When Randi's Prize was published two years ago the press lady recommended it be timed to coincide with Halloween. To me, having pretensions to seriousness, that seemed a bit cheesy. However on reflection it made sense. It didn't help much in the end, but the principle was sound. Halloween is the one time of year when the chatterati allow themselves to talk about the paranormal without feeling guilty or embarrassed - an excuse for intellectual slumming.
So it's no surprise to see Roger Clarke's A Natural History of Ghosts getting a the sort of coverage I'd love to have had - a big spread on the news pages of the Sunday Times, in addition to a review in the supplement, and a long BBC radio discussion yesterday, among others. But of course to achieve that, Clarke had to make the kind of concession that I would not have been capable of, writing about ghosts in a detached way, as a slight and amusing curiosity. Like other books I've seen - Peter Lamont's on Daniel Home, for instance - it's artfully constructed to entertain readers but without frightening them into thinking that ghosts might be more than some curious hallucinatory episode or cultural belief.
"There's an old saying; just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they're not out to get you. I have my own variation: just because you're insane that doesn't mean that things aren't slipping in unnoticed through dimensional gateways..." ~ Christopher Knowles (h/t to The Daily Grail for quote.)