Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids

Overview

Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.

Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence ...

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Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and other Famous Cryptids

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Overview

Throughout our history, humans have been captivated by mythic beasts and legendary creatures. Tales of Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness monster are part of our collective experience. Now comes a book from two dedicated investigators that explores and elucidates the fascinating world of cryptozoology.

Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero have written an entertaining, educational, and definitive text on cryptids, presenting the arguments both for and against their existence and systematically challenging the pseudoscience that perpetuates their myths. After examining the nature of science and pseudoscience and their relation to cryptozoology, Loxton and Prothero take on Bigfoot; the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, and its cross-cultural incarnations; the Loch Ness monster and its highly publicized sightings; the evolution of the Great Sea Serpent; and Mokele Mbembe, or the Congo dinosaur. They conclude with an analysis of the psychology behind the persistent belief in paranormal phenomena, identifying the major players in cryptozoology, discussing the character of its subculture, and considering the challenge it poses to clear and critical thinking in our increasingly complex world.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Loxton and Prothero (Reality Check) stake out the world’s best-known (if never observed) cryptids and—unsurprisingly—come up with zilch. But that doesn’t mean the hunt isn’t an interesting one. In their breakdown of cryptozoology, the skeptical duo (Loxton is the editor of Junior Skeptic magazine) covers a vast swath of territory, from biology, geology, paleontology, and genetics, to anthropology, sociology, and folklore. Classic cryptids like Bigfoot, the Yeti, the Loch Ness Monster, and sea serpents, as well as the lesser known Mokele Mbembe, an Apatosaurous-like dinosaur supposedly rampaging through the Congo, each get their due (and are duly dismissed as myths) in chapter-long entries. Loxton and Prothero ultimately conclude that “there is no solid evidence that any of the cryptids discussed in this book exist and much evidence that their existence is extremely unlikely.” So why the obsession with these fanciful beasts? And what of the weird world of amateur cryptozoologists? The authors address these questions and others in the illuminating final pages, where they rail against the dangers of pseudoscience and provocatively tie cryptozoology to the politics of creationism. This work is as valuable for its analysis of the hunted as it is for the light it shines on the still-hopeful hunters. 88 illus. and photos. (Aug. 6)
Doubtful News - Sharon Hill

Groundbreaking.... A must-have. There is nothing else like it.Doubtful News

from the foreword by Michael Shermer

Loxton and Prothero have written what may well be the most important work to date on cryptozoology, taking its rightful place in the annals of skeptical literature in particular and scientific literature in general. Abominable Science! is the defining work on cryptozoology of our generation.

Wall Street Journal - Margaret Wertheim

They offer us a sharp analysis of the quest for unreal critters -- cryptids, as they are called -- and the people who pursue them, shining an arc light onto the hoaxes and faked photos, the made-up films, faux corpses, delusions, lies and plain bad science that plague the field.

The Times (London) - Iain Finlayson

The authors, eminent and intrepid sceptics, seek evidence of fabulous big beasts and find nothing but fakes, folklore, pseudo-science and anecdote.

Nature - Daniel Cressey

[ Abominable Science!] is a never less than rigorous examination of the evidence, and a cultural history of cryptozoology.

The Scientist

A good hard look at cryptozoology.... Loxton and Prothero lay bare the psychological roots of why such mythical creatures exist in our own minds.

Discover - Elisa Neckar

Skipping cryptozoology's usual sensationalism, [ Abominable Science!] separates history and folklore from hoaxes and fakelore.

BBC Focus - Henry Gee

[ Abominable Science!] successfully reveals the influence of popular culture on what we think we see.

New York Post - Christopher Farnsworth

[ Abominable Science!] goes back to the foundations of the Bigfoot legend and picks off the fur piece by piece.

But Not Simpler blog, Scientific American - Kyle Hill

Fantastically thorough.

Open Letters Monthly - Justin Hickey

An exhaustively-researched, color-illustrated volume that details the cultural forces (and often individual people) responsible for shaping these beasts in the public's imagination.

The Midwest Book Review

Any science and nature collection should consider this a lively and loving acquisition.

San Francisco Book Review - Glenn Dallas

Abominable Science! is science writing at its best.

CHOICE

Essential.

The Skeptic

Many good laughs... Loxton and Prothero have done a fine job of describing monsters that have an entertainment value for everyone...

from the foreward by Michael Shermer

Loxton and Prothero have written what may well be the most important work to date on cryptozoology, taking its rightful place in the annals of skeptical literature in particular and scientific literature in general. Abominable Science! is the defining work on cryptozoology of our generation.

Darren Naish

Here, at last, is a scholarly, fully referenced work that presents a thoroughly reasonable, well-argued, skeptical perspective on some of the most iconic 'cryptids,' and it is fun to read and well illustrated to boot. Combining excellent and thorough research, ample references to the cryptozoological literature, and, most important, an appropriately level-headed, critical approach, Abominable Science! offers a novel, refreshing exploration of the world of cryptozoology.

From the Publisher
Loxton and Prothero have written what may well be the most important work to date on cryptozoology, taking its rightful place in the annals of skeptical literature in particular and scientific literature in general. Abominable Science! is the defining work on cryptozoology of our generation.

Columbia University Press

Niles Eldredge

Nearly everyone -- scientist and layman alike -- would love the Loch Ness monster and other 'cryptids' to be real. Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero, in their riveting exploration of cryptozoology, readily admit that some species (such as the living coelacanth and even the mountain gorilla) remained hidden to human experience until relatively recently. Yet they insist on hard evidence, thus running counter to the preferences of those who prefer to believe. Abominable Science! is a well-told, engaging story of skepticism. Loxton and Prothero present a lucid and compelling case to counter the false claims of cryptozoology.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231153201
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 503,826
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Loxton is the editor of Junior Skeptic and a staff writer for Skeptic, for which he specializes in critical scholarship regarding claims of legendary animals. Known for his even-handed approach -- and for his lifelong personal love of monster mysteries -- Loxton is one of the most widely respected skeptical critics of cryptozoology. He is the author and primary illustrator of Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be (winner of the 2010 Lane Anderson Award as Canada's best science book for young readers) and of the photorealistic paleofiction storybooks Pterosaur Trouble and Ankylosaur Attack, the first two books in the series Tales of Prehistoric Life.

Donald R. Prothero is one of the leading scientists and authors working in paleontology and evolution. He is a former professor of geology at Occidental College and lecturer in geobiology at Caltech. He is presently a research associate in the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum and is the author of more than 30 books and 250 scientific papers published in leading scholarly journals. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, the Paleontological Society, and the Linnean Society of London. In 1991, he received the award for "Outstanding Paleontologist Under the Age of 40," and was awarded the 2013 James Shea Award by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers for outstanding writing and editing in the geosciences.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael ShermerPrefaceAcknowledgments1. Cryptozoology: Real Science or Pseudoscience?2. Bigfoot: The Sasquatch3. The Yeti: The Abominable Snowman4. Nessie: The Loch Ness Monster5. The Evolution of the Sea Serpent: From Hippocamp to Cadborosaurus6. Mokele Mbembe: The Congo Dinosaur7. Why Do People Believe in Monsters? The Complexity of CryptozoologyNotesIndex

Columbia University Press

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