Alleged paranormal phenomena tend to pop-up from time to time. The best example is probably that of Uri Geller. He became famous in the 70's with his "abilities" to bend spoons, read thoughts, etc. Unfortunately, Uri Geller decided to return back to his native Israel, and worse, got a prime time television program, presumably to find an heir.
Yesterday, I was sitting in my office and out of the blue, a guy (who apparently has nothing to do with the university), popped in. He wanted to know what does science think of the "Uri Geller Phenomenon". I told him that science doesn't even waste time on this kind of rubbish. It wasn't enough for him. So, given that I didn't want him to leave the office thinking that science doesn't have an answer, and given that my time is precious, I quickly tried to find the optimal answer. Here it is.
If any person claiming to have paranormal ability did in fact poses it, he, or she, would easily be able to claim the James Randi Education Foundation's million dollar challenge
offering a prize US$1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. Anyone possessing a genuine paranormal ability should easily be able to reach an agreement on the test criteria with James Randi (aka "The Amazing Randi"). No one was able to claim the award, so no one posses any provable paranormal ability. Period.
As for Uri Geller, I showed the guy a nice video segment
by James Randi demonstrating how Uri Geller could do his tricks. He explains how Uri Geller could using conventional means bend spoons, keys, "mentally" read drawings and so forth. The segement even shows how under controlled conditions at the Tonight Show, Uri geller couldn't perform.
The guy at my office then said. "So why do people listen and believe all those Charlatans?".
"Good question!" I told him. "I don't think however I have the time to answer that one."
Anyway, one nice book I did find on the topic was "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer. Its a nice book which tries to explain the psychological phenomena behind the reasonas why people are so gullible.
Always remember, just because you don't know of a reasonable explanation to something doesn't mean that there isn't one!