Skeptical UK bestseller about the paranormal can't find US publisher, goes self-published

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105 Responses to “Skeptical UK bestseller about the paranormal can't find US publisher, goes self-published”

  1. jphilby says:

    it is an individual right to believe whatever you want to,

    Absolutely.

    It’s also an individual’s right to be mocked for repeatedly insisting that a beaver is a hammer. Or that physical objects can be moved by transcendental forces. Or that “strange lights” MUST be explainable by some *existing* scientific principle.

    There are plenty of “true believers” among the scientism crowd as well. Generally only because they’re immature or haven’t grasped the fact that empiricism’s limits – thus science’s- are increasingly approached (for example) as phenomena become more complex.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Does everybody know that we can download a virtual kindle for our Mac or PC for free from Amazon? I’ve got mine. It means we can read the Kindle books, but we don’t get to do that in the bathtub. This is the first book I have been motivated to get for my Mac-Kindle. (Apparently there are a lot of free books for Kindle too.)

  3. Anonymous says:

    So, I was reading this thread, and I’d just signed out of Hotmail in the other tab, and when I glanced back at the other tab it was open to MSN News asking me, “IS BIGFOOT REAL????”

    Pure coincidence… or SOMETHING MORE????

  4. noen says:

    petsounds – “”there are many ideas which science has not been able to prove or disprove.”

    Example?”

    Science can’t “prove” ideas true. It can only provide explanations. Theories can be shown false but no theory can be proved true, just very likely.

    “it’s quite acceptable for a lauded physicist to come up with theories about a subatomic particle no one has ever seen”

    Because the theories in question have an excellent track record in thousands of trials over more than a hundred years and are accurate to billionths of a meter or more. That doesn’t “prove” they are right but it does tend to instill confidence.

    Paranormal researchers have a track record of exactly nil and the field is full of tricksters, frauds and con artists. That tends to make people distrustful. Which isn’t hubris. Deliver some actual evidence and that would change.

    “I didn’t provide an anecdote. An anecdote is a story, and I did not tell one.”

    You proceeded to justify the validity of your personal anecdote: “I’ve experienced things which I cannot explain” as holding up “against my own scrutiny and skepticism” and requiring scientific investigation. However, anecdote is not data and there certainly have been serious paranormal researchers, their careers went into the toilet and they produced no evidence for the phenomenon.

    Science seeks to explain our phenomenological experience. So far the best explanation for reports of paranormal activity are the usual suspects. There are no reports that cannot be explained as the product of lies, deceit and mis perception etc.

    “there is plenty [of data] out there by others.”

    Citation needed.

    • petsounds says:

      Because the theories in question have an excellent track record in thousands of trials over more than a hundred years and are accurate to billionths of a meter or more. That doesn’t “prove” they are right but it does tend to instill confidence.

      Unfortunately, paranormal phenomena do not lend themselves to easy, repeatable tests. For whatever reason that is, I do not know — could be because they are manifestations of some entity, or transient energy property we do not understand. Whatever the case, you can’t just set up an experiment in a university lab and get to work. Unless of course the phenomena already exist there.

      You seem eager to argue with me with your Skeptic Badge on. I never presented my experiences as evidence. What I think is, based on my own moderately educated attempts at explaining them, they fall outside of any laws of physics I’m currently aware of. For instance, if you can provide an explanation for why a two-pound candle holder would fly 10 feet off a shelf to land in front of me, with no tremors, vibrations, shaking, or hobbits wearing the One Ring, I’m all ears. So far I have yet to receive a plausible explanation from anyone.

      I’m not out to change anyone’s mind. I’ve seen the things I’ve seen, and they require more equipment and better minds than I to research their mysteries.

      As for the aforementioned evidence I spoke of, many amateur groups try to research the topic and have collected interesting bits of multimedia. But they are not Accredited Scientists, and because the data is usually not repeatable, they receive a cold shoulder from mainstream scientists (and skeptics). catch 22.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “About 80% of Americans think that they have had a paranormal experience. Maybe it’s time they had an opportunity to hear the other side of the story.”

    Perhaps 80% of Americans KNOW they had a paranormal experience. Sounds like the author needs to have one of his own.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      Anon #82: So people never fool themselves, you think?

      I, OTOH, think it is very very common for that to happen – especially so, when the substance of those beliefs has little or no bearing upon how they live their day to day life “in the real world”; that is to say, where those beliefs have no effect on those actions which are taken by them in their lives regardless of what, precisely, they may believe/”know” about their experience(s) of the so-called “para-normal”.

      People have appallingly low standards of proof, or adequacy, when it comes to their own testimony of their experiences: and there are good reasons, also provided by experience, for not allowing any person to be the sole judge of the truth and accuracy of the words they use to describe any of their experiences.

      People “know” they have had “para-normal” experiences, rather than only believe that they have had such?

      Says you, eh?

      I don’t buy it, the price is much too dear, and I consider that their testimony as to their “para-normal” experiences is both suspect and inadequate for the establishment of the truth of their claims.

      “Prove it!”, says the scientist – and I agree with her.

      Boy , the use of testimony attesting to the reality of miracle as a round-about way of gaining credence for religious and superstitious non-sense never stops, eh?

      For these claims of “para-normal experience” are in fact and essence no different than those claims of religious miracles, which served so long ( for many centuries!) and so well to spread the truth of the Christian religion.

  6. Monomythical says:

    This seems odd considering http://YouAreNotSoSmart.com, a blog very much in line with skepticism, is about to be released as a book, and it has a major publishing house behind it.

  7. GuidoDavid says:

    It’s a huge straw man that the skeptic’s position argues that we know everything or there is nothing new. However, if you are asking me to believe in something requiring to drop what we know is true, you better have evidence to back your claim. We discover new things every day, I have to change my mind about things several times a week, and it is a good thing.

  8. NuOrder72 says:

    This seems like the perfect thread to plug (not shamelessly, I might add…) my favorite podcast….”The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe” I used to believe a lot of rubbish until I started listening to that podcast. I feel like I have a much different outlook on the world since I started educating myself with skeptical inquiry.

    It’s the only podcast that I listen to the day it comes out. Check it out, Wiseman has been a guest on their show several times now.

    • RadioSilence says:

      Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe is a great podcast, another you should check out is Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid. Little 12 or 13 minute chunks of critical thinking and logic on all sorts of topics. I believe he’s been a guest on SGU too.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The book isn’t about confirming to skeptics that, of course, ghosts don’t exist or people can’t commune with the dead. It’s about explaining WHY these things come about and how the mind can be tricked into believing all kinds of wacky things with just a little bit of stimulation or coercion.

    It’s a fascinating book, not because it pats clever-clever rationalists on the back for being all clever-clever and rational, but because it explores how the human mind works and what an amazing and complex machine it is – one that we’ve barely scratched the surface of. Taking irrational ideas like physic powers or out of body experiences are just the jumping off point, not the destination.

    You’re a fool if you’re only rationale for not reading the book is “I already know ghosts don’t exist, I don’t need a book to tell me”.

  10. PeaceLove says:

    From the alignment of the stars and the distribution of my tea leaves, I predict a best-seller!

  11. Bodhipaksa says:

    Your link to Amazon does to a page that says “This title is not available for customers from United States.” This link allows US readers to buy the book from the Kindle store: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00572B4BK

  12. Muneraven says:

    Believing you have The Answer –be it skepticism, science, faith or philosophy — is the adult version of hiding under the bedclothes from the boogeyman. Being RIGHT keeps the darkness at bay. It doesn’t matter why you think you are right. The point is that you should really ask yourself why it is so very important for you to believe that you have The Whole Truth and those other guys are numbwits.

    I like science, but skeptics annoy me. I suspect that anyone who dedicates much of his time and energy to proving others are wrong has massive insecurities driving him that I would find quite humorous were I to unearth them. Probably a mommy or daddy thing, or some high school trauma.

    • Anonymous says:

      But these people who explain things as ‘ghosts’ or the ‘paranormal’ are the ones who believe they have the answer.

      Scientists are the ones who readily admit that they don’t understand things; but they also don’t make up improbable tales to explain them.

      Ghosts and ‘the paranormal’ to me seem very much like the Vikings explaining thunder as Thor’s hammer – we don’t understand it so let’s fill the void with something we can relate to, rather than accept that there is likely to be a rational explanation for something that we just haven’t identified yet.

      If you hear horse’s hooves outside your window, it’s more likely to be a horse than a zebra.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “The book they don’t want you to read” — oh please, it means he had a crap agent who didn’t get him the mega-deal he wanted,and he figured this was the best way to market his book. I’ve read soooo many such books published in the US– he just figured this was the best way, under current circumstances, to market his. Be a skeptic. Please.

  14. knoxblox says:

    I would like to read a skeptical book about the paranormal, but I’m one of the 100% who can’t afford a Kindle at the moment.

    • Palomino says:

      You Beat Me To It…..

      Stupid to release it only for Kindle, how did he figure Amazon was the only source for his Niche market? Why not Google ebooks? Releasing it for Kindle devices only is kind of like getting a publisher, isn’t it?

      I would like to see his contract, probably legally binding with much clause and effect.

    • Bubba says:

      Me too but I’m thinking the amount of great free/out of copyright stuff may justify me asking the Mrs to get me one of the cheaper Ereaders for christmas. I’d love to get some recommendations from Boingers, my brother has a Sony one which looks and feels great but I’m loathe to buy from them. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • Anonymous says:

      there are free Kindle apps for OS X and Windows, and all of the smartphone platforms.

  15. JoshuaZ says:

    Wiseman’s earlier book 59 Seconds was excellent. It was amusing, informative, and very well written. As soon as I saw this note I turned on my Kindle and ordered this book.

  16. GuidoDavid says:

    “I respectfully decline from seeing you as someone worth communicating with at this time, because I feel it would take much time and effort.”

    So much for open mindedness.

    • Eye Open Doors says:

      Do you think I should continue to be seen down the nose by that person?

      • GuidoDavid says:

        I think you should back your claims about Randi at least. And you seem to me to be looking down on him.

        And, btw, whether a claim is true or not, does not depends if the people stating it are very nice or real asses.

        • Eye Open Doors says:

          I stated the reasons as to why I experience him as such; my proof is in how he acts in his videos and I need not more. To me he is as the Ayn Rand of this time, that is to say an excuse to be smug and uppity.

          If you want proof of that, look above for several comments that provide fruitful examples. As for people being asses, that may be true but it is to me an indication that they are likely full of crap or that one needs to wade through the crap to find that which is of use.

          • Cowicide says:

            I stated the reasons as to why I experience him as such; my proof is in how he acts in his videos and I need not more.

            Here we get to the heart of the matter, don’t we? You can lie about him because you don’t like him? And, you’re not willing to even look at more evidence presented before you because you already have predetermined thoughts on this?

            That doesn’t sound very zen to me.

            I feel like you are in turmoil with your own beliefs.

            Here’s another way to go about “beliefs”. For instance, I conjecture that certain kinds of fish oil with an enteric coating are beneficial, but it was called “woo” by someone. So I stated my case with evidence here and throughout the thread with many other links to sources. That goes a much longer way than your methods shown here in this thread to make me feel relatively secure in my own beliefs (conjectures).

            Maybe if you considered your beliefs more like conjectures, you’d get less offended by people who question them? And maybe you’d be more determined to get to the truth of the matter, instead of worrying so much about who says woo?

            Who cares who says woo if your so-called woo… has evidence?

          • Eye Open Doors says:

            I allow myself to be in turmoil and this allows for more possibilities than just one way or the other.

          • Cowicide says:

            I allow myself to be in turmoil

            I don’t think turmoil means what you think it means. Aggravated confusion about oneself isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

            and this allows for more possibilities than just one way or the other.

            And, sadly, from what I’ve seen, you’ve ironically closed your possibilities by ignoring avenues. Seems to be more out of pride than anything else.

            But, hey.. whatever floats your James-Randi-loathing boat…

          • Eye Open Doors says:

            http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_our_consciousness.html

            The TED talk on Consciousness by Dan Dennet that I listed above is worth studying from my perspective. If you can get past yourself and the delusions you are making up about me, you may very well be interested in watching it.

          • Cowicide says:

            The TED talk on Consciousness by Dan Dennet that I listed above is worth studying from my perspective. If you can get past yourself and the delusions you are making up about me, you may very well be interested in watching it.

            Thanks for the TED talk link, but I already saw that video late last year. I agree with you that it’s very much worth studying.

            As far as “the delusions I am making up about you” – I think you dug your own grave there by attacking James Randi with your own made-up delusions without proper evidence and I merely called that out.

            But, nonetheless, at least we both dig Dan Dennet! :D

          • GuidoDavid says:

            Well, it is sad that you let shallow appearances guide your life and judgement of important issues. For me, I am glad that F=m*a is still true despite that Newton was a real ass.

          • Eye Open Doors says:

            Do you view what James Randi has to say as an important issue? I clearly do not, you may have noticed I included above ”or have to wade through the crap”. Interestingly you mention Newton, I am at this time reading Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson. It frequently mentions his difficult nature in the book, and I was unaware of such.

            You may also notice that I have continued to communicate with you because of how you are communicating with me. I have been on the internet long enough to know when sources or communications are worthwhile. I thank you for being honest with me, because of that I have learned from this experience.

  17. GuidoDavid says:

    “I suspect that anyone who dedicates much of his time and energy to proving others are wrong has massive insecurities driving him that I would find quite humorous were I to unearth them”

    Projection, anybody?

    Many of us do what we do because, as somebody said above, the other side, the mystical explanations that have led us nowhere are much common and accepted ad default, because in many newspapers there is a horoscope, but not an astronomy section, because we have been deluded for a long time until we found key pieces of information and then our world changed suddenly for good. Many of us are skeptic and devote our time and energy to it because it is the only way to pay a debt to the ones that opened our eyes and made us realize of the mind chains that bound us.

    But, if your argument is true, I wonder what insecurities make you to be so harsh with skeptic people. It’s not like we are conning sick and desperate people to believe we can cure their cancer or talk to their dead relatives.

  18. holtt says:

    I wonder what sales hyperbole tells us about our brains, beliefs and behavior.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Americans don’t want the other side of the story … They *know* what they saw.

  20. feralman says:

    I question this author’s claim that no one would publish his book. What he really means is: “I couldn’t get a six figure deal from Random House or Simon and Schuster.”

    In the Spring 2012 season, Feral House will be publishing a skeptical book on psychic readings by an author who made his living doing them. The book is called “Psychic Blues” by Mark Edward.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a weird thought – maybe instead of “zOMG it’s a conspiracy to silence skeptics!!1!”, maybe it’s just not a very good book.

    I’d also caution people that “debunkers” often have their own agendas. It’s not a bad thing to be skeptical of the skeptics, too. Who watches the watchmen, and all that…

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you miss the bit where the article said ‘The book is doing well in the UK and has been picked up by lots of overseas publishers’ ?

      I should also point out that at least the ‘debunkers’ make claims which can be tested by experiment. So you don’t need to take their word for anything if you don’t want to.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is it not telling that it is a best selling book elsewhere? Are you suggesting that Americans are superior judges of the quality of books than people in the UK or elsewhere?

  22. Anonymous says:

    No Kindle, but just ordered the dead tree variety from the UK. Too bad there wasn’t a Nook option!

  23. mkultra says:

    It’s kind of a bummer, but as a publisher it’s almost never the case that we “don’t want you to read” something… it’s much more along the lines of limited resources that have to be put towards projects with proven track records and excellent commercial prospects. It sucks because we all wish we could put out 5-10 times as much stuff as we do, but it just isn’t feasible with the way the market is right now.

    There’s a ton of great work out there that’s having trouble finding a publisher with room in the budget for it. Self-publishing online really is the way to go for these folks.

    • Anonymous says:

      “it just isn’t feasible with the way the market is right now.”

      So when WILL it be feasible? For that matter, when within the last 30 years has it BEEN feasible?

  24. Anonymous says:

    which is more pathetic

    people claiming to have contact with the tooth fairy
    or the people spending their time to ‘debunk’ them

    either way, the alien overlords must be quietly snickering.

    • Cowicide says:

      or the people spending their time to ‘debunk’ them

      People debunking bullshit is the only reason you have the electricity and computer you’re using to write your inane post… instead of defecating in a cave somewhere worshipping a wombat or some shit.

      You might want to thank these people by humbling yourself a little bit and showing a little appreciation and respect. Otherwise their ghosts will come visit you in your sleep tonight and fuck your world.

  25. Brad_Smith says:

    I’m surprised that Prometheus Books didn’t pick this up — since Prometheus publishes these sort of books. So, as a debunker and paranormal investigator, I find the notion that Wiseman couldn’t find an American publisher to be . . . well, I find it hard to believe.

    I’ve investigated over 60 cases in the last three years. Many of the claims made by clients were things easily explained — from animals crawling underneath the house making sounds or even a client having a bad interaction from medication.

    However, there have been some cases when we (the team I belonged to) did encounter some paranormal activity. I myself personally experienced activity on three cases, when I was working with another investigator.

    I always approach things with “open-minded skepticism.” It’s served me well over the last few years. It’s helped me to find logical, rational and natural causes for alleged paranormal activity. I’ve been able to point these things out to clients and assure them that nothing is wrong . . . and they’re not crazy.

    That being said, I’ve encountered some unusual things and I know that something is happening.

    One thing. Just because people claim to have encountered paranormal activity doesn’t mean they’re “stupid” or “ignorant.” Some of the clients I’ve worked with — along with others who’ve told me their stories — are very stable, sane people who happen to be very well educated. One was an Emmy-winning filmmaker and there’s a a friend of mine who hosts his own radio talk show on Sirius. Teachers, doctors, even licensed, accredited mental health care professionals have been clients. Members of law enforcement. Very religious people and atheists too.

    Yes, from time to time, I must admit, we’ve had our share of potential clients who weren’t the brights diodes in the LED array. But, the majority of our clients were very intelligent people who needed help and answers.

    • LMA says:

      Yes, yes, yes! I was going to post the exact same thing — that the author’s claim sounds really dubious because like you, my first thought was Prometheus, and my second was Rutledge. Maybe it’s just a really poorly written book or doesn’t say anything that Stephen Jay Gould, Carl Sagan, Michael Shermer or The Amazing Randi haven’t already published definitively on.

      Me, I will never confirm this because I absolutely do not read anything longer than a page on a computer screen. I’ve been a papermaker, bookmaker, calligrapher and paste-up artist back in the day when that meant you used an X-acto knife and a waxer so when it comes to book length material, it’s dead tree or nothing for me! ;D

  26. Brad_Smith says:

    Another thing. Yes, the field is filled with quacks and con artists. I’ve ran into my share of them over the years. But, what I liked about my old team, we didn’t make money. We did the investigations for free. The equipment we used and traveling expenses came out of our own pockets. We did this to help people and plus, hopefully, learn a little more about the world around us.

    What you see on TV isn’t what we do out in the field. We spend more time looking at a home’s foundation, plumbing, electrical wiring, ventilation ducts, interviewing clients and so on.

    A lot of what you see on TV is hype.

  27. Cowicide says:

    It’s amazing how closed-minded people often (angrily) ask others to keep an open mind.

    “That ghost I saw couldn’t have possibly been a figment of my imagination!”

    You believe in Open-mindedness? I dare you to watch that video in that link, “open-minded” people of the world.

    • Gordon JC Pearce says:

      Too long; didn’t watch. The annoying 80s “Look Around You” music didn’t help.

      Why should I waste ten minutes of my life listening to someone doped to the eyeballs on mogadon drone out the captions on a badly-drawn cartoon? Give me a transcript. My attention span for video is about ten seconds.

      • Cowicide says:

        Yeah, I agree that it’s much too long-winded unfortunately and could use professional editing to chop it at least in half, but there it is. I think you can get the gist of it in the first 20 seconds or skip through it, I dunno.

    • Eye Open Doors says:

      Thank you for sharing the link to that video Cowicide; I watched it and have benefited from doing so.

      • Cowicide says:

        Thank you for sharing the link to that video Cowicide; I watched it and have benefited from doing so.

        You’re welcome. :)

        I find that I need to re-watch that video on occasion to remind myself of avoiding being stuck with my own ill-concieved notions.

    • petsounds says:

      You believe in Open-mindedness? I dare you to watch that video in that link, “open-minded” people of the world.

      You dare us? Haha. Okay, I took your dare. It’s a pretty reasonable collection of thoughts. However, many of the points raised about close-mindedness of believers in unproven ideas also apply to “skeptics”, many of whom look upon believers in paranormal activity disparagingly. The same goes for atheists who mock those who have taken up a religion. As the video notes, it is an individual right to believe whatever you want to, to your own folly or fortune.

      That’s not to say that ignorance should be celebrated, but there are many ideas which science has not been able to prove or disprove. It doesn’t mean those ideas are necessarily foolish — there are many physicists who spend their whole careers making educated guesses about how the universe operates. Many of their ideas turn out to be completely wrong. And yet, they are rarely derided for their fanciful notions. So, there is definitely an element of arrogance at play within the scientific community about paranormal research. You just don’t get very far in that world saying you want to research paranormal phenomenon. That to me is an indication of groupthink; an institutional arrogance which impedes scientific progress.

      I consider myself a pretty skeptical person. But I’ve experienced things which I cannot explain. Obviously I can’t give that experience to anyone else, so my data point is no more useful to the advancement of knowledge than the Christian apostles saying Jesus busted out of his tomb like the Kool-Aid man (“Ohh YEAHHH!”). But because the things I’ve experienced hold up against my own scrutiny and skepticism, they remain, in my mind, part of a subject which should be explored further by the scientific community. But to just dismiss ideas and evidence outright because they don’t follow the mostly linear narrative of scientific advancement is pure hubris.

      • Cowicide says:

        You dare us? Haha. Okay, I took your dare. It’s a pretty reasonable collection of thoughts.

        Thanks!

        However, many of the points raised about close-mindedness of believers in unproven ideas also apply to “skeptics”, many of whom look upon believers in paranormal activity disparagingly. The same goes for atheists who mock those who have taken up a religion.

        The video goes into that at the end. Nowhere does it suggest anyone should mock anyone for any reason. Nor should anyone be disparaged for asking questions when they are asked to believe something, yes?

        As the video notes, it is an individual right to believe whatever you want to, to your own folly or fortune.

        Yep, and reality pretty much dictates that as well. ;D

        That’s not to say that ignorance should be celebrated, but there are many ideas which science has not been able to prove or disprove. It doesn’t mean those ideas are necessarily foolish — there are many physicists who spend their whole careers making educated guesses about how the universe operates.

        The video covers this very well from the beginning.

        Many of their ideas turn out to be completely wrong. And yet, they are rarely derided for their fanciful notions. So, there is definitely an element of arrogance at play within the scientific community about paranormal research. You just don’t get very far in that world saying you want to research paranormal phenomenon. That to me is an indication of groupthink; an institutional arrogance which impedes scientific progress.

        Hmmm… you should re-watch the video. Asking for evidence isn’t arrogance. Seriously, you might want to dedicate more energy into comprehending what that video said as you’re falling right into one of the traps the video warns about.

        There’s not much money in researching paranormal phenomena because there haven’t been profitable returns on it thus far.… but I would hardly blame the scientific community for that.

        While discounting and even outlawing science (by death in some cases) we’ve spent many thousands of years “researching paranormal phenomena” through religion, alchemy and otherwise. It’s led us to science. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

        Suggested (great) reading (if you haven’t already):
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Demon-Haunted_World

        I consider myself a pretty skeptical person. But I’ve experienced things which I cannot explain.

        Me too. :D

        Obviously I can’t give that experience to anyone else, so my data point is no more useful to the advancement of knowledge than the Christian apostles saying Jesus busted out of his tomb like the Kool-Aid man (“Ohh YEAHHH!”). But because the things I’ve experienced hold up against my own scrutiny and skepticism, they remain, in my mind, part of a subject which should be explored further by the scientific community.

        Well, if you’re serious about it then build a solid case for this exploration. If you can’t, then you’re just going to have to focus on your own efforts to your own folly or fortune.

        But to just dismiss ideas and evidence outright because they don’t follow the mostly linear narrative of scientific advancement is pure hubris.

        Once again, nowhere in that video does the narrator say any evidence or ideas should be dismissed outright. You’re very free to build a case if you want to convince others of what you believe. But, until you build that case with evidence, it’s pure hubris that you expect others to believe it.

      • noen says:

        “many of the points raised [...] also apply to “skeptics””

        Of course they do, no one said they didn’t.

        “it is an individual right to believe whatever you want to”

        Absolutely.

        “there are many ideas which science has not been able to prove or disprove.”

        Example?

        “Many of their ideas turn out to be completely wrong.”

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.

        “yet, they are rarely derided for their fanciful notions.”

        Nor should they be. Perhaps you’ve confused knowledge with conformity.

        “That to me is an indication of groupthink”

        So… scientists are guilty of having many fanciful ideas and yet they march in lock step? How does that work exactly?

        “I consider myself a pretty skeptical person.”

        You’re not. Stubbornness is not skepticism.

        “I’ve experienced things which I cannot explain.”

        I think you need to watch the Qualia Soup video again.

        “But to just dismiss ideas and evidence outright because they don’t follow the mostly linear narrative of scientific advancement is pure hubris.”

        Your personal anecdote is not evidence. Dismissing ideas due to a lack of evidence is not hubris.

        • petsounds says:

          “there are many ideas which science has not been able to prove or disprove.”

          Example?

          The topic at hand, for instance? The causes behind what people claim to be ghosts, for example.

          “That to me is an indication of groupthink”

          So… scientists are guilty of having many fanciful ideas and yet they march in lock step? How does that work exactly?

          I think you’re a bit confused on my point. I have no problem with physicists expounding upon their ideas of how the universe works. What I was trying to do is present a contrast between that and ideas presented based on some amount of evidence outside of what the halls of academia deem acceptable for research. In other words, to academia it’s quite acceptable for a lauded physicist to come up with theories about a subatomic particle no one has ever seen (in fact, perfectly okay to build huge colliders based on finding a particle no one has seen), but to research the causes for paranormal activity? No, that’s pure spiritualism! No time or money to waste on hallucinations of the feeble-minded! And so this is what I mean by groupthink. As a scientist, you’ll be laughed out of the university if you want to explore paranormal phenomenon. And most scientists want to be taken seriously by their peers. So silently, it’s agreed upon that it is a taboo topic of research.

          “I consider myself a pretty skeptical person.”

          You’re not. Stubbornness is not skepticism.

          I don’t even know how to respond to this.

          Your personal anecdote is not evidence. Dismissing ideas due to a lack of evidence is not hubris.

          I didn’t provide an anecdote. An anecdote is a story, and I did not tell one. In fact, I specifically said that my experiences are meaningless in terms of scientific research. When I mentioned evidence, I meant the actual multimedia points of data that have been recorded. Of which I have none, but there is plenty out there by others.

          • Anonymous says:

            Just thought I’d point out that the last serious major studies of paranormal phenomena was in the seventies (a lot, actually) and not only did they not find evidence of ghosts or similar, clairvoyants turned out to be counting horses!

            Every time scientific inquiry has taken this topic seriously, which some always do, they end up with nothing.

      • gwailo_joe says:

        “Jesus busted out of his tomb like the Kool-Aid man (“Ohh YEAHHH!”)”

        Thanks for that. . .nice image :D

        • Brainspore says:

          Jesus busted out of his tomb like the Kool-Aid man (“Ohh YEAHHH!”)

          Kool-Aid Man totally ripped off J.C.’s “drink my bodily fluids” bit too.

  28. MachineElf says:

    Richard Wiseman lives for publicity. Seems his selling approach this time is to get skeptical readers buying his book in a show of solidarity fighting against the big bad publishers and the ignorant U.S. public.

    The simple fact is that Paranormality is not a good book. It sold in advance in the UK for a “big six-figure deal” (The Bookseller), and yet it feels like Wiseman put about a month worth of work into it. Very disappointing.

  29. Eye Open Doors says:

    [disgusted]Son of a beaver! I do not own a kindle nor do I prefer reading in digital format, yet I want to read this. I am very interested in the paranormal and gaining new insights on the topic. Thank you America for being so sheltered.[/disgusted]

  30. Anonymous says:

    I have to call bollocks on this book as well.
    Being skeptical is useful but I’ve experienced too many first-hand events that leave questions in my mind regarding our first-person experience of time and reality. I am not ready to dismiss it all as mass hysteria or gullibility even though I accept the fact that my thoughts are not very scientific.

  31. chawke says:

    Should it surprise us that the book cannot find a publisher here? As an example, take a look at the TV line up. Programs like Haunted Collector, about possessed book-ends,series where they find evidence of paranormal activity in every episode are very popular and there are a lot of them on U.S. TV.

    My favorite is ‘Wrestling with Ghosts.’ These pro-wrestler-looking guys who supposedly have graduate degrees in the sciences investigate hauntings in full wreslting costume and when their instruments find something, they invoke the catch-phrase ‘I’m Going In…’, take off their glasses then charge into the haunted area. Actually, my compliments to the Nathan Shanks look-alike. His powers of impersonating Daniel Jackson are amazing.

    Anyway, my point is that it’s no surprise he cannot find a publisher. The main-stream and even the not-so-mainstream American media firmly believe the consumers to be more stoopid than they really are.

    Of course they might have a point. There is a growing belief among the young, at least in the U.S. that J.K. Rowling didn’t create the Harry Potter ‘verse – she simply dramaticized
    phenomena that actually exists, changed names added a few flourishes etc.

  32. Anonymous says:

    You can buy books from amazon.com to be shipped to the UK, why not try the same in reverse from amazon.co.uk if you really want a print copy?

    • Chris Spurgeon says:

      You can. I’m here in the US but buy things from amazon.co.uk and amazon.ca all of the time. You have to enter your address, credit card info, etc., again (I guess the accounts for each country’s amazon is separate) but other than that it’s no trouble to order from them at all.

      • fyreflye says:

        When I buy books from Amazon.uk to be shipped to me in the US all my Amazon.com personal and credit card info pops up when I sign in with the same name and password as I use for my Amazon.com account. I’ve bought from Amazon.ca and had the same experience. It probably works for other Amazon sites as well.

  33. gwailo_joe says:

    I said ‘woo’ up above. . .and only because that’s a term I learned from this very site.

    And I had never heard of The Amazing Randi until now.

    Thank you Cowicide for being a partisan of rationality.

    Look. . .when it comes to the big questions: ‘Is there a God? -and how mad is she-’ or ‘is there an afterlife?’ There is one thing I know. . .that I don’t know myself.

    But there is one more thing I DO know: any human that says THEY know: don’t.

    I believe in dinosaurs. I’ve been around the world and seen bones and skeletons: seems a little excessive to be a hoax.

    I believe in hammerhead sharks and elephant birds. I believe in giant sloths and platypuses.

    But I do not believe in leprechauns or ghosts. Or kappas or kirins, grumkins or snarks, wights or werewolves, or cyclopses or exquilaxes…

    OR GODDAMN VIRGIN LOVING SPARKLE FARTING THINK THEY’RE “ALL THAT” UNICORNS!

    (sorry…deep breath)

    Look: show me the proof. Let the world pour over the evidence so we all can (mostly) agree that whatever really is whatever. But until then. . .it’s foolios going into a spooky old mine shafts and scaring themselves silly on camera. Or the amazing human body healing itself from traumatic injury and some huckster (or deluded believer) saying “I did that!!!’

  34. GuidoDavid says:

    The good news:
    You do not need a kindle to read it. You need the Kindle app for Android or for Windows or Mac. And if you use Linux, like me, you can still extract the file from the Windows program and use Calibre or some other Linux app to read it. So, go ahead and get it!

  35. Anonymous says:

    @knowblox You can download the Kindle PC reader from Amazon for free. I did. It’s great! I don’t own a Kindle but I do have Kindle on my PC and mobile phone and can read all the Kindle editions I want. Enjoy!

  36. Robert says:

    Having just read The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, I’ve bought Paranormality to see if the one theory works with the other. If there’s a neurological syndrome (Cotard’s) that convinces you that you’re dead, surely there’s one for ghosts.

    • Mujokan says:

      I’d presume ghosts tend to be a mix of optical illusions and hallucinations (probably mostly auditory hallucinations — I have had a few of those in my life.). Maybe also dreams and/or “memory drift”. In e.g. spiritualism there may be some element of hypnosis.

      “Ghosts” in the Jaynes sense would be maybe ancestor worship that had some kind of communing with “spirits” as in China. Spirit possession in ancient China is a just-pre-breakdown Jaynes-type phenomenon arguably.

      Anyway I like the “Professor” on the cover :)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Yes, there are two sides to the story: the truth presented by those who know firsthand and the skeptical speculations by the deaf, dumb and blind.

  38. MagnanaMouse says:

    Meh. Dumb book. Publishers in America are best off buying the rights and shelving it. We all know paranormal stuff is the bunkus. But we have Hollywood and cool sci-fi and fantasy movies to get lost in. This book can go Fahrenheit 451 itself. Dern Eurotrash trying to ruin our fun. The UK’s just jealous because their film industry is run out of a barn, so they want to pee in our pool.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      “…we have Hollywood and cool sci-fi and fantasy movies to get lost in.”

      No no, not “to get lost in”; better and more accurate to say, “to beguile our time”.

      Speaking of Hollywood and all, here’s a view from some Brit about Hollywood as it now subsists which I at least found to be of interest…

      http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/ideas/david-thomson/writing-hill

      For my part, I suspect that it is with “Hollywood”, as it is as with many other things – that it is only the distance itself which actually gives the view whatever charm it may possess.

    • Anonymous says:

      The thing is, WE know paranormal/supernatural stuff is generally bullshit. Most people don’t though. As squeeziecat says, most americans believe in god and a substantial number of them make decisions based around the assumptions about a supernatural man in the sky.

  39. Anonymous says:

    No, but us “nonexistent” witches, wizards, warlocks, or whatever you want to call us, are snickering.

    “My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!” – Baudelaire, “Le Joueur généreux”

  40. Brainspore says:

    I gotta admit “the book they don’t want you to read” sounds a lot more interesting than “the book their marketing teams don’t think you’re likely to buy.”

  41. squeeziecat says:

    92% of Americans believe there is a god, compared to 38% in the UK. that pretty well explains it for me.

  42. Anonymous says:

    It’s also the the book that the author doesn’t want you to read … unless you pay 8.99.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I always wonder what the baseline for evidence of the Paranormal is? When does a needle moving on some kind of meter or sound captured on a some kind of audio recorder become evidence of ghosts or other supernatural activity? Has someone confirmed that the dead generate electrical signals? I may have missed that.

    • MachineElf says:

      According to Wiseman, the baseline is higher than normal scientific evidence:

      “I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do.”

  44. Eye Open Doors says:

    An equal eye view means seeing eye to eye, or rather respecting one another as equals. Something neither you nor Randi make the choice to do, which has the effect of deteriorating dialogue. You were doing well until you made assumptions about me.

    Reality tunnel is another way of saying perception. I did make a judgment on his character and I knew at that moment I was not interested in what he has to offer because I trust my gut before anything else.

    This is to say I have an aversion to people who think there is one way and or the other. That kind of thinking creates wars and people on the internet who think they are better than others and that they can treat them disrespectfully.

    I respectfully decline from seeing you as someone worth communicating with at this time, because I feel it would take much time and effort. Thank you for sharing the video and I do hope in the future you make the choice to be more kind to yourself and others.

    • noen says:

      “An equal eye view means seeing eye to eye, or rather respecting one another as equals.”

      Absolutely people should do that, one should refrain from making disparaging remarks. At least initially. But over time you realize that the paranormal and UFO etc fields are filled with frauds, con-artists and their gullible victims. We should expose them for the frauds they are. Uri Geller is a fraud and he knows it. He preys on people.

      However there really is an objective world independent of our desires. Statements about that world are true or false depending on whether or not they correspond to it, *not* how we wish it to be. But people project their subjective needs and wants onto the external world. They do that because they have powerful desires.

      When Randi debunked the faith healer Peter Popoff his flock didn’t care one bit. They went right on believing in him and they did that because their lives are such that he fills a need in them. Most of Popoff’s followers are poor inner city blacks. He may represent about the only ray of hope they have and they aren’t going to a let a little thing like the facts get in the way. Not because they are stupid gullible sheep, but because a human simply cannot live without hope.

      If people really want to put a dent in pseudo scientific beliefs then find a way to improve people’s lives materially and intellectually. You will meet a brick wall if you try to tear down the only thing that gets them from one day to the next.

      • Eye Open Doors says:

        Thank you for your excellent reply noen, I agree the world is teeming with frauds and those frauds make it difficult for those seeking legitimate questions. I also agree with what you wrote about improving people’s lives. From my perspective it takes respect and further yet love to do so, for if the goal is to merely reveal the fraud it will only support egos.

    • Cowicide says:

      I respectfully decline from seeing you as someone worth communicating with at this time, because I feel it would take much time and effort.

      Or, just evidence. Good riddance.

    • Cowicide says:

      I do hope in the future you make the choice to be more kind to yourself and others.

      You should seriously consider that advice for yourself. Attacking James Randi and lying about him is a pretty shitty act on your part there partner. Now you can’t handle to consequences of your actions. It’s called self-respondisibly… you should look into it.

  45. GuidoDavid says:

    If you are going to pay several K to somebody claiming to speak with your dead relatives, the fact that Randi spent years and years offering 1 MM to anybody who could prove beyond any doubt that he or she has paranormal abilities certainly is a fact to ponder and it is important.

    You have decided that you do not like the man, on a superficial analysis, you said untrue things about him and when called backed off instead of proving or changing at least those claims. Again I say, it is a shallow view of the world to be distracted by appearances.

    • Eye Open Doors says:

      I see his use of the million dollar challenge as a gimmick for publicity and one used by Houdini, effective in attaining gigs and also getting people to take things seriously.

      What I have said may be untrue to you yet it is true to me. I feel that what he has to teach has impurities that I am unwilling to subject myself to. I do not peddle in proofs, I seek questions.

      • Ugly Canuck says:

        Peddling proofs is no piffling profession!

      • Anonymous says:

        Anyone who truly cares about questions is interested in how they are answered.

      • Anonymous says:

        I do not peddle in proofs, I seek questions.

        Questions are like crossword puzzles. There’s a certain fascination in a blank one which is lost when it is filled in. Even so, someone who refused to try filling them in could hardly be called a fan of crossword puzzles.

        • Eye Open Doors says:

          Anon:

          It depends on the theme of the crossword puzzle. If all the answers are revolve around crap, detritus, waste, etc… Why waste the time?

          Ugly Canuck:

          I love it and agree, it’s just not for me.

  46. CognitiveDissident says:

    Too many people make too much money and maintain too much control, they love “magical thinking” unleashed on the public! And

    sorry had to take a call from Bigfoot, he’s a bit of a scaredy-cat, he parked his UFO at an old castle near the Loch Ness Monster, says he heard spooky noises and saw the Mothman. He recorded some Electronic Voice Phenomena, but he played it back for me, and it’s just him blubbering!
    (I also told him that the St. Elmo’s Fire that he saw is completely natural, but he insisted that he saw a banshee and a leprechaun playing catch with it.)

    (Alright, Bigfoot might be an exception if it’s a rare undiscovered species, but like someone else said, show me the proof.)

  47. ackpht says:

    The universe is not what we believe it to be, the universe is what it is. Our knowledge of it is imperfect, our knowledge of ourselves is imperfect, our knowledge of the mechanisms of human perception, thought, and memory are imperfect.

    But we’re working on it.

    My best explanation for claims of the paranormal is that they are human fears and desires expressed by their imagined control over physical reality.

  48. Eye Open Doors says:

    Why look for answers/proof when you can look for questions?

  49. Anonymous says:

    The flaw in the “skeptic” worldview is that it assumes we have discovered all of the significant principles we need to explain and predict our reality. We haven’t. Reality isn’t a puzzle you can finish like a crossword, and thinking that it is, speaks more to one’s own psychological needs than anything “empirical.” There were skeptics in 1911, too, believing that their base of knowledge was nearly complete. It wasn’t, and that’s a good thing. We know more now; we’ll know yet more in 2111.

    I haven’t read a lot of skeptical literature on the paranormal because one kinda knows what they’re gonna say, right? But I have read many debunkers/skeptics on the JFK assassination and have found their critique to be very poor, very facile. It assumes that all data is correct and present, that all people involved are acting in good faith, and every outcome suggested by the data is equally acceptable. It would be nice if that’s what homo sapiens was like, but my personal view is that we’re quite far from that ideal–which makes “skepticism” part of the problem as often as it is the solution. I cannot recall a “skeptical” viewpoint that did not reinforce the status quo, and until I start seeing skeptics taking that risk (and paying that price), forgive me if I remain skeptical about “skepticism.”

  50. Eye Open Doors says:

    I find it interesting how angry some people get when their world view is challenged. I have had several experiences that can be classified as paranormal, but as an open minded skeptic I know that some of these experiences can possibly be explained by other causes. Without reading this book, I can see the potential of understanding the possible causes of some these experiences.

    I noticed the use of the word woo from one of the more iron clad skeptics in this comments area. I believe it speaks volumes of your position and likely a subscriber of the James Randi camp. I find his brand of perception to be far too confident and reeking of intellectual elitism, but who can blame him when he has books to sell and a reputation to uphold.

    • Cowicide says:

      James Randi camp. I find his brand of perception to be far too confident and reeking of intellectual elitism, but who can blame him when he has books to sell and a reputation to uphold.

      Ah, you were doing so well until you inferred that James Randi has got some kind of intellectually-elitist-book-selling-agenda that requires overconfident branding to attract rigid “iron clad” skeptics to unskeptically buy his books.

      Sigh… you must live in the USA. It seems only here and in other backwards countries that so many folks find “intellectuals” a bad thing.

      James seems to have a far more open mind than you’re able to see for some reason. You do know about his million dollar reward in a desperate search for evidence?

      Homeopathy charlatans (and others) do the squawk dance at Randi, but when push comes to shove they can’t collect on the reward because many don’t even bother to step forward. They squirmed around in unintellectual half-truths and lies to try and wiggle out.

      Then, of course, they claim it is he that is flawed… not them. They are obviously full of shit and are ripping people off. They profit from a placebo effect and nothing more. Taking money from people who have health issues? Scummy. Where is your vitriol for these people, friend?

      James Randi has an open enough mind to want to see evidence. So much so that he’s put down a million dollars in pleading for that evidence. Seriously, what more can a person do to BEG for evidence?

      You should admire him for putting his money towards research (if only someone could provide evidence). Asking for evidence is NOT intellectual elitism. Not providing evidence (and getting pissed about it) but expecting others to believe you is pretty dumb. Sorry, I said it. But it is what it is.

      I find it interesting how angry some people get when their world view is challenged.

      Indeed.

      • Gordon JC Pearce says:

        “Homeopathy charlatans”

        Oi, I’ll have you know I’m a world-leading expert on homeopathy!

        Well, I skimmed the first chapter of a book on it once. Less is more, right?

      • Eye Open Doors says:

        My comments towards James Randi come from my perception of his behavior I see in his films, and admittedly my experience of encounters with a small group of those who adhere to Randi’s thought process.

        I am turned off by his derogatory use of woo-woo, to me it speaks clearly of his stance. When I write intellectual elitists it is meant to create a distinction between intellectuals and those who choose to omit an equal eye view.

        Yes I am American, and I believe it would behoove you to keep from holding onto the generalization that Americans do not value intellectuals. This left you at a disadvantage in this dialogue, because I do value intellectualism.

        Admittedly I do not know the reason why Randi is so cock-sure in representing himself, but you must admit his videos do utilize presuppositions and other sales techniques. Why would this man feel the need to sell his idea when he can choose to share?

        That is the question that has me skeptical of him, besides his polarity of thought appears to me akin to religious dogma. This I cannot bear due to being the antithesis of what I experience as healthy and ethical reality tunnels.

        I realize this can be perceived as radical and unwelcome, but hey freedom of choice. To shift in another direction; I once had this idea for a fantasy story that Randi is a gnome and he is protecting himself by misinforming those hot on the trail of revealing the fairy tale ogre race.His facial structure appears unique to me, and I mean this in good fun.

        • Cowicide says:

          I am turned off by his derogatory use of woo-woo, to me it speaks clearly of his stance.

          If your woo is woo then who are you to woo his use of woo? Prove your woo isn’t woo?

          When I write intellectual elitists it is meant to create a distinction between intellectuals and those who choose to omit an equal eye view.

          Those who choose to omit an equal eye view? Frankly, that sounds like pseudo-intellectual horseshat to me.

          Yes I am American, and I believe it would behoove you to keep from holding onto the generalization that Americans do not value intellectuals. This left you at a disadvantage in this dialogue, because I do value intellectualism.

          I didn’t say all Americans; I said many folks. Oh, and I have evidence for for this. Here’s one of many sources that describe the rise of anti-intellectualism in America. There’s plenty of other sources, but I’ll let you chew on that one for a while. Otherwise, if you need more evidence, be sure and pull up right-wing media and look up the word “intellectuals”. See if you can’t find the term used over and over in derogatory ways? It also comes up a lot from people and organizations that are trying to profit from woo, by the way.

          What better way to hoodwink people into buying their bullshit (literally and figuratively) than to demean people that dare challenge them by asking educated questions? Oh, and how dare them scoff bullshitters who prey on the misinformed…. so arrogant…

          So, anyway… did you notice how I provided evidence to back up what I’ve said?

          Advantage: Cowicide

          Admittedly I do not know the reason why Randi is so cock-sure in representing himself, but you must admit his videos do utilize presuppositions and other sales techniques.

          Actually, I mustn’t admit anything I don’t believe to be true. I’m sure you are using the term “presuppositions” in a derogatory way and I’m not going to enable or encourage you in that direction one bit. The only thing I will say, is that I think Randi is honest and his most vociferous opponents have proven themselves to not be.

          If I step into a pig pen, I will presuppose it’s going to smell of pig shit. Is that a problem?

          Why would this man feel the need to sell his idea when he can choose to share? That is the question that has me skeptical of him

          That’s a lie, he does choose to share. EVIDENCE: Please note on his website the free things he shares. Including, but not limited to, things like: Free JREF classroom modules, free video library, free articles, free teaching tips, free case studies, free educator profiles… oh, and grants are awarded annually to educators of grades K-12.

          You disparage yourself by disparaging him.

          So, here we are… you are skeptical of Randi because you made a snap judgment instead of pursuing evidence to support your opinions. If you had bothered to research Randi beforehand, you’d know that you were stating a lie about him.

          Classic.

          Now tell me, do you work for money or are all your efforts in life free of charge? Because I really could use a free window washer right now.

          …besides his polarity of thought appears to me akin to religious dogma.

          Since when does religious dogma equate to someone who looks at evidence? When’s the last time the Catholic church put out a million dollar reward to prove them wrong about anything?

          This I cannot bear due to being the antithesis of what I experience as healthy and ethical reality tunnels.

          Could you please de-woo your sentence there? You’ve already confirmed to me that you live in the USA (which I determined previously with my psychic abilities), so please speak in English.

          Please steer your tunnel back to reality so we can talk here.

          I once had this idea for a fantasy story that Randi is a gnome and he is protecting himself by misinforming those hot on the trail of revealing the fairy tale ogre race.His facial structure appears unique to me,

          Ok, nevermind. Haha….

  51. gwailo_joe says:

    Seems like an interesting book to me…but like Cowicides’ link above: I already (do not) believe. So it’s kind of preaching to the (unbelieving) choir.

    I know ghosts do not exist. Because I don’t WANT them to. I figured out long ago that spirits of the dead somehow existing on/affecting the reality of our current physical plane would freak me the fuck out. So. . .no ghosts.

    Those people that do want to believe? In the ‘afterlife’ or that Grandma Millicent really is in a better place: those people seem to see things that reinforce their belief. More power to them; if I meet them at parties I will listen to their stories politely no matter how woo. But, for myself, I’m 100% sure it’s nonsense.

    Is that close minded? Show me some honest-to-physical proof and I’ll change my view. Otherwise (alas) Bigfoot and the LNM Do Not Exist.

    Aliens. Yeah, no again. Intelligent life, out there, somewhere looking to the sky and wondering if I exist: sure. A trillion years away, or some unfathomable length of time/distance way ago/hence. . .but here? On planet Earth? Secretly buzzing around scaring people one-at-a-time or helping the Atlantians build the pyramids? No. Just. . .no. It’s silly. Bring me the head of ET, otherwise, it’s simply fantasy.

    But I guess skeptic/realists don’t buy enough books? Anyway, self-publish to success! If I come across the analog version, I’ll check it out.

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