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Pseudoscience and the Paranormal Paperback – March 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Terence M. Hines (Pleasantville, NY) is professor of psychology at Pace University, and the author of the first edition of Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; 2 Sub edition (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573929794
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573929790
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Dr. William R. Harwood on April 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
According to Terrence Hines, "The continued claims by proponents of pseudoscience constitute nothing short of consumer fraud," a fraud that costs the American public billions of dollars each year. In debunking the most widely believed contrary-to-fact beliefs, he devotes several pages to explaining how cold readings are accomplished in sufficient detail to satisfy all but the incurably giullible that the psychic scam relies on the Barnum dictum that there is a sucker born every minute. He shows that passages by Nostrodamus widely interpreted as foretelling the rise and fall of Napoleon could equally well be applied to Ferdinand II, Adolf Hitler, or any European ruler whose governance was less than beneficial. He also shows that a novel retroactively interpreted as a prediction of the sinking of the Titanic conformed to all of the circumstances that a book about an ocean liner sinking was virtually obliged to incorporate in order to be plausible.
Hines' chapter on psychoanalysis should be mandatory reading for all persons who still believe Sigmund Freud's imbecilic fantasy differs in any qualitative way from spilling one's guts to a bartender, taxi driver or hetaera, particularly TV scriptwriters who regularly portray psychoshrinks as something other than self-deluded humbugs.
Hines catalogues an abundance of evidence that polygraphs are no more effective as lie detectors than tossing a coin, "Heads it's the truth and tails it's a lie." He described an experiment conducted by "Sixty Minutes," in which polygraph operators from several firms were asked to determine which CBS employee was responsible for a series of thefts. Each operator was given a hint that a particular individual was the prime suspect.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Knepshield on December 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to immunize themselves against irrational beliefs in the strange and unexplained. This is one of the better books on the subject, even though some entries are treated unfairly such as Chiropractic. In fact, some schools and colleges actually use this as a textbook and make it required reading.
The author covers many areas in this book and offers, for the most part, sound reasons for not believing in the subjects he is attempting to debunk. The book is very detailed, but still very readable.
Anyone who enjoyed this book should also check out the following: Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World, James Randi's Flim Flam, and Henry Gordon's Extra Sensory Deception. These books, along with the book being reviewed, are among the best available dealing with the subject of debunking paranormal claims. They should all be read to help build what Carl Sagan calls a "Baloney Detection Kit".
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1997
Format: Paperback
Entertaining and engaging, this book presents insight into widely accepted "bad arguments." Less stuffy than any Introduction to Logic text, Hines takes the reader on a guided tour of every illogically-supported belief in America, from UFOs to Christianity. Be warned, however; almost everyone has a personal "irrational belief" -- and none of them get kid-glove treatment here. A real eye-opener
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CLAUDIO on December 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
A very complete way to review the sceptical/scientific approach to XX Century paranormal myths, hoaxes and scams. Highly commendable as a first book on the subject, and with the excellent bibliographic index, it would guide very well any reader interested on learning more on the matter, (although Hines' treatment of the subject, at over 300 pages, is quite thorough in itself). By the way, I found the other review (a reader, 1997) very useful, but I am not sure what I voted (boxes are not too clear as to which is which)
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Research Mom on May 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
As a medical writer who has become more and more interested in alternative medicine, being able to think clearly and evaluate rationally has been one of my greatest strengths. I owe much of this to Dr. Hines, who deftly explains why so much pseudoscience is plain old junk, while keeping an open mind about things that are still under investigation. He even manages to do this in an interesting, amusing, and entertaining way.
People really want to believe in the paranormal, and rarely want to have their beliefs challenged with rational explanations. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story? But the truth is the truth, and sometimes, when Dr. Hines tells it, it's even better than the fiction.
Most people think that having an open mind means being receptive to strange and "unbelievable" things. I think that having an open mind means being receptive to all possibilities -- including those that indicate that some unbelievable things really shouldn't BE believed. If you consider yourself an rational thinker, take the time to read this book, and give it to others as a truly magical gift -- the gift of reason.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ima Pseudonym on February 19, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One reviewer inaccurately states that this book is nothing but a compendium of the author's "personal biases." Nothing could be further from the truth; instead this is a wonderful and highly readable work that exposes pseudoscientific charlatanry for what it is. Hines' work is concise and easy to understand. He cites numerous studies to support his assertions, enabling the reader to cross-reference additional material if desired. Perhaps most important are the concepts of the irreducible minimum and the irrefutable hypothesis, both of which are often used by pseudoscientists to justify otherwise unsupportable positions for which they lack sufficient data.
Hines makes the point that credulous 'believers' are more likely to ignore or twist evidence that doesn't fit their pre-conceived beliefs about a given subject, whereas 'non-believers' are generally more open to new material -- even if it contradicts what they've already learned. Surprisingly, studies have been performed that confirm this assertion, and thus it's not surprising (sad as it may be) that our world is full of people who continue to believe in Atlantis, psychic phenomena, creationism, channeling, and other pap philosophies despite all logic and evidence to the contrary.
The book also contains significant material describing the reasons that scientists are sometimes hoodwinked by charlatans and hoaxers; as James "The Amazing" Randi has also pointed out, often it takes a trained magician to catch someone who's attempting to deceive a researcher.
Highly recommended to anyone who's studying human behavior, folklore, or the difference between real science and pseudoscience. This book also should be required reading in public school science classes, and for legislators who are too often lacking in understanding where science is concerned.
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