Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Discuss paranormal activity linked with sleep and dreams, such as out of body experiences, astral projection and psychic dreams.
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Rebecca
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Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby Rebecca » 08 Aug 2011 04:19

I'm currently reading Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There by everyone's favorite psychologist, Professor Richard Wiseman. So far it's excellent - this guy is really good at taking strange and misunderstood phenomena and laying it out straight for the layman.

Among other things, the book goes into the scientific understanding of Out of Body Experiences - how a few simple changes in perception can "trick" your brain into leaving your body.

Anyone else read this? I will be putting my full review on site when I'm finished...

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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby fineganswaker » 08 Aug 2011 22:18

Thanks, Rebecca--looks like a great book with some much-needed skepticism! Looking forward to reading your review.

Did reading the book cause you to rethink any of your own conceptions and beliefs concerning OBEs? Also, does Wiseman (interesting name!) address lucid dreaming as a topic anywhere in the book?

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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby rdubya » 08 Aug 2011 23:42

I wonder if the day will ever come when these books will be taught to kids in school, like Algebra 1 books! I looked for these courses when I was in college, but they didn't exist yet.

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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby fineganswaker » 09 Aug 2011 01:21

Think I figured out the "rubber band" trick that's out at Wiseman's website!

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Rebecca
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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby Rebecca » 10 Aug 2011 07:53

fineganswaker wrote:Did reading the book cause you to rethink any of your own conceptions and beliefs concerning OBEs?


Yes actually, it has further cemented my beliefs... ;)

When I first discovered the concept of OBEs (same time I discovered lucid dreaming as a teen) I genuinely thought it proved the existence of the soul, mainly because that's how it was presented by the out of body explorer Dr Robert Monroe who's first book in particular is nonetheless fascinating. I was even afraid to induce OBEs at first because I thought I would encounter ghosts and maybe even get trapped outside my body! In the end I dared to experiment with it quite often although my focus was always on lucid dreaming, and I soon found the two kinda go hand-in-hand anyway.

But as for leaving the body... I was never too sure either way what was happening, I have always wanted to believe in an afterlife and the idea of the spirit. But the more I compared my experiences and examined my own perception of reality, the more I realized it's FAR more likely that these are just interesting tricks of the brain.

Richard Wiseman's work (and the wonderfully talented Derren Brown, if you read his latest book, Tricks of The Mind) provide a solid framework for understanding it all without resorting to paranormal explanations. They are the voices of sanity for me, in a world where a lot of people believe in a lot of nonsense for reasons they can't really justify -- and all I am looking for is truth.

(Incidentally, I am not in the habit of going round telling people what to believe, I find it's more important to let them decide for themselves, so long as their beliefs don't harm any other living things in the process. I dare say in this culture there is more to learn from being a spiritualist-turned-skeptic, for example, than there is being a born-skeptic.)

In particular this book tells of the origins of table turning, Ouija boards, automatic writing, cold reading, palm reading and other Victorian-era shenanigans that still survive today. It debunks the lies and misinformation with numerous scientific studies and even magicians and fraudsters who have come forward explaining exactly how it's down with absolutely no paranormal hocus pocus involved...

fineganswaker wrote:Also, does Wiseman (interesting name!) address lucid dreaming as a topic anywhere in the book?


As for his insights into lucid dreaming, I am about halfway through and yet to read anything on this topic, although there is mention of dream control in the blurb... It's also funny that in one of his other books, he highlights the psychological research into how our given names actually can affect the career path we choose, so it may be no coincidence that Mr Wiseman chose the academic route 8-)

fineganswaker
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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby fineganswaker » 10 Aug 2011 18:31

Rebecca,

Thank you so much for you comments! You are obviously a very thoughtful reader--as well as a very incisive writer. (And I must apologize here, as I have not yet downloaded your ebook--although I plan to as soon as I finish these last chapters I'm reading of Waggoner's book).

I think your insights here are spot on. Seeing OBEs (and maybe even lucid dreaming) for what they most likely are does not necessarily diminish the experience in the least. As a matter of fact, one of things I like about LaBerge's book is how he keeps pulling the discussion back onto more scientific, or at least psychological, ground. For me it's like a breath of fresh air, or like being pulled up out of the muck of "bad faith".

It reminds me of a great review I read about the (imho, awful) movie What the Bleep Do We Know (which was all the rage out here on the west coast (of the US) a few years ago). The reviewer was a physicist--a real quantum mechanics head--and he said something along the lines of "You know, reality is strange enough without reading all this type of nonsense into it".

Rebecca wrote:I dare say in this culture there is more to learn from being a spiritualist-turned-skeptic, for example, than there is being a born-skeptic.


Exactly! Bad metaphor alert: Keep the door open--but maybe still best keep the screen door shut!

Rebecca wrote:As for his insights into lucid dreaming, I am about halfway through and yet to read anything on this topic, although there is mention of dream control in the blurb...


Well, please keep us posted (literally) on this!

Rebecca wrote:It's also funny that in one of his other books, he highlights the psychological research into how our given names actually can affect the career path we choose, so it may be no coincidence that Mr Wiseman chose the academic route


Fascinating! Man, I've gotta check this book out (and I'm glad I recently picked up a library card--just too much interesting material to check into without breaking the bank otherwise!).

A bientot!

--FW

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Rebecca
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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby Rebecca » 06 Sep 2011 09:47

My review is up ;)

http://www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com/paranormality-review.html

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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby fineganswaker » 06 Sep 2011 22:40

Thanks, Rebecca--great review! Nicely written and nicely balanced. I like the way you take Wiseman to task over his lumping lucid dreaming into the category of the paranormal (LDing is patently not paranormal in and of itself, as Wiseman himself seems to demonstrate!).

But an important book nevertheless--we LDers would do well to read such a work if only to "keep ourselves honest", as philosophers often like to put it--and hopefully a copy will be coming my way soon via an inter-library loan.

One question: I noticed on the jacket of the book out at Amazon something about how Wiseman debunks OBE/astral projection--something about how the phenomenon can be produced in such a way to prove how the mind doesn't actually leave the body...(?)

Is this just more dust-cover mongering, or does Wiseman actually cover the topic (maybe in his discussion of lucid dreaming in general)?

Thanks in advance for any further info on the book, and again--bravo!

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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby Rebecca » 27 Oct 2011 00:52

Thanks!

Wiseman explains how you can artificially create an OBE, and this experiment comes to mind:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0708/07082305

...and how you can create this effect yourself -- if you have a fake hand nearby!

I dont want to ruin it for you if you're going to read the book.... but he makes the important distinction between what is "real" and what the brain perceives as "real".

Your brain constantly reassesses the fact that it is attached to your body and you can - in just a minute or two - make it forget by giving it false information (stroking a fake hand and pretending its your own, while ignoring your actual hand). The results are WEIRD. Amazing experiment that you can prove yourself!

And yes, I would say this is credible evidence to suggest the mind doesn't actually leave the body... Most lucidity experts and scientists who have looked at this phenomena agree that OBEs are cousins of lucid dreams and that technically we all therefore have types of OBEs (dreams) every night....

It makes good sense. Remember that dream where you were on a pirate ship chasing gold treasures? You were out-of-body then, right? Of course!

I'm not saying the experience is identical but a dream-type scenario is more credible than a literal conscious exit of the body...

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Re: Paranormality by Prof Richard Wiseman

Postby Peter » 27 Oct 2011 20:00

Think I have read the book or one simlar and it is very interesting. I agree that the OBE is in the mind but that does not exclude being able to comunicate just like speech. It starts in the mind and then is expressed as voice (energy) I feel the dream state is just the same so communication is possible. I am not there yet but will hold this thought until I know differant

Peter
Who are you I asked, the reply "dont be silly, we are your daughers" many years before they were born


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