This is a wide-ranging look at various supernatural phenomena through skeptical glasses. Each chapter is short and easy to read. As a skeptical presbyterian it was a welcome antidote to much of the bunkum I see in religious circles. There are a few chapters which are theologically amateurish, but the bulk of the book is highly recommended to saint and skeptic alike.
I always buy books on both sides of an argument to make sure I see all sides represented, and I do not miss critical arguments. But this is certainly not a book presenting the "sceptical side" to miracles.
Indeed it is wholly misrepresented because the word "science" should not be in the title, because there is none at all in the book!
It is simply the rantings of someone with an apriori sceptic position, who is not even prepared to argue the case in any rational way. He lacks any appreciation of critical thinking, he does not use any appreciation of science, and uses every straw man argument he can find. He uses any discredited argument or opinions provided only that they line up with his own.
Cant be bothered to point out the flaws, since there can be no flaws where there is no argument: but take a couple of examples.
Ignoring all his blather - take his idea of rational argument on "holy blood" - He decided, it did not look like blood to him when he saw it in a phial ergo it is a pious fraud! Yes that is his standard of argument!
Yet if he cared to study such as Buenos Aires, Sokolka, or Lanciano, ( I hoped to see him arguing against those) he would find many forensic scientists lined up against him. I wanted to know how he argued against these cases which use cold hard scientific reasoning, but he fails even to mention them! - preferring his opinion. It did not look like blood to him (not a forensic pathologist) ergo it was not. Pathethic.
Take the mystery of the image of guadalupe. It is generally recognised the image has been tampered with, much as a recent "banksy" graffiti, has been the victim of other graffiti. So It is not an argument for why the parts which are unexplained , can be argued away. Yet that is mostly what he presented. The actual scientific arguments he does not challenge at all. Take the age of the fabric which should have rotted in years not centuries (he does not mention how it survives)
And take the most interesting feature of the images in the eyes - the extraordinary triple image with correct optical distortion - an effect discovered in opthalmics only recently. How was it an artist managed to convey it long before it had been discovered. He does not even comment on it, preferring "he does not see the likenesses of figures in the images" (irrelevant to the spatial distribution) ergo it is pious fraud in his opinion. Pathetic.
The only references he can find to support his case, are links to other rantings by him, and other discredited scientists..
Dont waste your money. I buy hundreds of books , and this is quite the worst I have ever seen. Sure there are pious frauds, but you will not find out about them from Nickell -I suggest you find someone with an ounce of scientific knowledge and reasoning instead.
No science at all in this book, and that is disgraceful considering the title. I was conned.