Mysteries and Secrets Revealed uncovers the reality behind mysteries of nature and secrets of frauds that eluded common understanding. The journey begins in the ancient Greek city of Delphi, where priests claimed the gift of a priceless gold lion was an acknowledgement of their clairvoyant powers. But their concocted story concealed an embarrassing blunder. Those sufficiently savvy to catch the lie became aware of even deeper problems.
Author Loren Pankratz then guides us through the conflicts of Renaissance scholars, including Galileo who explained things in ways that enraged philosophers and infuriated priests. Galileo's methods of investigation were perpetuated by the meticulous work of the Academy of Experiment, and Bernard Fontenelle's enthralling dialogue enabled common people to accept life in the rearranged sun-centered universe.
Clairvoyants in a mesmeric trance claimed they could visit distant planets and endure brutal surgical procedures. If any of this was real, how was it possible? One nineteenth century mesmeric savant, Alexis Didier, was so convincing that someone claimed no case of clairvoyance could be made for anyone if his accomplishments were not real. This unchallenged declaration is now unraveled here for the first time through information gleaned from uncommon documents and rare antiquarian pamphlets.
The surprising manifestations of modern spiritualism quickly escalated into a psychic arms race that included mysterious tipping and turning of tables. Scientist Michael Faraday devised ingenious experiments to show how subtle muscle reactions outside of awareness created these manifestations. On the other hand, explanations for table levitations and mysterious writing on slates could only be solved by individuals with acute observational skills and acquainted with the methods of trickery.Each story in Mysteries and SecretsRevealed captures the tension of conflict, the thrill of discovery, and the strategies of science that unmasked frauds, fakes, false belief, and the enigmas of our natural world.
Loren Pankratz, Ph.D. has written and lectured on a wide variety of skeptical topics such as dancing manias, spiritualism, Greek oracles, ghosts, plagues, historical enigmas, mesmerism, moral panics, con-games self-deception, faith healing, self-surgery, miracles, ethical blunders, quackery, and renaissance science. Formerly a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Oregon Health Science University, Pankratz specialized in the assessment and management of unusual medical and psychiatric syndromes, especially those related to deception in the medical setting, After retirement he maintained a forensic practice, testifying across the country on topics like insurance fraud, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and recovered memory complaints. He is the author of Patients Who Deceive, and has a personal library covering the broad history of deception that provided the foundation for this book.
"A tour de force of engaging storytelling, skeptical inquiry about extraordinary claims, and masterful explications of evidence.... an important work of multidisciplinary scholarship." – Skeptical Inquirer
“Remarkable… an outstanding examination of an important part of the ragged path that Western civilization has followed across the centuries in its efforts to understand the world in which we live. Pankratz brings psychological knowledge and experience as well as devotion to the history of both science and deception, backed up by his unparalleled personal library, providing readers with a unique vantage point.” –James E. Alcock, PhD. Professor of Psychology, York University and author of Belief: What it Means to Believe and Why Our Convictions are So Compelling
"Pankratz delves deeply into history to dig up fascinating examples of deception through the ages, from the Oracle at Delphi to modern mind readers. Each account is an unputdownable detective story as he explains how critical thinkers approached questionable claims and devised ingenious methods to test charlatans, tricksters, and frauds, to distinguish between reality and falsehood, and to throw light on the psychological mechanisms that allowed the deceptions to succeed. A gripping story and an education in how not to be fooled."
–Harriet Hall, M.D., Contributing editor to Skeptic magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, and the Science-Based Medicine Blog, as well as the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon.
“In this era replete with unquestioned beliefs, Mysteries and Secrets Revealed could not be timelier. Loren Pankratz provides fascinating accounts of individuals who ask uncomfortable questions about easy-to-acquire-but-difficult-to-discard beliefs and then engage in thoughtful searching for answers to those questions. Appropriately conceived. Well researched. Deftly written.”
– Dr. Charles M. Wynn Sr., Professor Emeritus, Eastern Connecticut State University and co-author of The Human Side of Science