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Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics Paperback – February 22, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 2nd Edition, New Edition of Parapsychology and the Skeptics edition (February 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159477451X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594774515
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #539,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Chris Carter is a one-man wrecking crew for the time-worn, tedious, petulant, and often flimsy complaints of the die-hard skeptics. A science of consciousness is doomed to be incomplete without taking Carter’s keen insights into account.” (Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words and The Power of Premonitions)

“Carter confronts legitimate criticism with solid scientific evidence and deftly exposes the anti-science stand of the dogmatic skeptics. He makes a compelling case for taking the science of parapsychology seriously. . . . A must-read for anyone interested in the true state of this important debate.” (Richard Broughton, Ph.D., author of Parapsychology: The Controversial Science and senior lecturer in)

“The controversy surrounding psychic phenomena (psi) is both long and complicated. Chris Carter reviews the many elements of the controversy in great detail, but in a manner that is also readable and entertaining--a difficult feat. I found his explanation of quantum theories of psi, for example, exceptionally clear, and it resolved some confusion I had about these theories from reading other sources. Carter adheres strictly to valid scientific and philosophical principles in arguing for the reality of psi and the legitimacy of parapsychology as a science--no retreat into New Age metaphysical mumbo jumbo--and he doesn’t overstate his case. Any reader who can approach this controversial subject with an open mind will find Carter’s book immensely rewarding.” (John Palmer, Ph.D., editor of Journal of Parapsychology and coauthor of Foundations of Parapsycholog)

“I highly recommend this book to anyone who is truly open-minded about whether or not psychic abilities exist. Chris Carter takes the reader on an insightful journey that weaves together history, scientific data, modern physics, psychology, and philosophy of science. He convincingly shows that it’s now possible to replace belief-based opinion with solid science when discussing the possible reality of psychic phenomena.” (Jessica Utts, Ph.D., professor of statistics, University of California, Davis, and author of An Asse)

“Chris Carter has put together quite a treatise. In thoroughly readable, engaging, and clear prose, he provides an erudite and comprehensive review of the skeptical and scientific studies of events that don’t fit present paradigms. Despite having researched the subject extensively myself, I found a deep well of new information. Carter’s book is both scholarly and entertaining.” (Robert S. Bobrow, M.D., clinical associate professor of family medicine at Stony Brook University an)

“This book is a must have for any serious paranormal researcher and I would recommend it to anyone to open their eyes and learn about why the paranormal always seems to be getting such a bad wrap. It was an eye opener of education and wisdom and knowledge and I could easily read it again and again...” (

“[Chris Carter's] review of the debate and its outcome makes for a fine, passionate survey recommended for science and new age holdings alike!” (Midwest Book Review, July 2012)

“Carter methodically and masterfully reveals that the skeptic’s position is increasingly untenable. . . . A refreshingly rational and well written investigation of the science of psi.” (Dean Radin, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences)

“Chris Carter’s Science and Psychic Phenomena is a must read for anyone who wishes to penetrate the distortions and lies of the skeptics regarding psychic phenomena. Clearly written, and a pleasure to read!” (Neal Grossman, Ph.D., professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Chicago)

From the Back Cover


“Chris Carter is a one-man wrecking crew for the time-worn, tedious, petulant, and often flimsy complaints of the die-hard skeptics. A science of consciousness is doomed to be incomplete without taking Carter’s keen insights into account.”
--Larry Dossey, M.D., author of Healing Words and The Power of Premonitions

Reports of psychic abilities, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis, date back to the beginning of recorded human history in all cultures. Documented, reproducible evidence exists that these abilities are real, yet the mainstream scientific community has vehemently denied the existence of psi phenomena for centuries. The battle over the reality of psi has carried on in scientific academies, courtrooms, scholarly journals, newspapers, and radio stations and has included scandals, wild accusations, ruined reputations, as well as bizarre characters on both sides of the debate. If true evidence exists, why then is the study of psi phenomena--parapsychology--so controversial? And why has the controversy lasted for centuries?

Exploring the scandalous history of parapsychology and citing decades of research, Chris Carter shows that, contrary to mainstream belief, replicable evidence of psi phenomena exists. The controversy over parapsychology continues not because ESP and other abilities cannot be verified but because their existence challenges deeply held worldviews more strongly rooted in religious and philosophical beliefs than in hard science. Carter reveals how the doctrine of materialism--in which nothing matters but matter--has become an infallible article of faith for many scientists and philosophers, much like the convictions of religious fundamentalists. Consequently, the possibility of psychic abilities cannot be tolerated because their existence would refute materialism and contradict a deeply ingrained ideology. By outlining the origin of this passionate debate, Carter calls on all open-minded individuals to disregard the church of skepticism and reach their own conclusions by looking at the vast body of evidence.

CHRIS CARTER received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Oxford. The author of Science and the Near-Death Experience, Carter is originally from Canada and currently teaches internationally.

More About the Author

Chris Carter was educated at Oxford University in Economics and Philosophy. He is the author of three highly acclaimed books that explore controversial areas of science and philosophy, and currently teaches internationally.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 47 customer reviews
Well presented, cogent arguments.
Carter sprinkles throughout his book assertions by skeptics that psi is "in contradiction to all of science", and this is basically what they clam their motive is.
Quite a few little unexpected gems I found in this delightful book.
Steve Trueblue

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 61 people found the following review helpful By dcleve on July 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chris Carter, in Parapsychology and the Skeptics, treads the same ground that Damien Broderick did in Outside the Gates of Science. Both show convincingly that parapsychologic phenomena have been demonstrated, repeatedly and with statistical significance, using methodologies which have withstood the criticism of skeptics, over multiple decades. And that despite this convincing evidence, a skeptical community continues in a denial mode, contrary to reason and science. His goal is to demonstrate that the skeptics are ideologues, intent on defending a semi-religious worldview for irrational and non-scientific reasons.

The two use different clubs to make their points. Carter uses Gansfeld experiments, and Broderick uses remote viewing. But the approach and purpose of both books is nearly identical. Carter is the better writer of the two, and has produced the better book. Unlike Broderick, he makes his intent clear from the start, and provides more supporting evidence to bolster his argument.

Initially, carter takes the reader through the history of parapsychology, then discusses the experiments of J. B. Rhine, who moved the field into the laboratory. Rhine developed the methods still used today for statistical investigation of psi phenomenon. By 1940 ~1 million card guessing trials had been done using his card-guessing methods, with statistically significant results shown in 27 of the 33 published experiments.

Gansfeld experiments are a variation on the card-guessing process. Gansfeld uses photographs rather than cards, and puts the receiver in a sensory deprivation environment for 15-20 minutes while they free- associate, after which they pick which of four photos the sender was trying to "send".
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Richard G. Petty on September 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an extremely important book that examines a pervasive prejudice and pre-judgment that permeates science and many other fields of inquiry.

Healthy skepticism is an essential pre-requisite for good science, but as this delightful and well-reasoned book shows, parapsychology can bring out the worst kind of unhealthy - and unscientific - skepticism. It also highlights the way in which some scientists and popular science writers have used polemic rather than reasoned debate to promote their views. For example the opinion that all human ills can be reduced to genetics, or that there is but one interpretation of quantum mechanics. This is a trend that has been questioned by many scientists who have no connection with research in parapsychology.

Throughout my career I have seen how the mere mention of psychic phenomena such as telepathy would incite derision or apoplectic disgust amongst my professors, colleagues and many of my own students. Yet as this book shows, these reactions have more to do with personal and cultural attitudes and beliefs than they do with objective data.

After an excellent and thought-provoking foreword by Rupert Sheldrake, the book is broken into three parts and eighteen chapters:

1: Origins of the Debate
2: The Modern Critics
3: The Historical Evidence

Part I
Is there Conclusive Experimental Evidence for Psi?
4: The Early Years
5: Psychokinesis: mind over matter
6: Telepathy: silent communication
7: The Great Ganzfeld Debate
8: The Research of the Skeptics

Part II
Would the Existence of Psi Contradict Established Science?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones on June 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
Science and Psychic Phenomena: The fall of the house of skeptics, by Chris Carter, Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont, 2007, 320 ff.

This book gives us a rational assessment of the cases for and against the existence of psychic phenomena, and the evidence presented by those who reject their existence. There are many books presenting the empirical evidence that events involving telepathy, clairvoyance, spiritual healing and visions of the afterlife really exist, and that these are not simply the results of fraud or delusion - see Tymn, van Lommel, Moody, Playfair, and many others. There are also those authors who seem to have an emotional predisposition to disbelieve and therefore either ignore, distort or misinterpret evidence to support their case that all psychic events are fantasy. Books by Victor Stenger and Daniel Dennett fall into this group.

Chris Carter was born in Canada but completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Oxford. He gives us here a rational assessment of the empirical evidence for continuing discarnate existence and its statistical interpretation, and especially a critique of those who dismiss such evidence. A little knowledge of the use of statistical probability (`p') values is an advantage. He examines the early attempts to study telepathy and psychokinesis and finds that the majority of those investigators, who included eminent scientists of the day, found the evidence persuasive. He critically examines the work of the well-known contemporary skeptics Susan Blackmore and Richard Wiseman, and finds it wanting in rigour or honesty. Indeed, little research has ever been carried out by those who disbelieve in psychic phenomena.
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