Review: ‘Extra Sensory’ by Brian Clegg

extra sensory book coverI was asked to read and review the latest book from Wiltshire-based Science and Sci-Fi author Brian Clegg, ‘Extra Sensory: The Science and Pseudoscience of Telepathy and Other Powers of the Mind’ (find details on the Authors website here), and having just finished the book I can only say that it was an absolute joy to read. In this book Clegg doesn’t simply do what would be easiest and dismiss powers of the mind like remote viewing, ESP or Telekinesis as impossible as so many people would. Instead he really examines the evidence and the historic experiments conducted into these alleged extra senses, getting into the nitty-gritty, to see if there really is anything of worth.

I started the book with some trepidation because although I was told by the author that the book took ‘a balanced skeptical view of psi phenomena, rather than the usual totally-pro or totally-anti approach‘ I was still skeptical and thought the book would be too pro or too anti – I was proven wrong. There are few books that strike a truly balanced, informed, fair-yet-reasoned approach to the subject being researched, but Clegg has managed just that with Extra Sensory and I have learnt so much while reading it. Continue reading Review: ‘Extra Sensory’ by Brian Clegg

The Heretics: thoughts from a skeptic who used to be an enemy of science

hereticsJust six years ago I could be found sitting at a table in a dark room, eyes closed with concentration as my team mates and I built up psychic energy to allow ghosts to use the table to communicate with us. Earlier this month the president of the James Randi Education Foundation, DJ Grothe, referred to me and others as the workhorses of skepticism who actually do scientific paranormal investigations of claims’.

Why am I telling you this? So that you know exactly the kind of skeptic that I am. There’s a stark difference between who I was and who I am, and it’s one shaped by belief.

I’m not content with simply pointing out ‘it can’t be a ghost because ghosts defy the rules of physics’. The difficult and often lonely transition that  I went through – discarding my beliefs and picking apart the very things that had defined me as a person – makes me the kind of skeptic who knows what it is like to be wrong, to hold her hands up and say ‘holy shit, look how wrong I’ve been all of this time!‘. I’m the kind of skeptic who is sympathetic to those who believe weird stuff because I know why they do and how easy it is to convince yourself that you are right. Continue reading The Heretics: thoughts from a skeptic who used to be an enemy of science