Non-Fiction Reviews


An encyclopedia of claims, frauds and hoaxes of the occult and supernatural

(1995) James Randi, St Martin's Press, 21.25, hrdbk, 284pp. ISBN 0 312 10974 1

 

Though a delightful and useful little encyclopaedia, the title in itself is somewhat of a fraud for this book is really an alphabetical guide to the supernatural and occult but from a hard-nosed, scientific-like, perspective. I had hoped to find a guide to frauds and hoaxes that had been exposed, but got a more general guide covering everything from the occult to Greek mythology. Nonetheless for the scientist SF buff, or fantasy fan, this is a useful reference work written in many parts with a sense of humour. Despite being a tad expensive, I would recommend it to those who can afford the groats. The bad news is that it shows just how gullible the human race has been throughout the ages, and (depressingly) especially since rise of science and technology. The good news is that the human race has improved its lot considerably (your life expectancy is generally longer than that of your grandparents) and our species is now reaching the stars, through science, despite myths, frauds and hoaxes. All power to Randi's elbow (which, by the way, I truly believe he can bend through the power of thought alone without any help from Yuri Geller!).

Jonathan Cowie


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