Braude, 62, is one of the few mainstream academics applying his intellectual training to questions that many would regard at best as impossible to answer, and at worst absolutely ridiculous: Do psychic phenomena exist? Are mediums and ghosts real? Can people move objects with their minds or predict the future? A professor of philosophy at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Braude is a past president of the Parapsychological Association, an organization that gathers academics and others interested in phenomena like ESP and psychokinesis, and he has published a series of books with well-known academic presses on such topics.
His latest, The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations (University of Chicago Press), is sort of a summing up of his career, filled with stories of people who claimed to have otherworldly abilities. The writing is so fluid that the book at times seems made for a screen adaptation. (In fact, Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, contributes a blurb to the back of the book. Braude advised Carter on a screenplay he is writing.) But Braude also includes some dense philosophical arguments — especially in a chapter about synchronicity, in which he ponders whether humans can orchestrate unlikely coincidences through psychokinesis, the ability to move or influence objects with the mind.
As mentioned in the article, Braude has a new book out: The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations (Amazon US and UK), which he describes as his “kiss-and-tell book” about his paranormal research (with plenty of dumping on the ‘skeptics’ by the looks of it too). Looks interesting.