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Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology Paperback – 11 Jul 2001

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mayfield Publishing Co ,U.S.; 4th edition edition (11 July 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076742722X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767427227
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,341,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries is the only textbook for a course of this sort, which I think should be offered at every institution of higher education."--Curtis Runnels, Boston University

"Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries takes things that everyone is fascinated by--aliens, Atlantis, the curses of Ancient Egypt--and packages them in a way that is entertaining, but also shows how the scientific method works. It helps students to think critically about many of the so-called 'documentaries' on television."--Christa Abdul-Karim, Lewis-Clark State College

"I very much enjoy this text and the writing style; I appreciate Feder's humor and the way he explains things. Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries is accessible to students because it isn't dry and stuffy. This is a great topic--students are interested--and the book is written in a way that is easy to read and enjoyable."--Kristy Miller, Estrella Mountain Community College

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

An appendix has been added that provides suggestions for videos to accompany each chapter.
A new section has been added to Chapter 12 that discusses Kennewick Man.
All of the 'Best of the Web' sections have been updated, and this edition offers brief descriptions of each site.The text presents examples of fantastic findings and carefully, logically, and entertainingly describes the flaws in the purported evidence for each fantastic claim; readers can hone their own evaluative skills by example. As one user said, 'One of the greatest challenges a teacher faces is getting students to critically evaluate information. This text provides readable and critical discussion of some of the more bizarre, nonsensical, and entertaining interpretations of archaeological data 'All students would benefit by reading this book.' A checklist on the inside cover gives students prompts to use in thinking critically when evaluating claims.
Well-chosen examples of cases popularized by the media invite student interest. Students are eager to read about ancient astronauts, the power of pyramids and crystals, the Atlantis legend, and so on. As another user said, 'It's a real eye-opener and slate-cleaner for them to learn how slanted much of the popular media has been. After they read this book, students are much better prepared - to understand archaeology coursework.'
'Frequently Asked Questions' sections in each chapter represent questions students have asked over the years that relate specifically to the issues and controversies of the chapter.
'Current Perspectives' sections provide a current scientific look at the chapter topic, reinforcing how real science works.
The final chapter presents genuine archaeological mysteries. Having debunked some of the more spectacular claims about the past in the previous chapters, the author leaves readers with some genuine unsolved mysteries to ponder: e.g., Stonehenge and crop circles, the collapse of Maya civilization, and the origin of Kennewick Man.
Numerous photographs and illustrations support the text examples. Especially useful are the side-by-side comparisons of 'mysterious' phenomena with similar looking elements that are scientifically documented.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Would someone let me know the title of any book which deals directly with the most current and accepted opinions and hypotheses - rather than having to plough throw a history of views and opinions popular at various stages throughout history. Time after time this is what you get with only a couple of paragraphs dedicated to current understanding. Perhaps this is a 'padding-out tactic?
Unfortunately, this is what you get here. Feder has a most engaging and readable style - BUT please edit the 'padding' and get to the point!
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Format: Paperback
This book provides the reality behind some the most prominent (as well as some lesser-known) cases of myth and fraud in the archaeology of north America. Although the book is clearly targeted at the academic student of archaeology (FAQs, web links, and exercises follow each chapter and there are also general chapters on the scientific method), the general reader will find much to his liking. Feder provides the background to many interesting cases where archaeology entered into popular mythology - or mythology appropriated archaeology, and his treatment is even-handed if at times somewhat repetitive. It is to be hoped that similar volumes will be written to cover other parts of the world, not only because the mis-use of our past for personal or political gain must be battled everywhere, but also because the extremely readable material is an excellent way of teaching students how to think.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first started out on the 'Ancient Astronaut' theories of Von Daniken and figured I should read what the other half thinks and was I surprised. This totally blows von Danikens' theories away. Feder argues that most pseudo archaeology depends on common sense and although that makes sense to layman's, most academics are scientists who have used tried and tested methods to answer previously asked / answered questions which are the 'fringe' authors stable.

He does concede that Archaeology isn't what he calls a 'transparent science' and does admit that due to this people don't understand quite how scientists arrive at their conclusions so he understands why people believe in pseudo archaeology, but in this book he explains why things don't work the way some 'fringe' authors describe. He also explains how historical 'mis-leadings' initially worked and why they ultimately failed.

A good book to read if you are interested in the unknown and want more than one viewpoint. Ancient Aliens is a good show but I found it doesn't cover what the mainstream community thinks and this book does a good job of addressing those issues and describing the mindset of a scientist/academic.

I cant recommend this book enough. I would buy more Feder books but to be honest the price is slightly high and I fear that most of them are purely academic textbooks meant for students and not casual interests and laymans but a good book nonetheless
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars 50 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great informative book 23 July 2013
By Joseph A. Debarr - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For one that is interested in why humans have myths and why we still keep making them up, this is a great book. Many good examples of frauds and solved mysteries (Some I did not even know where solved). Well thought out and easy to read it explains the scientific method in a language anyone can understand. It is rather steep on price but it is worth it to a large extent. I think that all people would benefit from reading this book as I feel too many of us have no understanding of science and what makes it the best system for discovering our world. Whether you buy this book or get it through the Library... GET IT.
5.0 out of 5 stars Feder while a bit snarky, and he admits it ... 27 Feb. 2017
By A. Stover - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Feder while a bit snarky, and he admits it, takes on the myths and pseudoscience that the general public get fooled by. not much difference between the editions until you get to the recently published 9th
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an excellent book to encourage skepticism 2 Sept. 2015
By Jeff Pedigo - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent book to encourage skepticism. It's a college text book but does not read like one. It's very accessible and I highly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great buy 29 Jun. 2009
By A. Coleman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After listening to an interview with Kenneth Feder on an episode of The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, I bought this as a gift for my brother who recently graduated with a degree in archeology. He enjoyed it immensely and lent it to me afterward. Even though it's not my area of study, I had no difficulty following it and found it as immensely fascinating as its author. I would highly recommend this book for either the expert in the field or curious lay person.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book; Kindle edition overpriced 4 Jan. 2012
By Jim Davis - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I listened to Dr. Feder on the Monster Talk podcast and found him so engaging that I decided to purchase this book. It turned out to be a worthwhile purchase.

The book is intended to be a textbook but don't be put off by that. The book reads quite well; Feder is as good a writer as he is a speaker. His prose is quite accessible with many pop culture references like comparing Neanderthals to the cavemen in Geico commercials and comparing Plato's Atlantis story to Star Wars. It is also an interesting way to teach archeology (although anthropology and paleontology are also touched on extensively), contrasting bad, psuedo-archeology with the real deal. It entertains while teaching. I'm convinced that Feder is very popular at Central Connecticut State.

The title is quite accurate; frauds (Cardiff giant, Piltdown man), myths (Atlantis, ancient astronauts), and mysteries (Moundbuilders, pre-Columbian America) are covered in many chapters. Most of the subjects were familiar to me except for the Moundbuilders but Feder had entertaining and original takes on all subjects.

I purchased what Amazon describes as a "print replica, Kindle edition". This means you can't read it on a traditional Kindle only on a Kindle application for a PC or iPad or other tablet. Fortunately, I have an iPad and read it on that. The book is formatted something like a pdf file. The book read fine when expanded to eliminate margins but it is tedious to do so repeatedly for every page. Anyone know if Kindle for iPad can preserve sizing from page to page? If so, I couldn't figure it out.

Highly recommended if one can afford the textbook pricing. It's come down since I purchased it but it is still somewhat high for mass market appeal.
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