Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “Fringeology” by Steve Volk

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Ghosts! Telepathy! Magic! Is there a reader on Earth who doesn’t love the idea of a scientific inquiry regarding evidence for the paranormal? When it comes to nonfiction, Fringeology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable – And Couldn’t by Steve Volk is in a class of its own. Where do they even put it on the shelf at Barnes and Noble?

Read this book because, firstly, you know you’re curious and secondly, because it might open your mind.

Key Takeaways

  • Scientists can be dogmatic and irrational in their beliefs, just like anyone else. This is a natural human tendency. The debate should not be between paranormal believers and skeptics but rather what evidence is sufficient to support the paranormal. This perspective is referred to as “possibilianism.” It is the position that all truly open-minded people take to the paranormal.
  • Chapter One focuses on near-death experiences and presents evidence to suggest they are real. There are numerous accounts of these experiences with interesting similarities between them, and skeptics have not provided a satisfactory explanation.
  • Chapter Two focuses on telepathy and presents evidence for this paranormal phenomenon. A small effect has been proven when large enough samples are used; however, the effect is not large enough to serve practical purposes. The author als describes the ongoing debate between skeptics represented by CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) and the Parapsychological Association, whose findings are sometimes dismissed without good reason.
  • Chapter Three explores the concept of consciousness outside of the brain. It provides an overview of quantum physics, which suggests that the smallest units of matter have mind of their own. The author tells the story of Dr. Stuart Hameroff, who wrote about consciousness.
  • Chapter Four discusses the possibility of aliens and UFO sightings, including a convincing sighting in Stevensville, Texas. The author points out that UFOs are certainly real, since they are defined simply as “unidentified flying objects,” but that most sightings have Earth-based explanations.
  • Chapter Five focuses on ghosts and the author’s personal experience living in a haunted house. The reality of ghostly phenomena is debated.
  • Chapter Six explores the Overview Effect, a feeling of unity or oneness with all that is experienced by many astronauts who view the earth from space. Edgar Mitchell, who had this experience, is on a quest to understand the source of the unity he felt.
  • Chapter Seven discusses the positive effects of meditation and meditative prayer, as researched by Dr. Andrew Newberg.
  • Chapter Eight focuses on lucid dreaming and the experience of becoming aware one is dreaming while still dreaming. The findings of notable sleep and dream researcher, Dr. Stephen LaBerge, are explored.
  • Chapter Nine explores Induced After-Death Communication (IADC), a therapeutic technique for overcoming trauma, which involves recalling painful memories and moving the eyes from side to side. The story of Al Botkin, who discovered this therapy, is told. Although anecdotal evidence is promising, no large-scale studies have been conducted.
  • Chapters Ten and Eleven present the author’s conclusions. The author discusses the human desire for certainty, though intellectual curiosity is often a wiser perspective to take.

About the Author

Steve Volk is a journalist and author, best known for his book Fringeology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable–And Couldn’t. The book explores the topic of the paranormal and the boundaries of science and skepticism. Volk is a contributing editor at Philadelphia Magazine and has written for a number of other publications.


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