10 March 2014


Susy Smith. World of the Strange. Pyramid Books, 1963.

 In and of itself there is nothing special about this popular introduction to the paranormal, covering, as its cover blurb says - ghosts, witchcraft, ESP, hypnotism, magic, astrology, mediums, not to say predictions and poltergeists, which I bought at a newsagents and sweetshop in Urmston in the week between Christmas and New Year 1963.
However it was my introduction to psychical research, and not being an especially critical twelve-year old, I suppose that I took a fair amount of it in. It was to be my introduction to stories such as Lurancy Vennum and her alleged possession by the spirit of her deceased neighbour Mary Roff, or Mrs Forbes and her vampire, Arnold Paul the vampire, as well as the Phelps family and their tableau making poltergeist.

From this small beginning my interest in the paranormal developed alongside that of my interest in UFOs, one that led me joining the SPR as a student associated in about 1971 (I left, along with many other people, after 1982). For many years I found the material fascinating and deeply puzzling, as can be seen from some of my earlier articles and reviews in MUFOB.
My views became more sceptical after reading the dialogues in the old Zetetic Scholar, where I felt that the sceptics actually produced the better arguments. I also began to find that looking for non-paranormal explanations of anomalies was more intellectually challenging than taking such stories at face value. Looking back today at this little book, I realised how much of it was just blind repetition from other peoples’ books and magazine articles, with no attempt to critically investigate the sources used (see for example my new comment in the Phantom Ship Article from an early MUFOB) -- Peter Rogerson.

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