A Few More Books to Consider

Stockholms stadsbibliotek
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dieter van Baarle

I keep a list of books that are recommended by people I respect in the paranormal field and every so often I post them to the blog.

There is a standing invitation for all members to suggest books. And, if there is someone out there who is organized enough to reads lots of tomes, not only do I bow to your time management skills I invite you to share your experiences with others via a short book review. Good, bad or indifferent – it doesn’t really matter. Your opinion will be valued, even debated perhaps!

Anyway, back to the list of books.

I love this book. Sure Radin is an academic with an IQ that is probably off the scale but somehow he manages to bring his knowledge of the paranormal to the masses (me!).

The blurb:

The Conscious Universe challenges our most basic assumptions about reality, those that exist in both the upper echelons of science and in the basic daily interactions. It’s a mind-bending exploration of how and what we see. 

A review:

Radin is a mix of curiosity, scholarship, technical expertise, and sly wit. (New York Times Magazine )

This is a compilation of works by various parapsychologists and that format makes it easy to read. Just choose a chapter and jump right in.

The blurb:

Researchers, including William Roll, Michael Grosso, and Rhea White, reveal how their work and that of their peers is a prelude to a transformation in the relationship between science and spirituality.

This book covers subjects such as God, life after death, channeling, and other dimensions.

Disclosure: the following review is by one of my examiners, Julie Green.

At last here is a serious book about parapsychology.

“Parapsychology in the Twenty-First Century” has 17 contributors, including a Foreword by Nobel-prize winning physicist Brian Josephson who happens to believe in the paranormal. He claims that it is not so much the parapsychological findings that inhibit the acceptance of parapsychology by a skeptical community as much as it is the emotional discomfort that sets in when they are faced with paranormal phenomena. But as Josephson says: “Science is not about being comfortable”.

This is not an anecdotal account of paranormal experiences like most ‘parapsychology’ books.

“Parapsychology in the Twenty-First Century” is pure science, and don’t let skeptical sources tell you otherwise.

Thalbourne and Storm’s book takes a look at what has been achieved in parapsychology in the last century, and perennial authors like William Braud, Stanley Krippner, Gerd Hovelmann, Fiona Steinkamp, and the late Robert Morris, all propose possible avenues of future research in the field.

“Twenty-First Century” is divided into sections (experimental, theoretical, and sociological) so there’s something for everyone. I thought the experimental chapters would be heavy going, but the editors have made sure that things don’t get too demanding. Chapter 5, for example, has some deeper statistical analyses placed in an Appendix, so the reader can skip these few pages without missing the point of the chapter. I was surprised how easy it can be to test ESP at home – all you need is ping pong balls, an opaque bag, and a score sheet!

The final section looks at the cultural significance of ESP and PK. Paranormal phenomena is as old as our species, and exists in every culture. James McClenon presents an interesting chapter on the role that ESP and PK plays in our lives, and it seems that it gives our species a healing advantage whenever we experience extreme crisis.

Lance Storm has a close look at skepticism, and he argues that skeptics should be pointing their critical fingers at conventional science, before they take pot-shots at parapsychologists. Robyn Wooffitt tells us that the talk that transpires during a psychic event is part of the psi process, and just as important as psi itself. Similarly, Pamela Rae Heath, in the final chapter, looks at how people talk about their paranormal experiences. This chapter is very intriguing and most important, not just because it offers new avenues of research for parapsychologists, but also because we get an understanding of what it feels like when something psychic happens. I found it very surprising to learn that psychic experiences may be taking place all the time – even in sports like golf and basketball.

I recommend “Parapsychology in the Twenty-First Century” to the curious reader interested in what is really happening in the world of parapsychology. The book is broad ranging so personal opinions and the constant repetition of a single author don’t hamper you down. The book explores multiple viewpoints and a variety of approaches that make parapsychology an extremely interesting science. I am convinced myself that the future of parapsychology will grow and flourish, and one day – maybe soon – it will be accepted by the mainstream sciences. If you want to know where modern parapsychology is today, you can’t go far wrong with “Parapsychology in the Twenty-First Century”.

In addition, I must fess up that Lance Storm and Michael Thalbourne are from my home town and, knowing these guys, I don’t doubt their intellect, their integrity or their sincerity one bit where the paranormal is concerned.

I first came across Rao while doing background research for my thesis. From what I can remember, I like the fact that Rao’s work offers insights that are different to the mainstream. Maybe this is because he is Indian or at least lives there. I don’t know.

The blurb:

This expanded and revised text includes thirteen experimental reports (five new to this edition) and seven review articles involving meta-analysis and the assessment of evidence in specific areas of psi research. The author provides a representative sample of the extensive literature in the controversial field of parapsychology and presents a few basic experiments illustrating various procedures and broadly reflecting the major trends of psi research. Possible experimental procedures, cumulative evidence showing the replicability of individual experiments, and promising areas of psi research are also discussed.

This obviously isn’t before bed light reading but for those who are looking to further their own knowledge of the parapsychological research Rao will do the trick.

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