Richard Wiseman, the fabulously funny and enlightening skeptical psychologist, has written a book called Paranormality which is a fabulously funny and enlightening dissection of paranormal claims; I got an advance copy because I’m special and I recommend it highly, and so do Skepchicks. However, something strange happened. Wiseman is British, and he published in the UK, but when he tried to get it picked up in the US, publishers balked.
The book has done well in the UK and has been bought by publishers in lots of other countries. However, the major American publishers were reluctant to support a skeptical book, with some suggesting that I re-write it to suggest that ghosts were real and psychic powers actually existed! We didn’t get any serious offers and so it looked like the American public (around 75% of whom believe in the paranormal) wouldn’t get the opportunity to read about skepticism.
Bizarre. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle, isn’t it? Since so many of us are gullible cretins, books and TV are tailored to pander to error rather than to challenge and criticize, so the population becomes increasingly more gullible. I guess that makes sense if your goal is to educate a public to buy more soap and toasters.
Anyway, you’re still in luck: Wiseman has decided to bypass the American publishers, and is shipping boatloads (I hope) of his books over here to our benighted shores, so the wiser members of our populace can get wiser still. So next time you turn on the TV and see another of those odious and silly ‘ghosthunter’ shows, just turn it off and pick up a copy of Paranormality. It’s not just good for you, it’s tasty.
I just got word that the physical copies are all sold out. Until they buy a gigantic freighter to haul over a mountain of new copies, you’ll have to settle for the Kindle edition.