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The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits.

Many of the omissions in the Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experiences are taken care of in another reference book compiled by Guiley, the Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, where there are many entries about researchers and about mediums and psychics. As indicated in its title, this encyclopedia focuses on phenomena such as apparitions and hauntings, and occult and folkloric ideas and practices related to the topics mentioned in the preceding review, as well as to death and the afterlife.

The encyclopedia's coverage is particularly strong on well-known cases, as seen in entries such as Ballechin House, Borley Rectory, Calvados Castle, Chaffin Will Case, Cheltenham Haunting, Cock Lane Ghost, Ear of Dyonisius, Epworth Rectory, Miami Poltergeist, Palm Sunday Case, R-101 Case, and Wilmot Apparition.

The entries in this encyclopedia are generally longer than those in the previous one. Nonetheless, some seem too short. Examples of this are the entries about ESP, NDEs (near-death experiences), and the one about doubles. The latter is an important conceptual tradition intimately related to the topic of ghosts and spirits that figures so prominently in this encyclopedia. As such, the doubles topic should have received a more detailed treatment. In addition, there are some important omissions of information. The entries on ESP, PK, NDEs, and OBEs lack basic information about what we have learned about these experiences throughout years of research. Two other omissions are the lack of information about the defenses of Harry Price's studies of Borley Rectory and the evidence of fraud in Arthur Ford's mediumship.(2) Such lacunae reduce the educational value of the book.

However, the encyclopedia has a wealth of information, the usefulness of which is not lost because of the criticisms just mentioned. In my opinion its biographies of old researchers and mediums, and particularly its many entries about cases of haunting, apparitions, and other phenomena, show this to be true.

2 R. J., Hastings (1969), "An Examination of the 'Borley Report'," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 55, 65-175; A. Spraggett, with W. F. Rausher (1973), Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead, New York: New American Library.
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Author:Alvarado, Carlos S.
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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