Qty:1
  • List Price: $31.00
  • Save: $3.10 (10%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
Debunked!: ESP, Telekines... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Standard used condition. Thousands of books shipped daily!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Debunked!: ESP, Telekinesis, and Other Pseudoscience Hardcover – March 25, 2004


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$27.90
$1.97 $0.01

Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Image
Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (March 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801878675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801878671
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,212,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Written in a jaunty tone, this excursion upon the seas of superstitious belief is a light, amusing voyage. Had the authors aimed their Nobel-caliber guns (Charpak received the 1992 physics award) at astrology and mental telepathy and blown them to smithereens, such bludgeoning would not have held the humor in the more adroit tack they do take. Charpak and Broch instead examine those fields within their own terms of reference for signs of validity. For example, astrology, allegedly able to determine human fate according to signs of the zodiac, is bogus if only because the precession of the earth's axis shifts those signs over time. Looking at the psychic power enabling one to levitate, walk safely across red-hot coals, or make astounding predictions, the authors point out how physics or simple probability explains things more convincingly than do amazing brain waves. Exposing the gullibility charlatans rely on, the authors' sardonic spirit will amuse readers even as it inducts them into the scientific mode of thought. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

Debunked! is short and highly readable. It tells good stories about human foolishness masquerading as science. It offers useful assistance to citizens trying to tell the difference between sense and nonsense... Charpak and Broch have done a fine job, sweeping out the money-changers from the temple of science and exposing their tricks. I recommend this book to believers and skeptics alike. It is good entertainment, whether or not you believe in astrology.

(Freeman J. Dyson New York Review of Books)

Just as James Bond needed his Q to survive his enemies, so every working scientist needs this slim volume. At some time, I am sure, everyone will have found themselves in a sticky situation in which they are trapped at a party by a boring individual endlessly droning on about astrology, telekinesis or some other form of pseudoscientific gobbledegook. Like the gadgets produced by 007's personal boffin, this book provides a means of escape. It offers a simple scientific explanation for a wide range of supposedly paranormal phenomenon. Some are shown up as mere conjuring tricks, while beliefs such as astrology can be readily demolished by anyone with a passing knowledge of probability theory, let alone astronomy. The book arms the reader with arguments that can be tossed into some future conversation, quelling such disciples of irrationality while you make for the door.

(John Bonner New Scientist)

Written in a jaunty tone, this excursion upon the seas of superstitious belief is a light, amusing voyage... Looking at the psychic power enabling one to levitate, walk safely across red-hot coals, or make astounding predictions, the authors point out how physics or simple probability explain things more convincingly than do amazing brain waves. Exposing the gullibility charlatans rely on, the authors' sardonic spirit will amuse readers even as it inducts them into the scientific mode of thought.

(Booklist)

Delightful... [Charpak and Broch] show how the application of probability theory to such events is enlightening.

(Michael Shermer Scientific American)

We have here a new book by two eminent scientists—three if you count the translator—that emphatically debunkes ESP, telekinesis, telepathy, dowsing and numerous other similar magic stunts.

(John Goodspeed Easton Star Democrat)

The authors' reasoning, which includes all kinds of theoretical subtleties ('nutations,' 'precession of the equinoxes'), is quite beautiful.

(Jim Holt Wall Street Journal)

Entertaining and amusing.

(Elizabeth Clements Symmetry)

Charpak and Broch use their academic training to examine the logic and rationality of each case they dissect. I'm pleased to see the excellent book they've written... To become properly informed about a wide spectrum of paranormal and supernatural claims, one needs to be primed on the difference between real science and pseudoscience.

(James Randi Physics Today)

One of those books I wish I'd written.

(James Randi Physics Today)

This book's motto might have been taken from Goya: 'The sleep of reason produces monsters.' The authors have a serious agenda—a critique of belief in the paranormal and the supernatural, and the irrational behavior of those who are taken in by such beliefs—but address it with a light and good-humored touch. The book provides entertaining and amusing reading while bringing about an understanding of how the simple application of probability theory and science explains 'amazing' coincidences and abilities.

(John M. Charap, Queen Mary University of London, author of Explaining the Universe)

I enjoyed reading this book... and was particularly interested to learn about purportedly paranormal events that have not been covered elsewhere.

(Physics World)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
2
4 star
0
3 star
1
2 star
3
1 star
0
See all 6 customer reviews
Which is all nice and dandy, but, something is still wrong with the book.
Stefan Isaksson
It's not the first book in the genre, but it's a quite pleasant read, even though it's not by far the best book ever written about the specific topic.
Stefan Isaksson
The fact is that they _do_ influence such people, but the authors lack either the imagination or inclination to try to find out why.
Neal Alexander

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Does the paranormal exist? Is there some basis for ESP, telekinesis, astrology, and the other beliefs to which many so tightly cling? We cannot prove that they are nonsense, but we can show evidence at least that they are highly questionable and that they are used by hoaxers for fame and profit, especially when those hoaxers pretend to be taking a scientific stance. A wonderful lesson that The Amazing Randi and Penn and Teller have taught us is that magicians can make almost anything happen, or _appear_ to happen, and that scientists can get fooled watching these tricks just as well as Las Vegas audiences can. A happy, short, and informative book, _Debunked! ESP, Telekinesis, and Other Pseudoscience_ (Johns Hopkins University Press), by Nobel prizewinner George Charpak and his colleague in scientific investigation of the paranormal Henri Broch, is a plea for intelligent avoidance of deception. It is translated from the French, but don't worry; the translator, Bart K. Holland, has himself written about the probability errors that people are prone to, and has an interesting preface to tell how he faithfully worked on the translation.
Much of the book is devoted to magic tricks. There is the problem of the magician who can do a good trick, and claim it is no such thing; it is a miracle, the suspension of the laws of physics at his command. The authors want readers to know some of these tricks; if they can show you how keys can be magically bent (like rabbits can be magically produced), it makes no sense to assume that the bending is a miracle. Uri Geller is terrific at key bending, but so is author Henri Broch. And he gives away the secret here; it is a physical process no more supernatural than using a lever, but done in a hidden manner, the way all magicians do things.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rory Coker on August 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For perhaps 2 decades, at the University of Nice, Prof. Broch has taught a course analyzing the claims of pseudoscience. He has also published a number of books on the topic; this is the only one ever to be translated into English. It may be the last. I assume this particular specimen was chosen because the co-author is Nobel prizewinning physicist Georges Charpak, but it was difficult for me to detect Charpak's contributions.

The bad news is that the book looks as if it were assembled by Prof. Broch sitting down and pulling material pretty much at random from the presentations in his courses. The text is never lucid and sometimes lapses into outright incoherence; I found portions to be completely unreadable.

I would recommend skipping the prologue altogether. Chapter 1 begins with Astrology and the Forer Effect; most of the discussion makes sense but illustrations and tables often don't. I would, for example, like to see someone make any sense of the table on page 12, particularly in view of the instructions to select "one box at random from each of the four columns numbered 2 to 4." Of course the columns are not numbered, but if you reread the instructions you'll see that could hardly matter! The whole book is like this. The chapter suddenly veers from astrology to a "telephone psychic" mindreading trick. Then suddenly there are very brief discussions of antiquated levitation illusions, sitting on broken glass shards and beds of nails, a 500-year-old version of "skewer through tongue," firewalking, and one of Broch's classroom demonstrations with nitinol wire. Throughout, when books are mentioned, the reference is almost always to a French-language edition, even when the book was first published in English; can you say, "no editing?
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Neal Alexander on June 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Nobel prizewinners can be excused for being self-satisfied, but that doesn't help the style or substance of this book.

Some parts are undeniably thought-provoking. On astrology, let's start with the fact that the earth makes one complete circuit of the sun in one year: right? Wrong. Oh. At that point I had to go back a few pages and start again. We choose the length of the year so that seasons don't drift round the calendar. Useful reference points are the equinoxes, when the earth's axis is perpendicular to the plane in which it rotates the sun. But that axis also swivels very slowly, so this year's equinox doesn't occur at exactly the same point on the orbit as did last year's. That means that the constellations _do_ gradually drift through the calendar. So their pattern at the birth of someone in, say, August in classical times is different to that of someone born in August this year. The authors do admit, however, that a minority of astrologers take this into account. And the feasible idea that season of birth could be associated with character traits is not addressed.

Other sections explain, in a tiresomely arch style, how to play pseudo-paranormal tricks on your friends. And others show, at some length, that apparently extraordinary events - - eg light bulbs blowing at the command of a TV psychic - - are really to be expected when you take into account the number of people involved. One of the better chapters is a case study of a French stone sarcophagus which seems to spontaneously fill with water. The most interesting aspect is perhaps not the explanation itself, but subsequent TV programs' persistent denial that one has been found.

The text would've benefited from better editing and translation.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again