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Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries Paperback – July 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


A brilliant and highly readable manual on how to solve mysteries, investigate claims, and detect baloney. (Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, author of Why People Believe Weird Things) / / An excellent primer on how any reasonably observant person interested in looking into paranormal claims can do so without having to invent the art from scratch. The real paydirt here is Ben's own detailed accounts of events he s personally looked into.... Ben Radford knows his calling. Read, consider, and learn. It's all here. (James Randi, magician, investigator, author, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation) /// Radford is one of only a handful of professional, scientific paranormal investigators in the world. He has a proven track record of explaining the unexplained and in this book he reveals the scientific principles that can be used to shed light on the most mysterious of phenomena. (Prof. Richard Wiseman, psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and author of many books including Guidelines for Testing Psychic Claimants) // What does it take to do scientific investigations of ghost stories, the claims of psychics, or the appearance overnight of complex designs in corn fields? Radford not only explains what tools the investigator needs, but shows the reader how he applied those tools in real-life cases. If you want to become a paranormal investigator, Radford's book is the first thing you should put in your toolkit. (Robert Carroll, emeritus professor of philosophy at Sacramento City College and author of The Skeptic's Dictionary and Becoming a Critical Thinker.) /// If you care to know how professional investigators solve mysteries, and the amazing and often amusing facts they uncover, then this fascinating book is a must. Ben Radford has been there, he has seen and heard and smelled it all! (Martin Gardner, author of over seventy books about science, pseudoscience, mathematics, philosophy, and literature.) // Radford dares to argue that investigators of the paranormal should approach their work scientifically, and then shows the reader precisely how to do so. A must-read for any skeptic. (D. J. Grothe, President, James Randi Educational Foundation) --Back cover blurbs provided by authors

A special feature of Radford's book is that it consists largely of case studies he has personally investigated. The reader can see how the principles of investigation are applied to actual paranormal claims. But the main value of Radford's book is that he lays out what should and should not be done in a proper scientific investigation. Radford tells the reader that his book focuses on the practical aspects of applied skepticism ... powerful, real-world ideas for critically examining everything from crime scenes to psychic powers to personal decisions. These ideas have been drawn largely from the scientific process, psychology, criminal investigation techniques, and logic. Scientific Paranormal Investigation would be a valuable addition to the library of every journalist and skeptic. But the thousands of people who investigate weird or mysterious things and the millions of readers and viewers who follow their investigations would benefit the most. Unfortunately, too many people who try to investigate rather than validate or debunk paranormal claims are unprepared to do a proper investigation. They may have good intentions, but the road to error is paved with good intentions. Having the right tools is essential, but as Radford makes painfully clear, you can t buy the most important tools you need. It takes years of hard work to develop the knowledge and skills needed to be a scientific paranormal investigator..... Contrary to what you might see on television, an abundance of scientific gadgets is not as important as knowledge of the subject, knowledge of psychology, good logical reasoning skills, and an open mind. Radford's book does what a scientific paranormal investigation should do: it helps the reader distinguish the real thing from the fake. --Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Sept/Oct 2010

This is the best book I have ever read on the subject of paranormal and ghost investigations... It's dead-on target about how to do real, scientific investigation. I can't recommend it highly enough. (Tim Yancey, Encounters Live Paranormal Radio) // This book is about practical, applied skepticism. As a regular participant in TV shows, Radford gives us an insiders view on how these shows are made and their ultimate purpose. With his enthusiasm for pop culture, he is able to deftly connect the influences and effects of culture to paranormal popularity. I have not seen any comparable insight anywhere else. True gems of wisdom are richly strewn throughout the book. This book is a necessity for all paranormal investigators. It ought to be required for those questionable 'home study' courses for ghost hunters. At least, then, they might learn how to solve some mysteries instead of inflate them. (Sharon Hill, Doubtful blog, June 21, 2010) --Encounters Live Paranormal Radio / Doubtful blog

About the Author

Benjamin Radford is managing editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and a Research Fellow with the non-profit educational organization the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has written hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics, including urban legends, the paranormal, critical thinking, and science literacy. Radford is author of five books: Hoaxes, Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking (with Bob Bartholomew); Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us; Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World s Most Elusive Creatures (with Joe Nickell); Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries; and Tracking the Vampire: Chupacabra in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore (out in Spring 2011 from the University of New Mexico Press). Radford is a columnist for and Discovery News. Radford created Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination, the world's first satirical board game of religious warfare. He is also a filmmaker, and released two short films in 2007 and 2009. Radford is one of the world's few science-based paranormal investigators, and has done first-hand research into mysterious phenomena including psychics, ghosts and haunted houses; exorcisms, miracles, Bigfoot, stigmata, lake monsters, UFO sightings, reincarnation, and crop circles, and many other topics. He is perhaps best known for solving the mysteries of the Santa Fe Courthouse Ghost in 2007, and the Hispanic vampire el chupacabra in 2010. Radford has appeared on the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, the Learning Channel, CBC, CBS, BBC, CNN, ABC News, and other networks with three letters. He also served as a consultant for the MTV series The Big Urban Myth Show and an episode of the CBS crime drama CSI. Radford has appeared in many publications including the Wall Street Journal, Wired, The New York Times, Kansas City Star, Vanity Fair, and Ladies Home Journal.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Rhombus Publishing Company; First Ed. edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093645511X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0936455112
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 4.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Very good explanations of common human fallacies.
Book Shark
From there he shares his own investigations into the unknown and provides many examples in how to investigate using real science.
Brian D. Parsons
Mr. Radford shows you how to uncover any mystery with the scientific method.
David C. Chamberlain

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries by Benjamin Radford

Scientific Paranormal Investigation is indeed a fascinating book about the scientific methods used to investigate mysteries. The book also includes real life case studies and how they were solved. The book is composed of thirteen chapters and broken out by the following three Parts: Part I: Science and the Paranormal, Part II. Conducting Scientific Paranormal Investigation, and Part III. Case Studies in Scientific Paranormal Investigation.

1. An excellent, well-written book that addresses the paranormal critically.
2. Mr. Radford takes the right, open-minded approach to investigating. "My job is not to doubt, nor debunk; it is to investigate."
3. As accessible a book as they come. Conversational, even-handed approach throughout.
4. Fascinating case studies with satisfying outcomes.
5. Great quotes and ideas based on common sense. Critical thinking for the masses. "As long as you are willing to accept evidence either way, you are being open-minded and a good investigator."
6. Excellent format. At the end of each chapter the author provides a plethora of references and even a follow up.
7. Very good explanations of common human fallacies.
8. Psychic detectives debunked, always a positive.
9. A treat to read. Highly recommended.

1. There is really so little to complain about this book. The scientific methodology may be dry to some but it's a necessary and key tool to investigations.
2. Having to go through the long list of recommendations to find out what to read next.

In summary, "Scientific Paranormal Investigation", was a joy to read from cover to cover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John D. Muir on October 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Benjamin Radford here sets out his methods of investigation of alleged paranormal phenomena. The thing I like most about this book is that it doesn't attempt too much; Mr. Radford points out that the main requirements for unraveling what appear to be supernatural occurrences are proper research and a good dose of common sense. He doesn't waste time on advice about expensive gadgets as they are almost always useless. What he points out, and extremely effectively, is that when these cases are thoroughly investigated there isn't much to them in the way of solid evidence.

The case studies are fascinating and in some cases hilarious, particularly the 'White Witch of Rose Hall' in which the real facts were ignored in favor of a work of fiction which people came to believe was factual.

I do have some reservations. Given that Mr. Radford correctly lays great emphasis on the importance of accuracy and attention to detail, this book is appallingly badly edited and proofread. Words are missed, singular and plural are mixed up (especially 'phenomenon' and 'phenomena') and grammatical errors abound. I'm sure Mr. Radford is not responsible for all the mistakes, but he needs to have a serious talk with the publishers. Even the subtitle ('How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries') is tautologous- if they were explained, they wouldn't be mysteries. It's like writing a book on how to create audible noise. The style is also pretty bumpy, with far too many references to other works included in the body of the text instead of in footnotes where they belong, and too frequent reiteration of the points made.

However, this is a book which anyone who has not delved into the paranormal deeper than the entertainment 'science' programs on TV should read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Reed on October 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is a fresh breeze of critical thinking cooling the hot air blowing from the multitude of "Ghost Hunting How-To" and other paranormal books on the market. An inspiring read that makes you want to get up and challenge the magical thinking of popular culture.
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Format: Paperback
This book is good for those that are into the paranormal, unsure of what to think of the paranormal or generally want to understand the importance of good research regardless of the topic. I personally am not moved by paranormal topics as I don't believe in them, but through reading the investigations conducted by the author, it stressed the importance of good research before going for easy answers. The method of going about that would likely seem counter-intuitive to the average person but it is so simple it's amazing that this kind of thinking doesn't come more naturally to us as humans. The importance of ruling out alternative explanations is at the heart of this book. Going through the investigations & seeing how much culture & psychology play a huge part in how we fill in the gaps for things we don't understand was very eye-opening. It's a great book for understanding where & how human thinking goes wrong in regard to explaining things that only superficially seem inexplicable. Good research takes time, hard work, understanding, empathy & critical thinking & that seems to be the best approach as opposed to going with easy answers. If you're not into the paranormal & aren't wowed by oddly the human mind processes the things it experiences, then the book may seem a chore. I liked it despite the fact that I have little interest in the paranormal but I am interested in how we make mistakes interpreting our experiences & the importance of good research that the author's experiences stressed to the reader. Understanding the process used in the various examples is something that can be transferred to to just about any subject one may be unsure of & for that, I would highly recommend the book.
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