Ref: Saluja G, Pandya P. Bizarre Beliefs by Simon Hoggart and Mike Hutchinson, Prometheus Books, 1995 (Book Review). Anil Aggrawal's Internet Journal of Book Reviews [serial on the Internet]. 2013; Vol. 12, No. 2 (July - December 2013): [about 3 p]. Available from: ; Published July 1, 2013. (Accessed:
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...The authors have tried to adjudicate the mysteries, which boggle our mind. They postulate that every mystery or paranormal incident has rational reason behind it and so they seem to rule out the possibility of clairvoyance, astrological predictions, ghosts, UFO's and all the others. Every topic is associated with several proofs, reasonable queries and statistical data as well. But the explanations narrated in the book are not always convincing.....
Bizarre Beliefs, 1st edition, by Simon Hoggart and Mike Hutchinson, Color Photos, Fully Illustrated, Index, Paperback, 7.5” x 9.5”.
Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, New York 14228-2197, USA. Phone: (716) 691-0133 or Toll Free: (800) 421-0351 Fax: (716) 691-0137. Publication Date: 1995, 224 pages, Category: Science & The Paranormal, ISBN: 1-57392-156-4. Price $29.00
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Who doesn't like a good mystery! Especially if it is a dark night with a heavy snowfall going on outside, a warm bed in front of a fireplace, and a book full of good mysteries with lots of illustrations in it in your hands!
Well, if you looking for such a book you got one.
The book under review is based on the explanations related to the paranormal happenings and other mysteries, which seem to be all around us. These mysteries are put into four categories—
The Outer Limits
Foretelling the Past
Matter Over Mind
Things that go bump
The division of the chapters under these headings appears appropriate. The introduction itself conveys the purpose of the book.
The authors have tried to adjudicate the mysteries, which boggle our mind. They postulate that every mystery or paranormal incident has rational reason behind it and so they seem to rule out the possibility of clairvoyance, astrological predictions, ghosts, UFO's and all the others. Every topic is associated with several proofs, reasonable queries and statistical data as well. But the explanations narrated in the book are not always convincing. They sometimes leave a suspicion, a doubt in the mind of the readers, for example,
In case of flying saucers, most of the UFO stories have been explained away by a brightly lit star, a crashing meteor or a secret mission. The use of words such as—As for the two objects seen on the St. Louis radar, the most likely answer is that………(page 23) was probably Sirius, the brightest star in the sky (page 29) gives an impression of no assurity or authority on the part of investigators.
While rationalizing the case of Bermuda Triangle the authors don't bother to tell about the details of discovery of any wreckage or bodies of the pilots of US Navy Avenger torpedo bombers and those on board a Martiner flying boat.
The mystery of crop circles leaves several questions unanswered. The best and most intricate designs (such as page 52 and 59) have no witnesses. How such marvels could be produced so accurately at night and only at night? Why such skilled and talented workers would conceal their identities for years?
The authors may be true about vague predictions of astrologers but they haven't discussed a single case where astrological predictions have proved to be true.
The study of ghosts and haunted places is very limited as far as this book is concerned. There are, I think, innumerable cases in every part of this earth which are unbelievable and inexplicable at the same time. Just by saying that people are psychic or hallucinations are cause for such visions doesn't solve this mystery.
Such uncertainties puzzle the minds of the readers and leave them in a dilemma. However, some cases like Psi, Fire walking, Dowsing, etc., have got a proper treatment and expose more satisfying results.
The work appears more to be satirical rather than authoritative. The authors have made a mockery of the ‘believers' of mysterious phenomena by switching over to funny language, for instance,
“Observations of the night sky led to the creation of a great body of ‘science,' the codified gibberish which modern astrology grinds out all the time. ” (page 129)
On the other hand, they are loth to include the recently discovered planets, and ignore quasars, black holes and so on. (page 119)
The use of abusive words —“Some perfectly intelligent people are taken in by the nonsense and Triangle fans.” (page 46)
The use of this language may fail to change the belief and attitude of the people. The authors should have opted for more decent scientific language to make their data and ideas appear impressive. At the same time the authors have criticized some of the leading newspapers as well as TV shows for promoting such absurd ideas.
The observer implies that there is now so much evidence for telepathy that nobody can seriously doubt its existence. (Page 9)
It is strange that why the paranormal cases of palmistry and rebirth have been left out by the authors.
The book, however has presented some beautiful colored/black & white photographs accompanying its illustrations. It consists of 224 glazed pages with a price tag of $18.95 (soft cover)
The mysteries are ceaseless. The authors have rightly said that there are millions of unexplained mysteries which they could not cover in this book. It is up to the readers to decide what they choose—a rational alternative or a faith in the paranormal. Personally, I feel the world extends far beyond what human eyes can see and ears could hear. The scientists have not been able to explore the mystery regarding working of human brain. So, at times we have to believe in the so called ‘unbelievable' and ‘unexplainable' just as we believe in GOD.
Read it but on your own risk. It's a book written by those who have absolutely No authority whatsoever on the subject.
-Geeta Saluja and Prateek Pandya
Dr. Geeta Saluja is a Wildlife Major, with a Ph.D. degree in wildlife from India. She has a strong liking for biology and chemistry, particularly biological and chemical terrorism. Her other areas of interest are environment awareness, astronomy and crime detection.
Prateek Pandya is a research scholar in the Department of Chemistry at Dayalbagh Educational Institute (D.E.I), Agra, UP, India. He can be contacted by clicking here.
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