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Zones of Strangeness: An Examination of Paranormal and UFO Hot Spots, by Peter A. McCue

Publication Details: AuthorHouseUK. ISBN-13: 978-1456778422
Publish Date: February, 2012

From the publisher’s website: Over the centuries, there've been many reports, worldwide, of unexplained phenomena. Certain areas seem to play host to a disproportionate number of them, either temporarily or on a long-term basis. Some places acquire a reputation for just one type of manifestation, such as UFO activity. Others seem to be the setting for a variety of them - for example, cattle mutilations, sightings of strange animals, and UFO phenomena.

Can the reports be believed? Are the phenomena genuinely paranormal? Do certain areas really see an unusually high number of anomalous events? What's behind the manifestations? Do they involve extraterrestrials, creatures from 'other dimensions', time travellers, the workings of the human mind, or some sort of higher intelligence?

These are just some of the questions that the author addresses in this wide-ranging, well-researched and well-referenced study of the connection, real or supposed, between anomalous phenomena and certain geographical areas. The book cites a mass of case material from the UK, the USA and elsewhere, and also includes useful foundation chapters.

Peter McCue worked for many years as a clinical psychologist in the National Health Service in the UK. He lives in Scotland. His qualifications include a Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow, awarded for a thesis on the nature of hypnosis. His interest in psychical research goes back decades. He believes that paranormal phenomena occur, and that many UFO experiences are genuinely anomalous. He contends that if we want to obtain a comprehensive understanding of ourselves and the nature of reality, these enigmatic phenomena can't be ignored.

Haunted Dundee, by Geoff Holder

Publication Details: The History Press. ISBN-13: 978-0752458496
Publish Date: January, 2012

From the publisher’s website: This fascinating book contains a terrifying collection of true-life tales from in and around Dundee.

Featuring stories of unexplained phenomena, apparitions and poltergeists, including the tale of the White Lady of Coffin Mill and Balgay Bridge, the hauntings of the historic ships Discovery and Unicorn, and a host of modern ghost sightings - this book is guaranteed to make your blood run cold.

Drawing on historical and contemporary sources and containing many tales which have never before been published, Haunted Dundee will delight everyone interested in the paranormal.

Geoff Holder is the author of Paranormal Dundee and many other books on the supernatural and the mysterious.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Poltergeist People: A Paranormal Casebook, edited by Robert McLuhan

Publication Details: Paranormalia. Kindle edition. ASIN: B00717UPQ4
Publish Date: January, 2012

From the publisher: Most people know what is meant by 'poltergeist': knocking noises and movements of objects that seem to have no visible cause. An outbreak can last for days or weeks, and leave bafflement and controversy in its wake. But is it genuine, or should it always be regarded as the effect of self-deception and trickery?

A good place to start is to pay attention to what people say they experienced. This Kindle book is a new collection of original eyewitness accounts, compiled and introduced by Robert McLuhan (author of Randi’s Prize: What sceptics say about the paranormal, why they are wrong and why it matters). They point to the existence of a natural phenomenon, one that is widely thought to occur, but whose implications for science and society are so shocking that it is not publicly acknowledged.

There are a total of 12 narratives given by witnesses and investigators in letters, statements, pamphlets and journal articles. They include the famous 19th century case of the Fox sisters at Hydesville, New York, and a remarkable 1862 case that occurred at Stans, Switzerland (in a new English translation), also well known earlier cases, such as the one described by the Wesley family in England and later cases reported by psychic investigators. A further five, more recent episodes are represented as summaries of the original reports: they include the controversial Columbus, Ohio case of 1984 and the 1966 Miami case, both investigated by the late William Roll.

Contents: Stans, Switzerland, 1862; Stockwell, London, 1772; Hydesville, New York, 1828 (Fox sisters); Epworth, Lincolnshire, 1716-17 (Wesley family); Slawensick, Germany, 1806; Massachusetts, 1867 (Atlantic Monthly); Derrygonnelly, Ireland, 1877; Worksop, Nottinghamshire, 1883; Bell-ringing in London, 1887; Three short cases. Summaries: Sauchie, Scotland, 1960; Andover, Hampshire, 1974; Columbus, Ohio, 1984; Miami, Florida, 1966; Matthew Manning, Cambridge, 1967.

Further details can be found on Robert McLuhan’s website:

http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2012/02/psychic-research-on-kindle.html

The Paranormal, Who believes, Why They Believe and Why it Matters, by Erich Goode

Publication Details: Prometheus Books. ISBN-13: 978-1616144913
Publish Date: January, 2012

From the publisher’s website: Angels, ESP, psychics, astrology, ghosts, communicating with the dead, UFOs: These and other astounding phenomena are accepted as valid by a substantial proportion of the public. Why do so many members of our scientifically sophisticated society believe in assertions that scientists roundly and almost unanimously reject? And what does expressing such beliefs mean for the lives of those who do?

Unlike many books on the paranormal, which are focused on debunking or verifying such beliefs, in this book sociologist Erich Goode is interested in explaining paranormal belief as a sociological phenomenon: Who believes, why, and what are the consequences?  Goode points out a number of interesting sociological features of paranormal belief. First, mainstream educational institutions discourage paranormal speculation, and yet such beliefs remain immensely popular. This tells us a great deal about the limitations of the socialization process that takes place in our educational system.

Another intriguing aspect of paranormal beliefs is that they often show distinct parallels with related thought processes in a variety of other social contexts. For example, the belief that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft fits like a jigsaw puzzle piece into political conspiracy theories. Furthermore, the willingness of the public to resort to paranormal explanations for strange, inexplicable, or anomalous phenomena provides the sociologist with insights into how receptive the public is to mass communication media.  Finally, because they are regarded as unconventional in mainstream social circles, paranormal beliefs are very relevant to the sociological study of deviant behavior.

Goode offers these and many more insights in a fascinating analysis that shows how fruitful the paranormal can be for sociological study.

Review by Tom Ruffles

The Science Delusion, by Rupert Sheldrake

Publication Details: Coronet. ISBN-13: 978-1444727920
Publish Date: January, 2012

From the publisher’s website:  The science delusion is the belief that science already understands the nature of reality. The fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in. In this book, Dr Rupert Sheldrake, one of the world`s most innovative scientists, shows that science is being constricted by assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The sciences would be better off without them: freer, more interesting, and more fun.

According to the dogmas of science, all reality is material or physical. The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls.  But should science be a belief-system, or a method of enquiry? Sheldrake shows that the materialist ideology is moribund; under its sway, increasingly expensive research is reaping diminishing returns.

In the sceptical spirit of true science, Sheldrake turns the ten fundamental dogmas of materialism into exciting questions, and shows how all of them open up startling new possibilities.  The Science Delusion will radically change your view of what is possible, and give you new hope for the world.

Consulting Spirit: A Doctor’s Experience with Practical Mediumship, by Ian D. Rubenstein

Publication Details: Anomalist Books. ISBN-13: 978-1933665559
Publish Date: December, 2011

From the publisher’s website: One morning during a busy clinic my dead grandfather dropped in for a chat... This sent me off on a journey: a mad dash through territory populated by mediums, psychics, poltergeists, and ghosthunters. Along the way I met some fascinating and often strange people.

Let me take you with me as I travel through the hinterland of what we touchingly call reality. I'll introduce you to some of the people and beings I met on my journey. You'll get the inside story, the nuts and bolts of how someone like me can train to become a medium.

Dr. Ian D. Rubenstein is a U.K. doctor who works in Enfield, North London. Since training as a medium, he has attempted to use the mediumistic skills he has learned in his medical work as a primary care physician. For more information about Dr. Rubenstein and his book, visit his website.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Living Consciousness: The Metaphysical Vision of Henri Bergson, by G. William Barnard

Publication Details: SUNY Press. ISBN13: 978-1-4384-3957-0 (Paper); ISBN13: 978-1-4384-3959-4 (electronic)
Publish Date: December, 2011

From the publisher’s website: Explores the thought of Henri Bergson, highlighting his compelling theories on the nature of consciousness and its relationship to the physical world.

Living Consciousness examines the brilliant, but now largely ignored, insights of French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941). Presenting a detailed and accessible analysis of Bergson’s thought, G. William Barnard highlights how Bergson’s understanding of the nature of consciousness and, in particular, its relationship to the physical world remain strikingly relevant to numerous contemporary fields. These range from quantum physics and process thought to philosophy of mind, depth psychology, transpersonal theory, and religious studies.

Bergson’s notion of consciousness as a ceaselessly dynamic, inherently temporal substance of reality itself provides a vision that can function as a persuasive alternative to mechanistic and reductionistic understandings of consciousness and reality. Throughout the work, Barnard offers “ruminations” or neo-Bergsonian responses to a series of vitally important questions such as: What does it mean to live consciously, authentically, and attuned to our inner depths? Is there a philosophically sophisticated way to claim that the survival of consciousness after physical death is not only possible but likely?

G. William Barnard is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is the author of Exploring Unseen Worlds: William James and the Philosophy of Mysticism, also published by SUNY Press, and coeditor (with Jeffrey J. Kripal) of Crossing Boundaries: Essays on the Ethical Status of Mysticism

Spooky Staffs: Paranormal Staffordshire and Haunted Staffordshire, by Anthony Poulton-Smith, Philip Solomon

Publication Details: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445603360 (Paranormal Staffordshire); The History Press. ISBN-13: 978-0752461687 (Haunted Staffordshire)
Publish Date: December, 2011

From the publishers’ websites: Paranormal Staffordshire: The first book to explore, in depth, the complete range of paranormal phenomena reported in Staffordshire. Here you will find accounts of well-known hauntings, as well as many previously undiscovered locations. This fascinating account of local ‘sightings’ looks at traditional historical legends as well as modern day experiences, providing fresh knowledge together with the author’s personal accounts of new and traditional stories. Anthony Poulton-Smith’s ghostly tour of the area is illustrated with many of his own photographs and is an ideal book for anyone curious about the unexplained, or even a paranormal tourist. Turn the pages if you dare, and join him on the adventure of your life….or afterlife!

Haunted Staffordshire: From heart-stopping accounts of apparitions, manifestations and related supernatural phenomena to first-hand encounters with ghouls and spirits, this collection of stories contains both new and well-known spooky stories from around Staffordshire. Compiled by the Wolverhampton Express & Star's own psychic agony uncle, Philip Solomon, this terrifying assortment of tales includes details of long-reported poltergeist activity at Sinai House, strange goings-on at the Gladstone Pottery Museum and even a reported visitation from author J.R.R. Tolkien in Leek! Haunted Staffordshire is sure to fascinate everyone with an interest in the area’s haunted history. Philip Solomon is a professional investigator of the paranormal, and has been described by Hans Holzer, a leading authority on the paranormal, as ‘the greatest medium of our time’. Philip is a feature writer, the author of fifteen published books and also has his own radio programme on WCR FM, ‘The Voice of Wolverhampton’. Previous publications for The History Press include Haunted Derby and Haunted Black Country. He lives in Willenhall, West Midlands.

Review by Tom Ruffles

Ghost Hunting for Beginners, by Rich Newman

Publication Details: Llewellyn PublicationsUS. ISBN-10: 9780738726960
Publish Date: November, 2011

From the publisher’s website: If you're one of the countless fans of ghost hunting TV shows itching to get off the couch and track some spirits on your own, this book provides everything you need to know to conduct a successful paranormal investigation.

Professional ghost hunter Rich Newman shares proven scientific methods, tried-and-true low-tech approaches, and the latest technology used by the pros. You'll learn what ghosts are, why hauntings occur, the different types of supernatural phenomena, and the importance of conducting responsible investigations. Find out how to form a team, interact with ghosts, gather and examine evidence — and what not to do when seeking spirits.  Along with helpful hints, insider tips, and seasoned insights gained from Newman's decade of field work, Ghost Hunting for Beginners is peppered with true accounts of ghost stories from famous cases and the author's own investigations.

Rich Newman (Tennessee) has been investigating the paranormal for over ten years and is the founder of the group Paranormal Inc. He is also a filmmaker whose first feature film, a documentary called Ghosts of War, will be released in 2011. His articles have appeared in Haunted Times and Paranormal Underground.

Review by Tom Ruffles

An Introduction to the Psychology of Paranormal Belief and Experience, by Tony Jinks

Publication Details: McFarland. ISBN: 978-0-7864-6544-6 (print); ISBN: 978-0-7864-8916-9 (ebook)
Publish Date: November, 2011

From the publisher’s website: When someone admits to a strange experience, such as witnessing an unidentified flying object, having telepathic hunches, or seeing angels or ghosts, listeners usually explain it away as mistaken perception, intoxication, ignorance, or even mental illness. Though these unsympathetic psychology-based explanations remain the most popular responses to claims of the supernatural, those who use them often have little understanding of what such dismissive "solutions" actually entail. This study offers a balanced and accessible analysis of various explanations for the paranormal. By providing insight into how these theories are applied, or misapplied, to inquiry into the paranormal, it clarifies the relationship between the field of psychology and the supernatural.

Tony Jinks lectures at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he teaches neuroscience and paranormal studies to psychology students. He is a specialist consultant on the Australian Institute of Parapsychological Research Review Board and publishes in a wide variety of scientific fields.

Demystifying Shamans and their World: A Multidisciplinary Study, by Adam J. Rock and Stanley Krippner

Publication Details: Imprint Academic. ISBN-13: 978-1845402228
Publish Date: November, 2011
From the publisher’s website: Shamanism can be described as a group of techniques by which its practitioners enter the “spirit world,” purportedly obtaining information that is used to help and to heal members of their social group. Despite a resurgence of interest in shamanism and shamanic states of consciousness, these phenomena are neither well-defined nor sufficiently understood. This multi-disciplinary study draws on the fields of psychology, philosophy and anthropology with the aim of demystifying shamanism. The authors analyse conflicting perspectives regarding shamanism, the epistemology of shamanic states of consciousness, and the nature of the mental imagery encountered during these states. Adam Rock is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Deakin University, Australia. Stanley Krippner is Professor of Psychology at Saybrook University, San Francisco.

Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship, edited by Alexander Moreira-Almeida and Franklin Santana Santos

Publication Details: Springer. ISBN 978-1-4614-0646-4
Publish Date: November, 2011

From the publisher’s website: The conscious mind defines human existence. Many consider the brain as a computer, and they attempt to explain consciousness as emerging at a critical, but unspecified, threshold level of complex computation among neurons. The brain-as-computer model, however, fails to account for phenomenal experience and portrays consciousness as an impotent, after-the-fact epiphenomenon lacking causal power. And the brain-as-computer concept precludes even the remotest possibility of spirituality. As described throughout the history of humankind, seemingly spiritual mental phenomena, including transcendent states, near-death and out-of-body experiences, and past-life memories have recently been well documented and treated scientifically. In addition, the brain-as-computer approach has been challenged by advocates of quantum brain biology, who are possibly able to explain, scientifically, nonlocal, seemingly spiritual mental states.

Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship argues against the purely physical analysis of consciousness and for a balanced psychobiological approach. This thought-provoking volume bridges philosophy of mind with science of mind to empirically examine transcendent phenomena, such as mystic states, near-death experiences and past-life memories, that have confounded scientists for decades. Representing disciplines ranging from philosophy and history to neuroimaging and physics, and boasting a panel of expert scientists and physicians, including Andrew Newberg, Peter Fenwick, Stuart Hameroff, Mario Beauregard, Deepak Chopra, and Chris Clarke, the book rigorously follows several lines of inquiry into mind-brain controversies, challenging readers to form their own conclusions – or reconsider previous ones. It is essential reading for researchers and clinicians across many disciplines, including cognitive psychology, personality and social psychology, the neurosciences, neuropsychiatry, palliative care, philosophy, and quantum physics.