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Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death Paperback – May 29, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In a compelling tale with resonance for today, Blum evokes a surprising sympathy for her band of tough-minded intellectuals—among them philosophers, psychologists, even two future Nobelists—who, around the turn of the 20th century, pursued the paranormal in an attempt to bridge the gap between faith and science at a time when religion was besieged by the theory of evolution and a new scientific outlook. Foremost in the Society for Psychical Research in America was the brilliant philosopher and psychologist William James, who like the others, risked his reputation in this unorthodox pursuit. Blum unearths the history of their research, their passionate friendships and debates, as well as their private doubts about the meaning of their work. Much of the society's efforts were devoted to exposing charlatans, but even the most dogged of the members, Richard Hodgson, was baffled by Boston's Leonora Piper, a reluctant medium of rare gifts. As Hodgson obsessively studies this medium, the story grows weirder and weirder, but Blum, who was nominated for an L.A. Times Book Award for Love at Goon Park, tells it straight, never overdramatizing the strange events. She achieves deep poignancy at moments that in less gifted hands could have seemed most laughable. The result is a moving portrait of a fascinating group of people and a first-rate slice of cultural history. (Aug. 7)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Deborah Blum, a Pulitzer Prize?winning science writer and professor of science journalism at the University of Wisconsin, tackles a chapter from our past that doubly intriguesthrough the search for the afterlife and the number of famous thinkers associated with it. Critics point out that, despite her compelling narrative and her evenhanded history, Blum comes up short in her examination of the reasons behind spiritualism's rise in popularity. She never wavers, however, in her ability to draw in readers with stories of famous mediums and their ability to deceive. The result is an entertaining look at the ubiquitous séances and spirit-summonings that make a study of spiritualism a worthwhile curiosity to readers more than a century later.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Like the other reviewers noted, basicaly what the scientists found was so compelling to them they literaly risked their entire careers to pursue it. Like today the scientific community during the Victorian era was no more flexible or open-minded. As the reader will discover, many of key scientists got involved for the sole purpose of disproving the existance of ghosts and putting the whole sorid subject to bed. Once they used their scientific criterion to explore the subject they had to explore further.
Give this book a try. It might not change your current views but it will overwhelm you.
were many. For even considering studying the subject, the scientific world treated them poorly, to say the least. To me, these were courageous people, and dedicated true scientests.
This book does not try to convince you that ghosts exist - it simply tells of people who were exposed as frauds - and the people who the scientests could never show any way of fraud being perpetrated - the ones that may well have had a genuine "gift".