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HARPER’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYSTICAL AND PARANORMAL EXPERIENCE...

HARPER’S ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYSTICAL AND PARANORMAL EXPERIENCE by Rosemary Ellen Guiley (Harper: $19.95, illustrated). As the author declares her work “is a result of my personal odyssey into ‘alternate realities,’ ” it’s hardly surprising that the book is little more than a compendium for the credulous. Instead of documenting the questions surrounding such curious phenomena as telepathy and deja vu, Guiley just regurgitates pseudo-scientific claptrap. Guiley pays precious little attention to the rational explanations that exist for many of these supposedly mystical occurences: The entry devoted to Yuri Geller doesn’t mention that the Israeli psychic’s spoon-bending act has been exposed as mere slight-of-hand. Madame Helena Blavatsky’s absurd pronouncements about Atlantis, Lemuria and Mu are included, but not the research linking the Atlantis legend to the destruction of the island of Thera in 1485 BC. Guiley displays a distressing tendency to present beliefs as facts: The article on “ancient astronauts, theory of” states, “For example, cave drawings in France, South America, and Africa depict men in spacesuit-type attire, including antenna-like spirals on their headgear.” Stylized drawings exist that some people choose to interpret as representing men in spacesuits; there is no evidence that the artists were attempting to depict aliens. Believers in mystic mumbo-jumbo will enjoy perusing this self-styled encyclopedia in their channeler’s waiting room; more objective readers will correctly dismiss it.


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