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Book Review: How to Build A Lie Detector, Brain Wave Monitor & Other Secret Paraphsychological Electronics Projects

The authors, Mike and Ruth Wolverton, not content with the world’s longest book title, add the subtitle “Your passport to the world of the paranormal using everyday electronics!” (Exclamation point in original.) Whew! (Exclamation point, mine.)

gordon meyer holding book

I’ve been searching for this 1981 paperback book for a long time. I wanted a copy for two reasons: First, books published by TAB were some of the first books I owned. Back then, books about computing as a hobby weren’t very common, and the Computer Book Club was a rarified source of information for people like me, and many of the books that the club offered were from TAB.

computer book club ad

The other reason I wanted this book is its subject. Technical, but approachable, books about fringe science are rare, and this is one of the classics. (Which is one of the reasons it’s hard to find a copy.) And it is very nearly cover-to-cover esoterica. This book features ESP testers, UFO detectors, ley line apparatus, ghostly voice recorders, Kirlian photography, and so much more. (Sadly, there is not an Orgone energy accumulator.)

Not only is each subject accompanied by detailed instructions on building an electronic gadget to experiment with, there is also a historical (and sometimes personal) discussion of the phenomenon. Back in the day (as in, before the internet), this type of information was rare gold.

Will I actually build any of these gadgets? Maybe, the first obstacle will be translating the Radio Shack part numbers to modern components.

In a fun moment of synchronicity, when I received the book in the mail, I learned that I had purchased it from a used bookstore in Utah that wasn’t too far from where I grew up. (Amazon Marketplace obfuscates where you are buying from, so I didn’t know this until it arrived.) Moreover, tucked inside the book was a business card from a previous owner. He was a senior engineer at Hughes, in Texas. It’s interesting to see which projects he has marked with dog-eared pages. I’ve already continued the tradition by marking my own favorite chapter with my card; perhaps the next owner will enjoy that discovery too. (I chose the chapter on dowsing, which is a familial practice.)


Craig Conley

Translating the Radio Shack part numbers to modern components sounds like a very worthwhile project. Looking forward to an update on this, if/when you're able to build one of the gadgets.

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