The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead

By Joe Nickell

From the publisher’s website: From the most ancient times, people have experienced apparent contact with spirits of the dead. Some have awakened to see a ghost at their bedside or encountered a spectral figure gliding through a medieval castle. Others have seemingly communicated with spirits, like the Old Testament’s Witch of Endor, the spiritualists whose darkroom séances provoked scientific controversy in the last two centuries, or today’s “psychic mediums,” like John Edward or Sylvia Browne, who seem to reach the “Other Side” even under the glare of television lights. Currently, equipment-laden ghost hunters stalk their quarry in haunted places—from urban houses to country graveyards—recording “anomalies” they insist cannot be explained.

Putting aside purely romantic tales, The Science of Ghosts examines the actual evidence for such contact—from eyewitness accounts to mediumistic productions (such as diaphanous forms materializing in dim light), spirit photographs, ghost-detection phenomena, and even CSI-type trace evidence.

Offering numerous exciting case studies, The Science of Ghosts engages in serious investigation rather than breathless mystifying. Pseudoscience, folk legends, and outright hoaxes are challenged and exposed, while the historical, cultural, and scientific aspects of ghost experiences and haunting reports are carefully explored. The author—the world’s only professional paranormal investigator—brings his skills as a stage magician, private detective, folklorist, and forensic science writer to bear on a topic that demands serious study.

Are ghosts real? Are there truly haunted places, only haunted people, or both? And how can we know? Taking neither a credulous nor a dismissive approach, this first-of-its-kind book solves those perplexing mysteries and more—even answering the question of why we care so very much.


The Science of Ghosts. Prometheus Books, June 2012. ISBN: 978-1-61614-585-9

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