Are ghosts real? Are there truly haunted places, only haunted people, or both? And how can we know? Taking neither a credulous nor a dismissive approach, this first-of-its-kind book solves those perplexing mysteries and more-even answering the question of why we care so very much. From the most ancient times, people have experienced apparent contact with spirits of the dead. Some have awakened to see a ghost at their bedside or encountered a spectral figure gliding through a medieval castle. Others have seemingly communicated with spirits, like the Old Testament's Witch of Endor, the spiritualists whose darkroom séances provoked scientific controversy in the last two centuries, or today's "psychic mediums," like John Edward or Sylvia Browne, who seem to reach the "Other Side" even under the glare of television lights. Currently, equipment-laden ghost hunters stalk their quarry in haunted places-from urban houses to country graveyards-recording "anomalies" they insist cannot be explained. Putting aside purely romantic tales, this book examines the actual evidence for such contact-from eyewitness accounts to mediumistic productions (such as diaphanous forms materializing in dim light), spirit photographs, ghost-detection phenomena, and even CSI-type trace evidence. Offering numerous exciting case studies, this book engages in serious investigation rather than breathless mystifying. Pseudoscience, folk legends, and outright hoaxes are challenged and exposed, while the historical, cultural, and scientific aspects of ghost experiences and haunting reports are carefully explored. The author-the world's only professional paranormal investigator-brings his skills as a stage magician, private detective, folklorist, and forensic science writer to bear on a topic that demands serious study.
Winner of the 2013 Robert Balles Prize for Critical Thinking!
"This is it—the definitive book on ghosts from a scientific perspective, written by the world's foremost science-based ghost hunter. Nickell is the go-to guy for all things paranormal, and with this book he has once again asserted himself as a fair and careful investigator whose conclusions we can trust."
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Believing Brain
"In [this] important new book Joe Nickell-the premier skeptical paranormal investigator alive today-explains his expert techniques while presenting various paranormal cases, looking at the actual evidence for the existence of such spirit beings. This is a book that everyone interested in ghostly evidence for the afterlife-believer and skeptic alike-will benefit from reading."
—D. J. Grothe, president, James Randi Educational Foundation
"[Nickell is] the epitome of [a] skeptical investigator...coming to a subject without prejudgment but with an honest desire to find the truth...."
—Kendrick Frazier, editor, Skeptical Inquirer
"[The Science of Ghosts] will find a home in science and new age collections alike, and considers the actual evidence surrounding psychic contacts with 'the other side… a balanced assessment of the evidence for ghosts and hauntings."
"Filled with case studies, this book will interest other fans of ghostly affairs academia."
—Bookviews by Alan Caruba
"This is a well thought out, intelligently written book."
—City Book Review