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The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead [Anglais] [Broché]

Joe Nickell

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Description de l'ouvrage

26 juin 2012
Are ghosts real? Are there truly haunted places, only haunted people, or both? And how can we know? Taking neither a credulous nor a dismissive approach, this first-of-its-kind book solves those perplexing mysteries and more--even answering the question of why we care so very much.

Putting aside purely romantic tales, this book examines the actual evidence for ghosts--from eyewitness accounts to mediumistic productions (such as diaphanous forms materializing in dim light), spirit photographs, ghost-detection phenomena, and even CSI-type trace evidence. Offering numerous exciting case studies, this book engages in serious investigation rather than breathless mystifying. Pseudoscience, folk legends, and outright hoaxes are challenged and exposed, while the historical, cultural, and scientific aspects of ghost experiences and haunting reports are carefully explored.

The author--the world's only professional paranormal investigator--brings his skills as a stage magician, private detective, folklorist, and forensic science writer to bear on a topic that demands serious study.

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

Winner of the 2013 Robert Balles Prize for Critical Thinking!

"This is it—the definitive book on ghosts from a scientific perspective, written by the world's foremost science-based ghost hunter. Nickell is the go-to guy for all things paranormal, and with this book he has once again asserted himself as a fair and careful investigator whose conclusions we can trust."
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Believing Brain

"In [this] important new book Joe Nickell-the premier skeptical paranormal investigator alive today-explains his expert techniques while presenting various paranormal cases, looking at the actual evidence for the existence of such spirit beings. This is a book that everyone interested in ghostly evidence for the afterlife-believer and skeptic alike-will benefit from reading."
—D. J. Grothe, president, James Randi Educational Foundation

"[Nickell is] the epitome of [a] skeptical investigator...coming to a subject without prejudgment but with an honest desire to find the truth...." 
—Kendrick Frazier, editor, Skeptical Inquirer

"[The Science of Ghosts] will find a home in science and new age collections alike, and considers the actual evidence surrounding psychic contacts with 'the other side… a balanced assessment of the evidence for ghosts and hauntings."
The Bookwatch

"Filled with case studies, this book will interest other fans of ghostly affairs academia."
—Bookviews by Alan Caruba

"This is a well thought out, intelligently written book."
City Book Review

Biographie de l'auteur

Joe Nickell (Amherst, NY) has been called "the modern Sherlock Holmes" and "the real-life Scully" (from The X-Files). He has been on the trail of mysterious creatures and phenomena for four decades. Since 1995 he has been the world's only full-time, professional, science-based paranormal investigator. His careful, often-innovative investigations have won him international respect in a field charged with controversy. He is the author of numerous books, including most recently Tracking the Man-Beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More and Real or Fake? Studies in Authentication and Adventures in Paranormal Investigation. See www.joenickell.com for more.

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Amazon.com: 2.6 étoiles sur 5  16 commentaires
15 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Hugely disappointing 16 septembre 2012
Par Hugh Mckinney - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
What I was looking for was hard science. What I got was a self-important author, casually dismissing cases with 3 or 4 pat "answers" over and over, ad nauseam. There's little investigation, for the most part he just recounts a ghost story and then dismisses it as a dream, a waking dream, a day dream, etc. Honestly, this 350 plus page book could have been a 20 page pamphlet, considering how often the author repeats himself.

Occasionally he does find a good scientific answer, such as the discovery of an adjacent iron staircase to the MacKenzie house used by cleaning crews at night. I wanted more of those, but they were few and far between. I can't recommend this book to anyone.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not worth more than a Nickell 18 décembre 2013
Par John D. Muir - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
It's rare for me to read a book and find that I agree almost entirely with the author's conclusions, but yet find the book very unsatisfying. There are several reasons for this.

First, the book tries to cover too much ground. Dozens of cases are discussed, but most in such minimal detail that there's no sense of the scope of the investigation. This is made doubly irritating by the plethora of references to earlier works, many of them by the author, which presumably (I haven't read any of Mr. Nickell's other books) do deal with cases in greater detail. This book reads more like 'The best of Joe Nickell' in which the author cherry-picks his own favorite past cases and gives a few highlights.

Second, there is very little actual science in the book. I appreciate that it is extremely difficult in some cases to prove a negative, but Mr. Nickell offers up various terms as though they are explanations in themselves. To go through some of them: Occam's razor (the simplest answer is most likely to be right) is merely a study in probabilities, not an answer to anything. Extremely simple answers have proven to be wrong- creationism is simple, evolution is extremely complex, but evolution is what actually happened. Arguing through ignorance is a logical issue, not a scientific proposition. Even if someone is arguing through ignorance they might still be right- because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. Waking dreams and fantasy-prone individuals just increase the number of possibilities; indeed, unless it can be proven (and this book doesn't do it) that the purported paranormal experience was a waking dream or the result of a fantasy, suggesting that either of these are the explanation is actually arguing through ignorance.

The book is also very repetitive, with the same terms being defined many times, as though the reader might have forgotten what they mean. Unless the target audience is very young children or not very intelligent adults, both of which I doubt, a firm hand with the blue pencil would have made the book much more readable.

There are some interesting cases and Nickell does much better when dealing with fraud or demonstrable physical causes,which really are capable of scientific explanations. However, a few paragraphs about a case followed by another definition of waking dreams or fantasy-prone individuals isn't at all satisfactory, even though as a skeptic myself I have no doubt that the evidence for ghosts is both unconvincing and illogical.

Fewer cases and much more thorough accounts would have made this a much better book.
32 internautes sur 44 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 waste of time and money 11 octobre 2012
Par Tom Carter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Being short on time and basing my decision only on blurbs, I assigned this book to my college freshman seminar on intellectual inquiry. I had hoped the book would offer a systematic look at what science tells us about the various physical, physiological and psychological factors that trick people into thinking they have encountered a ghost.

I have apologized to my students.

In this book, Nickell does not investigate or explain -- he merely dismisses. In all fairness, he may have fully investigated some of these cases thoroughly and published that information elsewhere (he does cite himself quite liberally), but in this particular book all we get is a summary of the claims of the case and then one of his summary stock answers. All apparitions are waking dreams or sleep paralysis episodes. All near-death experiences are anaerobic hallucinations. All EVPs are white-noise pattern seeking. What's worse, and what makes the title of the book so misleading (and the book so disappointing to me and my students), is that Nickell does not offer any of the rich scientific research behind any of those explanations.

Nickell also displays (again, in this particular book) an astonishing lack of intellectual honesty. Time and again he takes cases that have long been discredited (the Amityville house, the Fox sisters, Victorian-era ghost photography) or popular television shows, movies and even tourist attractions and presents them as if they're being offered as some of the most credible encounters available. By choosing such low-hanging fruit, he doesn't have to exert himself too hard to join in the already-established discrediting. In the few places that he discusses a genuinely controversial case (the Enfield poltergeist or William James' investigation of a medium's location of a drowned girl), he finds one or two critiques among a sea of lively discussion and presents them as proof of the case's non-paranormal nature. Presenting only the evidence that supports your pre-determined thesis is a freshman-level error, not the behavior of someone touting the necessity of rigorous scientific investigation.

This book is fine if you simply need some excuses not to consider the possibility of ghosts. If you want to know what scientists have discovered about haunt phenomena, you'll need to look elsewhere.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Nine Out Of Ten Ouijas Agree 13 novembre 2012
Par safeinhevndead - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
From the amount of repetition of terms and definitions, I assume this is a collection of articles slapped together to make a book, which I find a little annoying. The parenthetical notes at the end of sentence after sentence, listing sources, etc, are like speed bumps and a bit distracting. In spite of these few minor gripes, I still found the material itself quite interesting and engaging. The author states from the start that when he makes an investigation into a claim, he's going to go with the simplest explanations requiring the least amount of assumptions, (Occam's razor). Some see this as having the intent to debunk and dismiss, but in reality it's simply to find a solution to a mystery. Were the solution actual proof of the paranormal, so be it. But this has yet to be the case.

One interesting thing brought up that I never really thought about myself- why exactly do ghosts wear clothing? Aren't they existing in a different plane of 'spiritual' existence? How then did non-spiritual, material items 'pass on' along with them?

Other, probably even better scientifically based paranormal books exist, (I have two in mind to read), but this book I believe is the only one dealing solely with ghosts/spiritualism. Recommended if the interest in the subject is there.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Sad, I really wanted this book to be as described 29 décembre 2013
Par H. L. ARLEDGE - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The description says "Taking neither a credulous nor a dismissive approach, this first-of-its-kind book..." Yet "dismissive" is exactly the word I would use to describe Nickell's writing. I am curious about the subjects he writes, but I neither believe nor disbelieve, as I have not seen enough evidence in either direction. Nickell's cannot demonstrate anything that definitively supports his views, so he embellishes stories to try an explain away what others report seeing. He does exactly what he insists paranormal researchers do, but at the opposite end of the scale.
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