Extra Sensory: The Science and Pseudoscience of Telepathy and Other Powers of the Mind

Brian Clegg. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-01906-6
By examining numerous major studies of supposed psychic powers—including telepathy, telekinesis, remote viewing, and precognition—Clegg (Inflight Science) swiftly kicks the science out of his subtitle. To do so, he brings a careful and critical eye to classic experiments involving psychic powers, conducted by the likes of Joseph Banks Rhine at Duke University starting in the 1930s and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory beginning in 1979. In each case, Clegg, who holds a degree in physics from Cambridge, meticulously explains how the experiments were poorly designed and poorly controlled, and demonstrates how easily unscrupulous test subjects or researchers might have manipulated experimental conditions to produce misleading results, as when one of the moderators at Rhine’s lab claimed to have “proved” that chicken eggs could control the heat lamps above them. Clegg also demystifies all of spoon-bending Uri Geller’s supposed psychic powers, showing them for the parlor tricks they are. Through it all, however, the author remains somewhat of a believer—especially in the possibilities of telepathy—and oddly calls for more research into the matter. As of press time, no scientific evidence exists for extrasensory phenomena, but if you can prove it, talk to magician James Randi—he’s offering a million bucks for that proof. (May 21)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 05/21/2013
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