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This title was first published in 2000: A manifestation of mass hysteria, a compensation for physical or emotional deprivation, or an alternative to religion? What is the function of the paranormal in society? This question and its many possible answers are the subject of this scholarly study of our enduring fascination with experiences for which science provides no ready explanations. From the ancient cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt to the present day, Eric Carlton surveys the development of ideas and research associated with the paranormal, culminating as it does today in the recognized academic status accorded to parapsychology. With a critical yet open mind, Carlton explores issues associated with the study of the paranormal, such as witchcraft beliefs, near-death experiences and the UFO phenomenon. Case studies are employed to illustrate and illuminate certain examples and theories. This thought-provoking book concludes that the paranormal and our study of it provides a multi-faceted vehicle for humanity's quest to find meaning in life.