Erich Goode has too much time on his hands. He has written a book, not to support or debunk the paranormal, but a book on the social aspect of it. A book that looks at the people that believe in it. The book touches on many different aspects of the paranormal, even things that I would not even consider to be in the section. From UFOs to conspiracy theories, no ectoplasmic stone is untouched by his general topic. Like a skilled surgeon, Goode cuts and strips the paranormal into the bare bones and exposes it in with a sociologist point of view. The book is full of references and personal accounts from people. I loved seeing the paranormal from such a different point of view. Many times, supporters or debunkers will be so skewed in their writing that the book becomes a wasted argument. Goode makes a point to be about as unbiased as he possibly can be towards the subject matter. It is really about the people that believe in it and why. While many sections are weighed down with heavy notation, the pace is quick enough to make the book feel short. I really enjoyed the accounts from real people. It is a fun interesting read on the people that believe.
*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*
Goode provides a good (intentional) introduction to a sociology of paranormal beliefs. Unlike other such studies, he does not attempt to debunk the beliefs of his subject. He does, curiously, include Creationism among paranormal beliefs. Creationism should more properly be classed as a variety of religious belief, specifically a fundamentalist variety, rather than paranormal. It seems to me that if you classify one religious belief system as paranormal, you should cast them all into the mix. I often argue on my blog that religion and paranormal are related concepts, but I prefer to keep them distinct. Nevertheless, Goode's investigation contains considerable insight and will reward those seeking a sociological explanation for why people believe some odd things.