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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Steve Volk's Fringe-ology

As mentioned previously, I finally finished reading Steve Volk's Fringe-ology. Volk is a journalist with the Philadelphia Magazine covering 'normal' news stories; such as crime, politics, and other assorted city stuff. Having experienced an unusual event in childhood (possibly a ghost or perhaps just a water pipe), Volk set out to research just what there might be behind paranormal events. UFOs, Ghosts, Psychic abilities, and even Lucid Dreaming all show up in this highly engaging book. Volk, who at all times tries to be open minded about the subjects, dives into these topics with some of the leading minds in the arenas.

Taking the reader along the journey with him, Volk brings up a major point that we certainly don't hear nearly as much as we should from either the True Believers or the Pseudo-Skeptics. Namely that at the end of the day we just don't know, and maybe that's OK. The book does an excellent job of introducing the subjects to those who may not be all that familiar with them. And I'll be honest with you, I actually learned a thing or two myself.

Launching from the 'I don't know' point, Volk asks the reader to realize that maybe we should be able to meet somewhere in the middle on these topics. For example, in the Remote Viewing section he talks to those that are studying the phenomenon and discovers that there is, statistically speaking, something to the phenomenon. But because it suffers from the “Paranormal Taint” (a term that Volk uses to describe mainstream sciences rejection of fringe topics simply on the basis that they are fringe) scientists aren't interested in exploring just what it could mean.

As a testament to his attempt to be an open minded journalist, Volk freely admits that he stayed away from the topic of Alien Abductions because of his own preconception that those who are experiencing the phenomena are simply making it up. While I would disagree with such a blanket statement, I respect that he is able to recognize that bias and wisely chooses not to say anything at all. And really for me that seems to be the best take away from the book. If these kinds of phenomena are occurring, by their very definition we would be unable to really currently understand them. But guess what? That's OK. Because we really don't know everything yet. And so Fringe-ology is designed to let the reader in on that little secret. Whether you are a True Believer or you are a Super Skeptic, guess what? You don't know what's going on behind some of this stuff.

So do yourself a favor and pick up this book. And while you read, even if just for a moment or two, try to let your biases go and just absorb the information for what it is. After all, you just may learn something new. In addition to the book, Steve Volk runs a blog where he talks about anything and everything. You can find that here. Also if you want to hear some interviews with him, Volk was on Open MindsRadio and Mysterious Universe a few weeks back. OK Forteans, that's all I have for tonight. I have to go finish the rest of the books on my (seemingly never-ending) reading list.

And once more here is the trailer for the book. Learn about the book from the author himself.


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