Why do people believe in psychic phenomena? We have been asking that question for a very long time, but it is not the only question. There is the matter of what: what are the things in which people believe, and what do they believe about these things? There is the matter of how: how have they come to this conclusion, and how have they maintained this position in the face of widespread skepticism? There is also the matter of where: if we wish to study such beliefs, then where is the best place to look? And then, finally, there is the matter of why: why do people believe in psychic phenomena, why do we keep asking that question?
Peter Lamont is a senior lecturer at the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh. He is a past winner of the Jeremiah Dalziel Prize for British History, a former Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts, and a past Secretary of the British Psychological Society (History and Philosophy of Psychology Section). He is also a former professional magician, an Associate of the Inner Magic Circle, and a Past President of the Edinburgh Magic Circle. He has published extensively on the history and psychology of magic and the paranormal, including his latest book, Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem (Cambridge University Press in 2013). His next book, The Secret History of Magic (written with Jim Steinmeyer), is due to appear in 2018 with Penguin Random House.