Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Book on Cryptozoology, 30 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Abominable Science!: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids (Hardcover)
Written by an artist (Daniel Loxton) and a scientist (Donald Prothero) who have differing opinions on the potential of cryptozoology to become a valid part of science, but share a strong commitment to adhering to legitimate means of conducting science, critical thinking and skepticism, "Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie and Other Famous Cryptids" is the definitive book on cryptozoology. It is an engrossing, entertaining, and insightful exploration of cryptozoology as a potentially legitimate science, in which they underscore how much of it has been driven by lies, fabricating evidence, and gross distortions and omissions of valid, well established, mainstream science. In the notable cases of Yeti and Bigfoot, Lawton and Prothero demonstrate how misleading interpretations of native legends regarding "wild men" were transformed, often by illegitimate means such as faking footprints and "evidence" like hairs as "proof" supporting the existence of large, hithero unknown, upright walking humanoid-like apes, in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest in the western United States and Canada and the Himalayas straddling the border of Tibet. As for Nessie (Chapter Four), and its Canadian "cousin" Cadborosaurus (Chapter Seven), Loxton demonstrates how they may have been inspired by the cinematic debut of the film "King Kong", since prior, "credible", reports of both do not appear until soon after the film's initial release in the 1930s. Prothero successfully undermines any semblance of credibility for cryptozoology as a science in Chapter One and the chapter on the African dinosaur Mokele Mbembe (Chapter Six), noting how some of the most passionate advocates for the existence of that dinosaur have been creationists who lack any training in field ecology or dinosaur paleobiology. In the concluding Chapter Seven "Why Do People Believe in Monsters?" both weigh in on the reasons why people still cling to believing in the reality of Bigfoot, Yeti and Nessie inspite of overwhelming scientific data that doesn't confirm their existence. While Loxton expresses some hope that cryptozoology can become a legitimate science if its practitioners adhere to rigorous standards of conducting scientific inquiry, Prothero - and I think correctly here - explains how cryptozoology resembles all too closely, would be sciences like "scientific creationism" and the study of UFOs, and why this means that it can never be viewed credibly by both its practitioners and outsiders as a credible science. "Abominable Science" is an important book worthy of as wide a readership as possible, merely because its authors have gone to great lengths in explaining how science actually works and the importance of critical thinking and skepticism; it should be viewed as a worthy companion volume to Prothero's Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future, which delves further into the pseudoscientific nonsense that Prothero merely hints at in "Abominable Science".
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