Books like Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things

Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things

1989, Charles Panati


Charles Panati (born March 13, 1943) is a former college professor, industrial physicist, author and science editor of Newsweek.

Panati was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After graduating from Villanova University (1961–65) with a B.S. in physics, Panati obtained a master's degree in Radiation Health Physics (1966) from Columbia University and worked in cancer research at the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Panati is openly gay.

After joining Newsweek in 1971, Panati became interested in parapsychology and published his first book, Supersenses: Our Potential For Parasensory Experience (1974), which described parapsychological research into extrasensory perception. The book was described in a review as a respectable survey of psi phenomena but "the skeptic will remain unconvinced... because the subject is not amenable to rational, empirical scrutiny." Panati later met the Israeli psychic Uri Geller, who suggested Panati collect and publish 22 research papers by scientists around the world who had investigated the spoon-bender's alleged abilities. The Geller Papers (1976), edited by Panati, caused controversy when it was published. Several prominent magicians came forward to demonstrate that Geller’s so-called psychic talents could be easily duplicated by stage magicians. Science writer Martin Gardner wrote that Panati had been fooled by Geller's trickery and The Geller Papers were an "embarrassing anthology". In Death Encounters (1979), Panati investigated the phenomenon of clinical death, in which subjects report being drawn toward a white light while wrestling with the will to live. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Wendy Thompson Warner wrote that, "His views on parapsychology have, rightly or wrongly, been the target of widespread skepticism in the scientific community."