Richard Wiseman has a new book coming out in early March, and I've just pre-ordered it on Amazon. It's called Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there. Here's the publisher's blurb:
For the past twenty years, psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman has immersed himself in the weird world of supernatural science; testing telepaths, spending nights in haunted castles, and attempting to talk with the dead.
In Paranormality he cuts through the hype and goes in search of the truth behind extraordinary stories of poltergeists, possession and second sight. And along the way, he shows us some really rather remarkable things about how our brains work, how it is possible to have an out-of-body experience or lucid dream of our own, and just why we feel the need to believe.
The title echoes Thomas Gilovich's How We Know What Isn't So, and I expect it will be in the same vein of books by psychologists pointing out faulty reasoning in daily life (of which there are now any number). But where Gilovich has little of interest to say about the paranormal - his chapter on it just repeats potted debunkings - Wiseman knows quite a bit about it. In some ways he's the most interesting of the high profile sceptics: personally pleasant and genuinely interested in the subject. Surprisingly he still sometimes to be seen giving presentations to the Society for Psychical Research, and there aren't many sceptics you can say that about.
So in theory we ought to see some interesting insights. My guess is Wiseman will avoid being strident, and won't insist that his explanations rule out 'some small psychic effect', as he suggested in the Jaytee 'psychic dog' affair. However given the direction of his views and activities in this area, I'd be surprised if this was more than a token gesture. The implication readers will be left with will surely be that psychic effects are all in the mind; the paranormal is not to be taken seriously.
In that sense, this will surely differ from his other pop-psychology/self-help books in that its basic premise is strongly contested. Its arguments will be susceptible to public refutation. That's especially the case if he describes his own adventures in Paranormal Land, as he can hardly avoid doing: Jaytee, the sense of being stared at, Victorian seances, Natasha Demkina, etc, all of which were controversial. How far will he go in presenting his findings as the dominant truth? Will he acknowledge other points of view? Will he rehearse his public spat with Rupert Sheldrake, and what spin will he put on it?
Finally, are we going to see lightweight musings or a heavyweight addition to the sceptical literature. An interesting event, whichever way it turns out.