Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Richard Wiseman's book Paranormality considered too sceptical for the US market

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

Psychologist Richard Wiseman has self-published his excellent book Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There in the United States after failing to find a publisher. It's an odd situation, considering that Paranormality has been a success in the UK and elsewhere. Wiseman explains on his blog:
"The book has done well in the UK and has been bought by publishers in lots of other countries. However, the major American publishers were reluctant to support a skeptical book, with some suggesting that I re-write it to suggest that ghosts were real and psychic powers actually existed! We didn’t get any serious offers and so it looked like the American public (around 75% of whom believe in the paranormal) wouldn’t get the opportunity to read about skepticism."
Wiseman's solution is to release the book in the US himself, retitled as Paranormality: Why We Believe the Impossible. American readers can support the release (and get a great book on why people believe in implausible things – see his March cover story on ghosts for New Humanist) by buying either the hard copy or Kindle edition through Amazon.

It's quite a bizarre story, really (particularly the fact that Wiseman was asked to re-write bits to say the opposite of what he thinks). It's well-known that both religiosity and belief in the paranormal are greater in the US than Europe, yet at the same time all the big "New Atheist" books have been published and become big hits over there. Are ghosts and psychics really a bridge too far for American publishers? PZ Myers has a characteristically uncompromising take, saying Americans are being "insulted" by their publishers.

What do you think?
blog comments powered by Disqus