Praise for the first edition:
"An excellent, engaging, and highly readable introduction to the paranormal and to the distinction between science and pseudoscience. Should become a favorite in undergraduate psychology courses."
Scott O. Lilienfeld, Emory University
"A very entertaining yet critical examination of virtually the entire gamut of paranormal claims. I strongly recommend this book to everyone who values the pursuit of truth in all things."
James Alcock, York University
"Smith′s work will certainly be of interest to psychologists interested in the consequences of cognitive errors, and it is no doubt the best textbook on the market for a course on the psychology of paranormal belief."
PsycCRITIQUES, April 2010
Comprehensive and engaging, this new edition of a popular textbook introduces the basics of critical thinking using the claims of pseudoscience and the paranormal. It has been extensively revised, enhanced, and streamlined throughout but retains the lively and dynamic style of the first edition (published as Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal: A Critical Thinker′s Toolkit).
The text guides readers through the critical thinking process by considering different types of support for claims (sources, logic, and scientific observation) and ruling out alternative explanations. It allows readers to practice and apply their new critical thinking skills on claims of extraordinary cures including energy treatments, complementary/alternative medicine and faith healing as well as four paranormal claims of consequence: astrology, spiritualism and the afterlife, parapsychology, and creationism. It provides clear and open–minded discussions of important issues related to the topic, including the paranormal spectrum, belief justification surveys, the placebo effect, and the relationship between religion and critical thinking. The text couples a conversational, nontechnical narrative with a wealth of student–friendly pedagogical tools, including critical thinking questions, and a study guide for each chapter. As fascinating as it is informative, Critical Thinking arms readers with innovative tools and techniques to evaluate any extraordinary claims that come their way.
Part I Introduction 1
1 Critical Thinking: Your Survival Kit 3
2 The Paranormal Spectrum 13
3 What’s the Harm? Why Study These Things? 25
Part II The Critical Thinker’s Toolkit 47
4 Sources 49
5 Logic (Bonus: The Big Four Informal Logical Fallacies) 61
6 Logic and Language: Fallacies of Ambiguity 79
7 Science 93
Part III Alternative Explanations 115
8 Oddities of Nature and the World of Numbers 117
9 Perceptual Error and Trickery 135
10 Memory Errors 155
11 The Placebo Effect 167
12 Sensory Phenomena, Hallucinations, and Psychiatric Conditions 189
Part IV Paranormal Challenges 211
13 Claims of Extraordinary Cures 213
14 From the Paranormal Sampler: Four Claims of Consequence 229
Appendix A: Why Do You Believe? 255
Appendix B: Belief Justification Survey 261