The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Reference Book Analysis LIBR 150 Kamal Lombardi. Bibliographic Entry. The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal . Ed. by Gordon Stein Amherst, N. Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996. . KCLS, Bothell Regional Library.
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Reference Book Analysis
The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal. Ed. by Gordon Stein
Amherst, N. Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996.
KCLS, Bothell Regional Library
Image obtained from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Cartas_Zener.svg
Used due to being under public domain as is explained at this site.
The arrangement is alphabetic. The only indexing is a table of contents.
It is the first scientifically based encyclopedia dealing with the paranormal.
It contains information on the paranormal up to 1996. It contains mini
bibliographies indicating further works on each subject at the end of each
section. It contains 91 entries and 851 pages of double-columned text.
Some information may be out of date. It only contains information on the subjects up to what was available in 1996.
Intended: The purpose was to provide a scientifically researched encyclopedia
to do with paranormal phenomena, the paranormal being defined as “ …
anything that is put forth as an explanation of the natural world using as a
part of that explanation elements that appear to violate what has already been
offered and accepted as a scientific explanation of given phenomena.”
(Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, xxi.)
Additional: Additional uses for the reference item might be to simply look up facts regarding strange/paranormal phenomena and/or the supernatural by looking up topics such as “The Amityville Horror”, “Bigfoot”, or “The Philadelphia Experiment”(all topics in the Encyclopedia of the Paranormal.)
The reference item is only available in book form.
Each entry has a bibliography entry that follows where additional sources are given. There is a foreward by Carl Sagan.
The reference item is edited by Gordon Stein, who has a PH. D. in physiology.
Stein has written prolifically over the years for a variety of different causes. He
Is also the editor of Encyclopedia of Unbelief and Encyclopedia of Hoaxes,
As well as having been the editor of American Rationalist. Additionally, the
Encyclopedia of the Paranormal also had an editorial advisory board made up of
A variety of Ph.D.’s in various related fields. A review of the text by
George P. Hansen at http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/SteinReview.htm
points to whether or not Stein’s position as librarian for the Center of Inquiry
And thus, relationship to the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of
Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) has had an influence on whether or not
The book is proparanormal. In that selfsame review Hansen, who has been
professionally employed by paraspychology laboratories, states, “Stein’s volume
has more similarities to a handbook than to an encyclopedia. Its main competitor,
though narrower in scope, may be Kurtz’s A Skeptic’s Handbook of
Parapsychology (1985). The Encyclopedia under review seems oriented to two
market niches: libraries and CSICOP supporters. Perhaps the book was
undertaken so the publisher would have a product to compete with other
encyclopedias on paranormal topics.”
My personal impression of the reference item is that this is a solid reference
on paranormal phenomena, albeit it might be one written more by skeptics of the
paranormal and the supernatural than adherents. As a handy guide to topics related
to the subject and a way of finding further references on a variety of paranormal areas
It certainly seems to do its job.
Reference Use Examples
Several examples of questions that might be asked that could be looked up are “What is extrasensory perception?”, “How has it been studied?”, “What kind of research has been done into ghosts and haunted houses?”, and “What is astrology and where did it come from?”
A search for ESP on the world wide web elicits the following pages,
Both of these sources start to describe ESP with experiments conducted by J.B.
Rhine in the 1930s, but the entry in the Encyclopedia of the Paranormal starts with
looking at the Society for Psychical Research founded in England in 1882. Along
with Rhine’s “Zener card” experiments it also discusses research done by S. G. Soall
which were an attempt to replicate Rhine’s experiments.