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

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural Paperback – March 15, 1997


Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$48.99 $6.41

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (March 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312151195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312151195
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

James Randi, professional magician and skeptic, has put together an encyclopedia with something for everyone. Yes, no matter who you are, unless you're a thoroughgoing atheist, Randi is bound to offend your beliefs at one point or another. As Arthur C. Clarke says in his introduction, the book "should be issued with a mental health warning, as many readers--if they are brave enough to face unwelcome facts--will find some of their cherished beliefs totally demolished." Randi is dryly sarcastic about hundreds of topics, including Catholic relics, speaking in tongues, Jehovah's Witnesses, yoga, the origins of Mormonism, dowsing, magnetic hills, UFOs, and every spiritualist of the past several centuries. A typical entry defines a nymph as: "in the real world, the immature form of the dragonfly and certain other insects, or a young woman with robust sexual interests. Take your choice." Comprehensive, exasperating and exasperated, witty, and unsparing, Randi's encyclopedia provides more debunking per page than any other resource. --Mary Ellen Curtin

Review

Truth is separated from fiction in this guide to skeptical definitions of alternative realities. The encyclopedia form charts both individuals and false systems of analysis and representation, and lends to both leisure browsing and light research. -- Midwest Book Review

More About the Author

James Randi (born Randall James Hamilton Zwinge; August 7, 1928) is a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. Randi is the founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Randi began his career as a magician, as The Amazing Randi, but after retiring at age 60, he began investigating paranormal, occult, and supernatural claims, which he collectively calls "woo-woo." Although often referred to as a "debunker," Randi rejects that title owing to its perceived bias, instead describing himself as an "investigator." He has written about the paranormal, skepticism, and the history of magic. He was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and was occasionally featured on the television program Penn & Teller: Bullshit!.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Lee Hartsfeld on April 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
James Randi's encyclopedia is a fun, fun read. It's virtually a history of superstitious beliefs, as well as an overview of conjuring ("the art of seeming to perform genuine magic") and the basics of applying logic to illogical claims. The entries range from "Nessie" to "crop circles" to "thoughtography," and they are often peppered with hilarious asides. The entry on "om," for example, cites the Hindu notion that "whoever knows this syllable obtains whatever he wishes." "Well, now YOU know it, too," writes Randi. "Good luck." To be sure, the volume gets a bit tedious at times, but this has much more to do with the silly and unsubstantial nature of the subject matter than with Randi. In fact, it's almost a miracle that anyone can so entertainingly present material so inherently dry and silly. I say "almost" because, of course, miracles don't really exist. Oh, and Randi provides the best explanation of "parsimony" I have ever read. This perpetually maligned concept, better known as "Occam's razor," is here defined with clarity and completeness. Those who take this concept to mind and heart will have a kind of real-life talisman against irrational nonsense. The concept describes precisely what credulous believers in the occult do NOT do.
Rest assured that James Randi's curmudgeon persona is purely an act. A couple years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting this charming and gracious man in person, and I'm happy to say that a good amount of that charm finds its way into the entries. Very highly recommended!
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
48 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 9, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
James "The Amazing" Randi does not have much good to say about the charlatans who pedal their supernatural wares before the public. Unlike the books written by the credible, Randi provides many valuable accounts of how famous seers and magicians have hoodwinked the public.
Randi's research is sometimes flawed and his accounts sketchy, which leads me to reduce the rating I give for this book. For example, he does not realize that the Necronomicon was a Twentieth Century invention of horror author H.P. Lovecraft and he falsely implicates Increase Mather as a proponent of the Salem Witchcraft trials. (Increase was off in England when the whole thing started and was shocked to find it underway upon his return.) He is also coy about revealing details of certain trade secrets used by stage magicians and bunko spiritualists. These flaws detract from an otherwise marvellous and valuable reference.
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
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Klebanoff on December 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
With all the mindless new age claims and so-called paranormal tripe being uncritically accepted by a naive public, James Randi has done a great service in writing this excellent and enjoyable book. While Randi is bound to upset some, this book is a first rate source of information about crop circles, channeling, Kirilan photorgaphy, dowsing, and other assorted tripe. I would recommend this as required reading for all interested in occult claims. My only complant is that many of the entries and too short and insufficiently developed. Greg Klebanoff, Ph.D. philosophy
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
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Fabio Rossi on September 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
Let me state from the beginning that I am a real Randi fan. Every week I can't wait to read his update...and I absolutely agree with all of his skeptic positions.
Yet, as I read this book, I was seriously annoyed about the over-sarcastic tone he uses so often. Many times it's like he's trying to go for overkill with a "witty remark", but doing so he really adds nothing to the book. Worse than that, he comes off as a rabid, sometime overemotional basher of irrationalists everywhere. This really backfires when one wants to show this book to some delusional folk to help him/her get a grip on reality - haters aren't really good teachers.
Also, the book is poorly edited. Typos abound, and Randi couldn't get right an Italian name/word if his life depended on it. Being Italian myself, I might be partial about this, but traits like those don't belong to serious research as he is actually doing.
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
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "drsherman2004" on May 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
I've always been a fan of James Randi and he sure didn't let me down on this one! Randi looks at everything under the sun from UFO's to Crop circles and speaks about it in a way you'll enjoy, whether you agree or disagree this book is an enjoyable read. Cryptozoology (study of hidden animals) and Paranormal events often times find "evidence" via simple testimony, testimony that does not even require the telling of the sources real name, now thats a bit hard to swallow. Randi tells it like it is, much like Jerry D. Coleman's "Strange Highways" open honest, straight forward and logical!
"Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes" is a book you'll not only enjoy but keep going refering to!
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
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Francois Tremblay on May 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I don't normally give five stars for a book, but James Randi has outdone himself again. This book is very funny as well as a great reference on quackeries.
I recommend it to anyone who needs a reference book of quackeries, both religious and secular. It has been a great help to my work as well as a great reading.
I have seen that some paranormalists have given bad grades for this book : however this book is a REFERENCE first of all and not for argumentation. If you really need help in understanding why your favorite brand of idiocy is in there, please take a Logic 101 class.
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

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?