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Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There Paperback – Unabridged, July 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 342 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan UK; Unabridged edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230752985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230752986
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Richard Wiseman is Britain's only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology and has an international reputation for his research into unusual areas, including deception, luck, humour and the paranormal. He is the author of the international bestseller 59 Seconds, is frequently quoted by the media and his research has been featured on over 150 television programmes across the world.

More About the Author

Richard Wiseman is Britain's only professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology and has an international reputation for his research into unusual areas including deception, luck, humour and the paranormal. He is the psychologist most frequently quoted by the British media and his research has been featured on over 150 television programmes in the UK. He is regularly heard on Radio 4 and feature articles about his work have appeared prominently throughout the national press.

Customer Reviews

I especially loved the optical illusions and psychological tests scattered throughout the book.
Mara R. Greengrass
He came across as engaging, witty, and very informative so I thought I would give the book he was promoting a try.
Jim Davis
That kind of book that you don't want to put down until you know what's he's going to say next.
ANA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Julia Flyte TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As Richard Wiseman explains in the introduction, this is an investigation into the psychology behind people's beliefs about the supernatural. For example, why do people believe that dreams can predict the future, that they can communicate with the dead or that tarot cards can predict their destiny? Written in his usual entertaining style, it's highly readable and not at all scholarly. In short, Wiseman believes that there is a scientific explanation for all supernatural phenomena. He exposes many of the tricks (conscious and unconscious) that allow us to suspend our disbelief, using research studies and anecdotes to illustrate his points.

Reading this book is a participatory experience with a number of experiments and party tricks you can conduct on yourself or your friends as you go along. Weblinks are also given to allow you to view video footage of experiments.

This is a less "quirky" read than his last couple of books, but it does offer many interesting tips such as:
- How to fool people that you have psychic abilities
- How to induce an out of body experience
- How to impress your friends by appearing to bend a spoon
- How to significantly increase your chances of dreaming about somebody
- What to do if you feel you're being attacked by a ghost in bed at night
- How cults indoctrinate people and how to avoid being brainwashed.

I read this book on my Kindle and it wasn't optimal in that format. While all photographs are included, their placement doesn't match the text and there is a table included at one point which lost all of its formatting.

The chapter list indicates the subjects covered in the book:
1. Fortune Telling
2. Out of Body Experiences
3. Mind over Matter
4. Talking with the Dead
5. Ghost Hunting
6. Mind Control
7. Prophecy
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Peter Illi on April 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Richard Wiseman's Paranormality is probably one of the best books on critical thinking available. Connecting the dots between supernatural experiences and classic and contemporary research on perception, memory, and social psychology, Wiseman skillfully unravels the superstitious mind and explains how and why we tend to believe all kinds of weird claims. It is not a complete account of everything paranormal - Wiseman focuses on psychics, hauntings, extra sensory perception, and related. But the demarcation is very much in line with what is in the public eye currently, with psychics swarming the yellow pages as well as prime-time television, along with "documentaries" on hauntings, remote-viewers and such. Wiseman's style of writing is commendable and suits the curious first-timer as well as the devoted skeptic. And the latter won't find another rehash of old stuff, but a fresh and inspiring approach with lots of new input worth considering.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dr. M. Mckergow on April 18, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an immensely readable and enjoyable book. Richard Wiseman has wisely eschewed the idea of writing a book debunking the paranormal (of which there are plenty already) and instead opted to focus on letting us know HOW it's done, and even how to do it ourselves for the entertainment of family and friends. Wiseman tells his story by focusing on people in history - specific people who have either developed some kind of reputation for being able to achieve paranormal phenomena, or of debunking and exposing them. In this way he gives a book of real substance, which really gets to the nitty-gritty. It's also very entertaining, and included many elements with which I was not familiar (despite have quite a collection of books on this topic and of Wiseman's previous work). An excellent read and very educational.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mara R. Greengrass on July 5, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wiseman has written a wonderful book about the human mind and the tricks it can play. Even if you think you know it all, you'll find you don't :) I especially loved the optical illusions and psychological tests scattered throughout the book. They were fun and really brought home the points he made.

Wiseman's prose is warm and funny and easy to read and understand. You can tell how much he loves this subject and how much fun he has had conducting research over the years.

I love this book and I only wish I could get a print copy for my non-Kindle-owning father. Please, somebody publish it in the US in print form!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Cynthya Petzen on July 7, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Paranormality is an excellent addition to the skeptical library. It covers some of the same ground as the old skeptical classics such as The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan and Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions by James Randi, but in a more light-hearted and interactive manner. Professor Wiseman is a psychologist and he shows us not only why things such as ghosts and psychics don't exist, but why we are fooled into thinking they do.

One of the things that makes the book stand out is the large number of experiments and exercises you can do to illustrate Wiseman's points. They are simple but really help the reader understand how the brain works. The book also has QR tags so you can watch videos of interviews and investigations.
A number of topics are covered in addition to psychic powers and ghosts, such as hypnosis, cults, prophesy, out-of-body experiences and seances. I found the chapter on dreaming especially interesting. He deftly interweaves his own investigative experiences with stories of charlatans and their dupes through the years.

Although the book has been a big seller in the U.K., Professor Wiseman has been unable to find an American publisher. This is a shame since there is probably no country more in need of a book like this. Fortunately for those of us in the U.S., he has put the ebook on Amazon so we can read it.

Paranormality is a smart, fun read. In an ideal world, it would be required reading for all high school students. It would surely make us a nation of smarter, less gullible citizens.
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