Home/Main Menu     Site Map

Skeptical/Critical Approaches
Record Type: Review   ID: 287

The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal

Stein, Gordon (Ed.).

 In the Foreword, Carl Sagan points out that "almost every entry represents an assessment by an expert with skeptical credentials" (p. xii). He recommends it as a good place to begin the attempt to understand the paranormal. (It occurs to me a better approach would be to have credentialed scholars who favor the paranormal hypothesis present the other side of any encyclopedic entry, and vice versa. A detailed pro and con book of this type would teach much more than a volume slanted one way or another. Of course, the book would be twice as long and this one already costs $??.??.) The 57 contributors are listed, with their credentials, and the titles of the entries they wrote. The definition of the paranormal Stein uses is "anything that is put forth as an explanation of the natural world using as a part of that explanation elements that appear to violate what has already been offered and accepted as a scientific explanation of the given phenomenon" (p. xvi). The articles really are encyclopedic, not dictionary-type, entries. Six pages are devoted to zombies and 8 to Alchemy. Many references are interspersed throughout, consisting not only of synonyms of headings used (e.g., Abominable Snowman, see Big foot), but also depicting narrower subjects subsumed under a larger heading (e.g., Acupressure, Acupuncture, see Alternative Health Practices). Entries include many types of exceptional experiences, such as dowsing, near-death experiences, and prophetic dreams, and there are also entries for many counterhypotheses, such as cryptomnesia and the "need to believe." Many well-known psychics and mediums have entries. There is even an entry on statistics by Jessica Utts. As long as one is aware while reading these entries that many are written by members of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Paranormal (but also the Society for Scientific Exploration) I agree that the book definitely belongs in every library, and if one can afford it, in the personal collection of anyone seriously interested in exceptional experiences. For those with a "need to believe," this represents the best of what they are up against, and stay grounded in their experience yet they should work their way through it, not around it or ignore it altogether.
Publisher Information:Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1996. xxiv + 859p. Bibl by Chap; 3 figs; 1 graph, 4 illus; Ind: 853-859; 15 photos; 4 ports; 15 tables
Previous Record Previous
in this

List All Titles in This Category (57)

Book Reviews Menu
in this

Click a section below to move around the EHEN website.
Home/Menu       About EHEs      EHE Autobiographies      EHE Book Reviews      EHE FAQ      EHE Network      Email Talk      Experiences Library      Info/Contact      Join Us!      Living EHEs      Parapsychology      Rhea White      Web Links      Web Talk      What's New     

All website graphics, materials and content copyright © 1997-2003
by EHE Network. All rights reserved. For permissions
please contact EHEN's Executive Director, Rhea A. White.

Web Media Management by Palyne Gaenir of ScienceHorizon.

Exceptional Human Experience Network
Exceptional Human Experience Network