Top critical review
Too much reliance on fake “scientists”. Still funny tho.
Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2019
As usual, Roach is funny and entertaining. However, she only gets three stars for this book because she relies too heavily on articles in Skeptical Enquirer magazine, published by CSICOP, an organization of professional debunkers. She even says she liked the fact that one researcher studying near-death-experiences allowed members of CSICOP to monitor his experiments.
The problem is that CSICOP is comprised of phonies pretending to be scientists. CSICOP stands for Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. But the closest thing they have to a scientist in their membership is a mathematician. Their founder is a “secular humanist philosopher”, one member is a stage magician, one is a psychology teacher, one now-deceased member was a science fiction writer, and so on. Furthermore, they don’t investigate anything. Their mission is to debunk, period. They routinely suppress evidence that supports the existence of paranormal phenomena, while constantly accusing anyone who’s had a paranormal experience as being a liar, stupid, or having hallucinated. They are so religiously and rigidly biased against anything that hasn’t already been proven by mainstream science that their claim of being scientific investigators or even “enquirers” is just a flat out lie. Skeptical Enquirer magazine is to science as the National Enquirer is to news.
CSICOP members also regularly appear on Discovery Channel shows about paranormal events, billing themselves as “experts” in those fields, when they are nothing of the sort. Their ONLY goal is to convince people that these events didn’t really happen. It’s ironic that while CSICOP accuses people of lying and faking, CSICOP are the biggest fakers in the business. I think Mary Roach should do her homework on these guys before relying on them for information.
There are certainly frauds and liars who’ve claimed to have had paranormal experiences. Roach’s chapters on seance style mediums and their cheesecloth “ectoplasm” are great (and hilarious). But many of the people making these claims have experienced something real, something that science will probably eventually explain. But with people like CSICOP casting aspersions on any such study, these explanations will take far longer to arrive. CSICOP are every bit as detrimental to scientific discovery as are religious zealots. They claim to be advocates of reason and critical thought, but is it really reasonable to allow your biases to cloud your judgement to the point of absurdity? Is dismissing evidence that doesn’t support your preconceived conclusions critical thinking? Of course not. That’s the opposite of scientific inquiry. That’s religion!