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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.
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Review by Travis Starnes
Abominable Science is a look at several major staples of cryptozoology (read that as the study of Bigfoot, Loche Ness and the like) by two experts, one a scientist the other a professional skeptic. The authors tag team throughout the book with one author taking up Bigfoot for example while the other looking at the Loche Ness Monster.
I find the area of cryptozoology infinitely fascinating. Although I am a non-believer in such things, the myths, history and legends behind the seemingly endless search for these creatures is like the very best Saturday afternoon television. While one is a scientist and the other is clearly versed in the science behind these claims, this is more of a historic and anthropological examination and debunking of the myths. They spend a lot of time talking about how the claims came about, the morphing of the legends and the people who made the “big discoveries” in each field.
Both authors are skeptics and if you believe in any of the creatures discussed in this book, I would suggest you skip reading this. They pull no punches in debunking each claim and pointing to all the flaws in the evidence put forth by believers. Anyone who is on the side of the believers will surely just end up more angry then enlightened. Likewise if you are looking for a predominantly scientific look at cryptozoology this book will be a bit of a disappointment. While there is science in the book, it is the weak sister to the anthropological study of the events and people surrounding the myths.
This book also has a terrific sense of humor. It’s not a comedy by any means, and these two shouldn’t quit their day jobs, but their jabs and barbs at the cryptozoology community are pretty clever. Of course again, someone who is a believer would probably take umbrage the fun being had at their expense.
The other thing that helps this book is that each section can really be read independently. It makes this the ideal book for reading sections, walking away to read other things, then coming back to. There isn’t an ongoing thread you have to hold on to, so it’s one of those books that if you didn’t quite finish you can still go back to without getting lost.
If you like anthropology or histories focused on the weird or obscure, or have a passing yet skeptical interest in any of the creatures talked about, then this will be a fun read for you.