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

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


By (author) Daniel Loxton, By (author) Donald R. Prothero, Foreword by Michael Shermer

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 231mm x 36mm | 907g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231153201
  • ISBN 13: 9780231153201
  • Illustrations note: ill
  • Sales rank: 195,877

Product description

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.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

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. -- from the foreword by Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies 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. -- Darren Naish, National Oceanography Centre, University of Southampton 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. -- Niles Eldredge, American Museum of Natural History, author of Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life [ Abominable Science!] is as valuable for its analysis of the hunted as it is for the light it shines on the still-hopeful hunters. Publishers Weekly Highly recommended for readers looking for scientific but accessible evaluations of the existence of five notable cryptids that have captured our imaginations. Likely to be popular. Library Journal (starred review) Groundbreaking... A must-have. There is nothing else like it. -- Sharon Hill Doubtful News [Loxton and Prothero] 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... [An] entertaining and thoroughly documented book. -- Margaret Wertheim Wall Street Journal The authors, eminent and intrepid sceptics, seek evidence of fabulous big beasts and find nothing but fakes, folklore, pseudo-science and anecdote. -- Iain Finlayson The Times (London) [ Abominable Science!] is a never less than rigorous examination of the evidence, and a cultural history of cryptozoology. -- Daniel Cressey Nature A good hard look at cryptozoology... Loxton and Prothero lay bare the psychological roots of why such mythical creatures exist in our own minds. The Scientist Skipping cryptozoology's usual sensationalism, [ Abominable Science!] separates history and folklore from hoaxes and fakelore. -- Elisa Neckar Discover [ Abominable Science!] successfully reveals the influence of popular culture on what we think we see. -- Henry Gee BBC Focus 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. -- Margaret Wertheim Barron's [ Abominable Science!] goes back to the foundations of the Bigfoot legend and picks off the fur piece by piece. -- Christopher Farnsworth New York Post Fantastically thorough. -- Kyle Hill But Not Simpler blog, Scientific American 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. -- Justin Hickey Open Letters Monthly Any science and nature collection should consider this a lively and loving acquisition. The Midwest Book Review Abominable Science! is science writing at its best. -- Glenn Dallas San Francisco Book Review Essential. CHOICE Many good laughs... Loxton and Prothero have done a fine job of describing monsters that have an entertainment value for everyone... The Skeptic

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