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Record Type: Review   ID: 1125

Parapsychology: Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective

Alcock, James E.

 Canadian psychologist Alcock's stated aim in this book is to show that parapsychology "is best described as being belief in search of data rather than data in search of explanation" (p. ix). He approaches the subject from six perspectives: (1) parapsychology is a modern instance of belief in the supernatural; (2) by understanding that belief in psi is part of a larger hierarchical network, it can be seen why proponents of parapsychology resist negative information; (3) "based on our knowledge of normal perceptual and cognitive processes, we should expect to have from time to time the kinds of `paranormal' experiences that people report" (viii); (4) humans evidence a great tendency to impute causality in situations involving simple coincidence. Alcock asserts that the most that statistical evidence in parapsychology, which he dubs a pseudoscience, can accomplish is to demonstrate from the model—it cannot provide explanations; (5) the public is being duped by parapsychologists who speak in the name of science; and (6) "parapsychology is indistinguishable from pseudo-science, and its ideas are essentially those of magic" (p. 196).
Publisher Information:Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press, 1981. 224p. Bibliography: 197-210; Name index: 213-218; Subject index: 219-224; Suggested reading list: 211; 3 tables
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