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Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  2,568 ratings  ·  183 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 scienc ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by Macmillan (first published January 1st 2010)
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Paranormality by Richard WisemanThe Demon-haunted World by Carl SaganWhat Every Body is Saying by Joe Navarro59 Seconds by Richard WisemanThe Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki
Recommended Reading From Derren Brown
1st out of 7 books — 10 voters
Stiff by Mary RoachThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonThe Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah BlumThe Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
Modern Science Nonfiction
38th out of 162 books — 118 voters


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Community Reviews

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Chad Kettner
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 t ...more
Kirsty
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
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John
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
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Amanda Patterson
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
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Angie
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
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Preludes
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
...more
Христо Блажев
Паранормалното е навсякъде и никъде около нас: http://knigolandia.info/book-review/p...

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
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Penny
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!
...more
James
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
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Johanne
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
Lindsay Stares
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,
...more
Vikas Datta
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!
Nicci
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 explai ...more
Sophie
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
...more
Svetos Laugh
nothing to learn here; time waster
Yudhi Hamzah
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
...more
Atila Iamarino
Curti muito. Bem explicado, cheio de exemplos, demonstrações e escrito com muito bom humor. Pacote completo.
Theresahpir
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 i ...more
Philip Angelopoulos
I felt the first couple of chapters or so weren't well written and came off as a bit arrogant. However, as I read on, I really came to enjoy Paranormality.

I can see how this book may rub some people the wrong way and I wouldn't expect this book to change the views of a believer in paranormal activity. I did find, however, that Prof. Wiseman gave intelligent and evidence-based explanations for why human testimonies are fundamentally biased and are untrustworthy sources without proper controls. Es
...more
Izumen
Паранормалното: http://izumen.blogspot.com/2014/07/bl...

Псевдонауката беше чудесна книга, наистина, но колко хора се интересуват от фармацевтичните измами? Не много (което е жалко, разбира се), но хайде разпитайте наоколо какво мислят хората за духове, гадатели, пророци, отвъден свят и т.н. Сигурен съм, че всеки срещнат ще има мнение по въпроса. Всеки се води експерт, или най-малкото има някаква изключителна история, която няма търпение да ви разкаже. Е, хванете един такъв, задръжте го за малко
...more
Ryan Manns
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.
Ana-Maria Bujor
This is a great book to start learning about our perception of paranormal events. It has it all - ghosts, talking to the dead, palm reading and so on and it's also very well written and funny.I recommend it to everyone who has doubts/or not and wants to know what goes on in our brains when the impossible happens.
The book did not do that much for me because it has short chapters about everything (it's great as an introduction) and I had read more extensive works on several different topics befor
...more
Michelle
3.5 stars. Pop psychology at its most palatable. See my full review: http://bit.ly/YpkTVS
Caitlin
I really enjoyed Wiseman's "Quirkology" and I'm a fan of the psychologist/magician/insider revealing how it is people believe strange things. I don't find this "debunking" as killing off the magic of belief, as I'm fascinated by the processes and systems by which our minds have developed shortcuts that allow such beliefs to happen (rather than simply being a function of gullibility.)

It's not entirely easy to translate scientific research and theories into a book for a general readership, but I f
...more
Abbas ALi
With so many myths surrounding the paranormal, especially in my country where such stories are rife and the psychic business is booming. Richard Wiseman explains the science behind the 'spooky' and reveals it's basically all just psychology and in some cases downright fraudulence.

How Psychics use cold-reading techniques to get an 'insight' into a person's mind. Unlocking the mystery behind ghost going through walls , the art of table tipping, and chit-chatting with the dead.

This book has dedicat
...more
M.G. Mason
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
...more
Kevin Cecil
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
Birgit
We experience the impossible, or so we believe. Oddly enough things don't seem all that impossible anymore when someone explains the mechanics behind them which is exactly what Professor Richard Wiseman does in his book Paranormality.
Broaching a variety of topics commonly attributed as being paranormal, be it fortune telling or out-of-body experiences, talking to the dead or prophecy, this turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read that allows a close-up look into how and why we t
...more
Book
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.
...more
Brian Clegg
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
...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
More about Richard Wiseman...
59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life - The Four  Essential Principles Rip It Up Night School: Wake up to the power of sleep

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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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