Book review: Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief & Experience (2014) by Christopher C. French and Anna Stone

Following my recent post and discussion on the issue of psychics, I read three very different books on the subject, all shedding different perspectives. The first of these was the memoir In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist (1996) by Susan Blackmore that I reviewed two weeks ago. The second of these was the book Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief & Experience (2014) by Christopher C. French and Anna Stone who are both academic researchers, the former at the University of London and the latter at the University of East London.
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Book review: In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist

In Search of the Light: The Adventures of a Parapsychologist (1996) is a memoir by Susan Blackmore. Blackmore became convinced even before she went to college that the paranormal existed and decided to study it as a career. In her first year of college she also had a vivid out-of-body experience (OBE) that made a huge impression on her and she also found that she was an accomplished Tarot card reader, with her clients extremely impressed with the accuracy and quality of the things she told about them, persuading her that she too had psychic abilities.
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People who write in library books

As part of the research for my book, I have borrowed a huge number of books from my university library. Many of them are decades old, sometimes going back over a century, and some are quite rare. I am sincerely grateful that my library is stocked with them and that the library staff is so helpful and thus make my life easier. So I get infuriated when I find that people have scribbled all over some books, such as underlining sections and inserting comments and exclamations and other editorializing in the margins. Some have done it in pencil that can in principle be erased, though the extent of scribbles can be daunting. Others have done it in ink.
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The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster

The novelist E. M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote books such as A Passage to India, Howard’s End, and A Room With a View that deal with life in Victorian England and its empire, casting a wry look at the mores of the British bourgeoisie, the kind of material that is ideal fodder for Merchant-Ivory films. He is not known as a science fiction writer and so I was surprised to learn that in 1909 he wrote a futuristic short story with the title The Machine Stops that is available online.
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The book royalties racket

Like many academic writers, I make hardly any money on my books and write them mainly for the intellectual satisfaction they give me. The world of huge advances that are paid for books by politicians and celebrities occupy a totally different publishing world and is something that I have no knowledge of. I have long been curious as to what purpose such advances serve. What happens to people who get huge advances? Are the author’s royalties kept by the publisher until they have reached the amount of the advance? What happens if the book does not sell enough copies to justify the advance?
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Book and film review of Peyton Place (1957)

A few weeks ago I watched the 1957 film Peyton Place because I had read the book by Grace Metalious a long time ago and thought it pretty good, though not great. The film was pretty bad, though. I was surprised to learn that it had been nominated for nine Oscars but not surprised that it failed to win any. What prompts me to review it is that the way that the book was transformed into film reveals something interesting about the standards that were imposed unevenly on the two forms of art.
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Review: Merchants of Doubt

This review will deal with both the book and the documentary based on it. The book was written by two historians of science Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University and Erik M. Conway and was published in 2010, while the documentary was directed by Robert Kenner and released in 2014 and has just been released on DVD. I can strongly recommend both. The book is very clearly written and makes a compelling case for the authors’ thesis. Although the documentary is based on the book, its emphasis is different (dealing mostly with the climate change debate) and provides new information that is not in the book. Here’s the trailer.
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How could I have missed all this in Goodnight Moon?

Like many a parent, when my children were little, I must have read the book Goodnight Moon to them about a million times. As with all such books that required multiple readings, in order to stave off the boredom of repetition, over time I developed a dramatic style and became so absorbed in the theatrical effects that I never noticed all the major problems with the room that The Ugly Volvo points out regarding the nursery room.
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When more data is not better

I am about two-thirds of the way through the fascinating book The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger that deals with the 1971 break-in to the FBI offices in Media, PA by a group of eight anti-war and civil rights activists who took away all the files and then revealed all those that showed that the FBI was engaged in all manner of illegal activities, such as spying on and harassing people who were engaged in purely legal actions of dissent and maintaining extensive dossiers on thousands of people. Medsger uses that story as a springboard to also write a comprehensive true history of the FBI as revealed by the documents and subsequent discoveries as opposed to the myths that the agency cultivated. (See here, here, and here for earlier posts on this topic.)
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