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Beyond Belief: Skepticism, Science and the…

Beyond Belief: Skepticism, Science and the Paranormal

by Martin Bridgstock

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This book is wide ranging in its scope. It aims to describe modern skepticism, its relationship to the paranormal and its further applications in our everyday lives. Certainly in the last three chapters the author presents an excellent discussion on modern skeptism and its role. He outlines clearly three critical principles (burden of proof, Ockham’s razor, and Sagan’s balance) to be applied to any hypothetical proposition. Furthermore he provides good examples and interesting data to illustrate his points. However, I hesitate in recommending the first edition for a wide audience. Regrettably the author shies away from discussing many abstract concepts. Admittedly skepticism is very much about tangible demonstrations; however, the conceptual arena supplies the clarity.

For instance in chapter one, the author concertinas scientific worldviews, principles and laws into one entity called ‘theory’. ‘Theory’ is a qualitative concept but it has a structure. Consequently without adequately differentiating elements of beliefs, understanding and knowledge, he is unable to answer objectively many of the broached questions: What is science? What is the paranormal? What is a proto-science? What kind of evidence will adequately prove a point?

I also have a few niggles about casually expressed views that should either have been expanded or left out. These include comments on science’s mind-brain picture, Lamarckian-style epigenetic inheritance, quantum chromodynamics, and some of Hume’s reasoning. ( )
  Jewsbury | Jul 19, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521758939, Paperback)

Whether ghosts, astrology or ESP, up to 80 per cent of the population believes in one or more aspects of the paranormal. Such beliefs are entertaining, and it is tempting to think of them as harmless. However, there is mounting evidence that paranormal beliefs can be dangerous - cases of children dying because parents rejected orthodox medicine in favour of alternative remedies, and 'psychics' who trade on the grief of the bereaved for personal profit and gain. Expenditure on the paranormal runs into billions of dollars each year. In Beyond Belief: Skepticism, Science and the Paranormal Martin Bridgstock provides an integrated understanding of what an evidence-based approach to the paranormal - a skeptical approach - involves, and why it is necessary. Bridgstock does not set out to show that all paranormal claims are necessarily false, but he does suggest that we all need the analytical ability and critical thinking skills to seek and assess the evidence for paranormal claims.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:43 -0400)

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