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Record Type: Review   ID: 1129

Forbidden Knowledge: The Paranormal Paradox

Couttie, Bob

 This book is based on Couttie's BBC Radio 4 series of the same name. Couttie says he was a "believer" in parapsychology in his teens, but became skeptical when he was not able to repeat experiments with the same level of results, and he found, upon looking into some reports (he says he mainly read those in popular books available at the library), "that experiments had been poorly designed and badly reported. Often I discovered beneath the overt evidence yet another layer of data rarely brought out for the public eye or ear. This data is the `forbidden knowledge' of the title of this book" (p. 2). He then became a magician, in order to try to produce some seeming psychic effects by normal means. He writes he became "an open-minded skeptic, willing to look at the evidence but unwilling to accept self-deception, fraud, outright falsehood and downright silliness as evidence of the existence of the paranormal" (p. 2). The book is in four sections. There are six chapters in the first, "The Miracle Workers:" two chapters on Uri Geller; one on various mediums such as D.D. Home and Arthur Ford; one on seance magic reporting the investigations of magician S.J. Davey; one on mental medium Doris Stokes; and one on "misdetection," or cases in which psychics did not aid the police by paranormal means. Part 2, "Hidden Forces," has a chapter on fraudulent children, two on astrology, one on lunar influence, and two on dowsing. Part 3, "Towards an Anthropology of the Paranormal," has a chapter on scientists and the paranormal, two on the psychology of the paranormal, and one on the role of chance. Part 4 consists of two chapters on "How to be Psychic," in order to provide the readers "with sufficient information so that next time [they] are faced with someone claiming psychic powers [they] will be in a better position to judge the truth of the claim" (p. 135). Not one experimental paper in the two major parapsychology journals, the Journal of Parapsychology and the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, are cited in the chapter notes. Thus, Couttie offers many insights into mediumistic and spontaneous phenomena and into some experiments early in this century or the last, but he has nothing to say on modern experimental parapsychology.
Publisher Information:Cambridge, England: Lutterworth Press, 1988. 155p. Chapter notes
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