Sins Against Science: The Scientific Media Hoaxes of Poe, Twain, and Others

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $30.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 62%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (6) from $30.00   
  • New (2) from $215.00   
  • Used (4) from $30.00   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any coupons and promotions
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2015

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by


Lynda Walsh explores a provocative era in American history-the proliferation of fake news stories about scientific and technological discoveries from 1830 to 1880. These hoaxes, which fooled thousands of readers, offer a first-hand look at an intriguing guerilla tactic in the historical struggle between arts and sciences in America. Focusing on the hoaxes of Richard Adams Locke, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and Dan De Quille, the author combines rhetorical hermeneutics, linguistic pragmatics, and reader-response theory to answer three primary questions: How did the hoaxes work? What were the hoaxers trying to accomplish? And-what is a hoax?

About the Author:
Lynda Walsh is Assistant Professor of English at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Lynda Walsh is Assistant Professor of English at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations     vii
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     1
Previous Work     2
Relevance of Hoaxes to Current Scholarly Concerns     4
Chapter Summaries     15
A Brief Natural History of Hoaxing     17
Swift's Hoax and Satires     18
Parody     21
Nineteenth-Century Fraud, Tall Tales, and Science Fiction in America     23
Kairos     27
Method     35
The Traditional Genealogy     35
The Subversive Genealogy     39
Optimality Theory     42
Poe's Hoaxing and the Construction of Readerships     51
Overview of Poe's Scientific and Rhetorical Acculturation     52
The Contest between Hans Phaall and Locke's Moon Hoax: Revealing Reader Expectations     60
Collecting Reader Expectations     66
Ranking Reader Expectations     85
The Balloon-Hoax     90
"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar"     97
"Von Kempelen and His Discovery"     102
Solutions to Problems in Poe Scholarship     107
Poe's Relationship to Science and to His Readership: How the Hoaxes Interact with Eureka     114
Mark Twain andthe Social Mechanics of Laughter     121
Rhetorical Acculturation     122
Scientific Acculturation     127
The Petrified Man     132
Adjusting the Filter of Expectations to Account for Twain's Hoaxing     154
Applying the Analysis to Problems in Twain Scholarship     157
Relationship of the Hoax to Twain's Scientific Thinking     161
The Social Mechanics of Laughter     166
The Hoaxes of Dan De Quille: Building and Defending the West     173
Rhetorical Acculturation     173
Scientific Acculturation     176
De Quille's Hoaxes     179
Summary of Reading Expectations Based on De Quille's Hoaxes     204
De Quille's Hoaxes Build and Defend His Ideal West     206
The Mechanics of Hoaxing     213
How Did the Hoaxes Work?     214
What Were the Hoaxers Trying to Accomplish?     215
The Hoax as a Machine     220
Tuning Up: The Hoax Then and Now     224
Conclusion: The Sokal Hoax     227
Exploiting the Conventions of the Cultural Studies Article     228
Sokal's Hoax Constructs Him as a Notorious Expert     232
The Hoax as a Computer Virus     235
How to Read Tables in Optimality Theory (OT)     241
What the Parts of the Table Mean     241
The Results of the Syllabification of/ans[epsilon]t/     242
Optimality Theory Applied to a Decision about a Hoax's Truth-Value     242
Reader Responses to the Moon Hoax     245
Notes     253
Glossary     275
Bibliography     279
Index     291
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)