Baharna Books:

Science, Philosophy, and the Occult

 
Philosophy of Science

davies.gif (6825 bytes)Paul Davies, The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World.
Paperback / Published 1993. Australian physicist Paul Davies examines the grey area between physics and metaphysics, addressing questions such as whether the universe had to have a beginning, the nature of physical law, the anthropic principle, and our place in the Universe. Davies has written many popular science books, but this clearly and engagingly written work is one of his most interesting.
John Losee, A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science
Paperback / Published 1993. Well-written introduction to the development of the scientific method over the centuries, clearing showing the ideas contributed by thinkers such as Aristotle, Pythagoras, Roger and Francis Bacon, Gallileo, Isaac Newton, Karl Popper, and Thomas Kuhn. The book shows that scientist's statements about science can differ from their actual working methods, and explores whether a nonprescriptive philosophy of science is possible.
gribbin.gif (7641 bytes)John Gribbin, Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality: Solving the Quantum Mysteries. The paradoxical discoveries of 20th Century quantum physics have posed an unprecendented conundrum for scientists and laymen alike, forcing us to rethink basic concepts about reality. Since the "Copenhagen Interpretation" of Nils Bohr and his friends was codified into dogma several decades ago, it has been supposed that quantum physics proves apparently nonsensical notions such as that something can be both a wave and a particle, that subatomic events have no predictable outcome, and that only human observation ever causes anything to become "real." This fascinating book by physicist John Gribbins, the best we have seen on this subject, shows clearly what is fact and what is philosophy, describing both the Copenhagen interpretation and a host of alternatives, including the "transactional interpretation": a new conceptualization that removes all paradoxes from quantum physics, provided you are willing to accept the existence of faster-than-light, backwards-in-time causation!
Paperback / Published 1996.
capra.gif (5082 bytes)Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Understanding of Living Systems. Bestselling author Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics) explores the nature of life itself through the new ideas of complexity and systems theory, feedback loops, dissappative structures, and autopoiesis (self-building). An entertaining and clearly written survey that conveys a good deal of intellectual excitement.
Paperback / Published 1997.

 
The Occult: Books by Believers

mishlove.gif (11392 bytes)Jeffrey Misholove, The Roots of Consciousness: The Classic Encyclopedia of Consciousness Studies Revised and Expanded. Revised edition of Jeffrey Mishlove's pathbreaking compendium of learning in the field of parapsychology. "The book in its current edition brings the reader new insights, reflecting the enormous changes the field has undergone in the past two decades as leading theorists have explored phenomena which point to a reality having not three or four but many dimensions. In this new edition Mishlove gives skeptics room to voice their most sophisticated criticism of parapsychology research and allows researchers their most articulate responses." Well illustrated and well documented, with a host of references for further information.
Paperback / Published 1997.
 
Lewis Spence, Encyclopedia of the Occult. A compendium of information on the occult sciences, occult personalities, psychic science, magic, spiritism, and mysticism. "The science of Anthropology has of late years done much to elucidate questions regarding the origins of magic . . . I have not, however, permitted scientific considerations to blind me to the marvellous and romantic character of the material in which I have laboured." —The Author.
Paperback / Published 1993.
 

 
The Occult: Books by Skeptics

sagan.gif (10114 bytes)Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. The celebrated astronomer, exobiologist, and author of Cosmos presents a lucid examination of beliefs such as witchcraft, faith healings, channeling, demons, and UFOs; arguing (in the words of the publishers) that "the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms."
Paperback / Published 1997.
randi.gif (11799 bytes)James Randi, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. Professional stage magician Randi has become perhaps the world's most famous skeptic by repeatedly demonstrating how many psychic feats can easily be duplicated through sleight of hand. This book presents an A-Z of supposedly paranormal phenomena and personalities, along with his descriptions and summaries of his skeptical stance toward each.
Paperback / Published 1997.
Andrew Neher, Paranormal and Transcendental Experience: A Psychological Examination. Broad-ranging study of meditation, hypnosis, contagious behavior, out-of-body experiences, mediums, psychokinesis, prophecy, apparitions, psychic healing, astrology, UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, and much more. Generally skeptical, but even-handed enough to have been included even in courses of parapsychology taught by believers.
Paperback / Published 1990.
 
 
Nicholas Humphrey, Leaps of Faith: Science, Miracles, and the Search for Supernatural Consolation. Argues that religious and supernatural beliefs are an attempt to create a reassuring view of the world, and presents a methodology for criticism of paranormal research, asserting that we are not obliged to explain every result, but should apply instead the principle of Unwarranted Design. A fascinating and thought-provoking book; out of stock as of this writing, but keep checking back in case it is reprinted.
Hardcover / Published 1996.
vyse.gif (5737 bytes)Stuart A. Vyse, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. Why is superstitious behavior so prevelant? How is this behavior established and maintained? Is there a superstitious personality? How do otherwise rational people come to put their faith in such ephemera? Vyse examines current behavioral research to demonstrate how complex and paradoxical human behavior can be understood through scientific investigation.
Hardcover / Published 1997.
Carol G. Zaleski, Otherworld Journeys: Accounts of Near-Death Experience in Medieval and Modern Times. Unique study of near-death experiences in their cultural context, showing how they have tended to confirm prevalent belief systems in medieval times and how modern instances may be shaped by expectations and biases of researchers.
Paperback / Published 1998.


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