus. We seem predisposed to fool ourselves in the most odd and embarrassing ways. Yet, as Richard Wiseman explains, these apparent psychological glitches are actually due to the astonishingly complex and efficient ways in which our brains have evolved to grapple with the demands of the world around us.

Reading Paranormality, you will discover that the paranormal is at best amusing nonsense, and at worst a potentially disturbing parasite on human emotional vulnerability. Thankfully, this book delves into every spine-tingling session with a charming lightness of touch and Wiseman's usual sense of playful fun.

Best of all, perhaps, Paranormality proves its case. Not by turning the lights off and flapping horrid things in our face, but by giving a set of solid, practical and extremely educational lessons in How To Be A Psychic Superhero. Amaze your friends and bewilder your dead pets today! There is even linked web and video content (using QR tags), giving this book a whole extra dimension to explore.

Whether you believe or disbelieve in the truth of hidden realms and psychic events, I urge you to check out Paranormality for an eye-opening, compelling and extremely entertaining tour of the subject by a leading researcher in the field of human quirkiness.
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on 2 April 2011
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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on 17 April 2011
Overall I thought this book was very average. I thought the pace of the book was too quick, and seemed like a lot of it was being skimmed over. Having several chapters and split sections made it feel as if it didn't really get its teeth into anything. Also I felt the tone of the book was too verbose, although this is obviously down to personal preferences.

I would probably look out for other books or articles if you want to understand the 'psychology of the paranormal', but this is ok to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon to kill a few hours.
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on 29 May 2015
The reason I ordered this book and read it was primarily to find out the logic behind inanimate objects that shift without a bye or leave. I can’t honestly say I got the answer, although I felt we were getting there. I rather felt this book is a work in progress, and much as I learnt things from it, I ended up with more questions to ask than those being answered. I can also understand the polarised reviews because yes, you could argue that this book is about conjuring and tricking people into thinking something is magic when it ain’t. Which is fine, especially as there are lots of little tricks to get you started. But I have a truck with this in that there are many, many other incidents documented by perfectly nice, perfectly ordinary people going about their lives which seem to be noticeably absent. Yes, it can be true that we see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe, and that dreams can be the brain’s way of putting out the garbage. With you so far. But what about the strange experiences we have that we cannot explain? People getting a sudden strange and inexplicable feeling, only to get a call out of the blue hours later to learn a loved one has passed away? That icy chill you suddenly get, and the hairs on your arms standing up on end? It can’t always just be poor circulation, an electric surge, or somebody in the adjoining flat having a blazing row and causing the atoms to shift around a bit. Or can it? You see, we don’t know, and there are things unknown that we don’t know about.
I did feel that the case of the poor dead baby was rather irrelevant here. I recall my dad telling me about that sad and tragic tale many years ago.
Because I bought the Kindle version, the b/w photos didn’t come out too well, and I think I might have been missing an Index. The author certainly has a talent for writing, and I am not sorry I bought this book, but I would have liked more case studies where people have experienced strange happenings without looking for them to happen, and certainly not wanting them to happen. In other words, people who don’t believe there is a ghost in the machine, but can’t seem to get whatever it is out. Over to you, Professor.
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