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October 18, 1987|Marilee Zdenek

INTANGIBLE EVIDENCE by Bernard Gittelson and Laura Torbet (Fireside Books: $24.95; 606 pp.). Psychic arts have come out of the closet. Once primarily associated with carnival tents and Gypsy wagons, practitioners of the paranormal are moving rapidly into the mainstream. Now there are numerous reports of brokers meeting with psychics to anticipate the rise or fall of commodities, oil companies hiring diviners to assess the richest drilling locations, and the CIA's use of psychics to scan Soviet bases through the use of clairvoyance. Various sources indicate that the Soviet Union is way ahead of the United States in research into psychic phenomena, and the U.S. government is making a serious effort to narrow the gap.

New Age readers will be delighted with this survey of the paranormal, which covers the history, controversy and practical applications of the psychic experience commonly referred to as "psi." Those who want to learn how to develop their own psychic powers will find the detailed instruction guide particularly interesting.

Skeptics (as well as cautious enthusiasts) will be exasperated by the profusion of undocumented, unwitnessed and unattributed testimonies of the paranormal; there are reports of psychic communication with a pet chinchilla, healings through psychic surgery and a ghost that can pinch hard enough to hurt.

The uncommitted, who just want to know what all the hoopla is about, will gain enough information to draw their own conclusions. "One man's enlightenment is another man's balderdash," the authors acknowledge as they encourage readers to keep an open mind balanced with wariness when exploring any manifestations of "psi . "

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