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The Trickster and the Paranormal

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 564 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris, Corp.; 1st Printing edition (August 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401000827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401000820
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #618,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George P. Hansen was employed in parapsychology laboratories for eight years-three at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and five at Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. His research included remote viewing, psychokinesis on electronic random number generators, séance phenomena, and ghosts. His papers in professional journals also cover mathematical statistics, deception, skepticism, conjurors in parapsychology, and methodological criticisms. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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It contains a great bibliography as well.
Glenn Corey
Hansen's excellent book surveys many of these and is must reading for anyone who really wants to understand this area.
Charles T. T a r t
I read widely and I can say in all honesty there is no other book that I've seen that even compares to this one.
Benjamin D. Steele

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 88 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who has studied paranormal phenomena knows how maddening they can be. Whether you're talking about apparitions, UFOs or anything in between, the phenomena have an elusive, always-just-out-of-reach quality. Jacques Vallee and others have suggested that paranormal phenomena may be part of a "control system" - intentionally inexplicable carrots dangled in front of us by Someone or Something to instill a sense of wonder and keep us thinking and evolving. This "trickster" quality of the phenomena themselves is what I had assumed this book would be about, but it's actually much broader in scope.
Be forewarned: This isn't light reading. It's a dense, scholarly 500-page work that will have you confused and ready to give up at various points. It reminds me of "Hamlet's Mill" -- another dense, scholarly work whose meaning and depth aren't fully revealed until you've read it several times. The author states at one point that readers of early drafts complained that the book seemed unfocused and rambling, and I suspect that even the final version will strike most readers as somewhat abstruse. However, even though I've only read it once at this point, I do believe that what the author has to say is extremely important and well worth the effort it will take you to mine his nuggets.
I was vaguely aware of Native American "trickster" lore, but I wasn't aware that there was an entire body of scholarly work surrounding the trickster archetype. The author seems to have not only a solid foundation in parapsychology but also an amazing knowledge and grasp of all of the disciplines relevant to the trickster - anthropology, sociology, psychology, literary criticism or whatever.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Charles T. T a r t on November 18, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite more than a hundred years of the highest quality scientific research which, to any genuinely rational mind, demonstrates the existence of several kinds of paranormal phenomena (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis being the major ones), parapsychology research remains marginalized, rejected and actively persecuted. As a psychologist that tells me there are powerful, irrational forces involved. Hansen's excellent book surveys many of these and is must reading for anyone who really wants to understand this area.
Personally the data in the book depressed me in many ways, for I am one of those who attempts to make scientific sense of this area (even though I know there's much more to the world than that) and it's not cheering to be reminded of these difficulties. But we don't solve problems by pretending they are not there, so I am grateful to Hansen for this authoritative reminder.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Arthur D. Hlavaty on November 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The academic world is desperately trying to solve the
problem of self-reference, from Godel's arguments in
mathematics to postmodernism in literary criticism. The
field of parapsychology is filled with frauds and self-
promoters to the point where one is tempted to throw it all
out and concede to the materialists and behaviorists.
George P. Hansen, in _The Trickster and the
Paranormal_, suggests that these problems can be considered
in the light of the trickster figure, that archetype
appearing in cultures all over the world at the
edges of society, resisting definition, and representing
"deceit, disruption, reduced sexual inhibition, magical
practices, boundary crossing, destabilizing structures,
transition, [and] marginality."
He gives us a view of how the trickster has appeared
everywhere from primitive cultures to the contemporary
battle over psi (both sides), with copious, wittily
described examples, and he invites us to find the trickster
archetype elsewhere. (I had not considered the extent to
which Robert Heinlein was a trickster.)
He does not answer the great questions he discusses
(one would be suspicious if he did), but he gives us new
tools to ponder them with. The broad spectrum of areas he
covers makes this the sort of generalist book that can be
nibbled to death by specialist ducks. (For instance, he
uses the nonword "deconstructionism.") Still, this is a
thought-provoking, mind-opening book, one that I recommend
to all.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Minsma on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a comprehensive overview of parapsychology and the paranormal. Scholarly and dense--definitely not light reading--it is nonetheless well thought out and approachable. Hansen's exhaustive research of the field shows clear but strange patterns. The paranormal, or psi, is more than the "hoax or delusion" argument with which skeptics often dismiss it, but not quite as true believers portray it, either. Like light particles in the world of quantum physics, the paranormal seems to change its nature based on who is doing the observing. It is most comfortable working in the world of the outsider, the marginalized and liminal, artists, mischief makers, magicians, the social pariahs and anti-establishment types--and in this, shares many of the characteristics of trickster deities throughout the world.

Because tricksters are so often comfortable in the culture of the shunned, it is almost a given that academia will run from psi as a priest from that which is unclean. Serious and impartial study becomes difficult because to engage in it, academics must overcome rigid social taboos and embrace unconventional thought paradigms. Academia is no more immune from societal pressures and conventional thinking than any other human institution. As Hansen himself states, "The widespread, subtly negative attitude toward fantasy, imagery, and the imagination indirectly acknowledges its power and the need to keep it constrained." There is also the very real danger of becoming so drawn into the subject one loses one's ability to tell fantasy from reality. Loss of objectivity comes in many forms.

I don't think any summary I achieve here could do justice to the amount of researcher Mr.
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