Paranormality : Why We see what isn’t there by Richard Wiseman

So many of the skeptics that I have met since getting into the movement five or so years ago have a history of being magicians.  Richard Wiseman is among them.  A magician turned experimental Psychologist, Dr. Wiseman has written several books entertainingly demystifying everything from how to change aspects of ones life in under “:59 seconds” to how “Luck” works and now the supernatural.

A great companion piece to this would be Michael Shermer’s The Believing Brain; but I digress.

While using science to debunk the many mysteries of supernatural happenings is found in many books, Richard’s book(s) are not only informative but wonderfully accessible and easy to understand mainly due to his humor and direct experience to many of the experiments discuss within.  From the history of the Oujia board (did you know it was a derivative of two sisters playing a trick on a whole town?) to the Forer and Barnum Effects (a well-known psychosocial effect used as a ploy by not only magicians performing a mental-ism act but by charlatans positing that they can tell ones future or talk to the dead).

Once again I’m reviewing a book that takes things that we see in our everyday lives and reveals how and why our brains decipher the information the way it does.  From wanting to believe in something so much that  believing it becomes a reality to your mind, to how your brain truly cannot comprehend the idea of “where” you are if you confound it with visual stimuli (really there is an experiment here where you can actually feel like you’re in two places (or more) with just a mirror); this goes far in explaining “OBE’s”, Out of body experiences.

Not only do I recommend this book, but I highly recommend all Wiseman’s other books.  Try, if he’s in your area to see him live as he is a wonderful performer bringing to life many of his anecdotes.  If you are not available to see him life, fear not he has a website where experiments and really interesting brain teasers are always on display