133.1 SEL Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps

The first three decades of philosophy are each two or three shelves. Then we get to the 130s, the paranormal. This is extends across three bookcases. Clearly a very different set of priorities among the book-borrowing public here.

As a child, I loved this section of the library and I devoured books on ESP and palm reading and ghosts and anything else I found in this section. Now I find myself viewing all of this with a great deal of skepticism, perhaps because I was never able to learn anything useful from my palm or read anyone’s mind or move boxes with my thoughts or encounter dead people in the dark corners of the cemetery. 

Selzer approaches the subject with similar skepticism albeit one tempered with a bit more openness to the supernatural than others. In one case his science is laughably wrong where he speculates that an invisible presence might be invisible because it’s composed of light outside the range visible to the human eye, ignoring the fact that nothing is composed of light to begin with, and an object which only reflected, say, UV light, would appear black to the human eye, not invisible.

But having raised these objections, Selzer writes engagingly in this book which is a combination of memoir and stories about alleged hauntings in the Chicago area. He’s quick to point out the obvious things which can be explained while also (perhaps too enthusiastically) pointing out those things he could not explain.

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