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Sounds great. I looked on Amazon, but it does not seem to be directly available in paperback ("available through one seller"). Any ideas where else I can get it? Thanks!

Matt, you might want to check the free Christmas e-book version out at:
http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2010/12/christmas-giveaway.html

That sounds like a really worthwhile read. Thanks for the review; I'm pretty excited about this book now.

I feel like every piece of level-headed, well-researched literature that gets added to the library of the paranormal is like a balm after all the chafing between the unquestioning believers and the die-hard skeptics.

His dedication to reason is Randi's greatest illusion.

So I wouldn't call it "rational gravity," since rationality is the means by which we know the skeptic is full of beans.

"I wouldn't call it "rational gravity'"

I'm not 100% sold on that term either. Robert McLuhan uses it in contrast to "irrational gravity," the tendency of some believers in the paranormal to cling to their beliefs even when, in specific cases, the phenomena in question have been debunked. This does happen; in his book The Psychic Mafia, M. Lamar Keene described how members of a spiritualist church refused to believe his own confession that he was a completely fraudulent medium. Keene called it "true believer syndrome."

By the way, another example of true believer syndrome, or irrational gravity, comes from the book The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts by Joe Fisher. Fisher describes how he checked out details communicated through a medium and discovered that they were nearly all wrong. Yet when he informed the other sitters of this fact, they refused to accept the obvious conclusion that the channeled material was unreliable.

As a personal example, someone once said to me that all of Edgar Cayce's predictions had come true. I pointed out that one of his predictions was that the lost continent of Atlantis would rise from the ocean before the end of the 20th century, and this obviously had not happened. My acquaintance replied without missing a beat, "Well, maybe it did happen -- in a parallel universe!"


Michael,

Fisher's book is excellent. He tried to convince the small group of people involved in the circle that the entities who were speaking through a woman who didn't even believe in spirits or channel mediums that these striking and compelling claims made by these entities were extremely clever lies and that the other members lives and even his own were insidiously and intelligently being undermined and destroyed by these "liars". He attempted to point out that these entities were not the dead personages that they so convincingly claimed to be and the others in the group, despite Fisher's careful investigations and compelling demonstration of is investigations, refused to give up their belief. Fisher felt manipulated by these unknown entities who threatened him if he published his book. He did and within a year, I believe, he committed suicide after experiencing a number of bizarre psychic attacks that he chillingly reports at the end of the book.

The book is simply a must read for folks on this board interested in spirit phenomena. As any experienced paranormal investigator, psychologist such as myself who have dealt with paranormal auditory and visual hallucinations in patients diagnosed psychotic but in my opinion may be natural psychics who have a compromised and overwhelmed ego structure(see work of Dr Wilson Van Dusen), and experienced exorcists who all know that (lower)spirits are "liars and deceivers".

Thanks, Michael. I'll pick it up and Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a wonderfully Happy, healthy New Year to you all! May we all find what we are looking for. Cheers!

Thanks for the generous review, Michael. All helps to get the word around :)

Several readers have already taken advantage of my free ebook offer, and I hope many more will too.

I'm working on getting printed copies distributed by Amazon.com, however this may take a while. It was available for a while through third party sellers, but those copies seem to have been sold - I expect their stocks will be replenished in the New Year.

In the meantime the book can be easily purchased through the UK Amazon site. If you log onto www.amazon.co.uk you should find it carries your account details just the same.

The airmail postage is higher from the UK (around $10.80) and it will take 5-6 days to arrive. But with the discounted price ($10) the total should work out only $3 more than people have been paying on Amazon.com. (I'd venture to argue it's still good value!)

All the best to everyone for 2011.


Robert M,

I decided to buy your book on Kindle. I've followed your website and I appreciate your kind offer for a free e book but I very much appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into writing and publishing a book and feel strongly about paying for the book. I started it last night and find it spot on. I plan to review it on Amazon when I'm finished.

Thank you for putting yourself out there into the highly contentious hurly burly world of Skepticism. I too have examined the wealth of cross cultural literature, reams of consistent reporting, and decades of direct clinical experience with my patients and have been saying for years that the vast majority of debunkers have not properly engaged themselves with the evidence. You have clearly articulated this in your book extremely well.


Randi's Prize is good value and definitely worth buying.

"I very much appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into writing and publishing a book and feel strongly about paying for the book."

Now that's a reader after my own heart!

Yes indeed. Thanks, guys!

An excellent review, Michael -thank you.

Robert effectively demonstrates that by refusing to engage open-mindedly in first hand investigation, the debunkers (perhaps unconsciously) fear turning anecdotal evidence into direct (eyewitness) evidence. They seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that they can only act as prosecutor and judge. Obviously, they believe that these officials can’t risk seeing the thing for themselves - that would remove their objectivity in the courtroom ;-)

Still, now we have Mr McLuhan for the Defence and MP as an expert witness!

Well done Mr McLuhan. Your book will take its place alongside Chris Carter's "Science and the Near Death Experience" in the library.

Michael, thank you very much for reviewing Randi's Prize. It prompted me to (now rather guiltily in light of the above comments!) take advantage of the author's generous offer.

I can't put it down. It's very readable. I like his method of taking us through his own process of discovery and change of perspective. I'm learning a great deal, as the early part of the book is about the poltergeist phenomenon, which I haven't read about in thirty years. I am finding his observations about how the skeptics have handled these cases to be quite insightful. He in essence turns the tables on them, putting them and their methods under the magnifying glass--and a much more honest magnifying glass than they themselves use on paranormal phenomena.

My only quibble, and it is an extremely small one, is that he makes a brief dismissive remark about the Shroud of Turin, which has been an avid interest of mine for decades, and which has been investigated with a great deal of "hard" science. All of the scientific evidence regarding the Shroud has been supportive of authenticity, with the exception of the famous 1988 carbon dating, which has in the last several years been discredited. However, the book, of course, is not about the Shroud.

Without your review I would not have read the book, so again I am very grateful for you doing it.

"he makes a brief dismissive remark about the Shroud of Turin"

Like you, I find the Shroud interesting and not easily dismissed. If you use the Google search tool on the left side of this page, you can find a couple of posts I've written about it.

It's one of those things that sound ridiculous and discredited, until you look into it.

Thanks, Michael. I think I've located your posts on the Shroud and look forward to reading them.

My prejudices coming through there. Perhaps it's time I took a closer look :)

I'll echo the kudos for Robert and Michael. This book will be my Christmas gift to myself (as soon as my holiday shopping list is completed at the usual last nanosecond), and I'll avail myself of Robert's suggestion of using Amazon's UK site. Given the present frozen state of affairs, perhaps a naval icebreaker could substitute for airmail delivery ;-). Will the Premier League ever get in another match, or is the table also "frozen" until spring?

Robert, that's very gracious of you. If you do decide to take a closer look, I would recommend www.shroud.com and www.shroudstory.com, especially the latter for a first look. Dan Porter, who runs that site, has quite a good head on his shoulders.

I've just read through half of it. I couldn't put it down. I'll give proofreader-type comments for now:

A bit more than halfway through, at location 4295 on my Kindle, "with" should be "without" in:
"As a control group he found another twenty-five people who had gone through a medical crisis with reporting an experience."

"Who" should be "whom" several (four?) places, mostly early in the book.

Commas are used too sparingly; dozens more would improve the text.

PS: There are too many long paragraphs that deal with more than one "point"; they should be broken in two, or three.

PPS: At location 4267, after "around them", footnote 19 isn't in footnote form, but just ordinary text.

PPPS: Introduction, last words:

"I have used the British spelling for 'sceptic' throughout rather than the American 'skeptic' ..."

Fowler recommends "skeptic."

(I recommend "scoftic.")

PPPPS: The Table of Contents gives only chapter numbers, not chapter titles too. The latter would be helpful to a reader--that's why they're conventionally included.

Ch. 7, at location 4938, there's a missing "at"in:

"... if we chose to talk about it all we are still like children ..."

Oops. Back to work :)

Thanks, Roger

Roger must be a hit at parties!

"Parties"?!? In Plymouth Plantation?!

(I should have e-mailed these items to the author, I now realize.)

Of course, I think the book is excellent, which is why "I couldn't put it down"--and also why I want to de-bug it before formal publication.

(But there's still a need for a book about Randi's Prize. This book barely touches on it.)

Good grief Roger... this reminds me of the typical nightmare where one finds himself teaching a class or something public, only to notice at the very end, he has no pants on.

I wonder how you might review a book you dont like...:)

"I wonder how you might review a book you don't like ..."

Check it out! (My review of Greg Long's Making of Bigfoot)--
http://www.amazon.com/review/R3BPK2J31N7EW9/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1591021391&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=

(I was once a proofreader, so these nits I mentioned in my earlier posts just jump off the page at me.)

Oops--here's a clickable link to my review above:
http://www.amazon.com/review/R3BPK2J31N7EW9/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1591021391&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=

I'm pretty certain that Catholics are free to believe in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, disbelieve in it, or disregard it. The same is true of apparitions and locutions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Nor need anyone's faith rest on these manifestations.

It might be better to send grammatical or spellings errors to rob via his website. Assuming of course he wants to see them now it is published,

Hi, Paul,

Yep, as I noted, I should have sent them to him by e-mail. I didn't realize there'd be so many when I started, so this way seemed quicker.

It's not in hardcover yet, I don't think, or if it is it's in a POD (print-on-demand) version, which can be easily updated. anyhow, I got an e-mail from him yesterday saying, "thanks for your proofreading comments, appreciate it. I'll make the changes shortly."

Super duper.

Hi Michael,

Rather coincidently, I just posted a review of Victor Stenger's (CSICOP physicist) book "The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason" at amazon.com. The link is the one below:

http://www.amazon.com/review/RZWE9OKGGJG4W/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1591027519&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=

Judging from your review of Robert McLuhan's book, I believe he (McLuhan) has met similar problems to the ones I (and, for that matter, we all!...) often meet when reading "skeptics." I think reading this book from McLuhan will be helpful to my site Criticizing Skepticism.

Thank you for this interesting thread.

Best Wishes,
Julio Siqueira

There is an interesting interview with Robert McLuhan on Skeptiko.com

The discussion of Typos has given me a tangential idea for the providers of blogging software:

How about a Typo-Alert Button, so the user can privately describe a typo to the thread-starter?

There ought to be a private way to describe a thread-starter’s typos to him/her. When authors fix these nits they do a service to site-visitors, and when visitors bring nits to the owner's attention they do him a favor, in the same way that it's a favor to tell someone his/her zipper is undone.

But it annoys lots of readers when they encounter these helpful hints in the public space, so the nit-picker is sometimes accused of being a grammar-N*z* or engaging in captious criticism. The absence of a private channel, such as a Typo button alongside the Report button, makes this an unsatisfactory situation all around.

It's not a bad idea, Roger, but speaking for myself, part of the appeal of blogging is that I can dash off a post without crossing every t or dotting every i. For that reason, I don't worry too much about typos. (Factual errors are a different story.)

Still, some bloggers might desire a Typo-Alert Button. Maybe you should suggest the idea directly to Six Apart, the outfit that owns TypePad.

OK, I'll add "at the blogger's option--even down to activating/de-activating it for individual threads."

I did submit it about 12 hours ago, and got a response suggesting I also post it on their user forum, which I'll do.

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