Paranormal Phenomena
- A Critical Examination

Instructor: Louis Manza
Lebanon Valley College


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Course Calendar:

  • UNIT #1: Theoretical & Historical Foundations in the Critical Evaluation of Paranormal Phenomena
    What are the general issues that individuals studying paranormal phenomena must confront in distinguishing legitimate claims for paranormal activity from pseudoscience? How do people develop beliefs in paranormal phenomena, and what are the consequences of such perceptions? Why is skepticism valuable? What are the historical origins of paranormal phenomena?
    1. Course Overview
    2. General Issues in the Study of Paranormal Phenomena
      [reading assignment: R-1 (9-14pp.); H-2 (21-29pp.)]
    3. Searching for PP: Theory, Research & History
      [reading assignment: R-1 (15-28, 37-48pp); H-4 (77-87pp.)]
    4. DEADLINE for Team Selections

  • Unit #2: Pseudoscience I - Alternative Modes of Knowledge Acquisition & Existence
    Can we communicate with the dead? Can humans use their minds in ways that do not involve normal contact with known senses (i.e., a "sixth" sense)? Can cosmic forces influence our behavior? Are we alone in the universe? How valid are claims of UFO sightings and alien abductions? What is the scientific view of extraterrestrial life?
    1. EXAM #1
    2. Modern Psychic Phenomena
      [reading assignment: R-2; M-3; H-2 (29-59pp.); H-4 (87-108pp.)]
    3. Astrology
      [reading assignment: M-4; H-6]
    4. DEADLINE for Presentation Proposals
    5. Surviving Death: Ghosts and Near-Death Experiences
      [reading assignment: H-3]
    6. UFOs & Alien Abductions: The Myths and the Evidence
      [reading assignment: M-5; H-7; H-8]
    7. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Scientific Searches
      [reading assignment: R-3]

  • Unit #3: Pseudoscience II - Clashes Between Science, Religion, & Alternative Healing
    How did life in the universe begin? What are the difference between evolutionary and creationist accounts of the origin of humanity? What is the purpose of religion in an age of science? Can claims of alternative medical treatments really do what they say? Are there dangers in consuming such "remedies"?
    1. Science & Religion I: Origins of Life & the Universe
      [reading assignment: M-6 (90-96, 100-106pp.)]
    2. EXAM #2
    3. Science & Religion II: Creationism vs. Evolution
      [reading assignment: M-6 (76-89pp.); H-12 (280-284pp.); R4; R5]
    4. Alternative Medicine I: Faith Healing
      [reading assignment: H-10; H-12 (307-309pp.); M-6 (97-99pp.)]
    5. Alternative Medicine II: Health & Nutritional Quackery
      [reading assignment: M-7; H-11]
    6. Student Presentations
    7. EXAM #3


  • Hines, T. (1988). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.
  • Manza, L. (2000). Paranormal Phenomena: Selected Readings from Skeptical Inquirer (2nd Ed.).
    (Coursepack reproduced with permission from CSICOP.)
  • Reserve #1: Alcock, J.E. (1990). Part I: Parapsychology - Science of the Anomalous or Search for the Soul?
  • Reserve #2: Nickell, J., Dennett, M.R., & Alcock, J.E. (1994). Assorted readings from Psychic Sleuths: ESP and Sensational Cases.
  • Reserve #3: Lemarchand, G.A. (1998). Is There Intelligent Life Out There? Scientific American.
  • Reserve #4: Tattersall, I. (2000). Once We Were Not Alone. Scientific American.
  • Reserve #5: Lemonick, M.D., & Dorfman, A. (1999). Up From the Apes. Time