Mike Dash


Book review by Anthony Campbell. Copyright © Anthony Campbell (1999). This review first appeared in The Skeptic

Dash works for Fortean times. He therefore might be thought to have a vested interest in the paranormal but in fact he maintains a pleasantly sceptical attitude to the various anomalous phenomena he considers. These include apparitions of the Virgin Mary, parapsychology, out-of-the-body and near-death experiences, past life memories, UFOs and alien abductions, Bigfoot and other zoological curiosities including lake monsters, ley lines, ghosts, fairies and poltergeists among others. He therefore casts his net pretty wide.

I apply two tests when deciding whether to read a book of this kind: are there any phenomena described I haven't heard about before, and does the author have anything interesting to say in terms of explanation? As regards novelty, most of the cases that Dash recounts are ones I was already familiar with, but even so it is useful to have a handy source of references and these are provided in excellent notes at the end of the book. Some of the items were new to me: for instance, I hadn't realized that most of the bogus social workers who allegedly tried to abduct children throughout Britain in the 1990s apparently never existed.

As for explanations, Dash favours hoax and psychological reasons for most of the mysteries he considers. There are a few categories for which, as he points out, these explanations don't work well. There are well-autheticated reports of frogs and other unlikely things falling out of the sky, and rationalist dismissals of poltergeists as nothing but fraud don't really work. I agree with these comments.

The book is well written and entertaining; I thoroughly recommend it.

%T Borderlands
%A Dash, Mike
%I Arrow Books
%C London
%D 1998
%G ISBN 0 74932 396 5
%P 518 pp

Titles | Authors | Subjects