25 July 2011



Lee Prosser. UFOs in Missouri: True Tales of Extraterrestrials and Related Phenomena. Schiffer Books, 2011.

Malcolm Robinson. Paranormal Case Files of Great Britain, Volume One. Healings of Atlantis. 2011

Janet Bord. The 100 Greatest Photographs of the Paranormal from the Fortean Picture Library. Jazz Publishing/Paranormal Magazine, 2010. 
Actual unidentified flying objects in Missouri really only take up a few pages of this book, and generally are disposed of in a couple of lines. Most of it is padding about the author's own personal experiences and theories, interviews with various people who have had unusual experiences or have ideas on the same.

Much of this is the same old ufological fringe folklore - you know, the grays, the reptilians, the secret bases, the portals etc., along with some local ghost stories. Mr Prosser lays claim to a number of strange experiences, such as meeting a pretty extraterrestrial woman in a shop. This and "how to contact the space people through telepathy" are reminiscent of the contactee movements of the 1950s, and we have been hearing that the great revelation is round the corner for just as long.
That ufological craziness knows no bounds is exemplified by the guy who rings Prosser up with some wild tale about how Adolf Hitler was killed in 1944 - then changes his mind to 1935 - and replaced by a succession of aliens.

Strange Phenomena Investigations' Malcolm Robinson here presents his investigations into hauntings and the like. As is usual in these accounts, some of the stories related are very puzzling if they occurred as recounted here. Others are suggestive of sleep paralysis, hypnogogic hallucinations, and one case, a woman with titanus who heard 'beautiful music' may be an example of aural Charles Bonnet Syndrome. In a significant minority of the cases however, the reports are strongly suggestive of the presence of more serious neurological and/or psychological disorders.

The problem with Robinson's methods of investigation, and why there are those in the SPR who would probably use this book as a manual of how not to conduct investigations, is that he is not so much an opened minded psychical researcher as a true believing spiritualist, who always conducts his investigations with 'psychics' and 'mediums' in tow. These people invariably spout on about the various spirits in the house etc, and more mundane alternative explanations are often sidelined.

Photographs, some classic, some not reproduced before, including those of ghosts, materialisations, religious figures, monsters, UFOs and the like. I have to say that none of them strike me as very convincing, though different categories will presumably have different explanations. Many of the ghost photographs are likely to be explainable in terms of double exposure, the subject moving during the exposure and people accidentally intruding into the scene. Though those taking the photographs often swear out that they didn't see anyone entering the shot, numerous studies have been conducted on 'change blindness' which suggest that people concentrating on one part of the scene ignore changes and intrusions in other areas.

With the photographs of Nessie, Bigfoot, UFOs showing structured objects, and seance room materialisations, fakery is by far the most plausible explanation. The book is padded out with snippets from Paranormal Magazine and readers letters. The latter contain some very unusual anomalous experiences, but as always in such cases there has to be a suspicion that stories are 'sexed up' rather to make a good publishable tale. -- Reviews by Peter Rogerson.

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