Things have been getting a little boring around here lately now that I am refraining from posting my every little hiccup and burp here so I thought I would spice things up a bit with some utterly awesome book reviews.
Of course, I immediately discarded that idea in favor of book reviews that I could actually write.
We start with Paranormality: Why we see what isn’t thereby Richard Wiseman which I rented using the Kindle Owners Lending Library.
It’s subtitled “Why we see what isn’t there” because it’s all about how human beings come to believe things that really aren’t true. He talks about fortune telling, out-of-body experiences, mind over matter, talking with the dead, ghosts, mind control, and prophesy.
It sounds like a tedious take down of things by someone who doesn’t believe in them and it has that element but Wiseman goes beyond that to try to explain how it is that people come to believe these things.
I am sure that most folks have heard that eyewitness testimony is remarkably unreliable. What we don’t tend to realize is that this makes our own impressions of things that happened in our past unreliable.
For example, Wiseman talks abut an experiment in observation where a professor had some students stage a fight during which someone pulled out a gun. The gun, being a deadly weapon, drew everyone’s focus and did so to the extent that the witnesses forgot important details like who started the fight and what they were wearing. I think it is obvious how this could be relevant if you’re writing a mystery but it can also play out in other stories. Imagine, for a moment, if Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride had fixated on the wrong guy to get revenge upon because he misremembered a crucial detail. That would take a somewhat comedic subplot and make it the central theme of a Hitchockian misdirection plot. What if you got revenge on the wrong guy?
Blah, I’ve just blathered on a bit and deleted it because it was blather.
Here’s the bottom line. It’s a very interesting book about how humans can mess with themselves. If you’re a writer looking to mess with your main characters it’s a good place to get some ideas.