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Entities Hardcover – March 1, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
The book deals with, just as the title says, all kinds of possible and impossible "beings", from poltergeists and ghosts to angels, demons, spirit entities, lake monsters, extraterrestrials, and much more. On page after page, Nickell demonstrates how even the most outrageous reports can be explained without using anything paranormal whatsoever, and he uses tons of different sources to back up his claims. For example, chapter two, which deals with ghosts and haunted houses, is 33 pages long with a total of 100 footnotes. Not only that, each chapter ends with a list of recommended reading for anyone interested in pursuing his or her own research.
But I had a real problem with this book, the meticulous research aside. It completely lacks unexplained cases. Every time Nickell, for instance, cannot find a definite explanation to an alleged haunted house or encounter with an extraterrestrial he simply concludes that it was all imagination or a hoax.Read more ›
The book argues – as Nickell's mentor Robert A. Baker summarizes in the afterword – that entities like ghosts, spirits, poltergeists, devils, demons, angels, aliens, monsters, and fairies “all are human products”, “produced by the ever-active, image-creating human mind.” Well this is a clear-cut position, worth being argued for, given all the nonsense, myths, and credulity surrounding such purported “entities”. It certainly is a noble pursuit to inject a heavy counterdose of critical thinking and sober information into the discussion. Alas, Nickell's attempt to do so, soon becomes morally dubious, or – to be more precise: – hypocritical.
Let me explain how I come to this rather harsh judgment: I am in no way an “expert” on the subject of poltergeist phenomena, but I have read enough on them – beginning with Gauld/Cornell's classic casebook, over Thurston, Owen, Roll, Rogo, to several eyewitness accounts –, to see that Nickell's handling of the topic is highly inadequate and selective. He tends to ignore or facilely dismiss any evidence that may contradict or impede a naturalistic explanation, while rhetorically conflating all evidence that proves or suggests fraud and illusion, and generalizing from them to the whole phenomenon. It's a blatant case of cherry-picking. And he is using similar strategies throughout the book.Read more ›
Ten years later, I've gone over this book again, it's not bad. It offers a brief overview of many different paranormal "creatures" but doesn't go into a lot of detail about anything in particular. I thought the best sections were the ones on spiritualism in the 1800's (the Fox sisters in particular), the sections on the cottingley fairy photograhs, and the alien abduction section. The book does get a little bit repetive in the middle concerning ghosts/haunted houses... that type of stuff. It seems to drag in that section.
I'm not an atheist anymore, I belive in Christ now, but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of Joe Nickel's book Entities. I wouldn't say this book debunks religion, nor is it the aim of the other to debunk religion. At the very least, it's an informative look at false beliefs and other things on the fringe. In that regard, it's a useful resource.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very well written book with great sources. I'm the first to say that there are plenty of hoaxers out there, and I'd love to see them all outed. Read morePublished on March 1, 2010 by Michael
What else can I say, this book's great.
Being the person of no faith that I am, I was drawn to the premise of Entities: what evidence, if any, is there that proves beings such... Read more