The best books on critically analyzing paranormal and other extraordinary claims

Why am I passionate about this?

As a licensed mental health professional, I once had a client claiming to be demonically possessed, and requested that I get an exorcist to drive the evil spirits out of her body. Instead, I utilized a therapeutic approach to challenge “irrational” beliefs. The problem was gone. I realized that people were prone to strange beliefs and started to read and listen to “experts” who were skeptical in nature. To my surprise, I saw Carl Sagan distinguishing astrology (pseudoscience) from astronomy (science). His talk was clear, convincing, and logical. I was hooked.


I edited...

Book cover of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims

What is my book about?

Pseudoscience and Deception is a compilation of some of the most eye-opening skeptical articles pertaining to extraordinary claims and pseudoscience. The articles explore paranormal, extraordinary, or fringe-science claims and reveal logical explanations or outline the deceptive tactics involved in convincing the vulnerable. Topics include claims of astrology, psychic ability, alternative medicine, after-death communication, psychotherapy, and pseudoscience. The contributors to this book are among the most accomplished critical thinkers, scientists, and educators in the world and tackle their respective topics from a rational, logical, and skeptical perspective. Most students are seldom excited to study “critical thinking”—with the exception of allegedly paranormal phenomena as the subject matter. Educators must seize this golden opportunity to witness and experience students’ genuine engagement in studying critical thinking. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

Bryan Farha Why did I love this book?

It’s not often a world-famous scientist does a great job explaining the scientific method to the general population. Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan teach how to think critically about extraordinary claims. In other words, what’s valid and what’s not. What’s sound logic versus flawed thinking. As Carl famously stated, “…Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

By Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Demon-Haunted World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A prescient warning of a future we now inhabit, where fake news stories and Internet conspiracy theories play to a disaffected American populace

“A glorious book . . . A spirited defense of science . . . From the first page to the last, this book is a manifesto for clear thought.”—Los Angeles Times

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don’t understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the…


Book cover of Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

Bryan Farha Why did I love this book?

Michael Shermer systematically addresses why humans believe weird and extraordinary things. He even makes a case that we are hard-wired for it. Further—and this should make most of us feel better about our strange thinking—he shows how even highly intelligent people sometimes believe in pseudoscience and other extraordinary claims. 

By Michael Shermer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Why People Believe Weird Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work presents a down-to-earth and sometimes funny survey of a range of contemporary irrationalisms, and explains their empirical and logical flaws. It tackles a variety of topics including creationism, Holocaust denial, race and IQ, cults and alien abductions, and the author looks at the research behind the claims and discredits the pseudoscience involved.


Book cover of Paranormality: Why We See What Isn’t There

Bryan Farha Why did I love this book?

Richard shows how people are emotionally attracted to thinking about the supernatural world and how they are hoping that it’s true. There are activities in the book that promote learning and understanding regarding how we fool ourselves and allow ourselves to be fooled. He even shows the reader how to convince others how he/she has paranormal abilities. 

By Richard Wiseman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paranormality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Professor Richard Wiseman is clear about one thing: paranormal phenomena don't exist. But in the same way that the science of space travel transforms our everyday lives, so research into telepathy, fortune-telling and out-of-body experiences produces remarkable insights into our brains, behaviour and beliefs. Paranormality embarks on a wild ghost chase into this new science of the supernatural and is packed with activities that allow you to experience the impossible. So throw away your crystals, ditch your lucky charms and cancel your subscription to Reincarnation Weekly. It is time to discover the real secrets of the paranormal. Learn how to…


Book cover of Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind

Bryan Farha Why did I love this book?

David Buss combines the fields and research provided by both psychology and biology to examine human behavior from an evolutionary vantage point. And he makes a compelling case. Critical thinking questions and case studies are included in the book. He explains human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, based on what is “adaptive.”

By David Buss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Evolutionary Psychology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Where did we come from?

What is our connection with other life forms?

What are the mechanisms of mind that define what it means to be a human being?

Evolutionary psychology is a revolutionary new science, a true synthesis of modern principles of psychology and evolutionary biology. Since the publication of the award-winning first edition of Evolutionary Psychology, there has been an explosion of research within the field. In this book, David M. Buss examines human behavior from an evolutionary perspective, providing students with the conceptual tools needed to study evolutionary psychology and apply them to empirical research on the…


Book cover of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims

Bryan Farha Why did I love this book?

Instead of “writing” this book on each subject myself, chapters are written by the most noted experts in the field of the subject matter. Some of the topics include claims of astrology, psychic ability, alternative medicine, after-death communication, psychotherapy, and pseudoscience. Mostly, I’ve never seen people so excited to study critical thinking as when the subject matter involves the paranormal. 

By Bryan Farha,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pseudoscience and Deception as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pseudoscience and Deception is a compilation of some of the most eye-opening skeptical articles pertaining to extraordinary claims and pseudoscience. The articles explore paranormal, extraordinary, or fringe-science claims and reveal logical explanations or outline the deceptive tactics involved in convincing the vulnerable. Topics include claims of astrology, psychic ability, alternative medicine, after-death communication, psychotherapy, and pseudoscience. The contributors to this book are among the most accomplished critical thinkers, scientists, and educators in the world and tackle their respective topics from a rational, logical, and skeptical perspective. Most students are seldom excited to study "critical thinking"-with the exception of allegedly paranormal…


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Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the paranormal, pseudoscience, and deception?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the paranormal, pseudoscience, and deception.

The Paranormal Explore 225 books about the paranormal
Pseudoscience Explore 17 books about pseudoscience
Deception Explore 33 books about deception