Paranormal and supernatural events have been reported for millennia. They have fostered history’s most important cultural transformations (e.g., via the miracles of Moses, Jesus, Mohammed). Paranormal phenomena are frequently portrayed in the world’s greatest art and literature, as well as in popular TV shows and movies. Most adults in the U.S. believe in them. Yet they have a marginal place in modern culture. No university departments are devoted to studying psychic phenomena. In fact, a panoply of scientists now aggressively denounces them.
These facts present a deeply puzzling situation. But they become coherent after pondering the trickster figure, an archaic being found worldwide in mythology and folklore. The trickster governs paradox and the irrational, but his messages are concealed. This book draws upon theories of the trickster from anthropology, folklore, sociology, semiotics, and literary criticism. It examines psychic phenomena and UFOs and explains why they are so problematical for science.
George P. Hansen was employed in parapsychology laboratories for eight years—three at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and five at Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. His research included remote viewing, psychokinesis on electronic random number generators, séance phenomena, and ghosts. His papers in professional journals also cover mathematical statistics, deception, skepticism, conjurors in parapsychology, and methodological criticisms. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.