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Old 18th February 2017, 02:43 PM   #1
BillSkeptic
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Exclamation What good skeptical books are there on ghosts?

I am looking for skeptical books on ghosts or hauntings. It shocks me that there have been so few skeptical books on ghosts, compared to the thousands written endorsing the existence of ghosts.

I am not looking for skeptical stuff on paranormal phenomena or spiritualism, just ghosts specifically.

These are the only books I have managed to find so far:

Addington Bruce. (1908). Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters.
Daniel Cohen. (1972). In Search of Ghosts.
Ronald C. Finucane. (1996). Ghosts: Appearances of the Dead and Cultural Transformation.
Joe Nickell. (2012). The Science of Ghosts: Searching for Spirits of the Dead.

Addington Bruce's book was a very useful work which gave rational explanations for well known alleged haunting cases such as the Drummer of Tedworth.

Cohen's book is skeptical but it was written for teenagers so it was not really that in depth and Finucane's scholary study was not really a debunking work, it was more from a cultural perspective.

Joe Nickell's book was a bit disappointing, it contained far less case studies than I was hoping for. Much of his book just seems to be regurgitated from his pieces in the Skeptical Inquirer.

All in all, it is a bit disappointing, there are hardly any skeptical books that debunk the topic of ghosts. If anyone knows of any, please post them here. I am hoping to collect a full list.
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Old 18th February 2017, 04:52 PM   #2
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/1108044352...ing=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 18th February 2017, 05:50 PM   #3
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Carolyn Dougherty posts here sometimes, and her book is wonderful:

http://carolynscreepycorner.blogspot...eepy-book.html

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Old 20th February 2017, 11:19 AM   #4
Mackenberg
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Originally Posted by BillSkeptic View Post

All in all, it is a bit disappointing, there are hardly any skeptical books that debunk the topic of ghosts. If anyone knows of any, please post them here. I am hoping to collect a full list.
Last year I inherited some of my Dad's library of late 19th/early 20th century books on stage magic and "anti-spiritualism", which was the practice of debunking spiritualist seances and, therefore, the apparition of ghosts at the behest of a "spirit medium".

The relevant titles are:

"The Spoor of Spooks and Other Nonsense" by Bergen Evans
"Spirits in the House" by T.H. Chislett
"Behind the Scenes with the Mediums" by "Andredes"
"Spiritualism: the Inside Truth" by Stuart Cumberland
"Confessions of a Medium" by Anon.
"The Spirit World Unmasked" by Henry Ridgely Evans

There's also "Ghost Stories: Collected with a Particular View to Counteract the Vulgar Belief in Ghosts and Apparitions", an early-19th century collection of tales in which the apparently supernatural is consistently revealed to be the product of delusion or deception: we have an excerpt at http://theghostracket.com/2016/05/08...aritions-1823/.
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Old 22nd February 2017, 07:38 AM   #5
BillSkeptic
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Thanks for the list of books on spiritualism, they are interesting works but are not related to debunking alleged ghost or haunting cases.

Spiritualism does not have anything to do with ghost sightings. In reports of ghosts there is no "medium", and one does not need any 'psychic' power to see one. The ectoplasm 'materializations' of mediumship have nothing in common with the study of ghosts.

It is interesting that some famous ghost hunters such as Elliott O'Donnell or Andrew Green rejected spiritualism. I am basically looking for books that debunk old hauntings or ghost cases but very little have ever been published.
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Old 22nd February 2017, 10:08 AM   #6
Mackenberg
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Originally Posted by BillSkeptic View Post
Thanks for the list of books on spiritualism, they are interesting works but are not related to debunking alleged ghost or haunting cases.

Spiritualism does not have anything to do with ghost sightings. In reports of ghosts there is no "medium", and one does not need any 'psychic' power to see one. The ectoplasm 'materializations' of mediumship have nothing in common with the study of ghosts.
There's a significant difference in social and experiential context, but if spiritualists were not dedicated to summoning ghosts, then what were they trying to do?

Either way, the last book I referenced - "Ghost Stories: Collected with a Particular View to Counteract the Vulgar Belief in Ghosts and Apparitions" - is entirely and specifically dedicated to debunking hauntings and "ghost cases". You should also read Jacob Middleton's "Spirits of an Industrial Age: Ghost Impersonations, Spring Heeled Jack and Victorian Society" and may find the following items of interest:

http://theghostracket.com/2016/12/02...ookology-1891/
http://theghostracket.com/2016/08/01...a-spirit-1880/
http://theghostracket.com/2016/04/21...tury-victoria/
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Old 25th February 2017, 10:11 AM   #7
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I'd recommend Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. It's a fun read that explores the history of ghost and spirit detection.
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Old 25th February 2017, 12:25 PM   #8
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The problem is that there's a far smaller market for such things, tbh. It's the same with all manner of the supernatural, cryptozoology and the like. They do exist, and people do buy them, but compared to the many many books on the subject that don't cast much of a sceptical view, they're a lot fewer and farther between.
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