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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 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 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 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 4 August 2011
In Paranormality, Prof Richard Wiseman explores the paranormal, from ghosts to automatic writing, and offers the scientific explanation of how each type of supernatural experience is just a product of our own psychology.

Some people will hate this book simply because it aims to debunk. I quite enjoyed it, but to be honest there is little that I haven't already read about elsewhere, and that makes things a tiny bit tedious.

This is counteracted by Wiseman inserting a lot of fun elements - there are a number of practical examples that you can try out, either by yourself or on friends (though not particularly easy if, like me, you tend to read on the train). There are also video and audio extras littered throughout, accessible via QR codes or web addresses, and these are fantastic aids to remembering what you've read and illustrating particular points.

Overall I would recommend this book to those with a casual interest in psychology or doubts about the paranormal that they'd like laid to rest. It's very accessible, good fun, and not too deep.
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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 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 3 May 2015
Fascinating insight into how easily the human mind can be tricked. Read this and you will understand all there is to know about the "supernatural".
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on 3 April 2011
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. It is a high-selling, well-publicised paperback aimed at the public, not a journal paper aimed at academics (although he gives plenty of citations for those - both sides of the argument - in his bibliography and if you are so inclined you can go and read them for yourself). The book's imbalance may be its greatest flaw, and perhaps Wiseman too frequently combines criticism of conmen and charlatans with accusations of simple (or rather, highly complex) gullibility on the part of others, but, read critically, it achieves what it sets out to do extremely well: entertain and enlighten.
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