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on July 5, 2011
Wiseman has written a wonderful book about the human mind and the tricks it can play. Even if you think you know it all, you'll find you don't :) I especially loved the optical illusions and psychological tests scattered throughout the book. They were fun and really brought home the points he made.

Wiseman's prose is warm and funny and easy to read and understand. You can tell how much he loves this subject and how much fun he has had conducting research over the years.

I love this book and I only wish I could get a print copy for my non-Kindle-owning father. Please, somebody publish it in the US in print form!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon August 8, 2011
Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there by Professor Richard Wiseman

"Paranormality" is an interesting book about supernatural science. Professor Wiseman in an entertaining and engaging manner takes us on a fun journey of debunking popular paranormal phenomena. This 342-page book is composed of the following seven chapters: 1. Fortune-telling, 2. Out-of-body experiences, Mind over matter, 4. Talking with the dead, Intermission, 5. Ghost Hunting, 6. Mind control, and 7. Prophesy.

Positives:
1. The fascinating topic of the paranormal.
2. Very engaging and conversational prose with a touch of humor to boot.
3. Well researched, and one of the most interactive books ever written. The author makes generous use of interactive tags better known as QR tags to link to additional content.
4. Very good format. The author provides plenty of great examples and finishes each chapter with a hands-on application section.
5. A look at the world of mediums and psychics. What psychic reading is all about.
6. How selective memory affects our beliefs.
7. Interesting tidbits throughout the book, "Your personality is, to some extent written all over your face".
8. The chapter on Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) was my favorite. Fascinating legends put to rest and one of the best explanations for OBEs.
9. The sense of where you are and how the brain figures that out.
10. Telepathy...another phenomenon bites the dust.
11. The principles of psychic deception.
12. "Spiritualism" and its origins.
13. Thought-provoking science, "Your brain appears to make a decision before you are conscious of it".
14. The ideomotor action...
15. A unique and fair take on Persinger's theory until...
16. The power of suggestion and "Hypersensitive Agency Detection Device" to explain ghostly experiences.
17. What the scientific evidence says about hypnosis.
18. The appalling case of Jim Jones and The People's Temple and the impact of psychology of conformity.
19. How not to be brainwashed. This should probably be taught in schools everywhere.
20. The science of sleep.
21. Wegner's "rebound effect."
22. The fascinating case of Charles Lindbergh and how it relates to dream premonitions.
23. A great explanation of why dreams are necessary.
24. Great Appendix.
25. Links worked great and then some.
26. Great Kindle value.

Negatives:
1. The book to my surprise, had a couple of misspells and repeated words. Not enough to detract from the entertainment value.
2. This book is not an in-depth look at the paranormal, but it will whet your appetite for more.

In summary, this was a fun and informative book. The engaging and upbeat style of the author combined with a fascinating topic is a fine recipe for an enjoyable read. It will also provide you some wonderful party tricks so that you can amuse your friends. Have fun and pick up a copy. A solid recommendation.

Further suggestions: "The Believing Brain..." and "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, "Scientific Paranormal Investigations" by Benjamin Radford, "Human" by Michael S. Gazzaniga, "SuperSense" by Bruce M. Hood, and "The Belief Instinct" by Jesse Bering.
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on May 9, 2013
...this book was hardly the deep exploration into the world of the paranormal that it's cover promises. It turned out to be more of a collection of experiments that you can preform at home to prove that your mind can play the odd trick on you, I still pick up it up and page through it from time to time, but if you really want to see the proof that you can't trust your eyes and your memory to work in tandem al the time, just go on youtube and watch Mr. Wiseman in action. The vids are far more enticing than his book, although the premises for this book should be heeded by everyone (Don't trust what you are pretty sure that you remembered what you saw, or think you felt!).
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on January 10, 2013
I try really hard to remain diplomatic when it comes to my skepticism of both religion and new age mysticism. This is mostly because those who believe are allowed to announce and discuss their belief systems ad nauseam (even when they may themselves be unaware they are even doing it); however, the second an atheist calls bulls***, we are accused of being “militant” and “just as dogmatic as anyone else.”

I will save my thoughts on organized religion for another day, however. This book in particular actually focuses on the world of psychic phenomena. Whether you are a dyed-in-the wool skeptic like me, someone who rides the fence, or a believer in psychic phenomena with an ounce of curiosity about actual scientific explanations, this book will not disappoint.

The author, Richard Wiseman, tackles several popular topics in the realm of things mystical. There are sections on out of body experiences, fortune telling, talking to the dead, ghosts, and more. In each section, he discusses real world examples of each of the phenomena. Rather than preach at or disparage the reader, he simply employs rational logic to explain what the reader may believe is “creepy” or unexplainable.

The real achievement of the book is its accessibility to lay readers. Wiseman manages to keep the book fairly engaging even when discussing science experiments and psychology. His method of introducing a certain phenomena or “magic trick” and then coming back to it later with an explanation–rather than explaining it immediately–builds curiosity and anticipation, and the pay-offs are usually worth it.

I would have liked to see a bit more detail given to the psychology underlying these phenomena; the author is clearly going for a broad approach to lay readers, but does an adequate enough job of keeping the book engaging that he could have delved more deeply without abandoning anyone. The anecdotes break up any possible monotony (especially the story of the talking mongoose), so the science would not have seemed intrusive at all. A heavier discussion of the science would have given even more weight to the book’s overall vision, which is to dispel the myth that these phenomena are supernatural, or even unexplainable.

Overall, the book is an enjoyable read. It will give non-believers a bit more ammunition in their bulls***-dispelling arsenal; it will give believers enough insight to do some additional searching on their own, perhaps strengthening their own faith.
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VINE VOICEon August 5, 2011
I really liked this book. It was an easy and quick read and informative. This is not in any way meant to be a comprehensive examination of paranormal phenomena. What it is though is a fairly broad skeptical look major areas of paranormal beliefs. The book is entertaining and does a remarkable job as an introduction to skepticism of these beliefs. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the author's practice of explaining the real source of the beliefs once he debunked the claims. Rather than just being negative, it attempted a positive alternative. Very nicely done and recommended as an introductory book to skepticism of paranormal claims.
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on April 8, 2015
Loved this book! I don't see dead people anymore. Just kidding. It's a good read. Very enlightening and maybe a little disappointing. We all like to believe there's a little magic here and there. But I definitely feel this all needs to be said. Fascinating study and enjoyable read.
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on January 18, 2015
Highly recommended - written with integrity, up-to-date research, from a balanced and tolerant view, very enjoyable and informative

It is depressing that in the US it is available only on Kindle -- publishers concluded that in our religion-brainwashed population there would not be an interest in the subject. Many thanks to Prof. Wiseman for his huge effort - presented in condensed and witty form and always with credit to his sources
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I came across this book after listening to Wiseman on the "Monster Talk" podcast. He came across as engaging, witty, and very informative so I thought I would give the book he was promoting a try. I'm glad I did.

Like other skeptical books on the paranormal (in this book only what would be called the "psi" portion of that field) Wiseman points out that there is no widely accepted evidence to support the existence of psi phenomenon. Unlike other books I've read this is only the starting point for Wiseman. Wiseman describes in some detail the psychology and physiology of how the brain works and how and why it can be fooled. It is also fascinating when Wiseman touches on the reasons why the brain may have evolved in such a manner. It was utterly fascinating to learn that the psychology of out of body experiences, for example. Much of this was entirely new to me.

Throughout the book Wiseman has numerous "reader participation" exercises and lessons. These are usually interesting enough even if one doesn't have the proper equipment or people on hand to try them out.

Wiseman is as engaging a writer as he is a speaker. His sense of humor is in fine form and he seems to be having a wonderful time. I sure was.

If one is reading the Kindle edition (like I did) and has a tablet I would recommend reading on the tablet instead of a Kindle proper. Wiseman has links to several videos and audio interviews scattered throughout the book. The tablet makes these easy to jump to. In addition the book has numerous photos and tablets render these better than Kindles. The videos are quite short and reinforce the text nicely. The interviews can be quite lengthy. The only one I would consider "must listen" material is Sue Blackmore describing her out of body experience.

The book is nicely referenced with linked notes. The only quibble I have is that the Kindle for iPad application does not have chapters marked out on the progress bar but that's not the fault of the book.

Highly recommended. Popular science doesn't get much better.
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on August 16, 2011
I just finished reading Paranormality. It's a quick, entertaining read, and I appreciated the digital media integration with the Kindle version. However, if you've you've taken a sociology or psychology course, you'll almost certainly know much of the material before you open the book. I almost gave it three stars for that reason, but if you haven't read this type of book yet, I'm confident you'll enjoy it. Wiseman is a funny, engaging writer, and an amazing lecturer, if you ever have the chance to see him speak. I'll definitely take a look at his other books as well.
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on September 28, 2014
Great book. I am a Psychology student and have always had an interest in the paranormal as well (as should be obvious by my name). I thought Wiseman did a fantastic job debunking a lot of the "paranormal" activity that is out there. He didn't manage to complete debunk ghosts, but he gave some reasonable explanations for some of the things people experience. And, let's face it, an entire book could be dedicated just to the topic of ghosts.

Professor Wiseman has my business.
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