Extrasensory Deception Hardcover – 19 Sep 1987
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Now on to the book review. This is a fun, informative, fast paced, engaging and easy to read book. It is one of the best indroductions to critcal, skeptical thinking that I know of. The book teaches one to be skeptical of supernatural, too good to be true type claims. To a reader already familiar with the writings of James Randi, Ray Hyman, Joe Nickell and others, most of the material in this book will be old hat. To others, the material will be quite an eye opener.
This book is not as in depth or advanced as James Randi's Flim Flam Or Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, so if one has already read those books, this one is not really needed. If one is new to this type of writing, this book is probably the best place to start. Start with this book, as it is so easy to read, and then as you wish to learn even more read James Randi's Flim Flam, Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, or any of the books by Ray Hyman, Kendrick Frazier, Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, or Phillip Klass.
Another great application for this book is to give it to someone to read that you know who tends to be just a little too gullible. I have found that asking someone to read a book like Flim Flam tends to be a little overwhelming, especially for someone not necessarily interested in having their worldview questioned. For example, one may have a family member who is just a little too open minded and one wishes to give this family member something to read to provide a balanced perspective to this person's thought process hoping that he or she will be just a little more rational when all is said and done. So the family member is given Flim Flam to read, but the family member, who is not really interested anyway, gets bored after a few pages and nothing is ever accomplished. This book, however, with its larger type point size, shorter paragraphs, and quick paced style will draw the reader in and hook them from the very first page. Then hopefully the family member will be be just a little bit smarter for reading this book and then, if interested, can be given something else to read like Flim Flam.
There is really no point in arguing with people like the two "reviewers" who have weighed in here; if one wants to believe, as shirley does, that thousands of years-old beings are somehow "channeling" their thoughts and knowledge through living humans, or that ufo's are kidnapping people from their beds at night, or that James Van Praagh really speaks to the dead, there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise. It's very sad, actually...
It always amuses me to see people get angry about those, like Mr. Gordon, who debunk this kind of nonsense- er- "phenomena;" everywhere else you look it's accepted, in the media, especially; it's totally one-sided. Why begrudge skeptics when they get to say their piece? Why does it make you so uncomfortable...? Thanks Mr. Gordon, for taking the time to write this- you're not alone!
ESP, Psychics, Shirley MacLaine, Ghosts, UFOs....
(Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987)
A collection of newspaper columns by a magician and New Age critic.
This book covers all the issues discussed by JamesRandi's Flim-Flam!
plus several not mentioned in that review: magicians passing as psychics;
prophesy and ambiguous predictions of the future; cold readings by psychics;
psychic crime detection; moon and crime-cycles; fire-walking;
past-life regression; other forms of life--monsters and aliens;
& science and pseudo-science.
Because each article is short and independent of the others,
this book can be dipped into as suits the reader.
Might be a good place to start reading about the "New Age"
from a critical point of view.
You can find other such debunking books by searching the Internet for:
"OCCULTISM AND SCIENCE".
James Leonard Park, skeptic.