Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There

Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There - Richard Wiseman I still remember a very entertaining evening in college when a group of about six of us broke out a Ouija board and ended up chatting with who/what we for weeks after referred to as "the dancing spirit" -- we even asked it if the joyful movements of the planchette were dance, it said yes. Of course, there are myriad simpler explanations for what happened before we must conclude that it was actually a spirit, but that evening is definitely part of my lingering fascination with the supernatural -- not out of belief, but out of a curiosity to find an earthly explanation for such happenings. Usually, there is one. In Paranormality, Wiseman tells us of spiritualism, of table turning and Ouija boards, of hauntings and talking mongooses, of fortune-tellers and out-of-body experiences. Wiseman offers not only reasonable explanations for these phenomena, he also gives instructions on how to replicate out-of-body experiences, how to commune with the "spirits", and how to convince random strangers that you can learn all about them by reading their palm or hearing their birthdate. Sprinkled in with his analysis are wonderful stories of the supernatural. From famous cases like the haunting of Hampton Court by the spirit of Catherine Howard, to obscure stories like the talking mongoose of Cashen's Gap on the Isle of Man. We meet fortune-tellers and mind-readers, a man gifted with psychokinesis and a woman who auto-wrote Mark Twain's final novel (and found herself sued by his estate for her efforts). The most enjoyable part of this book however, is that Wiseman explores why these curious events happen to us. They are actually connected with very useful parts of our brains; a side-effect to the brilliance of the human mind. I just wish I still had a Ouija board...that "spirit" was fun.