Religion & Beliefs

Professors Out to Prove the Paranormal

In this week's lead story, Rebecca Diliberto visited a town of mediums to test her belief in the spirit world. She came out a skeptic, which might not be a surprise to scientific-minded readers. In the last ten years, though, … Read More

By / November 2, 2007

In this week's lead story, Rebecca Diliberto visited a town of mediums to test her belief in the spirit world. She came out a skeptic, which might not be a surprise to scientific-minded readers. In the last ten years, though, several respected academics have asked the same questions, and not all of them found that psychics and spirit mediums are quacks. A brief reading list:

The Channeling Zone: American Spirituality in an Anxious Age By Michael F. Brown

Synposis: Brown, who teaches anthropology and American Studies at Williams College, looks at the art of contacting the dead as a form of faith, a psychological phenomenon, and a profession. He’s less interested in validating or debunking the idea of the spirit world than in studying why it’s so appealing.

Supernatural or scam? The Journal of the American Academy of Religion called it “eminently readable and also exemplary for its brand of scholarship.”

 

 


The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death By Gary E. Schwartz

Synposis: University of Arizona psychology professor and director of the Human Energy Systems Laboratory uses the scientific method to “prove” that spirit mediums were really talking with the dead.

Supernatural or scam? An unconvinced Publisher’s Weekly called it “a splendid infomercial.”

 

 


The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark By Carl Sagan

Synopsis: In his last book, Cornell astronomer Sagan investigates paranormal phenomena from the Loch Ness monster to famous spirit channeler JZ Knight, who believes herself to be in touch with a 9000-year-old Sufi warrior named Ramtha.

Supernatural or scam? Booklist said “Sagan has devoted himself to the noble mission of rousing us from our stuporous neglect of science.”