Abominable Science!

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

DANIEL LOXTON
DONALD R. PROTHERO
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 432
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/loxt15320
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  • Book Info
    Abominable Science!
    Book 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52681-4
    Subjects: General Science, Paleontology, Zoology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. FOREWORD SHOW ME THE BODY
    (pp. ix-xii)
    MICHAEL SHERMER

    In january 2003, the world lost the creators of two of its most celebrated bio-hoaxes in modern times: Douglas Herrick, father of the risibly ridiculous jackalope (half jack rabbit, half antelope), and Raymond L. Wallace, godfather of the less absurd and more widely believed Bigfoot. The jackalope enjoins laughter in response to such peripheral hokum as hunting licenses sold only to those whose IQs range between 50 and 72, bottles of the rare but rich jackalope milk, and additional evolutionary hybrids like the jackapanda. Bigfoot, though, while occasionally eliciting an acerbic snicker, enjoys greater plausibility for a simple evolutionary reason:...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xvii)
  6. 1 CRYPTOZOOLOGY REAL SCIENCE OR PSEUDOSCIENCE?
    (pp. xviii-27)

    Ever since we were youngsters, we have been enthralled with ideas about monsters and magnificent creatures with mythic and ancient roots. Indeed, we have never really gotten over being smitten with magical beasts. That is why one of us became a writer and an illustrator of books for young readers about creatures great and small, and the other became a paleontologist who studies the history of life on Earth as revealed through fossils.

    To understand the field of cryptozoology, it is necessary to appreciate the core concepts and procedures of science. We begin our investigation with a story about the...

  7. 2 BIGFOOT THE SASQUATCH
    (pp. 28-71)

    As a skeptic who investigates cryptozoological mysteries, I am sometimes asked by exasperated proponents, “Why do you even bother? If you don’t think cryptids are real, why waste your time picking on cryptozoology?”

    I explain that cryptozoology is my first love. It was my youthful obsession with monster mysteries that led me to the skeptical literature in the first place, and I’ve never lost my fondness for the topic. I don’t think of myself as picking on cryptids, but as making an all-too-rare effort to solve cryptozoological mysteries.

    You may be surprised by one of the reasons I find myself...

  8. 3 THE YETI THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN
    (pp. 72-117)

    During a trip around the world in the summer of 1973—through Africa, India, Thailand, China, and Japan—my college roommate and I stopped in Kathmandu, Nepal. We visited many of the usual tourist sites, including Buddhist temples and stupas and Lamaist monasteries. We attended a religious ceremony during which villagers slashed the throat of a sacrificial goat right before our eyes, and we drove to a spot where (when the clouds finally cleared) we could see the summit of Mount Everest. But as we walked through the open-air markets in several parts of the Nepalese capital, what was most...

  9. 4 NESSIE THE LOCH NESS MONSTER
    (pp. 118-175)

    Of all the “real” monsters that stir the Western imagination, there are few so romantic as the Loch Ness monster. I’m not even slightly immune to that romance. My love affair with Nessie blossomed early and strongly. What could be more wonderful than the idea that a living plesiosaur might slide undetected through the frigid waters of a Scottish lake? I sought out and devoured every book available in my elementary-school and community libraries. As a young boy wishing to learn more in those pre-Google days, I even asked the local reference librarian to track down the address of the...

  10. 5 THE EVOLUTION OF THE SEA SERPENT FROM HIPPOCAMP TO CADBOROSAURUS
    (pp. 176-259)

    Of all the world’s stomping, slithering, and bloodsucking monsters, nothing else quite matches the Great Sea Serpent. Enduring for centuries, the sea serpent legend has a unique place in the history of cryptozoology—and a unique place in my own family history as well.

    One of the lessons of cryptozoological investigation is that most cryptids are brand-spanking new. The Loch Ness monster (a Hollywood spin-off) was born after my own grandmother. The modern Bigfoot legend premiered the same year as Leave It to Beaver. If the chupacabra (goat sucker) were a person, it would be in high school, the story...

  11. 6 MOKELE MBEMBE THE CONGO DINOSAUR
    (pp. 260-295)

    In late 2008, I was asked to participate in an episode of a cable-television show called MonsterQuest. Like many of the newer “reality” shows on formerly scientific cable stations, it was pseudoscientific tabloid journalism: lots of moody music and dark, foreboding camera shots promoting one kind of legendary monster or another, with dubious “eyewitness” testimony and sketchy “evidence”—nothing concrete like an actual body or bones. Normally, I ignore such programs as a waste of time and focus on trying to improve real science documentaries. However, this episode concerned the alleged dinosaur in the Congo: Mokele Mbembe. Thought by cryptozoologists...

  12. 7 WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN MONSTERS? THE COMPLEXITY OF CRYPTOZOOLOGY
    (pp. 296-336)

    Who are the people who spend a significant amount of time, money, and other resources thinking about and searching for Bigfoot, Nessie, and other cryptids? What motivates them? Are they scientists or pseudoscientists? If they are not practicing real science, is it possible to transform cryptozoology into a real science? Is cryptozoology just a hobby of no particular consequence, or does it make genuinely useful contributions—or can it, perhaps, lead to harm?

    Whatever the case, the cryptozoological impulse is not new. Monsters have always stirred in the shadows of the imagination, as have sincere efforts to understand them. Projects...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 337-394)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 395-414)