cover image The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher

The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher

Martin Gardner. Prometheus Books, $19.95 (273pp) ISBN 978-0-87975-432-7

With his hard-nosed approach to investigating the paranormal, Gardner is quick to spot fraud, deception and the bias that can creep into lab results. Bringing together his columns for the journal Skeptical Inquirer and other articles, this compendium targets psychic surgery, Scientology, Uri Geller, mind-over-matter, Freud's dabbling in biorhythms, Margaret Mead's interest in the paranormal. Yet Gardner is often as close-minded, one-sided and selective in presenting evidence as those he attacks. His apparent contempt for the belief in reincarnation mars his send-up of Shirley MacLaine. His wholesale dismissal of physical evidence for UFOs ignores such meticulously documented studies as Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood's Clear Intent: The Government Coverup of the UFO Experience. Turning to the new physics, he dismisses Rupert Sheldrake's theory of morphogenetic fields as nonsense. Gardner ignores the fact that some of today's mainstream science was yesterday's ""fringe'' science. (April)