Friday, October 20, 2017

31 Days of Halloween -Day 20

Fiends, Ghosts, and Sprites by John Nettin Radcliffe

Richard Bentley. 1854.

Radcliffe takes us on a journey through the relationship between man and supernatural beings, particularly ghosts, from the dawn of humankind through pagan beliefs and religion, christianity, and, then modern, psychology and physiology. For a book of its time, and while Radcliffe is firmly a religious man, this book is completely skeptical of supernatural beings. Radcliffe takes the time to explain how these beings tied into the relationship humans had with the world around them, how gods were demoted to spirits and demons after christianity became the dominant western religion, spends time in other, non-western cultures, and compares similar tropes common to numerous cultures. He then takes on ghosts, sightings, table rapping, hauntings, etc., and applies what was then known about the senses and psychology to explain them away as figments of our imaginations and senses at work.

Radcliffe's style is a bit dry and much of the material feels like a quick survey rather than an in depth study, but the book remains fascinating in its skeptical and analytical approach to supernatural phenomenon, especially given the time that it was written. If you have an interest in this sort of thing, this is definitely worth a look.

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