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The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History, edited by Dennis Waskul and Marc Eaton

Publication Details: Temple University Press, ISBN: 9781439915257.
Publish Date: July, 2018

From the publisher's website: In the twenty-first century, as in centuries past, stories of the supernatural thrill and terrify us. But despite their popularity, scholars often dismiss such beliefs in the uncanny as inconsequential, or even embarrassing. The editors and contributors to The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History have made a concerted effort to understand encounters with ghosts and the supernatural that have persisted and flourished. Featuring folkloric researchers examining the cultural value of such beliefs and practices, sociologists who acknowledge the social and historical value of the supernatural, and enthusiasts of the mystical and uncanny, this volume includes a variety of experts and interested observers using first-hand ethnographic experiences and historical records. 

The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History seeks to understand the socio-cultural and socio-historical contexts of the supernatural. This volume takes the supernatural as real because belief in it has fundamentally shaped human history. It continues to inform people's interpretations, actions, and identities on a daily basis. The supernatural is an indelible part of our social world that deserves sincere scholarly attention. 

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History • Dennis Waskul and Marc Eaton 
1. Toward a Cryptoscience • William Ryan Force 
2. On Researching the Supernatural: Cultural Competence and Cape Breton Stories • Jeannie Banks Thomas 
3. Ghosts and Hauntings: Genres, Forms, and Types • Dennis Waskul 
4. Paranormal Investigation: The Scientist and the Sensitive • Marc Eaton 
5. The Allure of Dark Tourism: Legend Tripping and Ghost Seeking in Dark Places • Rachael Ironside 
6. “The Spirits Tell Me That You’re Seeking Help”: Fortune-Telling in Late Capitalism • Stephen L. Muzzatti and Emma M. Smith 
7. Reading Tarot: Telling Fortunes, Telling Friends, and Retelling Everyday Life • Janet Baldwin 
8. Twentieth-Century Voodoo: Black Culture, Cultural Geographies, and the Meaning of Place • I’Nasah Crockett 
9. Vampirism: Modern Vampires and Embattled Identity Claims • Joseph P. Laycock 
10. Cryptozoology: The Hunt for Hidden Animals and Monsters • Tea Krulos 
11. Alien Abduction Narratives: A Proposed Model and Brief Case Study • Scott R. Scribner 

Dennis Waskul is a Professor of Sociology and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and former president of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction. He has authored, co-authored, or edited a variety of books, including Ghostly Encounters: The Hauntings of Everyday Life (with Michele Waskul); Body/Embodiment (with Phillip Vannini); The Senses in Self, Society, and Culture (with Phillip Vannini and Simon Gottschalk); and Popular Culture as Everyday Life (edited with Phillip Vannini).

Marc Eaton is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Ripon College, in Wisconsin.

Psience Fiction: The Paranormal in Science Fiction Literature, by Damien Broderick

Publication Details: McFarland, ISBN 9781476672281.
Publish Date: June, 2018

From the publisher's website:

Science fiction has often been considered the literature of futuristic technology: fantastic warfare among the stars or ruinous apocalypses on Earth. The last century, however, saw through John W. Campbell the introduction of “psience fiction,” which explores themes of mind powers—telepathy, precognition of the future, teleportation, etc.—and symbolic machines that react to such forces.The author surveys this long-ignored literary shift through a series of influential novels and short stories published between the 1930s and the present. This discussion is framed by the sudden surge of interest in parapsychology and its absorption not only into the SF genre, but also into the real world through military experiments such as the Star Gate Program.

The Star Gate Archives. Volume 1: Remote Viewing, 1972–1984, compiled and edited by Edwin C. May and Sonali Bhatt Marwaha

Publication Details: McFarland, ISBN: 978-1-4766-6752-2
Publish Date: June, 2018
front cover of The Star Gate Archives. Volume 1: Remote Viewing, 1972–1984
From the publisher's website: During the Cold War, the U.S. government began testing paranormal claims under laboratory conditions in hopes of realizing intelligence applications for psychic phenomena. Thus began the project known as Star Gate. The largest in the history of parapsychological research, it received more than $20 million in funding and continued into the mid–1990s. This project archive includes all available documents generated by research contractor SRI International and those provided by government officials.

Remote viewing (RV) is an atypical ability that allows some individuals to gain information blocked from the usual senses by shielding, distance or time. Early work benefited from a few “stars” of RV who were successful at convincing investigators of its existence and its potential as a means of gathering intelligence. Research focused on determining the parameters of RV, who may have the ability, how to collect and analyze data and the best way to use RV in intelligence operations. Volume 1 Remote Viewing (1972–1984) and Volume 2 Remote Viewing (1985–1995) include laboratory trials and several operational results.

Table of Contents

Review by Nemo C. Mörck

Engaging the Anomalous: Collected Essays on Anthropology, the Paranormal, Mediumship and Extraordinary Experience, edited by Jack Hunter

Publication Details: White Crow Books, ISBN: 9781786770554
Publish Date: April, 2018

From the publisher's website:

Engaging the Anomalous is a collection of essays written by Jack Hunter between 2010-17. Together, the essays push toward the development of a non-reductive, participatory and experiential anthropology of the paranormal. Over the course of the book, Hunter surveys:

• Trends in anthropology’s engagement with the paranormal

• The anthropology and neuroscience of spirit possession

• The history of Spiritualism and the phenomena of physical mediumship

• The overlaps between mediumistic practices and other mind-body phenomena

Hunter also poses serious questions about consciousness, experience, spirits, mediumship, psi, the nature of reality, and how best to investigate and understand them. In addition, the book features a selection of illuminating interviews with the author, as well as an original Foreword by leading parapsychologist and trickster theorist George P. Hansen. Engaging the Anomalous is a bold contribution to Anomalistic literature.

Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe, by Dean Radin

Publication Details: Harmony Books, ISBN: 978-1524758820
Publish Date: April, 2018
front cover of Real Magic: Ancient Wisdom, Modern Science, and a Guide to the Secret Power of the Universe
From the publisher's website: The chief scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) turns a critical eye toward such practices as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis. Are such powers really possible? Science says yes. According to noted scientist and bestselling author of The Conscious Universe, Dean Radin, magic is a natural aspect of reality, and each of us can tap into this power with diligent practice.

But wait, aren’t things like ESP and telepathy just wishful thinking and flights of the imagination? Not according to the author, who worked on the US government’s top secret psychic espionage program known as Stargate. Radin has spent the last forty years conducting controlled experiments that demonstrate that thoughts are things, that we can sense others’ emotions and intentions from a distance, that intuition is more powerful than we thought, and that we can tap into the power of intention (think The Secret, only on a more realistic and scientific level). These dormant powers can help us to lead more interesting and fulfilling lives.

Beginning with a brief history of magic over the centuries (what was called magic two thousand years ago is turning out to be scientific fact today), a review of the scientific evidence for magic, a series of simple but effective magical techniques (the key is mental focus, something elite athletes know a lot about), Radin then offers a vision of a scientifically-informed magic and explains why magic will play a key role in frontiers of science.

About the author:

Dean Radin, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and Distinguished Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies. For nearly four decades he has been engaged in consciousness research. Before joining the research staff at IONS in 2001, he held appointments at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Princeton University, and several Silicon Valley think tanks, including SRI International, where he worked on a classified program investigating psychic phenomena for the U.S. government.

Review by Nemo C. Mörck

The Entity Letters: A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery, by James McClenon

Publication Details: Anomalist Books, ISBN: 9781938398797.
Publish Date: April, 2018

A Host of Phenomena that Boggle the Mind

The Entity Letters describes a years-long sociological investigation of a sitter group that witnessed table movements, table levitations, poltergeist phenomena, earthquake effects, and other startling physical events. The group was known as the Society for Research on Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT), founded in 1961 by John G. Neihardt, the famous poet and author of the best-selling book Black Elk Speaks. SORRAT hoped to replicate Spiritualist phenomena to increase scientific understanding of psychokinesis (mind over matter). After meeting weekly for a few months, the group heard rapping sounds, seemingly from Black Elk and other spirits. The phenomena grew to include ostensibly spirit-written messages found within a sealed container called a mini-lab specially designed to preclude the possibility of fraud. Eventually, the “spirits” began communicating by mail with dozens of S0RRAT members, describing life after death, the nature of time, and spiritual development. The Entity Letters explores the idea that these kinds of experiences shaped ancient religions.

About the Author:

James McClenon, Ph. D., a sociology professor and licensed clinical social worker, has written three books: Deviant Science: The Case of Parapsychology (University of Pennsylvania Press), Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief (University of Pennsylvania Press) and Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion (Northern Illinois University Press).

Further information about the book (including table of contents) can be found at Anomalist Books

Der Welt-Geist: Wie wir alle miteinander verbunden sind, by Roger D. Nelson and Georg Kindel

Publication Details: edition a, ISBN: 9783990012505,
Publish Date: March, 2018

From the publisher's website:

An der Universität Princeton war er als Forschungskoordinator des Labors für technische Anomalien für alles zuständig, was sich die Wissenschaft nicht erklären konnte. Danach widmete sich Roger D. Nelson dem Global Consciousness Project, bei dem über 100 Wissenschaftler weltweit den Fragen nachgehen, ob alle Menschen über ein gemeinsames Bewusstsein miteinander verbunden sind, und wenn ja, was das bedeutet. Die Antworten, die er durch seine Forschung inzwischen liefern kann, verändern das Bild des Menschen. Es besteht kein Zweifel: Wir sind alle miteinander verbunden.

Der Autor:

Roger D. Nelson forschte und lehrte an der Universität Princeton und war von 1980 bis 2002 Forschungskoordinator des Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR). 1997 gründete er das Global Consciousness Project.Schwerpunkte seiner Arbeit sind die Erforschung des gemeinsamen Bewusstseins und die Rolle des Geistes in der physischen Welt.

Review by Gerhard Mayer

Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife, by Leslie Kean

Publication Details: Three Rivers Press, ISBN: 978-0451497147
Publish Date: March, 2018
Cover of Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife
From the publisher's website: Kean explores the most compelling case studies of young children reporting verifiable details from past lives, contemporary mediums who seem to defy the boundaries of the brain and of the physical world, apparitions providing information about their lives on earth, and people who die and then come back to report journeys into another dimension. Based on facts and scientific studies, Surviving Death includes fascinating chapters by medical doctors, psychiatrists, and PhDs from four countries. As a seasoned journalist whose work transcends belief systems and ideology, Kean enriches the narrative by including her own unexpected, confounding experiences encountered while she probed the question concerning all of us: Do we survive death?

Review by Nemo C. Mörck

Paranormal Encounters on Britain's Roads: Phantom Figures, UFOs and Missing Time, by Peter A McCue

Publication Details: The History Press, ISBN: 9780750984386
Publish Date: February, 2018

From the publisher's website: In this detailed book, Dr Peter McCue reflects on the enormous range of paranormal phenomena to have been reported along Britain’s roads, and examines the theory that certain areas seem to be hotspots for such occurrences, such as the A75 and B721 roads in southern Scotland, and the Blue Bell Hill area in Kent. He delves into the sightings of apparitional vehicles; encounters with ‘colliding apparitions’; ‘phantom hitch-hikers’; out-of-place big cats; phantom black dogs; UFOs; ‘missing time’ (strange memory gaps); vehicle interferences (such as mysterious breakdowns); and incidents in which drivers and passengers seem to have been translocated in space or time. This thorough book debates the evidence and theories in a critical but open-minded way, and is a welcome addition to the genre.

Review by Chris Jensen Romer

Reality Denied. Firsthand Experiences with Things that Can’t Happen – But Did, by John B. Alexander

Publication Details: Anomalist Books, ISBN: 9781938398858
Publish Date: February, 2018
From the publisher's website: Reality Denied confronts conventional wisdom with events that, although quite real, seem to challenge the revered “laws of science,” proving them to be wrong or incomplete. The thorny issues of life after death, mind over matter, UFOs, remote viewing, telepathic communications with animals, and more are all addressed from Col. John Alexander’s firsthand perspective. Here physical and spiritual domains collide, providing glimpses of worlds beyond everyday reality.

About the Author:

JOHN B. ALEXANDER, Ph.D., is a retired senior Army officer with decades of experience with a wide range of phenomena. Traveling to all eight continents, he has encountered events that defy common explanation. He has met with shamans in the Amazon, the Himalayas, the Andes, East and West Africa, and Northern Mongolia. In Tonga, he dived in open ocean with humpback whales, and was involved with telepathic experiments with wild dolphins in the Bahamas. A psychic adventurer, he practiced psychokinetic metal bending, fire walking, and caused a white crow to fly for the National Academy of Sciences. A founding board member of IRVA, he is a past-president of IANDS, and former SSE councilor. Straddling two worlds, he is also retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory, and served on studies with the National Research Council, the Army Science Board, the Council on Foreign Relations, NATO, and was a senior fellow of a DoD university. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross headed his doctoral committee.

Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits, by Benjamin Radford

Publication Details: Rhombus Publishing, ISBN: 978-0936455167.
Publish Date: January, 2018

Ghosts have fascinated and haunted us for millennia. They appear in our campfire tales, films, books, and television shows as well as in our dreams and nightmares. Despite widespread belief in spirits and the popularity of television ghost hunting shows, scientific evidence for them remains elusive. Investigating Ghosts is the first book to examine the history and techniques of ghost hunting from folkloric, scientific, and sociocultural perspectives.

No mere armchair scholar, author Benjamin Radford's book is based on nearly twenty years of first-hand, science-based investigations and research. Investigating Ghosts will entertain and educate skeptics and true believers alike, separating fact from fiction about this timeless mystery.

Topics include: 1) Guidelines for scientifically investigating ghost reports; 2) Analyzing photographic, audio, and video evidence; 3) Ghost hunting equipment: What works, what doesn't, and why; 4) In-depth case studies of solved ghost investigations; 5) Understanding the psychology of ghost experiences.

Time and The Rose Garden: Encountering the Magical In the Life and Works of J.B. Priestley, by Anthony Peake

Publication Details: O-Books, ISBN: 978-1782794578
Publish Date: January, 2018

J.B. Priestley is considered by many to be an old-fashioned playwright whose work is locked in a pre-war world of provincialism and whose ideas are way past their sell-by date. In Time and the Rose Garden, internationally recognised author Anthony Peake re-assesses the plays and novels of this fascinating writer. In doing so, Peake argues that Priestley should be recognised as one of the most prescient of all middle century playwrights and that his ideas on time, consciousness and mortality can be found in hugely popular blockbusters such as The Matrix, Vanilla Sky, Deja Vu, Sliding Doors, Butterfly Effect and many others.

Review by Robert A. Charman