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Fringe-ology : how I tried to explain away the unexplainable--and couldn't
Volk, Steve
Adult Nonfiction BF1031 .V65 2011

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Summary: More than seventy percentof Americans believe in paranormal activity. Buteven with a family-ghost story lurking in his ownbackground, seasoned journalist Steve Volk hasbeen like most of those millions of Americans--reticent to talk about his experience in politecompany. If so many of us have similar stories totell, why are we so reluctant to take them seriously? Paranormal claims don't traditionally sit well withreporters, but Volk decided to focus his gimlet-eyedtenacity on a new beat: the world of psychics, UFOs,and things that go bump in the night. It's a rollickingride as Volk introduces us to all sorts of fringe-dwellers,many of them reluctant to admit to their paranormalexperiences: a NASA astronaut-turned-mystic, aworld-famous psychologist who taught us about dyingand then decided death may not exist at all, andbrave scientists attempting to verify what mysticshave been reporting for millennia. Volk investigateswhat happens in the brains of people undergoingreligious experiences, learns how to control his owndreams, and goes hunting for specters in hisfamily's old haunted house. From his journey into the bizarre, Volk returns witha compelling argument that we need to allow for amiddle space, a place where paranormal phenomenacan be weird and compelling; raise crucial questions;and, quite possibly, remain unexplainable. He rejectsthe polarized options the twenty-first century seemsto offer us: to passionately embrace or hotly reject,to revere only science or only spirituality. And heunderscores, again and again, that by raising ourmost existential questions--why are we here, are wealone in the universe, and what happens when wedie?--paranormal stories are in fact a crucial pointof connection. It turns out that these "fringe"experiences strike at the core of what it means tobe human.


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