Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies

Article excerpt

Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies. Edited by Matt Cardin. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015. 409 p. Acid-free $89 (ISBN 978-1-61069-683-8). Ebook available (978-1-61069-684-5) call for pricing.

Producing a reference book about the paranormal presents a unique challenge. Various aspects of the phenomenon--under the rubric of "the supernatural"--have been and remain common to virtually all religions. Furthermore, as this work's "Introduction" notes, "the idea of the paranormal is ubiquitous and inescapable in American culture" and "is entrenched" (xix) throughout most of the rest of the world. Yet the actual existence of the paranormal is in very serious doubt, and authorities in most mainstream disciplines reject it as pseudoscience. As the "Introduction" suggests, however, a new paradigm that sidesteps this "skeptic/ believer dichotomy" (xxiii) seems to be emerging.

To tackle this slippery topic, editor and college English instructor Matt Cardin has assembled 121 alphabetically arranged entries by 57 contributors, most of whom work in academia. Subjects range from individuals (Edgar Cayce, Carl Jung, and so on) to important institutions such as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Rhine Research Center and from paranormal "powers" such as telepathy to treatments of the paranormal in the arts and the media. …

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