Investigating Investigators

I firmly stand by my earlier assertion that you can learn a lot from reading badly written books.  It’s difficult not to attribute motives (particularly of the pecuniary kind) to a book apparently hastily written and self-published.  But still, but still.  Writing even a short book takes quite a bit of effort.  One thing that came through in my reading of Paranormal Investigators: The Complete Collection Books 1–10 is that Rodney C. Cannon and Leo Hardy have a legitimate interest in the topic.  Not everyone has the facility with wordsmithy that makes for pleasant reading.  Not everyone has years of research training.  Still, there were moments of eye-rolling and actual out loud snorting that accompanied reading this one.  It continues some useful information, but all of it will need to be double or triple-checked.

My reason for reading it is the dearth of good information on controversial figures.  This has bothered me for some time.  Academia tends to pretend figures such as Ed and Lorraine Warren, Hans Holtzer, and Montague Summers simply don’t matter.  The fact is they have very wide followings and they share the feature of being self-taught in the field of ghosts and/or monster studies.  I knew this book was self-published (itself a warning sign, but then many credible authors self publish because it’s nearly impossible to break into the commercial publishing world).  I had hopes that it was simply because publishers don’t like to take chances on authors without a platform, without household name recognition.

The book is, however, poorly organized and repetitive.  The grammar is bad enough to make an erstwhile teacher such as yours truly pull out his truly’s hair.  And yet there is information here.  I can’t accept anything as factual from a book loaded with grammatical errors, very very few citations, and factual mistakes.  That doesn’t mean there’s nothing of value to be found in it.  In fact, I learned a thing or two (that I’ll need to confirm) that may help me in my own research.  And besides, it’s a quick read.  Given the constraints in the publishing world, we can all be forgiven for not automatically dismissing those who have something to say but who need to sidestep the standard publishing world to do it.  Amazon and others have made self publishing as simple as clicking a few buttons.  Who can be blamed for taking advantage of what others have wrought?  I learned something and that is, after all, the point of reading.

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