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Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn't Paperback – June 5, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A sharply written, intelligently argued book that should appeal equally to believers and skeptics.” (Booklist)

From the Back Cover

Paranormal claims don't traditionally sit well with reporters, but journalist Steve Volk decided to focus his tenacity on a new beat: a NASA astronaut-turned-mystic, a world-famous psychologist who taught us about dying and decided death may not exist at all, and scientists attempting to verify what mystics have been reporting for millennia. From his journey into the bizarre, Volk discovers that the "fringe" story strikes at the core of what it means to be human.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061857726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061857720
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #755,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Volk spent 15 years writing long features covering courts, crime, cops and politics before producing his first book, Fringe-ology: How I tried to explain away the unexplainable--and couldn't. This first book is his attempt to reconcile his down to earth occupation as a reporter with an old family ghost story he grew up with as a child. Volk lives in Philadelphia with his wife Lisa, where he plans to continue his career as a journalist while writing books in the high style of narrative nonfiction.

Customer Reviews

Well presented, excellent for discussion with the open-minded.
Jonquille
Approach it with an open mind (this goes for believers to more believers need to be willing to question what it is they believe in) and this book will make you think.
Kevin Meares
He weaves throughout the book his search for answers to his personal ghost story, with great effect, but he is seeking more than that.
Robert Perry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Rabbitdawg on July 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steve Volk is a professional journalist, and that is the perspective he writes from in Fringe-ology. Although this is an intellectual quest on his part, his personally engaging style of writing pulls you in from page one.

I usually take my time reading books that I enjoy, because I like to savor them like a fine wine, not wanting them to end, yet like a romantic dinner, I can't help anticipating its direction.
Fringe-ology was hard to put down for long, so I found myself re-reading several of my favorite chapters to stretch out the experience. The introduction alone would have been worth the price of the book. It's that good.
Then there's the greater issue of the "Paranormal Taint", and the chapter on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, or the effect that space travel has on Astronauts, lucid dreaming, the placebo effect and... I don't want to give too much away. Hint: there's more to the Paranormal Taint than you may think.

Fringe-ology has the feel and integrity of Debra Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, except that Steve Volk covers a wider variety of phenomena and he approaches his subjects with a more personal touch.

He has caught a little bit of flak because at certain points the reader starts to think that Steve is about to 'give in' and pronounce his belief in a supernatural cause underlying the topics he covers, only to have him continue on and give the skeptics their legitimate day in court. At one point I started to write out a list of insights that I found worth making note of, but I abandoned that because I was enjoying the book too much to turn it into a job assignment.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By M. Rosey on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I sort of lean toward the skeptical view, and I came to this book a little wary that the author might be overly credulous of paranormal researchers, but I think that Volk walks the line here with quite a bit of skill. This book is empathetic when it needs to be and dubious when it has to be. It's a journey through the science of the paranormal that seems both measured and wise. And Volk is a crackerjack writer. My favorite part was the chapter on Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut. The book is worth its price for that chapter alone.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Neko-san TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Fringe-ology offers us a quick look at the grey areas that is not often shown in media. In this book, Steve Volk talks about the things that you politely dismiss with a giggle in a social gathering, but you wonder when no one is looking around. However, if you are still wondering, this is the book you should get to start.

I was made aware of this book by listening to interviews of Volk throughout several podcasts. On these, a chapter in the book about Lucid Dreaming was mentioned. This intrigued since I thought Lucid Dreaming was not fringe any more. In addition, I realized that I had listened to Volk previously as an interviewer in Skeptiko, and thought highly of him. So I gave the book a try.

This book is organized as follows:

Introduction: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Paranormal
1. On Death and Not Dying
2. Do You See What I See?
3. Out of Our Heads? Off with Their Heads!
4. Blazing Saddles
5. Was There a Ghost in My House?
6. To Infinity and Beyond
7. The Open Mind
8. The Impossible Dream
9. After-Death Communication?
10. You Can't Go Home Again
11. Our Time in Hell

I got Fringe-ology and went straight to Chapter 8. Volk's writing style struck me as enjoyable, and although Lucid Dreaming was not new to me, this chapter presented LaBerge and his research in this field in a new light. Suffice to say I devoured this chapter, and then I started reading this book the right way, from page one.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Allan L. Botkin on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First of all, I want to make it clear that Steve discusses my work in chapter nine. I think he did a fair and even handed job of describing what I do. While I wish he would have been somewhat more enthusiastic in the end about my findings, Steve and I now share a relationship that is far more important than stroking each other in a professional way. Most importantly, we share living in that middle ground between extreme believers and extreme skeptics--i.e. people who have already made up their minds. It's nice for me to find someone else in the middle. Whenever I get a chance to talk with Steve, we never seem to have enough time. Our conversations are always very animated and enlightening. If you are anything like me, Steve Volk is the guy you want to talk to, or the guy whose book you want to read. In short, I find him to be one of the most interesting people on the planet.
I am absolutely conviced that his introduction chapter, which lays the groudwork for the future study of the "paranormal", is the best I ever read. It is truly a classic. The rest of his book follows in step, and desribes his own quest to make some personal (reporter) sense out of this rather broad and confusing world that exists on the edge, or at the fringe of science. He opens a new world for all people who are not already completly stuck in terms of what they believe is true or possible. I would also like to think that his book would even shake the conceptual foundations of people who are stuck.
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