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Entirely too credulous
on January 6, 2000
It was intially refreshing to see that this author paid some heed to the findings of skepticism, but as I became more familiar with the volume, I found numerous cases where she had failed to make simple cross-checks of non-parapsychological historic resources that would undermine the tales her main sources told. (The Alcatraz article, for example, contains numerous erroneous claims about the Rock.)
Her research into the claims of various spiritualists is often incomplete: she claims, for example, that D.D. Home was never found to be cheating even though contemporary stage magicians often reproduced his effects. She also says that Home levitated in the presence of eyewitnesses, neglecting to mention that these witnesses were blindfolded or sitting in darkened rooms.
I do find Guiley useful for her recounting of various other ghost legends (the section on the Bell Witch, for example, contains three complete legends about the haunting). But it falls short of a great reference work. Any good reference on ghosts and spirits needs more biographical information about those who have debunked spirits, more counter-checking of facts, and more willingness to disappoint the ghost groupies. Despite her efforts to appear more balanced, it is obvious that Guiley writes for the money and doesn't dare to challenge what has become, in publishing, a major source of revenue.