I Want to Believe

Remy Chauvin. Parapsychology, When the Irrational Rejoins Science. Translated by Katharine Banham), McFarland, 1985
This is an introduction to parapsychology intended for the non-specialist. Chauvin does not seek to establish the reality of psychic phenomena as he regards this as already being well established by laboratory experiments. However, he regards laboratory studies as being too restrictive and artificial to enable us to devise a coherent theory to explain the phenomena and urges closer study of events which occur in the wider world, The examples he discusses range from divination and telepathy to table turning and spoon bending.

The general approach is rather credulous, with a marked reluctance to take seriously any 'normal' explanations, which is a feature of so many books on this subject. Most of the topics discussed will be too familiar to the majority of our readers to be worth mentioning here, but they may be of interest to anyone who has no previous knowledge of the subject. One chapter is devoted to a somewhat incoherent attempt to make a connection between psychic phenomena and quantum theory.

Much is made, of course, of the importance of the 'observer' in describing any experiment involving quantum theory, and the famous paradoxes thrown up by attempts by philosophers of science, and some physicists to interpret the theory are discussed. One of these (surprise, surprise) is the Schrodinger's Cat paradox. According to Chauvin, Schrodinger had actually carried out a version of his famous 'thought experiment' ( but without endangering the life of the cat ). As soon as I saw this I was keen to get hold of a copy of his paper describing this experiment but (surprise, surprise again) Chauvin does not give the vital reference, If you know very little about psychic events, but want to believe in them, then this is the book for you. -- John Harney. Magonia 27, September 1987.

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