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Deep Weird: The varieties of high strangeness experience

While science and academia largely try their best to ignore or even debunk the paranormal, even those researchers willing to look into the topic mostly do so by studying ‘respectable’ experiences such as religious visions, or by running experiments that result in small effects that have to be measured in decimals.

Meanwhile, throughout history ordinary people have reported truly strange and over-the-top bizarre paranormal experiences – but these are generally not studied, or are brushed away as obvious delusions or frauds.

Paranthropologist Dr Jack Hunter, editor of the newly released anthology Deep Weird: The Varieties of High Strangeness Experience, notes that psychical researcher Rene Haynes coined the concept of the ‘Boggle threshold’ to describe this phenomenon – “the point at which a researcher says ‘no I’m not taking that, I’m not accepting that any further, it’s too weird’.”

Hunter believes that we need to lower our ‘Boggle thresholds’ a little bit, and start paying paying attention to the more bizarre paranormal experiences – because “when we do that, we can start to look for parallels or patterns across experiences, and we see that there are striking similarities even between some of the most outrageous ‘high strangeness experiences’ and some of the most widely accepted transpersonal religious experiences.”

It is this motivating concept that lies behind Deep Weird, Hunter explains in an introductory video to the book on YouTube (embedded below for your convenience):

What do I mean by the concept of deep weird? I tend to use it in two different ways really.

In one sense I want to sort of come back to the old Anglo-Saxon conception of the weird as a deep structure of reality that links together disparate phenomena. The Anglo-Saxons used to have this concept of the weird that was a sort of connecting principle in a similar way to the way that Jung used the concept of synchronicity something that connected events deep down in the levels of reality.

And the other way that I try to use the word deep weird is to refer to a way of thinking about the weird and the paranormal, not just a surface shallow approach to the paranormal but to think deeply about it,  to avoid reductionism and to try to embrace its full complexity.

And complexity is really one of the main themes that arises in this book: thinking about paranormal experiences not in terms of reductionism, trying to explain them away with one particular theory, but trying to explore them from as many different perspectives as possible and also trying to take into account the weird interconnections that seem to bind them together.

…What  parapsychologists find in the lab are very small kinds of statistical effects that really pale in comparison to the extraordinary experiences that people have in the real world. So this book is really saying that we need to take those extraordinary experiences seriously…[and] when we do start to take real world paranormal experiences seriously we have to come face to face with a whole range and variety of different kinds of experiences that seem to defy any kind of academic attempt to rationalize them or put them into neat compartments.

Dr Jack Hunter’s introduction to the anthology is just one of a series of videos you can find on his channel where he chats with the various contributors to Deep Weird, including Anthony Peake, Susan Demeter, Joshua Cutchin, Gregory Shushan, David Luke and many others Grail readers are probably familiar with.

Legendary psychical researcher Stanley Krippner describes Deep Weird as a “remarkable volume…Dr Hunter and his chapter authors provide numerous examples of events that at first glance seem to be absurd, bizarre and surreal. The result is a collection of anecdotes, vignettes, and descriptions that beg for explanation, especially when Occam’s Razor cannot cut to the quick, when the Gordian Knot cannot be sliced, and when mainstream science can only offer reductionism. Readers may react with skepticism to some of these tales, but they will never be bored as they peruse this extraordinary anthology.”

Seems like a ringing endorsement to me! Grab a copy from Amazon US or Amazon UK, or your favourite online bookseller.

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