Richard Wiseman. Deception and Self Deception: Investigating Psychics. Prometheus. 1997.
A collection of mainly previously published papers, with a specially written introduction by magician and psychologist Richard Wiseman (in most cases as coauthor), on the search for trickery in the paranormal. Among the topics discussed are a re-evaluation of the one of the key series of Eusapia Palladino seances (which evoked the expected howls when it was first published in the SPR Journal); a test of the ESP claims of the SORRAT entities (unsuccessful); a test of the abilities of alleged psychic detectives (they failed, but one well known character later claimed on Esther that he had succeeded); the materialising powers of Indian holy men (trickery suspected though not proven. not possible to get them to agree to properly controlled tests); and the influence of belief on the perception and recall of staged pseudo paranormal events.
Unlike many of the 'debunkers', Wiseman has avoided a confrontational approach to psychical researchers. working as a critic within the psychical research community (he edited the SPR Newsletter for a while) and most of the papers in this volume have previously appeared in the psychical research journals. and are co-written by well known psychical researchers. It is good to see that people with differing views can work to together.
While interesting in many ways, this book was to some extent a disappointment, as I had hoped that it would be a proper book, rather than a collection of isolated essays. Hopefully that book will come one day – Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 63, May 1998.