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Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  3,276 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
Professor Richard Wiseman is clear about one thing: paranormal phenomena don't exist. But in the same way that the science of space travel transforms our everyday lives, so research into telepathy, fortune-telling and out-of-body experiences produces remarkable insights into our brains, behaviour and beliefs. Paranormality embarks on a wild ghost chase into this new ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Macmillan (first published January 1st 2010)
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59 Seconds by Richard WisemanParanormality by Richard WisemanThe Demon-haunted World by Carl SaganWhat Every Body is Saying by Joe NavarroThe Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
Recommended Reading From Derren Brown
2nd out of 7 books — 12 voters
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Modern Science Nonfiction
41st out of 177 books — 133 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 24, 2011 Kirsty rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book I'd seen a fair few reviews of it on Amazon claiming it was an arrogant, biased view of the unexplained. I'm happy to say that such accounts couldn't be further from the truth!

Of course, Richard Wiseman is well-known for his sceptical views amongst those interested in the supernatural, so the sceptical slant of the book shouldn't surprise anyone. However, I found the book's content to be deeply interesting and very well researched and justified. The book also has a refr
Chad Kettner
Jan 25, 2012 Chad Kettner rated it it was amazing
Richard Wiseman's book, Paranormality, skillfully unravels the superstitious mind and explains how and why we tend all sorts of weird things. He focuses on fortune telling, out of body experiences, psychic power, talking with the dead, ghost hunting, mind control, and prophecy. Wiseman uses real cases and experiments as well as tests and recorded investigations to explain the claims of supernatural experiences - in a way that doesn't make somebody feel stupid for believing something strange in ...more
Amanda Patterson
Jul 26, 2011 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it
I started reading this book in February, was interrupted for months, and finished it a short while ago.
If you want to believe in the supernatural and are not prepared to be open minded when offered evidence that clearly shows charlatans for what they are, don't read it.
However, if you want a well-constructed book that cuts through the hype of psychics & clairvoyants, read Richard Wiseman's Paranormaility.
He will show you the simple explanations behind seemingly extraordinary events. He als
Nov 08, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In haste because of my continued epic battle with the Deadline of Doom . . .

This is an excellent book which has unfortunately been published by idiots: I cannot begin to enumerate the straightforward production errors, up to and including the obvious misspelling in the chapter title "Prophesy" (and repeated throughout the chapter). I gather the book appeared in a UK edition a year later from a "proper" publisher, Pan Macmillan, and I do wish I'd had access to that version instead.

Even with all t
Dec 24, 2014 Preludes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-culture
Also find this review at my blog 'Preludes'

Things are very rarely what they seem.

Whatever your opinions on the paranormal - be it ghosts, portents or spoon-bending - it's clear that there is a lot more at work than the simple telling of fantastical stories. Even if you believe in the supernatural, it's unlikely that you are liable to designate every medium as the genuine article, or every ghost as a genuine echo of a life long passed. The internet and TV are brimming with shows on things that go
Jun 11, 2012 Angie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
My June Amazon Prime Free Lending Library selection.
Recommended to me by the president of the National Capital Area Skeptics Society.
Very disappointed. I do not understand the high scores for this book.
I confess I aborted the read about a quarter of the way through.
It started off well, with an entertaining style and some built-in features that could only be put into an eBook, such as links to websites interviews and pictures that move. However,there were odd typographical peculiarities in the bo
Domenico Conza
Sep 03, 2015 Domenico Conza rated it really liked it
“Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t there” by Richard Wiseman is an easy and enjoyable read that cover a range of topics including telekinesis, prophecy, ghosts, fortune-telling or talking to the dead, and out-of-body experiences. I liked that Wiseman wrote this book in a way that it doesn’t ruin your love for the unexplained but instead presents you with evidence, the history, and scientific explanations that even the most inexperienced skeptic could understand and learn why this phenomena’s ...more
Lindsay Stares
Jan 06, 2012 Lindsay Stares rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-on-kindle
Premise: In this delightful volume, professor and skeptic Wiseman walks us through the science behind many seemingly paranormal experiences, and even explains how you can fake the paranormal yourself!

I don't buy many books for my Kindle for more than three dollars, but I happily made an exception for this one. The big US publishers passed on Wiseman's enjoyable work, reportedly “some suggesting that I re-write it to suggest that ghosts were real and psychic powers actually existed!” So Wiseman,
Mar 02, 2013 Johanne rated it really liked it
An excellent book and a must read for anyone interested in psychic phenomena or human psychology. Its a relatively quick read which looks at various aspects of the paranormal such as fortune telling, ghosts etc. Each area is backed up with video links (via Q codes) & instructions for how to recreate the experience for yourself or to demonstrate them to friends and family. I've long been fascinated by the rubber hand experiment (I had it demonstrated to me years ago) and what it reveals about ...more
Христо Блажев
Паранормалното е навсякъде и никъде около нас:

Рядко, но по книжарниците все пак се появяват книги, които един ден ще бъдат ритуално изгаряни по площадите, когато суеверията и паникьорството бъдат официализирани, а критиката срещу тях – криминализирана като мерзко деяние срещу самите устои на фантазьорството. Помня колко праведно възмущение събуди “Псевдонауката” на Бен Голдейкър, но после пък изключителната “Вярващият мозък” на Майкъл Шърмър сякаш мина по
Oct 04, 2011 Nicci rated it it was amazing
This book is brilliant! Its explains how some psychic's fool you into believing their 'readings' and explains how the people experience out of body experiences, why you dream about certain things, how people really move objects with their 'mind, explains the reality of communicating with non existent spirits, psychology of suggestion, how people 'mind control', and gives great tips on how to pretend to be psychic too. Although, due to my own experiences that with some people that can't be ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Michal rated it really liked it
Professor Wiseman takes a task of providing rational explanations of phenomena like out of body experiences, clairvoyance or ghosts.

Throughout the book he keeps the tone light hearted, tongue in cheek, while making a strong case against supernatural origins of mentioned phenomena.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a nice, entertaining read with a lot of information and value. Recommended!
May 04, 2013 Penny rated it liked it
Shelves: paranormal
3 - nudging a 4
Quick, easy and enjoyable read. Thought I might be grappling with complex theories but not at all ............Professor Wiseman writes clearly and in an easily understandable way.
He does a very convincing debunk on ghosts, psychics, Ouija boards, table turning, out of body experiences etc.
Don't think I'll be watching any more repeats of Most Haunted now I've read this!
Vikas Datta
Mar 16, 2015 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marvellous debunking of various supernatural phenomena, with wit and candour, and a paean to the strange, still not fully understood workings of that spectacular, unparalleled machine - the human brain!
Dec 02, 2012 James rated it liked it
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 bullshit, we are accused of being “militant” and “just as dogmatic as anyone else.”

I will save my thoughts on organized religion for another day. This book in particular actuall
Brittany Harley
Sep 03, 2015 Brittany Harley rated it liked it
Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There by Professor Richard Wiseman addresses the world of paranormal occurrences and begins to debunk supernatural myths that have been believed for years. One of the phenomenons that Professor Wiseman addresses is lucid dreaming. While this is one of the things in the paranormal category that scientists and psychologist tend to say falls out of scientific explanation Wiseman instead claims that the first lucid dream was recorded in the 1970s by Keith Herne. ...more
Yudhi Hamzah
Apr 19, 2014 Yudhi Hamzah rated it it was amazing
this book does not explains why impossible things happens. instead, it explains why people believe the impossible on the first place. from optical illusion to a simply a pure chance, the author explains why we, the smartest and most logical species ever known, sometimes seeing something that isn't there.

if you are the kind of people that believes in ghost and supernatural stuffs, don't worry, there's nothing wrong with your brain. in fact, even the most atheist scientist on earth, once in a whil
Dec 27, 2011 Sophie rated it liked it
Ahh, love this. I’m really interested in the brain and why people believe things that they do.

He looks at, and takes apart the psychology, of psychics, cold reading, magic, ghosts and ‘psychic powers’.

What’s brilliant isn’t that these things aren’t true, it how the human brain makes stuff true, by selective memory and how despite the human brain being fantastic, evolutionarily speaking, it’s still remarkably easy to fool.

I like to think of myself as being difficult to fool, but I suspect, given
Ryan Manns
May 24, 2012 Ryan Manns rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Got this for a birthday gift from a friend. Excellent read. Would recommend it to anyone. It's shocking to see just how gullible the human mind really is despite it's amazing ability to be reason on such a high level.
Atila Iamarino
Feb 18, 2015 Atila Iamarino rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Curti muito. Bem explicado, cheio de exemplos, demonstrações e escrito com muito bom humor. Pacote completo.
3.5 stars. Pop psychology at its most palatable. See my full review:
Svetos Laugh
Jul 06, 2014 Svetos Laugh rated it it was ok
nothing to learn here; time waster
Maria S.
Dec 02, 2016 Maria S. rated it really liked it
A lot of good and reproducable experiments.
M.G. Mason
Apr 01, 2013 M.G. Mason rated it it was amazing
There are many books on the paranormal, horoscopes, mediums, NDEs, OBEs, haunted houses and other such areas that make us think that there is something going on in the world that science cannot explain. On the other side there are many citing scientific evidence that it is, really, just a load of old rubbish (which most of my readers will know is my view).

Most of us, though fairly rational most of the time, will have some element of the metaphysical to which we cling. It might be religion or bel
Bruce Mackenzie
This book covers much of the same ground as Alex Price's FOOLING HOUDINI, but is much more comprehensive. We meet some old friends in The Amazing Randi, Hans the Counting Horse, and the ever (un)popular Uri Gellar. This is by far the best debunking book on psychic phenemena I have ever read. That said, Wiseman fails to make convincing arguments in some areas, especially those relating to ghosts. A good book about the mysterious workings of the human mind.
Brian Clegg
Jan 17, 2013 Brian Clegg rated it really liked it
The subtitle here is ‘Why we believe the impossible’ or ‘Why we see what isn’t there’ (depending on your edition) emphasising that this a book not so much on parapsychology – the study of paranormal capabilities of the mind – but what you might call metaparapsychology – the study of why human beings incorrectly think that they have paranormal capabilities of the mind.

This is a very entertaining, lightly written book that takes a storytelling approach to introducing some of the strange and wonder
Sep 30, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
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.

Kevin Cecil
Apr 29, 2013 Kevin Cecil rated it really liked it
I was surprised to espy a stack of Richard Wiseman's book PARANORMALITY in the Religion section at HALF PRICE BOOKS a few weeks ago. It doesn't entertain the notion that supernatural events are real for a moment, so its place alongside new age drivel is delightfully ironic. But the reason I yelped in disbelief is because the book didn't find a publisher in the United States. While Wiseman's previous books - including 59 SECONDS, an evidence based entry in the self help genre, and QUIRKOLOGY, his ...more
Mar 01, 2014 Theresahpir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paranormality is a delightful foray into the processes of why we as humans tend to believe in certain paranormal concepts when good science keeps showing us that these things cannot possible exist. Obviously, this is a biased, one-sided argument, but its extremely well done. Most books in this genre tend to be extremely condescending and downright hateful to anyone who dares believe there is more out there than meets the eye, but with Paranormality, Professor Wiseman has managed to present the ...more
Apr 06, 2011 Sue rated it really liked it
What's great about this book is that although Wiseman absolutely does not believe in the paranormal, he isn't preachy about it. He simply describes how various truth seekers have debunked palm readers, ghost hunters, fortune tellers and spoon benders. He gives us the secrets that magicians and charlatans use. It all makes sense and I'm prepared to totally disbelieve paranormality, until I realized that you can look at the evidence he presents just as skeptically as he looks at the evidence for ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
Professor Richard Wiseman started his working life as a professional magician, and was one of the youngest members of The Magic Circle. He then obtained a degree in psychology from University College London and a doctorate from the University of Edinburgh.

Richard currently holds Britain’s only Professorship in
More about Richard Wiseman...

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“Our beliefs do not sit passively in our brains waiting to be confirmed or contradicted by incoming information. Instead, they play a key role in shaping how we see the world.” 6 likes
“As we continue toward the fifth secret technique of psychics, I have a gut feeling that you are the sort of person that lets your heart rule your head, can sometimes be too impulsive for your own good, and have recently come into contact with a goat. Rest assured you are not the only one.” 1 likes
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